Twitter #vss365 (Very Short Stories) with Ashton & Darby ~~ May 2020

April < — > June

 

May 1st
Prompt: Ragpicker

“Us pixies gotta make do with #ragpicking and ratting,” she spat.

“That’s why you took the gnome?” Ashton asked.

“He was trespassing!”

“If they promise to stop, will you agree to release him?” Darby asked.

“Mostly. He may have lost a finger, or two, along the way.”

May 2nd
Prompt: Rainwater

“The water spirits are fighting,” Darby said.

“Happens with the #rainwater floods, when they get washed into each other,” Ashton said.

“They could try to get on.”

“Your home is flooded and you have to bunk with your territorial neighbors, how well would you react?”

“Fair point.”

May 3rd
Prompt: Baked

“Evanora #baked for you again,” Ashton said.

“We might be partners, but that doesn’t give you the right to open my post,” Darby grumbled.

“When are you going on a date with the witch?”

“Or know everything about my personal life.”

“Fine, but you’re sharing the scones.”

May 4th
Prompt: Bathos

“I thought you’d like this writer,” Ashton said.

“Their portrayal of the supernatural is pure #bathos,” Darby said.

“I have no idea what that means, but it sounds terrible.”

“You’d think a vampire would do better.”

“Might be pandering to the humans.”

“Even worse.”

May 5th
Prompt: Argle-Bargle

“Don’t start that #argle-bargle again!” the woman said.

“What are they arguing about?” Ashton asked.

“A woman.”

“Why did you call us?” Darby asked.

“She put a spell on ’em!”

“Dump a tub of saltwater on them.”

“That’ll work?”

“Even if there’s not a spell it’ll get them to stop.”

May 6th
Prompt: Horses

“Something’s eating #horses in Bodmin Moor,” Ashton said.

“Might be a púca, a shapeshifter.”

“Why would one eat horses?”

“There have been cases of them doing it as retaliation against humans.”

“Why go after the horses?”

“They’re expensive.”

“Smart shifter, then.”

Twitter #vss365 (Very Short Stories) with Ashton & Darby ~~ April 2020

March < — > May

 

April 1st
Prompt: Chicken

“I’m sorry, it’s a flock of what?” Darby asked the caller.

Ashton raised an eyebrow, questioning.

Darby scribbled on a notepad, then held it up: ‘Flock of decapitated #chickens roaming downtown.’

Ashton couldn’t help but laugh, while Darby rolled his eyes at him.

April 2nd
Prompt: Kicking

“How can we trap it if it won’t stop #kicking and headbutting?” Ashton asked with a scowl.

“Be happy its wings are clipped,” Darby said, eyeing the chrysomallos, who bleated at them.

“The ram’s wool might be gold, but there’s pure murder in its eyes, the bloody thing.”

April 3rd
Prompt: Rock

“Them gargoyles was hurlin’ #rocks at me!”

“Did you provoke the attack?” Ashton asked.

The man mumbled something.

“What?”

“He said he threw a bottle of whiskey at them,” Darby said.

“What a waste,” Ashton said, cuffing the man.

“And those weren’t rocks,” Darby added.

April 4th
Prompt: Orange

“Why does this happen to me?” Darby moaned.

“You irritate people,” Ashton said. “Though, I liked the purple skin more.”

Darby had stuffed his fluffy, tiger #orange hair beneath a cap.

“Oh, back so soon, dear?” the shop-woman asked when they walked in.

Darby glowered.

April 5th
Prompt: Classic

“It’s #classic skin-walker behavior, but we’ve never had a case here,” Darby said.

“Is it impossible?” Ashton asked.

“Improbable. They’re native to the Americas.”

“Then someone brought it here?”

“Maybe, and if they did, I doubt they have anything nice planned with it.”

April 6th
Prompt: Chrome

“Isn’t #chrome a little modern for you?” Ashton asked.

“It does ruin the aesthetic,” Darby admitted.

“The broom is in the shop,” the witch said. “Now, are you here to criticise my transport, or question me?”

“Why not both?”

“Aren’t you cheeky,” she said with a smirk.

April 7th
Prompt: Crane

“This is where I draw the line,” Ashton said, squinting up at the #crane. “Dragons aren’t in my contract.”

“Technically, it’s a wyvern,” Darby said.

“Technically, I don’t care. No fire-breathing lizards.”

“They don’t–”

“Still don’t care.”

“Rent is due.”

“Damn it!”

April 8th
Prompt: Club

“Get the troll away from its #club, and I’ll knock it out with whatever Evanore put in the water balloons,” Ashton said.

“That’s not a club–it’s a tree! Why can’t I throw them?” Darby protested.

“I called bagsy, and you can’t throw.”

Darby glared, then moved forward.

April 9th
Prompt: Telegraph

“You can’t #telegraph your moves like that,” Ashton said with a jab.

“I-” Darby said, ducking away, “hardly think I’ll be engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a werewolf!”

“You never know, and it won’t hurt.”

“It does if I can’t move tomorrow!”

“Pain is good for you.”

April 10th
Prompt: Isolation

“Most of the more powerful beings live in #isolation,” Darby said idly, reading a book.

“They don’t play well with others?” Ashton asked.

“More like territorial. They need to make sure their food supply isn’t being eaten by others.”

“And we’re the food?”

“Exactly.”

April 11th
Prompt: Rescue

“It’s not a #rescue if the kelpie drowns us along with the kid,” Ashton said.

“Just distract it long enough for me to get its bridle,” Darby whispered.

“If it dives before you can?”

“Hold your breath?”

“I owe you a beating when this is through.”

“That’s the spirit.”

April 12th
Prompt: Desperado

“He’s a bit of a #desperado.”

“You would be, too, if you’d been accused of murder,” Darby said.

“He’s a criminal.”

“Of selling body parts, not of killing the owners of said parts.”

Ashton sighed. “You want to help him, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“I was afraid of that.”

April 13th
Prompt: Road

“Robert Frost must not have met a supernatural,” Ashton said.

“How so?” Darby asked.

“He says to take the #road less traveled by, and that’s the best way to get killed, eaten, or both.”

“He was being metaphorical.”

“Well, he’s *literally* going to get someone hurt.”

April 14th
Prompt: Shelter

“How are we supposed to remove goblins from a bomb #shelter?” Ashton asked.

“Do you have any gold to tempt them with?”

“Fresh out. What do goblins like to eat?”

“Man flesh!” came the reply from the shelter, followed by a chorus of cackles.

“McDonald’s it is, then.”

April 15th
Prompt: Tumbling

The screeching of the children and the sprites could be heard a block away.

“They just came #tumbling out!” the woman cried.

“We are talking about the sprites and not the children, correct?” Ashton asked.

Darby elbowed him at the woman’s glare. “Of course we can help.”

April 16th
Prompt: Desolation

Ashton whistled. “They really did a number on the office.”

“It’s just utter #desolation,” Darby moaned.

“Because it’s clean?”

“Yes! I’ll never be able to find anything.”

“Well, that’s a bit dramatic.”

“Who said the brownies could stay here, anyway?”

“You.”

“Damn.”

April 17th
Prompt: Arrested

“Have they all been #arrested?” Darby asked, bursting through the door.

“Seems so,” Ashton said.

“We can’t tell Kara unless we’re sure they got the entire coven.”

“Kara, is it?”

Darby blushed, and Ashton chuckled.

“I’ll put a call in.”

“Thank you.”

“You owe me.”

April 18th
Prompt: Blue

“The British grindylow is #blue-black, has a mouth and gills similar to the brook lamprey, and tangles its prey in weeds to hold it down while it decomposes,” Darby said

“Lovely. How many are there?” Ashton asked sourly.

“Ten.”

“We’re not getting paid enough for this.”

April 19th
Prompt: Street

“What’s the word on the #street about the rogue vampire?” Darby asked.

Ashton just shook his head.

“What?” Darby asked.

“Someone like you should not use that phrase.”

“You’re circumscribing me within a stereotype, why?”

“Because you use words like ‘circumscribe’.”

April 20th
Prompt: Dab

“You’re supposed to #dab, not wipe,” Darby said.

“Do I tell you how to apply your ointments?” Ashton griped.

“She told you not to touch her belladonna.”

“I didn’t think she meant the plant.”

“You are such a satyr.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“Please, don’t.”

April 21st
Prompt: Ruby

“The phoenix stone is a lesser version of the philosopher’s stone. It is still #ruby red in color, but can only heal minor wounds,” Darby said.

“Still sounds useful to have,” Ashton said.

“It’s also been linked to human combustion, hence the name.”

“Perhaps not, then.”

April 22nd
Prompt: Radio

“Dred Perception has topped the #radio chart again,” Darby said.

Ashton grunted. “Easy enough to perfect talent when you live forever.”

“That’s why vampires have their own category in music award programmes.”

“Strange name, though.”

“They’re vampires.”

“Fair enough.”

April 23rd
Prompt: Oddity

“You two are an #oddity.”

“Oh?” Darby asked.

“Fate has a funny sense of humour, is all,” she said, her milky, white eyes sparkling. “Here’s your mince pies, dearies. And I’d avoid the tube today. Going to be some nasty gremlin business.”

“I think we will,” Ashton said.

April 24th
Prompt: Damage

“He should pay for this!” the man said.

“As part of your lease you were informed a poltergeist was here, and waved #damage claims,” Darby said.

“You have to help. It broke my PS4!”

“Sure it wasn’t your girlfriend?” Ashton asked.

“I don’t have one.”

“How surprising.”

April 25th
Prompt: Mittens

“Tell your mother thank you for the #mittens,” Darby said, handing him a wrapped box.

“What’s this?” Ashton asked.

“Petit fours from Hazel’s Enchanted Cakes.”

“I can’t give her these. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“Why?”

“Because I only got her a tin of biscuits.”

April 26th
Prompt: Heavyweight

“We can’t take the boggart on,” Darby said.

“They’re not #heavyweights,” Ashton said. “Horseshoe, bit of salt, and you’re right as rain.”

“The child gave it a name.”

“Well, shite.”

“Exactly. I’ll ring Evanore.”

“You’d like that.”

“This is business!”

“Sure it is.”

April 27th
Prompt: Killing

“… and everyone wonders when the #killing will end,” the news reader said.

“What do you think?” Ashton asked

“The Ripper imitated revenant attacks trying to stir up trouble,” Darby said.

“So, it’s a revenant, or a copycat of a copycat?”

“Just so.”

“How uninspired.”

April 28th
Prompt: Resurrection

“It’s a true #resurrection?” Darby asked.

“That’s the rumor,” Ashton confirmed.

“There’s only been a handful of those. I doubt this one is real.”

“Stranger things have happened.”

“Didn’t take you for a believer in divine intervention.”

“Like I said: stranger things.”

April 29th
Prompt: Guitar

“The devil plays a fiddle, not a #guitar,” Ashton said.

“Sugar, if I were the true devil your mortal body would have disintegrated,” she said, her southern accent as sweet as her predatory smile.

“You play well,” Darby said.

“Immortality is a drag without hobbies.”

April 30th
Prompt: Alcoholiday

“I need an #alcoholiday,” Ashton groaned.

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“I had to wear a dinner jacket. And make a speech.”

“You did save those kids from that pack of hellhounds.”

“Post the award, then.”

“You’re being terribly dramatic.”

“They had no liquor.”

Darby sighed.

World of Warcraft Class Micro-Stories ~~ Warlock

A quiet humming fills the exceedingly tidy and small work space. A fel green glow gives off barely enough light for anyone save a Night Elf, or the occupant, to see by. There’s a short break in the humming, which is replaced by grumbling and harrumphing.

“The combination is still too unstable.” The voice is raspy, as it tended to be for some Forsaken, but most days Alzira was thankful she’d been left with her jaw, if not her joints.

“I don’t like this place,” a deep, yet wispy voice calls from the doorway.

“Me neither. Too much damp. We’ll have to set up shop somewhere else, and soon,” she responds absently.

The hulking void creature, bound into shape through its heavy-plated vambraces, made no response. Not that Jhazgorg ever did to something that wasn’t a command or question. And not that Alzira ever noticed.

“I need something to stabilize it,” she said, and sat back from the desk.

Though she didn’t feel the cold, Alzira still had a preference for long-sleeved robes, as a bygone comfort from her previous life. She folded her hands into the sleeves, bony fingers tracing the now familiar paths of sinew, patches of skin, and exposed bone. She hummed a nonsensical tune again, as her eyes scanned over the parchments on the wall. It was more from habit than actually reading the notes, as they’d all been committed to memory at this point.

After many long moments, she shook her head and sighed. “There’s no use for it. I need to talk to Grelx. No fighting with Yaznar this time, Jhaz.”

“Cannot resist,” Jhazgorg rumbled.

“Fine, but don’t break anything in Grelx’s workshop, or I’ll never hear the end of it.”

“As you command.”

 

***

 

“How many times I gotta tell ya, ‘Zira. The fel and the arcane just don’t like to play nice. We can brute force it, but don’t expect nothin’ delicate,” Grelx said, examining the vial. “Without order and control, the arcane is unstable, and won’t work. Fel energy is chaos, and naturally destabilizes the arcane as it subjugates it. The line where the arcane goes from useful to useless is finer than fancy elvish underwear.”

“Are you telling me it can’t be done?” Alzira asked, watching the goblin swirl the fluid.

The amethyst liquid was iridescent and sparkly, and was immiscible with the bright green portion, like oil and water. They churned as though agitated; a visual example of what Grelx had said.

“Now, now,” Grelx said, looking up, a gleam in his void dark eyes. “I never said that. We’ll either come up with this miracle potion, or a combustible so powerful the Horde and Alliance both will scramble to get their hands on it.”

“Aren’t we at peace right now?” Alzira mused.

Grelx snorted. “Like that’ll ever last. I mean, they even got the peace, love, and panda people to choose sides,” he said, and put the vial on the cleared space of his alchemy table. “No, it won’t last, and they’ll need something else to kill each other with. Especially now that the over-sized doorstop has outlawed the use of azerite except for his pets.”

“I think you mean, ‘champions’.”

“Hah! Champions of chaos, maybe. Half the messes they clean up are their fault in the first place,” he said, then shook his head. “Anyway, let’s see what we can come up with.”

Just as they were getting settled around the table, Alzira tilted her head.

“Does it seem quiet to you?”

“Hmm?” Grelx said, then his head shot up. “Jhaz! You fat, lumbering blueberry! Did you eat Yaznar again?”

“I must feed,” came the reply from somewhere outside.

“Well, at least they weren’t fighting,” Alzira said, an edge of humor to her words.

“Whatever. Dismiss that walking garbage bucket so we can get started,” Grelx said.

Alzira knew the only reason he didn’t blow up about the newest tally in Yaznar’s death counter, was because he had a puzzle in front of him. The only thing that could garner his ire now would be interrupting him while he worked.

“Go for now, Jhaz,” Alzira said, her mind already turning in the same direction as Grelx’s.

“I…am…void…where prohibited,” Jhaz said, then diminished in size before disappearing through a portal.

“What a comedian,” Grelx muttered. “Yaznar! Get back here, and bring some fel with you!” Then Grelx looked to Alzira. “Can you get more of this?” he asked, and pointed to the purple liquid.

“Of course,” she said.

“Good. We’ll need plenty, and cross whatever fingers you have left that we don’t blow ourselves up before figuring this out.”

“This is why I came to you Grelx: you’re an optimist.”

Twitter #vss365 (Very Short Stories) with Ashton & Darby ~~ March

February < — > April

 

March 1st
Prompt: Bridging

“With Samhain comes the bridging of the spirit realm and our own,”Darby said.

“You mean with Halloween comes three times our usual workload,” Ashton grumbled.

“The dearly departed deserve our help just as much as the living.”

“Calling them ‘dearly’ is going a bit far.”

March 2nd
Prompt: Atlantic

“Not afraid of a little sea monster, are you?” Ashton asked.

“We’re on a rickety boat in the Atlantic–”

“Ship.”

“–and I’m not meant to worry about a kraken that could swallow us whole?” Darby asked.

“I thought you liked this observation stuff?”

“On dry land? Yes.”

March 3rd
Prompt: Whitecaps

“Think we’ll see any seafolk while we’re out here?” Ashton asked.

“Not likely,” Darby said.

“Are there any we’d want to?”

“Nereids are nice, though they hide in the whitecaps while they watch seafarers. Think siren, but friendlier with less singing us to our deaths.”

March 4th
Prompt: Seagull

“You know, my grandad used to say it’s bad luck to kill a seagull. That they carry the souls of sailors lost at sea,” Ashton said.

“I thought I was the lore expert,” Darby joked.

“I’m allowed to know things, too.”

“If you say so, geek.”

“Use it while you can, nerd.”

March 5th
Prompt: Tribute

“When she refused their tribute they attacked her,” Darby said.

“So, they try to give this witch an offering because they fear her, but when she refuses they attack her? Someone that powerful, in her place of power–her home?” Ashton asked.

“Doesn’t track.”

“Agreed.”

March 6th
Prompt: Seventeen

Seventeen are missing,” Ashton said.

“I’m sorry, did I hear you correctly? Seventeen?” Darby asked.

“Daycare’s worth of kids, and two teachers.”

“What do you think?”

“Custodial abduction. One kid’s dad is a sorcerer in a nasty divorce. The others are collateral.”

March 7th
Prompt: Patch

“The spells here are the patches holding together a weaker group of spells,” she explained.

“How would this happen?” Ashton asked.

“Two spellworkers.”

“Apprentice and master?” Darby asked.

“More like idiot, and the person keeping the idiot from hurting themselves.”

March 8th
Prompt: Spark

“A single spark could destroy this whole block,” Darby said. “He should have had the sense to make a containment circle.”

“Never depend on people to have common sense, especially alchemists,” Ashton said. “They all go barmy eventually from sniffing too many chemicals.”

March 9th
Prompt: Spoken

“We’re to check on a reported troop of Gefs,” Darby said.

“There’ve been no Gefs in twenty-odd years, let alone a pack of them. Has anyone actually spoken to these mongooses?” Ashton asked. “Or is it mongeese?”

“Either.”

“I knew there was a reason we kept you around.”

March 10th
Prompt: Words

“Friday the 13th sucks,” Ashton griped.

“Truer words were never spoken,” Darby said.

“One more, ‘My witch of a neighbor sent a black cat after me!’ calls, and I’m done.”

“You two! You got another black ca–”

Ashton growled and stormed out. Darby followed with a sigh.

March 11th
Prompt: Unfathomable

“The depth and breadth of my machinations is unfathomable to you!”

“Tell me he’s not monologuing,” Ashton said.

“You know not wrath-”

“Seems so,” Darby said over him.

“-simpleminded cretins!”

“Redundant, but not your average insult. Colour me impressed,” Ashton said.

March 12th
Prompt: Insurmountable

“Your opponent is insurmountable,” the diviner said, reading her cards.

“Hold on, I’m not into this vrykolakas like that,” Ashton said.

“No, she means-” Darby started.

“I know what she meant; it was a joke.”

“Vampiric werewolves are a joke to you?”

“Today they are.”

March 13th
Prompt: Normal

“Do you ever wish things were normal? Mundane?” Darby asked.

“Like in those fantasy books where’s there no magic, and whatnot?”

“Yes.”

Ashton shrugged. “Maybe, but I doubt the world would be any less cocked-up. In all likelihood, people–not magic–are the problem.”

March 14th
Prompt: Foreign

“Do we have to go this fete?” Ashton asked.

“We’ve been invited to meet the leaders of the foreign enclaves,” Darby said.

“But it’s vampires.”

“They’re not so bad.”

“They think we’re cattle.”

“Not all of them.”

“Enough do that ‘not all of them’ isn’t good enough.”

March 15th
Prompt: Stroopwafel

“I didn’t know you liked stroopwafels,” Darby said.

“What’s not to like? They’re delicious,” Ashton said, taking a bite.

“May I have one?”

“Absolutely not. I don’t share my stroops.”

“I thought we were friends.”

“I won’t even share these with my mum.”

“Cruel.”

March 16th
Prompt: Mannequin

“The mannequin came to life and attacked everyone in the store?” Ashton asked.

“Yes,” Darby said.

“Witchcraft?”

“Maybe, but it could be any number of magic-users.”

“Too many suspects.”

“I can’t always give you the answer on a silver platter.”

“More’s the pity.”

March 17th
Prompt: Kindergarten

“You had the kindergarten class scared witless,” Ashton said.

“I did not!” Darby protested.

“Why did you tell them the boogeyman was real? Or that Black Annis sightings have started again?”

“Forewarned is forearmed.”

“They’re six.”

“Just so.”

“You’re hopeless.”

March 18th
Prompt: Robot

“Does it counts as a robot if magic is used to animate it?” Ashton asked, poking the contraption.

“No. This runs on magic, not technology,” Darby said.

“Even though it looks, walks, and talks like one?”

“Robots can look human, does that make them human?”

“Touche.”

March 19th
Prompt: Armada

“It’s an entire armada of ghost ships?” Ashton asked.

“That’s what’s on the report,” Darby said.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s on the water again.”

“Still whinging about your nausea?”

“You didn’t spend weeks sick.”

“No, but I had to listen to you, which is just as bad.”

March 20th
Prompt: Organised

“Ghouls aren’t this organised, unless being controlled,” Darby said.

“A necromancer?”

“Probably, but there are–”

“–multiple potential magic-users. I get tired of that.”

“Then why ask?”

“Because I think horses, not centaurs.”

“With us, centaurs are more common.”

March 21st
Prompt: Haiku

“Spells don’t have to rhyme;
haiku will channel power,”
Darby filled him in.

“That seems rather odd,
but poetry’s not my strength,”
Ashton said, then shrugged.

March 22nd
Prompt: Acrostic

“The note is an #acrostic,” Darby said.
“A-what?” Ashton asked.
“Never mind. The first letters form a word or phrase.”
“That’s why he looks so pleased with himself?”
“Right. He won’t feel clever once we tell him we know.”
“Undoubtedly.”
“Might even cause a tantrum.”

March 23rd
Prompt: Short

“I’m not sure either of us is short enough for this tunnel,” Ashton said.

Darby scoffed. “No one over three feet is, but we still have to go in.”

“I-I’m claustrophobic.”

Darby stared. “I didn’t think you were afraid of anything.”

“Everyone is scared of something.”

March 24th
Prompt: Stork

“A stork?” Ashton asked.

“Yes,” Darby confirmed.

“With a baby?”

“That’s what the report says.”

“But that’s not a real thing, is it?”

“No, but some deities, like tricksters, can alter reality.”

“What happened to the pregnancy, erm, stuff?”

“You don’t want to know.”

March 25th
Prompt: Cosy

“Well, this is cosy,” Ashton said.

“Disturbing, you mean,” Darby said.

“Fair enough. I thought the house was supposed to be made of candy?”

“No, but she used to lure the children with treats.”

“What does she use now?”

“Fortnite.”

“How deviously enterprising of her.”

March 26th
Prompt: Delicious

“How many times have I told you not to eat something if you didn’t see who it came from?”

“‘Least they were delicious,” Ashton barely managed from his swollen mouth.

“You won’t think so when you find out what you have to eat to counteract this,” Darby muttered.

March 27th
Prompt: Outblowing

“He said he was…outblowing?” Ashton asked, eyeing Darby over the report.

“It’s a translation from a Dutch phrase,” Darby said.

“Keep it simple for us stupids, eh?”

Darby sighed. “He was out for a jog when he was allegedly attacked by a redcap.”

“See? Much simpler.”

March 28th
Prompt: Toad

“I’m not going to kiss him,” Ashton said, looking down at the #toad.

“I’d hardly subject the gentleman to such cruelty,” Darby said.

“Ha-ha. So, what can we do, genius?”

“Find the witch, find his true love, hand him over to Obscurus, or find a nice patch of bog.”

March 29th
Prompt: Butt

“Gargoyles are roosting on the buttresses, and we need to relocate them,” Darby said.

“Did you say they’re roosting on #butts?” Ashton asked, his voice breaking up over the call.

“No. Butresses.”

“Why would gargoyles be on butts?”

“Nevermind. I’ll meet you there.”

March 30th
Prompt: Finisterre

“He was a sailor on the #Finisterre, and was killed when it was driven aground,” Darby said.

“Has anyone tried an exorcism?” Ashton asked.

“He’s French, so someone who speaks French or Latin needs to do it.”

“Let me guess: you do?”

“Both, actually.”

“Overachiever.”

March 31st
Prompt: Zarf

“The curse is passed through the inheritance of the #zarf set,” Darby said.

Ashton scoffed. “Zarf is not a word.”

“Of course it is.”

“Well, I’ve never heard of it.”

“I could fill a set of dictionaries with all the words you’ve never heard.”

“Someone’s feisty today.”

Twitter #vss365 (Very Short Stories) ~~ February

January < — > March

 

February 1st
Prompt: Script

“And this script will extract the data we want.”

“It’s like he’s speaking a foreign language,” Ashton muttered.

“Agreed,” Darby said, frowning at the computer.

“How does an ancient god know more about computers than you two?”

“Too much time on his immortal hands.”

February 2nd
Prompt: Sanity

“Potential side effect: Loss of Sanity,” Ashton said.

“Very low chance,” the witch reassured Darby.

“I’m not sure it’s worth it.”

“Well, I hear purple’s in this season.”

Darby glared and snatched the bottle, his magenta skin flushing to a lovely shade of mulberry.

February 3rd
Prompt: Fantasy

Ashton wiped the ectoplasm from his face. “I have this fantasy, that one day I won’t be called into work to deal with poltergeists.”

“Last time it was a hellhound fighting ring, not ghosts.”

Ashton gave Darby a look. “You’re being pedantic, and I need a vacation.”

February 4th
Prompt: Frantic

“The woman was quite frantic,” Darby said.

“They always are. She probably just saw an overfed house cat.”

“Or, it could really be the Cat Sìth.”

“If the King o’ Cats is hiding behind a pub dumpster in Kingsbury, I’ll eat my hat.”

“You don’t have one.”

“Exactly.”

February 5th
Prompt: Atlas

“They’re trying to sell the cloak of Atlas the Titan?”

“No, this was supposedly from Atlas, the first king of Atlantis,” Darby said.

“That tourist trap?”

“Tourist trap or not, the cloak could be an important piece of history.”

“Or a fake.”

“Possibly.”

“Likely.”

February 6th
Prompt: Ritual

“This some kind of demonic ritual?” Ashton asked.

“No, but I think they were trying to imitate one.”

“How so?”

“Unless they were summoning the demon of–” Darby squinted at a symbol, “–sweaters, it’s fake.”

“Demon of sweaters not a thing?”

“Not that I know of.”

February 7th
Prompt: Enchanted

Enchanted items are logged and sent to Obscurus.”

Ashton snorted. “If our sorcerer knows we’ve sent his doodad to MI13, he’ll disappear.”

“But–”

“Do you want to keep him from killing again, or follow protocol?”

“Both,” Darby ground out.

“Can’t have both. Choose.”

February 8th
Prompt: Mules

“You can’t turn kids into donkeys,” Ashton said.

“They’re mules, not donkeys,” the witch said.

“What’s the difference?”

“Mules are the product of male donkeys and females horses, and often sterile,” Darby said.

“Now the kids are, too,” she said with an evil grin.

February 9th
Prompt: Pride

“They say that pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Darby said.

The demon rolled the possessed man’s eyes. “As though demons have a cornerstone on pride. Have you seen the human race recently?”

“It’s not wrong, you know,” Ashton said.

February 10th
Prompt: Request

“Did you put in your request for leave yet?” Ashton asked.

“Yes,” Darby said.

“Any plans?”

“I’m visiting a friend, and we’re going to observe a pack of chupacabras in Texas.”

“Don’t you get enough of that stuff here?”

“It’s interesting.”

“You’re such a nerd.”

February 11th
Prompt: Ally

“Will the vamps cooperate?” Ashton asked.

“Doubtful, but we don’t want them to be too friendly, anyway,” Darby said.

“Why?”

“What happens if the other supernatural groups think we are #allies with the vampires?”

“Chaotic political bollocks?”

“Exactly.”

February 12th
Prompt: Judge

“My stuff can’t even do what you’re sayin’!” the woman protested.

“SOCO will be the judge of that,” Ashton said, as the shelves of the occult shop were slowly cleared.

“Most of this is for tourists,” Darby whispered.

“You want to bet someone’s life on that?”

February 13th
Prompt: Empire

“Vamps have their own empire?” Ashton asked.

“The enclaves need someone to keep them from falling into squabbles,” Darby said.

“Who rules them?”

“An empress. We don’t know much about her.”

“Is she real?”

“As long as they behave, does it matter?”

“I suppose not.”

February 14th
Prompt: Rookie

“I don’t see why we have to get the rookie,” Ashton grumbled.

“It’s only for a few months,” Darby reassured him. “Plus, we’re one of the few liaison teams, and training more will lighten the workload.”

“If he survives,” Ashton muttered. “I give him a week.”

February 15th
Prompt: Parody

“Is this supposed to be a parody?” Darby asked.

“Actually, I think they’re trying to be serious,” Ashton said.

The man in a ghastly werewolf costume dropped to his knees, then did a poor imitation of a howl.

Darby cringed. “I’m not sure Hamlet needs werewolves.”

February 16th
Prompt: Creed

“I thought human sacrifice went against their creed?” Ashton asked, looking up from the body.

“It’s Rede, not creed. ‘An ye harm none, do what ye will’,” Darby said.

“This looks harmful.”

“Then it wasn’t a wiccan.”

“And this?”

“Anyone can buy a pentagram.”

February 17th
Prompt: Greed

Greed does crazy things to a person,” Ashton said.

“Yes. Using ghouls to kill his grandfather for the inheritance was terrible,” Darby said.

“He got his, though. There was barely enough of him left to fill a gym bag after they turned on him.”

“Comeuppance, indeed.”

February 18th
Prompt: Infiltrated

“How did Mr. Bailey not notice a barghest had infiltrated his flock?” Ashton asked, going over the report.

“Bad eyesight?” When Ashton gave Darby a look, he shrugged. “His real dog and sheep didn’t seem to mind.”

“Did it kill him?”

“They’re omens, not killers.”

February 19th
Prompt: Purpose

“You did that on purpose!” Darby accused, brushing himself off.

“Of course I did. You should have seen your face when they dove at you,” Ashton said.

“Cockatrices are dangerous–that was not funny!”

“Maybe not for you.”

“Ridiculous. You and this illegal breeder.”

February 20th
Prompt: Soldier

“You were a soldier?” Darby asked.

“Yeah,” Ashton said, not elaborating.

“Did you see anything in the middle east?”

“Yeah, sand.”

“No, I mean–”

“I know what you meant.” There was a long silence. “There’s things out there best left alone, and not talked about.”

February 21st
Prompt: Solution

“This is not a solution, it’s a band-aid.” Darby grimaced at the smell of the sachet.

“Band-aid is better than dead,” Ashton said. “I’m not the one who pissed off the necromancer.”

“But we were all there, so why single me out?”

“Must be your stunning personality.”

February 22nd
Prompt: Peace

“If you could get one wish, what would it be?” Ashton asked.

“That’s not how the djinn work,” Darby said.

“We can’t wish for #peace on earth, and good will toward men?”

Darby grimaced. “Not unless you want them to kill everyone.”

“That’s a bit harsh.”

“But it works.”

February 23rd
Prompt: Royal

“This is a royal mess,” Darby grumbled.

“It’s not so bad,” Ashton said.

“Being quarantined for a potential magical malady outbreak is not trivial.”

“Think of it as a mini-vacation.”

“Yes, one that could end in death.”

“This is why no one invites you to parties.”

February 24th
Prompt: Belle

“Are you sure she said we’re looking for a bell?” Ashton asked, eyeing the scantily clad woman.

The succubus smirked, and her eyes flashed scarlet. “My name is Belle, pleasure to meet you.”

“There may, um, have been a slight miscommunication,” Darby said with a gulp.

February 25th
Prompt: Spirit

“You mean they’re spirits distilled from…spirits?” Ashton asked, looking a bit green about the gills.

“Fascinating, isn’t it? I wonder how they do it, and what it tastes like,” Darby said.

Ashton gagged. “Absolute nutter.”

“You just have no sense of adventure.”

February 26th
Prompt: Vermin

“Wraiths are a vermin class of incorporeal undead,” Darby said.

“What does vermin class mean?” Ashton asked.

“They can cause whatever disease they died of.”

“So they’re like graveyard rats?”

“Essentially.”

“Ugh, imagine getting ghost syphilis.”

“I’d rather not.”

February 27th
Prompt: Destination

“It’s a tourist destination now, not a place of power,” the old woman said.

“Could someone change that?” Ashton asked.

“Only with a lot o’ blood and power.”

“If they have that?” Darby asked.

“It’ll either wake the Henge, or kill everything in a hundred mile radius.”

February 28th
Prompt: Deathly

“Liches have a deathly complexion,” Darby said.

Ashton snorted. “That’s most people this time of year.”

“Won’t bleed–”

“As with most undead.”

“–and attract dead creatures through inadvertent leaking of their necromonic powers.”

“A zombie Pied Piper?”

“Seems so.”

February 29th
Prompt: Purge

“During the Hundred Years’ War, the English purged a vampire enclave, so the vampires took the side of the French,” Darby said.

“It helped that one of the French royals had a vampire lover,” Ashton said.

“Rumored, but not proven.”

“They’re French, that’s proof enough.”

Twitter #vss365 (Very Short Stories) ~~ January

–> February

 

January 1st
Prompt: Charlatan

When Ol’ Jenny came to town
They threw stones and tore her gown

Charlatan!” the townsfolk cried
When the crops withered and died

Preacher claimed a witch she be;
They hung her at the crossroad tree

Cursed ’em with her final breath
And now their lands know only death.

January 2nd
Prompt: Obfuscate

Obfuscate!” she yelled, throwing her hand up in a stop gesture.

A chuckle followed her from the dark as she staggered away.

“Oh, Little Witch, you won’t be rid of me that easily.” His thrown knife ended the sentence, and her cry of pain pulled a smile from him.

 

~~Ashton & Darby starts here~~

January 3rd
Prompt: Unicorn

“Is that–“

“No.”

“It really looks like–”

“I said no.”

Someone had tried to keep the zombie horse’s mouth shut by impaling it with a machete, making it look like…

“It’s not a unicorn .”

“No, it’s clearly a zombicorn.”

“I almost hate that enough to kill you.”

January 4th
Prompt: Latent

“Did you check the house for latent spells?”

“Do I look like an amateur to you?”

“I’m not sure you want me to answer that question.”

Ashton scowled, but responded; “Yes, I checked. Happy?”

“Not particularly. Three dead, and a missing warlock? I’ve had better days.”

January 5th
Prompt: Disinter

“What’s he done now?”

Disinterred corpses, and relieved them of their personal effects.”

“Jewelry?”

“And body parts. Best of both worlds, really. Jewelry to pawn, and parts to the black magic folks.”

“You’re sick, Darby.”

“No, just practical.”

“Same difference.”

January 6th
Prompt: Yip

“Should he be doing that?” Ashton asked, leery of the yipping man.

“Well, he is a werewolf,” Darby said hesitantly.

“What do we do, Mr. Expert?”

“Animal control?”

“Not likely.”

“Have you got a collar and leash?”

“Don’t try to rope me into your kinks, Darby.”

January 7th
Prompt: Obviate

“Staking a vampire does not obviate the removal of the head.”

“How informative,” Ashton said. He pulled out the hacksaw, then gave it to Darby. “Being a liaison doesn’t obviate your duty to make sure the vamp is dead,” Ashton explained with a grin at Darby’s grimace.

January 8th
Prompt: Usurpers

Usurpers!” the caged pixie shrieked as Ashton put him in the back of their car.

“Murderers!”

“Will he do this all the way to the station?”

“Human filth!”

“Probably. He’s on the fae drug he’s been dealing.”

“Which one?”

“Revel.”

“Oh, he’s in for a rough night.”

January 9th
Prompt: Kinetic

Darby displayed the sigil on the bottom of the swing. “They’re reaping or feeding on the kinetic energy created by the children.”

“That’s why they’re tired?”

“Yes, and it urges them to keep swinging.”

“For how long?”

“With no one to stop them? Until they pass out.”

January 10th
Prompt: Inquisitive

“Darby, get this thing off me,” the creature said. The satori sat on Ashton’s tensed shoulder.

“It’s just inquisitive , no need for hysterics. The Japanese liaison will be here soon.”

Then the satori growled at Darby.

“Couldn’t agree more,” Ashton said.

January 11th
Prompt: Lively

“Quite the lively bunch,” Ashton said.

“Yes, but mostly harmless,” Darby reassured him.

“Mostly?”

“There are good and bad nixie.” He gestured to the otters playing in the park pond. “These nixie chose to be around humans, but wild nixie warrant far more caution.”

January 12th
Prompt: Languor

Ashton’s body and mind were languorous, and the only thing that mattered was her.

Darby shouted for a medic, and did his best to drag Ashton along with him.

“I’d rather like to visit her again.”

“Not if I can help it,” Darby muttered. “Damnable sirens.”

January 13th
Prompt: Opaline

“The murder weapon is a fancy dagger?”

“It’s an athame; a ritualistic dagger used by certain practitioners of magic.”

“Right, so a fancy dagger.”

Darby sighed. The opaline quality of the gem in the hilt shimmered. “Anyway, I think they’re using it to trap souls.”

January 14th
Prompt: Fibrous

Ashton eyed the #fibrous material of the noose from which the homemade doll hung. It was too fine for normal rope.

“What is that?”

“The victim’s hair.”

“How’d they get enough for a noose?”

“The victim recently donated their hair. A good deed turned bad by voodoo.”

 

January 15
Prompt: Flourish

The man waved his arms with a flourish, grandly pronouncing words of utter gibberish.

“I believe this is one of yours,” Darby said, eyes avoiding the man’s stark form.

“Not a wizard or sorcerer, then?”

“Certainly not.”

“Tough break for him when he finds out.”

January 16th
Prompt: Yearning

“Their bites are like a drug–destroying the vampire won’t kill the yearning.”

The man was in cuffs in the back of a police vehicle.

“Guess he thought it didn’t hurt to try,” Ashton said.

“He could have died.”

“Maybe he’d rather be dead than live with that need.”

January 17th
Prompt: Riparian

“Kelpies are usually found in the riparian zone of a river or body of water.”

“You should have gotten me a pocket dictionary for Christmas instead of a tie. English please, Pointdexter.”

Darby pinched the bridge of his nose. “On the shore.”

“See? Was that so hard?”

January 18th
Prompt: Muddled

“He’s muddled on his account of the incident.”

“Fae mischief, or embarrassment?”

“Both. Would you want to admit to relations with a goblin you thought was a daoine sídhe, because she illegally used glamour?”

Ashton grimaced.

“Exactly. I’ll contact Fae relations.”

January 19th
Prompt: Articulate

“Having decomposed, the skeleton’s bones are articulated with necromantic magic, allowing it to move.”

“Great,” Ashton said, reloading his weapon. “How do I kill it, Professor?”

The sharp report of his shot rang through the air.

“Um…”

“If I die, I’m haunting you.”

January 20th
Prompt: Jasmine

“Can I tempt you with some jasmine for your garden? To attract love to your door?” With a coy smile she ran a finger down Darby’s chest.

Ashton snickered as Darby let out a strangled; “No,” then backed away. “We’re here to ask about wood nymphs.”

She sighed. “Pity.”

January 21st
Prompt: Obstinate

“The ichthyocentaurs combine the most frustrating traits of its parts: obstinance, pride, and vanity.”

“They sound like real winners.”

“Well, they certainly think so, and they’re starting trouble with the local seafolk.”

“Of course they are,” Ashton grumbled.

January 22nd
Prompt: Rigmarole

“What’s this rigmarole about vamp murders?” the Captain barked.

“You make it sound like they’re the murderers.”

“Aren’t they?”

“Not this time,” Ashton said, before Darby went into a diatribe.

“Then find who’s re-killing ’em before a fang freak cries to the press.”

January 23rd
Prompt: Cacophony

The cacophony from the cages was deafening.

“When our guy found a magical way to fuse animals, his first idea was this?” Ashton yelled, and pointed to the screeching, flapping creature.

“Maybe he likes Wizard of Oz?”

“Well, we’re definitely not in Kansas, Dorothy.”

January 24th
Prompt: Happen

“Why did you let that happen?” Darby gingerly touched his nose.

“Is it my job to step in front of the punch when you shoot off at the mouth?”

“I beg your-”

“You asked the witch if she was, ‘a lady of the night’.”

“Well–”

“You’re lucky all she did was punch you.”

January 25th
Prompt: Amaze

“Do you know what amazes me?” Darby asked.

“Will you leave off?”

“Every time I tell you not to touch something, you never listen.”

“It was a doorknob. Not some magic doodad.”

“A doorknob to a trap room.”

“You going to complain, or help me look for a way out?”

January 26th
Prompt: Range

“What’s the range on this heart-stopping spell?” Ashton asked.

“It depends on many factors.”

“So you don’t know?”

“I would know, if I had all the necessary information.”

“Should I update my will?”

“Only if you plan on subjecting the spellcaster to your presence.”

January 27th
Prompt: Adversary

“Vampires and weres wax and wane as adversaries throughout history,” Darby informed Ashton.

“Isn’t that some kind of urban legend made up by Hollywood?”

“Not exactly, but greatly exaggerated, to be sure.”

“No one is immune to war, I suppose.”

“People rarely are.”

January 28th
Prompt: Could

“How could you let that roam free?” Ashton asked, pointing to the wolpertinger in the cage.

“It wasn’t harming anyone.”

“Except the local livestock, and your neighbor’s cat,” Darby observed.

“Serves her right. Mrs. Davies has always been too nosy for her own good.”

January 29th
Prompt: Tremendous

Tremendous job on that werewolf kerfuffle, you two!” the captain said.

“Thank you, sir.”

Once the captain was gone, Darby whispered; “We didn’t do anything, just mediated.”

“Take praise where you can, Darby. Especially from the captain, and especially with you.”

January 30th
Prompt: Extra

“Do you not have any #extra salt on you?”

“I left my condiments in my other jacket,” Ashton scathingly replied.

“Leave it to you to not pack basic supplies on a witch investigation,” Darby scolded.

“I thought we were here to interview her, not cook her a meal.”

January 31st
Prompt: Rosy

“Her cheeks were #rosy! She’s a vamp!”

“She’s not a vampire; that was make-up for her funeral,” Darby said.

The patrol car took the man away, and Ashton shook his head. “Good thing stakes don’t kill a vamp, or we’d have more twice-dead corpses than we could handle.”

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.