Archives September 2022

A Better Class of Villain

[WP] You are a villain, but you have standards: when lesser villains try to hurt your arch-nemesis’ wife and kids, you show them why you are the biggest fish in town.

“Karl,” he calls, bursting through the door, onto the rooftop.

Karl stands at the edge of the roof with his arms crossed. He turns back casually and nods. “Stan, so good of you to join us.” Karl gestures to a corner of the roof. “Your family is just there and are otherwise unharmed.

Stan rushes over to embrace a scared wife and two young daughters. They are sobbing and eagerly welcome Stan’s open arms. “It’s alright,” Stan insists. “The way is clear. Get our girls back inside and head back down to the lobby. I’ll be there soon.” His wife nods and Stan leans in to kiss her on the forehead, then brushes the cheek of his girls. The two of them hug against their mom’s leg, concerned only about their mother being upset. “Go,” Stan says with a head gesture and they’re off. Stan closes the door behind them, then bows his head as he places his hand against the door.

Stan turns to see Karl still standing in the same place, looking over the building’s ledge. “Are you a fan of calisthenics Stan?” Karl asks without looking back. “I dare say, I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I hadn’t enjoyed them so.”

“What’s this about Karl? Why get involved like that?”

Karl grits his teeth but still doesn’t look back. “Lazy is what it is Stan. No one wants to work for anything anymore. Everyone’s after a handout. It sickens me.” Karl then gestures towards the street with his forehead. “This city deserves better, and I won’t tolerate cowardice. You and I work too hard for our ideals to have them trampled on by those vision-less worms. Let them flounder around in the dark, I say. Whenever they break through the surface in the rain or in the night, we step on them, driving them back where they belong…or sometimes, we drag them out and let them wither in the sun. It really doesn’t matter as long as everyone is in their proper place.”

Stan shakes his head as he approaches Karl wearily. “What are we talking about here Karl? You seem a little…off your normal.”

Karl finally turns to face Stan. “Oh Stan. I’m sorry about that. I suppose I’m just not in the mood for our usual lighthearted banter.” He pauses. “Circumstances have me in a bit of a foul mood.” He looks at Stan appraisingly. “I’ve always appreciated you, Stan. You should know that. You work hard for your ideals, and I see that, I really do…it’s why you are my one true rival. But,” he raises a finger, “I am a fierce competitor, and I don’t like underhanded tricks.”

Stan finally sees beyond Karl, to his powers in play. Tethers have materialized from portals in the air and strands run down the face of the building. “What have you done Karl?”
Karl shrugs. “I restored order. Nothing more.”

Stan rushes past Karl and looks over the building’s ledge. Two men are restrained at the end of the tethers. They are six stories above the ground and swung together, like two pendulums poised to swing away from each other. The only thing keeping them from doing that just that is the death grip that they have on one another. Stan’s eyes them move away from them and sees another two other portals in the trajectory of their swing…a wall of spikes for each of them.

“The only thing they can rely on now is one another and their calisthenic aptitude is about to communicate each’s worth. That sort of muscle failure has a unique way of putting your strength in perspective because once it’s gone, you can know its limit.” Karl turns to walk back towards the door. “It won’t be long now, Stan.”

Stan grips the ledge of the building, helpless as the two men cry and plead for anyone listening. Their grip on one another begins to fail and they start to hyperventilate. Suddenly, they fall away, then stop abruptly as they slam into the walls. Stan closes his eyes and looks away. He rises again and looks to Karl standing in the doorway. Karl nods and lets the door close behind him.

New Cover Art for Duality Dissonance!

Great news! My cover artists just finished my little project! I must say, it look phenomenal. The image is a very particular scene at the end of the story and I am eager for everyone to get to that point. I have submitted this for a serial project on Royal Road. I will be posting updated scenes regularly. While I am posting this in a serial fashion, post related to this story will be under my Novel category. This is actually a novel, I’m just working through a rewrite while sharing the story. It’s different from my other stories in that I haven’t written through those yet so you can expect this to me have a more established story-line. Happy Reading!

Family’s Guardian

[WP] We bred dogs who can speak human languages…and learn that they actually have a rich oral history passed down the generations since they were wolves. They howl, they call it, and at last it’s being translated into English…

Going over the store’s finances makes him all the more grateful he got approved for those college grants. He can’t imagine having been able to afford going to school otherwise. Nevertheless, it all worked out and he survived the time he had put into getting an accounting degree. It just really puts it all in perspective, looking over the books now.

“Geez, Pops. How have you kept this going for so long?” The numbers are barely coming out in the positive. He goes through the expenses and liabilities, trying to find places they may be able to cut costs.

“Where’s the…” He flips through several pages to find what he is looking for but doesn’t come across it. He flips back to his journal of passwords and logins to find the banking info then logs into the account online. The information shows up, reflecting off of his glasses as he scrolls through the numbers. He looks back through the payment history seeing the balance due and the note, “Paid in Cash” next to every mortgage payment. He goes back to his books but can’t find any reference of a mortgage balance paid or due. He sighs, then leans back and rubs at his forehead. “Where’s this money coming from?”

A knock at the door has him sit up abruptly. He looks to the clock on the wall, 7:40 PM. It’s way past office hours. Who could be here now, he wonders. Opening the door reveals a tall, petite elf with gold-blonde hair. “Isabelle? What are you doing here?”

“We need to talk,” she says simply. “May I come in John?”

John rubs at the back of his head then turns, pulling the door open further. “Please. Have a seat.” She sits in the chair opposite his desk as he takes his own seat. “So, Izzy…what brings you here at this hour?”

“I know what you’re looking into, John.”

“Excuse me?”

“The mortgage payments. I know where this is all going, and I’d like to keep this between us. None of you should actually know of this but I know you are astute and you’ll no doubt find out eventually.”

“Ugh, forgive me Izzy. I’m a bit at a loss as to what you’re getting at, but you’ve been with my family forever. You can speak plainly. You’re basically one of the family after all. And if you wish it, whatever this is can stay between us.”

She sighs then nods. “Thank you, John. To be frank, I’ve been paying the mortgage payments for past 30 years.”

“What? Why? How? and Why?”

She sighs again. “What you’re not supposed to know is that your family is my charge. Me and mine have been looking out for you and your family for generations. Some thirty years ago, your father couldn’t keep up with the interest on the restaurant, so he quit paying it all together. For a long time, he worried that they would foreclose on the restaurant at any moment, but that day never came. Eventually, he stopped worrying and returned to focusing his energy on the restaurant again. In time, he forgot about it all together. To be honest, I have been waiting on your great family to be able to stand on its own again. I know that time is not now, but I believe that you will change all of that.”

John slumps, sinking deeper into his chair. “Wow, Izzy. That’s a lot to take in.” She nods. “I suppose, thank you is in order.”

“Please. That’s not necessary.”

He nods. “Ok, so where do we need to go from here?”

“That’s up to you John…and no, I’m not magic.”

“Wait…did I ask that?”

“No, but you were about to.” She winks. John smiles. She stands to leave and John stands with her. “Thank you, John.”

“Oh gosh, I hope you haven’t done that all my life.”

“It’s fine. Boys will be boys after all.” John turns red, then he sighs.

“That’s a bit embarrassing. I’ll have to be sure to keep my mind out of the gutter in the future.”

“You’ve grown into a fine man, John. Your family is in good hands.”

“Thanks Izzy. I’ll get this all sorted out and try to take some of the pressure off of you.”

She nods and he closes the door behind her. Returning to his chair, he takes off his glasses to rub at his eyes. “Hmph, who’d of thought. Our Izzy…a mind reading, magical elf.” He smiles then returns to going over the books.

Friends ’til the End

[WP] “O the Master who commands me, thou wishes shall be granted. But only when thou can complete these trials four before the next full moon: drinking, smoking, thievery and murder.”

“Oh really?” she asks, looking contemplative. “How many wishes do I get?”

The imp like creature has a long tail and sits upright like a gargoyle on a ledge, his wings tucked behind his shoulders. “Master may get three wishes before Simoan’s alter vanishes, requiring it to be refound anew.”

“Oh, so it’s like Dragon Balls…is there any sort of cooldown on this? Like a break before you can be found again?”

“Simoan knows not of these dragon’s balls but wishes can begin right away, should Simoan’s alter be found.”

She smiles at that. “That’s pretty handy. Do I have a time limit on making these wishes or a limit on what questions I can ask?”

“No master! Simoan is loyal servant until wishes are all gone”

“What counts as finding you?”

“Whenever thy learns of Simoan’s exact alter location, Simoan is thy servant. Even if another finds Simoan’s alter, Simoan can not be seen by anyone but master, so none can ask anything of Simoan.”

She’s crossing her arms and tapping her foot as she nods to herself. “That’s really good, actually. Is there a limit on your wish powers? Like are there wishes you can’t grant.”

“Simoan does not know of such wishes. Simoan’s power was bequeathed by a dying god so Simoan can do anything god could do. Simoan just can’t do those things for Simoan’s self, has to do it for master.”

“What about consequences? Sometimes wishes can have negative side effects.”

Simoan frowns at the question. “Master has dark thoughts. Simoan only gives what master asks of Simoan, no tricks or surprises.”

“Alright, alright. No need to get melodramatic. I think I’ve got most of what I need to know. Let’s head into town. I have to pick up a few things and then there’s a debate going on this evening that I’d like to attend.”

After stopping at a package store, her next stop is a local community center. She’s wearing her black, military style boots, the same ones she usually wears when she plans to get up to no good. With shorts and a leather jacket, she saunters up to the front door where two security guards await her. She pulls the cigar out of her mouth and blows smoke their way. They scowl at her but don’t otherwise respond. “Guys, you realize it’s night out, right? What’s with the shades? Looking to star in an upcoming terminator movie?”

“Miss, I’m going to have to ask you to put out that cigar. There’s no smoking inside.”

“You can call me Jessica,” she says, looking to the side.

“Ok, Jessica there’s–“

Jessica scowls at the guard, then walks over to put her cigar out on his lapel. “I wasn’t talking to you robocop,” her words being accented by puffs of smoke as she exhales.

The guard unlaces his hands and brushes at the singed place on his coat. “Are you kidding me?” He quickly points to the brown paper bag in her other hand. “There’s no alcohol on the premises either. You have to get rid of that before you can enter.”

She pulls the brown sack away to reveal a clear glass bottle with a crooked Coke label. “Easy spaz. It’s just soda. You can keep the bag though.” She plants the sack on his chest and pats it as she walks by and into the community center.

Jessica catches the end of the debate and then follows one of the politicians as he heads into the bathroom. He’s at the sink, washing his hands as she turns to flip a latch on the door.

She pulls out another cigar as she walks over to him, pointing with it as she pinches it between her thumb and index. “You’re a cigar guy, right?”

The politician laughs, uneasily. “Ugh miss, I think you might be in the wrong room.”

She waves away the suggestion. “Ah, it’s fine. I was hoping you could just help me with a light.”

He pulls out a silver-plated zippo and nods. “I can’t say that I condone you smoking in the boys room…” He pauses and smiles at that. “But I can’t say anything against your taste in smokes.” She takes a swig from her bottle which no longer has a label. He sniffs, curiously. “Is that rum?”

She shakes her head before leaning in for a light. “Nah, just soda.”

He chuckles as he lights her cigar. She tokes on it, leans back, and looks at it before nodding in approval. “Say, you always have that lighter on you. I see you flipping the lid on it a lot during interviews. It must be important to you.”

He looks at it with appreciation and smiles. “That it is.”

“Must be a story there. Mind if I have it?”

“Well, that’s kind of personal.”

“No, I mean the lighter.”

His smile fades and shakes his head. “I’m sorry miss but that’s out of the question.”

“Good,” she says nodding. She cracks the bottle over the sink’s ledge, shoves it into his neck, and twists. “Your policies suck by the way.” His shocked gaze fixates on her as she pries the lighter from his grasp. He slides to the floor in a growing pool of blood as she unlocks the bathroom door, then departs the restroom.

She looks down at Simoan as they walk down the hall. “That covers everything right?”

Simoan nods. “Master is free to make wishes.”

She nods. “Good. I–” She pauses and braces against the wall to restore her balance.”

“Master Jessica didn’t have to drink so much to satisfy drinking trial.”

“What can I say, I’m a fan of dark rum.” She continues walking down the hall. “Oh, one other thing…what’s your knowledge like? Can you know of current times or trends?”

Simoan nods. “Simoan knows all these things.”

“Good, here’s my first wish: I wish you would update your language. No one around here talks that way so pick something more modern. If you’re going to be my companion indefinitely, constantly talking about yourself in 3rd person is going to get annoying fast…it’s actually already annoying me a bit.”

Simoan slouches forward, reaches up and drags his palm down his face. “Really darlin? You would waste a wish on that? Might as well’ve wished for pigs to fly or for frogs not to bump their ass every time they jump.”

She laughs, then covers her mouth with the back of her wrists. “Sarcasm to boot? That’s hilarious. Here,” she says, extending a piece of paper to him.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“It’s a latitude, longitude and elevation. Can you pinpoint that?”

“God powers.” He stretches out the words as if talking to someone slow to catch on. “Yes, I can determine exactly where this is. Why? Are you about to waste some other wish on something stupid like filling your bedroom with sugar and rainbows?”

She laughs again. “Maybe next time. “Instead, I wish for you to bind your alter so that it always reappears in this location.”

He stares at her, dumbfounded, then shakes his head. “Why hadn’t any of the previous dipshits thought of that? Here I was thinking you were going to waste them all on nonsense.”

“Yeah, yeah. You adore me and I’m brilliant and all that. For the third wish: I wish you would undo all the effects of my trials without undoing my ability to make wishes.” Simoan’s mouth drops open as she turns to walk towards an exit sign. She throws a piece sign over her shoulder. “See you at the apartment.” She shoves open a door and departs the building. Simoan stands there, shocked. A door opens behind him and he turns to see the politician leaving the bathroom as he flips a zippo’s lid open and closed.

Story Updates!

New scenes on the Red Riding Hood story! Be sure to check it out! There may or may not be ninjas, a train, and portals, but if there are any of those things, don’t expect them to fall in that order! Enjoy! 🙂

Hank’s Sal

[WP] Due to their small size, cuteness, and ability to bond with anything, Humans are considered the universe’s most sought after emotional support partners.

The boy holds on to the hand railing of the platform as it vigorously bounces. “You’re out,” someone yells. The platform slows considerably, converting to a sullen trot.

The boy leans over the railing, then pats at the purple fur ahead of him. “It’s alright big guy. It was a good try.” The platform he rides in is fastened to the several straps that secure him to the back of a towering, purple, big-foot like creature. The creature doesn’t look back, instead looking to the bleachers to a girl with light blue fur with pink bangs. The boy follows his gaze, then nods. “It’s alright Hank. You’ll get ’em next time.”

Hank continues to lumber into the dugout, plops down, and places his helmet over his knee. Hank looks back over to the girl as she laughs alongside one of her friends. Hank shakes his head and looks down to the floor. “I’ll never get her attention at this rate,” he says, resigned.

“You worry too much Hank. Don’t sweat it. It’ll happen the way it’s meant to.”

“What if she doesn’t like me though Sal?”

Sal shrugs. “How about you leave that to her to decide? It’s not like worrying about it will change anything.” Sal climbs up on Hank’s shoulder while maintaining a grip on the fur along his neck. Hank leans his head and looks over as Sal looks over at Hank’s love interest.

“Don’t stare Sal. You’re being too obvious.” The girl finally takes notice of Sal as he stands tall on Hank’s shoulder. Sal stands on his toes and waves his arm in a large arc over his head. She smiles and waves back. Hank sees this and looks the other directions as if not noticing.

Sal then elbows into Hank’s neck. “Hey big guy. Looks like Sara Beth is walking over to say hello. Wonder what that’s about hmm?”

“Sal,” Hank pleads in a low whisper. “You’re impossible, you know that?”

“Impossible to live without maybe– Hey Sara Beth! Lovely seeing you today!” She crouches next to the dugout and giggles as she threads her fingers through the chain-link barrier.

“Well, hey there,” she replies. “You’re a spirited little guy aren’t you.”

“I sure am! I’m also a fan of yours.”

“Of mine?” she asks, blushing, then laughs. “Well, you’re just adorable. You’re Sal, aren’t you?”

“I sure am,” he says beaming and puffing out his chest. He looks over his shoulder, then whispers. “You hear that? She even knows your minion’s name.”

“And Hank, right?”

Hank looks over to meet her gaze as he rubs the back of his head. He laughs nervously. “Yeah, that’s right. Enjoying the game, Sara Beth?”

“Of course. I come to all of them. Tough break on that last one. It was a good kick though!”

“Oh, you saw that did you? Thanks, I mean.”

Sal elbows him again. “You sly dog you.”

Sara Beth looks back over her shoulder as she hears her name. “I better get back over to my friend.”

“Hey Sara Beth,” Hank starts.

“Please, Sara is fine.”

Hank nods. “Sara then. Would you maybe want to catch a movie or something sometime.”

She smiles and brushes the pink bangs out of her eyes. “I’d like that, Hank.”

He smiles back and nods. “Great. Maybe talk later?”

“Sure.” She waves her fingertips at Sal before turning to leave as Sal waves back vigorously.

“See big guy? That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

Hank exhales. “I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack.”

“Oh? Well, that big goofy grin of yours doesn’t imply any sort of stress. Now we just need to get home and let me show you my moves. It will definitely help you seal the deal…wait, how old are you again?”

Hank cuts his eyes over. “Probably not old enough for whatever you’re talking about.”

Sal waves off the idea and turns to walk back to the platform at Hanks back. “Ah, we’ll figure it out later. I’m proud of you big guy!”

Hank smiles and nods as he looks back over to Sara.

Novel Update!

I have posted the prologue to my work in progress, Duality Dissonance! I’ve been through one rewrite but I am currently going through another to refine some elements. I needed to darken some of the views of the characters, and I believe the story is much richer this go round. I will be posting this in as a serial in the near future but I have yet to decide how much of this story that I will release in this way. Be sure to check back in order to find out more! Feel free to follow along if you wish!

Duality Prologue

A shadow passes over him, soon to change his world forever. His eyes widen as his environment changes from one to another. The staircase he climbs is no longer the one from his home world. These new stairs stretch away from him in a climbing arc as they coil around the perimeter of a structure. The surfaces are stone and lit sconces show him the way. He is now in a world that is not his own.
A light flashes at his hand before a dagger materializes in it. He looks at the stairs with uncertainty, then proceeds to climb. A window faces into whatever he is climbing the outside of. His youthful gaze passes through the small opening to see a vast open chamber. It has a cylinder shape but he can’t see the top or the bottom. He goes quiet, closing his eyes, thinking he hears a distant breathing.
“What is this,” comes a sudden voice, making him withdraw from the window. He backs his black feathered wings into the wall behind him, bracing. The voice is a growling rasp of an ancient thing and the sound of it vibrates within his chest. He glances up and down the stairs, wanting to get some place else but not knowing where would take him furthest from this place. The unknowing prevents him from going either direction.
Something shifts within the round structure, causing a cascading sound of coins to tumble across a stone floor. “If you’re after my treasure, I can’t say it’ll be good for your health.” A silence stretches out as he unknowingly holds his breath. “You’re a curious thing aren’t you? You smell like a human but I killed off your lot— a deed which landed me in this wretched place. If you are human, I can’t imagine a survivor would come all this way, just to do me the courtesy of dying.”
He leans toward the window while gripping the dagger tightly. His eyes dart around, seeing nothing. Suddenly a tail whips through the air and his eyes snap downward. A pair of wings stretch upwards, flapping briefly before disappearing again. A red scaled head finally snakes around into his view as it sniffs at the air.
“If you are human, I don’t know how you’re still alive. You seem like one of the simple ones. The smart ones would know that I can sense you every time you focus on me. The really smart ones would know that I can glimpse some of your thoughts when I’m aware of your presence. But I guess we both knew that you weren’t very bright or why else would you be here—Envy?”
Envy’s eyes go wide and he backs into the wall again. He doesn’t look in either direction this time, knowing instinctively that there would be no escape from this creature. His dagger is pulled into his chest and he grips it absentminded with an overhand grip, one hand around the blade and the other around the hilt. Blood begins to trickle down onto his lower hand but he doesn’t notice. His black clothing almost makes him just another shadow as he grows still and distant.
“You’re finally showing the proper respect Envy. I can hear the panic in your heartbeat and it is quite animated. It sounds like a hummingbird about to fly right out of your chest.”
A heavy, creaking door opens elsewhere but Envy doesn’t hear it.

Elsewhere. The door opens for the first time in an age, dust falling onto the figure leaning into the push. Light floods in behind him as he coughs and bats away the dust. A massive, red scaled foot is ahead of him and he continues to stride forth.
The dragon’s head bends back around and approaches the individual with reproach in its eyes. “I grow tired of these intrusions—and by another human?”
The winged human has a massive boomerang draped over his shoulder and he wears a trench coat that hangs open. His unkempt hair is a mass of brown that hangs in loose strands, not unlike the loose bootlaces or the array of belts and buckles that hang from his coat and pants. He looks up at the dragon then shouts, “Hey, you there.”
The dragon grows irritated, baring its fangs and leaning towards the intruder, close enough that the exhales from its nostrils buffet the loose hair atop the intruder’s head. “You dare address me in such a familiar manner?”
“Well, we haven’t made introductions yet so what else am I supposed to call you? I’m Sloth and I’m a little lost. I was hoping you could help me out with some directions.”
The dragon withdraws its head and tilts it to the side as it looks back down at Sloth. It blinks blankly, not knowing how to reply. The dragon finally burst into laughter, the sound echoing around the chamber. “You’re a curious human, aren’t you?” The dragon peers back down, a sly look on its face. “You know, it might have been worth keeping humans around if more of them were like you.”
“So,” Sloth continues. “Think I can get those directions now? I’m not sure how I got here so I’m more than a little lost.”
The dragon’s expression shifts back to irritation. “You’re serious? You come to a dragon’s prison…to ask for directions? Maybe, this is some kind of trick and you’re ultimately after my treasure.”
Sloth looks around the room, seeing the mounds of golden coins and trinkets. The flickering torchlight dances across their reflective surfaces but Sloth doesn’t find it very interesting. “Why would they let you bring this to a prison?”
The dragon looks aside to the treasure mounds and growls. “They didn’t let me. My former treasure was much more grand. This meager sum is all that I’ve been able to shed in my time here.” The dragon stands up taller as he talks about his treasure.
Sloth’s nose scrunches. “This came out of you?”
“Well of course. A dragon has to shed it from time to time to remove the shimmering in his scales. How do you not know this?”
“Like I mentioned, I’m lost. I don’t think I’m even in the right world.”
The dragon studies Sloth for a time. “You’re world does look different from the one I know and that does explain why you have wings. The humans I knew didn’t have the ability to fly.” The dragon thinks about it for a moment and then his attention turns back to the windows above him. “I’ll make you a deal. There’s a door at the top of the tower. Open that and I’ll let you have all the treasure here. But there’s also a rat in my walls and I need you to kill it on your way.”
Sloth looks over at the treasure. “Is that sanitary?”
The dragon looks over to his treasure and then back to Sloth, offended. “There’s nothing wrong with my treasure!”
Sloth doesn’t acknowledge the dragon’s temper or mood swing, instead looking up, then over to a stairwell nearby. “That’s really far, plus, the treasure isn’t going to do me any good. Do you think you can give me a ride to the top?
The dragon shakes his head. “Ride? First, you think I’m a mere tour guide and now you think I’m ridable?” The dragon’s fangs become visible as it grits its teeth. “I grow tired of you human. You have wings and stairs, yet you have the audacity to think you can ride me to your destination?”
“Hey, this is your destination, not mine. I don’t need anything from the top of this tower. Besides, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to let you out of here. Didn’t you say you destroyed all of your humans?”
“Oh never-mind. Just climb on already. I’m ready to be out of this place.”
Sloth walks over to its tail. “But what about your rat problem?”
“Once, I’m out of here and can feed, I’ll regain my ability to breath fire. I’ll return and torch the place, burning the rat alive.”
“So technically, you could eat me, then burn the rat right?”
“Do you ever think about what your saying or do you just not have a filter? If I ate you, how would I get the door open? Besides, you’re not enough to return my powers. Now, climb on so we can get out of here.”

Envy couldn’t see the two of them talking but their conversation continued to march by him while he didn’t acknowledge its passing. It wasn’t until the dragon laughed that something changed. The laugh vibrated more insistently through his chest, causing a discord in Envy’s rapid heartbeat.
A voice yells, causing Envy to jerk and unsheathe the dagger from his hand. As the blade moves through his flesh, his focus slams back into him as the pain lances through the hand.
Envy has to move unless you want to get dead.
Envy doesn’t search for the voice, instead focusing on his hand and moving forward. He stands, holding his hand up as blood runs down his bare forearms. He ascends the stairs, hearing the dragon tell someone to climb on. The next step that Envy takes is not stone like the others. He steps through the environment, which thrusts his weight forward. He extends his hand to brace against the wall but it turns to sand allowing his hand to pass through it. Suddenly, all of his footing his gone and he flails, tumbling feet over head. He tosses the dagger away and pulls his injured hand into his chest just before his back collides with a solid surface, forcing the air out of him.
He lies on a rooftop, back in his home world. He curls into a ball and begins to cough as the tower turns to sand, leans, and then blows away. Envy groans and looks over to see Sloth standing on the same roof. Sloth turns about, looking at the change of the environment.
“Huh,” Sloth says to himself. “I guess I won’t be needing those directions now.” Sloth notices Envy lying nearby. “Hey, did you see that big dragon rifter?—Wait, were you that rat it was talking about?”
“Why,” Envy starts. “Why were you going to let it out?”
“Why not? It was just a rift. He wanted out of that place, I wanted out of the rift.”
“Take my advice.” Envy pushes himself into a seated position while holding his injured hand against his chest. “If you find a dangerous dragon locked away some place, you never let it out.”

Underdog’s Theme Song

[WP] They told you that you were going to lead an army, 10,000 men strong, they didn’t tell you it contained only a single trained solder, and 9,999 support musicians.

The ground beneath your feet is a sloppy bog of mud, not from any rain or water, rather from the gallons of blood that soak the battlefield. There are parts of people, vehicles and weapons strewn everywhere, making it impossible to tell what pieces and components belong to one another. You also see a twisted harp nearby, so you know that at least a few of the corpses were from you band.

It all makes sense now. I have to admit, when the Lord Commander sent the missive and escort instructing that I show up to lead an army…I may have peed a little. I mean, what the hell would an orchestra conductor do at the head of an army? I mean, really. Let that sink in for a moment. Imagine being a chef and being told that you have to be the flight commander for a pack of fighter jets. I mean, WTF?

Geez, this ended up being overkill…by a lot. We might as well have been punching babies for as much resistance as they put up. How much were we outnumbered? Three to one? Four? It’s actually thousands of times more than that if we count our one fighter against their army of fighters.

Still, they could have given me a little more information ahead of time…ignorance isn’t always bliss. We just had the one guy against their 35,000-ish troops but who knew buffs could stack like that? Well, you can consider me sold. From here on out, anytime I play an MMORPG, I’m definitely running around with a pack of bards. This has overpowered written all over it. I’m just glad God isn’t a very hands-on GM. It would totally blow to have him patch this after we’ve just figured out how effective it can be.

Redux Riding Hood

“Alright, enough,” Red barks. “Listen pup, we can’t afford to waste time on your existential crisis. Jack just told you we’re being tracked, and it’s only a matter of time before something else is sent after us. If you really want to test your existence, then go play with whatever comes crawling out of the next portal.”

Mioko adopts a Little Red Riding Hood persona to remain close to someone precious to her. But this isn’t a story of whimsy or fairy tales. It’s a story about heart; the presence of it, the absence of it, and the devastation when the wrong one gets broken.

Mioko’s new life is one of cat and mouse as she uses a portal mechanic to flee across game and story worlds. She recruits the aid of Jack and Wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood, then uses their help to overcome obstacles in the forms of zombies, werewolves, a dragon, a Frankenstein monster and more.

Stopping what’s happening would technically make her a hero, but don’t look to her as such. She’s not a hero, and she’s no one’s champion. She’s only her father’s daughter, and the only thing that matters is retrieving the gift that he left behind for her—the one that was stolen.

So her goal is a selfish one, the means of which won’t be heroic. Bystanders will have their own role to play. As Mioko becomes the butterfly of her task, she will leave her effects for others to deal with as they may. The only thing that matters for her is recovering what was lost.

Scribble Hub–> Redux Riding Hood