Untitled Quaraun Novel Vomit Draft
Days 1 to 11
(Nov 20, 2021)
We crossed 50k in 6 days!
Now at 72,548 words...
And it probably requires some sort of trigger warning, but BoomFuzzy is in this one and we've already reached scenes of depression, suicide, and wrist slitting, so yeah, all the usually BoomFuzzy fare is here, just so you know.
Spoiler warning, if you are worried about such things - the ending of the story has been written. It'll be fleshed out and expanded as we go on, but, the base end is now in the draft.
"I will accept any physics mumbo jumbo," said Quaraun to no one.
Quaraun standing in a meadow, next to a stream, and a little ways from civilization. In the distance he could see a spire of smoke rising into the sky.
"This is your journey," Quaraun said as he watched the smoke drift skywards and mingle with the clouds.
A wolf walked up to Quaraun.
"What are you doing?" it asked.
"Seeing how many times I can say 'I don't know'" Quaraun said still watching the spiral of smoke mingling with the clouds.
"Well what do you want to do?"
Quaraun looked around as the smoke made its way into the sky.
"I haven't the faintest idea. What do you think I should do?"
The wolf looked around as well.
"I feel that I am on a path in the forest of information," Quaraun said. "And every new thing that I find is a new idea, a new story line, that could take me anywhere. There are two paths up ahead. I don't know which to take. I thought if I watched the smoke up there, the wind would blow it one way or the other and I would go on the path of that direction, but the smoke just goes ever upward."
"What do you think the choices in life are?"
Quaraun frowned, than said: "This is an adventure. This is your adventure. Your life is your adventure. My life is my adventure. Today our paths cross and become a single adventure. Who knows what adventure I will encounter tomorrow."
The wolf stared at Quaraun.
"Do you have any idea what you're saying? You're either a crazy elf or a genius."
"I'm talking to a wolf. Wolves can not talk. Either I have gone insane and thus I AM a crazy Elf or I have discovered a way to communicate with animals, in which case I am a genius. Or perhaps, you are dead and I am just a Necromancer talking to a ghost that chooses the form of a wolf."
The wolf gave Quaraun a sideways look.
"I think that you might be on to something. I have been called worse names by much worse people. I will let you make that diagnosis."
"Well than. Enjoy it."
"Your life," Quaraun said. "Or your death. Which ever it may be."
"I wasn't planning on dying. You think the Humans will just let you waltz in and take their homelands?"
"You are a weirdo, you know that, right?"
"I've been called worse."
"A weirdo in a pink dress."
"I like pink."
The wolf ran off into the forest.
Quaraun laughed as he finished cleaning his blade and tossed it into his pack.
"I will accept any physics mumbo jumbo," said Quaraun to no one. "As long as it gets me more information. How long do you think I have been doing this for?"
He began walking.
"I don't know," said a voice.
"Hello?" Quaraun looked around but saw no one. "Who is there?"
"You know you can trust me."
"Good. Then, who are you?"
"I am the one who hides in plain sight."
Quaraun frowned. "Yes, I have no interesting people who hide in plain sight. Good dy!" Quaraun pulled out a book and began flipping through it's pages, searching for something
"What are you reading?" The voice inquired.
"Are you still here?"
"I am. What are you reading?"
"A Practical Introduction To The Use of Crystals and Stones In The Four Branches of Crystalomancy," Quaraun said, reading the words on the cover.
"I see," said the voice. "Well, you've already got my attention, so I guess I will tell you my name. I am Farshaun, and it is good to meet you."
"But I haven't meet you. I see you no where. Who are you? What do you look like? To me you are nothing but a disembodied voice and if I can't see you, than I have no interest in you, no matter you're interest in me."
"Well, I suppose you're right about that. I am Farshaun, but you may call me Farshaun. I am a Druid, and have been for many years."
"Farshaun is exactly the same as Farshaun."
"You are quite right."
Quaraun closed the book.
"You are quite the elusive man, Farshaun, but I suppose I will get over that when I meet you. When will I meet you and when you say you are a Druid, what exactly does that mean? I've met many Druids and they never agree on what exactly a Druid it."
"Oh, you are going to meet me soon. In fact, you are meeting me right now."
"I am? How?" Quaraun asked with a little bit of anxiety in his voice. "Where are you? I still don't see you?"
Farshaun laughed. "You will meet me in the heart of the Faerie Forest. There, you will see me with your own eyes, and then you can judge for yourself who I am."
"So you are a Druid who lives in a Faerie Forest?" Quaraun asked.
"I am," Farshaun said.
"And I'm supposed to trust you?"
"But of course."
"Why would I do that?"
"Because I am the Druid who has the FeyStones. I also know where the Faerie Stones are hidden, and I will use those FaeStones to help you get home to ElfLand."
"ElfLand? Are you mad? There is no such place. Besides, I am the last Elf. All the other Elves are dead. There is no place for me to go home too. The world is my home now. I sleep in a tent on the side of the road, in a new village, a new forest, every night"
"Yes, there is. There is a Faerie Stone in the Elven ruins of the old abandoned city of Silva. You will see it when you meet me. You can go home then."
"I have no desire to go 'home'. I already told you, I live on the open road. I am a silk merchant and a vagabond wizard for hire. I travel wherever the road takes me. And 'home', is never a place it takes me because I live in a tent. I live out of my pack. My home is on my back."
"I see. Well, I hope you are satisfied with your decision to meet me somewhere, because I must be going. Good luck in your journey, friend."
"You can't just leave!" Quaraun shouted, worried the bodiless voice was already gone. He was lonely and enjoyed the company of someone to talk to. Even a strange voice with no body, that might possibly have been just an imaginary voice in his head for all he knew. "You've not yet told me how to find you. I don't even begin to know where to look for you."
Farshaun chuckled. "I will be found if you are looking for me. Go to the Elven ruins and look for the Silken Lady. She will guide you to me."
"What Elven ruins? Where? I know of no Elven Ruins in the area. And who is the Silken Lady? How will I know her?"
"You will know her, because she is you. Good bye."
Quaraun didn't understand what the strange disembodied voice meant when it said "she is you".
"I am confused and I have no reason to seek out the Druid or the Silken Lady or the Elven Ruins in the Faerie Forest. And I have no need for Faerie Stones of travelling to ElfLand. What a bother. And none of it helped me to decide what path to take."
The Faerie King is a tyrant most foul, a bane upon humanity, and an affront to all that is good. Were he a hero, this is who Quaraun would be meant to slay. Quaraun however, was not a hero. He was not the one to slay the Faerie King. He had no wish to do so. In fact, he had nothing but endless, undying love for the evil King of the Faeries. Quaraun would play a different role. He would be the one to put a stop to the human scourge. He would be the one to save Lich King from Hell. If only he could figure out how. BoomFuzzy was dead. BoomFuzzy was now a Lich.
It hurt like the worst possible way. But he wasn't alone in this quest, no he was not alone at all, and he felt as though he finally understood what being alive means. He suddenly realized he'd never known happiness before. His mind raced with possibilities and his spirits soared, and as he walked down the road towards Faerie City, he decided that maybe he had found his future. Maybe he really would make things better for the world.
Maybe he really was just a crazy wizard.
"I have been sick," Quaraun said to himself. "Perhaps both the wold and Farshaun were just hallucinations. Fever images. I seem to able to only communicate properly with animals and ghosts those under the influence of drugs, drinks, or other forms of mind-altering substances. I... oh dear. Perhaps I am going crazy. I must have a brain fever, except I have no brain."
A few days later, Quaraun found himself sitting in a small scullery of an isolated farmhouse, being served a hot meal, by the farmer's wife.
"How do you like your eggs Benedict, Mr. Quaraun?"
"Not very well, Mrs. Hightower. And it's just Quaraun. No Mister."
Mrs. Hightower smiled. "I can fix that."
She set down the plate before him and took out the spatula. "Now we just wait for the cheese to melt..."
"That was fast."
"I've made enough to feed the entire town."
"I can see that."
"They are better than what you will find any place."
Quaraun smiled. "I wouldn't dream of trying anything less."
The door opened and two men appeared in the doorway, both in long dark cloaks with black hoods drawn down and their faces covered. They were dressed in black leather jackets and black pants with knee-length boots.
Their swords were strapped across their backs. Both men held bows and arrows ready in their hands. They both wore daggers, which they hid under their coats, and both carried wicked looking knives on belts and inside boot tops. The shorter one spoke.
"What's going on here? Momma! Who is this man! He's one of them, isn't he? Look at his ears. He ain't no Human!"
Both Quaraun and Mrs. Hightower stood up straight.
"Nothing to worry about, son. We were merely having a little dinner and conversation."
Both men's faces were concealed behind the masks of black leather. One of them looked around suspiciously. He then turned to Mrs. Hightower.
"Do you have anyone else here tonight?"
"No, why would there be anyone here? Why do you ask? You're frightening me. What's going on?"
"There is something wrong here," the second son replied. "I thought everyone who lived here was dead."
"Dead?" Mrs. Hightower repeated. Her face became pale and her eyes grew wide.
"You heard me? You died with Pa, years ago."
"I'm... dead?" Mrs. Hightower looked like she would faint.
"What did you say?" Quaraun asked.
"Who are you? What are you doing with Ma?"
"I... I'm Quaraun. I saw the light on and asked if she had any food to spare. I've been walking for days with no food. I decided to hide out in this little village until I could recover from a massive virus that nearly killed me."
"You got the plague?"
"How do you know?"
"It's not the plague. I just need a place to rest and sleep for a few days, is all. Your mother..."
"Ma! You go back to your room. You know you aren't supposed to talk to strangers."
"There is something wrong here," Quaraun said.
"Someone killed everybody here in the village. I think it was the Fae."
"Are all three of you dead?"
"Yes! This is a ghost town. We are all ghosts. So how did you see us?"
"I'm a Necromancer?"
"What? You mean one of those guys who raises corpses up as monsters?"
"No. I can see dead people and talk to them. I often can't tell if a person is dead or alive or if any one else can see them or not. I end up talking to dead people in a crowd of living people, who can't see the dead, so they think I'm a crazy old coot talking to himself. It's rather embarrassing. But who killed you? And when?"
"We saw their shadows when we arrived and we followed them to see what they were up to. As they walked away, we followed them, until they reached the ruins of this ancient Elven ruin near the Elven Ruins. The building was still standing, except for the walls that had collapsed and the ground covered in moss that had grown over the stones. The Fae attacked the building. They killed all the humans inside. Then the rest ran after them, and fought back, trying to destroy whatever was left of the building. After the fighting, we managed to escape and fled into Faerie, where I met you. There wasn't anybody else. So you're the first real living people I've seen since coming here. I hope you can give me some kind of direction or guidance to find the Silken Lady so I can go back to my home, and I won't be alone anymore. I have always hated the Faeries, ever since I was born."
Quaraun and the woman looked at each other, puzzled.
Quaraun said. "And you're sure all these deaths are real? That everything we have experienced together is real?"
"Yes, yes, of course. The things we witnessed were real. Now I need to find the Silken Lady and kill her so I can go home.
Quaraun had been walking for many hours, and grew weary.
"I need to find a place to rest," the elderly Moon Elf wizard said to himself. "I don't think I can make it to the village down there before sunset. It looks to be a farming community. Not likely to have a tavern. Or an inn. Or even a brothel. And no common Human is likely to rent a room to either an Elf or a mage for the night. Oh dear. I do believe, tent it is. Let's see? Where can I set it up? I do so hate being alone. I miss BoomFuzzy. I wish he was here. I wish I had companion again."
Quaraun set out to setting up his tent, oblivious to the his words carelessly spoken. Quaraun knew well, the dangers of starting any sentence with the words: "I wish". Quaraun knew the danger better than anyone, for he was a Wizard of the Di'Jinn order, and any wish spoken near him, was automatically granted, whether he realized he had granted it or not. For thus was the nature of wishes, when on was a Di'Jinn.
Nearby, down in the valley, others were also thinking about the farming community and heading there for the night. But these men were not looking for rooms to rent. They were looking for rooms to raid.
A crew of bandits roamed the valley, seeking unsuspecting victims to loot.
The day before, they had been sent on an assignment, from the bandit chief, to destroy the village. The mission was simple enough, but as soon as they arrived it quickly became clear that this would be a harder task than they thought. For at that very moment, on the other side of the valley, a lonely Elf had said the words: "I wish" and an evil, dark Faerie king heard his plea and quickly came running to the world of Men.
The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, the bloodthirsty Faerie King Gwallmaiic. The vicious Phooka, the bloodthirsty black Unicorn, responsible for the extinction of the Elves. Where King Gwallmaiic went, his enchanted Forest of No Return followed. He took his whole valley, it's forest, it's volcano, and it's palace with him.
The Forest of No Return encircled Fire Mountain, and magic, not water, flowed from the rivers. It's trees walked like men, and it's mushrooms grew big as trees. Fire Mountain and The Forest of No Return, did not exist on Earth. They were places in the Realm of Fae. Places that appeared on rare foggy nights.
Pepper Valley and its accursed mountain, its Fae filled forest, and its haunted gingerbread house, appeared at sunset and disappeared with the sunrise, taking with it, any mortal foolish enough to enter into the Elf Eater's enchanted Pepper Valley.
Pepper Valley could appear any place, any time, any where, and when it left, it took with it entire cities, lone travellers, or roaming bandit, whom had the misfortune of wandering into the valley of The Elf Eater.
The Valley was the constantly moving home of the Faerie King, King Gwallmaiic, a Phooka, many thousands of years old, born in the days when the Woolly Mammoth still roamed the Earth, old enough to have witnessed the crucifixion of Christ. A Phooka whom two centuries ago, had commit suicide and was now cursed to walk the land of the living as an incorporeal Lich.
And so it happened, one fateful night, that Pepper Valley and it's Fire Mountain, home of the Lich King, appeared to grant the wish of a lonely old Elf, in the very location, that these unfortunate, unsuspecting bandits had set out to raid.
They entered the village from the side of the hill, coming out at a small cliff, and as they neared their destination, they began to see signs of life, that had disappeared.
The road was deserted, the buildings were silent, and there was no sign of any people or animals. They kept walking down the path through the empty streets until they came across another path, which ran parallel to it, but not so close that it became part of it. It ended in another cliff, with more ruins in the distance. There were no people there either.
“What the hell is this place?” asked Hoseok. He looked around, noticing a few houses further up the hill, but no people or animals anywhere else. His eyes scanned the village.
“It looks like... nothing,” said Jihoon. “There’s nothing here, except those houses up there. It looks like everyone just vanished. I was certain I saw lights in the windows and people on the streets when we were coming down into the valley. Where did they all go? What are we supposed to do now?”
“We need to leave,” Yoongi replied, “or we might never get off this mountain alive. It's haunted I tell you. I can feel it. The air feels wrong.” He looked to Seungcheol. “How did you find this place? We haven't seen a living soul since we got here.”
“There is,” answered Seungcheol. “Just, not right now. I was just looking around. This place isn't abandoned, there's food fresh land out on the tables. I'll bet they heard us coming somehow and are hiding in some secret dugout. We're gonna find someone, you'll see. Let's stay together and keep an eye out.
The aim of this mission was to infiltrate the villages of the valley and kill off most of its inhabitants in order for them to steal away all their crops and livestock. They’d gone through three towns during the first two days.
Their first week passed without incident as they scoured the villages for food and loot. But here, today, they found nothing but empty houses and abandoned farms. They also found no sign of any other people. It was as if this village were only inhabited by ghosts.
It was a farming community, with a few buildings scattered around. But there were no guards.
No other citizens.
It seemed to be deserted.
It had been a week since they'd entered the kingdom. All they'd done was explore, scout, and search for anything useful.
As the week dragged on, the team grew more confident about the task at hand. As long as the target was unaware they were out there, everything would be okay. There would be no survivors here anyway. ut in order for no one to survive, there first had to be someone to kill, and here there was no one.
This town, this village. Something was wrong with it. They found no sign of any people. It was as if the people had instantly vanished one day.
Meals still on the tables.
Horse carts stopped dead in the middle of the road, their contents still packed. Their riders and horses gone.
Farm tools laying in the fields as if the people vanished while still using the.
This was completely out of place.
The bandit crew made their way through the deserted village, going from house to house, puzzling about where the people could have gone?
Had they fled, just dropped everything and run?
From a dragon perhaps?
Meanwhile, just outside the village...
The rich, lush green valley lay ahead, just a few days ride. Of course it was just an outpost of civilization, an outpost here in the common lands. She had been here before, and had no need to suspect, that another valley, Pepper Valley, had materialized on top of the valley she knew.
A lone woman, with long golden hair, riding on her war horse, barely made it to her town. Goblins and their dreaded war hounds galloped along behind her. They were a few miles back, but they were coming here next.
The only way to head them off was to cross the field there and take another path through the trees. But where could she go? She needed food and water for both herself and her steed. Maybe she could get supplies at the farming village ahead.
She could see farm town just over the horizon. But the closer to the town she got, the more nervous she became.
Something felt wrong.
She couldn't place her finger on it. But there were not many people living in this area, what could possibly happen? Her heart beat faster when she saw the entry gates to the village.
And that's when she saw it.
A large group of men, standing outside a large farmhouse.
All talking amongst themselves.
They didn't seem dangerous.
She decided to approach them.
At that same moment, behind the deserted farming village, in the forest along the edge of the valley, beside a quiet stream leading to the lake, was set up a small pink and fuchsia striped silk tent.
Inside the tent slept an elderly Elf with long white hair, wearing pink silk robes made out of the same striped pink silk as the tent. Wrapped up in warm, soft fur pelt blankets, breathing softly and peacefully. The only sounds that filled the air around the tent was the soft trickle of water over stone.
No one was watching when the trees arrives. Huge mast trees, sprouting up like mushrooms, in places where moments ago, not trees had been.
A thick heavy fog, rolled down off the mountains, as the rumbling roar of an angry volcano, echoed through the night.
Something rustled in the grass outside of the tent, causing the elderly Elf to stir.
Quaraun opened his eyes, sat up clutching a fox pelt round his thin bony shoulders, and looked out from beneath his silken curtain. The first thing he noticed was how very many trees there were blocking his view. He felt certain the trees in front of his tent had not been there when he set the tent up a few hours earlier. And the air, it smell different. As if the valley was not the same valley he had pitched his tent in just before sunset.
But Quaraun had no time to question the change in the air or the different trees, for there in the grass stood a large creature, which was almost like a dog but with longer legs, horns, and a pointed snout.
A black dog, with black feathers on it's wings, and cut crystal eyes, made out of blue glass. The dog looked purple in the moonlight, and had a ghostly blue glow.
All around the dog, little miniature fuzzy, wuzzy fluffy white angora bunnies, with long bloody vampire fangs, munched on mumbling mice in the mid-night moonlight.
The dog barked and bounced excitedly. It wagged it's matted braided purple tail cheerfully when it saw Quaraun.
“Hello!" Quaraun said to the strange dog. "Who are you?"
The beast did not answer, Quaraun had not expected it would. Most creatures didn't talk. The dog-creature turned and scampered back into the forest. Barking and yipping happily as it went. And the herd of undead bunnies bounded after it.
Quaraun sat alone once again.
"How odd. And how cold. It was not so cold when I set up the tent. I can see my breath in the air. Oh dear. I do believe it is cold enough to snow. It's still summer. Are we far enough north for snow? I did not think I had travelled that far. BoomFuzzy loved the snow."
Quaraun sat in the doorway of his tent, watching the full moon and thinking about his dead lover BoomFuzzy. After a while Quaraun reached for his cane, braced it firmly on the ground got up and stretched. His joints cracked and popped. Old age was catching up with him.
"Ow! I hate being old. My bones creak worse than a rusty door. If didn't hate using magic so much, I suppose I could heal myself somehow couldn't I? Eh? Why bother. It's not like I have anyone who cares about me. Every one I love is dead. And every one else on the planet hates my and has a price on my head. I wonder how much The Guild wants for my head these days? There must not be any Justice Mages around here. I've not seen a single wanted poster of myself in weeks. Now. That tree. You I want o see up close."
Quaraun tottered over to a tree, leaning heavily on his cane and trying not to trip on the tall wet, night grass. It was the biggest tree. The one that was nearest to where he had been sleeping. Quaraun walked around the tree several times, running his gold plated fingers across it's bark, felling it's ridges, smelling it's leaves, listening to it's branches, and finally pulled down some moss, which covered the bark.
"No, you are most definitely an actual tree. For a moment I thought you were a mimic, or a monster, and an enchanted Faerie forest coming to haunt me. But you are an actual tree. Nothing magical about you. Odd, I can not you remember you being here. I am getting old. And senile. How did I ever set my tent up next to such a large old oak tree and not notice you here."
Quaraun should have been looking at the two pine trees to either side of the oak, or paying attention to the fact they two of them were particularly careful to always stay behind him, no matter which way he turned or which way he looked.
Quaraun would have noticed the two uprooted trees that were lumbering around behind him, had it not been for the shriek of a dying mouse, that startled him and attracted his attention away from the trees.
The old Elf turned and looked to see a rabbit standing there watching him. A freshly killed mouse hung limp from it's lips.
"You look like one of BoomFuzzy's marshmallow vampire bunnies. And your ears are longer than mine."
Quaraun began laughed loudly at the thought of the rabbit's long twitching ears and how much they resembled his own. Humans often called Quaraun by the nickname "Rabbit Ears" for the foot tall long thin ears that he held high over his head. The rabbit heard him laughing, and the creature's own long ears flattened against it's head and it took off running.
"Oh dear. I did not frighten you away. Well, we've a busy forest tonight, haven't we? Too bad none of you are someone I can talk to."
Quaraun left the tent flap tied open so he could see outside. Then he crawled back into bed. He laid on his side, looking outside the tent.
Outside there was nothing but trees and bushes.
Bushes and trees.
Grass and leaves.
Moss and mushrooms were scattered here and there. He closed his eyes thinking about the strange creature he had just seen.
What was a it called?
He did not know. After some time he fell asleep again.
Weak and delicate.
The smell of decay and death was overwhelming. There wasn’t anything that could save them. He knew this because he didn't know how to live without his family, they were everything to him. Strange creatures had come to take him away. His mother was dead, her blood staining the carpet and flooring in front of the fireplace. Her head shattered, he brain smashed. The jellyfish inside slaughtered. His father had gone crazy from grief. She'd never be coming home again. The tears came easily as he held her broken body, sobbing silently into her hair as he cried.
"No... No... No..." he whispered over and over as his sobs became louder and more desperate, his voice shaking as he begged for a miracle. But there was none to be found. He'd been living like this for weeks, now in the desert of the Di'Jinn, in the marshlands along the desert, but it still hurt.
It still ached.
He felt empty inside, as if he was dying slowly while she was still alive.
ZooLock had always told him not to cry about things he couldn't change. And maybe ZooLock was right, but he was also the one who had brought this upon himself.
His father was gone, his mom too, leaving nothing but chaos behind. There was no hope left, no point in holding on to the life he had before.
To something new.
Now BoomFuzzy too.
Quaraun lived his life in mortal terror, fear to love anyone or let anyone love him, terrified that they would die if he loved them, that they would die, if they loved him.
Sleep was the thing Quaraun dreaded most. His nights were plagued with thoughts of death. His mother. His children. BoomFuzzy. All dead. All bloodily dead.
Red. Just red. That's all you see.
Trapped in a room with red walls.
There's a desk with red papers on it.
Red was the colour of death.
And the colour of blood.
It stains his hands.
More red. More blood.
Blood that can never be washed away.
He closed his eyes. But all was red.
So much blood.
Blood that stained the floorboards and the bed sheets.
But also the bed itself, as well as those who slept there.
Four children laid in a row. All dead.
Covered in blood.
It was the same blood that was spilled in front of him in his nightmares.
In his dreams, he is back there.
In front of all the people he killed that day. His father. His uncle king. His wife. His four beloved children. He sees them again. They stand in front of him, all bloody and lifeless. Blood on their clothes, blood in their hands. Their mouths open, but no sound comes out.
No matter how hard they try to speak, nothing happens.
Reaching out to him, they walk through the fog of the Swamp of Death.
They watch him, laughing at his pathetic attempts to defend himself.
Laughing at his failures.
At how weak he is for even trying.
And then, one by one, they step forward, towards him, raising their hands.
Their fingers pointed straight up.
His breath hitches, his vision blurs.
He tries not to blink.
He doesn't want to miss any of what they do to him, the way they touch him and hurt him.
Touch him with bloody hands.
Touch him with bloodied lips.
With bloody eyes.
With bloody hands, holding him down, forcing his head back against the floor, crushing his skull with their fists.
He can feel the blood trickling down his neck and over his shoulders, onto the bed sheets below.
It is red tears that fell from red eyes.
From black eyes, turned red, from shedding too much red.
Red and black.
A black cat, with the same colour stripes as the night sky. It's eyes red, it's paws black.
Waiting for Emmett.
Two soul tat met for the first time.
The other black.
Two soul mates both born from the same stars in the sky.
Two soul mates, their destinies to intertwine for eternity.
"Are you alright?" The came from behind a pair of deep brown eyes.
The colour of blood. The blood of a child.
It falls to the ground, landing on the cobblestone road.
It glitters in the sunlight and for a moment, it seems to reflect back the sun's rays.
It is a beautiful sight to behold.
Red, glistening blood.
In his eyes, the red letters shine with an almost supernatural glow. And that make him feel sick. He looked away from it, looking to his feet where he can still feel the heat radiating off them.
But his feet are red too, soaked in the blood of his children, but they aren't glowing, instead they are covered in a thick layer of ice.
"This isn't my doing," he muttered turning around and running off down the street as fast as he can go. "No! It wasn't me. I didn't do that. I couldn't! I wouldn't!"
He needed to get away from this place; he just wanted to be alone. He doesn't want to think about this anymore.
If only he could forget.
He wanted to forget about the blood.
The blood of his children, in the writing on the wall.
So much blood, tainted everything in this town.
And yet... they keep returning, like a plague.
Every time he closed his eyes, or breathed deeply, he heard their screams echoing through his head. He wished he could do something to stop them, to make those sounds go away, but there was nothing he could do.
All he can do is run away and try not to think about it.
The red blood of his children, covering over everything.
He ran through the village. People scattered in all directions, screaming. He tried to stop, but he couldn't. It was like he was made of stone.
Stone stained red. Soaked in their blood.
The accursed colour red. Colour of blood.
And all he can do, every time, is look at it, and wonder if he'll ever see another colour again.
Because even when they were gone, the blood still remained.
He wished he could forget it, too. But he couldn't, no matter how much he wanted to.
Because it wasn't just his fault, was it?
It was theirs. The villagers. They deserved to die so that the blood would stay clean. So BoomFuzzy could return. That would make him feel better, wouldn't it? Make things better.
But it didn't.
It didn't help at all.
The blood remained on every surface; it stained the floors of his house.
It made everything seem more real, more vivid.
It made every moment with them, the times he'd spent with them, hurt more than anything else.
He wished it would all end. But he knew it wouldn't. No matter how many times he tried to erase everything, he knew he couldn't.
No matter what he did, the blood stayed.
So he ran. And ran. He tried everything he could think of to escape the memories, but it never worked. The blood would always come back. Even after he'd stopped thinking about it.
The blood. The blood on his hands.
On his clothes. On his face.
Red. Red blood.
The blood of his children.
Words on the wall, written in their blood.
Written in their blood, with his own hand.
A red light.
A red letter.
The colour of blood.
As one gets closer to death.
He looked around the room in despair, the same room where he used to play with his cousins and pretend that his parents weren't...
When he opened his eyes, he felt like he hasn’t slept at all. That’s not true. He had actually slept for a few hours. But that was the last thing he remembered before losing consciousness again. Or, more accurately, being woken by someone poking him in the shoulder. He groaned quietly and turned over to see who it is, but the person moved away from him quickly so he couldn’t see their face.
There are two people here with him?
That is a problem.
Usually he would be able to recognize one of them immediately, but they must have blended into the background during his sleep, as usual. He knew them well enough, though, and that meant he recognized this person too.
The name didn't ring any bells, nor did it seem familiar. They don’t look like a friend or foe, either, so maybe he should ask?
If there were enemies here, why didn’t he hear any fighting when he woke up? That would mean they weren’t enemies, right?
The colour of blood.
Blood that can never be washed away.
No more tears.
No more blood.
"Weak. I feel very weak," Quaraun said, closing his eyes and putting his hands over his face. "Where are you?"
"Ah, Quaraun, you are finally here."
"You are the one I have chosen to accompany me on this quest. What are you doing here?"
When Quaraun awoke it was dark. No. There was no one there. It was only a dream. No one was ever with him. Every one he loved was dead. He was alone, as usual. Quaraun got up and went outside, looking around. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at first, until he noticed that the sun had set. He began walking towards his tent, when suddenly someone called out to him.
"Excuse me!" a woman's voice called out. "Can you show me where the livery stables are?"
"Stables?" Quaraun asked, looking around and seeing no one there. "Stables? There are no stables around here."
Unfortunately, Quaraun's ears acted somewhat like antennae and he could pick up sounds from many miles away, just as clear as if they were standing beside him, and he assumed this was the case now, for there was no woman to be seen, and this far out in the middle of the forest, there was no possibility of a literary in the area. He laid his long ears back, tucking them under his impossibly long twelve foot Rapunzel hair.
There was a village near by, down in the valley. Quaraun had seen it the day before. He could have gone there and looked for a room to rent, a bed to sleep in, so as to not have to sleep on the cold hard ground. Quaraun preferred to sleep in his tent, in the forest, away from Human populations. He was the last Elf. Few Humans these days even believed that Elves had ever been once real, so it was generally best to avoid Human villages until scouting out the beliefs of the local cultures and knowing their thoughts on magical creatures, like Elves.
Sadly Quaraun knew he could never live among the Humans. They were quick to judge anything deemed different, and he was certainly different. He knew most people feared him, some even hated him, sometimes simply because he was an Elf, other times because he was a mage.
The Pink Necromancer no less.
And yet, many respected him, mostly for his power. Tales of The Pink Necromancer were legendary and there were few who would dare risk his temper.
Now that he was awake again, Quaraun could not get back to sleep, so he took to writing.
"...a black mirror, a silver dagger, and a white feather. A white bird's wing, on its head, and a white cloth with black lines over it as a bandage for a wound.
A white dress, black feathers on top of each head, black clothes, and white boots.
A black crow carrying something in it's talons, feathers ruffled like they had been through wind. An empty cage, with its contents long gone.
The three children who had been playing with the ravens before, now standing beside him. They were no longer laughing or screaming as they used to, but their eyes seemed dull with grief and despair, tears running down their faces, hands shaking as they looked around at what was left of the forest they had once known so well.
There were trees and flowers everywhere, birds singing, animals running through the field, rabbits hopping from tree to tree, butterflies and butterflies flying in the air. The raven in front of them, though, was still just dead; nothing was alive anymore. There were no life, no movement, no life except for that one little, white feather floating in the air, drifting up and away until it could no longer be seen. He watched as it fluttered further away into the sky.
He felt like he should be angry or sad about this..."
Quaraun stopped writing and read what he wrote. Than puzzled and wondered why it was he had written the words he had.
The old Elf felt lonely without anyone there beside him at night, so he began to softly sing.
A soft quiet song.
The lullaby he had sung to his four small children, two sets of twins, two girls and two boys, each two years apart.
He missed his children.
They had been murdered, poisoned with tainted chocolate, them their throats slit. A haunted memory of the blood filled nursery, plagued Quaraun's tortured sleep.
Two girls age twelve, two boys age ten, murdered in a bloody magic ritual.
Quaraun stopped singing.
Tears streaming from his eyes.
"I loved my children," Quaraun said to himself. "But I loved BoomFuzzy more."
Quaraun had murdered his children on the one hundredth anniversary of BoomFuzzy's death. An attempt to resurrect BoomFuzzy, with a blood sacrifice, life for life, exchanging the thing he loved most of all, his children, for the return of his long dead lover.
The exchange had worked, but not completely.
BoomFuzzy's soul was back.
Ripped from the land of the dead, now cursed to roam the land of the living.
A incorporeal wraith, a ghost with no body, worse, a Lich with no flesh. Enraged by what Quaraun had done, the Lich immediately fled, to where Quaraun did not know. And so once again, Quaraun was alone, separated from now not only the one he loved, but now with no family to love either.
And so Quaraun wandered the world. In search of BoomFuzzy's tormented ghost, while seek a way to restore the wraith into a physical flesh body, that they could be reunited in life, once again.
The wraith had no voice to speak with the living.
No flesh to hug and hold.
It would have been nice to have someone to talk to. Nicer to have someone to hold. BoomFuzzy in his current Lich state, could talk to no one, hold no one. He could only reach out and try to touch them, his hand going through them, and far back in horror as he watched them crystallize in a horrible blue death, a frozen blue ice, The Crystal Plague spreading throughout their body, starting at the location he had touched.
Everyone he touched.
Everything he touched.
The Frost Lich's frozen touch of death, struck terror in the hearts of mankind.
So many dead. Entire villages, buried in ice. All because of him. Because he were looking for something. Someone. A lover lost. He wasn't afraid anymore.
The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley.
The most feared Faerie King of all time.
Now the most feared Lich the world had ever known. He didn’t care anymore. He'd roamed the world trying not to freeze everything he touched, but he no longer cared.
Depression filled his mind.
He wanted death.
He crazed for death. But he was already dead.
Now undead. A flesh-less corpse walking among the living.
The Phooka of a Thousand Deaths, he roamed the world endlessly killing himself over and over again, in search of a way to die and stay dead.
But he was soul bound to an Elf.
And as long as Quaraun lived, the Lich could never fully die.
The Lich grew to hate Quaraun. His lover from once before, was now his curse that trapped him in this state of existing not dead, yet not alive.
For as much as Quaraun loved BoomFuzzy, BoomFuzzy hated Quaraun.
Hated Quaraun for the wish misspoken, that had bound their souls together, trapping them for eternity, always connected together, always separate, never together. The Lich that once in life had been BoomFuzzy, thought to kill Quaraun and free himself of this curse.
So many lay dead in his path. If only he hadn’t touched them.
The Lich had come this way, drifting through these forests, freezing everything he touched. A path of frozen trees, only days ago, lush, green and full of life, now stood dead, frozen, strange blue crystal points, skewered through their bark, trunk, and leaves. Everything touched by the frozen wraith had the life sucked out of it, and nothing but frozen blue quartz crystals left behind.
He passes by the village.
The villagers flee before him, and he laughs.
This is their world. Now his.
They are the rulers, he is the servant, no more.
In life The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley had been a holy terror, a warlord who marches his armies across nations, slaughtering all in his path. No one understood why Quaraun loved him. What Quaraun ever saw in such an evil man. But now, The Elf Eater was long dead, and his frosty Lichified wraith roamed the earth, striking more fear into the hearts of humanity than he had ever done in life.
Nothing but frozen blue ice.
Nothing but deadened snow.
Nothing but the cold.
The Lich had found a cave hidden within the forest, deep into the mountains. He had crawled into it and slept, and when he awoke, it was time to go again, searching for some fresh game. It didn’t matter what it was; something big enough to eat would do. Anything larger was gone, killed, or fled. No one dared approach the lair of the Lich, who was known for being cruel and merciless.
But even he couldn’t find an endless supply of food here. There were no animals nearby, and they knew better than to wander too close. Even if there were, there was still the risk of his touch freezing them in place, trapping them forever inside his lair.
So they stayed away from the lair, watching it from afar, hoping that someone else might stumble upon its depths.
But no other had, since the Lich had come to live there.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been at the lair.
It felt like it had been centuries.
Time had ceased to exist.
Only days mattered anymore, days that meant nothing, only days where the Lich was alone, and hungry.
When it felt like all was lost.
To kill the Elf Eater, destroy the wraith, rid the world of this icy lich, was the battle cry of millions of cities, millions of villages, who lived in mortal terror that one day this lich would walk through their village and leave behind, as it always did, nothing but icy death.
And while most sought to destroy the Lich, Quaraun sought to free him, restore him to life, release him from his frosty flesh-less cursed existence.
And that was why Quaraun was here, in this valley, whose name he did not know, near a village he also knew not the name of.
Quaraun was following the Lich that was all that remained of BoomFuzzy, and it had walked through he mere days ago.
To free the lich, to bring him back from the brink of death, to find the rare flower that could re-energize his corpse and bring him back to life... that was his goal. Why he followed the Lich's icy trail.
And so Quaraun, he followed the Lich, keeping silent, keeping his eyes on the horizon where the Lich travelled, and keeping watch for any sign that BoomFuzzy might be coming near.
And then he came to a river.
A river, flowing fast, flowing far.
He followed it upstream, moving closer to the riverbank, until finally he realized it was not an ordinary river.
An icy river.
An icy river running through an icy forest.
The river was alive.
Quaraun followed the river, and found its source, and it was not natural. Not normal, not natural at all.
There was no water. But rather strange magic that looked like water, smelled like water, tasted like water, but was not water.
There should have been, with the rivers in this place.
This place was supposed to be frozen over.
This was supposed to be lifeless, dead land.
And yet... life pervaded, even though the footsteps of the Lich had walked through here.
This river ran through it as though it were alive. As though it flowed with life. And as it moved, the air around it grew warmer, the light brighter. And suddenly, Quaraun could feel warmth on his skin, and smell summertime.
What a strange place.
For a moment he hesitated, unsure if he should continue onward.
Wasn't the river dangerous?
If the water froze, wouldn't it trap the whole world under ice?
And if the river was frozen, wouldn't it freeze him too?
Wouldn't the undead creatures within be trapped, trapped forever beneath the ice?
He had to hurry.
Had to reach the end. Before the sun set and the moon rose.
And so Quaraun continued on, until at last he came to this clearing, where he had set up his tent for the night and now sat humming to himself, trying to calm his frazzled nerves, after be awoken by the blood spattered nightmare that haunted him every night.
This was no place for a nightmare.
It was beautiful here.
A small quiet meadow full of plants, lush with greenery.
A pond off the side of the river, full of cat tails and water lilies.
Quaraun sat wrapped in BoomFuzzy's furs, for many hours and listened to the soft hum of the crickets, cicadas, and frogs croaking and chirping and buzzing. He closed his eyes and tried to imagine that he was lying in the soft warm furs that lined BoomFuzzy’s bed.
The furs were soft and fluffy and smelled like BoomFuzzy, smelling of anise, gingerbread, peppermint and wormwood, and there was a comforting heat that wrapped around Quaraun when he slept. Quaraun wondered if it could feel as comfortable to anyone else, but he never felt more comfortable than when wrapped in BoomFuzzy's fur pelt blankets.
He didn't know what else it could do for them other than being so soft and warm. It had been his favourite thing to do on rainy days or cold nights. After a long day at work, he would come home and curl up under one of the furs in the bedroom of BoomFuzzy's gingerbread house. He always fell asleep faster there.
Quaraun opened his eyes, glanced out the open curtain-door of the tent, and looked up at the starry night sky. It glowed a soft golden hue over the trees and he sighed, resting his head back down on the fur pelt blanket.
Suddenly Quaraun sat up and pulled the covers off as he remembered where he was. He was not snuggled up asleep in the safety of BoomFuzzy's gingerbread house.
BoomFuzzy had died centuries ago and Quaraun was alone.
These were BoomFuzzy's furs, kept these many years, from BoomFuzzy's bed, but BoomFuzzy had long been dead.
Quaraun was alone.
Alone, sleeping in a secluded grove on the side of the road, as he always did now.
Sad and alone.
Lone and chilly.
Wandering the world, to wherever the road took him. With no aim, no goal, and no purpose. Ever on his search to find a way to resurrect his dearly beloved BoomFuzzy.
He was lost.
Lost to the world.
Lost and alone.
Lost to time. Lost to all that made life worth living.
Dead and cold.
Cold and dead.
Quaraun sat in his tent staring at the moonlight shining down, all silver and grey on the lush green plants, making them shimmer blue under the frosty ice crystals.
Quaraun held is breath, staring, panicked at the ice crystals forming over the leaves. Shimmering, sparkling, in the moonlight, like sequins of velvet.
Quaraun looked out the tent, looking past the river, past the pond, and there in the trees, he saw it.
A dark figure, looming in the moonlight.
Quaraun's blood froze like the ice on the plants around him.
His heart skipped a beat.
It was the Lich.
The Lich, awoken, risen from his slumber.
The Lich, walking towards Quaraun, a big, grinning smile on his face.
The fuzzy, frost Lich frost spread like a blight across the meadow freezing everything it touched.
The river froze. The grass froze.
The tent glazed over, the fabric stiff with fuzzy, frosty, ice.
If the water froze, wouldn't it trap the whole world under ice?
And if the river was frozen, wouldn't it freeze him, too?
Or would it freeze him completely, and leave him frozen in place, frozen forever, with no hope of return?
And then he thought of the gingerbread house and BoomFuzzy, and BoomFuzzy's words of kindness, and remembered all the times he had fallen in love, and remembered the Phooka's words, his promises to take him home.
Home with BoomFuzzy.
Back in the warmth of the gingerbread house.
Home, in BoomFuzzy's arms. In BoomFuzzy's bed.
The word brought joy to Quaraun's heart. Home. Yes!
The Lich, the Lich that in life had been BoomFuzzy, was there, his hand reaching out to Quaraun, beckoning, inviting Quaraun into his cold, icy embrace.
"Follow me home, lil one," BoomFuzzy's voice said, drifting ghost-like on the wind.
Sunrise slowly crept across the meadow, and chased away the frozen fog. Melted away the frost on the grass. And chased to the shadows, the Lich that could not bare to step forth in the sunlight.
"No! Don't leave me!"
But the Lich was gone.
Quaraun closed his eyes and back away from the door, and hid in the back of the tent.
All that ever mattered now, was to find his friend. Find the man who would love him so very much, that when he returned to BoomFuzzy, he would have someone else, by his side.
Quaraun had been wandering through these lands, trying to find a way out, a way back to his own realm. But now, looking at this icy river, the idea of returning to those shores sounded wonderful. Perhaps he would make it back there. Perhaps he could find a way to save BoomFuzzy, and bring him back to the land of the living.
So he would follow the river, keep track of its flow, make sure it went straight forward, and stay in it as long as he needed to. Then, when he felt the need to return, he would return.
He would return.
With the new spring he had found.
Quaraun wandered the world, going from town to town, looking for books, tomes, scrolls, diaries, notes, anything written by a mage.
Scoring the world for clues, to any mage who might ever have tried to cheat death, tried to resurrect a loved one. Anything that Quaraun could learn that might be of some sort of usefulness for bringing BoomFuzzy back to life.
Quaraun now sat awake, looking around and wondering what he should do next, than he remembered that he had seen a small farm village up ahead. He decided to pack up his tent, and explore the village. Perhaps it had a library or a book collector, or maybe even a village which, someone who might have access to magic spell books he could study and read and take notes from.
Back at the farm village, the men, grew antsy. They seemed unable to leave the village. Try as they might, every time they went out of the front gate,, they immediately found themselves back in front of the large farm house again, with no clue how they got there.
"Dark magic's afoot," one man said.
The others nodded and agreed. Just than an unearthly looking blond woman, riding a large white stallion rode up. She was out of breath, and so was her horse.
"Excuse me!" She called out to the men. "Can you show me where the livery stables are?"
The men stared at her, terrified, as if they had seen a ghost, then suddenly bolted in every direction, running away from the women.
"How rude!" she declared as she climbed down from her horse and set about looking for someone to help her.
Back in the forest, Quaraun busied himself in packing up his campsite. And than began walking towards the direction of the village. If it had a stable for renting horses, than surely it was big enough to also have a saloon, maybe even one with goof quality Fairy Wine.
It was unlikely.
Faeries were the only ones able to make good quality Fairy Wine, and they rarely wholesaled it out to Humans. Besides, BoomFuzzy was dead, and not even the best Faeries made Fairy Wine like BoomFuzzy did.
Hailed among Fae at the best of the Master Faerie Chefs, BoomFuzzy, though famed among Humans for being a warlord, had been famed among Faeries as the chef, every Fae chef dreamed to become.
After some time of walking he came upon a small clearing with some bushes, which were growing around one side of it. In the centre of the clearing there was a large wooden building. Without thinking anything odd about doing so at all, Quaraun entered through the front door, without knocking and saw two women sitting near the fire. They both turned to look at him.
One woman had black hair, very light brown and looked to be about twenty or thirty years old. Her face did not seem very friendly.
“You have come from afar.” she said in a cold voice, but with slight curiosity mixed in.
“Yes,” responded Quaraun. “It has been quite some while since I saw any human being in this forest.”
“We have lived in peace for many decades now,” replied the other woman. “We do not require anyone to visit us.”
“I am sorry,” replied Quaraun, looking down, then back up again. The two ladies looked at each other.
“What are you called?” asked the other woman in a kinder voice.
“Quaraun,” answered Quaraun.
The black haired lady smiled.
She got up and went over to stand next to the fireplace where Quaraun was standing.
“What is your name?”
“Quaraun,” replied Quaraun softly, bowing slightly.
The black haired woman giggled lightly.
“I see. You are the star Liberace of the stage!” She exclaimed.
"What is a Liberace?"
"Yes, who is a Liberace."
Quaraun noticed that they were both wearing the same clothes as he was, something was not right here. No one dressed like Quaraun. With all his pink silk, pink ribbons, pink bows, pink feathers, pink glitter, pink ruffles, pink crewel, pink gemstones, pink beads, pink rhinestones, and pink fru-fru, no one in their right mind would even dream of dressing like Quaraun, except, maybe Liberace.
Even Liberace wouldn't dress like Quaraun, unless maybe he had a bad hair day.
Quaraun also made all of his own clothes, right down to the cloth. For Quaraun was a silk weaver and embroiderer and tailor. So it wasn't possible for anyone else to wear his clothes.
Quaraun stood and stared at the women, and while he watched them, they suddenly vanished, as did the house around them.
"How odd," was all Quaraun said as he turned back to the path and continued on his way.
Back at the abandoned village the bandits were feeling uneasy.
No one lived here.
There weren’t any villagers around at all.
They were beginning to feel like they might actually succeed in taking down the place with just themselves and their weapons. They couldn’t understand why this deserted town had been chosen specifically.
They decided to move on when their third week began. There was a small stream nearby that the villagers said flowed into a lake. It would be easy for them to find a suitable location to set up camp for the night.
While setting up camp, as they started to pack, there was suddenly a loud thump outside. It sounded like someone hitting a tree with an axe. Was this sound the first sign of life they had encountered since their arrival?
A quick glance at each other and they all rushed outside to see who it was. It was hard not to notice how dark it had gotten. The only light coming from the moonlight filtering through the clouds.
It seemed like hours of walking and nothing had happened.
They looked out towards the road. Nothing could be seen. No lights from houses or vehicles either. All they saw was trees swaying ever so slightly in the wind and the sound of a distant engine rumbling somewhere deep inside the woods.
A few minutes passed by and they continued to stand there, waiting.
Still nothing happened.
They heard movement to their right.
Someone else was here too.
They looked over at whoever it was. They recognized this man. He was the person responsible for the death of one of their men back when he had taken their prisoner away. He must have come here to make sure everything was okay. He was not from the village ether. A stranger, just like them. He wouldn't know where everyone had gone too.
It appeared as though he was trying to keep quiet but there was no way to hide his footsteps and how fast they were getting closer. When he finally reached them and stepped between them and where he had entered earlier, they saw that it wasn’t him that made the noise after all.
Standing right behind him was another soldier. One of their own, they realized. His face twisted in surprise as he turned quickly back around.
“By the gods! I didn’t think anyone was out here. What are you doing? Did we forget something at camp? Is it safe to return now? We should go back before anything happens.”
Just then there was a loud crash.
They turned around to see that the woman from earlier lay unconscious on the ground. They approached her slowly. One of them lifted her up to see if she was alright. She woke up when the men approached and glared at them. She pushed past them and ran towards a nearby building that was filled with barrels. The barrels seemed to move.
The men went after her and followed her inside. They saw her pick up one of the barrels and turn it over. She then smashed the barrel open on top of a man’s head. He fell onto the floor bleeding out. As they looked closer they could see his eyes moving under the blood that spilled.
The woman ran from the building as the men scrambled around their fallen comrade.
Outside the woman ran, terrified, looking in every direction for a place to hide. As she ran down the street, she spied a small alley between two buildings and turned down that corner, nearly slamming into Quaraun who was bent over rummaging around in a pile of crates.
"Hello," Quaraun said as he stood up to address the woman. Then noticing the distress on her face added: "Is something the matter?"
The sounds of angry men, yelling and shouting, did not give the woman any time to answer. She shoved Quaraun aside, knocking the old Elf off his feet, as she ran past him and continued her fear filled flight.
As Quaraun struggled with his cane, pulling himself to his feet, the tumble-bumble herd of angry men, came tearing down the road, they too knocking him over as they ran past in search of the murderess who'd killed their friend.
"Oh dear," Quaraun sputtered as he once again reached for his cane and struggled back to his feet. "Every one does seem to be in a rush around here."
Curious as to what was going on, Quaraun made his way in the direction the men had gone, after the woman. He stopped when he saw the men up ahead, and ducked back behind a pile of boxes that stood near the corner, then peeked out to watch what was going on.
As they crept towards a window at the edge of the building’s porch, two men entered one of the houses and left. The door closed behind them, and then everything happened so fast.
One man ran past them, towards the road. Two others turned towards him; then they fired. A second later, four arrows whizzed towards the man, striking him in the side and chest. He fell to the ground and didn’t move.
Three more men burst from behind another house. One pointed his sword straight at the first man who’d run out, while another raised his axe and prepared to attack the others.
Without thinking, Quaraun let out a scream. A moment later, he felt a sharp sting in his arm. It took him a split second to realize an arrow had hit one attacker in the stomach, and then he realized they’d caught sight of him. The remaining three men now charged at him, weapons drawn.
One held his shield up high over his head, while the other two held their swords in front of them, pointing at him. Both carried clubs. The last had the axe that he used earlier.
Quaraun drew one of the Elf Eater’s cursed daggers. The magic dagger flashed as the first two attacked him. One grabbed hold of his dagger hand. The other lunged forward, swinging his club. Quaraun dodged away, while the dagger, taken on a life of its own, flew through the air and stabbed the attacker in the face.
The other three quickly surrounded the elderly wizard, raising their blades high above their heads.
Before anyone could strike, the Elf Eater’s twin daggers slashed at each of them.
All three fell.
One landed hard on his side.
One on his leg.
Another on the floor.
The third stumbled backwards, holding his knee. He dropped to his knees, dropping both his clubs. His eyes bulged as blood seeped between his fingers.
Quaraun spun and darted into a nearby doorway. Behind him, one attacker groaned and tried to get up. As soon as he moved, one of the cursed daggers lashed out and connected with his neck. The attacker collapsed onto the floor.
Quaraun turned his attention to the second assailant who managed to pull himself to his feet.
Quaraun didn’t give his attacker enough time for a proper fight. A fireball exploded from his mouth, setting the room on fire.
The attacker screamed as Quaraun ran forward and plunged the enchanted dagger into the bandit's chest. The assassin dropped back to the ground, twitching as his body was consumed by flames.
The remaining assassin, still standing on his injured leg, swung his club at Quaraun. The old wizard jumped to the side, allowing the blow to miss.
The assassin growled. He then turned around, ready to charge. Before he could attack again, a large, green blur rushed past him, knocking the attacker down once more. It took no time at all before the creature stood over him, looking down at the fallen foe.
Its head whipped around and looked back at Quaraun. Its eyes were yellow. It raised it's left arm. It began to glow. The light grew brighter until suddenly it burst apart, revealing... a dragon?
The dragon stared down at the unconscious warrior. Then, without so much as glancing over at it, the dragon turned and charged towards the door behind Quaraun, leaving it open. Without so much as a glance back, the dragon vanished into the hallway, taking the door with it.
Quaraun darted into another doorway, then another. After about thirty seconds, he finally reached a dead end.
He stopped, turning around and surveying his surroundings. The room he stood in was large, but it ended abruptly at a stone wall. The two daggers floated back to him and obediently took their place at his side. His eyes fell on the dead end. If he went down the steps at the far end, it would take him to the bottom of the stairs.
There was nowhere else to go.
So he did.
After stepping off the steps, the stone floor crunched beneath his feet. He walked down the hallway for a couple of meters and stopped, glancing both ways, taking in the room. It contained nothing except a desk, some chairs, shelves, and a door.
He glanced at the door.
To his surprise, it opened easily and swung inward, exposing the corridor beyond. A small room opened to one side of the corridor.
Quaraun stepped inside. He closed the door and looked around. A wooden chair sat beside the desk, pushed against a wall. He approached it slowly, monitoring his surroundings.
“Hello?” he called.
The old Elf cautiously stepped closer to the table. Quaraun set his pink heart-shaped bag on the table and began rummaging through it. Once he’d found what he needed, he pulled a book from his pink bag. The old wizard carelessly put his pack on the floor and set his two daggers beside it. He then carefully placed the book on top of his pack.
He reached into his pocket and took out his wand and pointed it at the book. With a flick, the book burst into flames, leaving nothing behind but ashes.
“Well that won’t work.”
He picked up his bags. He left the room.
Quaraun made his way down the hall. Once again the sound of stones crunching under his boots sounded like thunderous claps of thunder. His hair stood on end as if the very air itself had an energy. Quaraun shivered and turned another corner.
“Here goes nothing,” he muttered.
The old wizard peered into one of the rooms and then peeked inside. As usual, there was no sign of life. He sighed heavily and went on his way, making sure not to get lost on his way back. After a few more turns, the hallway ended with a single large doorway. He paused for a moment and looked into the room.
It was a bedroom.
There were two bedside tables.
One had a lamp on it while the other had a vase of flowers.
A soft light shone on the bed and a warm breeze blew gently in from outside, carrying with it a faint scent of flowers. Quaraun could see a pair of slippers sitting on the floor beside the bed. He smiled. They seemed like such sweet, simple things. So typical of Humans. He couldn’t help but think how odd they are.
Quaraun moved towards the windows.
“I hate being here,” he muttered.
Then Quaraun moved towards the chair. When he reached the chair, he sat. It creaked softly under his weight. He leaned back and rested his hands on the arms of the chair.
An hour passed.
The sun outside began to set. The shadows grew long, deepening the room. Still, nothing had changed. Not even the sound of a horse approaching could be heard. It was odd, the level of silence in this town, in this house even.
Quaraun shivered, than glanced around the room. It was getting cold, in this place. Unusually cold, frigid even. As though a Lich's frost was encasing the outside of the building. And there was no fireplace nor wood stove to be seen. He was wearing only thin silk robes, not nearly warm enough for the intense chill that filled this stone walled cellar room. He had hoped to find a place to light a fire and warm himself, but it appeared this cellar was mostly used by it's resident as a reading room, and served no purpose otherwise as living quarters.
Quaraun heard a sound.
He stood up and turned around.
"Is someone there?"
There was no reply.
No one was here, at least not yet. But he knew from experience, they would come eventually. He walked around, looking for the stairs down. If someone could have entered here without his knowledge, he didn't know if he would be able to stop them before finding out who or what was behind the door on the other side.
Quaraun finally found them and descended into the darkness below him. Once he felt that he was far enough away that no one else could possibly hear him, he spoke again.
Quaraun sighed when nothing happened.
He walked further into the cellar until he came across a door. He tried the doorknob, finding it to be locked. He pressed his ear against the wood of the door. He heard some whispering coming from inside the room.
Curious, Quaraun knocked on the door three times, waited, then did so twice more.
“I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone is home."
He frowned when he got no response.
After knocking a third time and receiving no reply, Quaraun tried the knob once more. This time, it opened easily. He stepped inside.
The small living area was dimly lit with a few candles set upon various surfaces. The smell of incense filled the air. There wasn't a single thing in sight
He heard no further sounds, so he sat back down and contemplated if he should use his wand to create a flame-less fire or put on a fur coat from his bag.
Quaraun yawned and stretched his limbs.
Finally, Quaraun stood up, picked up his pack, and walked towards the window. His eyes were very tired. This strange, intense cold was making him very sleepy. Quaraun stared out the window, the ground above was eye level to the bottom of the cellar window, so he could clearly see the ground and part of the sky and not much else. There was no light source, just the moon and stars.
The only sound that could be heard was that of the crickets and cicadas outside.
Quaraun turned around, looked at the fireplace, then back out the window, then at the stove.
There's not a matchbox here either.
Quaraun shrugged, and walked towards the fireplace.
As soon as he came near the fireplace, he felt an intense heat coming from it. He shuddered and stopped walking.
Looking back at the fireplace, Quaraun saw a small flame had appeared on the logs. Quaraun slowly started to approach the fireplace again. When he touched one of the logs, he felt it burning hot.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable, Quaraun quickly backed away from the flames.
Quaraun walked towards the window instead, then went back towards the fireplace. As he got closer, he noticed more and more flames appeared around the fireplace. It felt like there was an inferno going on.
As fast as he could manage, Quaraun ran from the room and closed and locked the front door and window. Then he collapsed against the wall and started catching his breath.
That was too close! Quaraun thought.
As Quaraun continued catching his breath, he looked at the windowsill. On top of the sill, next to a large glass jar, was some kind of plant.
Just then, something crashed into the windowsill, causes Quaraun to jump back startled. When he looked to see what it was, he saw a large black bird, and eagle of some sort, laying on the ground by the window. It stood up and stared at him. It had gleaming black-blue feathers, brilliant crystal blue eyes, and huge sharp black talons. It cocked it's head sideways, staring back at him for a moment and than flew away.
"What a strange looking bird," Quaraun said to himself. "I wonder what it was. I've never seen one like it."
Quaraun turned back to look around the room once again.
His gaze fell on a stack of books sitting on the desk. He reached for one. It was old. The leather binding cracked, and its yellowed pages flapped gently. He set it aside and picked up another. This one had a chocolate brown velvet cover, the exact type of brown velvet as the cassock BoomFuzzy always wore.
"BoomFuzzy," Quaraun whispered as he ran his gold armoured fingers over the soft velvet binding. He turned the book over to look at it's cover. The covered was embossed with gold leafing, exactly like the ones on the covers of BoomFuzzy's boxes of chocolates. "Oh my!" Quaraun gasped when he read the title of the book.
The gold words said:"Quaraun".
Quaraun opened the book, turning it's delicate vellum pages carefully. He recognized the calligraphic handwriting on the pages.
It was BoomFuzzy.
BoomFuzzy had written this.
"Quaraun is an ancient Moon Elf wizard. A powerful mage, whom has lived for centuries beyond his natural life expectancy. He is known as the most dangerous and knowledgeable wizard in all of the Realm of Fae."
"BoomFuzzy wrote this," Quaraun said as he closed the book and tucked it away inside his pack."But when? I was not yet a wizard when BoomFuzzy died. I was just a child. I became a mage after his death. Because of his death. BoomFuzzy could not have written this."
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 die coughing up a pool of their own blood, mixed with their dissolved entrails. And the victim would die a gruesome, bloody death.
But that's not all.
BoomFuzzy also used this poison when he made the chocolate.
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.
Quaraun had found the remains of the dead man, in the old gingerbread house.
Quaraun had found him in some kind of secret room.
BoomFuzzy's secret room was not secret anymore, now that Quaraun knew about it.
Now was haunted.
Haunted by BoomFuzzy's ghost.
And no amount of running around would make it go away, because every time he stopped, something bad happened.
Quaraun was sure of it, if only to try to understand what had been done so deeply wrong, but all he could do was shake his head sadly, and take his sweet time eating every single one of the boxes in his small hands.
He'd eat the whole box of the last one.
He'd make sure of it.
There were more important things to worry about though.
This was not a pleasant thought.
This was a horrible thought.
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. "But I loved BoomFuzzy more. I murdered my four children. This candy is poisoned. I gave them each a chocolate from this box. This horrible box of poisoned chocolates."
Quaraun stared at the horrible boxes of chocolates that had taken so many lives.
"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."
Tears streamed down Quaraun's cheeks.
"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."
Quaraun put the box of poisoned chocolates back in his bag and fell silent once again.
Quaraun picked up the next book from the stack.
A beautiful tome on the subject of necromancy, written by the Great Lich Lord himself.
How interesting. Quaraun pocketed the book.
Quaraun looked at the stacks of tomes. Quaraun picked up the next book from the stack.
This time, Quaraun didn't read it. He simply sat and looked at it in his hands as if he could see the words printed there as if they were alive. But they weren't alive. They were only plastic and paper and glue. But they weren't plastic or paper. Not anymore. Not when Quaraun had given them life, brought them into this world with all its horrors and suffering.
Not when Quaraun had made these beings who he now knew would forever haunt his nightmares.
His thoughts. His fears. And his memories.
They were Quaraun's nightmares, no more, and no less.
As Quaraun flipped through the pages of the book until he came to the part where Quaraun found out about his past.
There, on an old copy of some book that had sold for over five hundred gold coins back then, was a small paragraph written in red ink on a blank page.
"'The world does not want people to be good.' That's what he said. This same man that I'm supposed to kill because he killed my best friend," Quaraun thought with a heavy sigh.
He turned to the next page.
A picture filled the book, and for a moment, Quaraun's heart skipped a beat.
It was the image of the first person he'd ever killed: Gibedon the Great. Quaraun quickly shoved the book in his bag and grabbed the next one.
Quaraun read over the title."The History of the World." Quaraun placed that book back down and opened another. This book was newer and less damaged, but it's pages were blank. There were no words written in it.
He set it aside and pulled another book closer.
The cover read: "A Treatise On the History, Theory, and Practice of Witchcraft, by King Gwallmaiic."
Quaraun gasped at the name. King Gwallmaiic. BoomFuzzy. BoomFuzzy was just a nickname, a name Quaraun had called him, his real name had been Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries. Could he have written this book? that was now two books in this stack, written by BoomFuzzy. This was a most odd and curious discovery.
This time, he removed a thick red book from the stack and opened it. He scanned the page, reading. Then he placed it back on the stack and picked up another.
He read it.
Replaced it. Then he picked up the next one.
Quaraun moved onto the next book in line. The cover read: "Treatise on the Art and Science of Magic."
Quaraun held it up and read the words engraved along the top right hand corner: "King Gwallmaiic."
These books belonged to BoomFuzzy. Quaraun was certain of it. He pocketed this one as well in his pink bag of holding.
Again he read. Again he put the book where he found it.
Once more, he reached for another book. He read the title and chuckled lightly. “The Dark Side of Camelot,” he read out loud.
He flipped open the cover. The book read: “I have always liked stories about knights who fight the evil sorcerer, Merlin.”
Quaraun sighed deeply. He shut the book, put it back, got up, and went to the desk. Unlike the table, there was nothing on it. He contemplated opening one of its drawers, however; he decided against it.
Quaraun went back to the table and sat in its chair once again. He laid his elbows on the arms of the chair and rested his chin on his fist. He picked up “The Dark Side of Camelot” once again, opened it, laid it on the table, and stared blankly at the open page muttering the line: “I have always liked stories about knights who fight the evil sorcerer, Merlin.” to himself a few times.
“Merlin wasn’t evil,” Quaraun stated to no one. “Nor was he a sorcerer. Why writes this crap?”
A sound on the stone stairs interrupted his thoughts. He heard footsteps. The sound echoed throughout the empty hallways. Soon after, a woman came running down the hall. She gripped a torch in her hand. She stopped short when she saw Quaraun.
Quaraun looked at her. She was tall, taller than him, had blonde hair, blue eyes, and light freckles on her cheeks. Her lips were thin and full. She wore a loose, billowing white blouse, long blue skirt, black boots, and a black leather belt. She had the regal air of royalty about her. A queen or a princess, perhaps. She did not move like a commoner.
Quaraun recognized her as the woman whom had run ino him on the street. She was the same woman whom was being chased by the angry men whom had lost her so chased after Quaraun instead, causing him to end up in this very room.
The woman smiled awkwardly at Quaraun, than continued looking frantically around the room. She looked as lost as he felt. Quaraun was used to be lost though and this woman seemed to have never been lost before.
"Did you see them?" she asked Quaraun.
"The Goblins and their war hounds."
"No. I've seen no Goblins here. Nor any war hounds."
"They're coming you know."
"They were about an hour behind me when I arrived this morning."
"Well, that was many hours ago. Perhaps they passed this village by?"
"I don't think so."
The woman sighed and dropped onto a chair near the fire.
"Perhaps," she said softly, and closed her eyes. Her head drooped forward and for just a moment Quaraun thought she might fall asleep, but then she sat back upright and opened her eyes.
"I must go now," she told Quaraun.
She started to rise, but Quaraun put a hand on her arm.
"Would you mind staying a little longer? At least until you're sure they are truly gone?"
He knew it wasn't much, but he could use company. Especially since he'd found himself in such dire circumstances lately, which was more dangerous than having someone who could actually help him find something. That would just have to do, even if she didn't believe it.
The woman looked at him. Her face lit up slightly with hope, but then she frowned in confusion.
"Do you need something?"
"No. I just... it's lonely. I get lonely. It's nice to have someone to talk to."
"Men usually want more than talking."
"No. I'm a eunuch, you do not have to worry of such things with me."
"A eunuch? I don't think I've ever met one before."
"Can I offer you food?" Quaraun asked, feeling guilty that he had not offered sooner, since the woman was clearly still hungry and tired.
"I don't eat anything except raw meat. Or vegetables, I suppose," the woman responded.
Quaraun nodded and began to search through one of the shelves. In the midst of doing so, he realized she hadn't moved from her seat.
"Oh... Whatever became of the men who were chasing you?"
"Don't know. Don't care. I've got to find the key."
"Shhhh. Let me listen," she hushed him, than placed her ear to the wall.
She paused when she saw the long corridor full of doors, and opened each door, looking into each one of them, and then hurriedly looked around again before leaving. Her blonde hair flew wildly around her shoulders.
Quaraun noted her clothes were torn and dirty, as were her boots and gloves. It appeared she had been running for a while, chased perhaps, and like himself, was looking for a place to hide to escape attackers. Quaraun watched her go.
Finally, she disappeared around the corner. Quaraun frowned. That was strange. Why had she fled? Who chased her? What did she see?
It was quiet now.
No sounds at all.
The still silence of the chilly night air filled the room. Quaraun closed his eyes and rested his head on the table. He fell asleep. For how long, he did not know.
He could not tell.
A sudden bang made Quaraun jump up wide awake.
“Who goes there?!” someone shouted.
Someone else spoke.
The words muffled. Quaraun could not make them out.
Quaraun stood up and grabbed his daggers.
Footsteps sounded in the hallway again. Coming closer. Closer. Quaraun held his breath, not daring to make any noise. Whoever it was, they were almost here and there was no place to go. No place to hide.
Another bang. This time, Quaraun jumped. He nervously clutched his daggers. Whoever it was, they were getting close.
“Who is there?” the voice repeated.
Quaraun remained still and silent.
A figure stood in the corridor. A man. Wearing a dark cape with a hood. He held a knife in one hand, blade outward, and a torch in the other. No, two men, both in dark hooded capes.
The first man gestured with one hand for Quaraun to follow him.
“Come here!” he yelled.
Quaraun hesitated for a moment.
“Oh, it’s you, Quaraun,” said the second man. “I thought it might be someone from town, or bandits from the woods. Can’t trust no one these days, you know? But I guess it’s just the three of us then.”
“Do I know you?” Quaraun asked.
“Me? Ha ha!” he laughed heartily. “I’m so stupid! You’re the Elf I was told about, right?”
“How should I know?”
“Well, I’ll tell you something, Elf. We’ve been following you since we left the village today, and we gonna catch your tail and drag you back to the village and lock you up good.”
“Wait, what?” Quaraun stood, feeling very confused.
“I’m not one of your people, eh?”
“Just some poor unfortunate soul wandering around this hell hole. I have nothing in my pockets, so how am I going to pay for food and drink if I can’t find the money somewhere?”
“You don’t have a wallet?”
“Nope. Need money to survive now, don’t we?”
“You’re a bounty hunter?”
“That I would be.”
“You plan to turn me in for the reward money?”
“If money is all you need, I have gold I in my purse. I can give it to you now. You can pretend you never saw me and just let me pass.”
“Oh, no, I can’t do that. Wouldn’t be right.”
“Well, you see, it’s like this. I’m the additional guard of the castle, see? Can’t let someone like you escape my first day on the job, now can I?”
“I suppose not.”
"Stop lollygagging and move."
With hesitation, Quaraun picked up his things, pocketed the book titled “The Dark Side of Camelot”, and followed the castle guard and his companion.
The two guards led Quaraun down the halls of the castle until they reached their destination, a hallway leading to a stone staircase, leading up a tall stone tower.
"There it is Rapunzel," the guard said pointing to the tower.
"Rapunzel?" Quaraun asked.
"I understand the reference. I don't understand what it is I am looking at."
"Your tower. With only one door at the top of the stairs. A tower, taller than your hair. I don't doubt you can grow your hair long enough to climb down with it, but it'll take you a few decades. And by that time we will have found the princess without you getting in the way."
"You intend to lock me in a tower?"
"Oh yes. Fitting for one with hair like your's, yes?"
"I'm not sure if that was intended as a joke or an insult."
The other guard chuckled and turned back to face the entrance to the tower. He gestured toward the entrance of the tower.
"Go inside then. Make yourself at home."
Quaraun looked between the two guards who had been escorting him. Then he started walking forward, feeling uneasy about entering a strange place with two strange men. One of them was obviously the king's advisor. That meant he could not trust either of these people.
So what made the situation even more uncomfortable was the fact that he didn’t have anywhere to go. No friends here in, nobody to speak with. Nobody to turn to for help.
He entered the tower and went straight into a narrow corridor. The walls were covered with old tapestries and paintings of various events throughout history. He wondered how anyone could find something so beautiful in such a bleak, empty place.
It must have been some sort of trick that allowed them to live like this when the rest of the world seemed to be starving or dying. It also explained why they would choose to work for this monster. If he had been forced to choose between working for the king and working for the man who was hunting him, the former sounded much better.
As they walked through a winding hallway, they came to an area that resembled a cross between a hospital and a dungeon.
It was lit with torches and hung with iron bars. There were cages filled with people screaming in pain, some injured as well. They passed a young boy sitting by himself against one wall.
"Ignore them," the guard said to Quaraun. "They're not there. You didn't see anything."
“No. And besides. I got a princess to find. Up to your tower like a good little fairy tale waif with cursed hair, now will you?”
“Princess?” Quaraun recalled the blond woman he had seen only moments ago. Was she the princess of whom these men spoke? Quaraun was more interested in finding his ghostly undead soulmate than helping these men find their princess, though it did occur to him, that helping them, could get him out of his current situation of being tossed in prison. "What sort of girl is she? Is she an actual princess?"
“Yep. She went and run off again."
“What sort of princess needs being guarded for, by men like you?”
“The kind that makes kings weep with jealousy, of course!”
"Ah! Of course. Now why didn't I think of that?"
The tall man, who was presumably the captain of this castle's guardsmen, leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially in Quaraun’s ear. “She’s a sorceress."
"So... she's a sorceress?" Quaraun mulled this thought over in his mind. A sorceress would certainly explain several of the strange, unnatural happenings of this day.
"No, you said, aye."
"Are you Scottish?"
"Than why use a Scottish word?"
"Why you interrogating me over a silly word?"
"Words are not silly."
"Says me. I say."
"And what right have you to say?"
"I'm a Di'Jinn. We use words, true meanings of words, to power our spells. Bad things happen when you use a word and use a modern slang meaning and not the word's original true meaning. Words are very important. Never say they aren't."
"I'm the guard here. You're the prisoner. Now shut your trap, before I shut it for you, ya hear?"
"But you said this princess you are looking for is a sorceress, can you tell me more of that?"
"You know," the taller guard added, his tone now hushed again. "If you wanted me to tell you the story of how her parents died, fighting dragons and she was whisked away by Griffons, I would sit my ass right down in that chair over dair and do so, eh?"
"But it wouldn't be what actually happened to her would it?" Quaraun understood the man was being sarcastic.
"No. It would not."
"Than why would you tell me it?"
"What part of I am the guard here. You are the prisoner. Now shut your trap, before I shut it for you, do you not understand?"
"I got the impression if you was going to hit me you would have just done it outright and not told me beforehand, so I'm thinking you don't want to hit me at all, in which case I am lead to believe that it is perfectly safe for me to continue talking to you."
"Arrogant one, aren't you?"
"You admit it?"
"I know what I am, no reason to hide it. Just accept my flaws and continue on with life. That's all any of us can do. Besides, I prefer to be honest in all things. Less things to try to remember, if you always just speak the truth about everything, yes? Tell me, this sorceress, is she dangerous?"
"The Daughter of Vengeance she is."
"The Daughter of Vengeance? I believe I've heard that before."
"Yeah, that's her name. And she hates me for no reason at all."
"Does she now?"
"Don't even get me started on what she gone done dids to the other guys in town."
"Other guys? What other guys? There is no one in town, except a crew of bandits, which I think she killed. The rest of the village is deserted."
"Aye. That do be me point."
"Now, come on, will you? Be a good evil sorcerer and come along nicely."
"I'm not an evil sorcerer."
"You're Quaraun the Insane, aren't you?"
"Yes. But I'm not evil."
"Yeah, yeah, we heard it before. The super villain is always the hero in his own story. Come on. We got a nice prison cell for you. Then I can get back to catching the princess. We don’t want her getting caught by the enemy now, do we?”
“Who is the enemy?”
"Don't you know?"
"Have you been living under a rock?"
"Apparently. Tell me what it is I don't know."
"Didn't you read the letter I wrote to Lady Janna?"
"I haven't the foggiest idea what you are talking about."
"The letter, Elf. Where is it?"
"Hah! I knew it!"
"Knew what?" Quaraun felt very confused. Though the guard looked like a Human, he was talking like a Faerie, and Quaraun was having trouble following the fast pace Faerie-style logic of not saying everything and changing topics very quickly. BoomFuzzy had always done that, BoomFuzzy being a Faerie, and so Quaraun had often been left clueless to half the things BoomFuzzy talked about.
"It's from the book," the guard continued.
"What book?" Quaraun asked, as he followed the guard up the tall spiralling stairs, leading into a very tall stone tower. While the second guard walked silently behind, jabbing his finger into Quaraun's back every time Quaraun stopped walking. "Will you stop that!" Quaraun yelled as he spun around and slapped the guard behind him. "That hurts! I'm not trying to escape, now poking me!"
"Now, now, Njord!" the leading guard called down, "Stop poking his ladyship."
"I'm not a ladyship!" Quaraun snarled.
Quaraun was in fact a female JellyFish type Thullid, living as a male Elf, so he was using male pronouns, though he was biologically a she and not a he. With this in mind, Quaraun took great offence to being called by any female pronouns, ladyship included.
The guard had continued up the stairs, but seeing how Quaraun had stopped walking, he turned around and made his way back down to where Quaraun stop. By the time he made his way back to Quaraun, Quaraun was now yelling at Njord, threatening to kick him down the stairs.
"My what a bitchy prisoner we have."
"HE STEPPED ON MY HAIR!"
"Uhm... ya hair be as long as de t'ree of us combined if we sto on each ot'er's heads."
"That doesn't give him an excuse to step on my hair."
"Ya do'na take to being a prisoner very well, do you?"
"He's stepping on my hair!" Quaraun screamed frantically.
"Ah. Yes. I do forgets about ya hair." The guard stared down at the stone steps, where Quaraun massive mess of twelve foot long glossy, slippery, silvery white hair, trailed down the stairs behind him, and the second guard, Njord, was standing on the tresses. "Njord, his ladyship has requested you stop stepping on hims hair."
"We should just cut it off," Njord said.
"NO!" screamed Quaraun as he pulled his hair closer to him, winding it up on his arm like a rope. "You'll kill me if you cut it! I'll bleed to death!"
"Hair doesn't bleed," Njord laughed.
"Mine does!" Quaraun shrieked hysterically. "I would bleed to death if you cut it."
"Hair doesn't bleed. . ."
"Mine does," Quaraun repeated again, fear filling his voice now.
"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."
"Aye, that's true," the guard captain stated. "I remember that. Him were sick for years after hims hair were cut. Him almost died."
Quaraun gently pulled up a handful of hair and ran his gold armoured fingers across the scarred ends. The hair withered, wriggling away from his touch. Moving as though it were alive.
"You have, magic hair?" Njord asked. "It just moved on it's own. I saw it."
"Magic? No. Not magic. Well, I guess by your mind, you would see it as magic."
"But it bleeds?"
"Yes. And it hurts when you step on it. The nerves are sensitive."
"Nerves? In your hair? Scars on. . . but. . . you can't have wounds on your. . . you hair. . . Hair. . . doesn't. . . hair doesn't bleed. . ." Njord stopped talking and watched Quaraun's hair as it moved. Slithering around him, like a massive pile of thousands of tiny, wiry snakes. He 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?"
"What are you?"
"I'm a JellyFish."
"A JellyFish? You're joking."
"These are 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 glossy and silver and look like hair. I already said this."
"You hair isn't hair."
"That's. . . I don't know what it is. That's why you never cut it? It's actually part of your body?"
"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, Njord saw that the hair nearest the ground had grown stiff, rigid, and was lifting Quaraun's body up into the air.
"I was once overpowered by my attackers and they shaved my hair, I was left bleeding to death, as my blood drained from the thousands of severed tentacles."
"That. . . must have hurt."
"It did. This cutting of my hair left me in agonizing pain for months, and while, like any JellyFish I can regrow my severed jelly-limbs, it takes 30 years for my tentacles to grow back!"
"That's a long time."
"During that time I had to make the claim that I could no longer cast magic."
"Without my hair, I can do nothing. I am a cripple."
"Yes. This Elf. His legs are lame. The Hanging Tree left me crippled for the rest of my life."
"No one ever is."
"Yes. For hurting me. Everyone hurts me. They think it is fun."
"Has no one ever not hurt you?"
"No. No one but BoomFuzzy. He took care of me. That is why I did not die. I meet him the same day they cut my hair. He saw I was hurt. Injured. I lived with him in the gingerbread house, those thirty years, while regrowing my hair. He was kind to me, when no one else was."
"No one is ever kind to you?"
"No. No one."
"No. Never. Not before. Not sense. I've no one who cares about me. No one who loves me. BoomFuzzy was the only one. And now he is dead and I am alone."
"Why has no one ever been kind to you?"
"I'm seen as a monster. No one ever makes friends with a creature like me. No one ever tries. No cares if I live or die. I have no friends. My family was murdered. I am alone. I went into hiding, citing that my hair is the source of his magic powers. So my enemies would not know how helpless I was without my hair."
"Is your magic abilities connected to your hair?"
"The truth is far deeper than that, though. The Elf's body is weak and in frail health. I rely heavily on my stinging, strangling tentacles to survive. My Elf's body is badly injured, with a lame leg, and I can barely walk with the Elf's legs. I move with my hair, most all of the time, carefully wearing these long skirts to hide my feet, hiding the fact that I'm actually walking on my tentacles and not on my feet."
"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."
"Are you also able to use your hair as a weapon?"
"Oh yes. When threatened, and feeling I have no other way to escape, my hair takes on a Medusa-like life of it's own, lashing out at my attacker, either pulling them away, or wrapping around them."
"Can you kill people with your hair?"
"I can. I have. When confronted by life-threatening situations, I have been known to use my hair to strangle my attacker to death."
Quaraun glided back to the ground, and gently sat himself back down on the stone steps of the tall spiralling staircase. His hair slithered around, coming to rest snuggled around his body as if protecting him, hugging him, and keeping him warm.
"Being a JellyFish, similar to the Portuguese Man of War, my tentacles are full of highly toxic venom and I can also sting my enemies to death. But, with my hair-tentacles cut off, I can barely stand, let alone walk. And I hide the fact of my being a JellyFish from most people. Only people I strongly trust know that I am actually a JellyFish. Thus why the claim that I can not use magic and must go into hiding, after my hair is cut. Cutting my hair is cutting off thousands of arms and legs and causes me serious injury. It takes a long time to heal with ninety percent of your body is sliced off and chopped up."
"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."
"How do you walk?"
"I manage. I rarely use the Elf's feet or legs. It is why I wear long full shirts with ruffled trains. The skirts hide the fact that my legs are not being used and rather I am gliding over the ground, using my hair to move instead. 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. So, I live in this Elf and get by the best that I can."
"Okay," the captain said, clapping his hand briskly. "Enough abut your magic jelly-hair. Up the stairs. Up. Up. Up! We can't spend all day focusing on you. We got a princess to capture too you know. We already lost her once today. We can’t lose her again, right?”
He turned to Quaraun and said: "Here, have a book. A favourite of mine. You can read it in the tower, now move ya pretty lil' ass up the stairs before I kick it up there!"
They continued the long walk up the tower stairs until they finally reached the top, where stood a single door. The guard pushed through the large oak door with a large key and held it open for Quaraun to walk through, while holding the torch aloft. Quaraun entered cautiously.
As soon as he stepped inside, Quaraun found himself in a small, dark room.
A small, dark, empty room.
The only thing in the room was a single small oil lamp on the floor and a rusty iron bed beside it.
Just the lone oil lamp. Just the dusty, barren room.
No sign of anything else.
There was literally nothing here apart from this one small lamp and that old rusty bed frame. It was like a prison or an insane asylum. Quaraun had never been in such a place in his life. His heart started to beat faster than ever.
There was a large barred window on the far side of the room and a small barred window on the wall opposite the bed. Quaraun sat down on the bed.
"You carry a whole house full of gear in that little tiny bag of yours, what's bigger on the inside, so we figured you didn't need any decor in here. 'Cepting a bed. I know you ain't got no bed in your pack. You just sleep on the floor on a pile of furs."
"How do you..."
"So there's a bed. Nice soft mattress and everything, in case you decide to go all princess and the pea on us. Decorate this room to your heart's content, Rapunzel. This is your home now."
"I'm not Rapunzel."
"You're hair says otherwise."
"I am Quaraun, The Pink Necromancer. You already know this."
The guards did not respond. Instead they huddled in the corner talking about the missing princess and now completely ignoring Quaraun, as if he wasn't there.
Quaraun looked down at the book the guard had handed him: "Differences in the Courtship Rituals of the Bugbear and the Ogre" said the title.
"THIS is good reading? For who?"
Quaraun flipped through the pages. This book is very clear mostly due to the excellent, well-planned chapters and because of the well-done illustrations. This clarity allowed one to determine that the book had very little useful information, and was nothing more than pornography intended to show off the genitals or ogres. Quaraun didn't know whether to be horrified or mesmerized by the lewd illustrations. Though flawed, one can definitely see that the contents contained some original thought. It was easy to determine that this book was extremely informative on the genitalia of ogres. Examining the book, Quaraun found informative pieces of paper with notes commenting on informative information in this oddly informative book. Quaraun placed the book on the bed wondering why the guard would own such a bizarrely useless piece of trash.
Quaraun got up off the bed and went over to the window. The tower was impossibly tall. Too tall. Many hundreds of feet tall. No man made tower could support this height. Clearly this tower had been built by magic. A magic prison, for a magic mage. Quaraun suspected the tower had not been built at random and had in fact been built, just especially for him. But by who? And why?
The dizzying height was making Quaraun nauseous, so he moved away from the window and sat down on the bed once again, and contemplated his situation. And then pondered it some more.
Quaraun realized that no one here cared enough to question him. That felt odd. And the guards seemed to already know everything there was to know about him. No. One guard. The captain knew him. But how? He could not remember seeing such a Human before. Njord on the other hand clearly did not know Quaraun.
Njord stood by the door, looking bored. The other guard, was hopping around like he was high on drugs that made him hyper.
It seemed they both expected Quaraun to do something.
Quaraun looked around the room. It felt... familiar. Like de ja vu. The sensation that he had been here before. Nothing looked familiar though. The plain, bare stone walls were covered with dust, decades of dust collected on the stone floor. Rust stains dripped down from under the bars on the windows.
After several minutes of silence, Quaraun glanced over at the castle guard. He whispered to his companion. His voice carried easily to the Elf. Quaraun strained to hear what the guards said.
"... he feared her more than anything!"
"Who? The Magician of Destruction?"
“... and so we got to wait until tomorrow night to take him. The princess comes first and if she’s not back by morning, well, it’ll be hard finding her. I can tell you that much...”
"She has to come back! We need the spell book! She took it! Without it..."
"Yes. Yes. I know. We will find her."
"We? Don't you mean YOU?"
"Yes. I will find her. Don't worry."
"Sure, right?" Njord said sarcastically. "She'll turn up. Don't worry. We won't lose track of her! We fucking already lot her once! You know Capt' we really don't have the slightest clue where she went. And now we got Pink Rapunzel here to deal with."
Their whispers continued drifting across the room, floating by on the icy fog of the cold night air. Quaraun was lost in his own thoughts now, though and no longer heard what the two guards had to say.
The cold was bothering Quaraun. It was bothering him a lot. This morning he had woken up in his tent, with a nice warm breeze, chilly, yes, because of the nearby ocean, and the depth of the valley, but still warm none the less. He was good at reading the weather, and all the signs of the wind and the clouds and the birds and the trees said that this entire week was going to bright, warm, and sunny.
And why shouldn't it be?
It was mid-summer after all.
Even here in the North, they had months without snow.
Months with green grass.
Months of planting seeds and tending crops.
And yet, it was so cold now, that ice crystals were forming on the stones of the wall and floor. A glaze of ice, was growing up the metal posts of the iron bed.
Winter was crouching in on them.
This was not winter.
This was a Lich frost.
A Lich was nearby.
Likely standing in this very room.
Quaraun looked back at the guards.
The ice on the walls was thickest there by the door, near where they stood.
One of those guards was a Lich.
Quaraun watched the guards and listened as they spoke of the missing princess and their desperate need to find her, but, noted that they seemed in no hurry to leave the door and actually head out to look for her. That too seems to Quaraun, very odd.
Something was not right here.
None of this was right.
Quaraun got up off the bed and moved to the other window this time. Looking through the small hole, he could see the castle's courtyard below.
Nothing was alive.
There were no people.
The same as it had been in the deserted village earlier.
Not even any animals.
The only living thing outside, that moved, was the mist. The slowly swirling mist of shimmering frost crystals, freezing everything it crossed.
Glazing the outer walls of the castle with fuzzy frost.
From here he could see it was not a castle, but rather a very large grey granite manor, shaped like a horseshoe. A large stone manor, with two long stone wings running from either end. The courtyard in the middle between the two wings. A grove of apricot Lich trees, growing around a glass conservatory, and overlooking a white marble water fountain.
Apricot Lich trees?
No. It can't be.
Quaraun squinted his eyes to better see the rocks lining the paths. Not rock. No. Gumdrops. Fences made of peanut brickle. Lemonade in the fountain, not water.
It was BoomFuzzy's garden, which grew candy behind the gingerbread house.
The gingerbread house?
Was this the gingerbread house?
Quaraun looked down at the rust stains under the window. He touched it. It gave way to his touch. Spongy and soft. It wasn't rust on stone. It was the gingerbread, showing through it's stony illusion.
The Twighlight Manor? It can't be. But it is. He knew it was. He'd been in it before. But that meant... BoomFuzzy. Thais was BoomFuzzy's gingerbread house.
Quaraun looked back at the guards.
The guard. Not Njord, but the hyper one. Had he not said he remembered the day when Quaraun's hair had been cut? And was he not the source of the ice on the walls? That guard was BoomFuzzy.
Or rather, BoomFuzzy's Lich.
It had to be.
There was no other logical explanation for any of this.
Quaraun was now more confused than ever. For if this was BoomFuzzy's ghost, BoomFuzzy's Lich, and BoomFuzzy's haunted gingerbread house, than why the charade?
Why hide from Quaraun who he was?
Puzzled and confused, Quaraun made his way back to the bed and sat down on it once again. This time he lay down on the bed, his gold armoured fingers crossed over his chest as he stared up ar the stone ceiling and watched the ice crystals as the living frost moved and spiralled along the stones.
The bed didn't feel as comfortable as it had before. For now the oppressive weight of worry, bore down on him. As did the silence. The guards had stopped talking and now stood silently watching Quaraun as he lay in silence as well.
Quaraun laid quiet for a while, trying to puzzle things out in his mind, trying to figure out how the hell he had ended up here, and how BoomFuzzy could possibly be here.
Quaraun tried to remember the last few days, but it was all a blur. He couldn't remember anything before walking up in his tent with that strange dog and it's pet rabbit looking at him.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few days.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few weeks.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few months.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few years.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few decades.
He couldn't remember anything of the last few centuries.
His mind simply went for BoomFuzzy's death to the deaths of his own children to the night he woke up in the tent looking face to face at that strange looking dog.
Still laying on the bed, Quaraun turned his head towards the window and took a deep breath. Then another, then another. His chest rose and fell slowly, and he began to feel calmer, his heart began to calm down, his mind calmed down, and his confusion began to ebb away into the darkness of unconsciousness.
He closed his eyes and fell asleep once again.
Quaraun woke up to the sound of someone knocking on the door. He opened his eyes and looked around the room. He was alone. The guards were gone. How long had he been asleep?
Quaraun got up and walked over to the door. He opened it and saw a young woman standing there. She was wearing a dark blue dress, her long blond hair cascaded over her shoulders.
"You!" Quaraun said, recognizing the women he's seen being chased by the bandits. The same woman he saw again in the cellar reading room.
"Shh! Not so loud," she said."The guards don't know I'm here."
"You've changed your clothes."
"What? Oh. Yeah. Forget about that. What are you doing here?"
"I'm supposed to meet my sister, here," Quaraun answered automatically, forgetting his sister was dead. "Have you seen her?"
The blond woman shook her head. "Nah, not since yesterday. But what are you doing here in this tower?"
Quaraun shrugged his shoulders.
"I don't know. Maybe I wanted to sleep some more, like Sleeping Beauty. Sleep for a thousand years while I grow my hair out even longer,, long enough so I can climb down out of this tower."
She looked at him skeptically, uncertain if he was being serious or not. Which he was. Quaraun was always serious, and he was contemplating sleeping here in the tower for a thousand years and growing out his hair even longer. Being a pure blooded Elf he could slow down his heart rate and go into a comatose, meditative state of deep relaxation. Elves often did this when they were injured, as a way to heal themselves, growing back new limbs, removing scars. It was why Elves were always young and beautiful and devoid of scars or missing limbs.
"I thought," the blond woman said. "That you were supposed to be n your tent down by the river."
"I was in my tent, but than I fell asleep and ended up here."
"Oh. Right. Well, you want me to get you something? A book maybe?"
"A book?" Quaraun smiled and nodded. "Oh yes, please. Yes that would be nice. I like to read. And I was looking for a book."
"Alright. Here you go." The woman handed him a book.
Quaraun looked at the book she had placed in his hand: "The History of Essential Summonings" Quaraun flipped through the pages and found inside some personal notes, in an archaic tongue, unrelated to the book, scattered throughout the book. Along with bookmarks marking informative information. This book was of above-average clarity thanks to the good diagrams. A short look at the book showed that it was reasonably useful. Especially the chapter on Liches, which was of particular note to Quaraun. Quaraun looked up intending to thank the woman for the book, but she was gone and the door was closed and locked as it had been before.
Quaraun leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and his chin on the palm of his hands. His brow furrowed. The last time he had seen the princess, she was with him. Wasn’t she? If that was her. He couldn’t be certain, as he was a stranger in this town. He did not know the royal family. As the two guards talked, Quaraun wondered what the girl’s name was. Was she a prisoner? He couldn’t recall there being any processes here in America. Why were they chasing her? Did she run away?
“It’ll be our fault if she escapes,” one guard said.
“But he won’t come out unless the princess is there. So if he doesn’t show, then what?”
The castle guard chuckled. “Well, then we kill him.”
After a moment, the companion spoke some more."What if the princess has a mate? Huh? What then? Tell me that. What if she didn’t get out on her own? What if someone helped her escape?"
“Like who? She doesn’t know anyone around here.”
“What about that necromancer over there? He showed up right after she ran off, didn’t he?”
The guard looked at Quaraun.
“That’s true. Maybe the girl knows him. Maybe she meets him somewhere.”
They both glared at Quaraun, wondering if the old Elven necromancer had helped their princess escape.
“Hmmm, maybe not. I’m not so sure anymore.”
“Me neither. I mean, look at him. Old man can barely walk. Drags his leg and leans on a cane. You think he could scale that wall and get her out?”
“But what if he did? Necromancer, you know? Maybe he can fly.”
“Necromancers don’t fly.”
“Even so, maybe he can help us find her. Use magic to lead us to her.”
Silence followed for a few moments as the guards eyed Quaraun suspiciously.
“He showed up right when she escaped, though, didn’t he?”
“Yeah. He did.”
“Maybe he took her than sat around waiting for us. Maybe there are others in on it with him. I’ll bet they helped her escape while he sat in that room waiting to be a distraction for us, to give her time to get out of here while we fussed over bringing him here to the prison cell.”
Quaraun shook his head, no.
“Yeah, probably not. But you’ll help us catch her, won’t you?”
“Will I?” Quaraun asked.
“Because you’’re a necromancer and you’ll be executed for practising dark magic. But maybe if you found our princess and brought her back to us, we could forget where we put the key to this here prison cell and you could just walk on out of here.”
“I’m the world’s most powerful wizard,” Quaraun said."What makes you think I couldn’t just walk out of here right now?"
“He knows where the princess is,” the companion said. “I can feel it. You can see it in his beady eyes.”
“I don’t have beady eyes,” Quaraun said. “I have eyes that are fine and clean and blue and clear as cut crystal.”
“I can feel her too,” the guard ignored Quaraun’s comment about his eyes. “Can’t you feel her?” He asked Quaraun.
“No,” Quaraun replied. “I cannot feel her anywhere near me.”
“Yes, you can. I can feel her and you know why? Because I know you can and I can feel what you are feeling.”
“How could you possibly feel what I am feeling?”
“Don’t talk nonsense,” the companion said."Just tell us where she is. It;s a lot easier to keep the keys if we have her in our hands, isn’t it?"
“Keep the key?” Quaraun asked. “What are you talking about?”
“Come on, come on! Come with us! Let us take you to our princess. Then you can tell us what is wrong with her and why she isn’t home yet and where her other little friends are.”
“I don’t believe you,” Quaraun said. “I don’ believe you or your story about a princess. This is America. They don’t have princesses in America. Something is not right here. Not with any of this.”
“Oh! Yeah, sorry,” the companion said. “She needs to be returned to us or we might just go crazy.”
“I think you already went crazy. None of this makes sense.”
“That old man will probably kill us for taking her and then try to kill us for kidnapping her.”
“Kill you and then kill you again?”
“You’re ghosts, aren’t you?”
“The old man wants her there by morning and we’ve lost her.”
“Old man? What old man?”
“The old man, of course! But enough about that. Your little friend the princess, she left her keys.”
“She did!” the guard exclaimed. “So, do you know where she is or not?”
“I don’t even know who she is. You haven’t even told me that much yet.”
“Or, tell us, should we go looking for her?”
“I don’t know. How should I know?”
“We can’t find the key anywhere. Do you have anything special, like a talisman or a spell or any kind of magic that will let us find the key for her?”
“He don’t know how to do magic. Look at him. He’s only an Elf. He wouldn’t know what kind of magic would open the lock.”
“We Elves are more likely to know magic than you Humans and you already know I am Quaraun the Insane, The Pink Necromancer, the world’s most powerful wizard. Of course I know magic, but give me one good reason why I should help either of you?”
“No, no, no!” scolded the castle guard. “Don’t upset the old mage. We don’t know where to find her. We need his help.”
The guard turned back to address Quaraun. “We have to find her. You’re a sorcerer, aren’t you?”
“I am a necromancer.”
“That’s the same thing, isn’t it?”
“Well, it’ll have to do. Do you know where the keys are?”
“What keys? I don’t even know what you two are talking about.”
“Oh, dear.” The guard paced around the prison cell, stopping to stare out the barred window. “Where would she have hidden them?”
The two guards left the prison cell, talking about searching the rooms for the key. A few hours later, they returned, stating that they had searched all the rooms and found nothing.
“We will ask our friend the necromancer,” the guard said as he entered Quaraun’s prison cell once again. “You, Necromancer! Where is our princess?”
Quaraun sighed and leaned back. “There is nothing I can tell you.”
This continued throughout the evening and into the next day, with the guards continuing to leave, search the castle, then return to report to Quaraun that they had found nothing.
Quaraun could easily have escaped his prison cell at any time, but so bemused was he by these two ghostly guards and their bizarre pursuit of this mysterious princess, that he decided to stick around and see if he couldn’t figure out more of what was going on.
Quaraun suspected these guards were part of a curse, as was this castle, for Quaraun was certain the castle had not been here the night before.
No. He was sure of it.
The night before, he had entered this strange village to find its farm lands deserted, it’s houses empty, and a group of bandits attacking him, chasing him. He'd run into a farmhouse to hide, and somewhere along the line, opened a bedroom door which had led down to a cellar. There he had read a few books, only to be interrupted by the woman, he could only a assume to be the escaped princess. After which these 2 guards appears and lead him upstairs, where the door no longer led to the farmhouse bedroom, but instead opened into this castle, where he now sat in its prison cell.
And that meant something happened last night, but he could not think of anything, besides the fact that his head hurt terribly and he was very hungry.
But no one else felt the pain when they passed out, and no one else seemed to feel it either.
After some more hours of the same routine that followed, Quaraun realized something strange was going on. The guards would check the dungeons, but would never enter them, nor visit any prisoners in the area. They were always the last ones to return to the cells after they finished, as they didn’t want to stay long, even though the rest of the guards often spent hours there. As for the corridors, there would only be one way from one hallway to another; through a large room filled with coffins, where most of the guards slept or meditated.
As Quaraun pondered this new phenomenon, he noticed one odd thing, the only person the guards allowed near the dungeon was him.
When the guard first saw him in that coffin the other day, he looked like an ordinary man, except for the chains that held him. However, those weren’t just normal chains; they were enchanted chains, binding him in the coffin until he would die.
“There is strange magic at work here,” Quaraun said to himself. “And where there is magic, there is a mage behind it.”
He picked up the book titled “The Dark Side of Camelot” once again, opened it, laid it on the bed in front of him, and stared blankly at the open page muttering the line: “I have always liked stories about knights who fight the evil sorcerer, Merlin.” to himself a few times.
“I wonder? Could this be a spell book? And a clue?”
The guards were arguing again. Quaraun watched the pair through the bars as they stood together in front of the prison door.
“Interesting. The room keeps changing. That was an oak door last night. Now it has bars on it.”
As the sun began to set on this Quaraun’s second night in the prison cell, a loud crash, sounded from outside the dungeon. The two guards ran from their post at the door.
Quaraun glanced towards the door, then back at the book. He closed to book and placed it face down on the mattress. He took a deep breath and listened, waiting, but no further sounds could be heard.
Suddenly, a ghostly visage of a woman appeared in the room. Her hair glowed golden. A pale green mist surrounded her. She raised her staff in front of her and chanted words Quaraun could not understand. He tried to speak to the lady, but no sound came out.
And then, as quickly as she had appeared, she vanished.
Just then, Quaraun heard the cell door open. The two guards tumbled in, each carrying an oil lamp. They placed their lanterns on the floor and looked around the room, then stared at Quaraun.
“What was that?” one guard asked Quaraun.
“What was want?”
“We heard a sound in here.”
“I heard a sound too, but it came not from in here. I heard a crash coming from outside.” Quaraun pointed to the barred window as he spoke. “The crash came from out there.”
One guard looked out the window.
“I see nothing but trees. And a tree down across the gate. That must be what we heard. Wait... I see something.”
The other guard rushed to the window.
“What did you see?”
“I saw ... something. It was moving fast. And carrying a white light.”
The other guard scoffed. “So what? You saw a white light. That means nothing.”
“No, there was more. The light moved like... like ... flames.”
"A fire? There is no fire. This place is cold and it will get colder still and soon."
"I was like a fire though."
They looked out the window again. Nothing seemed to be out there. The only thing visible were some trees in the distance.
Quaraun spoke up.
"Burning did you say?" Quaraun asked.
"Yeah. Like fire."
"That could be important," Quaraun started to say, but was unable to continue the rest.
"That means nothing!" Snapped the first guard. He left the window and marched up to Quaraun. "Do you know where you are?"
"A strange village?"
"Stop being crass. What is this place?"
"This? This is a prison."
"Yes. It is. And we are the guards and you are the prisoner and you don't talk unless we say so, you hear?"
He stomped back to his companion still by the window.
"Fire you say, eh?
"What are you talking about?"
"A white light, like hot blue flames. Like flames."
"And what exactly are those, eh?"
"I don't know. a Will O the Wisp maybe?"
"A will O the Wisp?"
"You read too many fairy tales. A Will o the Wisp, eh? So what exactly are those?"
"I don't know. But they come from up there. From beyond the mountains."
The first guard shook his head.
A long pause followed as the two guards scanned the area.
Quaraun stared at the open and now unguarded prison door. He suspected, if he so choose to do so, he could walk out the door right now and neither guard would notice. However, he was intrigued by the overall mystery of this place, so sat on the bed, unmoved.
Finally, the guards returned to their post. Their conversation resumed with some comments about how Quaraun should be grateful for his safe haven, but how he was lucky to be caught, and even better to still be alive and imprisoned in the first place.
They talked about their plans for Quaraun, how he must be treated. They didn’t seem to realize the real meaning of what they were saying to Quaraun.
The next morning, the men returned to Quaraun. Once again, they demanded answers and Quaraun gave them none.
Then they left.
Two days passed as Quaraun awaited the return of these two men. Each day they returned multiple time to question him. Interrogation by both men. And through this, they learned nothing from Quaraun, but Quaraun in turn learned much from them.
Quaraun learned quite a bit more about this town and it's residents. The people lived here surround by forests that were surrounded by mountains, and they believed witches and ghouls came down from the mountains at night to haunt them.
As Quaraun lay alone and quiet on the rusty iron bed, listening for voices or footsteps in the hallway, he thought over what he had learned.
He knew something was wrong with this place, this world. This realm? He had a feeling he was no longer on Earth. Magic and sorcery filled the air.
The king, the queen, the court mage, and a local witch had all gone missing one each week, one after the other. Out of fear, the guards had locked the princess in the tower, hoping it would save her from going missing as well. But than, on the day of Quaraun's arrive the princess had escaped, and was now missing as well. Than the Will o the Wisp appeared in the village. But still, something was wrong with this castle. Something magical. He could feel it. Something was very wrong with this kingdom. And very wrong with it's people. They were wraiths. Ghosts of some sort. He felt certain of this. He suspected these people were trapped in a curse, lost in time. But why? Why would someone want this place and everyone who lived in it gone, separated from Earth?
Quaraun did not have an answer for any of it. All he could go on was what little he had seen and what little he had heard from his two scatterbrained guards.
Quaraun closed his eyes. His mind wandered back to the day he had arrived here. Think. He had to have noticed something. Something out of place. Something wrong. But no. Nothing. He could think of nothing.
One thing he did notice however were these guards themselves, seemed exceptionally odd.
Just then, he heard it. Footsteps.
Running. The sound of someone running down the stairs outside of his room. The sound coming closer. Closer. The cell door flung open and there she was again. The woman he had seen his first night here. Her eyes were wide with terror. She looked around, scanning the room, eyes searching every corner. Her gaze fell upon Quaraun. She took a deep breath, released it, than took another. Slowly she approached him. She took another deep breath as she slowly walked towards him, and Quaraun wondered if she was about to faint. She seemed to have trouble catching her breath, as though she had been running very far and very fast and only just now stopped to catch her breath. Finally she sat beside him, legs crossed.
She opened her mouth to speak to him, but than said not a word. She then jumped off the bed and ran frantically to the window. Something outside frightened her and she ran back to the bed and jumped on it. Quaraun slowly got off the bed. He walked around to the other side to see her face.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
She looked up at him, shaking.
"Who are you?" She asked. "Where am I?" What happened? Who are you?"
"My name is Quaraun, and I don't know where we are. I'm not sure how I got here myself. One minute I was in a farmhouse going downstairs to the cellar and next minute I'm in the dungeon of a castle. I think the door at the stairs must have been a portal."
She got off the bed again and crept slowly to the window. She peered between the bars. Then she turned towards him.
"I think I've heard of you. You're a necromancer, right?"
"Yes. I am."
"I think... I think..."
"I think we are trapped in a book."
"Yes. I was reading a book about Camelot and suddenly I was hear. I think the book is cursed."
Quaraun pulled the book about Camelot out of his bag.
"You mean this book?"
"You have it?"
The woman rushed forward and tore the book from Quaraun's grasp.
"Oh! It is! This is it! Where did you find it?"
"I saw it laying on a table in the farmhouse. Picked it up and started reading it. You ran into the room right after that. Than two guards showed up and brought me here."
"Quaraun, my dear friend, lease, you must help me."
"Friend? We are not friends."
"But you are a wizard, are you not?"
"Than if this book, truly is cursed, you could break the spell, couldn't you?"
"I don't know. Maybe. I'd have to know more about the curse and the mage who cast it."
"Yes. Merlin the evil sorcerer. He cast the curse."
"How do you know."
"He must have."
"But how do you know?"
"Well, who else would have done it?"
"But, the Merlin I know is not evil, nor is he a sorcerer. If he cast the spell, it was not a curse, it was made to stop something evil from getting out."
"Evil? No. No! You got it all wrong. See, he wanted someone to go crazy and kill every one for killing his wife."
"You suggest that someone murdered Morgana?"
"First I heard of it."
"Maybe the book has something to do with the magic being used."
"Hard to say."
"A spell he set to prevent anyone who was good from getting out and stopping him."
"Stopping him from what?"
"He needs power."
"How should I know?"
"Maybe we can ask him?"
"What about the guards?"
"What about them?"
"They didn't take away the book?"
"Then maybe they know something."
"Maybe. Maybe we should talk to them first."
"No!" The women seemed horrified by this idea.
"Why not?" Quaraun asked.
"Why should they tell us anything?"
"Why wouldn't they?"
"No. No. We need to talk to Merlin. He's been trapped here since the beginning of time."
"Well, maybe someone in the village can help us?"
"With this kind of magic?"
"What kind of magic is it?"
"Well, you know, anything really."
"Anything, eh?" Quaraun's suspicions were rising.
"Like what?" Quaraun asked.
"Like... oh ... I don't know."
"Why would Merlin need power. I think that's the important question here."
"I don't know. Why does he want to protect people? Why does he keep them safe? What does any of that mean for him? Why does he want to kill people? Why will he kill more people?"
"And what makes you think Merlin has ever killed anyone?"
"Because he said so."
"Yes. And now look at you. Look at the state you are in."
"I'm doing quite fine, actually," Quaraun said. "I've been catching upon my rest and my reading. Do you really think I'm trapped here? I can walk out of this prison any time I want to. I'm the world's most powerful wizard. The magic in this place if barely a piffle."
"Barely a piffle?"
"Yes. It's minor magic at best."
The woman took a deep breath once again, trying to calm down before speaking to Quaraun again.
"Look at yourself, I've never seen you like this."
"Never seen... you don't even know me! Nor I you,"
"You're locked away in a prison cell."
"I'm fine. I think of it as being off on holiday."
"You're not fine."
"Why are you trying to convince me of it?"
"He is evil!"
"Is he?" Quaraun wasn't sure he liked this woman. She sounded as though she fully believed Merlin to be evil and yet, Quaraun knew Merlin was not evil at all. Something was wrong here. Something was very wrong and he didn't like it at all, not one bit.
"I'll give you some examples." The woman reached down a pulled a knife from her boot."There is Morgana. There is Gwen. Consumed by his lust for power, and in a desperate bid to secure more resources, Merlin made a pact with the most powerful dark forces of evil: Himal Kedar. He has promised to destroy all the homes of the people and give Himal Kedar a decisive military advantage over them if only the dark forces would lend him their armies to conquer the lands of the valley!"
"What are you talking about?"
"Himal Kedar lives in a world of dragons, demons, and monsters."
"I know who Himal Kedar is. His hair rivals mine. He's a mage from Tibet."
"These dark creatures constantly war for control of his land, leaving the few human kingdoms in the shadow of a dark and powerful force. But now, the kingdoms of man are fighting back, slowly assembling an army to reclaim their world!"
The woman stared wild eyed as she said these words, still clutching her knife as she spoke.
"I think you have taken too much of something. Ergot seeds perhaps?"
"You are Quaraun, a male half-demon sorcerer living in the town of Belthazzar in the kingdom of Szrahdori."
"I'm what? I'm not a demon, I'm an Elf."
"You are a prodigal mage who seems to be afraid of something and is fearful of doing magic."
"Well, I suppose that's true... wait... what are you talking about?"
"You are a skilled alchemist who has developed a special compound that increases a soldier's melee attack by 25% for a period of three hours."
"No I didn't."
"You have become a respected member of the local militia."
"No I haven't. I hate military and fighting and wars and battles and weapons."
"What do you do?"
"Tell me what you are going to do?"
"I'm going to finish reading this book and than find a way to escape from this tower, and look for BoomFuzzy's Lich, like I was doing before I meet any of you."
"What? No, you ain't playing along right!"
"Playing along? What?"
The old wizard looked at the women in silence, and than shook his head in disappointment.
"Sorry," he said "Magic is a dangerous game, even for an Elf half-demon Thullid like me."
The woman stared at Quaraun in silence.
Quaraun sighed, and then said: "I really need to finish reading my book."
"Very well. I will leave you be," the woman said as she left the room.
The wizard turned back to his book and decided to read until his mind is filled with knowledge.
Quaraun laid on his bed. Closed his eyes. His mind wandered back to the day he had arrived here. Think. He had to have noticed something. Something out of place. Something wrong. But no. Nothing. He could think of nothing. Nothing at all.
A soft rapping at the door pulled him from his thoughts. He rose and went to the door. Swinging it open, he saw a dark-skinned man in a black robe.
The man smiled and said: "It's been a long time, Quaraun."
"You know me?"
"Why wouldn't I? I've been searching for you for centuries."
"Oh, I wasn't questioning your knowledge," the man said. "But I was curious as to whether you still knew me."
"I love you. I'd never forget you. You are my only love, my one and only."
"I love you too."
"Why are you here?"
"In this tower?"
"To slay a dragon," Quaraun said.
"No. That's not right. Something's wrong. A curse. I think a sorceress has cast a curse on this valley. It's messing up my ability to remember things or to even see things clearly."
"Oh, I've known of a few curses in my day, but nothing like this. You must take this to the Dark Lord. If anyone can break this, it's him."
"The Dark Lord? Who is he?"
"The darkest of the dark. Dark Lord."
"Dark Lord... Is he the guy with all the tentacles?"
The man's eyes widen, then he spoke again: "Not ZooLock. No. HellBorne The Summoner of Darkness."
"What about The Daughter of Vengeance?"
"I knew her. She cursed my father's soul. It's her. Go to Kai. He needs to know."
"Who is Kai?"
But there was no answer.
BoomFuzzy was gone. Quaraun wondered if he had ever been there.
When Quaraun woke up the following morning, he looked out the window to discover the landscape had changed. The Twighlight Manor had moved. No longer in the lush green valley, no longer overlooking the deserted farming village, the huge haunted house had gotten up during the night and dragged itself to the base of Fire Mountain.
Fire Mountain, in Pepper Valley. Home to King Gwallmaiic, the Elf Eater, leader of the Lich Lords. The frozen, blue crystal skeleton, whom in life, had been Quaraun's lover: BoomFuzzy the candy maker and gourmet chef.
The courtyard and its undead apricot trees still sat to the back of the building as it always did.
"Why are we at Fire Mountain?" Quaraun pondered out loud.
Quaraun looked up at the sky. "Oh my!" he explained.
The sky was no longer there. A huge blue, cut crystal glass bubble, a dome, a magic sphere, sat down over them. Quaraun spent several minutes examining and contemplating the shimmering cut crystal overhead.
"We are in a glass bottle," Quaraun said. "Oh dear! We are in a genie bottle. This is very bad. Who would do this? Who even could? Di'Jinn magic is rare. And the Di'Jinn are dead, save me, and maybe ZooLock."
Seeing how there were no guards at the door once again, Quaraun decided to see if he could get outside and take a look at Fire Mountain up close. It was, after all, BoomFuzzy's home. If he was going to find anything that would help him resurrect BoomFuzzy, it would be here, wouldn't it?
To his surprise the door was unlocked. There were no guards outside either. Looking down the stairs of the tower, the tower no longer seemed so very tall. So it took him not nearly as long to get back down to the bottom as it had taken him to reach to the top.
Quaraun stood at the front parlour of the manor house, looking outside. He decided on the easiest was to go about entering the volcano's underground castle, then slowly snuck out of the Twighlight Manor. Though it appeared he needn't have been so cautious. There was one gate on the ground level, and it was neither barred nor guarded. There had been no guards anywhere around the tower or the courtyard either.
Once outside of the castle, Quaraun made his way to the edge of Fire Mountain and set out to looking for the entrance into the palace he knew was in the lower levels of it's cave system. He hadn't gotten far when he spotted someone else.
They were running away from a group of black shapes. Quaraun quickly started to follow their lead. They seemed determined to escape.
At least until one of the black shapes stopped, whipped around and ran directly at the person, knocking them off balance.
Quaraun tried to determine what the black shapes were, and they appeared to be large birds, or perhaps small dragons. They were too far away for him to be certain.
A few moments later a black bird with blue crystal eyes flew at him, cawing angrily.
"What? Arrgh!" Quaraun screamed as the bird flew at him, clawing at his hair with his talons. Then as suddenly as it had appeared, the bird flew away.
"Damned bird," Quaraun muttered as he pulled out his silver hairbrush and began smoothing his shiny whit tentacle hair back into place. "Wait. Isn't that the same bird that attacked me before? How odd. It is stuck in the gene bottle as well, I suppose."
Quaraun looked down the road again, hoping to catch sight of any sign of the other black creatures attacking the other two people. But they appeared to have disappeared now. Both the mysterious crystal birds and people they were chasing were now no where to be seen.
Quaraun looked up at the stars, and the sky was a dome of blue above him, and he felt the cool night breeze running through his hair. He turned south and started walking down the road.
Quaraun carefully made his way closer to the mountain once again, scanning the roads and paths along it's edge, looking for see if one went inside the mountain through some doorway or tunnel.
Quaraun heard a noise behind him. He looked back down the road to see a new figure approaching. A different person, not one of the two whom had been chased by the crystal birds. This figure was smaller, a Dwarf or a Gnome perhaps, and coming towards Quaraun, very slowly, approaching with caution. Oddly, they were holding a glowing white stone above their head. They appeared to be in a daze or trace, walking without seeing, zombie-like.
Quaraun was about to continue on the road south when the figure caught up to him. He was shorter than Quaraun, but broader across the chest.
The being saw Quaraun and screamed out in a language Quaraun had never heard before, neither Gnomish nor Dwarven, gibberish words mixed with grunts and shrieks. He raised his arms up to shoulder level, still screaming, still walking very slowly.
Quaraun thought he saw a glimpse of long white fingers, like a bog mummy's, hanging down from the being's arms.
Quaraun watched the strange not-Gnome. Quaraun decided to help the poor man. He is clearly a stranger to the area, as was Quaraun.
Quaraun approached the not-Gnome and said in Elvish: "Hello, little brother. Do not scream such a strange words. May I help you?"
The creature made no response, continued screaming out strange words, and attempted to reach Quaraun. The not-Gnome drew his broadsword, a common Dwarf weapon, and said: "Go! Run!"
"What is it you are doing here?" Quaraun asked.
"Get away from me!"
"Please! Go!" the not-Gnome begged, pleading at Quaraun. His eyes were wild, terrified, and desperate.
Quaraun stepped forward.
"Don't come near me!" The not-Gnome held the sword in both hands, pointing the blade forward at Quaraun. In doing so, he had let go of the glowing white stone, which now remained in place, floating a few feet above the not-Gnome's head. The not-Gnome's eyes glowed a vivid purple colour.
"Please! Get away!" the not-Gnome said, his voice becoming deeper and more sinister. He took several steps towards Quaraun.
"Tell me why!"
"It's all right," Quaraun said, slowly backing away. "I'll not hurt you. I meant no harm. I'm on your side. I just thought you looked tired, carrying that big stone and need help. I meant no offence."
The strange being continued to scream and glare at Quaraun.
It took Quaraun a while to realize that the creature was laughing. It was an unpleasant, grating sound, like a cross between a lion's roar and fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.
Not knowing what else to do, Quaraun decided to introduce himself.
"My name is Quaraun. Who might you be?"
"Njord," the creature said.
"Njord? Is that your name?" Quaraun asked, but the not-Gnome said no more.
He continued to stand, glaring at Quaraun, his eyes still glowing a lurid purple. This time, he reached for his sword. But the glowing stone remained above his head, and he could not grab it.
Njord's eyes glowed brighter. The purple colour darkened even more, becoming a deep purplish red colour, turning nearly black.
His face became longer and more pointed, his snout elongated, and his teeth appeared, sharp and deadly. Quaraun could feel his fear.
A low growl, rumbled from Njord's throat.
"Forgive my presumptuousness," Quaraun said to the not-Gnome. "But you see, I'm afraid I am lost. I do not know this area. I was asleep by a mountain stream leading into the valley, then I woke up in a deserted farming village, and two men locked me in Rapunzel's tower, and than I woke up here, and I'm all so very confused, I do not know how to get back home. You don't think there is any chance you could help me, is there?"
The not-Gnome considered Quaraun for a long, silent moment. He snorted once, then began to scratch at his neck.
"You know, it is quite rude to not speak when spoken too," Quaraun stated.
Njord shook his head and replied: "No. No. No help for you. No help for anyone! Go home! Find a place where no one knows you. Don't stay here too long. Be gone, gone, gone!"
Njord began to run, shouting and screaming incomprehensible words. Quaraun knew so many languages of so many races, he couldn't understand how it could be that he couldn't understand Njord's words. The creature rushed away from Quaraun, his head down and his long arms pumping.
As Njord passed, Quaraun noticed a small black bird with sparkling cut crystal eyes, sitting on Njord's shoulder. Whispering into Njord's ear. Quaraun began to suspect that Njord was just a puppet, controlled by the strange crystal bird.
As he watched, the bird flew into Njord's ear, and Njord screamed, as blood sprayed from his ear. He began to run away from Quaraun, screaming.
"What are you doing?!" Quaraun shouted at the bird.
And then Njord turned the corner around a corner.
Quaraun waited for a few minutes, but the not looking back didn't reappear. Quaraun walked further up the street. He wondered if Njord would ever return.
Then he felt something touching his shoulder. He reached up and grabbed hold of what he thought was a cobblestone, but when he pulled away it was a shrivelled up and almost completely dry skin.
"Argh!" Quaraun screamed and threw the lump of dried skin as far away from himself as he could.
Quaraun looked around. There was no one else.
The dried skin began to crumble.
And Quaraun screamed again.
The piece of flesh rotted before his eyes, maggots formed and crawled over it. Then the horrid thing turned to dust and blew away in the wind. Quaraun stood there, staring at the empty space where the vile creature was a moment ago. His heart was beating wildly and he was sweating.
This place was strange.
Full of magic.
He would have to be careful. It would never be wise to fall into a Faerie trap, of this Quaraun knew for certain. He had heard too many tales of innocent Elves getting caught by the cruel and bloodthirsty creatures that dwelled in the Forest of No Return.
He looked around for the Faerie Stones or Fey Crosses or mushroom Faerie Rings. He knew if Faeries were in the area, they would have built a sacred circle of some sort, some place they could stand and not be seen.
Then something caught his eye. Something lying in the dust. Something he didn't recognize. Something like a rock, only larger. An old, battered looking stone, maybe the size of a fist, but its surface smooth, almost glassy. It lay near some bushes growing beside an old path.
It seemed oddly familiar. Maybe he'd seen it in the market earlier this year? He must have.
Quaraun knelt down to pick it up. He picked up the stone and turned it over and over in his hand. Something was etched on its surface, something that reminded him of two L's back to back. At first glance, it seemed unbroken.
"Hmm..." Quaraun thought. "I've seen this before. But where?"
Then he noticed something sticking out from underneath the thing. A piece of cloth. A dark, grey cloth.
Quaraun reached out. His hand touched the cloth. The fabric felt warm against his skin. Like fine smooth, soft satin silk.
Quaraun moved his finger slightly, touching another part of the fabric underneath. Something hard, and round.
His finger traced a shape.
Something Quaraun recognized.
He recognized it from somewhere.
"I know!" Quaraun said to himself. "It is a symbol that was carved on the forehead of one of the skull's in BoomFuzzy's gingerbread house. The skulls that..." Quaraun paused, his voice quivered. "The skulls that he used the day he turned himself into a Lich. The day BoomFuzzy died."
Quaraun felt sick, his stomach churned. He took a step backwards.
"You shouldn't have done that," a voice whispered aloud.
Quaraun stood up and looked all around but there was nothing. No one. No where.
"They shouldn't have died," the voice continued. "He deserved to die. Look at what killed him. That monster's power has driven him mad! He should have stayed dead! You shouldn't have brought him back!"
Quaraun looked down. The grey stone was glowing. A low rumbling came from inside it.
"It is time to choose, Elf." the voice boomed from inside the stone.
"Choose?" Quaraun asked, looking up at the sky, still looking for the source of the mysterious voice. "Who? What? I do not understand. Please. Explain yourself."
"Do not let your fear of death drive you to do this, for death will follow you no matter your choice."
"I don't understand. What do you want from me?"
The stone began to glow brighter, brighter, hotter, and then it melted away, leaving behind a pile of ash and bone. A windstorm picked up and blew away all the sand from the road, exposing the bare stone ledge of the cliff.
A carved skull appeared on the ground before him. The star on it's forehead, matched the star which was carved into the stone, ledge ground. On each point on the star on the ground, hovered yet another glowing stone.
Quaraun slowly backed away.
As he did so, the skull lifted up off the ground and followed him, the five glowing stones doing the same.
The skull turned into blue crystal and hovered before him at eye level.
"Go ahead," it said. "Make your choice."
Quaraun looked down. The road was now filled with a sea of bone ash and dust, swirling around him, faster and faster, bubbling up from the ground all around his feet.
"What magic is this?" Quaraun asked.
"Choose what? I don't know what you mean. I don't understand what you want me to do!"
As the wind whipped the dust into his eyes, he could see the crystal turning a deep shade of blue.
"You are our Maker," it said. "You are a servant of the Dark Gods."
"I serve no gods, dark or light," Quaraun answered angrily. "I AM a god! I am the Sacred Pink JellyFish. People worship me, not the other way around. It is YOU who should kneel at my feet!"
"But you serve only the Dark God. You will not listen to any other voice but his! We need you!"
"Ha! The Dark God? He is dead. And his son had turned into a monster. A great black fire breathing eagle."
"No," The skull said. "He has returned to us. We have seen him with his own eyes, He is still alive. He needs you."
"No one needs me. No one loves me. No one wants me. I am outcast from society. Cast out to wander the world alone. Unloved and unwanted."
The blue crystal began to spin, swirling the bones and dust around it, faster and faster, faster than Quaraun could blink.
"Make your choice," it said.
The swirling stopped.
A bright blue crystal grew out of the swirling, hovered before Quaraun, and then turned into a young girl.
A young girl, carrying in her hand a pink jellyfish.
"Who are you?" Quaraun asked.
"I am the Angel of Death," she said, holding the pink jellyfish in the air. "Is THIS what you are?" The girl held out the wriggling jellyfish.
"You look like a girl."
"I AM a girl. But I serve the Dark Gods. And you are no god. You are nothing but a jellyfish, living inside of an Elf. You are a parasite." The girl shook the jellyfish in her hand violently. "THIS is what you are!"
Quaraun did not answer. He simply watched, his face void of expression, as the girl squeezed the jellyfish. The creature fell limp.
Quaraun was shocked and horrified. Images of his mother's murder flashed in his mind. Her brutal bloody murder, the day the Moon Elves, smashed open the head of Quaraun's Elf mother, to reveal the jellyfish living inside.
Mother's ever loving tentacles, ripped from her body, and lovely moon umbrella stomped on and squashed flat.
The girl dropped the dead gelatinous thing from her hand. It landed in the dirt, unceremoniously. He took a few steps back and turned away. His eyes were watering, he could feel the tears threatening to fall.
He hated this.
He hated death.
He never wanted to be part of any of this.
All he ever wanted to do was swim free with the other jellyfish, free in the ocean. But now he was stuck.
Trapped in the body of an Elf, never to have freedom again. He stared at the ugly, crushed corpse of the jellyfish the girl had killed. So beautiful moments before.
Quaraun paced back and forth, feeling trapped. Trapped.
"What do you haunt me?"
"I am Death. I am the bringer of death."
"Your words mean nothing to me," Quaraun said.
"You are The Pink Necromancer. You speak to the dead. You speak for the dead. You steal my dead from my Swamp of Death."
The girl began to laugh, her face twisting and contorting as she did. A Jack-o-Lantern's head began to form where the little girl's head should have been, her arms stretched outward, longer, twisting, spiralling, turning green and sprouting vines.
To Quaraun's horror the girl, morphed and melted away, turning into a grinning, Jack-O-Lantern headed scarecrow.
"No!" Quaraun said, stepping back, away from the scarecrow. "No! That's not how it works! That's not how it works! That's not how it..." Quaraun closed his eyes and put his hands over his face. "The Pissed Off Pumpkin Patch isn't real. It's isn't real. It's just a children's fairy tale."
"Is this your final answer?" Death asked.
"I don't know," Quaraun said. "I don't know. I'm sorry. I don't know."
"If you do not know than you must die. I must kill you."
Quaraun's ability to think clearly or rationally, had left him. He felt like he was in a dream, but he knew he wasn't. He knew that Fire Mountain was surrounded by The Forest of No Return.
A Fae Forest filled with dark magic, trickster Fae with morbid illusion. He had to steady his mind.
Focus. Focus. Focus!
But on what?
The skull was real.
It was a relic belonging to King Gwallmaiic.
The skull was real, everything else was not.
"It's not real," Quaraun said to the girl. "I'm not going to die. I'm not going to die."
"Is this a magic doll?"
Quaraun opened his eyes. The little girl was back. She was holding what appeared to be a black magic doll in her hand. A burlap doll, with button eyes, and red and yellow headed pins stuck all through it.
"Perhaps," Quaraun answered.
He took the doll from the girl's hand to get a closer look at it. But he, should have known better than to do that. As soon as he touched the doll, the girl's voice broke out into a demonic, haunted cackling glee.
"You are such a fool, Quaraun," the girl said. "Look at me. Look into my eyes. Do you see the truth? I am Death. I am darkness. I am the night."
As the girl spoke, something appeared behind her. A large pink jellyfish, about two meters long and nearly three wide. The top half was covered in pink scales and a bright blue underside, and had a bulbous fin that looked like it could easily swallow the entire girl whole. In front of the thing stood the girl no more, for she had morphed yet again and was now a figure clad in white robes, tall and thin with pale skin
"You are not real," Quaraun said to the girl.
"I am as real as anything you will ever meet in this world or any other."
"You aren't here! You aren't real!"
Quaraun closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the girl and her giant jellyfish monster were gone. On the ground at his feet sat the blue crystal skull. Perched on the skull, was a black bird with blue crystal eyes. It cawed at him, then flew away, leaving the skull behind.
Quaraun bent down and picked up the skull.
"This is why I've avoided so long, coming to Fire Mountain. The Faerie Magic is strong here. Wild Fae are everywhere. This close to the mountain, one can trust nothing he sees or hears."
Quaraun put the skull in his bag, and continued on his way around the base of the mountain looking for a way to get into the tunnels beneath it and find King Gwallmaiic's under mountain palace.
Quaraun continued his way to the mountain, and as he walked, every plant he walked past, uprooted itself and started walking along behind him. Every flower. Every bush. Every shrub. Every tree. And every time Quaraun turned to look behind him, they all instantly stood still, pretending they were not following him.
"Fucking trees," Quaraun muttered under his breath. "You ain't fooling no one."
He quickened his pace, hoping to lose the trees.
After short while he sunk to his knees and sat there, panting from running through the dense forest. He stared up at the canopy above him, watching its shifting shadows dance across the ground. They created strange shapes, like twisted snakes, or giant mushrooms, or the faces of creatures he would never know. It frightened Quaraun to look at it, though he couldn't quite tell why.
The forest around Quaraun grew darker and colder with each passing minute. The temperature dropped even further, making him shiver in his thin silk kimono.
The path Quaraun walked on, grew narrower and narrower until it was nothing but a rabbit trail through the grass, and whittled away to nothing.
"Damn it! Now where do I go?"
A young pine tree scampered on ahead and pointed all of it's limbs to a narrow cliff, leading around and up, the side of the mountain.
"Thank you," Quaraun said to the tree as he took a deep breath and continued onward.
His soft suede soled silk slippers were not made for travel on dusty, untraveled mountain trails like this. His found barely any footing for his cane, and dug his shoes into the ground as he stepped, terrified of slipping and falling off the edge.
There was no ledge, no rockfall, just bare, sandy dirt, and tiny little pebbles, trickling down the side of the mountain, with each step he took. His heart quickened as he glanced down and saw there was nothing, but a sheer drop to his left and straight up to his right.
With his heart pounded, he kept going and walking. The trees got taller, but there were no birds. No insects buzzed. Even the smell was different up hear.
Far less oxygen than Quaraun was used to.
He felt dizzy and light headed.
Quaraun stood up and looked at the cliffs in front of him. It went up and up and up and up and up, so far up, that he could not see the top of it.
Behind him were trees.
Lots and lots of trees.
All stil pretending they were not following him, every time he looked back to see if they were still there.
Old growth. Mast trees.
Great for ship builders.
Not so great for people who didn't like to be lost in the forest.
Here it was.
A tree branch moved in the wind. Someone was watching him. Quaraun spun around quickly, but found only himself facing more trees. In fact, it was more tress than had been there a few minutes ago.
"Fucking Faerie forest. Can't even trust the trees not to sneak up behind you and kick you off a cliff."
His pale blue eyes darted side to side, anglicizing every movement of every tree. This was definitely The Forest of No Return. He could tell by the fact that several trees had uprooted themselves and were walking around, pacing back and forth, stretching their legs. Roots? Who knows? A couple of the pine trees blinked their eyes and showed their fangs, while a weeping willow slowly inched its way around to the side, trying to get behind Quaraun.
"I see you," Quaraun snarled at the willow tree. The tree immediately rooted itself and pretended to be a normal, ordinary, not enchanted Faerie tree.
When nothing more happened, Quaraun relaxed. Still standing alone in the woods, at the base of Fire Mountain. No one to talk to. No one to ask for help. No one to yell at. Just him an these fucking trees that wouldn't stop following him.
"Hello?" Quaraun called out to the trees.
The entire forest stopped moving. Pine trees, oak trees, maple trees, birch trees... they all stopped walking and stood stiff, pretending to be normal trees.
The air around Quaraun grew colder. Frost crystals began forming on the pine needles below his feet. His breath grew frosty and cold, freezing in the air before his face.
"Lich," Quaraun said, as he looked up at the sky and watched the deep cerulean blue miasma mist swirling through the clouds over the tops of the enchanted trees. He frowned. "BoomFuzzy. Always near. Always watching. Always separated. Always apart."
Quaraun turned back around and stared at the mountain before him: Pepper Valley's infamous Fire Mountain.
He looked around again, hoping for some signs of civilization.
A path even.
The trees continued to loom over him, dark and menacing.
"Oh, fuck off!" Quaraun yelled at the trees as they got too close to him. "I'm not scared of you. Now get out of here!"
The trees took several steps back away from The Pink Necromancer.
Maine's ancient super volcano.
One of four largest volcanoes in the world.
The volcano rumoured to have been so devastating the last time it erupted, that it caused the Ice Age and killed every dinosaur on the planet, by blanketing the planet in ash, preventing the sun's warm rays from reaching the surface and causing instant mass flash freezing of the entire planet.
Or so say the scientists who study such things. Quaraun was not in the habit of studying volcano, so he knew nothing of Fire Mountain other than a few random passages he had been told.
Quaraun had heard of Fire Mountain many times. Tales of it swarmed through myths and legend.
But this was his first time ever seeing it. He'd never been here before. He wasn't sure what to expect.
A volcano, so big, so deep, and so ancient, that it was rumoured to contain the world's last surviving dinosaur. A huge, viscous black scaled, fire breathing dragon.
Somewhere there was an entrance. A way inside. And then a way down. But where? How in the Hell does one get into Fire Mountain, to even start to look for the under mountain palace of King Gwallmaiic inside?
The trees began moving closer once more and with a sigh Quaraun continued forward, onward, and upward, up the side of Fire Mountain. He would find the entrance into Fire Mountain, even if it took him days, weeks, months of searching. He hoped it wouldn't take so long.
Quaraun sat on the ground. He was weak and hungry and thirsty and tired.
"I wish I could just find the entrance into Fire Mountain," he muttered to himself, quite forgetting that he was a Wizard of the Di'Jinn order and knew better than to ever star any sentence with the words "I wish".
Just then a large fortified gate, appeared. Quaraun stood up and stared at the huge cast iron fence, that stood around a stone archway. A 1920's neon sign, with art deco neon lights, stood over the entrance blinking the words: "Entrance!" in big, bold, friendly purple letters, while bouncing neon light purple puppies wagged their tails below the word.
"Oh good god, what have I done?" Quaraun questioned as he realized he's made and granted his own wish.
"Congratulations! You me friend has won yarself a prize. The location of the entrance into Fire Mountain!"
Quaraun turned to see who had spoke and found himself face to face with a small dark skinned Faerie, bigger than a Leprechaun, taller than a Dwarf, but standing at only five foot one, he was still shorter than a Human child.
"At ya service."
BoomFuzzy dressed like a ringmaster of a big top three ring circus.
"Oh yes!" The Faerie took off his top hat and made a magnanimous sweeping bow at Quaraun's feet, than perch the hat on top of his wild mess of dreadlocks once again.
"Aren't we just a lucky one, eh?"
"Never." Quaraun shook his head. "No. I have no good luck at all. I have terrible luck. Especially when it comes to Faeries. I am not a lucky Elf."
The Faerie stood on tip-toe and kissed Quaraun's nose, then spun around and pranced to the gate. "Of course y'is. We are always so lucky. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky! Ya should be a Leprechaun wid luck like yars."
"You do realize I've spent the last several weeks trying to catch you?"
"Oh, why of course! I do have so much fun wid de smoke un mirrors. Keeping yar running in circles."
There was a loud POUF!
And the Faerie disappeared, leaving behind a large pouf of purple smoke and several shards of shattered mirrors.
"Damn you," Quaraun said as he made his way to the iron gate.
As Quaraun get to the gate, he saw a dark skinned Asian solider, with long salt and pepper grey dreadlocks blocking his path. Quaraun tried to walk pass the Faerie but immediately, sharp spears grew up out of the ground, all pointing toward Quaraun and blocking him from going in any direction.
"Ah, uh, uh! Ye shalt no enter. Yar only wished to know where the entrance was. Ya did no wish to get inside."
"Will you stop it!"
"No, no, no! Wishes not carefully word are prone to backfire you know."
Quaraun glared at the Faerie. The solider had glowing blue eyes, made out of gemstones, and wore a cloak made entirely of black feathers. On his fingers where nails should have been, great glossy black talons grew instead.
"You're a Phooka!" Quaraun gasped. "Oh my."
The solider laughed.
"Well don't just stand there gawking at me," the bird man said. "You are in the presence of the Griffin King. Move aside boy."
"I must get into the mountain."
"I have a renegade Lich to catch."
"The one you used to keep locked in a bottle?"
"Yes. He escaped. I wasn't done with him."
"Oh, my, my, my, my, my! Deary me. PoooooOOOOoooor wee lil Necromancer done gone un lost hims Lich?"
The Phooka fell on the ground laughing. When he did all the trees that had been following Quaraun, likewise fell of the ground and rolled around laughing.
"Are you done?" Quaraun snarled at the Faerie.
"Oh, no! Of course not!" The Phooka bounced back up to his feet. "Why would I be? I have so many much lots of time to torture you, remember?"
"Yes," Quaraun answered dryly. "I do seem to recall, being made immortal by a wish gone wrong."
The soldier stared at Quaraun.
"Oh, you're not going to cower in fear of me, are you?" the soldier asked.
"No reason to. You're just a psychotic Phooka."
"Just a..really? Just a Phooka? Is that all I am to you?"
"Just a Phooka."
"I feel I should be insulted." The Phooka looked past Quaraun to the trees. "Be insulted, boys, will you? I don't have the patience to do it myself."
The trees immediately started stomping around in circles looking as insulted as trees could make themselves look.
"So, I'm just just a Phooka, eh?"
"Yes. A psychotic Phooka with a lot of Psychotic trees at his command."
"Do you not like my trees?"
"You're trees are annoying, as they always are."
"Mighty bold of you to say as much."
"Not really, no."
"I've dwelt with Phookas before."
"Have you now?"
"Yes. I have. You KNOW I have. I have to keep putting up with you every few decades, don't I?"
"Oh pooh! You're not being any fun."
"You are dead, why should I be having fun?"
"We are the most fearsome race of all of Fae. No monsters are more feared than we."
"Yes. I am aware of this, but you see, I am Quaraun. The Pink Necromancer. As you very well know."
"Pink? Let me guess," the soldier said, pointing at Quaraun's robes. "You're a Flower Faerie, and this is why you're wearing pink. Am I right?"
"BoomFuzzy! I am an Elf. You know, I am an Elf"
"An Elf? Really?"
"Yes. Do we have to go through this every time you pop up!"
"Well, let me think... why YES!"
"Because you are a Necromancer."
"I am dead."
"Yes. I noticed that. I'm trying to fix that."
"Ah yes. And how is that going?"
"Well, let me think... oh yes... you are still dead."
"I'm a Lich, Quaraun. Not much you can do about that."
"You don't have a physical body."
"Yes, let me see, that would be because I am dead. Being incorporeal kind of with the territory."
"Are you going to let me in the mountain?"
"My, you're a lil one, aren't you?"
"I am short," Quaraun said, "for an Elf. And you already know that. Plus you're a full head shorter than me. And stop changing the subject."
"Indeed. You're not very tall," BoomFuzzy said. "But you're not very little, I've seen shorter, and that's good enough for me. And I is supposed to be short. I is a Phooka. We all us is short. You Elves is supposed to be tall. Taller than Humans. Yis a runt."
"Can you find something else to talk about?"
"Are you thirsty?"
"I have water."
"Yar can have some if ya wants it."
"One must never accept food from Faeries."
"Tis not food. T'is water. And I am not Faeries. I am your BoomFuzzy."
"I know you too well to trust you."
"You'd think you could trust me by now, I've been haunting ya bony lil ass for the past seven centuries."
"You being, BoomFuzzy, is EXACTLY WHY I can't trust you. No can trust you. You'd stab your best friend in the back if you thought you could get a laugh out of it."
"You ARE me best friend."
"That's exactly my point. I will never turn my back on you."
"You are thirsty. Here."
"It could be bottled dust for all I can tell. Faeries never offer real food."
"Not even for a shiny red apple?"
The bottle of water, he held in his hand, was now a shinny red apple. Quaraun smiled, and the soldier smiled back. Quaraun took the apple.
"There, you see?" the soldier said.
Quaraun threw the apple off the cliff.
"Yes. I do see. I am Faerie Sighted. You tried to offer me a maggot filled rotten apple core."
"But you are hungry and so too are I. But you can eat and I can not, for I am dead and you alive."
"I am not hungry. Only you are hungry. Here, I shall give you the apple core." Quaraun stretched out his gold armoured hand and the rotten apple core appeared in the palm of his bejewelled metal glove. "It is fresh from the garden of the apricot trees in the courtyard below. Eat it. Drink it. And live forever with me."
"If only that were possible. I seem to be lacking a physical body."
"It is possible. I will make it so, if that's last thing I ever do."
"You are the Elf who believes in love. That love survives all. Even death."
"Your lover died and left you alone."
"Yes. You did."
"And now you wander the world in search of his missing soul."
"I do. And it would be easier to find a cure for you if you would stop jumping out of your bottle and running away. Every minute I spend looking for you is another minute I don't spend trying to build you a flesh body."
"But you murdered his other lover."
"Gibedon. Yes. I did. I killed Gibedon."
"Gibedon was going to kill BoomFuzzy. He was plotting wit Finderu to overthrow the throne. They were going to kill the King in his sleep. I had to stop them."
"Even though you knew King Gwallmaiic loved him."
"Yes. BoomFuzzy loved Gibedon, not me. I am so sorry I broke his heart. He killed himself a few days after I killed Gibedon."
"Apology accepted," the soldier said. "Now let us go inside, inside this mighty fortress we call home. We'll eat and drink until our bellies ache, till the sky falls in, and then we sleep the sleep of death."
The Phooka opened a massive stone door in the side of the mountain. Quaraun stepped inside the door and immediately it vanished, along with the gate and the solider, and Quaraun found himself standing on the dark cliff, overlooking a deep, ominous looking hole in the ground.
"Just remember, wishes come with consequences," BoomFuzzy said as his vanished once again.
"What consequences? BoomFuzzy what did you do this time?"
Quaraun waited for an answer but got none.
BoomFuzzy was gone again.
"A house wizard dispatches Quaraun to retrieve arcane and mysterious information that only the Thullids possess. A powerful magic item is said to be lost in the ruins of the ancient city," Quaraun said to no one in particular. Largely because there was no one around to talk to.
Legends told tales of a mysterious mountain, which could appear out of no where, whenever and wherever it pleased. Much the same as The Twighlight Manor did, the same too as The Forest of No Return did. Not surprising as all three were places BoomFuzzy lived and building himself enchanted homes, seemed to be a talent of his.
Disappearing into the mists from which it had mysteriously immersed, the mountain proved itself difficult to find.
Normally Quaraun did not take on such risks, but, this particular mountain had been on his radar for a while now. For this, was Fire Mountain, home of The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. Leastwise it had been his home, centuries ago, when he was still alive.
"What am I doing here?"
Quaraun stood on the cliff, looking down at the gaping black hole. A steam vent, from a long inactive volcano. The ancient, old Elf got down on his hands and knees and peered into the hole.
He could see exactly nothing.
"There has to be another way in. A better way in. A way in, that doesn't involve me tying a rope to god knows what and hoisting myself down into god forsaken pits of who the hell knows what's down there."
"I suppose, I could just jump in. If I die I'll just start my life over. Won't I?"
The bizarre question was enough, without having to give an exact answer.
"How many lifetimes can I live, before I stop reliving the same life over and over again? I never jumped down this shaft before, did I? I don't remember. I've a dragon to get past. Jump it is."
Quaraun did not get a chance to jump, because just then, BoomFuzzy reappeared, and shoved Quaraun off the cliff, while yelling down the hole: "Seemed to recall ya was expecting me to stabs yas in de back. Figured kicking off a cliff works just as well."
Quaraun woke up some time later.
Laying on the floor.
And unable to remember, either where he was or how he had gotten there.
"Why am I sprawled on the ground? I am covered in dirt. On my back. Why am I on my back? How did I get here?"
Quaraun lay on his back, staring skyward into the darkness. At the ceiling.
Maybe? Is there a ceiling overhead?
"I can't see. It is so exceptionally dark. I need to sit up. The ground below me is hard and rock like. It hurts. It hurts so bad."
Painful to lay on.
"Why am I laying on it? It hurts. I hurt. I ache all over. Where am I? Why am I on the ground? Gravel and pebbles are scraping my skin through my clothes. I hate it. It hurts. Abrasive sand is tumbling around my toes, inside my shoes. It hurts my feet. It hurts my toes. I have sand between my toes. I hate it."
When Quaraun couldn't remember what he was doing, he took to pontificating to rumble through random words, hoping one of them would spark a memory of what he was doing.
Failing memory was the worst part of growing old. Quaraun's failing memory often left him waking up confused, not remembering where he was or how he had gotten there.
This was the case today.
Quaraun preferred someone to sleep with him, so they could remind him, when he woke up, where he was and what he was doing there. He hated sleeping alone, because he hated waking up and not being able to remember where he had bedded that night.
Quaraun tried to remember what he had been doing the day before. Walking, but where? He walked so much, so far, so often, that little difference passed from one day to the next. He had been going somewhere, but where?
Why was he sleeping on the ground?
Why not in his tent?
Or on a bedroll?
And why was it so damned dark?
And what was he sleeping on?
"Am I sitting in the middle of the road? Why am I sitting in the middle of the road?"
Quaraun strained his eyes trying to see, but it was nothing but pitch black, thick blackness all around. Not a sliver of light anywhere.
Nothing to cast shadows.
Nothing but total blackness.
The only thing that gave him any indication of how far off the road he actually was, was the soft sound of his voice echoing back from all sides. It made the hairs at the back of his neck stand up.
What had happened? How did he end up here alone?
What had happened to everyone else?
Wait? Was there any one else?
How had he ended up alone?
As much as he tried, he couldn't remember anything before waking up just now. Nothing at all. He wasn't even sure who he was. His mind was a jumble of thoughts and feelings and everything just seemed... different.
A lot more chaotic than normal. And there were no memories to help explain his confusion. No way to tell if he really knew anyone other then himself.
His chest tightened. There was something heavy inside it, something cold and hard and painful. Something he didn't want to be feeling right now. That's when he realized it was fear. Fear that this place would never end. Fear that no one would ever find him. Afraid for himself and everything about himself.
He swallowed hard, suddenly feeling very alone.
It took him a moment before he felt the first tear roll down his cheek. He hadn't expected them to start, or to come at all. Tears. Why? Why was he crying. He'd lost someone. Someone had died. Someone close to him.
"Why am I sitting in the middle of the road?" Quaraun asked himself again. "How did I get in the middle of the road? What happened? Where am I? What has transpired? I don't remember. Why don't I remember? Why am I outside? Why is it so dark? Is it night? I can't see anything. Have I gone blind? No. I've lost my sight before. Briefly. After being struck on the head. It wasn't like this. It wasn't black. It was grey. Foggy. With bursts of colour exploding inside my skull."
Quaraun put his hands on his head and discovered this was a difficult task when one could not see where one's head was.
"No. This is just darkness. But there are no stars. No moon. Where is my moon? Have I fallen into a hole in the ground? Am I underground?" Quaraun reached around blindly until he felt a sod wall, and long tree roots. "Oh! I AM underground! How did I get underground? Have I been buried alive? Who would bury me alive? Entombed beneath the earth."
Quaraun crawled around feeling the ground as he went, trying to feel something he could recognize.
"I can feel dirt and rocks and dirt and soil and dirt and sediment and dust and dirt. And dirt is everywhere. There is so much dirt. I'm dirty. Where is the edge of the trail? Dust is everywhere. And dirt. It's dirt everywhere. Dirt and dirt and more dirt. I can't find any anything. Is there anything here? Anything at all. No. I can find nothing. It's just dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt and dirt and dirt and more dirt! So much dirt. Why is there so much dirt! I hate dirt. Why does nature have to be so dirty. Why can't it be clean like water?"
Quaraun grew increasingly more panicked the more he found nothing but dirt. As his breathing became laboured, so did his thoughts.
Thoughts and fears.
Things were getting more and more out of hand as his panic rose. His breathing quickened as he ran out of air.
"Where is the end? Where is the edge? Where is the edge? Please. Where is the edge? Where is the edge? Where is the edge?!" Quaraun cried as he crawled around in the darkness feeling with his gold armoured fingers for something, anything.
He stopped for a moment, trying to collect his breath, then continued crawling over the rough dirt. He tried again, then gave up after finding nothing but more dirt.
"Nothing. There's nothing here but dirt and dirt and dirt. Just dirt. Nothing else. There's nothing here but dirt. Where am I? Why did you leave me here? Please. Help me!" Quaraun pleaded.
"Where is the grass? I can't see. I have dirt all over my hands. Why can't I find any grass? I need water or grass. Something to clean my hands! I can't fucking see anything! Why is it so dark? There is no grass. I can't feel any grass. Where is the grass? Why is there no grass? I need grass. I have dirt all over my hands. Why is it so messy? Where is the grass? My hands are covered in mud. I need to clean my hands. I need some grass for wipe this mud off my hands."
"I can feel the dirt, rocks, and dirt, dirt, debris, dust and dirt. And everywhere there is just more dirt. Gravel and dirt and dust. There is a lot of dust. I'm dirty. My hands are dirty. I can feel dirt on my hands. It's drying out my skin! My clothes are dirty. My shoes are dirty."
"Argh!! I have dirt in my nose! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!"
Where is the end of the road? Dust is everywhere. It's dirty, it's dirty, it's dirty. Is there something here? No. Nothing. I can't find anything. Dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty, not dirty.
Why is everything so messy? Where is the grass?
I can't see.
My hands are covered in mud.
I need to clean my hands.
Why can't I find any weeds? Why is it so dark and there is no grass? I don't feel the grass. Where is the grass?
Why is there no grass? I need hashish.
My hands are in the mud, not in the grass.
I didn't feel the plants at all.
Why do these things keep happening to me!
I didn't ask for this!
Damned stupid ass wishes!
Nothing. No plants. I don't feel the grass.
I didn't feel the plants at all. There was nothing green in my arms and feet.
I can't see.
My feet hurt.
Dirt is getting stuck in every single part of my shoes.
I can't walk, I can't stand.
Where is my cane? I can't get up without it!
I can't get anywhere by myself.
Dirt is sticking to my skin and clothing.
My head hurts.
I think my brain has been hit with a hammer or something.
My whole body feels tired and weak.
I can't see. How can I go home if my eyes are shut? My eyes were open, but now they feel like I have them closed because my whole head feels too heavy for me to lift.
The pain is almost gone from my legs, though, and that means I should be able to walk without hurting my limbs or making them bleed. I don't think I have any broken bones.
Damn it, BoomFuzzy! You fucking pushed me off a cliff! I remember that much, you wretch! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you do that? You could have killed me!
And you know what? You're lucky you're already dead and I 'm too lazy to kill you again! You bastard!
I'm trying to help you get your body back and you are not exactly making it easy for me when you pull fucking jackassery stunts like this!
And now I'm stuck here, under this fucking mountain with nobody to save me anymore.
There's nothing here, just gravel and dirt and rocks.
Quaraun's shouting caused an avalanche of rubble, soil, gravel, sand, and rocks to come cascading down from above, much of it landing on top of him.
Why am I trapped under these huge, heavy stones?
No! This ain't right. I have to get outta here.
If I die down here, BoomFuzzy, I'm gonna kill you over and over again for eternity!
Where is my cane? Why do I always end up in these shit storms. Shit! I gotta find my stupid cane and there's no fucking light down here, I can't see a thing and now I've got a fucking landslid that's probably buried my cane so I can't find it at all now. Fuck this shit!
That avalanche wasn't an accident either was it? This is your idea of a joke, isn't it? You pushed them down here on top of me didn't you?
BOOMFUZZY! I know you can hear me.
Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!
No! This ain't right. I have to get outta here.
I need to calm down and breath.
Think nice thoughts.
Calm. Relax. Breath.
Mother's ever loving tentacles.
It's so hot and humid in here. So damn hot! It makes the air so thick I can barely breathe and it feels as if it's getting harder and harder for me to draw air into my lungs.
My throat feels raw and parched from all the yelling I've done.
Damn it! I don't have any water.
I need water desperately, even though I have no idea where any water source might be.
I'll figure it out later though, I guess. Right now, I have to keep my mind occupied. There's gotta be some sort of light source around here somewhere.
If I find anything, hopefully it will give me directions and make me feel less lost. Even if I do end up being lost in the end, at least my mind will have some peace.
I'm having difficulty keeping my eyes focused properly.
I close my left eye tightly and focus my gaze on one spot, then another.
Nothing. Nothing in sight, anyway.
It's just too damned dark down here.
I let my hand drift over and rest upon my forehead.
What was I doing?
Yes. Flowers. I was looking for flowers.
I don't feel flowers.
I can't feel the trees. Dirty and dirty. And gravel.
It's not just grass. I can't feel any plants at all. Nothing. There are no plants. I can't feel any grass. I can't feel any flowers. I can't feel any trees. It's just dirt and more dirt. And gravel. And I broke a nail. I hate dirt so damned much. Why does there have to be so much damned dirt?
No shrubs grow here. I can't feel any grass.
No ferns. No hedges. No plants. No plants at all.
No foliage. No hedges. No shrubberies. No thickets.
No briers. No bushes. No grains.
Why? Where the hell am I?
There are no forests here. No forests. No trees.
No birds or insects. Or any sounds other than my own footsteps crunching on dry, unblemished dirt.
Where is this place? Who made it look like this?
I need a place to call home. But there's only emptiness and me walking in endless circles and not getting anywhere. It's so strange...
But I don't want to be here. I want to find someplace else.
I don't feel any grass or bushes. No fence. No plants. No leaves. There is no fence. There are no bushes. No thistle. There are no bushes. No grains. No fruit. No fence. No herbs. No vegetation. There is no dike. No weeds. No watercourse. No roses. There are no bushes. No brush. No strawberries, no trees. Neither trees nor seedlings can be found. No seeds. There are no bushes anywhere. Treeless. Treeless. Treeless. Treeless. No trees. No vines. No leaves. There are no banks.
No berries. No hedgerows. No herbs. No vegetation. No hedges. No under brush. No brushwood. No roses. No bushes. No brambles. No burs.
No trees. I can't find any trees.
No saplings. No seedlings. No timbers. No trees. No trees. No trees. No trees. No trees at all. Treeless. Treeless. Treeless. Treeless.
Where did the trees go?
No vines. No leaves.
I am not indoors either.
No floors. No canvases. No chairs. No tables. No benches. No desks. No floors, towels or chairs. There is no table. No carpets. No bed. No bookcase. No furniture at all. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing!
Just dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. And dirt. Just so much fucking godforsaken dirt.
I am outdoors. In nature. In dirty, grimy nature.
I should be in my tent.
I'm tired of this.
I can't do this any more. How does anyone live like this? Why am I living like this? I can't do this any more. It's driving me crazy.
I should be in my tent.
My tent! Where did that go? Where is my tent? It is right there! My tent! Where did it go? Where is it? Who took it? Why is it gone? What did they take? Is it still there?
Who took my tent?
If anyone comes near my tent, I will have them dead before their legs even hit the ground. If anyone tries to steal from me or steal my tent from me again, I will kill them.
But I don't have anything to steal now.
The tent is in my bag. They stole it. Who stole my tent? Who wants my tent?
My tent! Where is my tent? Did someone take it too?
Why does everything smell like dust? Or dirt.
There is no table. No carpet, no bedding. There are no books. There is no furniture. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing, just dirt, dirt left here by God. Dirt that doesn't belong to Him! Dirt that belongs to me! That belongs to all of us. That belongs to the Earth. Earth of the Earth! That's what dirt is! Dirt that belongs to the trees and gives them life! Dirt that belongs to the animals and sustains their existence! To the birds, to the fish, to the bugs, to the worms, to the jellyfish. To me!
Dirt that belongs to me. I am the Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets. Everything on the Triple Planets is mine!
Dirt doesn't belong to God. It doesn't belong to him. He can't have it. It should not be his! This dirt shouldn't be anywhere near His feet!
I am a god! The one and only! A god, like Him! But why? Why is this dirt mine?! Why has God given it to me?!
Why do people love dirt so much?!
"Why do they need to touch it?" I ask myself.
The dirt is my treasure. Dirt is how I keep my power. Dirt is the source of my immortality. Dirt is how I control the entire universe. Dirt makes everything I touch shine.
Dirt makes everyone else glow too.
"Why does dirt make them happy?" I ask myself.
Dirt makes everything better. It fills your heart with joy, and you know deep down inside you're in a good place. Dirt makes you feel like nothing could go wrong. Dirt makes you feel free.
This is where I belong, floating through space, surrounded by dirt. It makes me happy and peaceful, it makes me forget about all that's going on around me.
This is where I live. Right now.
Where do I live? What do I call it? Where do I go to hide when the sun is beating down from high above the ground and the air tastes like metal in the back of my throat? Is there an exact definition for the name I'm supposed to give it?
He was out there somewhere when we started our search. He was there. He knew. He knew our planet was dying and he did nothing. He let us die.
And then we found BoomFuzzy.
He was there and he was alive.
And then he wasn't anymore.
Now he's dead.
BoomFuzzy is dead.
Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Dead!
He's dead, dead, dead.
Just gone, gone, gone.
And left me alone.
Gone, like he never existed.
I should have died in his place.
No cares about me.
No one wants me.
He had friends. He had people who needed him.
No one needed me.
I should have died instead.
And now I'm back here in this filthy, filthy, dirty world. This dirt filled, filthy, dirt blasted dirt, with its stink and its pain. With its misery and its hopelessness.
I don't remember anything.
I don't know where I am or how I got here.
Nothing makes sense anymore. Nothing except that thing called pain.
So much pain!
Pain in my leg and pain in my back and pain in my hip and pain in my hands and pain in my head.
Just pain, pain, pain, pain, pain, pain!
No more dirt.
I hate dirt.
My hands in my hair again. They're wet and sticky and sweaty, with mud all over them. Dry clay and sticky sweat, equals the worst type of mud at all.
Mud in my hair.
Mud on my face.
Thee mud is everywhere.
I hate it! I hate. I hate it!
Its on my clothes and all around me. Everything is dirty and gross and I just want to get away from it. I don't want this. I want BoomFuzzy back.
I just want to be with BoomFuzzy.
I don't want anything else.
BoomFuzzy is gone to Hell and I'm left here on Earth.
This of not Heaven.
This is the opposite of Heaven.
The opposite of Heaven. The opposite of Paradise.
The opposite of Heaven. The opposite of anything.
This is not paradise. This is Hell. Hell. Hell. Everywhere.
This is Hell. Where everyone who dies lives forever.
Forever and ever and ever and ever.
Hell, where no one has happiness. No one has peace. Where death is never truly rest. Where pain remains for eternity. Where no one has hope or purpose or joy. This is Hell. Nothing but Hell.
Hell is made of dirt.
Dirt, dirt, everywhere.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing, just dirt, dirt left here by God.
Dirt, dirt everywhere.
All over me.
Drying me out.
Drying me out, all over. A
ll around me.
My pink silks are soiled.
Dirt on me. Mud. Sand. Dust.
Damned bloody nose.
Damned scraped knees.
My clothes are filthy.
Not dirty enough.
It's worse than dirt and mud, because dirt washes away. Muddy. Unkempt. Wet. Dirty. It dries.
Not like dirt.
Not dirty enough.
Not dirt. It takes dirt off. Dirt gets cleaned off.
And so damned fucking dark in here!
I don't know what dirt looks like anymore.
It's all the same now, the way everything has been for so long.
It makes my eyes hurt.
They sting so hard.
So hard they burn.
They itch so hard.
And yet, still the tears come. And they keep coming even when my eyes stop hurting and my skin stops itching and my throat heals up from being dry and scratchy. They still fall.
When the first raindrop falls, they are almost the last drops of water that trickle through the clouds. When I hear the second drop, I look toward the source of the sound, but it doesn't land where the third drops were falling. Crying for trees. Where are the trees.
There is no forest without leaves. Why am I not at home? There is no canvas. There is no chair. Without seats without seating, there is no carpet without an office. Nothing. Nothing! I'm waiting for a dirty. . . what is this? Do you feel something? What are you?
Wait. What's this?
I feel something.
What is this? What are you?
It's wood. It's not a tree. It's square. It's sharp. It has a corner. And OW! Splinters. Now I have a splinter! Damn you! What are you?
A beam? A beam, leaned on something.
A wall? Are you a wall?
Yes. A wall.
Am I inside? I'm inside. No. Yes? Maybe.
How? How am I inside? There's so much dirt. What is this? Why is there so much dirt inside? It feels like a road, all packed in and travelled on. Busy, busy, like on the highway. No. This is not a highway. I'm not outside. I'm inside. In. . . in what? Am I in a cave? How did I get into a cave? AM I in a cave? Why am I in a cave? Is this a cave? I can't tell.
Where am I? Where did the beams go. I need to feel them again. Something's not right here. This can't be a cave.
It should be more open. I'll look around. I'll find more wooden posts. I need to find more wooden posts. Oh! There's something else out there! There must be a door. I wonder if it's big enough for me. I wonder what it looks like. I hope it opens. If it's just one door then it isn't too tight for me.
It's not a door but it is something I can open, I think. It's kind of hard but I try. The latch is very complicated. So many buttons and knobs and switches. And a whole bunch of levers and knobs. How is a lever supposed to work, anyway? But I guess I do. I push down a switch and I hear an odd sound.
Did I hear a click?
I can't see a blasted thing.
How did I get here?
You're a vertical surface. You can help me up. I won't have to crawl around grovelling in the dirt any more. If I hold on to the wall and walk along you, maybe I can find my way out of here and back into sunlight. Why is it so damned dark in here? I can't see a thing.
Through the darkness, for anything that might reveal to me where I am.
Piling. Scaffolding. Plank.
Joist. Pillar. Rough. Old.
Crumbling. Decayed. Decomposed.
It will collapse. Oh! It's not stable. It gives if I lean on it.
This whole place will fall in on me.
Wait. I felt, gravel on the ground. Where was that.
Ah! I found you. Cold. Smooth.
It's a crystal. Is it ice?
Quartz? Maybe? Or Selenite?
These aren't gravel.
Am I in a mine? Oh my! Did I fall down a mine shaft? Oh that's not good. Some mines are miles deep. And have so little air. But a mine! No wonder there is no light. I could be miles underground.
Oh dear. That would be horrible, wouldn't it?
Oh! The dark.
It will go away eventually. I'm sure it'll go away. I can't see anything. I won't find any water or any food.
How long has it been? Days, weeks, months? Time doesn't seem to have meaning here. It's like being in the past, but not really. It's not real time and all time isn't real either. But what am I supposed to do now?
I need a name. That's silly. You don't use names anymore. I can't think of one. My name is Joist. What else should I say?
My thoughts wander and my body drifts.
I know this is how things work when you're dead.
No, that's wrong.
There aren't people who just die from falling.
I feel like I'm drifting. It's almost peaceful.
That's odd, because this is the first time I've ever been able to float. Floating used to be an unpleasant experience, but now it's sort of nice, like floating in a warm bath. I wonder why I can't swim any more? I can feel myself getting tired and tired. It feels like I'll lose consciousness any minute now. But I can feel something, like...
By the feel of the stone and dirt and massive timber beams on the wall, it's gem mine. A Dwarven gem mine. I seem to have found myself in a roughly hewn chamber of some sort. Some sort of cave. Or a tunnel. A sod house, maybe?
A mine? Oh. It IS a mine isn't it? A Dwarf mine? No? Yes. It must be. It has to be. What else could it be? How did I get in a Dwarf mine? I can see nothing, damn it! The shades of stone, dirt and rot from the huge wooden posts hanging from the walls are all the same. Pitch black. Blacker than my string of black pearls. Where are those? I should wear them again. If I ever get out of here. I need to get out of here.
The beams feel like scaffolding for mine shafts.
I can't find out for certain in this dank darkness.
A tunnel, perhaps?
Under a mountain?
But to do what?
Where am I?
How did I arrive here?
I simply can not recall.
Why can't I remember?
Have I stumbled into a mine shaft?
Did I discover a mine by accident?
I do not remember. Why can't I remember? Why is my memory so poor of late. I forget so much.
It concerns me greatly that I can not remember in what way or manner I arrived at this place. Did I come here by design? Was I abducted? If so, than by who?
And where are they?
Why would they leave me alone here?
Why can't I remember how I got here?
Or was it a portal? Oh! It could have been a portal! Did I fall into a portal?
I could be any where.
Any planet. Any dimension. Any time.
Oh! How would I even know?
By what means did I come to be here?
And where exactly was here?
How on earth am I supposed to get home?
What if I never find a way back to where ever I came from? What then? Will I die here?
I am not sure whether to be frightened or elated. Is it possible for one to die and still be alive? Or will I finally be granted rest after being so tormented?
Is this death? Is this eternal torment?
Perhaps that is not the worst option. Perhaps death itself might be preferable to eternal torment. Perhaps it is better to live forever in hell than to be trapped here for all eternity as well.
If I were trapped here forever, I would die sooner or later. I cannot see the future anymore. There are no more memories, no more thoughts, no more ideas. It has all ended. There is nothing.
I am not going to die like this.
I don’t want to die like this.
If there is anything at all I can do to prolong my stay here, I must. Even if it means suffering endless boredom and isolation.
My name is Quirinus. That's it. No. That's not right either.
The story is over.
Now I need to begin again.
The question before us now is; How many days will it take for someone to notice I've gone missing?
It is dark.
It is so dark.
So very dark.
So very extremely dark.
So very extremely, extraordinarily dark.
Ah! What are you? Nothing helpful? Time-worn wooden pilings are leaning against walls. I can feel them. And the walls are made out of stone and collapsing clay. Dry clay. Smooth and silky. It'd be good for my skin. I should take some with me, but I've no way to carry any.
Not a weapon either.
And what was that sound? I hear sounds. I don't know what they are. I can't see a thing. I hate that I can't see. I'm wandering in blindness.
The sound of running water?
Water. Echoing through the darkness.
I'm so thirsty. I need to head towards the sound of the water.
I don't know anything about this place, and neither does anyone else, and if we run out of food or water then we won't last long anyway.
I'm hungry. And thirsty. There's a spring close by, I can hear it. And maybe there's something else nearby. A stream maybe? Water from the sky. A nice drink after being in the rain. Yes, that would be nice indeed. If I was on land. Which I'm not. I'm underground. Miles and miles underground. Under hill. Under dale. Under mountain.
My head hurts, like someone has taken a stick to it. I try to remember what happened.
I am in the cave, I think. And then there was... an explosion. And purple smoke.
And I was running. I was jogging with a bunch of trees. And it made my leg soar. My damned lame leg. I shouldn't have run. It hurt my hip.
And I fell through the floor, no, off a cliff.
I tried to grab a hold of something, but I couldn't see what.
Then the ceiling collapsed, and it became dark and I couldn't get up.
The pain was all over, it felt as though someone had reached inside of my brain and twisted. I can't remember. I just know I was running, and then I hit something hard and black and when I opened my eyes again everything was gone.
I open my eyes to see myself on the ground.
Oh gods, oh god oh gods I'm going to die. My heart is racing, and I feel faint.
Quaraun continued inching ahead, ever so slowly.
Deliberately. Reaching out. Hands outstretched.
Into the darkness. Touching the wall.
The dirt on the wall is thick and dry, barren, parched, but not sandy. It's. . . powdery.
Caked. Clumping. Smoothly textured like talc mixed with clay. Heavy. It smells like the rich dark peat clay found under a forest's leaf carpet.
What a wonderful smell.
Dirt would be nice if it wasn't so dirty.
I love the smell of dirt.
I just hate how badly it soils my clothes. And my hands. And my hair. Silk is so hard to get clean. This clay smells so nice. If mixed it with water it would feel so nice on my skin.
Using his fingers on the earth wall as a guide, Quaraun pursued the passage, hoping to find an exit. Or at the very least, a light.
Who knew what is lurking in the darkness with me? Beasts. Monsters. Bandits. There could be dangers lurking all around me. I'd not know to run.
Oh my! What was that? I heard something. There is a great abundance of noise. And soil dribbling down from the sod ceiling with every vibration.
Rumbling. A mountain that rumbles.
Was this a cavern in. . .a volcano?
Wait, is that lava I heard rushing by? Not water?
It bears resemblance to a mine shaft, but maybe it's not.
I'm in a volcano.
I can smell it. The sulphur.
It feels like it. This whole place is filled with smoke and steam. The air thickens as if on purpose. It's so hot, I can barely breathe.
I'm sweating buckets. My silks feel clammy. My arms are trembling.
How long have I been here? Hours. Days? Weeks?
"Is anyone there?"
My voice echoes through the dark room. I try again, but no one answers.
What's going on? Why am I stuck here?
I need to listen. For danger. I must take notice of every sound. Be always alert and ready to run. Except run to where? I can't see a thing. Not one single, solitary thing. If I trip, I'll break my neck. How am I supposed to run from danger when I can't even see my own hand? Why the hell is this place so dark? This is the darkest, darkness I've ever been in.
Damn it! What was that? Stubbed my toe. Now it hurts. I was already hurting enough. Now I hurt more. I didn't need more hurt. I needed less hurt. Damn darkness.
Damned accursed darkness.
Stupid blackness everywhere.
Why does it have to be so damned dark in this place?
And I'm alone.
I hate being alone. I'm just always alone. No body cares. No one. Ever. Not no one. I have no one. BoomFuzzy's dead. He killed himself. Because I killed Gibedon. I shouldn't have killed Gibedon. I had to kill Gibedon. Gibedon was going to kill BoomFuzzy. Why did he have to die? I never should have killed Gibedon. BoomFuzzy would still be alive if I hadn't killed Gibedon. He loved Gibedon. BoomFuzzy loved Gibedon. Why did he love Gibedon?
He hid Gibedon from me. He loved Gibedon and he didn't want me to know. I thought he loved me. I loved him.
I loved BoomFuzzy so much. Why didn't he love me? We were soul bound. I cut my soul in half to be with him. Part of him. Him part of me. I would have loved him forever. I do love him, forever. I'll always love him. Why did he have to die? Why did he kill himself? I don't understand. I miss him. I miss him so much. I feel so alone without him.
I feel so angry at myself for killing Gibedon.
Why must I get so upset all the time?
How can I make myself stop feeling like this.
I can't sleep at night. I can't eat. My chest hurts. I feel like there is a whole where my heart used to beat. My chest feels empty. I feel empty. Unloved. Unwanted. Alone.
Why did BoomFuzzy have to die? Why did he kill himself? I don't understand. I miss him. I miss him so much. I feel so alone without him. I hurt. I hurt so bad. I can't bear it. It hurts like nothing else ever has. It hurts. I feel so lonely.
Gibedon was gone. I killed him. How could I? That wasn't supposed to happen. But it did. I killed him. I killed him for good. Forever. I hurt BoomFuzzy so much.
I'm going to die alone and I'm going to die sad.
I can't live without him. I can't go on without him.
I'll be alone forever.
Forever, forever, forever, forever, forever.
Forever. Forever. Forever.
I wish I had a knife. Maybe then I could slit my wrists.
Maybe then I wouldn't have to feel so alone anymore.
Maybe then, maybe then I'd be free. Free, free, free.
I'd finally be happy.
Free! I need to see BoomFuzzy again.
I need to feel his arms around me again.
I don't care how bad it gets.
Quaraun collapsed on the ground, sobbing.
Just than a knife appeared in front of him.
Not another wish!
I have to stop doing this.
No more wishes!
Stop with the wishes.
There is so much darkness here.
There could be monsters all around me and I wouldn't know it. I can't see a thing. And this tunnel just keeps going and going. It doesn't end. And I can't see where I'm going. I got to get out of here.
And it's hot and humid. Dry and muggy. Both at the same time. It makes my lungs hurt. And it makes my head hurt.
And my eyes and my throat.
It's so hard to breath in here.
It's so dark and dirty and I hate it.
And that smell. Sulphur.
But I am so tired.
I need to rest.
Need to lay down.
Quaraun lay down on the ground and drifted off into a fitful sleep. Though he'd only been awake for a short while, his fear of the dark had exhausted his mind.
Quaraun was prone to not think clearly when he was afraid.
Prone to panic.
Prone to forget, in his panic, that he had supplies with him. Supplies he could use. Like a lamp. And matches to light said lamp. Both of which were tucked away inside the little bag of holding hanging from his belt.
Quaraun's fear of being lost and alone in the dark, was so great, that he had forgotten, where he was, or why he was there, or what he carried with him.
And so Quaraun wandered through the caves of Fire Mountain, traumatized, terrified, not knowing where he was or how he had come to be there. Not remembering that he had gone to the mountain, seeking the Obsidian Idol, which sat in the bowels of Pepper Valley's ancient volcano.
The hours slowly ticked away, timeless, in the silence of the darkness, of the subterranean caverns of Fire Mountain's underbelly. Quaraun slept, passed out on the dirt path. After many hours of sleep, he awoke once again, to find himself still alone, still in the dark, still so deep in the earth, that there was no way to tell day from night.
It's dark. It's night.
Have I slept all day?
It's not night.
I'm in a mine. Or a cave. A dark, dark cave.
Darkness still. There is no light.
I need to see something.
There is nothing to see.
I need light. Without it my mind wanders into its darkest depths, when I can't occupy it.
I hate it.
I hate these thoughts.
I need to get out of here. There's nothing to do. Nothing to see. I can't see anything. My mind is as dark as this damned tunnel that I now found myself wandering in. Where the hell is the exit to this place? How did I even get in here? I need to find a way out, but there's just nothing! Miles of endless nothing. How long is this tunnel? When does it end?
Foreboding and ghastly.
Ghastly and foreboding.
I miss BoomFuzzy.
I feel so very alone and abandoned. Just so alone. Alone. Unloved. Unwanted. Left behind. Cast aside. I have no one. I'm going to die down here. Lost and alone. And no one will know I died. No one will know where to look for me. Wolves will eat my body. I'm all alone. Alone. Nothing but darkness all around.
The lonesome darkness all around me.
Above. Beside. Below.
Isolation. Desolation. Seclusion.
Dark and morbid.
Morbid and dark.
The darkness surrounding me. The emptiness.
My ears are ringing. It hurts. All around. My head hurts.
How did I fall here?
Where am I? Why am I here?
Why is this happening?
Why am I trapped like this?
This is not what I expected when I woke up this morning.
What do they want from me?
What has this got to do with me?
Why am I here? What is wrong with me?
I need help. I want someone to come for me. To take me home. I want people to love me. To care about me.
They can't leave me here to rot. They won't.
That's not how it works. I'll never be accepted if they don't take me back. I need them to take me back.
They should come for me. If they don't, then I'll go mad.
If they don't then, then I'll kill myself.
But I can't do that. They must save me.
If only I had some water. Then I could drink some water. If I had water, maybe I wouldn't be feeling this dizzy. I wish I had something to drink. But nothing. Just darkness. This tunnel is huge.
The lonely, lonesomeness of how very alone I feel is bearing down heavy upon me in this endless, eternal darkness.
Gloom and doom.
Doom and gloom.
Depressed and forlorn.
Ominous and sad.
Sad and dismal.
The anguish, bitterness, misery, and despair.
I can feel it all around me. My depression bearing down on me, worse than ever before. Like a sickly presence I can not escape. It follows me everywhere. I hate it. Why won't it leave me alone?
Day and night.
Night and day.
Waiting and watching.
Watching and waiting.
Now, I'm lost in this dark endless cave. I feel the dark depths of despair, crashing down around me. Crushing me heart and soul, body and mind. Mind and body, soul and heart. My soul is cut in half. Half my soul is in BoomFuzzy. And BoomFuzzy's dead. Half my soul is dead. I'm half dead. Half alive. And lost in the dark.
I must escape this darkness. But where? How? I had no idea where I am or which direction in which to go. I am lost and alone, in the darkest cave system I'd ever not seen. If only I had a light.
It seemed to Quaraun as though he had roamed aimlessly in this blackness forever. His mind crashed deeper into the depth of fretful depression.
He felt so helpless and trapped. He wished he knew what to do. What was wrong with him? What did he need to do to fix it?
Companionless. Despised. Rejected. The darkness around me, left me with nothing to occupy my mind. Alone now, with nothing but my own dark and morbid thoughts.
A loud deafening roar, suddenly interrupted Quaraun self pity. He sat silent, his eyes wide, seeing nothing through the darkness. Silent. Listening. Watching. His eyes detected the flicker of light up ahead. The air became suddenly warm. It was very warm. Too warm. Hot even.
It is very dry.
The glow ahead flickered in dancing shades of orange.
Is there a fire up ahead?
Quaraun quickened his pace.
There was a fire. I can smell the smoke.
As Quaraun wandered through the caves, trying to get somewhere safe, he began to hear sounds. A faint, but distinct sound. He began moving towards the sound. As he walked, the noise grew louder. Soon enough, he heard the sound of someone singing. At first, the song made no sense to him. He could have sworn that the voice sounded almost familiar. Then again, it could've just been the echo of his own thoughts, which seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. The song continued, growing louder with each step he took.
Suddenly, the tunnel ended abrupt.
Quaraun hastily fell back and clutched for the wall. His heart raced. The tunnel had ended, yes.
A sheer drop off.
A tall, sheer cliff overhanging the dark nothingness below.
I'd nearly ambled off the edge.
Quaraun inched his way back to the edge.
Cautiously. Carefully. Gradually.
He leaned forward to peer over the ledge. At the nothingness below. Darkness. Endless nothing.
Dangerous blackness below.
Ominous gloom above.
It was grim and foreboding.
Foreboding and grim.
I feel so very alone.
The lonesome darkness, all around me.
Above. Beside. Below.
Isolation. Desolation. Seclusion.
The aloneness, of how very alone I felt, was bearing down heavy upon me in this endless darkness. Gloom and doom. Doom and gloom. The anguish, bitterness, and despair. I can feel it all around me. Like a sickly presence I can not escape.
But the light. . .
It. . .
I saw a light. I know I did.
Where was the light?
It is gone.
Did I not seen a light up ahead?
The glowing flicker of warm orange flames leaping from a fire.
Where is it now?
Did I imagine it?
Surly I had not.
It must have moved.
That was the only answer.
Yes, it had moved.
Has someone carried it away?
Or put it out?
Does that mean I am not alone?
Is there someone else here?
Someone perhaps carrying a lamp of some sort?
Someone whom had been ahead of me, but had now moved on out of sight?
Quaraun got on his hands and knees and ran his fingers along the edge of the ledge.
Perhaps there were stairs. Or maybe a ladder.
But now I am on the other side of the tunnel.
The other wall.
Quaraun stood up, clinging desperately to the wall as he did. Terror filled the terrified Elf's chest as his heart pounded in fear.
I am scared of heights. And cliffs.
I'm scared of cliffs.
And they are so much scarier now when I can't see them.
Terrified the cliff at his feet would crumble and fall. Tumbling down the side and toss him into the unknown depths of death below.
So far down.
Into the pits of Hell.
Hot. Boiling. Bubbling. Tar pits of Hell.
Wait. That's not tar pits of Hell.
It's lava. Magma. So very far below. I can barely see it.
Am I inside a volcano?
Where am I?
Why can't I remember?
Why is it so hard to remember?
Remember. . .
. . .any thing. . .
With his back against the wall, Quaraun inched his way away from the ledge. Away from the edge. Back to the safety of the darkness above. Away from the terror of the darkness below.
At least here, there I've a solid stone to my back.
Solid dirt beneath my feet.
Solid stone walls behind me. Solid ground in front of me.
But even as he thought it, he knew it wasn't true.
The floor was hard and unforgiving beneath his hands, and every time he made one step forward, he felt something give way underneath his feet.
Every time he fell, he heard the sound echo through the cavernous space, amplified by the walls that surrounded him. He heard the sound of his own screams, too loud for this space. Too loud for his own ears. He felt them ricochet off the stone and into the dark corners, where he didn't dare go.
I can't hear myself scream anymore. My throat feels raw, and all that comes out is a raspy gurgle.
His breath caught in his chest as he saw it: the faint outline of the door at the end of the corridor in front of him. His eyes followed its path to its destination, which seemed so far away. Far, so far, away.
How long will he be able to keep walking? How long would it take before it became impossible to move any more?
If I could just make it another few steps...
He looked down at himself, seeing how badly damaged he was. The blood that dripped from the wound on his forehead was slowly staining the front of his shirt with dark stains
Quaraun looked from side to side, straining to see something. Anything. But no. Nothing. Pure, total, blackness.
He continued to move, slowly, feeling his way with his fingers on the dirt wall. But Quaraun hadn't gone far, only a few feet away from the edge, before the wall disappeared.
He froze. Terrified. He dare not move.
Feeling, the air, I found the other wall.
A sharp bend that veered the other way.
A tunnel off the tunnel.
But down to where?
I can't see. This is worse than blindness. Blindness I at least saw foggy grey swirls ahead and glimmering lights behind.
No, this, this is nothing but pitch blackness.
Empty blackness. As though everything had been sucked into a hole leaving nothing left behind.
Quaraun continued inching his way through the darkness search for something, anything.
The floor of the tunnel sloped down. Sometimes just a little.
Other times steeply, causing him to trip and fall, and tumble forward, landing hard on the ground. The old Elf skinned the palms of his hands as he flung his arms forward into the darkness, trying to break his fall.
One such fall was worse than others, as the tunnel, inclined sharply, and Quaraun fell headlong, tumbling and rolling all the way to the bottom.
Dazed. Dizzy. Bleeding. Scraped. Bruised. And confused. Quaraun sprawled on the ground for a few moments, before struggling to stand.
I can not stand. I'm too dizzy. I've hit my head, too many times on the tumble through the darkness.
Blood trickled down Quaraun's face from a cut on his forehead. More blood trickled from a split lip. His pink silks, were growing wet from the blood seeping from his scraped knees.
Quaraun sat on his knees, clutching his hands over his head, trying to stop the spinning, vertigo sensation that was just now swirling around him.
He felt faint.
"No. Don't faint." He said out loud. "Stay awake."
He tried again to stand. Slowly this time. Dizziness flooded through him, pounding though his head, like a herd of horses galloping through his skull. Ocean waves, flooding behind his eyes.
Quaraun squeezed his eyes shut tight, hoping the swaying he felt would go away. His tentacles wrapped tightly around his body, hugging him, comforting him.
By the gods, what is that?
He had no time to think. No time to react. A giant, glowing yellow-orange slug, the size of an elephant, came barrelling through the wall. The wall shattered and crumbled around it. Blazing hot lava-slime, dripping with golden orange acid, burned through the wall, melting the rock.
A Lava Slug! Good god. I didn't any still existed.
Quaraun scrambled out of the path of the massive, peaceful behemoth as it made it';s way through the mountain, making new tunnels as it went.
Quaraun stumbled and fell, tumbled and rolled, and once again, hit his head and knocked himself out.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Quaraun heard a pounding noise like the beating of a drum.
"Argh!" Quaraun woke up. He sat blinking and yawning.
He looked around and found himself alone.
Everything is hazy and his head ached.
He tried to remember where he was.
Yes. That's it.
That's where he was.
Home of King Gwallmaiic.
The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley.
"I entered into Fire Mountain, and became lost in the mass network of Lava Slug tunnels. I must have hit my head when I jumped down the shaft and forgot where I was. Oh dear. Light. I have a lantern in my bag. How silly of me."
Quaraun stood up, but a chill ran down his spine as he heard the drumming sound again, louder and closer. The tunnel ahead of him glowed a deep orange-red, and with a feeling of dread, he knew something is coming for him, and he should run.
As he turned to flee, he remembered the demons... he was frozen with fear.
Slowly, Quaraun took a step forward. And then another. He was still too dizzy to move quickly. But the pounding was getting closer and he could smell sulphur.
His legs stopped working.
Quaraun collapsed back on the ground, gasping and coughing.
How long has it been since he last ate?
It has been too long. Why hasn't he eaten since he left the tent two days ago? What happened? Did he fall asleep? Is that why his stomach hurts so badly? Hunger pangs. That's what it was. He had not eaten in several days. He'd not eaten in the tower. Not eaten in the village. The last time Quaraun had eaten anything was before going to sleep in his tent by the stream, several nights ago.
Quaraun wandered through the dark, sandy cavern. There were many rooms within the mountain, each smaller than the last. But this cave was deep within the mountain, and many rooms were carved into the stone. Even the tables and chairs were carved of stone from the mountain.
Many rooms had no lights at all, save the moonlight streaming through the holes in the roof. his night however, the ceiling did not reflect the light from the moon, for there was no sky up above. Only the cut crystal blue glass of the bottle they were trapped inside of,mountain and all.
And as usual, Quaraun was alone again.
He felt a sense of loss as he walked through the tunnels.
No one dared come down into the lower depths of Fire Mountain. If they did, King Gwallmaiic would kill them and feed them to his beast, his great black dragon.
Quaraun never thought that he would one day defy his own rule to never set foot inside Fire Mountain, and now be down here roaming through the darkness of it's endless passages.
Quaraun's senseless sense of foreboding, left him preoccupied with his morbid thoughts and not paying as much attention to his surrounds s he should.
"Arrrgh!" Quaraun screamed and jumped and lost his balance and went tumbling to the ground.
"Yis such a klutz," BoomFuzzy said.
"WILL YOU STOP DOING THAT!"
"Me talking is scaring ya?"
"You snuck up behind me in the dark."
"T'ain't my fault yis feard o ya own shadow."
"You pushed me off a cliff!"
"No. I kicked ya off a cliff. That different."
"How is it different?"
"One involves hand, de ot'er involves me foot."
"You could have killed me!"
"No. I t'oughts o dat. It were no far enough for ya to die. Ya barely fell thirty feet. Un most of it was incline. Ya could of walked down."
"You didn't give me a chance to find out I could that."
BoomFuzzy sat down beside Quaraun. "Ya gonna lay in de dirt un bitch?"
"How come for?"
"I like bitching!"
"Aye. I noticed. Yis very good at it."
"I pushed me off a cliff."
"Nay. I kicked ya off wee hill."
"Because I knew ya would lay of de ground screaming for de next hour, un ya did exactly dat."
"What is wrong with you?"
"Being dead is boring."
"So you pushed me off a cliff?"
"Kicked. I kicked you."
"I must liven up me dreary days. Kicking yi off cliff livened t'ings up a bit."
"If you are bored why you go haunt somebody?"
"What'cha t'ink I doing right now?"
"I meant go haunt somebody other than me."
"No one else is so much fun as haunting ya is."
"I..." Quaraun couldn't think of what else to say.
"Ya know, you should be glad I only haunts ya when ya is alone."
"I'm always alone."
"Perhaps I should start haunting ya in public, eh?"
"What difference would that make?"
"No one else can see me. Imagine, ya had one of ya screaming hootenannies in a marketplace because I kicked ya wee lil bahookie in de market square, eh? People already t'inks ya crazy as it is, without ya fighting with me in public."
"Why am I the only one who can see you?"
"Oh, ya ain't. Any one what Faerie Sighted can sees me, also necromancers, spirit mediums, physics, diviners, small children, any on who believes in Santa Claus, UFO crazies who t'inks dey been abducted by aliens..."
"You said any one who believes in Satan Claus can see you."
"Why Santa Claus?"
"Oh, not just Santa Claus, also the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Satan..."
"Satan is not real. Him were imagination of Humans. Azalea, him real. But people who believe in Azalea can no sees me. Only people who believe in Satan."
"So, what you are saying is, gullible people, to stupid to know the differance between reality and fantasy can see you?"
"Big brains full of science logic can no see Boogeymen."
"Are you a Boogeyman?"
"Eh, depends on who ya ask. We Phookas, we call ourselves Phookas, but Humans have many much names for us. Bogart. Kelpies. Unicorns. Harvey."
"Big white rabbit."
"What do you want?"
"Of course. What else would it be?"
"Can we has cake?"
"Why would we have cake here?"
"I don't know. Ya asked what I wanted un I said I wanted cake."
"Are you drunk?"
"Nope. I is Lich. Can no gets drunk."
"You can't eat either. Side effect of having no physical body."
"Aye. But I is hungry. Ever hungry. Never sated. Dreadful."
"I don't have any gingerbread cake for you."
"I don'a need gingerbread cake."
"Aye. Just cake with frosting and strawberries and chocolate cake and chocolate chip cookies."
"What kind of cake would you prefer?"
"Gingerbread. Wid strawberries."
"We had strawberries, but they're rotten so we can't have them."
"Ya know, I don't like chocolate clip cookies."
"You just said you wanted some."
"Chocolate chip is too bitter and crunchy and tastes like wet grass."
"Cake wid vanilla ice cream. With lots un lots o sprinkles."
"Oh... oh yeah. Yeah, I bet there are tons of sprinkles in a store. Maybe we'll go look. After we are done being trapped in the bottom of a volcano that someone decided to throw me in. What toppings does your cake have?"
"I dunno. Just cake. Plain."
"That sounds really boring."
"Oh no! But not boring enough to stop me from eating cake with you. I miss cooking. Not been able to cook since I done gone un become a Lich."
"No physical body."
"I'm trying to fix that you know?"
"Aye. I knows. Alright then!" BoomFuzzy jumped up. "Let's go ask some people where to get cake."
"Why? Who? Where? There's no cake or food anywhere on this cursed planet, and everyone but us seems to have disappeared."
BoomFuzzy sat back down.
"Your tummy is growling."
"Yes. I'm hungry."
"Why is me Elf hungry? Have not been eating?"
"No. I haven't. I don't have any food. And it doesn't matter for you. You're a Lich, you couldn't eat it even if I did have any."
"Ya has no food?"
"No. And I've not eaten in days."
"Why has ya no food?"
"I ran out. No markets nearby. I was on my way to Parsonsfield, where all the farms are. I was going to buy food. But, every town I went through was deserted. Not a soul in any one of them."
"Why does ya no just take what ya need?"
"I'm not a thief."
"Oh. No! Of course not! Ya just a murderer and a drunk and a drug addict and y pocket every magic book book ya finds. But ya had to have morals somewhere, eh? Why draw de line at no stealing food?"
"I'm not a thief. And I'm not hungry enough yet to start stealing food from people who need it more than I do."
"Ya could just leave money in it place."
"I don't have any."
"Ah. Un how exactly was ya planning to buy food in de market?"
"I trade. You know that. Where are we?"
"In Fire Mountain."
"No. That's not what I meant. Outside. We're encased in glass. We're trapped in a bottle aren't we?"
"Aye. Usually when I is in a bottle it you who put me dar."
"I didn't put you in this bottle. Nor your mountain. Nor me. There's strange magic in the air. We've been captured by someone. Or something. But not just us, the entire mountain is in here too. That's not any easy thing to do."
"We is in a trap."
"A trap? O Great Lich King, how did you allow this to happen to you?"
"Do no try to be sarcastic, Quaraun. Yis not good at it."
"So why would some stranger capture you and then me too? Let me think about that."
"While ya t'inks, ya can give me dat knife."
"The one ya wished for what to cut yarself wid."
"Oh. I forgot I had it."
Quaraun handed the knife to BoomFuzzy, but the knife went no where but to fall through the dead ghostly Phooka's hand and land on the ground. Quaraun stared at the fallen knife.
"I'm sorry. I forgot you can't hold anything."
"Does that hurt?"
"Does what hurt?"
"When something falls through you like that."
"No. I does no feel a t'ing."
Quaraun sat silent for a few minutes.
"We're in a bottle," Quaraun said.
"How ya know dat?"
"The sky is made of glass."
"Ah! Aye. I had noticed de sky look strange. Yes. De sky being glass would account for what it be looking like."
"In an ocean."
"We're in a bottle, that's floating in the ocean."
"We in dair ocean?"
"How ya figure dat one?"
"Because I'm sea sick."
"Yis a JellyFish."
"How is creature what supposed to live in ocean, get seasick?"
"I'm in the body of an Elf. The Elf gets seasick and nauseated."
"Does ya feel both what him fees un what yis feels?"
"Yeah. It's possible for us to both have a headache at the same time."
"Dat must be awful."
"I don't know what that means. Oh! I forgot. By the way, was that you?"
"Was what me?"
"Back on the road, I found a Faerie stone. When I picked it up, it turned into a blue crystal skull. And than it started talking to me and then it turned into a little girl who was carrying a jellyfish and she killed it."
"I would no killith jellyfish, ya knows dat."
"Yes. I thought as much. I didn't think it was you. I figured that was you at the tower, when you couldn't keep up without speaking Gaelic."
"Elvish be difficult language."
"I know. In any case, we are in the ocean, in a bottle. Someone put us in a bottle and threw it in the ocean."
"I'll agree wid yas, dat we in a bottle, but I do no see ya logic for it being in ocean,. What deviance ya got of it?"
"None. None at all."
"Than why ya thinking it?"
"What kinda hunches ya got now?"
"That's a stupid question."
"It's a hunch that whoever put us here made a mistake."
"What kind of mistake?"
"Maybe the wrong kind of mistake."
"What makes yer t'inking dat?"
"When I was a child, there were many times I wanted my mother."
"But she were dead."
"Yes, I know. Mother's loving tentacles to hold me no more. But before she dies, she'd bring me things like a blanket or a doll. All covered with embroidery both. She loved to embroider. She taught me to embroider. She made them. It was she who taught me how to sew and embroider."
"I do no remember, ya mother."
"But then came a time, when I asked, she only brought me books, and then she went away. She was scared. Of ZooLock."
"Yes. It was a long time ago, so I stopped asking."
"Me t'inks yis only speak half whats yar t'inking."
"But then the last year, the year she died, I finally asked her, and she said they would come for me."
"The Di'Jinn. They would come and take me away and make me one of them. And they did. And I am one of them. It's why I started calling myself Quaraun."
BoomFuzzy looked confused.
"What's that mean, calling yarself Quaraun? Is not Quaraun ya name?"
"No. I can't remember the Elf's name and I didn't want to use my name."
"Yes. It's from a poem. The author calls himself Quaraun and says it's a word used in ancient Persia. It means 'at one with god' or 'I am god'. So, I decided to call myself that. And that is the mistake."
"Whoever put us here made a mistake. The little girl, whoever she is, she's the one who put us in here. She said, I was not a god. That is her mistake. She doesn't know how I got my name."
"I does no t'inks anyone knew dat, Quaraun. Yar over t'inking t'ings again."
"It's okay. No one does anyways. All that matters is getting out of here and finding her. "
"The girl named Death."
"Here." Quaraun handed BoomFuzzy the paper he had written earlier.
"I wrote it back in the tent, just before all this weird shit started happening to me."
"Ya also writ it in Elvish."
"I can'na read it."
Quaraun took the paper back and read it to the Phookan Lich.
"...a black mirror, a silver dagger, and a white feather. A white bird's wing, on its head, and a white cloth with black lines over it as a bandage for a wound.
A white dress, black feathers on top of each head, black clothes, and white boots.
A black crow carrying something in it's talons, feathers ruffled like they had been through wind. An empty cage, with its contents long gone.
The three children who had been playing with the ravens before, now standing beside him. They were no longer laughing or screaming as they used to, but their eyes seemed dull with grief and despair, tears running down their faces, hands shaking as they looked around at what was left of the forest they had once known so well.
There were trees and flowers everywhere, birds singing, animals running through the field, rabbits hopping from tree to tree, butterflies and butterflies flying in the air. The raven in front of them, though, was still just dead; nothing was alive anymore. There were no life, no movement, no life except for that one little, white feather floating in the air, drifting up and away until it could no longer be seen. He watched as it fluttered further away into the sky.
He felt like he should be angry or sad about this..."
"So yi has taken up writing?"
"No. I don't normally write at all. I write down notes for spells and magic, research for trying to get you a solid body again. Academic writing. Not this stuff. I don't where it came from. I just wrote it down, because I couldn't sleep."
"So? Look at it!"
"I is un I is no seeing ya point."
"Everything that has been happening to me since I left the tent that night, is all stuff I wrote here on this paper first, before it happened."
"Yis saying yi writ yis own future?"
"I don't know."
"What about de t'ree younguns."
"What about them?"
"Ya seen them?"
"Why did ya write it?"
"I don't know. I think... I think it's connected to all of this somehow. But I can't figure it out. I'm not good at logical thinking you know?"
"Oh, I... I know dat. Yis not smart, dat for sure."
One evening a strange man walked through a portal into King Gwallmaiic's room. This man wore a blue cloak that covered his body, which looked almost like armour. He had blonde hair tied into three buns on each side of his head. He wore a white feather stuck through each bun. His face was covered by a red mask, the edges of which curled up. His feet and hands were encased in black leather gloves with black metal buckles that were attached to his boots, hobbling his ability to lift his arms or make wide steps He held a staff in his right hand, which he leaned on the table.
"Have you come to slay the Lich King?" the man asked.
"Who are you?" Quaraun asked the strange looking stranger.
"Do not question the Great Lich Lord, mortal. If you value your existence, you will answer my question."
"What makes you think I value my existence?"
"Every one who is alive, seeks to stay that way."
"Ah, well, you seem to misjudge the value of suicide then. For I am very much depressed and thoughts of suicide are my only comfort. My lover is dead and I desire to join him. What say you to that?"
"I am the Great Lich Lord. Do not question the Great Lich Lord."
"You are not The Great Lich Lord, King Gwallmaiic is. I know this, because I am Quaraun, The Pink Necromancer, and I made him. He is my Lich. I control him. Now I ask again: Who are you? And why are you in King Gwallmaiic's throne room?"
"I am HellBorne the Evil, Chaos Dawn-reaper the Cult-killer, Son of the Darkness. I am Master of the Black Tower, I am HellBorne Summoner of Darkness and will be the next Great Lich Lord. King Gwallmaiic, you must help me."
"I am not King Gwallmaiic. I am Quaraun."
"You dare to lie to me? I will make you my first victim!"
The man laughed, and his face became blurred and twisted. Then he was gone.
Quaraun puzzled over this and made a note of it in his notes about the strange happenings of this strange week.
The following night, the man returned, this time finding both Quaraun and King Gwallmaiic in the room.
Quaraun was asleep on the pile of furs that made for his bed. Gwallmaiic was sitting at his desk, reading a book about the war against the Zhents. He looked up from his book when he saw the strange visitor.
“Well I’ll be!” BoomFuzzy exclaimed, standing up and walking over to the stranger.
The man did not reply or turn around to look at him, simply holding out a hand in greeting. Gwallmaiic grasped it firmly and shook it vigorously.
“I’ve never seen you here before. Who are you? How do you know where my room is?” BoomFuzzy asked, still shaking the other man’s hand.
The stranger didn’t seem to notice this, though. Instead, he just stared straight ahead at the king.
The man’s voice seemed familiar to Gwallmaiic, but he couldn’t place it.
“You may call me Azathoth. I have come to see the king,” he replied quietly, turning slightly so that his face was more visible to Gwallmaiic.
Gwallmaiic nodded. He wasn’t sure if the stranger could actually hear him, but at least now he knew who he was.
“Alright then,” he said.
"Well?" the man asked?
"Well, you asked to see me and here I am. Now what do you want?"
"You are King Gwallmaiic?"
"Aye," BoomFuzzy answered. "I am King Gwallmaiic. Candy maker and master chef, warrior and war lord, The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, The Lich King of Fire Mountain, Leader of the Lich Lords. Rapist. Murderer. Cannibal. Necromancer. King of the Faeries. Not quite what you was expecting am I? I a never am. People always expect some tall, buff, good looking young buck, and they get me, short, black, blind, we lil old man, who could almost pass for a Leprechaun if only I had white Irish skin and curly red hair instead of this mountainous pile of grey dreadlocs."
"But you're a Faerie."
"Faeries are always, graceful and flowers and..."
"That is Trouping Seelie Fae. Flower Faeries. I not dat."
"Than what are you?"
"I is Dark Fae. Solitary. Unseelie."
"Unseelie? You mean Demons?"
"Some call us dat. I is a Phooka."
"No. Phooka. We not same."
"How are you different?"
"Pucas they is sweet, sickly, nice. Dey help Humans. Take pleasing forms. We Phookas, we terrify and den we eat de Human. Me cousin is Krumpas. Him work for Santa. Santa feed him naughty girls and boy. I used to work for Santa too. I builded him gingerbread village. We Phookas, we not sweet and nice like Pucas. We small furry black creatures with great horns, sharps fangs, and black talons, we turn into tiny goat sized black swamp unicorns with silver horns. and drag people to their watery grave."
"You can't be King Gwallmaiic."
"He's a warrior."
"Aye. I was a warrior. Centuries ago. Back when I was young and horney. Now I just old and horny."
"I'm sorry," the man stammered. "I don't know what to say. I hadn't planned this far ahead in my scheme. You see, I never thought I would actually find you. I need to think about what I am to say next."
"Well, all right then. Can I get you anything while you think?"
"Just give me a drink. I need it."
"I haven't got anything but water."
BoomFuzzy handed the man a plastic bottle of water.
"What is that?" the man asked.
"What is this container?"
"I believe they call it plastic."
"Plastic? What is it?"
BoomFuzzy shrugged. "I don'know. A gold fleeced sheep from the future gave it to me. He likes to pop in and out of portals just like you do."
The man stared at the innocent plastic bottled water and than backed away.
"No, this is Dark Magic."
"Plastic is Dark Magic?"
"Yes! It's Dark Magic! Evil forces of Darkness created that blasted thing."
"No, I t'ink big brick factories of de future created it. No magic involved."
"It is witchcraft! Unholy witchcraft!"
"Eh?" BoomFuzzy held the bottle up to his eye and stared through the water at the man. "Nope. No witchcraft in it. Just water in a plastic bottle."
"I want no witchcraft!"
"Well, how about the drink of wine?" BoomFuzzy waved his hand and a bar table appeared behind him. "It bottled water from future sheep, absinthe, or I piss in ya mug."
"Then I'll take your piss."
"Okay, alright, green Fae piss it is" Gwallmaiic said, getting up and going over to the bar. He poured himself a glass of glowing emerald green Fairy Wine, than pissed in it.
When he came back over, he sat down again, ad handed the glass of green Faerie piss to the man.
"Is there any ale?" the man asked.
"I t'ought ya come to kill me."
"I don't want to kill you."
"Well, dan I pissed in yer drink for nothing."
"So... what are yar doing here then?"
"I wanted to speak with you."
"And ya t'inks I can help ya?"
"About the Lich King."
"I is the Lich King."
"No the other one."
"There is another one?"
"Yes. I am certain you are not him who I seek."
"Alright. Let's assume there do be another Lich King, which there isn't. How does he fit in?"
"I know you know everything."
"Well, if he is me and I is him, I should knows everyt'ing hims does, eh?"
"He murdered someone."
"I murder lots of someones. I evil Lich King. Killing lots of someones is in job description."
"If he murdered someone, he should have been tried and executed as well. But he wasn't."
"Ya suggests it possible to execute a Lich?"
"Everyone must be tried by the law."
"Ya does'na know what a Lich is do ya, boy?"
"A Lich is a monster, but they still have to be held accountable by the law."
"How do ya propose to kill a Lich King, boy, eh? What manner of big super duper over powered pompous ego maniac mage have ya brought along wid ya?"
"You're not making sense, I'm confused."
"A Lich is an immortal being."
"A type of wraith."
"Ya ca'na kill dat which is already dead."
"When did you die?"
"Centuries ago. In Ivujivik."
"Ivujivik? Where's that?"
"In Quebec. In the Deep North."
"How did you die?"
"I am a Lich."
"A Lich only happens as a result of suicide. Did you not know that?"
"Is there no other way to become a Lich?"
"No. A Lich is what a wicked person becomes after they commit suicide, provided they killed someone else at the same time."
"Wait, at the same time?"
"Aye. Murder, suicide."
"So you're saying you not only killed yourself but you killed others with you?"
"Aye. I killed 12 others, laid them out on a 12 pointed star, than minutes later I killed myself, we all died in a great big pile, the 13 of us, and now I is a Lich."
"What happened to the 12 you killed?"
"We all 13 is Liches. We all killed each other and killed ourselves. We are the 13 Lich Lords, we made a murder suicide pact, a cult of necromancers if you will, and I back stabbed them all by killing them, before any of them got a chance to kill me. It why I the Lich King and they are forced to serve me."
"So you tricked them into this?"
"Aye. I poisoned their drinks. I poisoned their Faerie Wine."
BoomFuzzy handed the man a bottle of the green wine as he spoke. The man refilled his glass.
"My Fairy Wine is always poisoned. One should never drink it. They drank it up, then went to slaughter each other and all died with murder in their hearts before they got a chance to kill each other, meaning I killed all 13 of them, and yet, they dank the poison willingly meaning they killed themselves."
"So, you tricked them into killing themselves. That wasn't suicide than."
"Oh no. It was. They was expecting to kill themselves a few months from then. We had a meeting about it. They all agreed to it. Signed a contract. And drank on up. Never suspected a thing. I found a loop hole."
"I found a lot of them, that lil Elf asleep over dair, him be the biggest loop hole of them all. I tricked him into falling in love with me and exchanging our souls in a soul binding ritual, now not only am I a Lich King, lord over other Liches, but my soul safely tucked away in that Elf's body, but that Elf is not an Elf, that Elf is a Thullid Elder Brain, the Mother Brain herself, and she is immortal, she can not die, because she is the mother of life and every time she dies, she starts life over again, the day she was implanted into the Elf. That Elf has lived ten thousand lifetimes and I am reborn with her every time, because my soul is in her body."
"I'm a demon, and I've been sent to punish King Gwallmaiic."
"And who sent you?"
"My master. My god."
"My god, my creator..."
"So. You come to slay The Lich King?"
"Yes, and you are The Lich King?"
"Are you the Lich King who killed all of the Zhentish?"
"Maybe. I Know not whom I kill. I does no keep track of names."
"I seek the Lich King who stole my love from me. Stole her away in the night while I slept. I want revenge on him. Him I wish to fight."
"Oh good god, that word, again."
"Quaraun, did ya hear what him said?"
"I did," Quaraun answered. He was no longer asleep.
Quaraun was sitting on the pile of furs staring at the stranger.
"Do you know who I am?" Quaraun asked the man.
"If you are not the Lich King who stole my love, than I do not care."
"You should care. You should care a lot, for I am Quaraun, Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order, bound by a code to grant every wish placed before me, and you my friend have just said 'I wish' in my presence. And what a careless wish it was. For your wish was to fight a Lich and no mortal will ever live in a battle against a Lich. Thus you have wished for your own death."
"A Di'Jinn and I must grant your wish. I'm so sorry. You should have chosen your words more carefully. Words are important you know. Words have meanings. Humans should learn to be more careful with their use of words. Also," Quaraun turned to BoomFuzzy. "Did you really pee in his drink?"
"What is wrong with you?"
"I is being a dog, today."
"Ya gotta walk a mile in the metaphorical shoes of a dog, in order to be a good dog, eh?"
"I don't know. I've never tried to be a dog. I'm a JellyFish being an Elf, remember?"
"Aye. But as a dog, I has learned, if ya can’na eat it or have sex with it, ya pee on it and walk away. Of course I could vomit in hims shoes."
"Vomit in.... why?"
"I be Golden Retrieve and go: Oh boy oh boy! Better vomit up me dinner and then eat it again!"
"You are weird, you know that?"
"Aye. But weird is good."
"I suppose. Of course, I'm the one trying to resurrect someone who spends half his life as a dog."
"Aye. And I must make sure to portray him as the goodest boi who gets lots of treats and love."
"But you're a serial killer."
"I said give me TREATS. AND. LOVE. Did I not say dat?"
"Ya would no want to be do good old boi's next victim now would ya?"
"No. Especially not since I'm and Elf and Good Ol' Boi is the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley."
"Aye. I knew de treats and love if I to continue being Good Ol' Boy."
"Was that you I was talking to earlier? The wolf? And the dog?"
"Aye. I been practising."
"Ya never knows when one might need to be a dog. I must gets in character. I is shape-shifter. I must learn to be what I be shifted into, now, don't I?"
"Every character is all about their motivation. So in dis case, it all smells and butt-smells. I must make sure to lick meself or roll in the grass or bark to be let out every now and then. Barking because someone else is barking. Marking territory. Chasing critters. Dog stuff."
"Aye. The key thing is to do me research, talk to as many dogs as I can. Perhaps try living a day or two as a dog, just to get a feel for what life might be like for a man's best friend..."
"Why do you want to be a dog?"
"So I can wag me purple tail. Do ya know we horses can no wag our tails."
Do horses need to wag their tails?"
"No. We has to flick flies wid our tails though and it damned difficult to hit them, when ya has a matted tangled up tail what not made for slapping around like way dogs can do."
"So why don't you just be a horse with a dog's tail?"
"Hmmm. Dat not bad idea."
"How does this work?"
"How what work?"
"Shape-shifting. I don't understand it."
"That part is easy. I need to practice a little bit though. A bit to make sure I be not gonna mess anything up."
"How are you going to practice?"
"By changing form and acting like I is what I be."
"Can you control your form?"
"Ya know I can."
"No. I mean... well. I'm not sure wat I mean. When you were BoomFuzzy, you were a white skinned Elf. But in the Di'Jinn desert you were a little black pony the size of a goat. Now you're... you're... a little black man with Asian eyes and horns on your head... I'm... I'm not sure what you are right now."
"I is Phooka. Dis me natural not horse form. I have two form I born with. Dis one and de little black pony wid de silver horn."
"Everyt'ing else is cloths I wear. I change skins and shapes same way ya change dresses."
"That I understand. What I don't understand is the actual HOW in how do you do that?"
"Like this," said BoomFuzzy. "When I shift my form, I change into whatever I am most comfortable wearing and I can wear whatever I want, whenever I want. I can wear what I am most comfortable in any way, I have a range of outfits and sizes. See? I change form now."
"So what are you now?"
"A bear. With fur."
"Don't bears always have fur?"
"No. No. No. I is bear wearing fur coat."
Quaraun was silent for a moment then asked: "Does your name change when your form does?"
"And what is your name, now that you are a bear?"
"Moby. So I can be a dick."
"Aren't you always a dick?"
"You are not always a dick."
"I is big dick today. Twice."
"No you are not."
"Yes. But not always."
"Well, okay. Maybe, but only because you changed in front of me."
"No I didn't."
"Yes. You did. Your clothes changed and you walked off with nothing on. And when we had tea together today, you were just sitting there naked again."
"Dis be me house. I can walks around it naked if I want to, ya know."
"You have company visiting you!"
"I do? Where?"
"No. Yis is no company visiting me."
"Than what am I?"
"We is soul bound. Or has ya forgotten dat bit?"
"No. But I sometimes think you have."
"Ah. No. We is soul bound. Which make ya me wife."
"Yis me wife."
"I'm no one's wife."
"No I'm not!"
"Because I am not a woman."
"Yis a female JellyFish."
"Living in the body of a male Elf. Which means yis actually female, De male Elf is just skin ya wears, like how ya wears pink dresses."
"Well, now you're being a dick again."
"I don't know. It's probably not something you can control, it's just how you are. I don't want to talk about it any more. And anyway I think I'm getting cold."
"Here," said BoomFuzzy.
The Phooka pulled the blanket over the Elf's bare shoulders.
"Thanks," said Quaraun, wrapping the blanket tightly around himself, burrowing deep into its warmth.
"Is that warm enough?"
"Ye should not wear such skimpy dresses. Filmy silk. Bare shoulders. Iffy ya had boobs they would be falling out of dat. It not even a dress is it? What is dis t'ing?"
"It's called a Sari. It's a long yardage of silk, embroidered and beaded, and just wrapped around me."
"So's yis naked 'cepting a pink toga."
"It's not a toga. It's a Sari."
"Well, whatever it is, it too cold for where we is. Dis not Persia no more, ya know."
Quaraun pulled out a book and set out to writing in it.
"What are ya doing?"
"I can sees dat, ya dolt. What'cha ya writing?"
"At the end of every day, I write down things that happened to me during the day."
"Some day someone may read it and find it helpful. I'm always finding mages' old books they wrote ad they are fascinating to read."
"So what dis book called?"
"It don't have a name. My name is Quaraun. This is my story. Does it need a name?"
"No. Me Name is Quaraun un Dis is Me Story is a good one."
"Well, you're in it too."
"I be glad. I be good hero."
"No you're not."
"No you're not. Everyone knows you are evil. I know you are evil, I'm just willing to look past it. Most people aren't."
"I am. I know. I is evil. And yet. I not evil."
"How is it you, of al people, are not evil?"
"I am a predator. Humans judge evil, by ill intent and malice and greed and lust. Yet a hawk is not evil if it kills a mouse. A wolf is not evil for killing a rabbit. Humans say because they are predators. It is in their nature to kill to survive, to hunt for food."
"I is predator. I kill for food."
"What about the millions of Elves you killed. To the point of bringing Elves to extinction. I am the last Elf. You ate us all, remember?"
"I is Elf Eater. I eat Elves. It is in me nature to kill to survive, to hunt for food."
"And when you ran out of Elves you startling Humans. They felt you were a great evil. A threat. They didn't see you are a predator. They saw you as an evil demonic monster."
"Humans is inconsistent. They judge evil, by ill intent and malice and greed and lust. They say a hawk is not evil if it kills a mouse, but if it kills a baby, they call it evil and monster. They say a wolf is not evil for killing a rabbit, yet a wolf who kills a Man they hunt down out of vengeance and slaughter it, calling it evil and monster. Humans say because these are predators, they are not evil when they kill. Because it is in their nature to kill to survive, to hunt for food. But when Humans become food, Men forget they said the wolf was not a monster, not evil. I am no different. I do not kill for fun or sport. I hunt. I ea. I am not evil."
"Their are those who would beg to differ."
"Ya don't believe me?"
"Of course I believe you. I wouldn't be here trying to restore you back to a physical, flesh body if I thought you were evil. I'm just saying, Humans think you are evil"
"Then ya do no see me as evil?"
"Why should I see you as evil?"
"Because I be monster and every one sees monsters as evil."
"Are you a demon?"
"Demon? Hell no. Demon is evil."
"Wait, why is a Demon evil?"
"They is from Hell."
"Does that automatically make someone evil? Just being born in one Realm or another? Is that all it takes to make a person evil?"
"So now ya ask de question, what is evil? What makes one t'ing evil and another not?"
"No. I don't believe in evil. Remember? It's hard to be a wizard and believe in good or evil forces. Magic is neutral. Neither good nor evil. And yet most Humans say magic is always evil, while others divide it off into levels of good and evil. Evil is only as evil as the cold cruelty of your own heart."
"Then why shouldn't I believe you? You've been nice to us."
"Nice? Me? Nice? I am nothing like you. Ya should know better."
"We didn't expect to come across a demon. And you're not evil. At least, not all the time, anyway."
"Dey's all evil. Dair's always some donger at the bottom."
"Some who deserve what they get?"
"No, ya silly. Some who deserves what we gives them. These are evil people."
"I don't think so. I don't believe in the existence of evil. To call someone 'evil' is to, dehumanize them..."
"Dehumanize? Yis an Elf."
"I'm the last Elf and live in Human society now, remember? Plus I wasn't raised by Elves. Since I was 9 years old I was raised by a Thullid priest who lived in a Human village. I'm more at home with Humans than Elves."
"Yet ya speak Elvish. And make me speak Elvish to ya, when ya knows I barely know de language."
"I don't make you speak Elvish.
"Ya only talk to me in Elvish. Ya does no talk in a language I can understand better."
"BoomFuzzy. You know better than that. You can speak to me in whatever language you want. I know eighty-four languages, remember? There is bound to be a language you can speak fluently that I can understand. And you changed the subject. I was pontificating and you interrupted mu pontificating and now I don't know what it was I was saying. You made me forget."
"Yi were saying how ya dids no believe in concept of evil and how evil was just a way to dehumanize others."
"Oh! Yes. That's right! Everyone has fears, things they are afraid of, personal things like loneliness, deprivation, or insignificance, and when you call a person 'evil' you put yourself in a mindset of dehumanizing them, removing from them, those fears they have, so that you can see them in your mind as emotionless and pitiable. When you call a person evil, you set yourself in a frame of mind that allows you to remove from them everything that gives them a connection to you, which makes it easy for you to hurt them, tease them, bully them, even kill them, because by branding them as evil, you have labelled them as not a part of worthy society."
"And ya point?"
"I don't believe you are evil."
"Sure ya do."
"No." Quaraun shook his head. "I don't. I wouldn't love you if I did. I couldn't love you, if I did."
"I am Evil. Evil, with a capitol E."
"Everybody says so, Quaraun. Ya knows dat."
"Everybody is wrong than."
"Ya going to be de one tree what stand against the wind, clinging to the cliff when all de rest fell down the mountain together, eh?"
"You are NOT evil."
"Nobody wants me here."
"Here? Then we go somewhere else."
"No. Here on dis planet. Dis realm. Earth hates me."
"You need to get out of that mindset. I love you and I somebody. And as long as that is true, than not everyone hates you and not everyone sees you as evil."
"Everyone celebrated me death."
"They made holidays and feast days on the anniversary on day me died."
"I know they did. It was terrible of them and I hate them for it. Death is not a thing to celebrate or leap for joy about. One should never be happy to see the life go out of another being. That just goes to show right there that THEY not you were the ones with evil thoughts in their hearts and minds."
"T'oughts ya did no believe in evil?"
"I don't believe in evil, as an entity like Humans do."
"What way at Humans do it?"
"Humans call another evil, so they can feel justified in hurting the person they call evil. They think if they call a child evil, that makes it all right to beat the child to death, because now they can say it was just an evil entity, a Demon or Spirit that just looked like a child. People don't want to admit that they commit evil acts when they beat a child to death, so they lay blame on the victim, by saying the child is evil, saying the child wasn't Human, saying the child was a Devil, so they can feel justified in smashing the child's face in with a brick. In my experience, every person who runs around with the word 'evil' on their lips, is themselves evil and is only calling others evil as a way to draw attention away from how evil they themselves are."
"And all dat comes from a man who beat hims own children to death."
"I didn't... I never hit my children."
"Ya killed them."
"I gave them poisoned candy, knowing it was poisoned. I didn't beat them to death."
"Did ya not do it because ya saw them being evil?"
"I... " Quaraun fell silent.
"So speaking from experience in being one who kills a child while calling them evil, eh?"
"That's not what happened."
"I seem to recall otherwise. Did ya not lay blame de victim for why ya had to kill ya own wee younguns?"
"I don't believe in laying the blame of your own evil deeds on the victims."
"Why'd ya kill ya children, Quaraun?"
Quaraun didn't answer.
"Quaraun. I know what happened. I ghost, remember. I walk among de living seeing all, hearing all, and not being able to interact wid none of it. And somehow ya figured out a way to see and hear me and for dat I am grateful, as it is dreadfully lonely to be a ghost and have no one, not even other ghosts, see or hear you. But all dat means is I saw what ya did. I heard why ya said ya did it. Ya killed ya children, Quaraun, because ya t'oughts they had become evil and ya wanted to save dair souls before they turned evil. Ya said it yarself, Quaraun. Was dat not ya laying blame on de victim, calling dem evil to make it easier for ya to slit dair throats after ya poisoned dair candy?"
"They were celebrating your death."
"They did not know me, Quaraun. They was born after I died. There was no evil in dair hearts, Quaraun. No malice for me. They were singing a holiday son they heard others singing that day at the festival. That's all they did. They did not even understand the meanings of the words. Quaraun, ya killed ya children because ya did no want to hear de words of dat song coming from dair voices."
"They were celebrating your death."
"They went to de village with dair mother to celebrate de anniversary of the day a great monster died and made de world sage to live in by not being alive any more."
"It was your death they were celebrating."
"Aye. But dey were your children, Quaraun."
"My children were learning to hate you."
"Rather than kill them, ya could have taught them de ot'er side of de story. Taught dem why ya loved me, why dey had no reason to fear me. Ya did not have to kill them. Ya overreacted Quaraun. Ya excel at overreacting. You know dat does ya not?"
"It made them happy to sign about your death."
"There is no greater joy in the hearts of Man then to feast in celebration of me death. And here you be trying to resurrect me, t'inking yarself not evil for doing so and wondering why de Humans wants ya as dead as me. But I comes anyways because I have to. I is needed. I is hero Humans have no understanding of. De see me as de wants to see me and de wants to see me as evil. So be it. And if I be a hero, I need to be a good one."
Sex. That seemed to be the only thing on BoomFuzzy's mind. Sex. With Quaraun. BoomFuzzy's perverted mind, was spent daily thinking up new and increasingly disturbing ways to lust after Quaraun's lithe little body. Quaraun's small frame would always seem so fragile and breakable under him, but that is precisely why his body held power over BoomFuzzy's senses.
BoomFuzzy craved Quaraun more than air and food and water, he craved Quaraun like some wild animal in heat and hunger. The lustful Phooka yearned for Quaraun's touch, his voice, his soul, with every fibre of his being and it seemed as if he could never get enough of the Elf.
And while BoomFuzzy was alive, this was not a problem, for Quaraun's lust for BoomFuzzy mirrored BoomFuzzy's lust for Quaraun, and the two had spent nearly every waking moment entangled with each other.
But now, BoomFuzzy was dead. A Lich. A ghostly, incorporeal wraith with no physical body. No ability to touch or be touched. Unable to grasp hold of any solid object.
It was Quaraun's lust for BoomFuzzy and the long passion filled nights they had spent together, that drove Quaraun's endless obsession for trying to find a way to restore BoomFuzzy to a physical body once again.
And it was BoomFuzzy's insatiable lust for Quaraun, that kept the dead Faerie from leaving the world of the living and remaining in the world of the dead, haunting Quaraun.
But the dead, too, must rest. BoomFuzzy grew increasingly weary, and this bothered Quaraun. BoomFuzzy would hover around Quaraun for a few hours and then disappear for a few days. Each time his visits were shorter and his abscesses were longer, and BoomFuzzy, seemed to be unaware of this.
The Lich was growing less aware of his surroundings, and BoomFuzzy's personality was slowly changing.
The Lich was becoming less BoomFuzzy and more Lich. More wild, mindless, and feral. More monster and less man, with each passing day. This worried Quaraun, for he know, most Lich's were pure monster. Creatures with no memory of their past, no memory of who they were in life. No memory of their families, their friends, their loved ones.
Quaraun knew he was losing BoomFuzzy to the Lich curse. And there was nothing Quaraun could do about it except continue his search for a solution to his quest for a way to save his best friend, who had been dead for almost two centuries.
For centuries Quaraun searched through books, journals, scrolls, and old manuscripts from ancient times, hoping to find anything useful on how to make BoomFuzzy corporeal once again. He found little to nothing, and began to think that he might need to call upon the Demons of Hell themselves to try and figure out how to fully resurrect BoomFuzzy.
But then, one night, while sitting in the throne room of Fire Mountain, watching BoomFuzzy's ghostly figure fading, just when it looked like he wouldn't have a breakthrough anytime soon, a book fell from the table and landed on the floor, opened at a random page, which had an illustration of what appeared to be a strange looking black and gold orb floating above an empty patch of ground, within which a large tree grew. Quaraun didn't know why, but for some reason, this picture struck a cord in his mind.
Quaraun stared at the page, trying to figure out why this page felt like it contained the answer to saving BoomFuzzy's lost soul from the doom of Lichdom, when suddenly something grabbed the book. The ground below the book opened up and something big and greenish-brown, with sharp teeth and long claws that ended in wicked looking talons, grabbed the book.
The creature looked like a troll. But a huge one. A troll, but, not a troll. Not quite human sized, but definitely larger than a man. Quaraun didn't know what it was. He had never seen a creature like it before.
"Hey!" Quaraun yelled, jumping from his seat and reaching to grab the book. But he moved too late, and the creature, the book snatched firmly in it's teeth, vanished back under the ground and the floor sealed itself back up and if no hole had ever been there.
What could it mean?
Did it indicate a way to bring back BoomFuzzy?
Or perhaps something else entirely.
Or maybe it meant nothing at all.
Was the creature dangerous? That was another question.
It was certainly something different, but not necessarily dangerous. But still, it took Quaraun's book, just at the moment when he saw something in it that he thought might help.
How would he get it back?
Quaraun had to focus on saving his friend.
His best friend, whom he loved, and whom he had loved since the beginning of time. His one true love.
Whom he wanted more than anything in the whole world. More than life itself.
More than anything.
And whom he needed more than anything in the entire universe. Because if Quaraun couldn't keep BoomFuzzy by his side forever, he intended to kill himself and join him, becoming a Lich too.
So Quaraun sat there pondering what this possibly meant, trying to put a name on the creature and why it had taken his book and how to find it.
A few minutes passed, and the only sound in the throne room was the steady soft breathing of the undead Lich. Suddenly, a loud thud came from outside and the door burst open and three men entered the throne room. They immediately spotted the Lich and rushed towards it, swords drawn.
One of them shouted at Quaraun, "Get away from that thing! Get off our land!
"You're land?" Quaraun asked. "Where do you think you are?"
The men stopped and looked around, only now just realizing they were inside of a volcano and not wherever it was they thought they were.
"Where are we?"
"You are inside Fire Mountain, Lair of The Lich King, Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. I am Quaraun, his Necromancer and court mage. How did you get in here?"
"I... uhm...I don't know."
The man turned to his companions. "How did we get in here?"
"What were you chasing?" Quaraun asked.
"A beast. An ogre."
"Was it green?"
"I may have just seen it. A strange green, troll-looking thing, appeared out of no where, grabbed one of my books, than vanished, before I had a chance to react. It was very strange. And before I had a chance to think about what to do about it, you three appeared."
"You say you saw it?"
"Did you see where it went?"
"No, it vanished as it came, but I'm sure I'll recognize it anywhere."
"Do you know where it went?"
"No. I just said as much."
"When will you be able to see it again?"
"See it again?"
"Didn't you just say you were a mage?"
"I did. I am."
"Well, can't you look into a crystal ball or something and see where it went?"
"No exactly, but, I suppose I could try that and see what happens."
Before the men could answer, they vanished, like a candle snuffed out.
Quaraun stood watching where the men had stood, then, knelt to the ground and closely examined where the ogre had emerged from the ground."
"What'cha doing?" BoomFuzzy asked.
Quaraun looked up to see the Lich's blue glowing skeleton hovering over him.
"Trying to figure out what is going on around here." Quaraun then told BoomFuzzy of the strange events that had occurred while the Lich was sleeping. "There is strange magic happening here. Chaos magic I'd wager. Being used by someone who is a very powerful sorcerer, but not very knowledgeable in how to use magic circles to keep the magic from effecting the world around him."
"The book," BoomFuzzy asked. "Ya said it felt important? Will it restore me to a flesh body?"
"I don't know."
"When will you know?"
"Soon. I'm sure. As soon as I recover my book."
"Good. I want ya ta come with me. I wanna show ya something."
"What is it?"
"The dragon's hoard."
"A dragon's hoard?"
"All right, I guess I'll follow."
Quaraun followed after BoomFuzzy into a corridor deep beneath the mountain, and deeper than anyone had gone in years. Down, down, down, past the dungeons and the torture chambers, and eventually they arrived at a small chamber with an enormous iron door.
"We've got ourselves an entrance," BoomFuzzy commented.
"Why are we stopping?" Quaraun asked, confused.
"I gotta go inside the dungeon first," BoomFuzzy explained. "This dungeon has many places where someone could hide."
"Hide from what?"
BoomFuzzy smiled, and then pulled a ghostly Lich key out of his pocket.
"Hide from what?" Quaraun repeated.
"Will we need to hide from your dragon?"
"Eh? I will not."
"Will I need to hide from your dragon?"
"That's not very reassuring, you know."
BoomFuzzy unlocked the door and opened it.
Inside stood another stone wall, but this time, it wasn't solid rock or stone. Instead, this wall looked as though it were made of water. Water trickled across the floor, pooling near the bottom of the doorway.
"There is waterfall on other side of mountain," BoomFuzzy said. "It mirrors back in here."
"I can feel magic here."
"Aye. This ot'er end of stream ya was camped on, remember?"
"The night I saw the strange dog and it's bunny?"
"Aye. Also, we getting close to heart of mountain."
"Is that dangerous?"
"There is lava pools and magma streams down here. And it hot."
"I don't like hot."
"I know. It why I warn ya."
Inside the room, it was hot.
Just as BoomFuzzy had said.
Hotter than any heat Quaraun had ever felt.
Hotter even than the hottest day of Summer on the marshes of Persia.
They were entering the deepest depths of Fire Mountain. The temperature in this room was so high, it actually seemed like a tropical heat wave. It was also so humid, so heavy with moisture.
"Oh, that's not good," Quaraun thought aloud.
"I know," BoomFuzzy replied. "Welp, let's get ya in there quick. Ya might want ta cover yer eyes."
"Cover my eyes?" Quaraun asked.
Quaraun trusted him.
He trusted BoomFuzzy more than anyone in the whole galaxy.
So he closed his eyes and waited for whatever was going to happen next.
Then suddenly, BoomFuzzy screamed.
Quaraun opened his eyes and the stared in disbelief at the spot where the dungeon had once been. But there was nothing there now. And no sign of what had happened.
"BoomFuzzy," Quaraun called out. "Where are you?"
"I does'na know."
"Are you all right?"
"No, Quaraun," BoomFuzzy replied. "I ain't all right. There's no dungeon."
"There's no dungeon where I am either."
"It just like it never existed."
"Same here. What happened?"
"It disappeared when I touched it. I tried to get inside and, well, I must have triggered some sort of spell because I vanished."
"Gone. I is gone."
"How did you disappear?"
"One what took ya book, me t'inks. Big green and ugly."
"What did it do?"
"It took me and dragged me underground. Then he disappeared."
"Are you underground?"
"No? I do not t'ink so."
"Where did it take you?"
"It didn't take me," BoomFuzzy answered. "It ripped me off. It just ripped me off of this plane of existence un did left me floating in space."
"Floating in space?"
"Aye. Floating in darkness. I ca'na see a damn t'ing."
"So we don't know where you are," Quaraun mused.
"I can see America?"
"Aye. It look just it look on map."
"But that doesn't mean we here you are."
"Because I is flying, dummy."
"Aye. And if I is flying, then I do probably be somewhere on planet and yis can fly to me."
"Fly? Me? How? I'm not a ghost like you, you know?"
"Try a broomstick."
"Like a witch?"
"Flying on a broomstick is not exactly an option."
"I'm not a witch."
"Ya does'na know that."
"I know I cannot fly."
"What do you mean, so?"
"Has ya tried?"
"Than how ya not know iffy ya can or can'na?
"I cannot. Flying is not something I know how to do."
"Fine, fine, ya does na knows how to fly."
"Just tell me where you are, please? Ok? So I can find you."
"Does ya being wanting me to tells ya now?"
"No I want you to tell me next Christmas when we are visiting your cousin Krumpas."
Quaraun waited a few seconds before realizing BoomFuzzy was actually going to wait until Christmas to answer him.
"WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU!"
"Yis wants to know now?"
"Okay. Well, I is on Earth's moon."
Quaraun stared at him, unsure of if he heard correctly.
"You're on Earth's moon?"
"On Earth's moon, which way is Earth's moon from here?"
"Uh, probably, north by west, I t'inks."
"Northwest?! What are you talking about?!"
"What you talkin' 'bout?"
"BoomFuzzy where are you?"
"I is looking down at America."
"Does ya not know where be America is?"
"Of course I know where America is. I live there!"
"Then what in Hell's name do ya mean ya does'na know where America is?"
"That's not what I said!"
"What ya said?"
"I don't know. Forget it. How did you get on the moon?"
"I do na know."
"What we damning?"
"I don't know how to get you back here."
Quaraun paused and began pacing back and forth. After several long moments, he finally spoke again.
"What the hell is wrong with us?! How can I not know what's going on? I can sense the magic in this world, yes?"
"That is the power of magic."
"And I have done magic before."
"Aye. Aye ya has. Quite a bit."
"But I have never encountered such a situation. Never encountered anything like this. I don't know what to do."
"Maybe it just takes a little getting used to."
"Getting use to?"
"Well, we need to get used to this."
"No use panicking."
"We need to know what's going on."
"Aye, but no use panicking til after we know what we panicking over, eh?"
"I suppose. But I'm so confused."
"Go find me dragon!"
"Because, dummy, she can fly."
"She's gonna fly me to the moon?"
"She interplanetary dragon. She fly from one planet to another."
And before Quaraun knew it, he was off wandering aimlessly through the tunnels and rooms of Fire Mountain, looking for a dragon he had never seen before and didn't know what she looked like in places he had never been before and didn't know his way through. Soon he was hopelessly lost.
Quaraun was completely alone in a dark, cold, and dusty place. It was so quiet the old Elf could hear his own heartbeat. All around him were walls made of stone, torches lined the walls making everything seem to glow, but they gave no light. Not even a speck of light could be found. The only thing that allowed him to see his surroundings was the light coming from above him. From a glowing ball of light floating along with him. It was so bright, he couldn't see anything else besides its blinding brightness. After his last panic attack in the darkness, he wasn't going to take any chances, so this time he made himself a glowing light ball to following him.
After walking for hours, The Pink Necromancer found himself in front of a huge wooden door. This door was covered in vines and ivy. It seemed ancient, like it hadn't been repaired in decades. Centuries even.
When he touched it, he felt something.
Like something alive but unlike anything he had felt before.
Something that brought warmth to his soul.
Something he desperately needed.
Quaraun wanted to open the door and walk through it, but he couldn't.
It was sealed shut tight.
But somehow, someway, Quaraun knew that he would be safe here. He was sure of that. For some unknown reason, he believed that. He believed that if he was safe inside the mountain cave, then he wouldn't be able to hurt anybody or break anything or damage anything. He was certain.
The longer Quaraun stood there, staring at the massive oak door before him, the more he began to feel calm. His body relaxed as he continued to stare at the door. As he stared at the door it shifted and turned into a man.
Quaraun's breathing slowed and he closed his eyes and opened them again and again until he was sure he wasn't seeing things. No, he was positive. There was nothing wrong with his vision whatsoever. Nothing in this dark, dank room changed.
Nothing except for the door before him, was now a man. His face turned orange. His smile a pumpkin grin. Laughing. His eye blazing triangles. The man continued to shift and morph, until he became a scarecrow with a pumpkin head.
Quaraun looked down at his hands and noticed that they were still bleeding. No. He wasn't bleeding. It wasn't his blood. It was the blood of his children. His four murdered children. The children he had murdered. The bleeding had had stopped, but the colour remained dull, almost lifeless. His face was also bloody. Some of his hair was caked with blood.
Slowly, he turned around and started moving away from the huge door and towards a corner behind him. When he reached it, he sat down against the wall, leaned back against it, placed his head back, and shut his eyes.
"Not again," he whispered.
Then, without warning, the earth began to shake and rumble beneath his feet.
"RUBY SUCKS!" A little girl's voice yelled.
Quaraun jumped up then froze. There shouldn't be anyone down here. There should be no one in Fire Mountain but himself and BoomFuzzy and BoomFuzzy's dragon. Quaraun pulled out his wand, swished it around under the glowing ball over his head, and immediately the ball disappeared and the tunnel went dark.
"Ruby sucked hard on her lollipop, feeling it's blood drip down her chin."
Quaraun looked around and saw her again. The little girl he had seen before.
"Who are you?"
"Have you forgotten?" The girl giggled and laughed. "I am Death."
Quaraun watched her suck loudly on the red lollipop, blood dripping from her lips. The blood trickling faster, down her chin, down her chest, to the ground, pooling around her feet.
Her hair grew black.
Her skin grew white.
Her arms grew long.
Her fingers turned into claws that reached to the ground.
Blood gushed forth from her lips.
She laughed manically.
"Ruby sucks so hard, she is so loud, everyone loves Ruby, she is the best girl EVER, I AM THE BEST GIRL! SHE HAS EVERYTHING I DON'T HAVE! HAHA! HEART OF STEEL! MY BODY IS A TANK AND MY SOUL IS AN INFINITY! EVERY PART OF ME IS PERFECTLY FINE! I CUT THE HEAD OFF A BEAST WHO GOT TOO STRONG AND KNEADED IT ON HIS LEG AND NOW THE BEAST'S HEAD IS A PIECE OF SHIT!"
The little girl was now tall and blonde with big blue eyes. She grinned and laughed.
"You like my jokes?"
She walked closer to where Quaraun was standing against the wall, leaning his back up against the stone walls. He didn't answer. Instead he continued to watch her, frozen in terror.
She grabbed Quaraun by his shoulders and gently pushed him forward. They both fell on their knees and Quaraun cried out when his back hit the cold, stone floor. He heard the little girl laugh as she crawled toward him, her bloody bare feet making contact with the cold stone.
He was frozen with fear.
Frozen with panic.
Frozen with disbelief.
He felt helpless, scared, confused.
"Ruby came to die!"
The little girl reached into her chest and torn her heart out.
"You're not real," Quaraun said to himself. "You're not real."
Quaraun squeezed his eyes shut and repeated the words over and over again. "She's not there. She's not real. She's not there. She's not real..."
Suddenly, the little girl stopped laughing. Her mouth fell open. Her jaw fell off. Her eyes widened, then fell from their sockets. The hand that clutched her heart fell limply to the side.
"No..." the girl shrieked. "What are you doing to me?"
Quaraun continued saying: "She's not there. She's not real. She's not there. She's not real..."
"What are you doing?" She screamed. "STOP IT! STOP IT!"
She ran at Quaraun with a snarl, raising her bloody hands above her head. Quaraun rolled across the floor to avoid her grasp.
"STOP KILLING ME!!!"
The little girl lunged forward. She grabbed Quaraun's leg, and started dragging him across the floor. Quaraun kicked and struggled, but the small, blonde creature only dragged him farther.
"You can't kill me again," she growled, holding him tight. "You won't! I won't let you!"
"Let go of me!" Quaraun cried. "What do you want!?"
"I want to live! I WANTED TO LIVE!"
Quaraun thrashed about, fighting and kicking with all his might, but the little girl never gave an inch in her relentless pursuit. Eventually she threw Quaraun against a rock and climbed onto his chest. With a mighty cry she held him down, straddling him, and lifted a large dagger from her belt. BoomFuzzy's dagger.
Before Quaraun could scream, the tiny, blonde creature plunged the dagger deep into his abdomen, slicing his organs, cutting into his flesh.
"No!" Quaraun shouted. "No! No! NO!!"
The little girl pulled the dagger out of Quaraun's belly. Blood poured forth, splattering down her face and clothing. She raised the dagger high above her and swung it down. It sliced down across her neck. She fell off Quaraun and rolled onto the cold stone floor, still gasping for air.
As the little girl lay motionless, Quaraun scrambled to his feet. Tears flowed freely down his cheeks. He dropped to his knees beside the corpse, and buried his face in the little girl's lifeless form.
"Please... please wake up," he whimpered. "Please wake up... no! I'm so sorry! Please forgive me."
Quaraun recognized her now.
Sapphire and Ruby.
His twin daughters.
Named after gemstones.
The girl before, the one that came out of the blue crystal skull, that had been the ghost of Sapphire, and this one the ghost of Ruby. The ones he had killed.
As Quaraun wept, he heard a soft chuckle. He looked up. To his horror, her expression was as blank as ever, her dead eyes staring right at him. He could see the light of life slowly fading away, but she was still smirking.
Ruby chuckled again, more softly, and reached up toward him. Her hand curled slightly, as though reaching for something.
And then suddenly, as fast as she had appeared, she was gone. And like the first, where she stood, there now lay a crystal skull on the ground, this one red, and also with a 12 pointed star carved into it's forehead.
The blood and wounds were gone. Quaraun was not injured.
Quaraun picked up the skull.
"I murdered my children. Oh, god, why did I murder my children?"
Quaraun continued to wander through the darkness, for what seemed like hours, not knowing where to go or what exactly to look for. Fire Mountain was massively huge and it could easily take weeks to explore it's endless system of tunnels and caves. Quaraun stopped when he heard a sound coming from the corridor ahead.
He listened, his long rabbity ears twitching. But what he heard was not what concerned him. It was what he could smell.
The dank stench of decay, the dry dust of bone ash.
The musty, earthy, peaty fragrance of ancient soil mixed graveyard dirt.
"Vampires," he whispered. "Oh dear."
Slowly, quietly, Quaraun crept forward, looking, listening. He could hear voices coming from the room up ahead. Stealthy he made his way to the room and peaked inside. There he saw a strange women. A living corpse, a vampire, walking around, muttering to herself, and ordering her crew of minions around. He recognized one of them as his book thief.
"Come, Dragon!" the woman ordered. "I know you can hear me. It is better for us both if you just give up and surrender. Your Lord and Master is not hear any more. He can not help you. And that twit Necromancer of his is off battling his own demons. Come, Dragon! We have work to do and I need your blood to do it."
The woman waited a few minutes, than shouted: "I, The Vampire Queen Silverwitch from the Kingdom of the Infernal Teeth of Emerald and the Amethyst Coat of Radiance, cast Mist Blood upon you!"
The Mist Blood of The Vampire Queen Silverwitch from the Kingdom of the Infernal Teeth of Emerald and the Amethyst Coat of Radiance, immediately flooded the room. Its crimson hue lit up everything it touched making it feel as if Quaraun were in a deep forest full of thick fog with no visible source of light. The sounds of the storm raging outside filled the silence that permeated the room. It was hard to even hear your own heartbeat. Quaraun looked around for some sort of sign but found nothing. The only thing he could do was wait. As much as he wanted to get out of there Quaraun didn’t dare move an inch because he knew that moving would only make the situation worse. And so Quaraun waited. Waited to see what would happen next.
Quaraun's vision blurred, as tears welled up in his eyes threatening to spill over. His chest felt heavy and tight and the air became difficult to breathe. Quaraun knew he couldn't stay here any longer, The Mist Blood, it was suffocating. His mind raced.
Where am I?
Who are these people?
Why are they doing this?
Do they know who I am?
Do they know I am here?
The room was dark as if it were night time. Quaraun squinted against the darkness. There were two figures standing close by. They spoke quietly among themselves. One stood about three feet shorter than the other. The taller one was the green skinned beast whom had taken his book, earlier. He listened to their conversation and at least, learned some of why they were here.
Queen Silverwitch had come to steal the crystal skulls from the Lich King and take control of Midnight LanceKiller, The Elf Eater's black dragon. But clearly, Midnight LanceKiller, was not going to let that happen.
The woman laughed. Her dark hair was a tangled mess, her face pale as death, her lips stained crimson. A strange creature stood beside her. Her eyes glowed in the light of her dark magic. A wicked smile curled on her lips. Silverwitch was ready to fight. And she knew she'd be victorious. From what her minions said, the vampire Queen had already taken three souls from the victims of the raid on the village below, and another two would soon follow. Silverwitch only needed one more. One last powerful soul. The soul of a dragon.
"Come out you pathetic creature!" Silverwitch snarled, as she looked for the dragon. "I know you're in here. You can not hide from me!"
Not a sound.
Water dripped from the stalagmites of the cave.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
No other sound could be heard.
"Fine! Have it your way. But you won't hide from me long. I'll find you."
Silverwitch turned and walked out of the cave.
As the woman disappeared, something shifted in the back corner of the cave.
Almost like smoke swirling around.
A great pair of glistening green and purple eyes glowed from high near the ceiling of the back wall.
Quaraun gasped, and covered his mouth to stifle his own scream.
There she was.
The Elf Eater's Dragon.
And she was huge.
The size of a giant blue whale. Quaraun had never imagined she would be so big. Nearly as big as the mountain itself. But how? It was not possible for something so large to fit through even the widest of the tunnels into this room.
Oh but she was beautiful. Mesmerizing. Quaraun had never seen a dragon before. He never could have imagined he'd ever be this close to one.
Dark magic surrounded the creature. And a dark miasmic mist swirled all around her.
Quaraun trembled in fear as he stared at the dragon. Trembled in fear of touching her, Fear of touching Midnight LanceKiller. He couldn't believe this was real. Couldn't believe this thing actually existed.
A real, live dragon.
Creatures of myth.
Creatures long thought extinct for millions of years.
And yet, here she was, a beautiful metallic black dragon.
The dragon stared down at him, as she slowly lowered herself down from her perch in the ceiling of the cave, lowering to stand on all fours.
She wasn't afraid of him, and that scared him most of all. Quaraun was used to people being scared of him. Used to people attacking him. Used to having to fight for his life at every turn. He didn't know how to react to something that neither feared him, nor was trying to kill him.
She lowered herself completely to the ground, curling up like a giant cat, and laid there, quiet, still, not moving, watching him. Her lizard eyes, cold and unblinking, like the eyes of a giant serpent.
Quaraun watched the dragon as she watched him. Knowing nothing of dragons, Quaraun didn't know what he should do. Should he stay still or try to run? Could he talk to her? Do dragons talk?
"Yes, we do."
Quaraun's thoughts froze. He had not asked those questions out loud, and the dragon had herd him and answered him. Except, she did not answer with a voice, rather he felt her voice inside his head, like a hive mind, like the hive mind he had had so many years ago with the rest of the Elves. The hive mind of the Elves was gone, as the Elves had gone extinct many centuries ago. Quaraun was the last full blooded Elf, though a few half-Elves were found from time to time.
"You know my thoughts?"
"Can you speak?"
"No. I have no vocal chords. I am a dragon."
"Oh." Quaraun thought about that for a moment and realized he really had no clue what exactly it was that a dragon was. He'd never seen one before. In fact, he'd never even considered the possibility of dragons being real. He had always thought them a fictional fairy tale creature created by parents to scare naughty children. "How do I know the thought I'm hearing are your and not the thoughts of some trickster Fae pretending to be your voice?"
"I suppose that it true, isn't it. But there must be some way to verify your thoughts are yours."
"What would you suggest?"
"I... I don't know. I know nothing of dragons. I never dreamed it possible that dragons were real. I don't even questions to ask you."
"What questions would you ask me, were I not a dragon?"
"I would probably ask you your name and where you hailed from, your nationality, culture. Your favourite foods. Your favourite colour. That sort of thing."
"Your favourite colour is pink."
"Yes. It is."
"You are The Pink Necromancer."
"Yes. I am."
"My name is Njord, I am from Planet Ptarmagin. We Dragons are not native to Earth, it is why there are so few of us on your planet."
"Njord? The not-Gnome outside the mountain. His name was Njord."
"Yes. He was me. I am he. I was also the guard in the tower. The quiet one who followed Master and accidentally stepped on your hair."
"yes. I remember you. You stepped on my hair. It hurt very much."
"Yes. I apologize. I was unaware your hair were delicate tentacles. I thought it was just hair. I did not know it was a part of your body."
"Are you a shape-shifter? Or do you cast illusions?"
"I am a Purple Dragon of Planet Ptarmagin."
"Purple? Are you not black?"
"Oh no. My scales are purple. But they look black in certain lights."
"But you can change form?"
"I can appear as whatever I want."
"What it your true and natural form?"
"You are looking at it."
"I've seen many strange beasts, many strange people these past few days. Where they all you?"
"Some where. Others were not. The two dead girls were not me."
"I know. They were the ghosts of my twin daughters."
"The Crystal Birds were not me, either. They were the Master."
"You meet him at the gate."
"You mean,, BoomFuzzy?"
"BoomFuzzy? BoomFuzzy? You call him BoomFuzzy?"
"Yes. The Phooka? He is my BoomFuzzy. Is he also your Master?"
"Yes. My Master is the Phooka who became The Lich King."
"The two guards, back at the tower, that was you and him, wasn't it?"
"Yes. It was us. He and me."
"Why did you put me in the tower?"
"It was Master's idea. He was angry with you. He's not now. It is why he let you out."
"What about the princess?"
"What of her?"
"Is there really a missing princess?"
"Yes. There is. And she is a sorceress as you were told."
"Why is your master looking for her?"
"He is not."
"He only said that to distract you. To confuse you. And it worked. Did it not?"
"Indeed it did."
"The girl I met in the reading room, the one with the book about Merlin..."
"That was me."
"So, not the princess?"
"What about the deserted farm village?"
"It was like that when we found it. Goblins with great war hounds were not far away. I believe they belong to the vampire queen. I suspect the Humans fled when they got wind of it."
"And the bandits, who attacked me?"
"Just common bandits who happened to stumble across you. Nothing more."
"Oh. Well, I guess that explains everything."
Quaraun though silently for a few moments.
"You said you are from Planet Ptarmagin?"
"I never heard of it before. Where is it exactly?"
"It is the moon of Planet Vesonta, one of the Triple Planets."
"The Triple Planets? Do you know where they are?"
"They are a long ways from here. In a solar system on the other side of the galaxy."
"I am from the Triple Planets, but I do not remember it. I was injured. I can remember nothing of my life from before this planet."
"Many of our people came to Earth. Few survived."
"Why did we leave?"
"Our sun grew dark. Trees stopped growing. There was no more light. Mushrooms bigger than the trees, grew up in their place. Our beautiful, lush green world died and a dark black world of eternal night took it's place. Ptarmagin is the dark and dangerous world of the undead, now. Ptarmagin is a world of monsters, swollen with endless armies of the undead, where flesh-eating ghouls rule the world, and all living creatures are at their mercy. Some constructed cities that float in the clouds, to escape the monsters of the Mushroom Forest below, but few were found worthy to join the elite in the Golden Palace in the sky. Our home planet is not dead, but it might as well be for those who must fight to survive on it."
"And Dragons come from there?"
"Oh yes. There are many Dragons on Ptamagian, Diona, Vesonta, Flame, and Crystonia. Fire Dragons. Ice Dragons. But our entire solar system is in turmoil. Our sun went dark, and all the planets live in chaos now."
"You said you knew who I was?"
"Yes. You are Quaraun, a human male Necromancer in the kingdom of Quebec."
"I am an Elf."
"Are you? Where are your rabbit ears?"
"I keep them behind me, held down back, hidden under my hair."
"You look like a Human without them."
"I know, it's why I do it. I am the last Elf. My people went extinct centuries ago. Humans today believe us fairy tales. They do not believe we were once real."
"Yes. As they do with us Dragons."
"If I am to survive on this planet, I must hide my ears and pretend to look as Human as possible."
"There are no Humans here."
"Indeed. There are not."
"Then why do you still hide them?"
"Force of habit. I'm used to walking with them down, I don't often carry them high."
"May I see them?"
"I see no reason why not," Quaraun said as he twitched his ears, allowed them to lift out of their hiding position. Quaraun, being a Moon Elf, had exceptionally long ears, standing more than a foot tall over his head, ending in fine points. In each ear was 24 small gold rings. In each ring was a thin gold chain. Each of the gold chains, looped around and connected to one of the 3 gold rings in Quaraun's nose. From his ears to his nose, each chain was hung with dozens of tiny pink quartz and watermelon tourmaline crystal points, and tiny gold charms in the shapes of flowers, hearts, birds, jellyfish, and leaves.
"You have decorated your ears like a Christmas tree."
"There are scars on my face. The chains and charms cast shadows and cover my scars."
"They match the gold on your hands."
Quaraun looked down at his hands. He had quite forgotten he was wearing the gold armour on his fingers.
"Do they serve a purpose as well?"
"Yes. When I was a child my fingers were crushed. My hands broken. My hands are dead, I can not use them. They do not move, The bones are shattered, the nerves and muscles are, useless."
"And the gold gloves help this?"
"Yes. They are magic. Enchanted. BoomFuzzy made them for me."
"Yes. He took care of me after... after The Hanging Tree. I would have died other wise. But when I had recovered, my leg was lame, I could not walk normal. I've used the can ever since. But my hands... my hands were dead, and I an a tailor. I weave silk and embroider cloth. I could do this no more. I could not eat. I could not feed myself. I could do nothing that required the use of my hands. So, BoomFuzzy made these gold plate for my fingers, that I may use my hands again. I can not take them off, unless I have someone to put them back on me again after."
"You call my master, BoomFuzzy?"
"Only one calls him by that name. His lover from long ago."
"I am he."
"You are the little Elf from Ivujivik."
"Master has spoken of you."
"Oh yes. Master deeply loves you. He speaks of you often. He is lonely for you. You touch. Your kisses. Your warm body in his bed."
"I get the idea."
"You were born in a small village, Ivujivik, just outside the walls of the castle of the Lich King, and you grew up under the close watch of the Lich King."
"King Gwallmaiic. Yes. I knew him as BoomFuzzy. I lived with him for 30 years. In the gingerbread house."
"You were tutored in magic by him from a young age, and have grown up with no knowledge of much else. You are very good at what you do, and you do magic best of all. You were a great apprentice. He has said so. You were his most faithful student, and are his most powerful Necromancer."
"Yes. That is true. But he is dead. And now I am alone."
"Ptarmagin is a strange place, a far away land, where the undead rule, and Necromancy is an outlawed art. You wouldn't like it there."
"I never said I planned to go there."
"Of course not. It is too far. Too far for us."
"For you maybe."
"For any of us perhaps."
"Who was that woman, just now. The one hunting you."
"We are free to roam where we please and wherever we want. The Dead Worlds are full of monsters. Creatures from the depths of Hell are always there waiting for us."
"Is Hell a real place?"
"Oh yes. Hell exists. A planet that burns in eternal flames, orbiting far too close to it's sun. It's inhabitants suffer greatly. None want to remain there. Many would escape. But Hell exists in the realm of chaos, and it's people are seen by Earthlings are Demons, twisted creatures, half man, half animal. The Humans do not like the Hellions."
"That woman, was she from there?"
"No. She was The Vampire Silverwitch from the Kingdom of the Infernal Teeth of Emerald and the Amethyst Coat of Radiance, and that sickly fog that she brought with her was called The Mist Blood. The Vampires of Kingdom of the Infernal Teeth of Emerald and the Amethyst Coat of Radiance have heard a rumour about a rare flower that can re-energize a vampire's thirst and raise it to it's former power. There is plenty of danger in searching for this flower, but it is said that a successful adventurer could live as a king in the Kingdom of the Infernal Teeth of Emerald and the Amethyst Coat of Radiance. And to get the flower, they believe requires the blood of a sacrificed Dragon. She is after Master's crystal skulls."
"Yes. King Gwallmaiic has a large collection of skulls on a shelf behind his throne. He uses them as decoration, but also as ornaments. In his unicorn form he decorates his horn with them."
"My little black unicorn," Quaraun said to himself.
"They were very pretty, with intricate carvings and nice colours, but more than this, these skulls are very powerful. The Elf Eater used them to control a large black dragon who he calls Midnight Lancekiller."
"And that would be you?"
"Yes. She was a beautiful, glossy black dragon, with a purple mark, a scar, under her right eye. Her black scales glistened with a purple sheep, like peacock ore. She is kept in a cave under the King's Mountain Palace on Fire Mountain. It was said that a dragon slayer once used these skulls to kill a dragon. And that this was how Gwallmaiic knew of her existence, found her, captured her, and tamed her."
"You are talking about yourself in third person, that's a bit bizarre."
"Yeah. A little."
"As bizarre as a female JellyFish pretending she is a male Elf, while wearing pink ostrich feathers?"
"I... I am aware that I am not normal."
"A blend of seven luck bringing scents for calling on the seven luck spirits. A candle for love. A book of psalms open on the altar during times of prayer. A combination of all the above. they were in a small jar of honey and mixed with water, a gift for her husband. It would help soothe him when he was feeling agitated and needed comfort while away from home."
"What are you on about now?"
"You are the Elf who cast a love spell on my Master, are you not?"
"Yes. I am."
"Why did you do this?"
"Because I love him."
"And he did not love you?"
"I... I thought he did."
"But he did not. Does not return your love."
"He was kind to me."
"Was no one ever kind before him?"
Quaraun voice quivered as he tried not to cry. He knew BoomFuzzy didn't love him, but BoomFuzzy was all he had.
"No. Not ever. Not once. Nor since. I'm not deemed worth of being welcomes into society. I am unique. There is no one else like me. So there is no one who wants me. I'm a freak. No one loves a freak. He was the only friend I've ever had."
"You have lived a very sad life."
"You know you were not his first lover, don't you?"
"Yes. He's had many."
"And he has many wives and as many children. Did you know this as well?"
"Leave him alone," BoomFuzzy said to the dragon.
"I do no care. Dis Elf is very easily upset and he had enough upset for one day. He also in the habit of killing me lovers, getting rid of his competition, and obsessively possessing over me. I do no want ya irritating him. He'll kill ya if ya push him to far. Him done it before."
"Yes My Lord."
"How did you get back here?" Quaraun asked BoomFuzzy.
"I does'na know. I were suddenly back, as quickly as I were gone. I t'ink it was a spell, dat were time released un it time run out."
"There was a vampire here."
"She said something about being after the skulls yo use to control the dragon."
"Me skulls? How very odd."
"They do no control me dragon."
"No. Not'ing controls her. She do as she please."
"But she serves you?"
"I was kind to her once. A long time ago. She were injured and I took care of her."
"Like you did to me?"
"She loves you," Quaraun said to BoomFuzzy. "i heard it in her voice when she spoke to me."
"I know she does."
"Was she your lover too?"
"Does it matter?"
"Are you certain?"
Quaraun didn't respond.
"She was. She still is."
"You've had many lovers."
"Aye. Some more possessive and jealous than others."
"You mean, me?"
"Ye are de only lover I ever had, what killed one of me ot'er lovers."
"Aye. Ya killed Gibedon. And I loved him very much. I loved ya both, Quaraun. Ya did no have to kill him."
"I know ya is. But what ya did hurt me Quaraun."
"I know. You killed yourself a few days later."
"Aye. I did. And I has told ya why I did before, but ya does no listen to me. Too lost in ya own lil world."
"He was going to kill you. Him and Finderu. Gibedon was plotting to kill you."
"Aye. I know dat now. It does'na make what ya did any easier for me to accept."
"Do you love the dragon?"
"I do. And I believe she may love me as much as ye does."
"I think she does. I heard it in her voice."
"And I hears jealousy in yar voice."
"She lives with you. I live alone."
"Quaraun. Please. Do no do dis."
"I'd do anything for you."
"I knows ya would. Of dat I have no doubt. I seem to have a problem with simpering idiots falling in love with me."
"You're calling me an idiot again, aren't you?"
"Of course I am. What else would I be doing? I'm calling her an idiot too. Yar both idiots. And in case the two of ya hadn't noticed: I AM DEAD! I have no physical body. I can'na make love to either of ya. What is wrong with ya people?"
"I'm trying to fix that."
"Quaraun, ya're head ain't screwed on right. Ya can'na restore a body to a dead spirit. Okay? Millions of mages before ya have tried to do it and none has ever succeed. It can'na be done. It no possible. I come accept my death, Quaraun, ya need to accept it too. I can'na stop haunting ya until ya do."
"Do you want to stop haunting me?"
"No. Quaraun, I do care about ya. Yar not an easy person to love. But I do no like watching ya wish for knives so ya can slice yar wrists either."
"In case you hadn't noticed, I'm having a hard time dealing with your death."
"I have noticed, Quaraun. Why do ya think I keep popping up in yar life. Ya know I could just leave and go off and do normal t'ings normal dead people do, but it so damned hard when every time I turn around ya be trying to kill yarself. I do'na want ya to kill yarself, Quaraun."
"You killed yourself."
"Aye, and look how well that went. Quaraun, I the one who died, ya'd think I would be the one having trouble coming to terms with it."
"I found you."
"I is aware of that."
"You were still alive."
"I were dair when I died, Quaraun. I knows what happened to me."
"I couldn't save you. I tried."
"I know ya did."
"You took a corrosive poison that dissolved your organs. You drowned in your own blood."
"Ya never should have seen me like that. It messed up yar head. I'm aware that's half the problem."
"You killed yourself."
"Yes. I did. Quaraun, I was dying. Me killing meself had not'ing to do with ya killing Gibedon. Why can no make ya understand dat. I was wounded. I had a serious infection. Gangrene had set in. I would have suffered in agony for weeks. Months. And died anyways. Ya would not have been able to save me one way or de other. And ye was gone. Ya knew I was sick and ya left. I had no way to take care of meself. I never would have done dat to ya, Quaraun. When yi were sick, I never left yar side. I could not get out of bed. I could not feed myself. And you left. You went back to dat fucking bitch wife of yars. Ya left me alone to die, knowing full well how sick I was."
"I didn't think you were hurt that bad."
"I know ya is."
"I shouldn't have left."
"No. Yar shouldn't have."
"If I can't bring you back, I want to join you."
"No ya don't. Ya can'na see everything on the other side of life. There is so much in the realm of the dead ya do no want to be part of Quaraun. Not anymore, at least."
"Not any more?"
"Ya used to be innocent, Quaraun. Part of ya still is, but ya taken to killing people to try to resurrect me. Quaraun ya murdered yar children. The Hell that waits ya for that act alone is reason enough for me to want to see ya not die."
"So why is it so damn difficult for me to let you go?"
"Because it does no work like that."
"Then tell me what works like that!"
"There are rules about death, Quaraun. If I were just going to walk away from all of this, thinking ya could move forward on yar own, I would've done it already."
Spectrophobia: the fear of mirrors. Not a fear that Quaraun needed. He had so many phobias already, and he possessed a great love for mirrors. To be scared of a mirror, was unthinkable. And yet, Quaraun was certain he saw something in the mirror, something that was not in the room. And it made him afraid. Afraid to get near the mirror. Afraid that there was a mirror monster hiding inside.
Quaraun approached the mirror and looked into it.
He saw his own face looking back at him.
His own dead face.
This did not make him feel any better.
There’s nothing else like this in his experience.
An actual living creature that lurks somewhere in the mirror that looks exactly the same as the person standing right beside you.
It’s a nightmare.
One that haunts him every night after he falls asleep.
It’s been years since Quaraun has felt any real fear, even when facing an actual monster.
All of his fears were of simple things: water, heights, darkness, shadows, milk.
Things he should have been scared of, enemies holding a gun to his head, monsters about to rip his throat out, these things he fearlessly faced boldly head one, with a level of sheer stupidity that defied logic.
But an ant running across the road in front of him, sent him into gibbering terror.
The things Quaraun was afraid of seemed illogical at best.
But never before had he known fear of a mirror.
But tonight is different.
Tonight felt wrong.
Something was wrong with the mirror.
Tonight is not safe.
Tonight is a nightmare.
Something bad has happened at last, and now it has come back for more. He can feel it creeping up on him. Creeping through the mirror's silvered glass.
The feeling like someone’s watching him from the corners of the house. From the edges of the mirror.
He knew what it is, this fear of his, knew the feeling. How it started. The dread. The terror. The irrational fear. And he knew that if it continued like this, then there would be no escape from its reach. This terror would consume him.
Quaraun's hands are shaking by this point, trembling from the adrenaline surging through his body. He gripped onto the counter top in front of him, digging his gold armour claws into the wood. He felt like crying out in frustration; but the fear wouldn’t let him. The voice in his head that told him it’ll all go away when he stops thinking about it. But the demon behind the mirror's glass didn’t want him too stop thinking. It wanted him to think about it's existence, think about it's life, that it might come to life and emerge from the mirror. Emerge from the mirror and kill him. If he stopped, he would die.
"Quaraun?" A soft and gentle voice said.
Quaraun jumped, startled by the sudden contact between them.
"Is everything alright? Why do you look so distressed?"
No matter how hard he tried, Quaraun just couldn't answer. His mouth was paralyzed, unable to move nor speak. He only stared in horror, tears beginning to well up in his eyes as fear and panic grew within him.
Something was wrong.
Very very wrong.
This wasn't a dream.
This was no nightmare.
That was the first thing Quaraun thought.
Because it couldn't possibly be a dream.
"This isn't real," Quaraun whispered under his breath. "This can't happen."
The universe would not let such a horrible thing happen.
Especially because the universe hated Quaraun.
Because Quaraun was responsible. He brought death and destruction down upon those who he loved. He killed them all. His children.
"This isn't real... " Quaraun told himself again.
The demon behind the mirror's glass could see the fear in Quaraun's eyes. He wanted that fear gone. Wanted that fear for himself. Quaraun was afraid that the demon in front of him might hurt him. He took a step forward towards Quaraun.
Quaraun closed his eyes. He wanted this to end. He wanted to run. Run as far from here as possible. He wanted to forget this ever happened. He wanted to forget that his worst nightmare had come to haunt him and he'll never be free of that nightmare ever again. He didn't want to know anymore.
"Quaraun. Please talk to me."
The voice pleaded and begged, desperately trying to make Quaraun open his eyes so they could look at each other. So he could look into the demon’s beautiful ruby coloured eyes.
Please don't be scary like me!
They were beautiful. They were like fire. They were bright red. Like the rubies BoomFuzzy wore all around his neck. Those crimson pigeon blood star rubies. They were the eyes of the devil. His devil. The demon from the mirror's reflection. The evil soul that dwelled inside.
And now that eye of the demon staring back at him was staring straight into his soul.
Quaraun gasped, opening his eyes to meet the gaze of the demon. That sight of the demon caused him to stumble backwards from shock, his foot sliding over the floor and toppling him over onto the ground. He screamed, his back slamming against the ground.
He scrambled backwards on the floor.
Until his back hit a wall.
He slid to the ground, hitting the floor on his side. With his arms wrapped tightly around his chest. His eyes screwed shut, his breathing ragged and loud.
Quaraun felt like crying. Tears fell from his eyes and ran down his cheeks.
He cried some more.
Then he sobbed, his heart racing, racing, pounding in his chest, in the pit of his stomach.
In his skull.
In the space between his ears.
All he could think about were the demons eyes, piercing deep into his soul. All he could think about, over and over again, was that pair of eyes staring right back at him. All he could think was that pair of fiery red irises staring straight through him as if he had no flesh and bone beneath.
He cried until he became lightheaded, and dizzy, falling backwards onto his knees, still curled into himself. His body shook violently as his breaths came out short and quick, uneven and heavy. He couldn’t breathe and it was hard to tell where his nose began and his lungs ended. It all just hurt too much for him. It all burned, burned, burned inside of him.
"Calm down, you're all right."
Quaraun sat up.
"You're spazzing out again," BoomFuzzy said.
Quaraun squeezed his eyes shut than opened them again and looked around. The mirror monster was gone. BoomFuzzy was standing beside him.
"The mirror," Quaraun said. "There was something in the mirror."
"Is he always like this?" Njord asked BoomFuzzy.
"Always. Every day, some thing scares him into a gibbering mess."
"What is wrong with him?"
"I died. He was the one who found my body."
"This is the Elf who loved you?"
"Was he always like this?"
"No. I remember a time when he was a happy little Elf, who liked to feed the wild ponies at edge of the marsh, in the desert of the Di'Jinn. And then the Di'Jinn died and he didn't know what to do, where to go, so he went home. To his people. And they hated him. He couldn't understand why. I tried so hard to make them like him. But they bullied him, teased him, beat him up. Every day."
"No reason. He was just different. They all wore blue. He wore pink. They all had short hair. His hair touches the ground. That's all it was. They treated him deplorably. Then the bullying started getting worse. A lot worse. It went from pushing him into mud puddle and laughing at him being wet, to pushing him in front of carriages, and laughing at him being trampled by horse hoofs his ribs crushed under carriage wheels. They started trying to kill him, and laughed. And each more people joined in. Until one day, the whole town attacked him. He'd been read a book under the apricot trees, and night was coming, so he started to go him, to his father's palace, where they lived with the King. He never recovered. He's been like this ever since."
"What happened that day?"
"The Hanging Tree. That's what he calls it."
"He mentioned that before."
"He always talks about it. It's stuck in his head."
"What was it? The Hanging Tree?"
"There was a large oak tree at the centre of town. Ancient. Huge oak tree. Some of the Elves worshipped it. Believed it was magic."
"I do not know. Elven Magic is different from Faerie Magic, perhaps to them it was. But not to Quaraun. For Quaraun, that tree became a nightmare he can not shake. Oh my poor Elf. I stopped them, before they killed him, but, so much had already happened before I realized what they had done."
"What did they do?"
"Near the tree was a large water fountain. A beautiful peaceful place to sit. The tree and the fountain sat in front of the palace. Quaraun, did not make it inside. Morloch was waiting for him."
"Morloch? Who is Morloch?"
"Quaraun's father. Younger brother to the Moon Elf King. An evil man, who unspeakable things. He murdered Quaraun's mother, when Quaraun was just a small child. Smashed her head in, found a jellyfish inside her skull instead of brain, ripped it out and stomped it into the ground. Did it front of Quaraun. The Elf was the mother of his Elven body, and the JellyFish was the mother of Quaraun. Convinced his son was also a JellyFish, he tried to kill Quaraun as well. The King, rescued the child and handed him over to a priest. ZooLock, the DiJinn priest. The King told ZooLock take the child and run, so, Quaraun came to be raised by ZooLock in Persia, miles away from him home in Quebec."
"That would explain how he dresses?"
"Yes. The very Arabian cloths Quaraun wears, that marks him very much out of place in New England. But the day of The Hanging Tree, Morloch was waiting for him. Poor lil Elf, had no idea what was about to happen."
BoomFuzzy was silent for a moment.
"Morloch, dragged Quaraun to the fountain, held him under the water. Several times. He almost drowned. Villagers joined in. They took turns holding him under the water. They thought it was funny. They laughed, as they held him down and watched him struggle to breath, struggle to live. He tried to escape. He tried to run. There were to many. Drag him back to the fountain and put him under the water again. The ran, tried to flee the village, but they cornered him. Started throwing rocks at him. Stoned him. They gathered up garden tools, started stabbing him with pitchforks, tearing the flesh off his back with garden claws. His back, is horribly scarred. It's the worst of his scars, for what they look like. There was a Dwarf mine, in mountain beside the palace. Mining tools scattered around the edge. Quaraun, thought he could hide in the caves. He got away again, that that's where he went, so they grabbed pickaxes and crushed his legs so he could not run. Crushed his hands, so he could not fight back. Shattered his jaw so they wouldn't have to hear him scream, smashed out all of his teeth."
"The gold armour he wears on his hands. He said you made it. He said his hands are dead. Is that when that happened?"
"It is. They held him down, and drove the drove the pickax though his hands. His fingers were barely even still attached when they got done. His fingers, where nearly ripped off, bones splintered out of the flesh, palms crushed, pulverized. From the wrists to the fingertips, his hands were flattened, the bones left little more than powder."
"That is horrible."
"And he was only a child when they did this?"
"And these people, they were adults?"
"Yes. I tried to rebuild his hands, put them back together. I could not. There was not enough left. At the time I was still a warrior, had not yet retired from that. So I had in my employ and armour. I had him make thin gold armour, fitted to encase what was left of Quaraun's hands, and then I cast a spell on the armour, so that Quaraun could use his metal hands like real hands. I had hoped, in time, his hands would heal and he could use them again without the magic armour. But they never did. So he wears the armour still. He has lovely gold plated fingers on lovely gold plated hands, his real hand encased inside, lifeless and dead."
"The poor thing. But he embroiders and weaves fine silk. Is that not difficult with the gold armour?"
"He learned to adapt. He makes such beautiful cloth now. One would never guess such fine weaving and delicate embroidery were made by one with no hands. When they got done crushing his hands, they dragged him back out of the mines, tied his ankles to a pair of horses, and set the horses galloping. The scars on his face, were from that. He didn't used to have the gold chains going from the rings in his ears to the rings in his nose. He wears those to cover the scars on his face, that came from the horses trampling him, running over his head, dragging is face on the cobblestone. There's no skin on the left side of his face at all."
"I don't think I've ever seen his face. He keeps it hidden. The chains and the veils."
"Yes. Most people look at him, seeing only his eyes and his lips, the rest of his body carefully hidden under silk veils and delicate gold chains, and they think him beautiful. There are many who would hail him, the most beautiful being alive. There are always women, throwing themselves at him, wanting to have sex with him, until the veils come off and the chains removed. He used to be beautiful. He was the most beautiful creature ever born. But the scars erased his beauty. And the worst scars of all are the source of his nightmares. He tells people he is a eunuch. He is not. But it is, I think easier for him to say that, than to try to ever sex with anyone."
"Is he not castrated? He said he was."
"No. Not fully. He is intact enough that he can have sex. He fathered four children, nearly a hundred years after my death, after all. Morloch, after they got done with the horses, they didn't think he would live. Nearly every bone in his body was broken. Most of his flesh was ripped from his bones. I don't know how he lived through it, but he did. And evil hearts that they had, when they saw he was still alive, and still awake, unable to move, unable to scream, they feared he would die to quickly if they beat him any more, they took the rope off the horses, and tied it up in the giant oak tree. Stripped off his clothes. Left him hanging there, naked, by his feet, in the city square. And his father was a very cruel man. Each morning at sunrise, he drove a dagger up into his son's penis. Didn't take the one out from the day before, just drove another one in the next morning."
"That's just terrible."
"If you can ever get him to let you look at him naked, which you can't, the entire length of his penis, front and back, has rows of tiny gold rings from the top to the base. His penis slit in two, after 3 days of daggers shoved in, so on the 4th through 7th days, his father gorged daggers into his groin instead. Most of his belly, is a mess shredded scars. Quaraun has strange patterns of gold rings on his belly, his groin, his penis, and scrotum, which to the untrained eye, looks like he has some sort of piercing fetish. However, to one with knowledge of The Hanging Tree, Quaraun used lots of gold rings, to close his wounds, but the wounds left terrible scars, so he never removed the gold rings. There are 48 in his scrotum, and twice that many the length of both the front and back of his penis. he can still have sex and has fathered children since this happened to him, but it is rare that a woman does not run screaming from the sight of the horrific damage done to his genitals, and that is why he tells people he is a eunuch. It saves him the embarrassment of women too repulsed by his scars to have sex with him."
"Do he want to have sex with women? I thought he liked men? He certainly likes you."
"Aye. He is deeply in love with me. But he likes women as well. He certainly frequents enough brothels. And... well, he has fathered more children since the four he killed. Quite a few, actually. Thirty or so. He does like his prostitutes."
"Are all the mothers prostitutes?"
"Most of them, yes. Once in a while he finds girls who are attracted to his scars and he'll dote on them. Females who can look past the scars and see the very emotional man who desperately desires companionship, become favourites of his."
"But you and he were lovers. How does that make you feel?"
"Quaraun wasn't my only lover. He knew that. He loves me. I know that. He's also very lonely. I know that too. I had many before him."
"But none after him, right?"
"None after him no. I didn't love the others. I do love him. He takes care of the mothers. Pays them money to raise his children. But he's not involved with the children. He won't allow the children to even know he's their father. He loves his children, even the illegitimate ones, but he's scared."
"That'll he'll have another psychotic breakdown and kill his family again?"
"Yes. He doesn't trust himself. Doesn't dare to be part of his children's lives. Too scared he'll kill them in some fit of hysteria, because that's what he did before. He's terrified of it."
"He just won't acknowledge them because their mothers are Humans."
"Does that matter to him?"
"It does. He refuses to admit to being the father of a half-Elf. And I fear that may be the source of our current situation."
"What do you mean?"
"That man who keeps showing up in the mirror. He's a half-Elf."
"The one who called himself HellBorne Son of The Darkness?"
"Aye. Looks like a Moon Elf to me. And the only way that could be possible, is if Quaraun is his father."
"Does Quaraun know that?"
"I think he does. He hasn't said it, but you live with someone long enough you can pick up things. Expressions. I think he is aware that the mage who put us and my mountain in a bottle, is one of his sons that he refuses to acknowledge."
"Why would not acknowledge his own son?"
"Fear? I think Quaraun's scared to be a father. After what happened to his first children. I think he's scared, he'd do the same thing again. He did love his children, but he killed them because he loved me more, and he fully believed he could resurrect me if he offered up the lives of his children in exchange. And than when that didn't work, he was left to face what he had done to the children he loved so much. It broke his mind. When you get right down to it, that is why he is like he is today. The guilt of what he did to his children is crushing his mind. The blood he keeps talking about seeing. It's their blood. The blood in the nursery. The Moon Elves drove him out of his mind, after my death. They teased him, taunted him. Made him mean. I started fighting back. Started killing anyone who bad mouthed me. It became a habit for him to ritually slaughter anyone who said anything against me. And one night his children, sang a terrible song, celebrating the Elf Eater's death."
"Is that why he killed them?"
"It is. His sister was the blame. She was their mother."
"Yes. Morloch was having an incestuous affair with his eldest daughter, together they plotting to kill the King and take the throne, but Moon Elf laws being the way they were Quaraun was next in line to be King, so Morloch, tricked Quaraun into marrying his oldest sister, and she raped him to get those four children from him. He never had sex with her willingly. When the twin boys were old enough to claim the throne, she and Morloch planned to kill the King, let Quaraun be crowned King, then kill Quaraun, let Quaraun's eldest son be crowned King, kill him, repeat with the younger son, and that would leave Quaraun's wife the Queen, and any new husband the King, she was to than marry her own father, and Morloch would be king."
"Quaraun's entire family is horrible."
"They were. I was not yet a Lich. I was just a ghost. So I could not tell Quaraun what they were planning. I tried so many times to reach through the land of the dead to the world of the living, to tell him what they had planned."
"Did he ever find out?"
"Oh yes. Unfortunately, he found out, from the children. Their mother made up a song about how she would carry out this plan, and she sang it too herself over and over, and the children heard it one day, and were singing it in the nursery, when Quaraun came home that night from his tailor shop."
"Is that why he killed the children?"
"It was. It was the 100th anniversary of my death, the next day, so that night, he murdered his children, and poisoned all the food in the village, in every house, with the same poison I had killed myself with. And than he killed the King, crowned himself king, and than executed his sister-wife and their father for treason. But that wasn't all. He did something else. Something he forgot he did."
"What was that?"
"He had a friend. A friend since childhood. A little Gnome. She loved him so dearly. She wasn't supposed to be there. She lived in a village far away. She arrived the night before. He didn't know. After every one was dead, He wandered through the village, looking for survivors, and found none. And that's when he found her. Little BeLuna, among the dead. She loved him so much. She loved Quaraun, as much as he loved me. She had never hurt him, was always kind to him, was always there for him. I think on some levels he loved her too. But I saw him through it all. Numb. Emotionless. He killed everyone with such ease. His wife. The children. The villagers. The king. His father. He felt nothing. No pity. No guilt. No remorse. I never seen him like that. It wasn't until he found dead Gnome's body that he any reaction at all. And that's when mind snapped. I couldn't acknowledge that she was dead. Instead he started talking to her like she was still alive."
"He doesn't know she's dead?"
"No. BeLuna, he thinks she's still alive. And that's when suddenly he could see me, and everyone else else who was dead. I'm not the only one he sees. He sees the children too. Every night, the four children stand at the foot of his bed."
"He keeps saying the villages are empty. That the people are gone. Is that why? He can't see the living can he?"
"No. e can't. He can see ghosts and spirits and wraiths and Liches, but he struggles to see a single living soul. And I don't know how to help him. I don't know if any one can. I think he need to face BeaLuna's death. Until he admits e killed his best friend, I don't he'll ever be able to heal."
"And all of this happened because of The Hanging tree?"
"Yes. Had The Hanging Tree not happened, none of these events after would have followed."
"Why did they do it? The Hanging Tree, why did they do that to him? Why would anyone do such a thing?"
"They couldn't figure out how to get into my house."
"The gingerbread house. I found out later, what they did to him, they had planned to do to me, and he was the only one who knew how to get into the gingerbread house. In between each thing they did, they stopped and asked him to unlock the gingerbread house, they said they let him go, he wasn't the one they wanted. They were after me. They wanted to kill me. They didn't realize how much he loved me. How far he was willing to go, to save my life."
"But you died right after The Hanging Tree didn't you?"
"Yes. Less than a year later. What he went through, he went through to save my life. I did not know when I was alive. I found out only after I was already dead."
"You commit suicide."
"Would you have, if you had known why they hurt him?"
"I don't know. Probably not. I did not believe any one loved me. And I had someone who loved me an awful lot. I just couldn't see it while I was still alive. But I see it now, with how badly he suffers as a result of my death. I died centuries ago, and his mind it is still like it was yesterday."
Quaraun slipped off the edge and fell in the water. Immediately the frightened Elf was screaming in terror, flailing around, as though he was being attacked.
"It's only water, barely a foot deep..."
"No, you don't understand. He's scared of water. The Hanging Tree. He's terrified of water now. You have to get him out of the water. He'll drown if you don't. I'm incorporeal I can't do it."
"Quaraun, just stand up!" Njord yelled.
"He can't. He has flashbacks. He can't get up. He thinks he's back in the fountain at Ivujivik. He thinks the Elves are dragging him in. He can't get out of the water on his own. He can't see what it looks like, here today. He's seeing what happened then."
A cacophony of voices, all blending together, as other Elves joined with him, also beating the young Elf, for reasons he neither understood nor knew. Confusion welled in his mind, like the water that flooded his throat. The was became dark and dreary. And the air smelt of ash, soil, algae, and mud. The stench of seaweed, crab, and fish, rolled through the town on the fog coming in off the ocean.
The sound of the water filled his ears and drummed in his head as more water filled his nostrils and lungs.
He can’t breathe, he can’t think, he can’t move, but he keeps going. Going where? He did not know.
His heart was pounding in his chest, pounding and pounding until it hurts. His body feels like it's on fire.
The only thing that existed any more was pain and misery. He wanted it to stop. It was too much. But there was nothing he could do. So many hands holding him down. Hitting him. Hurting him. Pain, pain, PAIN!
The world faded away. Darkness swallowed the rest of it until there was nothing but blackness. The only sound was that of the rushing water though his head, like distant crashing waves as they hit the shore below the pier.
A shadow shifted on the horizon and suddenly light flooded the space around him. The blue light of the sun shining down through the water, turning black.
He knew what was coming and he did not want to be here any longer, but somehow the darkness felt right now. His mind, his spirit, his soul, ripping from his body. Death clutched at his throat. Water blinding his eyes, stinging his throat, burning his lungs. The pressure closing in. Unable to breath. Unable to think.
And in his mind, only one word: Why? Why? Why?
Why did they hate him?
Why were they hurting him?
He didn't understand.
He couldn't comprehend.
He could feel himself slipping away and the blackness seemed to welcome him. It was peaceful and dark. There was no light or sound or anything else that could hurt him.
Angrily he pushed his way past the darkness and tried to kick back against his attackers. But there were too many.
Full grown adults.
Healthy, strong, full grown men against one weak, sickly child.
A headache now on top of the rest. Dizzily he shook and convulsed. The dark world slowly came into focus around him as they held his face to the bottom of the fountain.
Quaraun felt the water was crushing his head and was certain he was about to drown, when his father pulled him back up and flung him down on to the cobblestone street.
Lifting a hand to his mouth and trying to stop the vomit that was bubbling out of him.
It was so hard to breathe, but somehow he found himself able to choke out what felt like the last of it.
The frightened Elf gasped and tried to breathe, but water had filled his lungs and was still strangling him from the inside. His ears throbbed, his throat burned, his nostrils felt like they were on fire, and his vision was blurred. He could not tell where he was or who was with him.
He gasped and chocked and tried to cough the water out of his lungs. He could neither see, nor hear the crowd which had gathered, and he still was too confused and too in shock to know what it was his father was saying.
The world was spinning out of control, and Quaraun felt as though everything was happening in slow motion. He couldn’t move, he could only stare at the cobblestone. It looked so far away, so peaceful. So... painful. So, very, very painful.
The scream rang in his head. Had he screamed out loud? He couldn't tell. He felt so tired, but he knew it wouldn't be long now before everything faded into darkness and he could rest.
His thoughts were jumbled.
Everything was a jumble.
The sky was a blur.
The ground too.
Trying to break free.
Breaking free of the crowd.
The noise around him sounded dull. Everything faded into the background, muffled and indistinct. His hand grabbed his throat, trying to find some way to stop it, any way to make it go away.
It hurt so bad.
His chest was burning and constricting. He felt his lungs would burst. He clawed at his skin, trying to tear through it to relieve the pressure on his lungs.
Drowning. Drowning. Drowning.
In the village water fountain.
The screaming mob, holding him down, the struggle to tear away from their angry hands, holding him under the water, not letting him up, not letting him breath.
The terror of water now, filling his mind, so great that it threatened to drown him, in side the tavern, safe from the danger of suffocating water.
Raving. Ripping the air out of his lungs.
He was losing control.
No pain. No pain!
Make it stop!
Make it stop!
No! No! No!
He felt the panic rising in his throat like bile, choking him, threatening to choke him to death. The alcohol seemed to burn his tongue as he choked down another mouthful. He couldn't breathe. His vision blurred. Tears ran down his face.
Pain, pain, PAIN!
The sound echoed and replayed in his ears, ringing. It sounded like a million tiny voices screaming at once; screaming at him. Screaming for help. For mercy.
Quaraun was still trying to cough the water from his lungs. The poor Elf screamed and flayed, fighting off the attackers that were not there.
"It's alright," Njord said. Holding the frightened, screaming Elf, close to her, hugging him, rocking, trying to sooth him, calm him "There's no more water. You're on land now. It's alright. You're not drowning. You can breath. Calm down. Breath. It's alright. You poor thing."
Njord was sitting in a chair beside the king's empty throne, when he heard footsteps entering the room. She turned to see her brother, Ralik aka Lord Headbanger, advisor to King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes.
"Headbanger! What are you doing here?"
"I heard my baby sister was advisor to some king now. Had to come see for myself."
"Yes. The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, King Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries, The Lich King of Fire Mountain. yes. But how did you find us?"
"Well, that's the thing of it, isn't it. I don't know. I just woke up this morning and here I was at Fire Mountain."
"Quaraun is here."
"The Pink Necromancer. Strange things happen around him. He has a chaotic area. Attracts chaos energy to him. I don't think he knows he does it either. That's him over there. He's been asleep for hours. Poor dear. Had himself a fright when he arrived. Damned near scared himself out of his mind. Seems he's scared of being alone in the dark, and Master thought it funny to push him into a deep, dark, hole. Poor dear. Screamed himself into a conniption. So terribly exhausted. He feel asleep soon as he laid down. Master set me to guard him. Watch him. Protect him. Come. Pull up a chair. We will talk of old times while the necromancer sleeps."
Quaraun was not asleep. Quaraun, was an Elf. And Elves did not need to sleep. Elves had the ability to put themselves into a sleep-like meditative state, which afforded them far more rest, than sleep did, and as it was rest and not sleep that Quaraun was in need of, this is what he had done.
And so, though Quaraun appeared to be in a deep sleep, he was actually fully awake and hearing everything that was going on around him. And Quaraun was puzzled, for as far as he knew, dragons were very rare. So rare that the dragon of Fire Mountain was said to be the last dragon on Earth. And yet, here was her brother? This was of interest to Quaraun, as, he knew something was wrong with this place, and it's people.
Quaraun was uncertain if he trusted Njord, even if BoomFuzzy trusted her. BoomFuzzy was not know for having good judgment of the character of others. After all, BoomFuzzy had trusted Gibedon and Finderu, had he not? And had they not nearly taken his throne from right under his nose, because of that trust?
And so Quaraun paid careful attention to the conversation of Njord and Ralik. And he learned much, though he wasn't certain how useful it was.
Ralik, like Njord, was a dragon. Ralik knew many things about the land around him, including that he had spent his entire life wandering the lands with his uncle and grandmothers, who were also dragons. And yet here he was, in the heart of a cursed castle at the mercy of his uncle, being taken to see the king’s advisor for who knew what reason, all because he could see the future.
So, Ralik could see the future.
Quaraun wondered if this meant Ralik was born with this skill or was he a mage?
Quaraun felt certain there was a mage to the root of the strange happenings of this week, but who he did not know.
Ralik seemed an alright sort, if a little eccentric, though he didn’t look so eccentric when Quaraun caught sight of him as he followed one of the guards back into the throne room. As soon as Njord entered and saw the man, she gasped. It was only after the guard pulled him away from where he’d fallen against the wall behind him that he remembered to breathe. The king’s advisor looked over at him.
Her eyes were a deep green. Like two pools of emeralds, the colour of the forest after rain. When he smiled, it lit up the entire room.
“Welcome to the court,” he said. “I am Ralik, adviser to King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes.”
Quaraun stood there staring, and Ralik laughed. The sound filled the air around them.
“Well?” he asked.
"That's not right," Quaraun said.
"What's not right?"
"Where am I?"
"You are in the throne room of King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes."
"No, I'm not. I'm in the throne room of The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, King Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries, The Lich King of Fire Mountain, BoomFuzzy the candy maker and master chef. You were talking to Njord. I was watching you and, everything shifted and change. There is strange magic here. You are trying to confuse me. There is something here you don't want me to see."
Ralik blinked at him, a slight frown on his face. His eyes sparkled. It reminded Quaraun of the gems in his mother’s jewellery box; diamonds and garnets glittered and shimmered in the light.
"How can we know your intentions if you keep telling us that?"
Quaraun shrugged. "My intentions are none of your business. My purpose is different. I do not know what mine is."
Ralik frowned deeper, and Quaraun found himself wanting to run. He hated seeing others upset, especially with such good looks. He had no doubt Ralik would be a very handsome man in years past. Even now, though, his features were still boyish, and he had a baby face that gave him the appearance of innocence. But now the lines had grown deep, and his eyes were sharp and knowing, though he kept them warm, friendly, and patient.
Quaraun wanted to hide. Not only did he feel uncomfortable standing before a royal personage, even if the personage was not the most frightening, but he also didn't feel safe. No doubt it was because this was a place built for royalty, but even so, the throne room was dark and cold.
“I am afraid you’ll just have to wait until Njord returns.
"What brings you here to me?" the king asked the man, whom had entered his dining hall. "Is there an attack? Is there a new Dark Brotherhood risen up to lay seize to my kingdom? Fowl mages are always organizing you know. An invasion form another king? Bloody bastards, always plotting against me. Have they finally gotten tired of warfare? Come to their sense? Come to beg for mercy? Come to surrender? Or has something else come to disturb my piece? Speak, man, to what do I own this unexpected visit?"
"Are you King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes?"
"I am here to deliver to you a letter from The Pink Necromancer, Quaraun, to King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes."
"The Pink Necromancer? Quaraun? Not Quaraun the Insane?"
King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes, sat at his table, eating dinner and drinking wine. He grunted angrily, put down his glass, and wiped his mouth before answer the messenger.
"I do not receive letters from Quaraun."
The man stepped forward, handed the king the letter, and when King Raleigh Macias Belladonna Jackal-seeker of the Duchy of the Nine Necromancers in the Realm of the Thirty Coward Volcanoes stretched forth his hand to take the letter, the messenger pulled a ruby encrusted black obsidian dagger from his belt, and with one quick motion stabbed the king straight through the heart. The enchanted dagger gliding through the king's armour like it was butter and locating his heart without any need to aim.
A trickle of blood ran from the hole in the king's armour. The man pulled out the blade and threw it across the room, Quaraun caught it in his hand, the dagger going straight to his hand like a magnet.
The king coughed violently as Quaraun glided across the room, hovering in the air, propelled by his jellyfish tentacle hair.
"Thank you, Njord," Quaraun said to the messenger. "You've become quick useful."
"With pleasure, My Lord."
Quaraun knelt before the dying king.
"Do you know who I am?"
"Quaraun the Insane."
"Oh yes. How delightful. I hate having to introduce myself to people who don't know me. Now. Down to business. Do you know why I am here?"
"No, and I can't see how it matters, as I am dying. I'll be dead before you can get any information from me."
"Oh contrare! I am the world's most powerful wizard, true Leader of the Lich Lords, as I command King Gwallmaiic. I am The Pink Necromancer, the ONLY necromancer to master full control over life and death. Which means, you can't die until I say you can, and I can keep you alive for years, decades, centuries even. Alive and in pain. Alive and in agony. Suffering, bleeding, in status forever, with a hole in your heart, and your body never dying, ever bleeding, continually filling ever so many bottles of blood to feed to my undead army."
"Like I said, you're insane."
"Perhaps, but I have the upper hand, don't I?"
"You bastard, what do you want?"
"You tried to kill King Gwallmaiic. I want to know why."
"That monster, murders millions of innocents every years."
"That monster is my lover, and I'll hear no one speak ill of him."
The king coughed violently and fell back in the chair he was sitting in.
"Having trouble breathing? Blood filling your lungs? Let's capture this moment forever, shall we?" Quaraun stood up and snapped his fingers. "Freeze the chair."
"King Gwallmaiic appeared, in his true Lich form. The ghostly blue crystal skeleton, dressed in grey rages and iron chains, hovering in the air beside Quaraun.
The dying king began to scream in horror at the sight of the Lich's ghastly rotten corpse.
One touch from the Lich's bone finger froze the king's chair solid, not into ice, but into strange blue crystal, the crystal growing quickly, encasing the king making him part of the grotesque chair that was now a part of his body.
"You see?" Quaraun said as he floating closer to the king and came down to hover beside him. I control the Lich and I love the Lich and the Lich will do anything I tell him too, and now I have his dragon too. Both in my command. And you got in my way. I have devoted my life to restoring my lover back into a living flesh body and you tried to destroy his corpse so that I couldn't do that. I'm not happy about this. Not at all. And if you are to save your soul, you need to explain to me why you did it, in a reason that is both truthful and acceptable. Otherwise, you go into a bottle in my pocket with everyone else, and you live forever, trapped in a bottle, attacked to this chair, bleeding for eternity in the Hell I created for you as punishment for your crimes against BoomFuzzy."
Quaraun headed off to Daemeon's Court to speak to Kai the court mage. Where Quaraun presented his concerns. Dr. Daemeon Emperor of Planet Ptarmagin was a large and menacing figure. A bird, twelve feet tall. An arrogant partridge who seemed to have a lot of power, but little concern for things he doesn't directly control.
Doomed City. A place of darkness. Where the dead lurk. Where no living can live. This is the land where the people who killed Quaraun's wife and child are now ruling. Where they are holding his son hostage.
His son, who he knows will never get to see the outside world again. His son, who will never grow up and find love and happiness. Who will never be able to make a difference as a person because he will be dead. He will never see what the sun looks like through a window, or feel the wind against his face, or hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore. Because of this, his life won't matter. And if that means losing his son forever, then so be it.
His family, the only friends he ever had before his death, have turned him into their weapon. A murderer. He doesn't know when he started believing it all. When he started thinking that he really was some kind of deity, someone better than everyone else, someone more worthy of respect. But there isn't much time for such thoughts right now.
They're currently inside an abandoned building. A large building filled with old furniture and dusty paintings, which seem like they are about to fall to pieces at any moment. As soon as he gets his son back, he'
It’s an unusually cold night and his hands are shaking as he lit the lamp in the corner of the room.
The lamp was just the beginning though, and soon he had lighted the fireplace, put on some logs and placed it with some kindling from the pile by the stove. He watched as they blazed to life. The wood has been dried for so long that the flames were slow, flickering, and when he tried to ignite them with a spark, his fingers refused to obey him. So instead, he pulled out two books he found on his shelf, one containing ancient languages, the other more recent ones. In each book, there were illustrations. Some of the pictures depicted people who wore animal masks that resemble faces, others are animals and men. He could not help but think how ridiculous it is that such a simple yet beautiful design could exist in such a dangerous world where death and destruction seemed to be a constant presence around them all. The images were abstract and not too detailed, but he liked them nonetheless.
He put the books down beside the fire to read in the dark, but before he did, he turned off the light. If he falls asleep while reading he might wake up with nightmares about what he's done or hasn't done and he didn't want any of that. After getting ready for bed, he sat on his bed.
"I hate this!" Quaraun screamed stamping his foot. "I wish there was someone here who knew how to get us out of this mess."
"Will you stop wishing for things!" BoomFuzzy yelled. "It always causes trouble. You know that."
No sooner had he said this than a loud explosion rang through the volcano.
"Is the volcano erupting?" Quaraun asked, sounding terrified.
"Oh no," Njord answered."This volcano has been extinct for thousands of years. It won't erupt, it can't because..."
Her words were interrupted by a scream, a THUD and a cry.
"Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! Ow! Damn it! Now where am I?"
A man, half-Elf and half-sheep, with bright yellow eyes and golden frizzy, not-quite dreadlocks woolly hair, dressed in an extra-long, and extremely full skirted long green velvet kashimiri coat, over orange chiffon gota embroidery lelenga robes, decorated with yellow sun and pink jellyfish embroidery. He lay on the ground, his hands over his face, wailing in pain.
"Hello," BoomFuzzy said to the newcomer, whom had just fallen through BoomFuzzy and was laying sprawled out at his feet.
"I," the golden fleeced stranger started to answer, but was interrupted by a whooshing sound falling from the sky. "MOVE!"
The strange suddenly bounced to his gold-painted cloven hoof feet and hopped away, just as a bright orange tangerine fizz metal-flake 1974 AMC Gremlin came crashing down on top of BoomFuzzy.
"Well," said BoomFuzzy. "I guess it a good t'ing I is all ready dead. I feel quite certain dat would have killed me."
"You're incorporeal," the stranger said, as he sat down on the ground and tried to figure out where he was. "Why are you incorporeal?"
"Oh, maybe you hadn't noticed. I'm dead."
"Your always dead. Why are you a ghost?"
"Does ya suggest I'm usually not?"
"Wait, something's not right. You don't know who I am do you?"
"What year is it?"
"I does no keep track of years."
"Could you... uhm... move?"
"You're standing in the middle of my car. It's kind of freaking me out."
"Ah. Good point."
BoomFuzzy stepped out of the car.
"Yis a nervously lil Elf, eh?"
"I'm not an Elf."
"Ya look like a Sun Elf."
"Yes. I'm a half-Elf. The other half of me's a sheep."
"Are your pupils supposed to look like that?" Quaraun asked, focused on the stranger's yellow eyes.
"Your pupils aren't round."
"You have eyes like a llama."
"I'm a sheep. I have the eyes of a sheep."
"Not like a llama?"
"No! I am most certainly not a llama. I am a sheep."
"Does it make a difference?"
"It certainly does."
"Why? Aren't sheep and llama both similar?"
"No! We are nothing alike!"
"I'm not a llama."
"I didn't suggest you were. Though you do smell like one."
"I . . . what?"
"You smell like a bale of hay," Quaraun said.
BoomFuzzy laughed. "You do smell like a barn," he agreed with Quaraun. "Not that I'm complaining, considering I'm a horse."
"You both just say the first thing that pops into your heads, don't you?"
"I do," Quaraun agreed. "Yes. Should I not do that?"
"Saying you smell like hay is rude?"
"But you do smell like hay. And you said you were a sheep."
"I . . ." the stranger started to retort something angrily, but stopped and calmed his tone. "I'm Gremlin. Used to be a scientist, before that I was a mage, and before that I worked at Rapid Ray's Lunch Van. And both of you should already know that. I'm retired now, and now I'm a shepherd. I live on a sheep farm, behind the Manor. Roderic gave me Luke's farm after Luke died. I live there with SunTa. We look after Antares, he is... well, he's many thousands of years old now, and life has been hard for him. Death has been more so. And neither of you know any of this, is that correct? Neither of you know who I am?"
"No, we don't," Quaraun said, then looked to BoomFuzzy. "Do we?"
"One can live on a sheep farm without smelling like de musty, musky sheep," BoomFuzzy said. "Ya smells like ya sleep in the barn with de sheep."
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"Ya sleep in the barn with de sheep?"
"Ya crazy as he is." BoomFuzzy gestured towards Quaraun.
"Yes. Living with the two of you for the past few hundreds years did that to me. I was normal before I started living with you two."
Quaraun looked very puzzled and asked: "When did you live with us?"
"Apparently in my past and your future. Near as I can tell, we haven't met yet."
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. They were under the mouth of the volcano, surrounded by tall lava cliffs and only a very narrow opening at the top. Then looked back at Quaraun. "I fell."
"Into a volcano? Did you trip over the edge?"
"Yes," Gremlin snarled sarcastically. "I like playing at being a Big Horned Sheep with the fucking brains f a retarded bill goat and just run around all day climbing up enchanted mythical mountains and tripping over boulder."
"Oh. You shouldn't so close to the edge."
"I t'ink him were being a wee bit sarcastic, Quaraun," BoomFuzzy pointed out.
Quaraun thought for a moment. "OH! Yes. Sarcasm. I keep forgetting that's a thing people do. I'm not good at sarcasm you know?"
"I know. I was waxing my car..."
"THAT!" Gremlin pointed to the 1974 AMC Gremlin beside him. "And a portal opened up and sucked me and my car in it and we landed here and I don't know why. I shut down the portals decades ago. They are too dangerous. It should have not have been possible for a portal to open up under me. But it did and here I am and I don't know why."
"Well, whatever it was. You took a long fall. Are you okay?"
"I'm dizzy. I hit my head. I have a headache. I landed rump down on my back with my tail backwards. My tail hurts."
"Do you have a tail?"
"Of course I have a tail. I'm a sheep."
"Do you need help up?"
"No. I think I should sit here and rest for a while."
"Are you okay?"
"I think I broke my tailbones. 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, flipped up his robes, and was about to turn him over to tend to his injury, but did not get that far.
"You have no manners!" Gremlin screamed, while pushing Quaraun away.
"You have no feet!" Quaraun exclaimed, when he noticed the golden cloven hooves.
"No. I do not have feet. I'm a cloven footed ghoul spawn of Hell."
"You're a devil from Hell," BoomFuzzy said. "What are you doing in our dimension?
"You're a goat!" Quaraun said.
"I'm not a devil. Yes, I am from Hell. I was born in the Hell Dimension. I'm not from this dimension. And I hate Hell. I born there and I have no intention of going back there. And I am not a goat! I am a sheep. How many times do I have to say it!"
"You really are a sheep?"
"I didn't think you meant it literally."
"I'm a sheep. Cotswold."
"Are you a Demon?"
"Not exactly. Well, yes, I am what Humans classify as a Demon. Though Humans call any creature originating from Hell a Demon."
"You're a Demon from Hell!" Quaraun was now bubbling giddy with excitement. "I've never met a Demon from Hell before!"
"Well don't sound so excited. If a Human hears you getting all goody goody gumdrop excited over meeting a Demon from Hell, they'd shoot you!"
"So you're a Satyr?"
"No. I'm NOT a goat. I'm a sheep."
"Than what species are you if not a Satyr?"
"What is that?"
"An Ursiug is what you would call a half-man, half-sheep."
"Excepting yis half-Elf," BoomFuzzy pointed out. "Is ya not?"
"Yes. father was a Sun Elf who passes himself off as a Moon Elf, and raped a sheep girl he met one day. She was my mother. And just like my mother, 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?"
"A male sheep is a ram."
"Rams have horns."
"Have you got horns on your head?"
"Somewhere, under my hair. I keep them filed down. I'd look like a Big Horn Sheep is I didn't. And than I wouldn't blend in with Human crowds. And Humans do behave rather badly to discovering someone with horns, tail, and cloven hoofs. It's bad enough I have to wear long skirts to hide my legs, that alone makes me stands out. But it's worse when they see mu legs. It's pitiful. I have beautiful, but I have to hide it because Humans are so damned prejudice."
"You've a lot a hair," Quaraun said as he petted Gremlin on the head.
"Not as much as you."
"No. No one has hair like mine. Yours is almost dreadlocs. Like BoomFuzzy's"
"BoomFuzzy? BoomFuzzy?" Gremlin gave a questioning glance to the Phooka. "Are you BoomFuzzy?"
"Oh dear. I've gone back very far in time. You ere no longer calling yourself BoomFuzzy when I met you. You hadn't few several hundred years. What year is it?"
"Don't know," Quaraun said, as he pulled out his silver brush and began to brush Gremlin's hair.
"What are you doing to me?"
"Your hair is so soft. It feels like fluffy bunny fluff."
"Yes. It's Cotswold wool. Softest wool of any sheep. But I'm a stranger to you, you just suddenly decide to start brushing my hair?"
"It's almost as long as BoomFuzzy's."
"It is. It didn't used to be. I grew it out long like BoomFuzzy's because you asked me to."
"Yes. You did. I sometimes think you are trying to make me be BoomFuzzy."
"You're hair is so beautiful."
"Well, I guess it's nice to learn that you in the past is just rude as you in the future and and had your hair fetish before you meet me."
"You don't brush your hair do you?"
"No. Wool is as difficult to brush your tentacles are. My locks knot up after only a few hours of not being brushed. And you... your hands."
"What of my hands?"
"In the future, you've not got your gold finger plates anymore. Evil men stolen them from you. Gold is very valuable in the future. It's been many years since you last brushed my hair."
Quaraun sat silent for a few minutes.
"I like dreadlocs," Quaraun stated for no reason whatsoever.
"Oh yes. I know you quite well."
"And your strange golden eyes are like a pleco, not a llama."
"A pleco? I'm a sheep, not a catfish or a llama."
"Pity. I like sea creatures."
"Because you are one?"
"You're a female Medusa JellyFish masquerading to be a male Elf."
"How does the little Satyr know that?"
"That word again."
"I'm an Ursiug, not a Satyr. Satyrs are goats. Ursiugs are sheep. I'm not a Satyr, I'm an Ursiug. I'm not a goat. I'm a sheep."
"Ah! Well, in any case, you've lovely golden hooves. I feel like I know you."
"You do in the future."
"No. I feel like I knew you a long time ago. You remind me of ZooLock."
"ZooLock? There's a name I've not heard in years."
"Do you know him?"
"You could say that."
"Is he the future with us as well?"
"ZooLock? Oh... yes. ZooLock is in my future."
"You've eyes just like his. ZooLock had such lovely golden pleco eyes. He taught me magic."
"I know. He raised you."
"I miss ZooLock."
Quaraun stopped brushing Gremlin's hair and rans his gold plated fingers down the orange and yellow Thullid silk, embroidered with pink jellyfish.
"Are you a Di'Jinn?" Quaraun asked. "These are the robes of a Di'Jinn priest."
"Yes. I am. I'm a Di'Jinn priest."
"The same order as ZooLock."
"Yes. The same order as ZooLock."
"ZooLock word this same outfit, minus the green velvet overcoat."
"Yes. I recall. I there someplace I can rest. My back hurts quite a lot. ink I may have hurt my spine when I landed."
"I've a bed in the throne room," BoomFuzzy said. "Quaraun's been sleeping in it. You can rest there. I'd help ya up, but. I'm dead. Incorporeal. My hand would just go right through ya."
Yes, I... I noticed. How that happen to you?"
"I died. Now I'm a Lich."
"I know, you're a Lich in my time as well, but... you're not incorporeal."
"No. I've seen you like this before."
"Do you suggest," Quaraun asked. "That in your future, he has a body?"
"Oh yes. Very much so."
"Did I find a way to restore him to a flesh body?"
"I don't know. You'd already done it before I met the two of you. I need to figure out, how I got here, and how to get back home to my time, because I shouldn't be here."
"Oh, yes, we shouldn't be here either."
"No? What do you mean?"
"We seem to be trapped in a bottle."
"Yeah. Not just us, but the entire mountain, the valley below it and The Twighlight Manor."
"The Twighlight Manor is here as well?"
"How is that possible?"
"What do you mean?"
"It was built after... how... uhm... oh dear... do you know about Ongadada?"
"No? What is it?"
"Strange. When was the first time you ever saw The Twighlight Manor?"
"I woke up in it, after The Hanging Tree."
"Did you? Well, now I'm confused. Didn't BoomFuzzy take you to the gingerbread house after The Hanging Tree?"
"He did. The Twighlight Manor IS the gingerbread house. It's a mimic. A big one. She changes form to blend in with her surroundings."
"Ah! I see. So Ongadada doesn't cause The Twighlight Manor to be built, but somehow... were is the Manor? Can I see it?"
"It's outside of the mountain."
"Gremlin?" BoomFuzzy asked, sound very grave and serious.
"Ya said yis was a mage."
"Yes. I am."
"What kind of mage are ya?"
"I'm a sorcerer. I deal primarily in Chaos Magic, but I'm also a scientist. And a Portal Master. And a Beast Lord. Why?"
"I t'inks I might know how ya got here."
"Aye. Just before ya fell out of de sky on me, Quaraun were having himself a mental breakdown, and inadvertently started a sentence with the words 'I wish'."
"Oh? What did he wish for?"
"Him wished dair were someone here who knew how to get us out of dis mess. Dis mess being de bottle we and the mountain is locked in. Do ya know how to do stuff like dat?"
"I don't know. Maybe. I am familiar with bottle genie magic...and...well there's my coat."
"Yeah. My coat."
Gremlin stood up, pulled a wand out of his pocket, walked over to the 1974 AMC Gremlin, tapped it with his wand and immediately the car shrunk to the size of a mouse. Gremlin picked up the car, opened up his coat, revealing that the inside of the coat was lined with hundreds of pockets. He placed the car in one of the pockets.
"I made this coat, essentially using the same concept as genie bottles. The pockets are bigger on the inside, and well, I CAN shrink entire towns and put them in my pocket. If we truly are trapped in a bottle, than that likely means we've all been shrunk to miniature, by a mage who is also a Di'Jinn. I suppose there is some irony in that. A wish granting Di'Jinn like Quaraun, getting corked in a genie bottle."
"Quaraun and Gremlin were sitting at the table, Quaraun reading his books and Gremlin writing down scientific and mathematical equations that Quaraun did not understand. Quaraun stopped reading and sat watching Gremlin scribbling his notes.
"Can you get us out of here?" Quaraun asked.
"I think so," Gremlin answered not looking up from his work. "I have to figure out what year this is and where the nearest portal is, and how to get the entire of Pepper Valley through it along worth the rest of us."
"Can you get the valley out as well?"
"It's not too big?"
"No. Anything that can be got into a bottle can be got back out again. I just have to figure out the correct formulae. Believe it or not, I've gotten bigger things than Pepper Valley out of smaller things than this bottle. I moved the VISION-d8 through a wormhole once. You wouldn't understand. It's an intergalactic star-ship, and it's a lot bigger than the valley or the volcano. It's bigger than most planets."
"You said I brought BoomFuzzy back. Into a solid body."
Gremlin paused from his writing and looked over the top of his glasses at Quaraun without lifting his head up.
"Yes. You did," Gremlin answered.
"Do you know how I did it?"
Gremlin put his quill down. Pushed his glasses back up on his nose and sat back, now staring squarely at Quaraun.
"No. Not exactly. You did it before I met you two."
"Oh. Do you know, anything about it at all?"
"Not much. You were always vague about it. From what I understand, you cast a golem spell."
"Yeah. Kind of a Tulpa thing I think."
"Tulpa. Golem and Tulpa. Yes. I never thought of that. That could work."
"You said something about make a snowman, a unicorn carved out of ice packed snow. And soaked it in the blood of sacrificed dragon."
"Yeah. Something about, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, life for a life, love for a love."
"You said the thing you had missed in the first spell, was a willing sacrifice, someone who loved BoomFuzzy as much as you and was willing to lose their soul to save his from Hell."
"What is it?"
"I know what I have to do, but I don't want to do it. But I must do it."
"In my experience, you're prone to doing a lot of things you don't want to do. People call you a coward, but you're a lot braver than any one I know. You care about others and go to extremes to save your loved ones. A lot of supposedly brave men, would turn tail and run, when you stand and fight."
"I have to save BoomFuzzy."
"I know, Quaraun."
"He doesn't deserve this."
"A lot of people would disagree with that. He did a lot bad things, Quaraun."
"Do you doubt it?"
"I've seen him... do things, Quaraun. In my time. Things that land YOU in a lot of trouble. And more than once he's tried to kill me."
"In the future."
"The future can be change."
"It can. But BoomFuzzy... his personality... that's not a thing that can be changed in any man, Quaraun. People never change much from who they are."
"I love him."
"I know you do. I don't question that, Quaraun. Your love for him defies logic I can't even comprehend."
"You think I should not love him?"
"I think he doesn't deserve you love, nor does he appreciate it."
"Why do you say that?"
"Quaraun, he's a violent man with a bad temper. He drinks excessively and used way too many drugs. He beats the shit out of you on a near daily basis. He's abusive, he's vulgar, he's a pervert, and a serial rapist. He murders innocent women and children for the fun of watching the pain and suffering of others."
"Those are things he did in the past. He does not do them any more."
"No. Quaraun. He can't do them any more, because he no longer has a physical body. If you restore him back to a physical body, he's going to go right back to doing those things. I know, he will, Quaraun, because that is what he does in my time. He's not a good person. He's a very bad man. He hasn't changed. He won't change. And he's going to hurt you. A lot."
"He's never hurt me."
"Perhaps he hasn't yet. But he does in your future. In my past. I've seen it."
"He's kind to me."
"He is. That's true. But he's a manipulative sociopath. Hes good at getting what he wants from people, than turning around and back stabbing them. He's charming and people always like him at first, but then they get to know him, and he's just not a good person, Quaraun."
"You don't like his, do you?"
"No. I do like him. That's why it's hard for me to see what becomes of him... and you."
"What happens to us?"
"The Guild, you know how they're always after you?"
"Well, they go away after a while. The group doesn't exist any more. But than, another group rises up. A Phooka, with a government job. He gets in a position of a lot of control and political power and he builds a hospital prison. White Rock. White Rock Asylum For The Criminally Insane. You both end up in there. Prisoners. The were after BoomFuzzy at first, not you. But, you tried to get him out and they... they didn't know what you were. They end up finding out about the jellyfish in your head and try to remove it. They thought it was a parasite, and didn't realize it actually was you. A lot bad things happen and you... you don't recover well."
"I am injured?"
"Yes. And you no longer have the gold finger plates."
"I can't use my hands without them."
"I know. That's why they took them away."
"They want me to be helpless?"
"Yes. I don't know what they did with them. I've searched for them many times. I think they must have destroyed them. Melted them down or something. I tried to make you new ones, but they did this to me when I did..."
Gremlin held out his arm, pulling back his sleeve. A silver coloured metal band was around his wrist. At the centre of it was a bar that went through his wrist, piercing the bone and going out the other side.
"It limits what I can do. Makes it difficult for me to write or do intricate work with my fingers. I've learned to work around it. But it's made of Electromagnetic Faerie Iron, it also limits my ability to use magic, it over all makes me ill. I am an extremely powerful sorcerer, so I can fight through it and still cast magic and build portals, but most mages, this not only blocks their use of magic, some it makes them so sick they die just from wearing it. They put them on you and BoomFuzzy too. BoomFuzzy has them on his wrists and his ankles, and shackled on his neck and arms and legs and chest, and chains, all made of it, and still it barely has effect on him. His powers are unfathomable."
"I have these in your time," Quaraun said as he touched the bands that pierced Grelim's wrists.
"I feel I would hate this."
"You do. You fought back. They... you... I don't think you can do it yet. You have a power and ability, in my time, something you only do when you are cornered and terrified, something I don't think you back here in this time can do yet."
"What do I do?"
"You're mute in my time. Your tongue's been cut out."
"I don't know. I wasn't there when it happened. BoomFuzzy wasn't either. You fell through a portal. We tried to find you. And when we did. That had been done to you and we don't know what happened. But after that, you developed a strange power. Sort of a psychic scream. You can kill millions of people for miles around you, by doing it. You killed twenty billion people doing it. All the people on all three of the inhabited planets. All at the same time. I don't know how you do it. But it scares people. A lot. And they put... well, not just these bands. They put other things on you because of it."
"Other things? Like the wrist bands, but not them?"
"Yes. A mask. A muzzle. It keeps your face covered, and your jaw pried open so you can't close your mouth, so you can't scream and kill people with your scream and... and ... so you can't bite any one either."
"Why would I bite any one?"
"You're a Thullid Mother Brain."
"I am. But that does not answer my question. Why would I bite any one?"
"In my time, you are pregnant."
"Pregnant? How could I be pregnant?"
"You carry a clutch of seven million larvae."
"No. I carry a clutch of seven million eggs. They will never hatch. They can't. I am the last of my kind. There is no male to fertilize my eggs. They are not larvae. They never will be. My eggs are dead. There is no life in them."
"No. In my time, you are pregnant. You carry a clutch of seven million larvae. And you implant them in people by biting them. The Humans and the Faeries are scared of you. The whole solar system is terrified of you. You're the most feared being of all time. In all the known inhabited universe. They think you are the Anti-Christ. They say you are ushering in Armageddon, but building Satan's army of seven million Demons."
"Do I turn people into Thullids in your time?"
"Buy how is that possible?"
"Why would it not be?"
"I told you. I am the last JellyFish. There are no others. It is true I do carry a clutch of eggs inside me. But they are not fertilized. They will hatch. I will never implant them. There are no male JellyFish, nor any other females. I am the last."
"No. There is another Jelly Thullid. And you will meet him one day."
"You say the future can be changed, yes?"
"And that my being hurt in the future is because people are scared of a Thullid take over, yes?"
"That is correct."
"Than is it not true that if I never meet the male Jelly Thullid, and I therefore never get pregnant, than I never become seen as a threat, and these events as you know them, will never happen. Yes?"
"In theory, yes."
"You doubt it could be changed?"
"I've gone back in time and changed those events, already, and the things that happened instead were worse, so I went back and unchanged the changes I made."
"In the future, you remarry. You have a wife, who love very much. And she gives birth to children, you love so deeply. And in order to stop the events that lead to you being crippled, you have to never meet her. You never marry her, your children are never born, and... one of your sons, goes on to be a very important doctor. He invents a cure to an illness, that changes the world. It saves the lives on millions of people. Changing the events to prevent you from becoming crippled, causes him to never be born and billions of people die without his invention. He needs to be born. I've gone back in time so many times to prevent what happened to you while allowing him to be born and, as of yet I've not found a way to make both things happen. And I finally, asked you, what you wanted, and you love your son, so very much, you said you would rather live the rest of your life crippled, than see him never born. So it was at your request, I stopped trying to save you from that fate."
"Why do you takes orders from me?"
"In my time?"
"Because I love you. I love you and BoomFuzzy both."
"I get the impression, I mean quite a lot to you."
"Are we lovers in your time? You and me?"
"Are you a Thullid?"
"What makes you ask that?"
"You have Pleco eyes. You're a half-Elf and half-Demon. Neither would give you Pleco eyes. Pleco eyes come over time. From being a very old Thullid. And you know things about Thullid, that I don't think any one not a Thullid would ever think of."
"I am a Thullid. This is true. I wasn't a Thullid when I met you."
"No. HellBorne did that to me."
The name of HellBorne caught BoomFuzzy's attention. Until this point, BoomFuzzy had sat silently listening to their conversation, but now he spoke up.
"HellBorne?" BoomFuzzy asked. "HellBorne the Evil, Chaos Dawn-reaper the Cult-killer, Son of the Darkness, Master of the Black Tower, HellBorne Summoner of Darkness who will be the next Great Lich Lord. That HellBorne?
"Yes. Do you know him?"
"We met him a few days ago. He uses a mirror to communicate with us. He's the one who put us in this bottle."
"HellBorne did this?"
"Aye. said as much."
Gremlin's expression grew very grave and deeply concerned.
Seeing Gremlin lost in deeply concerned thought, Quaraun spoke up once again.
"Is HellBorne a Thullid?"
"Yes. He is. Also, he's from the future. I don't know how he got back here. And he's obsessed with you. Defeating you. Killing you. Taking your powers."
"Yeah. He called you The Darkness. And he calls himself The Summoner of Darkness because he summons you to other realms, somehow. I'm not sure how exactly he does it. Blood magic I think."
"Yeah. He is... he is ... uhm... He's angry."
"His father... He... he blames his father... for... uhm... a lot of things. He's just, really angry. At every one. But mostly you. Yeah."
"You didn't love him? That's what he said. He said you didn't love him. He wanted you to love him. I think when he was younger he looked up to you. Idolized you. Wanted to be just like you. And, than one day, he grew up and realized you didn't care about him. I'm.... uhm... I'm not sure you even knew about him before he showed up one day mad at you. I don't think you ever even knew he'd been born."
"Should I have?"
"I think so. Yeah. I think... I think you have a lot of children, you don't know about. Mothers who where prostitutes so they didn't know who the father's were. So, you just never knew."
"Is HellBorne my son?"
"I think so. Yeah. Or at least he believes he is. His mother probably told him, he was. I don't know there's a way to find out. He died before things like DNA testing are invented."
"Uhm... science from the future. You wouldn't understand. Basically it's a way to, look at a drop of blood and tell who your father is."
"Is it accurate?"
"Oh, yes. It's very accurate."
"You have strange magic in your time."
"It's not magic. It's science. I know it may seem like magic to you but, it's not."
"It sounds like magic."
"Perhaps that's because of how I explained it. It's medical science. It's very advanced. And there's a lot more to it than what I explained. I don't know how else to explain it in a way that you'd understand."
"Do you suggest I am stupid?"
"Oh no! No, that's not what I meant. I'm not good with words. No. You're... you're very intelligent. It's just you live in a time, when so many things, discovers, inventions, breakthroughs, they haven't happened yet. I mean, simple every day things, that every body has and uses, cell phones, electricity, jet planes, vaccinations, elevators, plumbing, kitchen sinks, TVs toilets, cars..."
"You have a car. It is a strange thing."
"Yes. You'd think it stranger if you saw it in use and knew how it was used. But there are no roads and no gas stations back in in, what year is it?"
"BoomFuzzy doesn't have his body yet," Gremlin continued. "It must be the 1200s then? How long ago did BoomFuzzy die?"
"Two hundred years. Next week."
"Two hundred years." Gremlin looked horrified. "Oh my! We're further back than I thought. It's not even ten hundred yet. It's about 975 A.D. Oh! Oh my! Than it's not been very long ago, since you killed your children, is it?"
"No," Quaraun said quietly, shaking his head and lowering his eyes.
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up."
"I loved my children."
"I know you did."
"I thought it would bring BoomFuzzy back. And it did but... he has no body. He can not touch me. I can not touch him."
"You said HellBorne was here," Gremlin said, changing the subject when he saw how upset Quaraun was becoming.
"And he communicates to you through a mirror?"
"Have you physically seen him here, or just a projection of him?"
"I'm not sure. Is that important?"
"It might be. I lived with him once, and he had a mirror. He used to stand in front of it for hours talking to it. I never paid attention to it. I thought he was just vain. But I'm wondering now,, if it was some kind of communication device, that let him talk to people in other time periods without him actually being there."
Gremlin stopped talking and stared off into the distance, lost in deep thought.
"HellBorne implanted me to punish you," Gremlin said after a few moments. "It is how I became a Thullid. I was a young boy. Little more than a child. An orphan, you took in and took care of me and loved me like a son, even though I was a half-Elf. HellBorne found out and was furious. Jealous. Enraged. He wanted vengeance. So he kidnapped me and you had to rescue me and, when you got there he implanted me. The boy I was died and because the Thullid I am today. HellBorne is a Ratzin, which means he's from my time, because the Ratzin species did not exist back here in your time. It's a new hybrid, type of Thullid that was created by White Rock's scientists. They are Jelly Thullid's. It's how there comes to be a male Jelly Thullid that gets you pregnant."
"Do you know who the father is?"
"If I just don't met him, that would solve the problem yes?"
"Than you should tell me who it is and I simply avoid meeting him or stay away from him."
"Yeah... that's not gonna happen."
"Because he loves you every bit as much as you love BoomFuzzy, so, you are not going to ever get him out of your life."
"No one loves me as much as I love BoomFuzzy."
Quaraun did not have a response. He simply stared at Gremlin in silence.
"I started taking care of you, because you can't take care of yourself any more. And BoomFuzzy, he walked away. I doesn't stick around Quaraun. Not after he can't use you any more. Your love for him is unfathomable. But he doesn't reciprocate it. He uses you because he knows he can. He knows he can get you to do anything he wants. And when you are too crippled to be of any use to him any more, he lives you alone and doesn't give a rats ass about you."
"He's not like that..."
"He is. And he's the reason you become crippled. Even with the chain s and shackles and restraints of Faerie Iron, he can just walk out of their prison any time he wants to. Punishing him doesn't deter him at all. So, they start punishing you, every time he does anything. And at first it doesn't stop him. But than they hurt you, really bad, and you don't recover. It's only than, after you're not fixable anymore, that he backs off and stops hurting people. But he doesn't do a damned thing to take care of either. He just walks off and leaves you to die."
"He wouldn't do that."
"I've seen it with my own eyes, Quaraun. You are completely blinded by your love for him. You'll never see him for what he is. I know that. You'll never believe anything bad about him. You'll always see the good in him that no one else can see."
"You want me to leave him."
"I gave up trying to get you to leave him, years ago. I know you never will. You should never restore his physical body. That's the thing you need to not do."
"I have to. He shouldn't suffer like this."
"You're heart is too good and too innocent and too kind to understand, that he deserves the punishment the afterlife gave him." Gremlin reached out and covered Quaraun's hand with his own. "You're not evil, Quaraun. You can't comprehend what it even means to think an evil thought. Everything you do, even the bad and evil things you do, you don't do them out of malice or spite or hate. You do them out of love out of a desire to help others. That's what makes you different from BoomFuzzy, and why you'll never be able to understand how evil he is or how much he truly does deserve his current fate."
Quaraun smiled softly, nervously. He didn't know what else to do or say. He didn't know much of Gremlin's words he could believe or trust, and yet, he felt that Gremlin spoke the true. He felt that Gremlin was someone he could trust and believe even though he had no real reason to. The two sat silently together for a few moments, taking comfort from one another.
"I'm going to go try to find the portal, if you want me to find you when I'm done?" Gremlin offered gently. "I believe there may be a portal, near the mouth of the volcano. I'm not sure if it would have come into the bottle with the volcano or not. That is what I need to find out. I'll see you after I'm done," Gremlin replied, kissing Quaraun's forehead before standing and heading for the door.
Gremlin left the room.
"What do you think of him?" Quaraun asked BoomFuzzy.
"I t'ink he does'na like me very much."
"I think he looks at ya de way ya looks at me."
"Him definitely in love wid ya. Me t'ink him would go to ends of the Earth for ya. Like ya does for me."
Quaraun sat kneeling on the floor, facing the wall, his eyes closed, his head slump forwards, his hands hung limp beside him, covered in blood. BoomFuzzy's ruby encrusted obsidian dagger lay beneath his fingertips, where it had landed when it fell from his hands.
"Quaraun?" BoomFuzzy asked. "Are ya alright? I been looking for ya. Quaraun?"
BoomFuzzy stood in the doorway. Quaraun's back was too him. He could not see the blood or the dagger from where he stood.
"Quaraun? Are ya asleep?"
BoomFuzzy moved closer to the Elf, and quickly realized what had happened. The deep wounds in Quaraun's wrists.
"Good god! Quaraun, yar wrists! What have ya done yo yarself?"
BoomFuzzy knelt beside Quaraun.
Quaraun opened his eyes and slowly lifted his head to look up at BoomFuzzy. Tears were streaming down the Elf's cheeks.
"I'm sorry," Quaraun whispered.
"Ya can'na keep doing dis to yourself."
"I'm sorry," Quaraun said again.
"Yar wounds need to be bandaged." BoomFuzzy stood up. "I go get Njord. She can tend to yar wounds."
Quaraun closed his eyes and remained silent, but could not hold back his tears and began to sob uncontrollably. BoomFuzzy knelt beside Quaraun again.
"Tis alright, we will fix ya."
Quaraun shoo his head. "No. It's not all right. And you can;t fix me. No one can. I'm too broken. I'm evil."
"Yar not evil."
"I am. I can't control myself. I do things I do not want to do. I hurt the people I love. And I don't know why." Quaraun looked directly into BoomFuzzy's eyes, crying worse now then before. "I'm so sorry."
BoomFuzzy stood up slowly, looking around the room. He knew the look in Quaraun's eyes. He had seen it before.
"Quaraun? Where's Njord?"
"Quaraun, what have ya done?"
Quaraun said nothing. He was crying too hard now to speak.
"Tell me what ya did?"
"I killed her."
Quaraun reached his hand out towards BoomFuzzy, but lowered his eyes away from the Phooka, looking at the ground.
"Touch me," Quaraun said.
"Ya knows I can not. I is incorporeal."
"You can. And you're not any more. Touch me and you'll see."
Slowly BoomFuzzy reached out and took hold of Quaraun's hand. Quaraun was right. The Lich's hand was solid flesh now.
"Your body stopped being incorporeal several hours ago. You didn't notice, because you were so used to never touching anything. So used to your hand going through every solid object. So you didn't even try."
"How did ya do this?"
"I know what I did wrong the first time. I needed a willing sacrifice. An innocent must die. A life, for a life. I needed someone who loved you as much as I did. Who was willing to die for you. I misunderstood the spell before. My children were innocent sacrifices, but they were not willing to die for you. They did not even know you. Njord was."
"Ya killed her? To give me a body?"
"I had to."
"No. Ya didnot. There had to be another way."
"There wasn't. There isn't. And there was no more time. You, didn't notice, but you've been fading, and your mind fleeting. You were becoming a feral Lich. A few more months and you'd have been gone forever."
"Quaraun? Where is Njord?"
Quaraun pulled a tiny green bottle from his bag.
"She's in here. In stasis. I will find a way to restore her. She will live again. I brought you back. I'll bring her back too."