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Compilation of Story Links

All the links for my stories can be found here!

The blog has been up for a couple of years now, and I figured it’d be a good time to compile the story links again! Click here to visit the page. All the chapters will have links to the other chapters for the story at the bottom of their pages. Also, if you’re here from Twitch for the Micro-Stories the link is here. Enjoy!

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Short Story ~~ Between

This was written for a writing contest that had a 7k word limit–I finished this with 6990. Sadly, I did not place, but that doesn’t mean I can’t post it here for all you lovely people to enjoy!

~~~~~~~

 

Happy endings aren’t real. This might seem obvious to some, but it bears a comment because, all too often, people pine away for something that can never happen. Even if you live a full life, what happens? You die. That’s not a happy ending, it’s just an end.

Even worse are people who try to chase that perfect fairytale life peddled in modern re-tellings. I’ve read the original The Little Mermaid, and through the marvels of modern technology I was able to see the movie. The latter is wishful thinking to the extreme. I’d call it crap, but it’s for kids and not adults. The first is closer to the truth, but still off. Of course, stories were funny that way, especially ones no one believed to be true.

“Mornin’ Lykke!” The voice boomed over the docks, like someone beating one of those big drums in an orchestra. A large, walrus-like man waved at me from the end of the last dock for the little town of Haven Cove. His characteristic bright yellow bib overalls were like the light of a lighthouse, guiding fisherman safely in.

“Morning, Jeff,” I said, and waved back. My voice was rough from lack of use, but when you lived alone there wasn’t much conversation going on.

“How’s the bite?” he asked, once my boat was flush with the dock.

I tossed him the bow and stern lines, one after the other, to tie up the Sea Witch, but didn’t disembark.

“Active east past Acker’s Rock.”

Jeff whistled, a high, ear-piercing shriek that tore into my ear drums, and I flinched. He gestured for a couple of the dock workers to hop aboard and unload the catch.

“You don’t say? Mind if I pass it along? Been a slow day for some of the guys.”

“Sure, but I’m not sure how good it’ll be now,” I warned.

Jeff let out a great bellow of a laugh, and his belly shook with chuckle tremors afterward.

“Fished it out, eh?”

“Something like that,” I hedged. I may be in exile from my kin, but I still had my magic, and I could call upon the Sea and Her bounty. Granted, I did so sparingly, and I never took more than I needed. There was no telling Jeff that, though. He’d just look at me like I was crazier than he already thought I was.

“Well, thanks anyway.” He ran a seasoned eye over my trawler. “You know, I never see the Witch in dry dock, and yet she’s always lookin’ dandy, and never needs repairs,” he observed with a glint in his eye.  “I’d really love to get in contact with whoever does the work.”

“I’ve told you before, Jeff, I can’t tell you. Even if I did, he’d never help you, and then he’d abandon me. What would I do then?” I scolded, and put my hands on my hips.

Just like humans, the Sea Folk came in all shapes and sizes, though we had the distinction of varying in species as well. In our human form most of us were all lean muscle and slender, so I didn’t have much to put my hands on. My most striking features were my–you guessed it–ruby red hair, and eyes the blue of the Mediterranean.

“Alright, alright,” Jeff said, holding his hands up in surrender. Then he tucked his thumbs behind the straps of his overalls, and gave me a giant grin, showing off one of his missing molars in the back. “You can’t blame a man for trying.”

I harrumphed, and we both waited for the dock workers to finish their offload. Jeff wrote the receipt out, and handed it to one of the workers. He was young, but not as young as the other one. Though, all humans seemed young to someone who was born around when the Romans invented plumbing. The breeze coming off the ocean ruffled hair as dark as the deepest ocean depths, and what looked to be a natural tan was darkening from time on the docks. His eyes were the dark gray of thunderclouds roiling over the ocean, and watched me in a calculating yet wary manner. Like one predator sizing up another.

“Go and fetch the lady’s funds,” Jeff said with a growl, “and I’ll be countin’ it once it comes back.”

The worker mumbled something and shuffled off, shoulders bunched and hands shoved in the pockets of his olive-green overalls.

“Problems?” I asked, watching him walk away.

I wouldn’t deny that all Sea Folk were attracted to pretty things, though the obsession differed from one to another. Like many of my kin, there was something that sparked my hunger with humans. This human hit that desire in me like a punch to gut that left me breathless and dizzy. I gritted my teeth against the sensation, and willed myself to not stagger.

“Nah, he’s a good lad,” Jeff reassured, incorrectly interpreting my reaction. “Strong back, just doesn’t always mind his manners around temptation. Hired him as part of a probation program. Judge seems to think hard work and the threat of smelling like fish guts forever will keep them from re-offending.”

I couldn’t help a small chuckle. “The judge might be on to something there.”

“Why can’t she turn in her own hand receipt?” asked the other worker, piping up for the first time, as though the question burst from him when he couldn’t hold it back any longer. He had that gangly look about him that teens did. The one where they weren’t yet used to their longer limbs. The orange skullcap was pulled low over his brow, so I couldn’t see his hair, but his eyes were a warm brown, and curious.

“None of yours,” Jeff said, the growl this time not as biting, and gave a light cuff on the back of the youth’s head. “Start taking in the haul to Ned.”

The kid fixed his cap, and grabbed the rope attached to the fish bin. He walked away, sneaking glances at me as he went.

I’d put my chilled hands in the pockets of my blue parka, though I could have worn a bikini and not been bothered by the chill October air. I did it for show–for the humans. Nothing outed you as strange like wearing shorts in near-freezing weather. So, I made sure to pay attention to the temperature, and had on my knee-high rubber boots, angler pants, and a knit cap to help tame the hairs not contained by the braid that fell to my lower back.

Jeff didn’t know my story, just that I wouldn’t leave the boat. He chalked it up to some quirk or another, maybe a phobia, though the word was likely beyond Jeff’s ken. He was a simple man, who was willing to work with my eccentricity as long as I brought in the catch.

Little did he know I couldn’t step foot on land, or in the sea, or risk dying.

The other worker came back, and as Jeff said he would, he counted the bills. Jeff boasted arthritis in both knees, and even squatting to hand me the bills would have been too much, so he gave them back to the man to hand to me. I did my best not to let my hand touch his, since touch would only make everything worse, and nearly snatched the money from him. I left out a small sigh of relief when there was no contact, and I avoided looking him in the eye.

I thanked the men, they tossed me the lines, and I puttered my way back out to the ocean to find somewhere to anchor for the night.

It was a little after midnight, and I was sitting on my bed and downing a shot of liquor from a flask given to me by a Shaman friend of mine, when dripping water pattered over the deck.

I sighed and flopped back. “If you’re here to kill me, do it. I’m already bored,” I said, and ditched the shot glass. The flask was supernaturally warm against my lips, and I took a long haul, trying not to lose my cool and sputter.

“Why ever would I do that?” a soft voice asked. “It’s so much more fun to watch you suffer,” he hissed.

I groaned. “You don’t have permission to be on my boat, you slimy sea snake.”

The Beisht Kione hissed at me. I turned my head to the side, and his long, thin form was silhouetted in the doorway against the light of the full moon. Imagine an eel whose head was black, while the rest of him was a murky brown. He was twelve feet long, and his tail remained in the water, dipping in and out as the boat rocked. There were spiked fins along his spine he could collapse, starting at the base of his skull going all the way to the tip of his tail, as well as on the sides of his face. Those were flared out, and his mouth was open, showing off dozens of razor-sharp teeth.

“I may not be able to touch you while you are on this boat,” he spat the word, his phlegm eating through the wood of my small table, “but one day you will slip.”

“Literally? Because I’m pretty sturdy on my feet. I’ve had lots of practice over the years.”

I couldn’t help but poke fun at him, just as he couldn’t help but want to kill me. We were eternally bound, he and I. Both of us doomed to spend our lives alone. He had a couple motivations for murder: I’d killed his brother and his boss, the actual Sea Witch. She’d also originally bound the brothers Beisht to my aura, and they could track it with their eerie, yellow glowing eyes. I’d named the boat after her, because she was the reason I was stuck like this. If I touched the land, I’d turn to dust. If I touched the water, I’d be ripped apart by the Beisht Kione.

And it was all because I didn’t manage to get one lousy kiss. Falling in love with someone who doesn’t love you back is bad. Falling in love with someone who’s engaged to be married to the love of his life a few days after you fell in love with him, and you didn’t know that but the Sea Witch did? That is the epitome of crap with a side of shit.

“I will taste your flesh, Lykke, and we’ll both be free. Do you not grow tired of being confined to this cage?” he crooned, his voice almost as slippery and smooth as his skin.

“Not today I’m not. Now get out of here. You’re ruining my drink,” I said, and held up the flask. “A toast to us, Beisht, for continued health and happiness.” With that heaping dose of sarcasm, I took another gulp to kill the tightening of my throat.

“One day,” he promised. “I’ll join you for that drink, but only after you’re in my belly.” Then he slid noiselessly back into the black waters.

The ocean rocked the boat, and I remained silent. “Not today,” I whispered, closing the flask and tossing it to the floor. It clattered somewhere, and I’d regret having to find it later, but I couldn’t muster a care.

For the first time in days I rolled over and tried to fall asleep, hoping the liquor would grant me dreamless slumber. My regular dream–or rather nightmare–was usually filled with dreamy blue eyes the color of a cloudless summer sky, soft, coal black hair, and a kind voice overlapped by the cackle of an evil woman I’d killed. Tonight, though, the eyes were gray and wary, and my never-lover’s voice was replaced by a longing I hadn’t experienced in almost two-hundred years.

 

<***>

 

The radio weatherman was going on and on about the incoming storm, but I didn’t need a human with faulty science to tell me what was coming. It was big, and it was bad. I hadn’t been out long since my last visit to town, but I turned back and headed in. I could use my powers to calm the waters around my boat, and the Shaman who helped me keep the Witch seaworthy put in some protections, too, but it was better to dock up. I never knew when a rogue wave would come crashing down and destroy the only thing standing between my continued existence and the Beisht.

Most of the fisherman would be out, hauling as much catch as they could in the calm before the storm. Fishing was always better before a storm, and not so great after. I didn’t have the same problems as most fisherman, though, so I could afford to head into town earlier, and maybe have one of the dock workers grab a few supplies for me.

When I made it to the dock there weren’t too many boats tied up. The ones that were, were boats of some of the older fisherman. Their caution was tempered by years on the water, in a way it hadn’t done for the younger generations yet. They’d likely gathered at the local dive bar, drinking their earnings, and lamenting the stupidity of youth. Some things will never change.

As I pulled up to the last dock, the kid from yesterday was there to greet me. I tossed the bow line up to the kid, who tied it down to the cleat. He was concentrating hard on doing the knot correctly while I tossed the fenders over and headed to the stern line. This time, though, I also tossed up the spring lines, since I’d be here for more than just an offload.

“Got another load?” the boy eagerly asked once his task was complete.

While I ran a practiced eye over the knots, I shook my head. “No, didn’t want to chance getting caught in the storm.” When I was sure the knots were good, I looked up to meet his gaze. He’d deflated a bit at hearing there was nothing here for him to do, but I waved him onto the boat. “Come here. I need to give you my tie-up fee, and maybe you can run some errands for me.”

He jumped at my words, literally, and landed with a loud thud on the deck of the Witch. His boots were loud on the deck following my quieter steps, and I headed into my kitchen area. I grabbed a tin from one of the cabinets, and grabbed some money.

I turned back to him and held up the money. “I’m going to write a list. Whatever’s left after you’ve gotten everything on the list is yours,” I said, and handed him the cash.

He nodded, but it was hesitant. I smiled a little at that. Good, the kid was smart enough to realize that his take would depend on my list. I jotted down what I needed, as well as a couple of splurges. I was a sucker for red liquorice, and the handmade shampoo and conditioner from a woman in town. I’d never met her, but I’d be forever grateful to her husband, one of the seasonal dock workers, for introducing me to it.

When I handed over the list, the kid looked from the list to the money, and his eyes went wide.

“Are you sure?” he asked, his hesitance for a completely different reason.

I smiled. “Yes, I’m sure. Now, go and hand in the tie-up fee to Jeff, and if you can’t run the errands yet, let me know, and get to it when you can. Deal?”

He gave me a hesitant smile, but nodded. “Deal.” Then he was off like a shot, and the quick beat of his feet on the dock faded as he ran to Jeff’s office.

I’d planned on starting a pot roast and sitting down with one of my new books, but something about the coming storm was making me itch below my skin where I couldn’t scratch. Instead, I put the nervous energy to good use and started cleaning everything. Even though I kept a tidy boat, there was always something to clean.

As I worked, the sky grew prematurely dark, and the wind picked up at a steady pace. It didn’t take long for the rain to join in, and by that point the other boats were pulling in to the docks. Once it really started coming down, I headed in to cook dinner. With the weather turning foul as quick as it did, I supposed the kid probably headed home. Hopefully I didn’t put my trust in a thief, but I hadn’t gotten that vibe from him.

The wind was howling, and I’d just pulled out some veggies to cut when the door to my kitchen and bunk area was yanked open. I dropped into a crouch and held the knife in front of me to ward off whatever was coming through my door. Unfortunately, the only thing my paranoia was warding off was a wet, bedraggled teenager, whose eyes were wide and breathing so ragged I thought he’d pass out.

“Wh—”

“You’ve got to help Brandon!”

I slowly stood and put the knife down on the counter. “Who’s Brandon?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The guy on the dock with me and Jeff the other day,” he said, his voice going thin and impatient.

My stomach clenched and a sick chill ran down my spine. I walked behind the boy and closed the door, pushed him down into one of the two chairs at the small table, and pulled the wet skull cap from his head. His hair was dark from rainwater, but dry it was probably the same color as his eyes.

“Stop, you—”

“—have to help Brandon, I know. But right now your lips are blue, and your teeth are chattering so hard you might bite your tongue off. Having you go into some kind of hypothermic shock isn’t going to help anyone, so sit down, shut up for a moment, and let me get you warm,” I commanded, pushing him back down when he’d tried to stand up again.

He remained seated that time. I snatched the blanket from my bunk and threw it over his shoulders. I grabbed my electric kettle and set it to heat some water, and grabbed some of my instant hot chocolate. It’s not as good as the real stuff, but it works in a pinch. While it heated, I grabbed a towel and dried his hair as best I could. He was shaking so bad he couldn’t even stop me from doing it. Once that was done, I grabbed one of my skull caps and pulled it down on his head.

By the time he was getting restless the water was boiling, so I made the hot chocolate. I also added some milk to cool it down just enough that he didn’t scald himself when drinking it, but left out the marshmallows. I doubt he’d be amused.

After he took three gulps, and some of the color returned to his lips and cheeks, I sat down in the other chair.

“Now, tell me what’s wrong,” I said.

“Brandon started working the docks a few weeks ago, but he wanted to make more money. Jeff didn’t see any problems with him working more, since it was accomplishing what the judge wanted. He’s been going out with a couple of boats Jeff recommended, and he was really enjoying it. It’s the happiest I’ve seen him since he started here.

“But today he and Jeff got into a big fight because Brandon was asked to go out with a boat, and Jeff knew a storm was coming. Jeff told him if he wanted to die right as he started to live his life the way he should, to go ahead and get on that boat. The boat he got on, the Whistler, is the only one not back yet!”

The words had tumbled from him with quick desperation, and he slowly leaned toward me as he spoke.

“Did you tell Jeff?” I asked.

“Yes, and he told the Coast Guard, but they can’t do anything until the storm passes! I once heard Jeff say you were the best, and that you helped save some people during a storm a few years ago,” he said, the declaration its own request.

I frowned, and cursed inwardly at Jeff putting such a fool idea in the kid’s head. This storm—hurricane, really—was going to make the one a few years ago look like a spring shower. Every so often, nature hungered for death the same way as the Titans of old. This one had that same savageness about it. It wouldn’t be content unless it left utter destruction in its wake.

When I met his gaze, though, the anguish there left me with little choice, and I sighed. What immortal wanted to live forever, anyway?

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Gavin,” he said. Hope shone in his eyes like sunlight reflecting off the water, and I knew I was doomed.

“Alright, Gavin, I want you to head back home—”

“No!” he said, too quick, and put the hot chocolate down with a hard thump on the table.

There was something more there than the desire to help a fellow worker, and it raised the hairs on the back of my neck.

“Look, I can’t take you out with me. I’m sure your parents will be worried.”

“I’m an orphan, no one will care, and I want to help save Brandon,” he said, setting his jaw and glaring at me. “Brandon is the only one who cares, and we don’t have time to waste arguing. I’m going,” he declared.

That would explain the reaction. If this guy is the only person he thinks cares about him…

Still, I just stared at him. “And you think Brandon would want you out in that storm?”

He snorted. “Like he’d be one to point a finger. He went out into the storm,” he pointed out.

“So you want to do the same stupid thing? No. You need to leave,” I said, putting a hand on my hip and pointing to the door.

He gripped the edges of the chair, wrapped his legs around the chair’s legs, and clenched all his muscles. “No, and you can’t make me.”

Actually, I could, you little snot. I wanted to verbalize the thought, but if I bodily removed him from the boat it’d open a can of worms I’d never be able to close again. Fisherwomen were strong, there was no doubt, but they weren’t, lift-a-full-grown-teenage-boy-off-a-boat-and-onto-the-dock strong. It was ten years too soon for me to move on to a new location, which was always an ordeal.

After a couple of heartbeats, I growled at him. “Fine, but you won’t tell anyone I took you out, least of all Jeff. He’d have my hide if he knew,” I said, and opened to door to head up to the wheelhouse. “Get the lines, and be happy I don’t hit the throttle before you can jump back on,” I said.

He jumped up quick to obey, and soon we were on our way. He’d tried to finagle staying in the wheelhouse with me. In response, I’d shot him a look full of pure venom, and he retreated to the kitchen to get out from beneath my withering gaze.

Once we were away from the docks, I headed down and poked my head into the kitchen. The kid was looking a little green around the gills, but my sympathy meter was at zero.

“Did they say where they were headed?” I asked.

“Acker’s Rock, just like you suggested the other day,” he said, and then bolted for the bathroom.

I left him to his business and went back up to set our course. It was rough going, even for me. Between the magic imbued in the boat and my personal magic, it was still far too dangerous for anyone, Sea Folk or human, to be out here. Thankfully, unlike humans, I didn’t need fancy electronics to find another boat. I could just ask the Sea.

Many believed, thanks to a fairytale, that Sea Folk had no souls. It was a silly idea, but humans tended to perpetuate the concept that nothing on Earth was as special as them, hence why nothing else could possibly have a soul. But I did. In fact, there was a small part of said soul that was eternally connected to the ocean, like a calming presence always in the background.

This was what I reached for now, submerging my mind in it, like dipping into a comforting, warm bath.

Where are they? I asked Her.

The answers were never in words, but pictures, sensations, and feelings.

Fear slammed into me like a tsunami, and it was all I could do to remain standing. I gripped the wheel until my fingers were bloodless, and grit my teeth so hard the grinding of them almost drowned out the blood pounding in my ears like drums.

Where? I asked again, pushing the fear away. It retreated, like a wave pulling back to the ocean. An image of Acker’s Rock floated into view, but it was the scattered wreckage in the water surrounding it that sent my heart pounding.

Then, as a wave crested and fell, there was a large piece of wreckage, and a person clinging to it. I couldn’t tell who it was, but I had to hope for the best. I retreated from the connection, and continued on toward the Rock.

Time stretched out in front of me, as though I was running toward a finish line that grew further away instead of closer. With each moment that went by, the weather worsened. By the time I was able to see the wreckage and the Rock, the only thing keeping my boat from being destroyed by the storm was pure magic.

I set the boat to idle, but couldn’t get any closer to the Rock without risking my boat, too. Magic could only do so much. I also didn’t want the boat to crash into any survivors. I caught sight of the person floating on the wreckage, and this time I was close enough to see it was Brandon. My heartrate picked up again.

There was no way he’d be able to hear me shout for him in this mess, so I blew the horn in the hopes he’d hear me. His head whipped around, and I saw his mouth moving as though he was trying to speak. He twisted his body and the wreckage to face the boat. The panic in his body language was almost palpable across the distance, but I swallowed against my own that tried to rise in response to his.

I left the wheelhouse, and was almost blown overboard by the wind, but just managed to keep my feet underneath me. I staggered over to the railing, and grabbed the life preserver. When I tossed it out toward him, the throw came up short, but I had a few tricks up my sleeve. Using the boat as a conduit to the water I couldn’t touch, I put my hand on the metal of the bulwark and closed my eyes.

My magic wasn’t infinite, and I was already approaching my limit by keeping the boat from being destroyed by the storm, but there was nothing for it. I pulled harder on my magic, and moved it through the metal into the water. Sea Folk magic had a tendency to behave like water, and it tries to spread out to fill all available space. This is problematic when using it in the ocean, because, as you can imagine, the ocean is vast. You’d probably pass out or die before accomplishing that. One of the first lessons in using magic was focus, and forming the magic into a shape in your mind to fit what you were trying to accomplish.

I formed the magic into an extension of my arm, and reached toward the life preserver. I grabbed it, and began pushing it as quick as possible toward Brandon. I was panting with the effort of focusing my magic in two directions at once, and my sweat combined with the rain to soak my clothing inside and out.

When the life preserver was within reach, something surged through the water and snatched it from me. The sudden movement jerked me forward, and I almost fell face-first onto the deck. I staggered to my feet, and a familiar form swam ominously through the waves. The Beisht’s head dipped above the water, and he bared his teeth at me. Daring me.

I cursed and clenched my fists.

“What the hell is that?” Gavin shouted next to me.

I jumped and almost fell over again. I was about to yell at him to get back inside, but a thought occurred to me. It wasn’t a pleasant one, but it was the only one I had at the moment. Looked like it was going to be a can of worms situation, whether I liked it, or not.

I ignored the question. “Do you have a knife?” I asked, shouting to be heard over the storm.

His brows furrowed, but he nodded, and pulled his knife from the sheath on his belt. It was a simple fileting knife, and would probably do nothing against the Beisht, but it was better than nothing.

“I need you to do what I say, no matter what you see. Can you do that?” I asked, leveling a deadly serious look his way.

After only a moment, he nodded again.

“Good. When I get close to Brandon, throw the other preserver and haul him in once he has hold of it. Then, even if I’m not back in the boat, you two get out of here. Do you understand me?”

His eyebrows shot up, and his mouth hung open. “We can’t leave you!”

I grabbed the front of his overalls and brought him close to my face. “Do you understand me?”

He frowned and swallowed, but nodded. I let him go, and undressed. His concern turned to shock as his eyes went wide again, and his cheeks flushed red.

“Wh—”

“Give me your knife,” I interrupted.

He limply handed me the knife without another word. I took one last, shaky breath, and dove into the water, trying to stay as close to the boat as possible.

There was nothing quite like changing from one form to another, especially since I hadn’t been in this one in so long. Magic washed over me, and from one moment to the next, my human form was gone. Most humans depicted mermaids as having brightly colored scales, and clam shell bras, but the truth was far more practical.

My particular species was not unlike a Shortfin Mako shark. The scales along the back of my arms, back, and fin were an indigo blue, while my sides and underside all the way up and around my mouth was white. Five gills slits, from below my earlobe to just above where my shoulder met my neck, moved as I pulled in water through my mouth. My teeth were slender and sharp, and my nails matched. I had all the same fins as the shark, with the only difference being the pectoral fins were shorter, and further back. My nose flattened into nothing but slits, and my eyes were large and black. My hair changed color to match my back, and the strands not in the braid floated freely in the water.

Even though my transformation was fast, I still tensed, and expected an attack from the Beisht. After a moment, none came, and my mouth set in a grim line. He wanted to play. However, I didn’t have time to waste. I took off for Brandon, and braced for the attack I knew would come when I got within range of him. Being as fast as I was, it didn’t take me long to get close, and I put my hand out of the water to signal to Gavin when I was about ten feet away.

The same moment the life preserver hit the water, the Beisht came from below and tried to slam into me. I twisted away at the last second, and made a grab for the life preserver. His teeth and slimy skin grazed my side, and I grimaced at the burning that raced along my nerves. The problem with the Beishts didn’t just come from their teeth, but the poison their skin and saliva secreted.

I put on another burst of speed, and managed to get the life preserver to Brandon. I surfaced for just a moment to make sure he grabbed it, and paralyzing fear radiated from him like heat from the sun.

“Grab it!” I yelled, the words slightly garbled from the water in my mouth.

That was when the Beisht attacked again, grabbing right above my caudal fin with its teeth. I screamed as he dragged me under. I twisted, and bent over to try and stab at him with the knife. I managed to get a good strike in near his gills, but instead of letting go he thrashed and tore into my muscles. My next strike went for the eye closest to me, and that time he let go. He darted away into the dark waters, but now that he was bleeding and I wasn’t trying to get a life preserver to Brandon, I could focus on him.

Unfortunately, his next target wasn’t me.

Brandon had managed to grab the life preserver, despite being scared out of his wits, and Gavin looked to be pulling him in as fast as he could. The Beisht was faster. I put on a burst of speed to intercept him, but with my injury I barely made it in time. I hit Brandon’s legs with my body, but he managed to cling on.

Again and again, the Beisht went for him, and I couldn’t keep every hit from Brandon. I could smell his blood in the water. It was on the last attack before Brandon made it to the boat, I miscalculated, and my arm ended up in the Beisht’s jaws. This time, before I could stab him, he wrapped his body around mine like a snake, and began to squeeze.

Dark spots danced in my vision, and my struggles grew weaker with each passing moment as I started to pass out. Then, all of a sudden, he let go of my arm and unwound from my body. I sucked in a deep gulp of water, and pushed back from where he coiled and roiled.

Need some help? A friendly, chipper voice asked, and water surrounded me like a reverse bubble.

I went limp with relief as I was lifted from the water. Once I cleared the railing, the bubble burst, and I flopped down onto my deck. The impact wasn’t gentle, and it sent shocks of pain radiating out from every injury. I couldn’t help a small whine. Water spirits weren’t always kind creatures, and this one had never really liked me, anyway.

“Brandon!” Gavin’s voice was anguished, and it jerked my attention to the two of them a few feet away.

Brandon was lying on the deck, and there was a stillness about him that was less unconscious, and more like death. My heart clenched at the sight, and I dragged myself over to him.

“Please,” Gavin begged, “I don’t know what you are, but you have to help him!”

“She’s not a healer, kid,” said a drawling, overly affable voice from the rail.

The two of us turned to look over, and my heart leapt.

“I can’t, but you can, Devin,” I said.

Devin’s long, black hair was pulled back in a braid that snaked down his back, and rain slicked over his dark skin, soaking his t-shirt and jeans. His dark eyes held a perpetual spark of humor, and not even this situation could diminish that. He was crouched on the railing, remaining there with the help of whatever elemental spirits he was connected with at the moment. They were likely how he made it out here with no boat, too. Devin was the shaman who kept the Witch ship shape.

He huffed out a laugh. “Divination is more my thing, but I’ll see what I can do,” he said, and hopped down to the deck, landing gracefully next to us. Before he went to Brandon’s side, though, he leveled a look my way, the humor retreating momentarily. “You owe me,” he said.

I didn’t even hesitate before nodding. Devin might fall into the chaotic neutral side of things, but he wasn’t evil. I might not like whatever he’d have me do, but I doubted I needed to fear whatever it was.

“Agreed,” I said.

“So be it,” he replied, the humor flooding back into his eyes like a dam breaking.

Devin shooed Gavin out of the way, and sat, cross-legged, next to Brandon. He put one hand over Brandon’s heart, the other over his forehead, and closed his eyes. Devin’s magic rose in the air and shimmered, like heat waves were coming from Brandon’s body. After a moment, his brows furrowed.

“His body I can heal, but his spirit has wandered a little too far. Unless we can coax it back, there’s nothing I can do,” Devin said, though he didn’t move. His magic crawled over my skin as he poured more and more into the healing.

I pursed my lips, and my heart pounded. I looked from Devin to Gavin, whose face was pale and tight with worry.

“How well do you know Brandon?” I asked.

“I-I don’t know. He’s worked at the docks for a few weeks; we started at the same time. He’s been really great to me, and even made sure I got enough to eat when my foster parents only gave me scraps,” he said, the last few words tight and frustrated.

Anger surged through me at the kid’s plight, but now wasn’t the time.

“Saving him will come at a price: he’ll be bound to me, forever. He’ll never be able to leave my side for any great distance, or time. Only my death or his will free him, and trust me when I say, I’m rather difficult to kill,” I said, and bared my teeth. “Do you think he’d agree if he were awake?”

I didn’t think it possible, but Gavin paled further. “I don’t know,” he admitted, again, but then he drew in a deep breath. “But I think he’d rather live by your side than die here,” he finished.

I nodded, and turned back to Gavin. Not all Sea Folk kill the humans they lure to them. Most used their magic to send out what amounted to an invitation, and those that answered were compatible with that particular Sea Folk. When such a human is found a soul-bond is created, tying them together. The arrangements aren’t always romantic. Humans can be useful when the Sea Folk wish to mingle with humans, or spend extended time on the surface. There was no way for me to see if what I experienced the other day with Brandon was mutual, but we’d just have to pray.

I closed my eyes, and sent my mind down into the center of my being. The same place the connection with the Sea existed. I gently grabbed a small piece of what made me, me. There was a sharp tug, like someone had pinched my heart, and I gasped. Gradually, the pain faded, and when I opened my eyes there was a small glowing orb in my hand no bigger than a marble.

“Open his mouth,” I said, my voice no more than a whisper.

Gavin moved closer to Brandon’s head, and pushed on his chin to open his mouth. I dropped the piece of my soul into his mouth, and motioned for Gavin to close his mouth again.

For a few heartbeats, nothing happened, then; “He’s coming back,” Devin said.

Color flushed through Brandon, as though his blood had finally decided to start flowing again, and he stirred with a groan, but remained unconscious.

“Is there something wrong? Shouldn’t he wake up?” Gavin said, panic rising in his voice with each word.

Devin finally opened his eyes, and smiled at Gavin. “Magic isn’t like in the movies, kid. He’ll need a few days to recover, and he’ll be wobbly for a couple weeks, but after that he should be right as rain.”

Gavin and I both sighed in relief. I looked toward the ocean, still raging around us. “Were there any other survivors?” I asked.

Devin shook his head. “No, though I don’t know how long the Beisht will be out of commission. He’s a slippery one.” He paused a moment, eyes sparkling. “Now that you finally managed to bond with a human, maybe that means the curse is broken and you can set foot on land?” Devin looked down at Brandon. “What’s with you and pretty boys you barely know?”

I snorted, and started to shift back to my human form. I winced at the number of bruises and bite marks that littered my body, but Sea Folk were tough and healed fast. I’d recover, though even for me it’d take a few days.

“I’m not going to jump on land just yet until I’ve confirmed the curse is gone,” I said, ignoring his second question. I laid back on the deck, not caring the boy was blushing again, or that we were in the middle of a storm. “Let’s head in.”

World of Warcraft Class Micro-Stories ~~ Warrior

Crald shoved the spade deep into the soil, hitting the root of the stubborn plant for the tenth time.

Whoever said gardening was the path to happiness should be buried alive in their own garden, Crald thought, and growled with bared teeth. After the words crossed his mind, though, he closed his eyes and sighed.

He’d been out here three days, clearing land for a…Well, he wasn’t feeling charitable enough at the moment to call them a friend. It was bad enough the gnome was more stubborn than the large weed in front of him, but that trait was coupled with a perpetual optimism that made Crald’s tusks ache.

That’s the last time I complain to Fixza about being tired of fighting, he grumbled, and stabbed at the root with a little more force.

“Crald! I got the wood, just like you asked!” the squeaky voice rang out over the now bare ground.

Speak of the demon and it shall appear. Crald turned around.

He didn’t know what went into gnomish engineering, or any engineering for that matter, but Fixza was a genius with all the little gizmos. She could craft just about anything from things most would consider junk. Of course, basic things, like raised garden beds, were apparently beyond her.

One of her little robots was pulling the wagon behind it, full of an assortment of wood. Crald wasn’t exactly a master carpenter, but his father, a blacksmith, had taught him how to work with his hands. He glanced over to a pile of assorted metal plates, bolted together in a haphazard manner. Well, I can’t do much worse than that, anyway.

Fixza and Crald had been friends since they were both children, and kept in touch throughout the years via a robot parrot she’d made. She liked to make little recordings for the bird to screech out for all the world to hear. Good thing Crald didn’t give two coppers what the other soldiers thought about him. Though, if anyone were close enough to him when the parrot, Pollary, showed up, they’d catch sight of the green skin on his cheeks darkening from an emerald green to juniper. Crald, on the other hand, simply wrote letters.

Crald held back another sigh. The last letter was what got him into this mess. She’d been talking about starting a garden, since supply lines weren’t reliable at the moment, what with all the war going on. Crald, in turn, had spoken of how his term of enlistment was over, and he was just old enough that no one would look sideways at him not continuing among the ranks of the Horde. So, in typical Fixza fashion, she suggested he stay with her for a while to mull things over.

He got a break from blood, guts, and a glory that tasted more of ash than victory, and she got a garden. Win-win for them both. Crald snorted. That had been the idea, at least.

When he’d arrived at her workshop in the Lower Wilds of Feralas, tucked into the side of a hill just off Wildwind Lake, the place had been in shambles. The metal plates, now in a heap, had been jumbled together, as though all the shelves in a multi-story building had tried to fall into some semblance of garden beds.

“Fixza?” he called. Dread wormed its way through his stomach at the sight. He sent a prayer to whatever being happened to be listening, that she wasn’t at the bottom of this mess.

“Crald!” she called, from the bottom of the mess.

 Crald sighed.

That had been the start of a full two days of dismantling and moving all her ‘hard work’ off to the side, and for Crald to start clearing and leveling the hill above her house. She’d tried to get some of her robots to help, but after the fifth time Crald’s face was hit with a clump of soil and grass, he’d firmly told Fixza the little demon machines had to go. He’d rather deal with the Broken Shore imp infestation again, than have to work with those mechanical monstrosities.

“Good work. Bring them over here,” he said, and motioned to the edge of the cleared ground.

Her eyes, which were the tropical blue of the waters near Booty Bay, widened as she took in all the work he’d done.

“Wow! And you didn’t even need my robots!” she exclaimed, her tiny body seeming to vibrate with suppressed excitement. Even though her robots had likely done most of the heavy lifting, her face and hair were wet with sweat from the humidity. Of course, nothing could keep her hair, which was the pink of a child’s confection and seemingly styled with lightning, from sticking out every which way.

“No, I did not,” Crald agreed. He headed over to her wagon, and shoved the spade deep into the earth to keep it upright. Fixza set the robot to removing the wood from the wagon, and Crald began sorting through it.

“We can either go into one of the nearby outposts, and find a blacksmith willing to make nails for us, or we can just make notches in the boards, and keep them steady with wooden stakes and supports,” Crald said, his mind busy with a making a plan.

Fixza didn’t answer him. That alone should have put his hackles up, but he blamed the heat for his lack of awareness, as well as five days of work not seeing another person or creature around. He’d grown complacent.

“Crald,” Fixza said, her voice strained and squeakier than usual.

That got his attention, and his head snapped up. Fixza’s back was to him, and not far from her was a poison green and shiny black wasp that had no business being outside of Silithus. It was easily four or five times her size, and its stinger matched her height. The low buzzing of its wings finally hit his hearing, and its head twitched side-to-side as it considered the two of them.

Fixza was trembling. One of her greatest fears was made large and put directly in her face. She’d been stung by a whole nest of the much smaller versions when they were kids, and the fear of wasps had been embedded deep in her mind. As a result, one of her first successful inventions had been a bug-swatting robot.

Crald cursed his lax behavior, and the fact that his sword was in the house with the rest of his stuff. He hadn’t thought gardening would be that dangerous. His mistake.

Before Crald could reassure Fixza, the giant bug darted forward, stinger at the ready to impale the tiny gnome. Fixza let loose a shriek that by all rights should have made Crald’s ears bleed, but he didn’t flinch.

He’d already started moving, snatching the shovel up from the dirt, jumping over Fixza’s frozen form, and charging to meet the wasp. He parried the stinger on its body, ducked the ones on its mouth and arms, and swung the shovel upward in a two-handed grip to try and chop its head off. He missed as the wasp darted backward, but one of its arm blades managed to scratch along his forearm. As his blood welled, his vision went red, and he roared at the bug, charging forward again, but this time his swing caught the bug right on a wing joint. Once the flying menace was grounded, it was over. He made quick work of it with the spade, which was dripping with green goo and carapace bits.

He’d have to bury the body nearby if he didn’t want other creatures, or worse, its friends, sniffing around Fixza’s workshop. He blew out a breath at the prospect of more digging, but when he turned to see his still-shaking friend, he found he didn’t mind all that much.

He put the shovel down and knelt in front of her, her eyes still glassy and wide. He put his hands on her shoulders, engulfing them, and gave her a little shake. “Fixza? It’s okay, I killed it,” he said.

She looked up to meet his eyes, and her lower lip trembled. “You were supposed to get away from killing! I ruined it!” she said, and wailed with despair as tears ran down her face.

Crald’s eyebrows went up in surprise, but he pursed his lips before the words, ‘Don’t worry about it,’ left them. She was trying hard to help a friend, and he didn’t want to undermine that. He scratched at the shadow of scraggly black hair on his cheek, and then tugged on the long braid of his beard in thought.

“Bugs don’t count, though,” he said, trying to think quick on how he was going to spin this.

Fixza stopped crying just enough to gasp between sobs; “What—do—you—mean—bugs—don’t—count?”

Crald snorted, and smacked a mosquito that landed on the bare skin of his scalp. “See? Same thing,” he said, and showed her the squashed bug on his palm.

Her lip still trembled, and the look in her eyes told him she wasn’t completely convinced, but her voice was small and hopeful when she said; “Really?”

Crald nodded, internally sighing in relief. “Really.” Then he stood up, brushed some of the carapace bits from his pants, and headed toward the workshop. He’d start burying the body in a moment, but he needed to grab something first. Gardening or not, he wasn’t going to be caught with his proverbial pants down again—his sword would remain within arms reach at all times.

“Where are you going?” Fixza called after him, her voice gaining some of its usual cheer back.

Without turning around, he responded; “Grabbing my bug swatter.”

Winning Article for WriterWriter’s “Writerly Articles” Competition!

I want to thank WriterWriter for hosting the competition, and congratulations to everyone who won!

Here’s the link announcing all the winners, and the dates the articles will be posted:

https://www.writer-writer.com/blog/attention-writers-bookworms-the-winners-of-our-writerly-articles-competition

And here’s the link to the article I wrote for the competition:

Tips for Writing Courteous Reviews in a Discourteous Arena
A.K.A. The Internet

https://www.writer-writer.com/blog/tips-on-writing-courteous-reviews-in-a-discourteous-arena-a-k-a-the-internet

Enjoy!

Tales of the Graveyard Shift: The Greasy Goblin ~~ Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

I’d finished shaking by the time I made it back to my brother’s office. If it was from rage, fear, or both, I wasn’t sure. So, I took a moment to compose myself before I knocked. The muffled voices on the other side of the door went quiet. When it opened, my brother was in the doorway, blocking the rest of the room from my view. He didn’t look too terribly happy with me, if the stony expression and clenched jaw were any indication.

Well, you did make his wife cry, Rational Brain said.

“I, uh, came to apologize,” I said lamely.

He didn’t move, just regarded me with his best, ‘I’m disappointed in you,’ brother face. Ouch. He’d gone for the big guns.

“Joel,” Candy admonished softly, “let her in.”

It was another, long moment before he obliged, his eyes narrowing on me, telling me to behave, or else. Then he opened the door wide enough for me to enter the room. I shuffled in, my head down and my hands in my pockets. Once I’d come inside enough for Joel to close the door, I stopped, keeping as much distance between the couch and me. My brother walked over to join her there.

I took a deep breath, and brought my gaze up to meet Candy’s. Adding another point to the unfair category, she was pretty even when she cried. Her bright eyes were wet, and the tip of her nose was ever so slightly pink, but other than that she was still her usual, pristine self. When I cried, I went full-on ugly mode: blotchy skin, red eyes, snot, stuffy nose. The works.

“I need to apologize to you,” I said. My words were soft, and burning with shame that also reddened my cheeks and the tips of my ears.

Joel muttered something under his breath that sounded like, “You’re damn right you do.” Candy elbowed him in the side, and sent a glare his way. It contained no heat, but the message there was, ‘Shut up.’

When she turned back to me, we exchanged small, commiserating smiles about my brother. I straightened and cleared my throat, now that it wasn’t likely I’d alienated my sister-in-law for all eternity. Which was likely literal for her.

“I won’t try to make excuses about being in shock, and I could have handled that a lot better. I just want you to know my feelings about you and the children haven’t changed.” I paused, thinking of ‘Uncle Dizzy,’ and his threats. Something in my mind hardened, and I did my best not to clench my teeth. “And I’ll do anything I can to make sure you don’t have anything to worry about from me.”

Something must have shown on my face, because Candy tilted her head, and a small line formed between her eyebrows when she frowned. She opened her mouth to say something, but my brother covered her hands with his.

“Dear, I think we’ve both been away from the children far too long. It’s Jason’s birthday, and I don’t want to be stuck up here longer than necessary. Would you mind going down, so he doesn’t think we’ve abandoned him?” Joel said, his face softening as he spoke.

Candy and I knew what it was, though: he was trying to speak with me without her there. She narrowed her eyes, and gave him a long, assessing look. Whatever silent communication went on, it wasn’t long before she pursed her lips then rose from the couch. I thought she was going to the door to leave, but instead she made a beeline for me, and embraced me in a completely unexpected hug.

“Thank you,” she whispered, holding me close.

We will not cry, Rational Brain said, voice thick.

Primal Brain just blubbered.

“Of course; you’re family,” I said, the words hoarse.

She pulled back, and gave me a watery smile before looking back over her shoulder at Joel.

“You owe me,” she said, smug satisfaction coating her words like the most delectable chocolate.

When she turned back to me, she winked, and left the room. Once the door closed with a soft click, I turned to Joel and raised an eyebrow.

He rubbed the back of his neck and refused to look at me. “When we got married, we might have placed a bet on the hypothetical scenario that, if you ever found out, whether or not you’d accept her and us.”

My mouth dropped open. “And you-you bet against me?” I asked, incredulous.

He shrugged, and chuckled sheepishly. “You aren’t the most tolerant person, Stumblebum.”

I snorted. “That’s beside the point. You’re my brother. We’re supposed to have each other’s backs through thick and thin, and we aren’t supposed to bet against each other with other people. It’s against the rules!” I growled, putting my hands on my hips.

He chuckled and shook his head, and then finally looked up at me. “Against the rules, huh? I’ll keep that in mind.” As the laughter died on his lips, his expression sobered.

“What happened downstairs?” he asked, leveling his best lawyer eyes my way, willing me to tell him everything.

My gut cramped, and I sucked in a small breath between my teeth that hissed.

“I met Dezanoth,” I said, forgoing the children’s nickname for him. As much as I wanted to downplay the threat in my own mind as far as my personal safety went, I needed Joel to be a little more cautious.

At the demon’s name, he grimaced. “Dezanoth doesn’t have a very high opinion of humans in general, much less an upstart like me who married one.” He took in my grimace and sighed. “And I supposed you were your usual charming self?”

I chuckled weakly and raised my hands, palm up, and shrugged. “Guilty as charged.”

Joel groaned, and put his face in his hands. “It’s shocking that something hasn’t murdered and eaten you yet.”

I made my way over to the couch and sat on the other end from him. At the couch’s movement, he looked up at me with a pained expression.

“What am I going to do with you?” he asked.

“Help me not get murdered and eaten?” I guessed.

He scoffed. “I don’t take hopeless cases; you know that.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Speaking of cases,” he said, his tone going from brotherly to lawyer, “I heard you cleared Celinwel of Stribs’ murder?”

I blew out a sigh. “Yeah, which means I’m back to square one.” Then a stray thought wandered through my brain. “You don’t think the goblins will let me off the hook, do you? I may not have proved it was Celinwel, but I did prove it wasn’t her. Does that count in some roundabout way as fulfilling the bargain?”

“I doubt it,” he said, and shook his head. “You can try to use that logic on them, but I don’t think Gozuk will let you off the hook until Stribs’ killer is caught.”

I slumped back into the cushions. “And here I was hoping that’d be the end of it, and that I’d get my apartment back.” I sighed.

“Get your apartment back? What do you mean?” he asked, eyes narrowing. “They didn’t in some way cause you to get evicted to hold that over your head, did they?”

“Aw, I’m touched at your concern,” I said, and put a hand to my chest.

He scoffed. “As if. I just didn’t want to deal with you moving in here.”

“Hah! I could just move in with mom and dad,” I said. Our eyes met for a moment, and we both shuddered at the thought. “Okay, so I’d rather live in your kids’ treehouse than move back in with our parents, but, no. They didn’t threaten to evict me, or anything that convoluted. They sent a goblin to stay with me, and keep an eye on me, I guess.” I shrugged.

“Which goblin?” he asked, curious.

“Slies.”

He relaxed visibly at this. “Slies is a decent enough guy. More easy-going and willing to speak on-level with humans than most other goblins. At least it wasn’t Brikt.”

I let out a surprise burst of laughter that devolved into giggles when I tried to picture the wall of muscle trying to fit on my futon. I waved off Joel’s questioning look, and got myself under control.

“At any rate, Dezanoth and Gozuk basically threatened me with the same thing should I fail: you.”

Joel’s eyebrow’s shot up to his hairline. “Me?” Then after a beat, he shook his head. “I guess for most normal people that kind of threat would make sense. Obviously, they don’t know us very well.”

“Yeah, though Dezanoth added a bit of spice to his, threatening the continued well-being of Candy and the children,” I said.

Joel’s humor vanished. His eyes hardened at my words and his mouth formed a thin line. “He did, did he?”

I bit my lip, but gave him a small nod.

Joel’s smile in response was more feral than friendly, and I didn’t want to be Dezanoth the next time the two were in the same room without any witnesses. After a moment or two, where I’m sure visions of murder were dancing in my brother’s head, he spoke again.

“Obviously I haven’t been able to make any calls for you, since I was consoling my distraught wife,” he said, giving me the side eye. He ignored my subsequent grimace and continued; “But I can say that The Owner contacted my law firm about the steps he needed to take to prove someone was stealing from him.”

I perked up at this, sitting up straight. “Oh? Someone’s stealing from him? Does he know who?”

“No,” Joel said.

I sighed, and slumped back down.

“However,” he said, ignoring my theatrics, “he did say he thought it was Stribs, and likely Celinwel, too, since they were thick as, well, thieves.”

I pondered that for a moment. “Well, we’ll be able to find out soon enough, since he’s dead and she quit.” I turned my head to look him in the eyes. “You don’t think The Owner killed him, do you? And why does it sound like you guys say The Owner as though that’s his name? Come to think of it,” I said, not pausing long enough to let him answer, “no one has ever said his name, who he is—” I glanced at the door”—or what he is.”

My brother blinked at the endless stream of words pouring from my mouth.

“No, I don’t believe the owner killed him. He’s too smart to come to the firm for help with a thievery problem, telling us who he thought it was, and then go through the trouble of killing him.”

I tilted my head back and forth. “Yeah, I suppose that’s true. It’d be too obvious for you guys to not suspect him after something like that.”

“As for his name and what he is, well, no one knows. Everyone just calls him ‘The Owner’.”

“What do you mean, no one knows? Didn’t you just say you guys do business with him?”

“Yes…” Joel said slowly, “but with supernatural clients we have a, ‘Don’t ask, don’t wind up with your spleen removed,’ policy. I’ve never been crass enough to ask, after being introduced to him that way,” he said, and leveled a hard look my way.

I chuckled and bit my lip. “Well, we both know you’ve always had the better manners of the two of us.”

Joel sniffed and looked down his nose at me. “Isn’t that the truth?”

I took the opportunity to throw one of the couch pillows at him, which he caught with relative ease, the jerk.

“Anyway, if you want to know more about the missing inventory, you should speak with Elodie. She does the inventory for the store, and she’s a vampire like Odella. Though, as far as I know, they pretty much hate each other, so the fact you work with Odella and that she’s marked you might not get you two off on the correct foot. If you’d like, I can put in a call to The Owner, and have him smooth the way with Elodie. However, if she’s the one who killed Stribs, it might tip her off.”

I frowned and tilted my head. “I know Stribs was a dick, but it doesn’t sound like Elodie would have a reason to kill him, unless he did something to really offend her. And since Stribs didn’t seem to like Odella, I imagine he’d be nice to Elodie just to irritate Odella.”

“You’re not wrong there. As far as I know, Elodie and Stribs were on neutral terms until she discovered inventory was missing. How much do you know about vampires?” he asked, leaning forward and putting his elbows on his knees.

Not expecting to be put on the spot, my mind scrambled for as much information as possible.

“Well, they drink blood, can hypnotize you with their eyes, have to obey their masters when they’re young…Beyond that I’d just be pulling from all the trashy romance novels I’ve read, where the only thing that makes it fantasy is the lead love interest’s desire for blood and sharper than average canines,” I admitted.

Joel’s mouth quirked up in a smile, and he gave a short bark of laughter. “Well, you’re not wrong about those books. Candy likes them, too, but I can’t say I see the appeal.

“However, only two of the things you mentioned are true for all vampires: blood and obeying their master when they’re young. All of the other traits will vary from vampire to vampire. Odella is better at hypnotizing, as you put it, whereas Elodie is better at communicating with snakes, one of the animals associated with vampires.

“There’s one thing that all vampires share, though: their compulsion to count. Now, you can’t just throw a bunch of stuff on the ground and have that distract them while you run away. It really depends on the vampire. From what I understand, Elodie is incredibly good with inventory, and Odella is never wrong when it comes to her cash flow.

“Combine all that with the fact vampires are just as territorial as the Weres, and I would not want to be the person Elodie catches stealing inventory she’s in charge of,” Joel finished, his voice going low and his eyebrows knotting.

“When you put it that way, I can see how she might end up murdering him,” I admitted.

Joel checked his watch and sighed. “We’ve missed most of the birthday. We should get down there before my good-natured wife turns into something far less pleasant,” he said, and then stood.

For most guys it’d be a joke to say their wives turned into she-demons or hell cats when riled, but for Joel, well, it might actually happen. So, I wisely followed him out of the room, an apology ready on my lips.

 

<*****>

 

The remainder of the birthday was a pleasant affair, and I was sent away with more leftovers than Slies and I would likely know what to do with. I’d been piled on by my nieces and nephews before leaving. I could see Dezanoth lurking in the background, the corner of his mouth quirked up in a smug smile, and his head tilted just enough that he could look down his nose at me. I threw a glare his way, and made sure to hug the kiddos extra tight, and for a little longer than usual. I even gave Candy a hug before leaving, though my brother and I just waved, forgoing the familiar affection.

I checked my clock on the dash of the car when I got in. If I made it home in the next half an hour, I could get a few more hours of sleep before work. The thought of hitting my pillow and drifting off to dreamland was more than enough to motivate me along the roads back home. I know Joel told me not to take Thea home, which I assume means he didn’t want me to drive by the tree anymore. I’d avoided it on the way to their house, but it was the fastest way back into town, and it was practically the middle of the day. Didn’t witches need darkness, midnight, and virgins? Since none of those things were available, I doubt the Witch of the Wood would be on a stroll near the road and decide to snatch me up.

Remember what we said about not being that white girl in every horror movie ever? Rational Brain asked, voice scathing.

I hate to agree with stick-in-the-mud, but Joel might be right here, Primal Brain hedged.

“It’ll be fine,” I said out loud, and then took the turn toward town.

Famous last words, Rational Brain muttered.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Primal Brain cautioned.

The trees flew by, the evergreens looking particularly lovely in the early afternoon light, but as we drew closer to the tree, my shoulders bunched up more and more. Tension sang through me like a plucked line of a deep-sea fisher’s rod with a fish on. When I came within ten feet of the tree, I held my breath. Level with it, and my hands gripped the steering wheel so hard my fingers went bloodless. But then we were past the cursed thing, with nary a whisper of encouragement to kill myself.

I let out a shaky breath, loosened my grip on the wheel, and slumped a little in my seat—

“See? Nothing to—”

–just in time for the largest stag I’d ever seen in my life to walk casually in front of my vehicle. I let out an unholy screech to rival that of my tires as I slammed on my brakes and swerved to avoid the animal. I veered across the oncoming lane, and that was the last thing I remembered before slamming into a tree.

The calm, unconcerned eyes of the deer, and my steering coming to meet my face when my airbag didn’t deploy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

World of Warcraft Class Micro-Stories ~~ Monk

(This one isn’t so much a micro-story because it’s almost 2k words, but we’ll fudge a bit for the sake of the series’ title)

 

 

So-Ra knew Zheng was in trouble. Again. She knew it the same way her yehyeh knew the rain was coming when his knees ached. Except with Zheng it was a churning in her gut like a hundred snakes coiling around each other, and she bit her lip to keep a nervous laugh from escaping.

When she’d woken from her afternoon nap, he was gone, and though he’d left no note there was only one place she was likely to find him: the bar. Before heading out of the room she grabbed her staff, not knowing what she’d encounter when she found Zheng. When she got to the door of their room, the raucous noise from the downstairs and upstairs drinking areas made her pause. However, it was a particularly loud voice that caused her white and grey ears to twitch.

It was nearing dusk, and as she made her way across the plank bridge to the second floor of the Salty Sailor Tavern, she found the bar full to capacity with pirates. So-Ra didn’t have any particular issues with pirates, per say. However, when the barkeep in Orgrimmar suggested this place to Zheng, she didn’t believe he’d done so from a kind, helpful place. Zheng had, to be fair, annoyed the orc with all his talk of pandaren brews. Zheng, oblivious to the orc’s growls and bared teeth, had jumped immediately on the idea, and So-Ra reluctantly followed him out of The Broken Tusk.

“Pirate brew, Ra! I can’t wait!”

Zheng was excited to hop on one of the zeppelins on the middle rise of the Horde city, and then grab a couple of wyverns from Grom’gol down to Booty Bay. If So-Ra was being honest, she enjoyed flying over the lush jungles, as the salty, humid wind made her nose twitch and eyes water. It was a vast improvement over the smell of ale she swore would never leave her nostrils, but all too soon it was over.

After all the travel, the two agreed to a nap before he’d drag her down to the bar. Apparently, the excitement had been too much for him, and he’d left her upstairs. While she’d been snoozing away, there was no telling what kind of trouble he was getting into.

She nimbly made her way through the first set of tables, avoiding patrons who were already well into their drinks, and stopped dead in her tracks at the top of the stairs that led to the main floor. Zheng wasn’t difficult to find, being the only pandaren, but even if they’d been in a bar back home, she’d be able to pick him out. His onyx black and ash grey fur wasn’t too terribly common among the black and whites and reds. His short hair was pulled back with a spring blue tie that matched his eyes, one of which had a black marking that made him appear as though he perpetually had what furless races called a black eye.

“—and I only managed to make it away from the hozen with nothing but my staff. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing.”

So-Ra rolled her eyes. If there was one thing Zheng enjoyed almost as much as new brew, it was new people to tell his stories to.

The tauren next to him, whose fur closely resembled Zheng’s in color, threw his head backward in an uproarious laugh. His steel nose ring glinted in the cheery lantern light, and his one, ivory horn gleamed dully. The other was broken close to his skull and capped off. When he brought his head forward again, he raised one of his large hands and clapped Zheng on the shoulder.

This was where it all went to pot.

When the tauren hit Zheng’s shoulder, it caused him to take a step back and knock into a goblin sitting on a stool. When he hit the goblin, the goblin’s face was knocked into his drink, and he came back up, spluttering and coughing. While coughing, he knocked his drink over, which spilled all over the back of the dwarf next to the goblin. The dwarf shouted and jumped back, knocking into the table closest to the bar. The wood of the table against the wooden floor let out an unholy screech, and the jarring motion knocked every single drink over onto the group of human pirates.

It was like So-Ra was witness to the worst-luck game of dominoes, and with each event her horror and panic grew like a balloon ready to pop.

There was a moment of silence from all who witnessed the event, and then the brawl started.

So-Ra made her way down to the main floor, dodging and slipping through a crowd full of jabs, kicks, and elbows. More than once she used her staff to deter anyone foolish enough to square up on her, and one hit was usually more than enough. When she finally made it within sight of Zheng, she stopped in her tracks and clenched her fists around her staff.

Back-to-back with the tauren, the two of them were laughing and throwing punches as though this were all part of some grand game. However, before she could get through the rest of the crowd to Zheng, there were cries of genuine pain instead of the grunts of a brawl, rippling from the front door. So-Ra turned just in time to deftly avoid the spiked mace of one of many of the town’s bruisers pouring through the door.

Zheng and the tauren hadn’t noticed yet, though, and both managed to take a hit or two that had So-Ra cringing. Not just from the imagined pain, but from how much work it was going to be to heal the two fools.

The bruisers went about their work, sussing out what happened with practiced efficiency. In short order, Zheng and the tauren were thrown from the tavern without so much as a by your leave. So-Ra, though, had started upstairs the second after the first mace hit landed. She gathered their things, since she was reasonably sure they’d be asked to leave, anyhow, and made her way outside after not finding them at the bar.

Despite the smell of fish and seawater, So-Ra’s keen nose managed to follow the scent of blood from outside the tavern door to one of the ramshackle shops. The sign on the door proclaimed; ‘Closed! Go Away!’ in a way that came off as very goblin, and she shook her head at the general lack of manners the race possessed.

When she ignored the sign and knocked, a grumpy voice called from the other side; “Go away! We’re closed! Don’t you know how to read?”

“I’m here to help,” So-Ra said, just loud enough for her words to travel through the door.

“It’s So-Ra!” Zheng said, his words slurred. Though if it was from drink or injury, So-Ra wouldn’t know until she could see him.

There was some scuffling, and as she waited for the person on the other side of the door to open it, she shifted the heavy packs on her back. After more time than she deemed necessary, the door finally opened.

In the doorway, and backlit by the lantern in the room, was a grumpy goblin face to match the grumpy voice.

“Yeah? Whatdya want?” the male goblin asked, and tilted his pointed chin up so he could meet So-Ra’s blue eyes with his black ones.

“To heal these two idiots, unless you have another trained healer at your beck and call. If so, I’d be more than happy to leave them to you,” So-Ra said, biting the words off in clipped tones. Then she smiled wide, meeting his sharp-toothed scowl with her own set of sharp canines.

“Oh, cousin, please don’t be that way,” Zheng mournfully slurred this time.

Probably drink instead of injury, then, if he was sounding that put out at her.

The goblin growled, but then moved aside to let her in.

The sight in front of her made her grimace inwardly. There was blood, of course, but pandaren, and apparently tauren, had tough hides. So, despite the maces being spiked the damage was minimal. Still, it wasn’t the busted knuckles, swollen faces, or cuts that had her frowning.

It was the fact the two of them were leaning on one another and giggling. Like two sprites who managed to get into some brew and set about causing mischief in town.

“Monag and this fluffy monstrosity busted through my door not a few minutes ago. They’ve done nothing but cackle like drunk witches since. I’m guessing the state they’re in has to do with all the bruisers running toward the tavern?” the goblin asked So-Ra.

So-Ra nodded, and set her packs down. She didn’t want to know how the goblin knew what a drunk witch cackled like, but she’d take him at his word. She was sure stranger things happened across the lands outside of Pandaria.

“He is not a fluffy monstrosity, Syxkes. He’s my new friend. Zheng!” Monag said between breathless laughter.

The goblin, Syxkes, snorted and shook his head.

“You got anything to put them under?” Syxkes asked, his tone pleading.

“I do, but it will have to come after the sobering potion. Combining a sleep potion or magic with drinking is a good way for someone to never wake up again,” she explained, and started pulling vials from her pack.

Her ears twitched at the goblin’s grumbling, which sounded an awful lot like; ‘Well, that wouldn’t be the worst thing if it shut them up,’ but she ignored him.

After she gathered the correct vials and administered the sobering potions, the two males were far less amused and groaning in pain.

“Oh, So-Ra, you’re so cruel,” Zheng said, leaning forward in a sitting position on the floor, holding his head between his hands.

“Hah!” she said, her voice sharp enough that the two males’ ears flattened against their skulls.

“Please, not so loud,” Monag whispered, his deep voice rumbling through the small room.

She simply harrumphed at this, and went about healing them. After the worst of their injuries were seen to, she handed them their sleeping potions. A wry smile crossed Zheng’s face as the two of them lifted the vials to clink them together.

“Here’s to new friends and good brew,” Zheng said.

Monag lowed his agreement, and the two of them downed the potions. Not long after the two were fast asleep, their snores near to rattling the windows from their panes.

So-Ra shook her head. “Males,” she said in a long-suffering voice.

“Hey, not all of us are idiots,” Syxkes said, affronted.

So-Ra graced him with an apologetic smile. “You’re right. My apologies. Do you mind if I sleep here with them?” she asked, not wanting to impose on the goblin any more than they already had. Though, she wasn’t sure where she’d go if he said no.

“Nah, go ahead.” As Monag let out a particularly loud snore, Syxkes shook his head. “Better you than me, anyway. I’ll be here in the morning to open shop, though, so you’ll all need to be out by then,” he warned.

“Of course, and thank you for your hospitality,” So-Ra said, and bowed.

Syxkes waved her off. “You shut them up. That’s payment enough.” Then he took a set of stairs behind the counter up to the second floor.

So-Ra pulled out her mat and laid it down in front of the door, just in case she didn’t wake up in time to avert whatever disaster Zheng would try to get himself into next. As she drifted off to the chorus of familiar and new snores, though, she was smiling.

Christmas Comepetition Winning Entry!

I couldn’t be more excited to type that headline in! I entered at Christmas writing competition on the Writer Writer website, and I won! The story was posted yesterday on Christmas, which means I can now post it here for all you lovely people to read.

The story was originally posted here on the Writer Writer site.

Enjoy!

All I Want for Christmas

There was nothing special about the sight in front of him. In fact, the very same scene could be found across the country, if not the entire world. The dull roar of the crowds blended with the cries of children and a contemporary holiday track. Dazzling decorations glittered from every conceivable surface, and the large, fake tree stood watch over the large, fake Santa beneath its boughs in the center of the mall.

He’d given a small shake of his head at the merry, “Ho, ho, ho!” and moved along to find the bench he’d been using since the mall had opened thirty years ago. It was tucked away in a corner, out of direct line of sight, but with a perfect people-watching vantage. The years he managed to circle back to this particular part of this particular country, he was always amazed they hadn’t commandeered the spot for a vending machine or trash can, but luck was with him again this year.

He sat down, getting himself settled for however long he needed to be there. It varied from place to place and year to year. At times he’d sit for hours on end, while others he needed less than an hour. Once he was comfortable, or as comfortable as one could get on the benches in a mall, he started watching the crowds. People were bustling along, trying to get the rest of their shopping done in the last week leading up to Christmas. Others were strolling through, having completed their holiday tasks and were out enjoying the atmosphere.

There was a certain magic in the air around Christmastime, and most people fed into it, and were fed by it. There was only so much one man could do, and though magic was surely a powerful force, it was far more efficient than people were led to believe. Reinforcing an idea that was already present—parents buying gifts for their children by proxy for Santa—was far more plausible than a man riding around the world in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.

As he sat, he smiled kindly behind his long white beard and curled mustache at the children who walked by, their eyes going wide as they tugged on the sleeves of their parents’ jackets. They’d point at him and whisper, and the parents, catching sight of him, would smile. He’d play along and wave, sometimes throwing in a little wink for the kids who didn’t get the attention of their parents, as though to say; ‘This is our little secret.’ He wasn’t wearing the traditional Santa garb like the one sitting under the tree, but the red plaid and black buckled boots were enough to set the tone. People saw what they wanted to.

Or what they didn’t want to.

Some people were jaded, seeing only the commercialism, when in reality the holiday season was about giving, and helping fellow beings on the planet all shared. Others were never up to feeling the holiday cheer, no matter how much he tried to encourage it with his presence.

“I don’t know why we’re here.”

“Because you promised your son you’d take him to see Santa. I don’t want to be here anymore than you!”

The snippet of conversation caught his attention. Away from the main thoroughfare, not far from where he was sitting, a couple were arguing. It wasn’t an uncommon scene this time of year. Holidays were stressful, he knew that, with people pushing themselves and their budgets to try and make the holidays the best they could for their children. However, that wasn’t the case here.

“He can’t hold me to things I’ve said while I’m drinking, I told him that. He did this on purpose.”

“You shouldn’t be drinking any—”

“Not this shit again—”

There was a tug at his sleeve. Startling just a bit, he looked down at a small, thin boy with large, somber brown eyes. His clothes were worn, and barely enough to keep the cold air outside from cutting through them. His head was covered by an old, grey beanie, and there was a smudge of dirt on his left cheek.

“Hello,” he said, smiling kindly to the boy.

“Are you Santa?” the boy asked, his quiet voice trembling but serious.

“What do you think?” the man asked, his eyes twinkling as the corner of his mouth was tugged almost into a full smile.

The boy considered him for a moment, looking him over from head to toe. After a long moment, during which his parents were oblivious to anything except their argument, he nodded.

“I know I’m not supposed to ask for things,” the boy said in a tenuous whisper that broke the man’s heart, “but if you’re Santa, then it’s okay, right?”

“Of course,” the man said immediately. “It’s the rule. Anyone can ask Santa for anything, no matter who they are.”

The boy looked down at his feet. “Even bad children?” The question was meek and fearful, as though he expected the man turn him away for admitting to such a thing.

“May I ask you a question?”

The boy looked up from beneath his lashes, not able to make direct eye contact, and nodded.

“Have you tried your best to be good this year? Your very best?” he asked, his gentle words slowly coaxing the boy to look him in the eye.

The boy hesitated for a moment, considering the question, but finally gave the man a slow nod. “I have tried my hardest, yes.”

“Then that is all I can expect. No one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes,” he said, wanting nothing more than to give the boy a hug, but refraining. “Now, what did you want to ask for?” he asked cheerfully, getting back to business.

“I-I just want my parents to be happy,” the boy said, and looked over his shoulder at the two, who were now screaming at each other and attracting quite a crowd.

The man’s mouth curved down and his eyes lost a fraction of their sparkle. The boy’s request caused his heart to clench, and he had to swallow against the tears threatening to overtake him.

“Do you know how to keep a secret?” he asked the boy. The man already knew the answer, of course, otherwise the child would not still be with the two ‘adults’ he came here with.

The boy’s face was serious as he nodded, his eyes alert and ready.

The man motioned for him to come a little closer, and he whispered; “Well, did you know one of the stories about Santa got something wrong?”

The boy’s eyes went wide. “What story?” he asked, curious and eager.

“Well, I don’t actually have elves working for me,” he said, his voice grave as he conveyed this groundbreaking information.

The boy gasped. “Really?”

The man nodded. “Really. Have you ever heard the story of Peter Pan and Neverland?” At the boy’s nod, he continued; “Well, my workshop is something like that. I take special little boys and girls to the North Pole, and they help me make toys for all the children in the world, and they stay young forever. That’s why they think they’re elves: they never grow up!” he said, and grinned.

The boy let out a small, surprised burst of laughter. “That’s so cool!” he said.

The man nodded. “Yes, it is. Now,” he paused, and looked around. The parents were still going at it, now with a large crowd who had their cell phones out, recording the whole fiasco. “Each year I choose a new boy or girl to come and join me at the North Pole. Only one a year. If you’d like, I think you just might fit in very well at my workshop with the other boys and girls.”

The boy’s eyes went wide again, and his mouth dropped open. “You-you’d pick me?” he asked, incredulous.

The man smiled, his eyes warm as fresh gingerbread. “Of course.”

The boy opened his mouth to say something, but stopped, and looked back over his shoulder. “Do you think it would make my parents happy if I went with you?” he asked, his hesitant whisper back.

The man pondered before he spoke. “Some people are never happy, no matter what. I can’t say whether you leaving would make them happier, but if none of you are happy now, maybe knowing that you’re safe and happy with me would help them,” he said.

The boy turned back to the man. “You’d let them know where I’ve gone?”

“I can’t tell them that, exactly, but I can let them know that you’re safe, and in a better place. Would that work?”

“Yeah, I think that would work,” he said.

Mall security was coming to the scene, trying to break things up, and one of them was calling over their walkie talkie for someone to contact the police.

“Are we leaving now?” he asked the man.

The man stood up, and held his hand out to the boy. “I think that would be best.” As they walked away the man spoke again; “There’s something I have to do with you first. A kind of magic, to make sure your parents don’t get in trouble for you running off, and to make sure you can go to the North Pole, but you have to trust me. Okay?” he asked the boy.

The boy nodded and smiled wide. “Okay. I trust you, Santa.”

The man smiled back. “Good.”

<****>

Daily News Chronicle

25 December 2018

Christmas Tragedy: Missing boy found, deceased, in park near mall

Five days after missing boy, Ethan Taylor, disappeared from the Governor Square Mall, police K9 units found his body in Hall Park. Though the police aren’t sharing many details at this time, they did disclose that foul play was involved, and would be launching a full investigation.

Though he’d been missing for five days, a delay in his search occurred due to the arrest of his parents, followed by a freak blizzard that shocked the local weatherman and residents alike.

An investigation is also being put in motion regarding complaints against the parents and the boy’s home life, as many who knew the family are leveling abuse allegations their way.

“It’s such a tragedy,” the boy’s grandmother said, through tears. “To have to live like he did, and then to be killed.”

When asked how the family were doing, all she had to say was; “All we can hope is that he’s in a better place.”

THE END

Insights and Observations Part II, Plus My Theory on Credence’s Birth and the Timeline Inconsistency

****************SPOILERS AHEAD***************************

One of my favorite movie quotes is in Angels and Demons; “Religion is flawed, but only because man is flawed.” The same can be applied to the arts. Some art is praised because of its imperfections, while others are ripped to pieces. Criticism and critiques are a handy tool for any artist, and they can help the artist craft their work into something as close to perfection as is humanly possible.

However, there is a, sometimes thin, line between criticism and being cruel. There are artists who react poorly to their work being critiqued, just as there are people whose criticisms are nothing more than insults thinly wrapped in observations. Finding that middle ground, for artists and those who critique alike, isn’t always easy. 

That being said, it’s difficult for me to take people seriously when they insult the artist and their work, and even less so when they do it just to garner views. You can be polite and respectful, and still disagree with how they did something. Not to mention, it might just make them take you and your suggestions as helpful instead of rude.

At any rate, now that my PSA is over let’s get to the real reason for this post. I’ve had some time to think more on certain aspects of Crimes of Grindelwald, especially after a few questions were posed in regards to certain parts/concepts in the film. That’s why I decided to make a second post!

First post found here.

You know you’re all terribly excited for more of my rambling, so here we go!

 

1.       Why didn’t they use apparition, the floo, or a portkey to move Grindelwald from America to Britain?

Now, the first two are easy enough to answer. You can’t safely apparate long distances, as the further you try to go the more likely you’ll harm yourself, or Newt would have just popped over to France with Jacob. The fandom wiki for Harry Potter indicates there is a safe range, and that; “According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it is possible that Inter-Country Apparition has been outlawed due to extreme splinching.” Considering all this, and how dangerous they know Grindelwald to be, it wouldn’t be worth the risk to try and side-along apparate him from New York to Britain.

As for the floo network, it’s regulated by the individual countries, and doesn’t seem to connect internationally. Connection to the floo network requires the permission of the Ministry of Magic, but even if America and Britain came to some kind of agreement to connect a fireplace temporarily for transport, they might not be able to. This is where I’m getting more into theory than canon, but how exactly are all things powered in the wizarding world? Magic. Even with magic, there’s a limit to how much you can do based on how much power you have to work with.

Perhaps, like with apparating, there’s a range, and that’s why in America it’s divided into regions. I’d like to think it’s like WiFi, and the farther you get away from the source, the ‘weaker’ the magic gets, and that’s why countries like France and Britain aren’t connected. Or, at least, not that we’ve seen. For Europe it could also just be a control issue. All the countries like to do things their own way, or they wouldn’t have different ministries.

If you go with the WiFi theory, it would make sense that America would be divided into regions, not only for the number of people using the system, but because of sheer distance. I imagine they’d have to jump floos as they move through regions, instead of hopping in a fireplace in California and ending up in Virginia.

This also makes me wonder how individual states’ rights work in regards to the larger central government (MACUSA), but I digress.

Even if it’s a regional autonomy issue versus a WiFi-type issue, there’s nothing to indicate you could cross an ocean with the floo network.

The portkey explanation is a little more involved, and has to do with Grindelwald himself. The fandom page plays out the escape a little differently than what I picture. I believe the switch happened long before the escape, and not right before.

Let’s roll back a little before the escape and look at what’s gone down. We aren’t given an exact timeline within the six months Grindelwald is jailed, but Seraphina Picquery indicated that they’d had to change Grindelwald’s guards three times, because he’s; ‘Quite persuasive.’ This would indicate there are multiple guards willing to join Grindelwald’s cause.

It wouldn’t be terribly complicated for a sympathizer, in this case Abernathy who is an Acolyte, to brew up some Polyjuice for both of them. We don’t know the status of his early imprisonment, but it would indicate the measures they took against him were progressive, getting more severe with each infraction. Therefore, there was likely a period of time prior to his little force field where he could interact with people physically, giving Abernathy the opportunity to make Polyjuice. It was also likely that Abernathy got wind of Grindelwald’s impending de-tonguing, and they planned the switch before this happened, which is why Grindelwald had to re-grow Abernathy’s tongue.

It also stands to reason that, with Grindelwald on the outside as Abernathy, he could ensure that they both had a steady supply of Polyjuice.

Now, this means we don’t know exactly how long the two were swapped, but we know from experience that Grindelwald can play-act as another person quite well. While we also don’t know Abernathy’s exact position in MACUSA, his familiarity and greetings with President Picquery and Mr. Spielman outside of ‘Grindelwald’s’ cell would indicate he had some part in planning the transport.

If this is the case, and with how persuasive Grindelwald could be, it is likely he helped orchestrate how he wanted the transport to happen. He could have made arguments against direct portkey transportation as it would be expected by Grindelwald’s followers, but we also don’t know what enchantments are on the prison that might prevent portkeys. We also don’t know where they were transporting Grindelwald to. It’s unreasonable to think they’d take a thestral-drawn carriage across the Atlantic, flanked by people on broomsticks. The flyers and thestrals would get tired long before they reached their destination in Britain. This would indicate that they were probably taking him to a secret, secondary location, to likely take a portkey.

When is a group most vulnerable? When it’s in transport. It would make sense for Grindelwald to stage his escape between leaving the secure prison and before getting to the(theorized) portkey location. It is also dramatic, which Grindelwald has a penchant for. What better way to stir up his followers than to stage a daredevil escape right under the nose of both the American Ministry and representatives from the British Ministry. It’s a double insult, and undermines both ministries at once. What more could a dark wizard want?

 

2.       So, Credence is alive?

In New York, we basically see Credence explode when he’s attacked. This would lend some skepticism to the status of him being alive, so to see him in the new film was a bit of a curve ball for some people. However, Credence is already touted as being unique among an already rare occurrence, being an Obscurial, so is it such a stretch to believe he also has a greater measure of control due to his age? In fact, we see this later in the film where he utilizes his Obscurial form and then reforms once his attack is over without dying like other Obscurials. Given that we don’t know exactly how Obscurials reform, there’s nothing to say they have to do so right where they lose their form. They could move away from the perceived danger and reform somewhere safer.

3.       So, Credence is part of a circus, and Nagini is a side show?

There was some question as to how Credence got from New York and wound up in a circus in France. Now, I might be off base on this one, as I can’t totally recall from the film, but I’m almost certain the lead circus man was American based off his accent. Even if he’s not, (like I said, I can’t recall his accent totally), circuses travel, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that he encountered them in New York and followed them to France.

As for why Nagini is in a freak show, she’s a Maledictus. If she were an Animagus it wouldn’t be special, but she’s under a blood curse. This is like the wizarding version of a genetic defect, which a lot of freaks in real world circuses are. The only other ‘defect’ we see among wizards are squibs, but they aren’t very interesting, and they definitely can’t turn into animals. A Maledictus is rare, and therefore more interesting, if not somewhat scandalous. Remember, Skender called her an, ‘Underbeing’. A freak and oddity. 

4.       Why give Nagini a weird name if you’re not being a racist trying to prove you’re not racist?

Okay, that wasn’t the exact question posed, but people have attacked J.K. about this, stating she’s trying to prove she can be diverse with her characters when she hasn’t been diverse enough up to this point. To be fair, I don’t know what the statistics were like in the 90s in the UK, but right around now they’re sitting at about an 87% white demographic. When you go back to 2001, that number is 92%, and I don’t imagine it would fluctuate to such a degree in the early 90s to fault J.K. for having primarily white characters.

Given that it’s stated in the series that muggles far outnumber wizards, you’re looking at a very small percentage of the population, which makes the numbers of any other race also shrink proportionally. She’s not being racist and exclusive, she’s doing what most writers do: taking the world around them they are familiar with, and using it as a template for their story.

Now, can trying to be more inclusive come off as cringy and pandering, yes, but I don’t think that’s what we see here. People are angry that Nagini and Leta are the only women of color in the film we interact with quite a bit, and they’re both ‘bad’. Personally, that’s not what I got from the film.

Leta is a woman impacted heavily by guilt, tragedy, and a garbage father figure. She’s bullied at school not because she’s black, but because children can be terrible little crotch goblins, and will use any difference to single others out. Leta thinks she’s a monster for something she did as a child, but she’s not. If she’d drowned the kid herself, it’d be a different story. In all, she’s a complex character that goes beyond being black or white, and boiling her down to her skin color does a disservice to the character and the actress.

With Nagini, I covered some of that in the other post, but the same can be said about her. Her story is tragic, not bad. As for the name, wizards don’t exactly have common names in this world. I mean, the main guy’s name is Newt. How many Newts do you know?

Also, the president of MACUSA is a woman of color, and while we don’t interact with her much in the films, I want that to sink in. She’s a WoC, in the 1920s, and president of what’s probably one of the larger magical communities in the world. I’m not saying this to appease anyone, but given the time period you have to give mad props to a woman who must have guts and tenacity in spades.

5.       How about that hookah skull, and the visions of WWII?

Beyond the inscriptions on the skull and how he used it, not much is known about this. It’s postulated that Grindelwald is a seer, which would fit with some of the facts we know about him. Some of the bigger ones being Dumbledore, their relationship, and the blood pact. A young, arrogant Grindelwald would surely think he could sway Albus to his side, in more ways than one, and barring that he would make sure he they could never fight. Wouldn’t it be cool if the skull was of another seer, (I mean, not for the seer), and aided in the formation of the visions for others to see? Kind of like a seer’s version of a pensieve?

However, we know his visions are not infallible, as evidenced by what he says to Credence in the first movie, and how he didn’t know that Credence was the Obscurial. Why did it not cross his mind that Credence was the Obscurial, despite what his vision showed him? Because of the perceived nature of Obscurials, therefore, his visions are limited by his interpretations and knowledge.

A question was also posed on why we wouldn’t want to let Grindelwald stop WWII and the Holocaust, and so on? However, he didn’t show his followers these visions to stop the Holocaust. It’s to illustrate how awful muggles are. That they need to be controlled before they destroy the world. Think of the Rocket and Peter quote in Guardians of the Galaxy; “Why do you want to save the universe?” “Because I’m one of the idiots that live here!” Or something like that.

There are repercussions to muggle wars, like nuclear fallout. I don’t know of any shields to keep out radiation poisoning, and not everywhere has wards like Hogwarts. It’s one of the things that makes the school unique: how protected it is versus everywhere else. Just because muggles can’t see Diagon Alley doesn’t mean they are unable to destroy it. They also can’t stop the wars without revealing themselves, which goes against the statute of secrecy. Plus, they want to stay away from muggles and their problems. I point this out in my first post that it’s one of the reasons why Grindelwald was more successful than Voldemort: his unification tactics against the muggles.

Once again, think about Men in Black, where Kay points out that a person is okay, but people are dumb, stupid, and panicky. If people find out about magic, they’ll try to destroy what they fear. We see this in X-Men, too. Nothing good ever comes from people revealing their powers to the normals.

6.       Asking Newt to the Ministry to join the Aurors is silly, right?

In that sense, yes, it was silly, and I covered that in the other post. However, the more I thought about it, and the way the ministry operates, the more something else came to mind. Asking Newt to the Ministry only makes sense in the context of his relationship to Dumbledore. They may not know all of his ‘spies’ in the ministry, but they know Newt is connected to him as an unwitting, and somewhat unwilling, participant in what they perceive as Dumbledore’s ‘resistance’ to the ministry.

I think it gave us a look into how Dumbledore’s relationship with the ministry came about in those earlier years, and why it was so easy for them to set themselves against him later on–they’ve done it before. He’s an element they can’t control, and they don’t care for that. In fact, it’s likely that in the eyes of some, Dumbledore and Grindelwald aren’t different. Especially not since the ministry knew about their relationship, in every sense.

Instead of them hearing; “I can’t move against Grindelwald,” they hear; “I won’t.” And in that sense, he’s offering a subtle sort of support to Grindelwald’s movement. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” They are seeing his unwillingness to move against Grindelwald as him allowing Grindelwald to triumph.

They are seeking to stabilize and control their populace in light of Grindelwald’s upcoming rebellion, but like the mistakes of the Aurors at Grindelwald’s rally, all they’re really doing is alienating everyone.

7.       Well, that’s all well and good, but how about those timeline inconsistencies?

Alright, you got me there, Skippy. As far as McGonagall is concerned it’s going to take some major wizardry to explain that one. I don’t buy the Time-Turner theory, because there are far easier ways to get yourself a good transfiguration teacher, and from what we know about Time-Turners, they have a limit to how far back they can go. Given that Albus becomes the Transfiguration teacher after the ministry states he’s no longer allowed to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts, what’s she teaching then?

It’s even less likely that someone with the exact same name just happens to be teaching transfiguration, when Minerva gets her last name from her muggle father.

The most likely explanation here is it’s going to be movie-based, canon-divergent fan service. It made me smile to see McGonagall in the movie, and it’s meant to hit all your nostalgia buttons: Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Hogwarts.

And Aurelius née Credence being a Dumbledore? My mind goes to the only other two men to ever escape Azkaban: Sirius and Barty Crouch, Jr. Hear me out.

We don’t know the exact date of Percival’s death, as it is stated as being sometime after 1890, and in all we don’t know much about Percival himself. It would be a stretch to assume that Aberforth played a role in his supposed break out in the years following Ariana’s death, since she died in 1899. A ten-year disparity in when he supposedly died in Azkaban is a bit much to accept.

However, think about that murkiness of his supposed death date and what we now know about Dumbledore family lore. Is it possible that we don’t know the exact date of his death, because the Dementors couldn’t give the family one? We also aren’t told anything about a burial of Percival, when we are specifically told that Mrs. Crouch posing as Barty Crouch, Jr. was buried on the grounds of Azkaban. What if we aren’t given a date or details of his burial because the Dementors can’t give us one. There wasn’t a death or a body.

What if Percival, in the last moments of his life, inadvertently summoned a phoenix who helped him escape? Remember, Dementors get muddled senses in regards to animals, and if Percival were close enough to death they could have perceived the flash of the phoenix taking him away as his life expiring. As for them not finding a body, it isn’t beyond the imagination to believe they didn’t care because he was so close to dying, anyway. They could no longer feed from him, so why bother looking? What angered them about Sirius Black escaping was likely that they could still feed from him, and they probably knew he was innocent and didn’t care. Wouldn’t an innocent person in Azkaban make a much better meal? Probably.

As for Percival, maybe the phoenix took him somewhere to heal, and, for whatever reason, the person healing him was a woman and he fell in love. If the woman were a muggle, it could explain a long recovery period, since magic isn’t being used, and more time to convince himself that his family was better off, and safer, without him. What good would it do them having an Azkaban-escapee around?

This could also explain the ship situation with Leta. If the woman he fell in love with was a muggle and they had a child, and after the birth he died and she wanted to start over in America, or even just visit family while he stayed in England (no travel for Azkaban-escapees), she’d be on that ship instead of using a portkey. It would also explain how two magical families just so happened to be traveling right across from one another: one is trying to move incognito, while the other simply has no other means for travel.

Unfortunately, it also means she had no magic to save what she thought was her baby and herself.

Anyway, that’s just my theory on the timeline thing with Credence’s birth.

 

In closing, just keep my modified quote in mind; “Art is flawed, but only because people are flawed.” Are there disparities in the canon and the new movies? Yes.

Should we vilify J.K., the production team, actors/actresses, and so on? No.

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and if you want people to take your observations and criticisms seriously, a little politeness goes a long way.