Failing Inspection

Flipping the folder open; the first thing she looked at was the small photo of a black and white house. Adol gave a little sigh as she picked it up and took a closer look. Two stories, four bedrooms and a small backyard. It was run down and had chipped paint from the looks of it. Rubbing her temples, she placed the picture down and picked up the report. Adol’s job was to go in and inspect the building to see what needed to be done to make it livable again. It was common for people to buy, flip, and sell old houses that were abandoned. Being an agent who travelled across the states, it was an excellent opportunity to see unique and out-of-fashion models of homes that were built throughout the ages.

She didn’t mind the work and loved what she did; the only thing she despised was the flights. Just as she finished reading the reports of the owners who bought it, the plane hit a hard patch of turbulence. The lights flickered as the captain announced the strong winds and that it will be over shortly. Adol nearly dropped the file as she clung to the arms of the chair near the aisle. Closing her eyes, she prayed internally, hoping the measly bolted chair would give protection. The plane dipped drastically and caused tremors before stabilizing out again. Taking a few minutes, Adol eventually let out her breath, not realizing she had been holding it for some time. Grabbing the bottled water she had beside her, she downed the whole thing and gasped after the final drop.

Calming down her breath, she stared at the back of the headrest in front of her. Why on earth people thought it was a good idea to pay to climb inside a flying metal death trap was beyond her. Not that cars or trains were any better, she tried not to let her technological phobia get in the way of her work. Letting go of the chair arms, she reached for the file that badly flopped from the small little table to the floor. Collecting it together, she looked once more at the old photo. Things she loved about looking at buildings were the simplicity that they had. They were sturdy and dependable, being that they were made of mostly wood or bricks. They don’t break down the way a car or cellphone would, and repair them if one faulty piece failed. No, instead, they still stand even when one room is out of order, and the only real flaw was if the electrical wiring set the house on fire. The only piece of technology she kept around her was a pager. She couldn’t be bothered to carry a cellphone since they died so quickly or you would lose reception, rendering it useless anyway. The problem with the world was that they relied too heavily on technology to carry us day by day.

Even though she was in her twenties, this deep-rooted belief probably came from her grandma. She smiled a little at the memory of her and how she would constantly yell at the phone when it cut off or at the computer when she couldn’t log into it. Her grandma spent hours telling her as a little girl how important it was never to trust it, that it was going to rule the world over man someday. Adol chuckled as she filed the photo away once more, placing the file back into her briefcase. With a small pat, she leaned back to close her eyes once more before they would land. Thoughts of her grandma put her to ease as she drifted to sleep.


Pulling up in her rental car, Adol let out a small whistle. The shape of the house was in worse condition than the photo revealed. Turning off the car, she pocketed them and reached for her briefcase. Getting out of the car, she slung the straps over her shoulder and strolled up the driveway. Taking mental notes of the chipped paint, plants growing out of the rain catchers and decaying planks of wood around the window ledges, Adol took in a deep breath. Her work was more than cut out for her as she reached into the briefcase and pulled out a checklist. Walking along the side of the house, she checked off several boxes. With a tsk, she looked around the base of the house and wrote a note at the bottom of the page.

“Erosion of dirt around the house that exposed the foundation of the building was a big problem for the future. Recommend releveling dirt.” She clicked the pen and scanned the rest of the house before moving around to the back.

The backyard was in worse of a state than the front. It was overgrown, and the fence had rotted away. She had reckoned that it was already in bad shape before the place was abandoned. Frantic scribbles, she continued to note things when she looked at the base again. Crouching, she noted the ground level was much higher and where it should have been. Looking at the small steps up to the background and the state of the backyard, she shrugged it off. It could have been the cause of storms and wind that came from the north side of the building. Years of constant wind blowing down along the side could have affected the soil. She glanced once more around the side as she walked back up to the front. There were several trees near the path, and the grass had been visibly worn down or even patchy. Stopping, she knelt down and noticed a slight dip. If she had not done this as a professional for years, she would almost not have noticed the subtle difference. Standing up, Adol raised her eyebrows and frowned. Not her problem; she was just here to take notes and pass them along to her employer.

If she had been the one to look at this house, she knew it was going to be a costly fix even before walking inside. She walked up the steps of the front porch and looked under the mat. She had arranged with the owners ahead of time and knew that they were not going to be available at the time she was to arrive. This was preferred in her books since it meant she could work uninterrupted. Nothing irritated her more than owners asking persistent questions while she was evaluating the house before she could submit the report. Liability stopped her from being able to comment on anything until the job was finished. Sticking the lock-in, she struggled a little as it was sticking. With a hard tug, the door budged and flung open, almost knocking to her backside. With a tsk, she clicked her pen and wrote down the notes, speaking them out as she did.

“House shift may have affected door frame.”

Clicking the pen again, she stuck it to the top of the clipboard and entered the house. The smell of dust and rot was strong as she looked around the front entrance. Even though the owners said they had cleaned most of the rooms out in case of spiderwebs and possible mouse turds, the smell still lingered. Adol looked at the stairs just in front of her and to the door immediately to her left. Taking a few steps into the echoey house, she saw the hall just to the left of the staircase that led to what looked like the kitchen. Shoving the clipboard under her arm, she pulled off the file from her briefcase. The layout of the house was in the back of the notes as she pulled it out and clipped it to the board, placing the file back inside again. Even though she studied it several times, she still wanted to keep it out. Upstairs were the three bedrooms, the living room was to her left, and the kitchen was at the end of the hall. The forth room was to the left of the kitchen in the far back.

Turning around, she closed the door and placed the key on a small table near the steps as she ascended up them. Starting top to bottom, she reached the top step and examined the floorboards carefully. They were creaky but seemed to be in good condition, least enough not to send her plummeting to the ground floor. Scanning the roof, she found the access hatch to the attic. Upon request, the owners did leave a small latter for her to reach the small hole to have a look. Opening the latter, she managed to reach the small hatch and popped it open, taking a quick glance around. Spotting several issues, she waited till she closed the hatch and stepped down before clicking her pen.

“Leaky roof, replace. Insulation needs replacement. Smell of mild mold.” Finding checkboxes, she whispered “Check” each one she marked.

Routinely she went to each room, numbering them one through three from farthest from the stairs to closest. They seemed fine until she reached the third room, where the roof leak was obvious as the wall damage showed against the wall. Using her pen, she dug it into the stain as it crumbled the drywall beneath the paint. With a frown, she wiped the pen off before making a note of the damage, moving out of the room as she did. With the top floor complete, she made her way back down. Just as her foot tapped the floor in the front entrance, the sound of her pager had gone off. Clicking her pen, she clipped it on top of the clipboard, then placed them both on the table. She opened her briefcase in search of the pager and pulled it out to look at the message as it flashed across the small screen.


Adol scoffed. Did she need to stop and take this when she was already close to finishing? It would mean she would have to drive back into town and call from a payphone or at the hotel she was staying at for the night. Being that it had already been a long day with the plane ride, she sighed heavily as she looked back at the clipboard. It would be a waste to stop now and leave. It would require coming back tomorrow and risking missing the flight to return home in the afternoon. The house wasn’t far from town, but it would still be a hassle. Adol decided to shove the pager back into her bag, turning to pick up the clipboard again. A loud crash made her jump as she looked towards the closed door in front of her. She waited a moment before taking a few steps towards the door, grabbing inside the briefcase once more to pull out a flashlight. There was still daylight leaking in from the windows all around, but just in case it didn’t have as much lighting, she wanted that extra security. She flicked it on before turning the knob and pushing the door inward. The room was wider than she expected as she looked around to see where the noise had come from. A few items were still in the room from the original owners as she saw an old lamp, a small coffee table, and in the far back corner a painting laying flat on the floor.

Taking a deep breath in, she relaxed a little as she guessed the noise was from the picture falling over. Walking over, she scanned the floor and walls to see what evidence had contributed to knocking it over. The frame looked large and heavy as she kneeled down to lift it up. Straightening it up and leaning it against the wall, she saw that the frame was an antique. Plaster carved swirls and flowers embroidered the picture of what looked like to be a painting of an old family. Adol took a step back to admire it with awe and quickly to find what looked like a now dead mouse at the bottom of the frame. With a grunt of disgust, she turned away from the flattened body. The mouse had been smooshed against the floor and picture frame. It wasn’t a surprise to see that mice have taken up home in an old building like this. Looking around the floor again, she looked to see if he had friends when the flashlight flickered off.

Scoffing, Adol hit the side of the flashlight to bump the battery, turning it back on again. The untrusted flashlight of hers always seemed to die quickly, and each time she forgot to replace it.

“Oh well. It’s the best I have for now.”

While in the room, she did a quick inspection taking a mental note of all the things to mark down on her clipboard. She turned the light off as she returned back to the front foyer, placing it in the briefcase. She placed her hands on her hips as she looked down at the clipboard, wondering how the owners were going to afford to fix this property up when she noticed something odd. The clipboard sat where she left it alone on the table, her pen missing. She picked the clipboard up and looked around the floor for the missing pen, checking the table once more to see it empty. Scratching her head, she patted her pockets to see if maybe she had placed it in her pocket.

“Odd,” she thought, “I was sure I placed it on the clipboard.”

Taking her briefcase off her shoulder, she placed it on top of the table to look for another pen. A gnawing thought tickled the back of her brain as she felt as if she forgot something while she searched her bag for a pen. Eventually finding one, she cheered for herself as she clicked it. Turning back to the clipboard again, she jotted the notes down from the living room before she forgot. Feeling a small victory, she smiled at her efficiency as she decided to leave the bag for the last two rooms. Pulling out the flashlight, she placed it in her back pocket before walking down the hall. Scanning the roof and the baseboards, she felt a sudden shiver down her spine. Turning around, she looked back at the door to see nothing. Adol chuckled out loud as she turned back towards the kitchen.

“Man, I am getting jumpy. Silly mice, getting me all scared.” Convincing herself, she pretended not to feel like the shiver was from being watched. Old buildings always gave off creepy vibes, and she wasn’t going to let it interfere with her work. Superstitions were a waste of time and not to be believed, for she had seen many abandoned buildings and never believed in ghosts. She inspected the kitchen, finding a few issues and turned to look at the small opening around the door to the last bedroom. She noticed it extended a little further out past the kitchen and that the floor did seem newer, just past the line of where it extended. Was this an addition later to the house? It might have explained the dip in the soil outside. She didn’t look far enough into the backyard to have noticed that the kitchen was shorter. Adding this note to her clipboard, she felt a small chill as a breeze grazed her arm.

Adol shot her head up towards the back door. “Wait, a breeze?”

She turned around to look at the front door as well and saw that it was still shut. From how much time she spent in the front entrance, if there were a breeze, she would have noticed that right away. She walked over to the back door and felt around the edges. Nothing seemed to seep in from the outside, and as she checked the knob of the door, it was sealed tight. This definitely was a new addition to the original house as it was newer than the front door and had a slightly different design. Adol checked the blueprints of the house design again. Something about this wasn’t adding up. In the original files she read on the plane, nothing was mentioned about any updates made to the house. So either the blueprints were wrong, or the original owners made illegal changes to the house without a permit. The room was part of the floor plan as she turned to open the last room. Pulling out her flashlight, she scanned the roof, floor and walls to check the age. The roof was still part of the original look, but the floor was definitely newer. She turned to look out the window that gave a view of the overgrown yard.

“I’ll have to report this for sure. They might need to double-check the wiring…” A faint sound came from outside the bedroom. Adol paused and listened as she heard faint footsteps walking. Turning around, she walked back out into the kitchen and to the hall. Maybe the owners were able to make it? Was that what her boss wanted to let her know? She looked at the front door and was met once again with an empty house. Looking all around her, Adol tried to calm herself down. Footsteps, loud crashes, her missing pen; things weren’t adding up. Was she actually alone, or was someone playing a trick on her? Maybe she should just take her things and lock up the house and… All of a sudden, it dawned on her.

“The keys.”

When she was in the front after inspecting the upstairs, she could have sworn she left the keys on the small table. She remembered when her pen was missing that the only thing left was her clipboard. Tapping her pockets, she felt that they were empty.

Adol was determined as she took several steps towards the front door. She was going to check the table for the house keys when she felt the breeze again; this time, it was stronger. The light from outside was dimming as she knew it was well getting into the evening. She needed to leave soon and had been here much longer than needed. Worse off, the owners had no power in the building yet since they needed her approval first. Cursing under her breath, she knew that this might be a big problem that she needed to add to her notes. Leaking roofs and mild mold are easy fixes, but a draft in the middle of the house? That would not look good on her if she missed any details like this one. Using her flashlight, she ran her hand along the walls against the stairs. Maybe there was a gap from when they added the wall under the stairs. It was strange that there wouldn’t be a storage space placed here since it was common to have one under the staircases.

A small thought came to mind as she questioned it. Maybe since there were already alterations to the house that aren’t on the blueprint, that they might have done a poor job of covering the old closet. The wall was made of a wood-like panel that ran from the front to the kitchen entrance. As Adol checked it closely, she found what looked like a small opening. Her hand hovered over it as a confirming breeze pushed against her hand. She traced along the crack and found a small hole near the top that allowed her to grab the inner ledge. With her fast-beating heart, she pulled open a small door that blended perfectly with the wall. As it opened fully, Adol was greeted with an old web-covered entrance that led downstairs by brittle-looking stairs. Her mouth was agape as she looked at her clipboard with shaky hands.

“A hidden basement. They managed to hide a hidden basement this whole time.”

This was an amazing discovery. Never had she ever found something as wondrous as a hidden passageway or room like this. Adol stood in the hall conflicted as she swallowed hard. The smell suddenly arising from the breeze, almost made her gag. It was the same smell from when she first entered, yet there was something dark and damp along with it. She could hardly dispel the idea of dead animals that had been trapped down there and died, maybe even rot, as the stairs looked barely sturdy. This new dilemma now posed a serious question. Should she inspect it or just call it a night and let the owners know in the morning? The light had now just passed the horizon as twilight had dimmed in the halls. The only source of light now the one in her hand. With one final glance at the clipboard with her flashlight, she looked down the stairs with a stern look.

“It’s my job to do a complete check. I can’t back out now.”

Even with every fibre in her being telling her to leave, Adol pressed, stepping down into the small entrance. The air of the small space was damp and awful as she covered her mouth with the clipboard as a guard. With small, timid steps on the creaky steps, she made her way slowly down into the pitch black. The walls were made of cement; moss had grown thick along the sides further down into the hole as she descended. Just as she made the last few steps, she slipped and fell forward into the ground, dropping both the clipboard and flashlight. Expecting a hard floor, she was surprised as she landed in soft soil. In a scramble, she reached for the flashlight as it started to flicker. Adol’s breath was laboured as she slammed her hand into the light to get a steady beam. Dust from the soil flew around her as she clung to the only thing giving her sanity. Forcibly she calmed her breathing and looked around. The whole room was much shorter than it should be for a standard basement. The walls were dirty and covered as she glanced over it quickly, not getting a good look at what it was before seeing a wooden pole sticking out of the dirt. Focusing on the pole, she ascertained it to be a handle to a shovel as she stood up.

Almost hitting her head on the low-hanging ceiling, she walked over to the shovel. With her free hand, she grabbed it and pulled it out to look at the other end of it, only to yelp in terror. The tip of the tool was covered in dirt, blood and what looked like fresh guts. Before Adol could think, a sudden slam came from the top of the stairs as the door was closed shut. Dropping the shovel, she backed up towards the far wall in terror, just as her flashlight started to flicker once more. In a desperate panic, she slammed her hand against the flashlight to no avail as the light shut off. In the pitch-black silence, all she could hear was the clicking of her pen. Adol screamed.

Cry About It Later

Authors disclaimer:

*This story is based on and inspired by the music and music video of Katy Perry’s “Cry about it later”. After listening to it a few days ago for the first time, I had this overwhelming urge to write the rest of the story out since I felt it was an amazing concept. I was consumed and all I wished for was more about the story line that in the end, I created my own. Please enjoy and also check out the song. Katy Perry has always been an inspiration to me, so I hope you enjoy this as much as I had while writing it.*


The flight back to her house was devastating. Katy’s mind was blank as the slow dawning realization of what had transpired settled in. It’s over. The long relationship she had with the person she loved was over. Plopping down into her chair, she crossed her arms, holding herself tightly as tears streamed down her face. It was no shock really since she knew this day would eventually come. Being a witch was both a blessing and curse in the world. Many came far and wide looking for her skills and charms, yet there was still the stigma that witches brought bad omen. She was used to the ridicule and superstitions, but it didn’t matter while she had that person beside her. Now without them, the void in her chest gnawed as it grew. 

    Relaxing her shoulders, Katy was determined. What was the use crying over the pain she expected? If she was easily discarded then it was their loss. No point wasting her tears or her energy. She was a young talented witch! Standing up she grabbed her wand, flipping her book to see what she could do about her plain long black gown. Too long she hid her looks behind unflattering dress codes, all so that she would be taken seriously and not seen as an enchantress out to steal hearts. Flipping pages, she finally found the quick chant and swished her wand. Tendrils of power whooshed out from within as her clothes slithered away like ribbons. The scratchy cloth softened into silk as it shapened around her torso, flaring into a cute black sundress. Adding the final touch of a black ribbon, it pulled her blond hair back with a bow. 

    Katy didn’t have to check into the mirror to know she looked smokin, adding a little pink lip gloss before flicking her wand once more towards her broom. The last of the ribbon wrapped around the bristle, adding a cute bow to her ride. If she was going out, her trusty broom needed to match. Heading for the door, she realized she was missing one last thing. With a swish of her hand, her black rimmed hat floated towards her hand. Although she could leave home and easily trick anyone into thinking she was a human, she wanted everyone to know who she was. For the last dozen years, she hid silently by the side of her lover. No longer was she going to stay in the shadows and this time she wanted to live with no regret. This witch was free to go and do as she pleased and there was no use if she couldn’t be proud of being a witch. Placing her hat down on her head, she closed the door behind her with a smile. 

    Kicking off the ground she took to the sky, no idea where to go or where this night would take her. Nothing was going to stop her from having fun, all her troubles would just have to wait. The sun had just finished cresting past the horizon as the cool summer breeze flowed through her hair. Scanning around she looked for the best place to start the night. In the distance she spotted a castle with lights flickering with activity. Turning her course she buzzed with excitement as music grew louder to her approach. Carriages lined the road leading up to the dazzling building. Katy bit her lower lip, she had never been to a castle party before! Spotting a balcony door leading to the ballroom, Katy flew over and landed. Leaning her broom against the wall behind the door, she brazenly walked into the room. 

    Bright colors of gold and silver lined the ballroom from head to toe as several dancers swirled around in a dance of brilliant colors. Katy stared in awe, walking around the outer wall at the sight. A butler approached her, offering a glass and wine. Taking it to avoid suspicion of crashing the party, she nodded to accept the pour. Her glass now filled to the brim, she sipped at the liquid with delight. A ballroom dance and free booze? This girl was gonna get wasted. The song playing finished as she found a place along the wall to lean against. The crowd clapped before the next song started. Several couples shuffled from on and off the floor, some heading for fresh air while others to the buffet. This was the fanciest place she had ever been, feeling suddenly a little underdressed. Just as her nerves began to get the best of her a masculine voice startled her. 

    “Would you like to dance, Madam?” 

    Removing her hat to get a better look at the man, Katy kept from yelping out loud. Not only was she asked to dance, but it was by the prince himself! His eyes sparkled as brightly as his smile while he offered out an extended hand towards her. Her heart fluttered at how gorgeous he was up close. Dark honeyed hair, deep ocean eyes, if rumors served her well this was none other than Prince Casper. Extending her hand out, she accepted his offer.


    Gracefully, he led her to the dance floor. People parted allowing them to get into position before he began to lead. Thank goodness Katy had taken ballroom lessons, who would have known that after years it finally came into good use. It was hard for her not to swoon as the prince smiled cheerfully at her. The room blurred around her and all she could see was him. 

    “Are you from around here? I have not seen you before.”

    Katy smiled bashfully. “I am not actually, I’m from the swamp lands to the east of here.”

    “The free lands? What is a beauty like you doing out there?” 

    With a hard swallow, Katy was unsure how to answer that. He must have known she was a witch, her hat was a dead give away. “It’s not uncommon for a witch to take up residence there.”

With a quick swirl and a dip, the prince kept his gaze on her. The look of attraction was one Katy was familiar with. Pulling her up slowly from the dip, their faces came in close. Katy’s heart was pounding as she couldn’t help feel the chemistry between them. Maybe it was the booze or maybe the atmosphere, either way she could feel herself falling. It was like a fairy tale, playing out all too perfectly. As he leaned in to kiss her, she closed her eyes to reciprocate. It was just like a dream where she could see herself happy, even if for a little while. It was all so fast yet in that moment as she felt his breath on her face, the image of them popped into her mind. It wasn’t them she was kissing. Shooting her eyes wide open, she realized that he didn’t even know her name. Maybe she was a little hasty to be hooking up with a prince, one who was wickedly famous too. Raising her hand to block his lips, she bopped him on the nose awkwardly.

“Hey, thank you for the dance and the wine. I had a lot of fun and I will for sure be back here again some day.” Breaking from his arms she rushed to grab her hat and headed for the balcony. What a close call, Katy thought. The prince broke from his daze and followed her out onto the balcony.

“W-wait, I didn’t even catch your name!”

Katy smiled cheerfully, placing her hat neatly on her hair. “That’s ok, you don’t need it. May you find your storybook princess, because I know I’m not her.” 

With a side saddle on her broomstick, she kicked off before he could say anything more. She waved goodbye to her sweet prince and as the distance grew she finally dropped her smile. The pounding of her heart ached more than before. Why at that moment did she think of that person? Threatening tears once again crept up as it swelled. No, she wasn’t going to let this ruin her night. It was still so early and there was much to do. Of course, it was for the best that she left the prince since the last thing she wanted was a strong commitment. Shaking her head from those thoughts, she clenched her fist with renewed determination. Katy was going to push her feelings aside, for now she was going to focus on having fun. 

Up ahead she spotted a small town lit up with activity. Maybe it was another party? Lowering down towards the outskirts where it was calmer, Katy spotted a boy in overalls leaning against a fence. He looked over towards the street where a festival was in full bloom. Looking around, he seemed to be alone. With a small landing, she placed her broom and hat down and approached him. With her hands on her hips, she called out to him. 

“Hey why are you so far from the fun?” 

Startled, he turned towards her, his eyes wide at the sudden appearance. With a playful smile, she waited for him to reply.

“I didn’t have anyone to go with me.”

It was such a simple reply that Katy couldn’t help but bite at her lip. Walking towards him, she leaned in to kiss his cheek. 

     “Well now you do.”

Katy interlaced her hands into his, pulling him towards the busy streets. It was a small festival for what looked like a celebration of the recent harvest. It was common for the farming communities to throw such occasions as Katy had seen a few in the past. Where there was a celebration, there was more booze! Turning to her companion, she wrapped her arm around his. 

“What is your name?” 

The farmer boy blushed, turning away to hide it. “Jacob.”

“Do you know where the drinks are around here?”  

“Yeah, I helped set up the booth for it. Got a few drinking tickets in return. Let me get you one!”

    Jacob pointed towards the stand just past the center of the town. Together they walked through the crowd, several men and women glancing towards them. Of course it would be normal since she was the new comer, yet it was not uncommon for travelers to join in on the festivities. The dancing and music was centered in the middle of the market-like street with a blazing fire in the middle. The smell of cooked meats and pastries filled the air as they approached the beer stand. Jacob let her hand go as he stepped up to the counter and grabbed two drinks for them to enjoy. Taking her mug, they clinked before sipping the frothy brew. Farmer community beers were the best since everything they had was homemade. With a few deep swings, Katy closed her eyes with enjoyment. The music had a lively beat while the crowd cheered and danced. 

    Opening her eyes, she took a moment to appreciate her surroundings. It was day and night from the party at the Princes castle. From formal to absolute freedom. As much as the elegance of the castle had been, there was so much to offer in the less restricted attire and dance form. Looking back over at Jacob, Katy watched as he took a swig of his beer then wiped the foam with the back of his hand. It was uncouth, which was entirely fine with her. Maybe what she needed was not that of a new relationship but that of good company. Kissing the prince would have chained her from one relationship to another. Chugging her beer, she slammed her glass to the counter behind her with an exaggerated exhale. Jacob was dumbfounded that she had already completed her drink, causing her to raise a brow.

    “Well, are you gonna catch up or not? We have dancing to do!”

    With a hearty laugh, Jacob raised his glass to the challenge and downed the rest of his beer. Katy cheered him loudly, raising her arms above her head in excitement at his display. Slamming his now finished beer down on the counter in the same fashion as her, Katy clapped as he pounded at his chest. He clearly was not used to drinking quickly, yet wanted to impress her. With a giggle, she placed a hand on his shoulder. 

    “Way to go, I didn’t think you would do it!” 

    Standing up straight, he rubbed at his nose to brag. “What, chugging a beer? It’s not so hard.”

    The current dance had just come to an end as the next one began to set up. Katy looked over as several people began to hold hands in a circle, dancing around the fire in a line. Dropping her hand from his chest, she watched with piqued interest. The dance seemed pretty simple as she studied the steps. Interrupting her thoughts, Jacob grabbed at her hand.

    “It’s an easy dance if you want me to teach you. Come let’s go!”

    Now being the one dragged behind, Katy laughed as he pulled her towards the circle. He broke the chain, grabbing at the hand of the stranger to add to the link. Looking back at her with a charming smile he helped her join and began to show her the foot work at a slower rate. It was a little bumpy at first, breaking the rhythm of the dancers beside them as she tried to watch him. It wasn’t long before she completely synced with the line, not having to watch at their feet as the dance pattern repeated. They danced several times around the fire, the pace slowly picking up as the musicians played faster each segment. The challenge was to go as long as you could before getting tired. Several people began to break from the circle as it got smaller and smaller. Katy laughed alongside Jacob as they stayed until the last final stanza of the song. Several other dancers had survived and as the song came to its close, the crowd erupted into an overwhelming cheer.

    Katy was patted on the back by several strangers she had just danced alongside before the tempo of the music started up into a jig. Jacob thankfully was a great dancer, showing her the steps before they began to twirl and twist through the other dancers. This had gone on for several hours before the crowd began to thin out. The festival would still go on for hours more as the dancing died down to just the drinking crowd. Katy decided this was when she would take her leave. Hugging Jacob, she said her goodbyes.

    “Thank you for an incredible time. I am going to head out.”

    Shyly, he held her hands. “Will I be able to see you again?”

    Katy was unsure once more how she was to reply. Instead of false promises or heart breaking words, she cupped his cheek and brushed it with her thumb. With a smirk, she pulled away from him in silence. Swishing her wrist, her broom flew over towards her. She grabbed her hat and plopped it on her head with one hand while grabbing the broom. With a fluid motion, she took off, leaving him unanswered behind. Surprisingly Katy felt no guilt. Jacob was a sweet boy, however she was not for him. At least she had been able to finally take her mind off the pain she felt before. Looking up at the moon at its full brilliance, she closed her eyes as the breeze cooled her. Even though she had danced for hours, she was still full of energy. Maybe one more stop before finding a place to sleep. Besides, it was the weekend and she had all the time in the world. 

    Scanning around, she was unfamiliar with the area. A large tree caught her eye as it twinkled in the distance. Sticking her tongue out she decided to check it out. The light grew as she approached it. Instead of circling it, she glided silently past the branches and cruised between several tree houses. “Oh, this is a fairy kingdom.” 

    There were several fairy folk playing and dancing in clusters around several branches of the tree houses and limbs. Slowing her pace, she giggled at the folk enjoying themselves. 

    “Not often does a witch stumble into these woods.”

    The voice startled her as she turned to see a fair and handsome fairy folk drifted down to stand on the front of her broomstick, holding a drink in hand. Katy had heard how mischievous fairies could be and was curiously attracted. 

    “Not often does a fairy sneak up on a witch. What if I turned you into a toad in defence?” 

    With a contagious laugh, the fairy smiled playfully.

    “Then I would hope that kissing you would break the spell. Care to join me in merriment?”

    He lured her, leaning in to offer a cup full of sweet smelling dew. How could she turn down a drink with such a charming creature? Caution to the wind, she took the leafy goblet and took a sip of the fluid. It was sweet like honey, the nectar leaving her feeling warm within her core. It was welcoming since the breeze had chilled her from the dancing earlier. With a smirk, the fairy extended his hand.


    Katy mimicked his smirk, reaching for his hand to hold. “Katy.”

    Lifting off the broom, Feliander let go of her hand and waved to follow. He flew down towards a plant near the base of the tree. Drifting down she followed. The tree was buzzing with laughter, light music and several drunk flying fairies all playing pranks on each other. Touching down on the ground, Katy took her hat off and placed it on her broom. She was unsure if the pranksters would try and steal it, hoping they would know better than to mess with a witch. They didn’t seem malicious by any means, giving her a sense of comfort as they waved with kind smiles. Stepping closer to Feliander, he stood beside a large budding flower that protruded from the plant. The stem of the plant seemed to run through the entire tree as Katy spotted several of these buds over the kingdom. Touching the bud, Feliander used a bit of his magic which caused it to open into a bright colorful flower. Several stamens within the flower held the cup like nectar similar to the one he had given to her. 

Plucking the goblet off the plant, he returned beside Katy with a lifted glass. Katy’s eyes filled with wonder as she lifted her cup towards him, drinking it as they cheered. Who would have thought such plants existed! Katy would have to find out the species of plant later, having something handy nearby would be convenient at home. As they began to drink beside the flower, they told stories and jokes, laughing as they sat close. She told him of the party at the castle, then how she danced at the farmers festival. Katy rested her head on Feliander, feeling warm and well past tipsy as she placed her now finished cup by several others they had finished. Feliander turned closer to her, touching lightly at her chin.

“Sounds like you’ve already had an eventful night! But what caused you to venture so far from home?”

Katy’s judgement was impaired as she thought on the question. Her smile fell as she now thought of the heartache she began her night with. “I suppose you could say I am running away from something.” 

She stared into Felianders dark violet eyes. What would have made her heart melt and flutter away only brought back the gaping void in her chest. How easily she could just kiss any of the men she met tonight, alas she couldn’t push herself to do it. He waited patiently, expecting her to say more. A small tear pushed through as it streamed down her cheek.

“I had some bad news told to me earlier today, so I wanted to just drink my sorrows away.” 

Feliander withdrew his hand from her chin, his face concerned as he adjusted to properly face her. Taking her hand into his, he offered comfort as he spoke softly. 

“I am sorry to hear. Was it a loss of someone close?”

Katy broke away from his gaze. “In a way, yes. It’s more of a broken heart rather than the death of a loved one. They broke it off with me.” 

There was a moment of silence as Feliander sighed lightly in thought. Katy finally looked back at him, realizing she had affected the mood. 

“Ah, don’t worry about it so much. I don’t want to be a downer so let’s enjoy ourselves. I will be alright.” 

Sitting up, Katy offered a wide grin. Feliander scoffed, nodding at the realization that she needed a friend more than anything. Reaching up towards the flower, he grabbed the last two cups and passed her one. 

“Then here’s to you! The adventurous witch who’s looking for fun!”

“Hell yea!”

They clinked their cups and drank deeply. They continued into the early morning as the sun began to peek over the horizon. It was only when the chirping of birds did Katy finally wake up, unaware that she had even passed out at some point in her conversation with Feliander. Sitting up, she felt the material of a grassy blanket slip off her shoulder. Looking around in confusion, there was no sign of fairies as the tree was lit by sunshine. It seemed the entire tree was desolated as several of the fairy folk had drank themselves into a deep slumber. With a great deal of surprise, Katy woke up with no hangover. She rubbed at her face to clear the sleep from her eyes, spotting a small basket of fruits and nuts. Beside it was a note.

“Hope you slept well. Here is breakfast. May we meet again.”

There was no name, yet she knew Feliander was the one who left her the gift. Taking the basket, she ate the fruit while enjoying the peaceful environment. The flower that they had drank from had fully wilted, and the several goblets within were shriveled. Katy felt a little bad about killing such a beautiful flower, yet in its place a new bud had begun to bloom within the shell of the withered blossom. Katy really needed to find out what plant this was if it was able to recover so quickly! No wonder the fairy folk drank freely from the plant. She laughed at the thought of how cheerful and laid back they had been. Why she never had traveled the world like this made her wonder. All this time she had been in her swamp, spending all her time in the clouds and she could have been traveling the world. What other sights and views would she see? 

She finished her meal, taking the card left from Feliander. Kissing it, she left the mark within the basket, hoping that he would receive her thanks. Thankfully on top of it all, her broom and hat sat untouched where she left it. Seems she had the wrong idea of how fairy folk were. Maybe she should come here again in the future. Taking her hat off the broom, a startling croak came shooting out of her hat as she turned it to place on her head. Screaming from the surprise, she fell on her bottom as the frog slapped her face. Pulling the frog off, she roared in laughter. Several giggles could be heard from the treetops where the houses all stayed. Turns out they were definitely pranksters. Standing up, she brushed her dress off and placed her hat on her head. Two could play at this game. Pulling her wand out of the pocket of her dress, she whispered a small chant. On a stump nearby, she conjured a large pile of muffins. Giggling to herself, she hoped the small prank would work.The small muffins were not just yummy treats for the fairies, but also would give the eater hiccups for a short time. All in good fun, she thought as they might get a kick out of it. Hoping on her broom, she chuckled at herself as she passed through the leaves into the open sky. 

Now into the full sunlit air, she could tell that she was well past midday. She studied the land, making a mental note of the area so if she happened to be in the neighbourhood, she would stop by again. Tapping at her chin, she realized just how much of the world was left to explore. Even though she started the trip in hopes to forget her pain, she was beginning to feel the sense of adventure calling her. She turned to the west, knowing that home layed just beyond. What would be farther to the east if she continued? Excitement bubbling within her, she looked on.

“Look out world, here I come!”

Bending close to her broom, she zoomed off with great speed. As the landscape changed from farmlands and forest, it gradually became rock and mountainside. Slowing down her pace she spotted a large patch of trees with a hole in the middle. Curious, she turned towards it, taking high to the sky to get a better look. It was breathtaking as Katy now realized the hole was much deeper than she thought. It was a dwarven city! Brightly it glowed as the sun began to set, the twinkling lights bouncing off the river that ran down into it. Along the walls were buildings and housing layering on top of eachother as it ran deeply into the earth’s crust. Lowering down into it, there was a steam that battled against the mist of the water fall. It was humid and refreshing as hot and cold droplets of water tickled against her legs. Drifting away from the middle to avoid getting wet, she circled just outside of the street ways deeply embedded into the stone wall. The carvings and architecture was stunning. Several dwarves spotted her with surprise, few offering her a smile and wave.

She waved back, grinning ear to ear. Lowering down a few more layers, she finally landed on the floor. The streets were wide, lined with buildings of all kinds. The streets were busy with hustle and bustle as people shopped, carting goods and wares. A few dwarves were even riding on donkeys with small wagons. Taking a deep breath in, Katy caught a whiff of a delicious aroma. It was mouth watering, causing her stomach to rumble. 

“Oops,” Katy thought. “I’ve been flying for a while and didn’t think about food.”

Rubbing at her stomach, she followed the scent, avoiding running into people as she explored. Eventually she came to a grand opening where several tables were set up within it. A giant oven-like structure lined the wall facing the forge and waterfall. It glowed brightly, cooking something within. Stopping a dwarven male close by she spoke. 

“Excuse me, what is happening here?”

Hiding his initial shock, he switched to a grand smile. He spoke with a thick accent, rolling his r’s heavily.  “My! Whadda day! Well youn’ Miss, today we holdin eh celebration. Te King Thane’s eldest son had’is first hunt. Will ye be stayin te honor him? Tis not oft’n we have eh witch visitin’ these parts, especially one as good lookin as ye.”

The stout dwarf’s eyes lit up with excitement, waiting for her response. Before she could reply, her stomach growled loudly. With a hearty laugh he planted his fists proudly on his hip.

“Ay, sounds like ye are. Come! Let me git ye something.”

Katy blushed a little, thanking him as she followed behind. Passing several tables, some with piles of plates of meats assorted. Bowls of fruits, vegetables and potatoes filled the other side as it held a defined line where the meat started and ended. Several tables had been arranged in such a way, and on each end were several kegs stacked on top of eachother. He eventually stopped in front of a table, grabbing at a plate of turkey. It looked thick with juicy meat and perfectly crisped seasoned skin. Kate’ sparkled as she stared starry eyed. The dwarf cackled, leading her to a table as he placed the plate down. 

“Here, ye go Miss. And I’ll grab ye an Ale.”

Unsure if she should start eating right away or wait, Katy licked at her lips hungrily. What a lucky streak she was having! The dwarf returned, two grand pints brimming with ale. Some of the liquid sloshed out over the side as he plunked them down on the table. With a grunt he sat down on the other side of the table from her, sighing as he eyeballed the witch. 

“Well, wut ye waitin’ fer? Dig in!” He chuckled as he watched Katy, rip the leg off the bird and chop away at the meat. With a moan of delight, Katy closed her eyes as she savored the meal. The plate had several buns stacked beside it as she opened her mouth to rip a bite out of one. Her mouth was still full when she grabbed at the pint, drinking deeply from it. The mixture of meat, bun and ale complimented each other exquisitely. This was the life, she thought as she swallowed it all. Looking at the dwarf, he sat quietly with a grin on his face while lighting up a pipe. He took several tokes of it before blowing a smoke ring. Katy realized she had been so distracted by her hunger, she forgot to thank him.

“Thank you…er.. Sorry, what is your name?”

The dwarf jumped, his eyes shooting wide. “My! ‘Cuse me fer bein rude, Miss! Names Gurk.”

“Nice to meet you Gurk. I’m Katy.” They nodded happily at each other as she continued to stuff her face. Slowly, the area began to fill in with several dwarven citizens. Several heading to different tables, then sitting at the tables in the same row. Katy leaned in to Gurk as she watched.

“Why are people selectively eating from certain tables and rows?”

Gurk took a deep drag of his pipe before answering. “Those be their Family house’s. Each house has eh Thane on te council. Ye can tell by te flag hangin on te roof.”

Katy looked up, never noticing the flags. Each was a different color and symbol. Intrigued, she nodded, looking at the banner they sat on. It was a dark forest green with a bow and arrow. On the string of the bow was a snake that wrapped itself around it. Gurk continued to speak, explaining his house banner.

“Each house represent eh cast. Te cast of each house is wut their job is, see? Me house cast is eh ranger. We hunt te food served here tonight.” As if he was boasting, Gurk wobbled with pride. Katy chuckled, given the feeling that the bird he served her was shot by him. 

“Well, I must say, the hunter who killed this feast must have been very talented. I may want to meet them.” She offered him a wink, turning the dwarf bashful. He blushed crimson, figuring out that she caught on. Several other dwarves joined in at the tables as the feast was in full bloom. Cheers and song’s burst out at several points unprompted. Katy couldn’t help but to get caught up in the energy, clapping along to the chants she didn’t know. Each song was a tale of a house’s accomplishment as Gurk would explain them. The last song was of the Son who killed the beast plaguing the sheep pens. It was a wolf sang to be 10 times the size of a dwarf, mightier than a giant and ruthless as a tyrant king. How the King Thanes son bravely slew the beast without hesitation nor fear. At the last repeating chorus, all the dwarves sang in harmony, raising their pints towards the head tables where the son sat proudly by his father. Ale continued to flow as they drank heavily into the night. Arm wrestles and braggarts swarmed to different tables as they mingled after the songs. Katy was pickled by the time the dwarves around her began speaking of myths and legends. Some talked about the glory of golden treasures buried deep in the mountains nearby, others arguing it wasn’t buried but a dragon’s horde. 

Gurk scoffed. “Id’ots all of em. Tis buried gold and jus a Dragon! Two diffen kinds!”

Katy leaned in, hanging on his words. 

“Is there really a Dragon?” 

“Ay, Tis. Near te boarder lands o’ te desert. Seen it meselves. Black as te dark’st nights! Beady evil eyes, is has.” 

His eyes widened as he regaled the tale, swaying as he held his hands up to add to the story. His buddy beside him slapped him on the back, howling. “Can’ believe ye still tellin te tale! He was eh wee lad, claimin he saws it since we bu’ pups.”

Gurk slammed his fist angrily on the table, his face red with a vain popping from his forehead. “AY! I’s SEEN te dragon! Na eh soul believe me, eh!” 

Sitting down, Gurk grumpily crossed his arms. Katy burst out laughing at the stout dwarves childish outburst. Reaching out, she grabbed his arm. 

“I believe you, though! In fact, I will go see this dragon for myself!” 

The dwarves around her burst out laughing, teasing her as she stood up, pint in hand. 

“You all laugh, but I will prove Gurk is right! I’m gonna fly over there, ask him for a tooth, then come back here and show you all. In Gurks Honor!”

Slowly they looked to one another, deciding and nodding collectively at the strange quest the witch had set out. Who were they to judge if she wanted to prove someone’s honor? Cheering her on, Katy downed the rest of her wooden cup and slammed it down on the table. She led them towards her broom, her pointed hat sitting crooked on top of her head. With a wave of her hand she grabbed her broom and saluted the crowd. She hopped on with a stumble before kicking off in a wobbly line. The cries of the dwarves slowly drowned out as she raised into the sky. Everything was a blur, even while attempting to scan the mountain range she had a hard time staying right side up on the stick. With a hiccup, Katy pointed in the supposed direction. “Onwards!”

    Sitting in the sky unmoving, Katy glanced down at her broom. 

    “Hey! Onwards!”

    With still no movement, Katy planted her fist on her hip. “Listen here, twiggy. I made you, I can discharm you too!”

    There was a small hesitation before the broom launched into a full jet. Katy gripped on tightly, grabbing at her hat at the sudden lurch. Grumbling under her breath, she tried to focus on the ever changing landscape. It was hard to keep balance as she swerved up and down, barrel rolling here and there as she nearly slipped off to the side. Still only holding the broom with one hand and her hat with the other, she leaned heavily over to squint at a mountain before colliding into the tip of a pine tree. The sudden slap against the boom and her leg caused her to plumid narrowly towards the ground, hitting several other branches and limbs along the way. Thankfully landing in a bush below, Katy groaned at the pain in her body. She took a few moments to catch her breath before rolling out to the dirt floor. Pulling out her wand, she swished for a magical swirl to clean off her dress, leaving her looking fresh. With only a few minor scratches, she considered herself lucky. 

    “Phew! That was a close call! Alright, take two!”

    Waving her hand towards her broom, she watched as it hovered above her. The magical stick shook the top of it’s handle in a “No” like manner, the lantern attached swaying as it creaked. Flabbergasted at the outbreak of her broom’s disobedience, Katy stomped her foot while crossing her arms.

    “Oh shush, this isn’t the first time I’ve drank and flown. Come on, let’s go!” 

The broom avoided her attempt to grab it as she leapt out at it, swishing out of reach. “Listen, if you don’t come down here, I will use you to clean the floor of my house!” 

A silky voice calls out from behind her, nearly scaring her half to death. “Troubles with your steed?” 

Turning to face the voice, she came face to face with a unicorn. It was dazzling while with a glowing aura, unlike anything she had seen before. Years she had read about them, knowing them to be pure beasts, kind hearted and caring. It was hard not to feel ashamed of her behalver, now being in the presence of such a magnificent creature.

“Oh, I uh.. Maybe. I think it’s trying to say I am a little too drunk to be flying.” 

Looking around, not only did she feel ashamed but she was also horribly lost. With a light laugh, the Unicorn readed her mind. 

“Ah, yes. I think your broom is correct. I see you have lost your way as well. Would you like it if I gave you a ride back to town?” 

With a droopy head, Katy frowned. “Actually, I was hoping to try and find the dragon’s lair. This might be a little silly, but after drinking alongside the dwarves and hearing their tales, I was looking for a little adventure. I promised to restore someone’s honor by finding it and proving it was real.” 

Without looking towards the magical creature, she could feel the disappointment on his face. Crossing her arms, she looked to the ground. “I haven’t really been having the best of luck lately so I thought if I could find him, I would have an epic tale everyone would sing of the tale for years to come. At least something to replace… Ah, never mind.” 

A small tear welled as she began to feel the pain boil within her. The unicorn felt bad, watching her sigh in defeat. Finally looking up at the unicorn, Katy offered a weakened smile.

“I will take your offer for a ride back to town. My broom is right, I am a little too drunk.”

Leaning down on one knee, he offered for her to climb up. Even though she felt her streak of fun had finally come to an end, never would she have ever dreamt of riding on a unicorn. Timidly she approached him, touching at his pure snow white hair. His mane was silky to touch, untangled while she pulled herself up. Taking off into a slow trout, his gate was smooth and unhindered. The grace and elegance of the unicorn’s movements were like a river seamlessly flowing, no matter which way he turned it was natural and effortless. Making their way through the rocky terrain, they began to speak.

“I am curious, Why would you want to do something so risky in the first place?” 

Katy chuckled. It was risky. Everything she had done over the past few days was careless and unplanned. There was no real reason so she told him the truth.

“I was dumped.”

Dismayed, the unicorn turned his head to look back at her. “All this from a broken heart?!”

Katy gave a painful smile. It was time to finally come clean. No more was she going to avoid her pain. “I know, you’re not the first to say it. I had known them for years, we started as friends and lo and behold, fell in love. We never really officially dated, it was mostly kept secret because of their stature.” 

Katy began to fidget, twirling the unicorn’s mane between her fingers. 

“I can’t be mad. I knew from the beginning we were from two different worlds. I am a witch and they… Well, it doesn’t matter anymore. They are engaged now and here I am.” 

The unicorn kept his pace as he listened. “So you are looking to replace that love?”

“I thought so at first, yet when I started this trip I came across a castle. I met a prince who took interest in me. We laughed, danced and as we leaned in to kiss, I realized this wasn’t what I wanted. So I fled. Every girl’s dream is to meet a prince and become a princess yet it didn’t feel right. So then I continued on. I met a farm boy at a festival, got drunk in the fairy kingdom and it was at that point I realized I just wasn’t looking for love. Here I had men at my disposal and I could have picked any one of them. Instead I thought, I didn’t know anything about the world. So I chased after adventure and to explore. Getting drunk with dwarves and chasing dragons enthralled me. All to chase my pain away.”

The subsisting resistance faded as the tears began to spill freely. The walls she had focused so hard to build were cracking, emotions leaking through she sought to fight.

“I just… wish I would have fought more for them, you know? Instead, once I found out they were having a celebration for the engagement, I ran like a coward. How could I face them being together? The one I loved with someone they didn’t. I couldn’t bear it.”

Wiping the tears quickly she slapped at her cheeks. “Nope! I promised myself I would not cry over this! Sorry for pouring my heart out, and also for the ride. Once we get back to the city, I will sober up and just head home. I am sorry to drag you into all this.” 

With a change of heart, the unicorn stopped in a huff. After hearing her plight, he decided to help her.

“You know what. Today is the day you find the dragon! I will help you and together we will get your song!” With a stomp of his foot, he pivoted into a gallop off towards the dragon’s den. Convinced, he decided to help make her small dream come true. They race off towards the mountain peaks, making great leagues with the fluid movement of the unicorn. Katy’s heart raced, and with a cheer, she hugged his neck. Planting a kiss on his neck, she thanked him. 

The trip wasn’t long as they made their way to a cave entrance. With excitement, Katy hopped off his back and snuck up towards the rocky wall. The unicorn huddled in close behind as he whispered.  

“How are you going to convince him?” 

Katy nervously chuckled. Not once did she think of a plan the entire way here. 

“No clue. Can’t I just walk up to him and just ask for a tooth or a nail?” 

The unicorn nudged her hard on the shoulder with his nuzzle. 

“Ok ok, stupid idea. Well, I can cast a quick spell on myself to turn invisible. It won’t last long though since I kinda didn’t do so well on those kinds of spells in school.”

Shaking his head, the unicorn huffed. “They can sense you so it won’t be much help. Dragons are also magical creatures who can sense magical presents. I would not doubt he already knows we are around.”

Katy leaned her back against the wall to pounder. Slapping her fist into her palm, she looked at her friend. “What if I cast a minor charm spell?”

Quizitorily the unicorn shrugged. Katy frowned, it could be that the unicorn didn’t know much either about dragons. It was common that each creature was just as secretive to another on what they were like or capable of. Which meant, he probably was unsure how effective her own magic would be. Dropping her hands to the wall, she thought deeply of the risk. Coming so far already, she wasn’t going to give up. What was the worst thing to happen? At the first sign of danger she could protect herself and flee. Turning to her friend, she touched the side of his face.

“Thank you for helping me get this far. Whatever happens, I will make sure I get out alright. For now maybe get out of here in case he comes out angry. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

For a moment he leaned into her caress before nodding. With a smile, she kissed him on the tip of his snout, parting towards the opening. 

“Before you go,” The unicorn called out just before she stepped into the darkness, “Thank you for sharing your story with me. You are a kind witch. I hope the man you cherished knows what they lost.”

Katy sadly smiled, yet was moved. Unable to reply in fear of losing control of her emotions, she nodded. Facing the unknown, she moved forward into the tunnel aware that the unicorn stayed to watch until he could no longer see her. There was no longer any light source within the cave, leaving it frightfully eerie while Katy stumbled blindly through the tunnel. Reaching into her pocket after some time, she chanted a spell bringing light to the tip. It offered very little help however, since there was no sign of where the tunnel started or ended. All she could see was darkness. Confused, Katy turned back towards the exit, seeing the walls and dirt path behind. How was it possible not to see the end of the tunnel? A chilling shiver ran up her spine, realizing as she turned back towards the void. This time looking back, in the pitch black were golden orbs that reflected the light.

Petrified, Katy was only a few feet from the dragon. With a couple steps back, the beast grew in size as it stood. Towering over her it sneered, rumbling the entire mountainside as he spoke in a growl.

“How dare you wake me from my slumber!”

The tremor of the ground shook Katy to her core, almost knocking her over backwards. She held her wand up while trying to find courage to speak. 

“I.. I uh, Hello! I am so sorry to wake you. Y-you see… I have a small miniscule request for such a … uh… Regal dragon as yourself.”

He took a step forward, leaning in closer with a distrustful look. Katy took this moment to continue.

“A lowly witch like me was merely trying to prove that a great exalted dragon lived up in these mountains. A-and uh… they didn’t believe me.” She chuckled nervously, backing up further before hitting a wall. “Ah, and well uh.. I wanted to prove that you are truly as glorious as I made you out to be! Which you are! Heh heh. S-so to correct the error of their ways, I-I wanted to ask if I could have a small tooth, nail or even a scale to bring back as proof.”

    Snapping his teeth, the dragon lowered inches from her face. 

    “I will not! A slithery witch like you cannot be trusted. You would use our parts for your spells and potions.”

    With his claws he pinned her to the wall, almost knocking the wind out of her.

    “Don’t even try to use your spells against me either, witch! None will work.”

    Katy swallowed hard while the dragon licked his chops. If she didn’t do something quick, she was surely going to be his next meal.

    “No no, I wouldn’t dream of using any of your parts! I just wanted to prove that my dwarven friend was right! None of them believed him that you exist and I just wanted to help him!”

    He pulled back his face with narrowed eyes, giving Katy confidence she might yet convince him. “Fly out over top of the city, just do a lap around to show that you really are real and how noble of a beast you are. It will show them your superiority and how all this time you have ruled over this dominion, allowing them to live as they please.”

    Playing off the dragon’s vanity worked as he considered her words. He removed his claw from her sitting as he looked down at her. 

    “And how do I know this is no trick to slay me.”

    Katy took a deep bow, removing her hat. “On my honor as a witch, I promise that no hard will come of you. If you want, take me with you. That way if you go down, so will I.”

    Not moving from her bow for several painstaking seconds, the dragon finally answered her.

    “Fine. The moment I see a knight or am attacked, I shall tear you to shreds and devour you.”

    Although she had successfully convinced the dragon, Katy still was unsure if this was a win or a death sentence. She could not promise that his sudden appearance would not startle the kingdom into a frenzy, yet she was certain at least the dwarves were expecting it. Suddenly grabbing her, the dragon clutched her close as it rushed out of the tunnel. The startling rush caught Katy off guard as he began to run at full speed. Grabbing onto her hat tightly, all she could do was hang on for the ride. The dragon continued his pace and as the opening of the tunnel greeted them, he leaped off the mountain ledge. Spreading his wings, the sudden lurch as he flapped made her stomach churn. Flying on a broomstick was much easier than in the claws of a dragon. Without warning, he rolled and tossed her into the air to land once more onto his back. Holding on for dear life, Katy sat on the back of the wondrous beast as they circled the skys. It was exhilarating as the wind blasted her face at tremendous speed. In a grand display, the dragon cried out into the night sky. The call could be heard echoing on for miles, announcing his presence to the world. With a growl to the wind, he called up to her.

    “Where are the non-believers?”

Shakily she pointed to the small circle of stone within the tree’s. They were farther into the sky than Katy could bear doing on her broom. She couldn’t even achieve half the speed they were going as he enclosed the distance within seconds. With a second thunderous cry, Katy couldn’t help but laugh. They circled the city several times before the dragon made one final call, heading off towards the mountain range once more. Looking back Katy couldn’t wait to return to see the praise the dwarves would sing of her accomplishment. Yet as they continued past the dragon’s den, Katy felt fear creeping up within her. 

“Where are you going? Isn’t the cave back there?”

No answer was given to her as he continued deep into the dessert. The land shifted from sand to dried barren lands, the soil cracked and ridged with dead plants and shrubs shed their carcusses. Before she could think of a solution, the dragon dipped deeply towards a small thicket of trees. In a flash, Katy was ripped from the dragons back. For a short touchdown, the dragon dropped her harshly on the ground. Covering her face, Katy screamed for her life while wind assaulted her face. Fearing he was going to eat her even though no one attacked, she shoudded her face with her arms. Anticipating an attack that never came, she finally dropped her arms and looked around. The dragon was nowhere to be seen.

Shakely, she stood up and dusted herself off. The gust from the dragon’s wings had thrown her hat several feet from her. Retrieving her hat, she took a deep breath in and closed her eyes. 

“Great. He ditched me in the middle of nowhere! I guess I should have arranged with him before asking to ride on his back where to let me off back with the dwarves.”

Tisking as she picked up her hat, she felt the presence of several entities around her. Slowly standing, she was surrounded by several creatures. Few growled and laughed while others stood staring. She couldn’t see their faces with the myst surrounding them adding to her fear. 

“Look what we got here. Stray little witch.” The voice came from in front of her as a talk slender man stepped forward. He was pale with dark thin lips, framed with long straight raven hair. His smile almost glowed in the night, his fangs glinting from the moonlight. Vampire, Katy thought. There was no doubt about it. She was deep within the wastelands, far from home or safety. Unless there was a miracle, there was no getting out of here alive. Katy held her hat close as the looming creatures closed in. 

“Come, don’t be shy. You’re coming with me.” 

    With no other options, she obeyed. The vampire turned to lead, his army keeping a close eye on her as they walked towards the castle looming close by. Within the castle, she was led into the main halls where the vampire dismissed his followers. 

    “Excuse me for my curtness earlier. I am Lord Mercial. I govern these lands and the creatures within them.” Turning he pushed back his cape to extend his arms out towards her.

“I see the black dragon Eurlun has brought me yet another gift.”

    He paused to scan her head to toe, sending shivers up her spine.

    “And what a gift indeed.”

    Katy treaded carefully as she held the rim of her hat in her hands. “What do you want with me? Help you with household duties? Have brooms carry mop buckets around for you?”

    Lord Mercial chuckled humorlessly. “To be my bride. I have been in need of one for some time since the last one.”

    Katy swallowed hard. The last thing she wanted right now was to be in a relationship, yet being forced into a marriage she didn’t want? With widened eyes, it finally dawned on her. If by some how she ever made it out of here she knew what she needed to do. Coyly, she stepped up to him. Somehow she needed to find a way to distract him so she could flee. The monsters under his command were nowhere in the room so she could flee towards the balcony. Thankfully she had sobered up from the exhilaration of the dragon ride that if she could enchant some object, she could haphazardly fly out of immediate danger. How she would make it back home would be something she would figure out later. Right now she needed to save herself. Besides, she felt invincible after what she had been through so far. This was one crazy weekend and she wasn’t going to let it end like this. Submissively, she stood in front of him as he wrapped his arms around her. 

    “That’s it. Succumb to your fate. Don’t worry, I will give you thousands of children to spawn. And together we will rule over this kingdom.”

    Caressing her face, Katy looked frantically around for something, anything to aid her. He pulled back her hair from her neck, preparing to bite her when she looked back at his own. That’s it! Launching quickly at the vampire’s neck, she chomped down as hard as she possibly could. Ripping a chunk of his neck, Mercial howled angrily and shoved her hard from his arms.

Katy hit the floor hard, spitting the rotten flesh from her mouth. It was so putrid, it almost made her ralph. The room suddenly darkened, drawing Katy’s attention back to the matter at hand. Lord Mercial in his rage called forth thousands of bats, looming above him as his eyes turned black.

    “For your insolence, I will kill you instead!”

    “Not today, but thanks!” Rushing to her feet, Katy turned towards the balcony and fled. 

Mercial roared, sending his bats after her as he stumbled. Making it outside, Katy didn’t have time as several of the small winged creatures pelted her. Pain erupted in her arm from scratches and bites nicked at her. Losing her footing in disorientation, Katy backed up into the railing and felt backwards as it crumbled from her weight. The slow motion of her fall crushed her. She had still so much she needed to accomplish. With a small prayer, she closed her eyes.

“I just want to see them again.”

Unable to do anything else, she extended her arms to await her death. Memories flashed of her time she cherished with her love. How she wished she was braver back then. Smiling, she let the tears flow unrestricted. All that matters is that I loved them. The freefall felt unending, and as the sudden slam against her body winded her she gasped hard. Instead of being hitting the ground, she was in the arms of a brilliant shining angel. With his wings extended, he flew straight to the open sky. In a dumbfounded stuper, she yelled at him.


Not expecting him to reply Katy leaned her head against his chest in relief. Exhaustion crashed her all at once from the rollercoaster of emotions and events. After they landed, she was never leaving her house again. Well, at least for a while. Several minutes had passed and yet he still said nothing to her. Thoughts raced through her head and when it was at its worst, she finally broke the silence. 

“Why on earth would you save me? I thought you hated me.” 

She knew who he was and even though she was sure he would never accept her kind, here he was protecting her as he flew off towards familiar grounds. 

“We may never see eye to eye, and sure I despise your kind, However, if anything happened to you, we both know they would never forgive themselves.” 

Katy was touched. She had been reckless with heart ache and not once did she think about how her love would react if she had disappeared. 

“Wait, how did you know where I was?” 

The angel kept his composure, never smiling yet never frowning. Such a typical thing for a warrior angel. 

“After I heard what happened, I followed you to make sure you wouldn’t get into trouble like you usually do. I’ve seen witches do worse things than you have.” 

His words were no more comforting, yet she was still grateful. Bright lights pulled her to the present as she realized they were not heading towards her home. There was cheering, music and flashing lights as they drew nearer. 

“Where are you taking me?” 

Alex said nothing upon lowering towards the outer ring of the cathedral. Touching down to the ground, he lowered Katy. 

“You can’t choose who you love, and even though I shouldn’t be helping you I know they feel the same way.” 

Katy looked up at the angel, then followed his gaze as it led her to the stage in the middle of the full packed house. There they were, the one she loved standing in front of thousands celebrating the announcement of the wedding. Katy hoped after hearing about the party that she could escape far enough away to avoid being here, and yet after everything she had gone through she had ended here. Fate was cruel as she spotted the flashy man beside the beautiful woman he was going to marry walk out from behind a curtain. With the words of the angel replaying in her mind and her prayer only moments ago, she knew exactly why he had brought her here. He wanted her to take her love back. Without further exchange with him, she knew what she needed to do. Grinning, she brought out her wand. With a flick of her wrist, she enchanted a broom nearby. Unsure where her old one was, this one would have to make due. 

On the stage, the man’s attention was solely to the crowd. He was a superstar, known across the kingdoms for his innervation and talents. A bachelor well desired and wealthy to boot. And lucky for Celistain, she was engaged to him. As he stood to the crowd, he shoved his way in front of the women. Waving and soaking it all in, he completely neglected her.  The women watched as he let his ego run while the crowd chanted his name

“Sabito! Sabito! Sabito!”

Of course he would be so arrogant, Celistian thought bitterly. Irritated by his display as he revved up the crowd, she rolled her eyes in boredom. How much longer do we need to continue this? As she looked towards the sky, her jaw dropped. Finally noticing just above her was Katy. Thoughts ran wild as she glared at her. What the hell was she doing? Didn’t she tell her not that long ago this was their engagement party? She may have been invited, yet here she floated above them in front of hundreds in the kingdom. The nerve of this witch. 

In a harsh whisper, she waved her to leave. “What are you doing! Get out of her!”

    Katy’s look of determination did not sway. “No. I am not leaving. Not alone anyway.”

    Celistain’s eyes widened with a brief moment of fear. “He’s engaged to me, Katy. Please just give up.”

    Katy reached down, offering a hand as Sabito turned to see what the commotion was about. 

    “Oh, don’t worry about her. The pathetic witch can’t take a hint when she’s not wanted. Let her be. She’ll learn her place soon.” Waving her off he returned to the crowd, as they laughed at Katy. Sabito only thought of her as a joke, he always had.

    Celistain lowered her head, ashamed by his manner. Katy held strong as she held Celistain face with her eyes. 

    “Celistain, I love you. I always have. I know you don’t love him in return.” It was a soft whisper, only loud enough for her to hear as her eyes shot up. They stared longingly at each other for a brief moment as Katy continued. “Come with me.”

    Torn between the arranged marriage and being with the one she loved, Celistain knew either choice could be devastating. Yet as she watched Katy, her hand slowly reached up to grab hers. There was no taking back her choice as Katy pulled for her, determined to not leave her behind. The crowd gasped, warning Sabito to turn around. Angrily he cried out. 

    “What are you doing?! This is to help save your kingdom from falling! You choose this now and our alliance with the heavens will end!” 

    Stretching out her wings, Celistain pushed off the ground speeding off behind Katy as she turned her broom to fly off into the sky. Flapping her wings hard, she could barely hear the cries of the man she almost married. She didn’t look back, she couldn’t even if she wanted to. Her attention was solely focused on how dazzling Katy looked with the moon in front of her and the wind blowing in the wind. She turned around looking back at Celistain with a shocked smile, laughing at how she really was holding her hand once more. Celistain knew the feeling as the settling idea of the choice she made sank in.  Oh no, she thought, What are we going to do now?!

With miles placed between Sabito, They finally slowed down. Katy had flown them well past the clouds and all they could see was the moon at its peak and the stars. Celistain flew up to rest beside Katy as they sat on the broomstick. The cool breeze was welcoming as she took a deep breath. They sat in silence before Celistain spoke, her voice weak.

“I told you to let me go. Why couldn’t you just leave it be.”

Katy squeezed her hand, unwilling to let it go. “I love you. I could never let you go even if I wanted to. Trust me, I tried. And the story I have will astound you.”

Celistain sighed heavily. No matter what story she had, it wouldn’t matter. She knew there was no way Katy would have, because she too couldn’t let her go. The pain she buried deep down bubbled forith. All she wanted was to please her father by bringing unity between the alchemists and angels like he wanted. If only she hadn’t fallen for Katy already. Tears poured as she turned away from Katy. 

“I’m sorry. I couldn’t let you go either. I am so sorry…”

Katy reached out, caressing her chin gently to pull her face towards her. “It’s ok. I would say don’t worry and that everything will be alright, but it won’t. And that’s ok because together we will figure something out. I know your kingdom needs resources but after the crazy weekend I’ve had, I may have a solution. For now, at least you are free from Sabito.” 

Her words were comforting while mesmerizing Celistain. She was right, at least now she was free from him and all she could see was her. Leaning in she closed her eyes and when their lips touched into a tender kiss, Celistain knew at least with Katy everything would work out fine.

The end.

The Moment After Death

Writing prompt: All religions are real and the world just ended.

How did I get here? Jake looked around at the surrounding people packed into the white abyss. Slowly he was being shoved towards the same direction as the person in front of him. The last thing he remembered was a sudden blast then, Poof! Here he was alongside thousands.

There has to be some kind of mistake, He continued to think as he suddenly heard several shouts in front. The closer he got, the louder they had become as several people stood holding signs and waving their arms.

“Christians over here! Line up in the denomination once you’ve reached the markers!”

“Buddhists this way. You can choose your reincarnation after having tea and a group meditation!”

Jake stopped, allowing several people to push past as they began to herd towards the shooting men on stands, boxes and even rocks that lined against several gates, halls and building entrances. They were dressed in robes of different colours, sizes and even emblems related to each religion. To his belief, it reminded him of a university club week trying to recruit members for their activities. Jake made his way towards the closest man who was standing under a booth. The sign above was blurry as it shimmered with different symbols and characters before clearing up into a language he understood. It read, “Information booth.”

Jake waited until the man finished pointing to the lost soul before stepping up to inquire about his own fate. “Good Sir, I-“

The robed man interrupted. “Oh no no, I am not good. I am neutral. How may I help you?”

Jake bit his tongue a moment before giving it a shake. What an odd person!

“Hi, I am a little confused about what is going on here!”

Without hesitation, he replied to Jake.

“Well, you are dead. Which faith, belief or ideal did you follow in your life?”

Jake blinked for a moment. How could this man be so blunt!

“Wait what?”

The being before him gave a small sigh while giving a sympathetic smile. “This is the gates to your end. Everyone has different thoughts and believes and we are here to help direct them to the appropriate one.”

Jake shook his head. “What if they aren’t sure and change their mind?”

The man pointed towards a building behind them and to the side, one Jake didn’t see before on his way. “That there is a presentation where you can see the benefits and information clearly. Sometimes down on Earth, it gets a little muddied by changes and misinterpretations.  For those who are still unsure, they can stand by the gates in a waiting area to observe until they have decided.”

Jake scratched at his head. “But what of those who believed in hell and satan? If they know they are going to be judged harshly and meet their demise, why would they choose that!”

The man chortled. “Oh, you mortals. Fear isn’t always the driving factor to the decisions made in your lives. That you can clear up when you meet the doorkeeper where he can judge your life. Either you believe you were “good” or “bad” is all placed on a biased perspective. All we care about is making sure you get to the right place you want to be.”

“Well can I leave if I change my mind?”

The man scoffed, throwing his hands up. “Well of course! Seems kind of silly to stay in one place forever! Of course, you need to meet the requirements or terms needed before making religion changeovers, but that will be covered by the gatekeeper as well when he gives you the pamphlet.”

Jake stood perplexed. Was everything really that easy compared to what they believed on earth?

“Well, what if I was an atheist?”

The being lightened up. “Oh, well if you didn’t believe in any of the religions, then you must be the new helper! Take a robe of any colour and see who needs help ushering the lost souls to the right gate. You will figure out things fine. If you need anything else, let me know!”

And with that, Jake looked at the lined boxes behind the booth and picked a robe. What a strange place this is. He donned his robe and off he went to help the people.

The Meal Mother used to Make.

I decided to do a writing prompt I say, and this one actually made me giggle. 

Please enjoy.

Writing Prompt of the day: Write about the one time you made a meal your mom used to make as a child. 

    Derek was quite certain he would get it this time. Pulling out the cookbook his mom used when he was a little boy, he carefully traced the spine. All of her famous recipes had been written within the worn and brittle book. Her cursive handwriting was clear and crisp, as you could tell she gave it all of her love into the page. With a soft hand, Derek traced the page with a sweet smile. Since her passing, Derek had missed her greatly. When he was clearing out the attic of his childhood home, he found the cookbook within a small box of her things. His mouth began to water at the memories of savoury flavours he craved. Heading into the kitchen, he flipped through the pages debating which one he should try this time. 

Between stir fry, stew and a meat pie, he pondered which one would be feasible. He placed the book down on the stand before looking at his catch of the day as it hung to bleed out. He had taken special care to make sure the meat wouldn’t spoil in the cold room, pulling it down to begin cutting it. Stripping off the outer layer, he hacked and stripped the meat off the bone with precision. With talented handling, he managed to get decent cuts while discarding useless parts. Upon inspection of the cuts, he began to separate and pack several bits for different occasions. Holding a fatty bit, he decided to make a meat pie. The texture seemed right, and the amount he managed to carve would make for several other meals included. Taking the meat, he placed it into his meat mincer and turned the machine on. While he waited for it to process, he cleaned up the mess, making sure to keep the head of his trophy. 

Once the meat was minced, he scaled and packaged the rest in which he would use later. With enough to make a few pies, he nodded with satisfaction. Derek headed to the kitchen with his bowl of meat in one arm and his mother’s cookbook in the other. First, he needed to cook the meat and boil potatoes. Starting up the skillet, he seasoned and spiced the meat to his mother’s instructions. Covering the meat, he began to peel potatoes and waited for the pot of water to boil. Standing back, he quickly tapped the book to read. Somehow he felt like he was missing something. Right, he snapped his fingers with a hand gunshot, the recipe called for some corn. 

Brushing his hands on his chest, he headed to the panty. Usually, he kept a good stock of canned veggies and soups for this occasion, so having a small can of corn wouldn’t be a problem. He shuffled a few cans around, eventually finding one as he cheered with a happy grunt. It was cream of corn, which in his mind was a better option. Can’t always follow the recipe to a T, he thought with a chuckle. Returning to the oven, he checked the process of the meat before grabbing the can opener. After opening the can, he placed it down and turned the oven on. With a spoon, he mixed both the meat and the potatoes, making sure they were well on their way. The meat was partially ready as he pulled it off the stovetop. No point in over-cooking it when he was going to bake it all.

 Derek pulled out a glass bakeware bowl, pouring three-quarters of the meat into it. Next, he took the cream of corn and created a small layer of it across the top of the meat. He took a small silver spoon to help smooth it all out, making sure it was covered entirely. Lastly, he checked the potatoes. They were the perfect cook to mash as he pulled it off the stovetop and drained the water. With a good mash, milk and butter, he whipped it up something fierce before globbing it up with a wooden spoon. Craftily, he plopped it on top of the layers in the glassware, covering the corn and meat without spilling it over the edge. With a fork, he fluffed the layer about, giving it a good texture to bake. With a small smile of delight, Derek was excited to see the potato crisp into a lovely golden texture. Placing it into the oven, he stood with his fists on his hip in triumph. 

Now all he had to do was wait. Blowing as raspberry, he looked around at the dishes. Well, he had some time to waste. With that, he began to clean up his mess, then set the table. He had just finished lighting candles when the timer ran for the pie. Licking his lips at the delicious smell, he opened the oven to take a peek first. His expectation of the crispy potato design on the top was spot on. There it was, the beautiful masterpiece from his mother’s recipe. Pulling it out, he hardly could wait as he skipped to the table, placing it down on a cork trivet.  Before sitting down, Derek quickly ran to the kitchen to grab a wine class and his finest red. 

Oh, how he waited for this moment, rubbing his hands together he anxiously poured himself a glass before cutting into the meat pie. With a big scoop, he dished it to his plate and delicately picked up his fork. The moment of truth to see how well he was able to cook his own killed game. With trembling fingers, he loaded his fork with a bit of each layer and took a bite. The flavour swirled his taste buds. The tenderness of the meat, the creamy corn and potato perfectly mingling the juices and spices. The more he chewed, however, the more that there was something missing. It was everything he was hoping for but it wasn’t like his mother’s. He took a few more bites, his euphoria dissipating quickly as he frowned into his meat pie. What was he missing? Was it the cream corn? Maybe the meat was too fresh since she always just made it with store-bought products. 

With a heavy sigh, he finished his plate using a bit of bread to scoop up the juices running amuck on his plate from the meat. Sitting back he smacked his lips, grabbing his glass of wine as he stared at the head of his prized kill sitting on the other side of the table. With a narrow glare, he took a sip as he stared into the eyes of the blue eyes of the man whose body he cut up. Maybe it was the meat, Derek thought as he swished the wine within his mouth to clear his pallet. With a crooked smile, he continued to stare darkly. Next time, I will get it right.

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Turan Turnip

Overtaking Kings

Kicking the doors open, Athello stepped into the vast empty halls prepared, his companions beside him as they stood at the ready. This was the moment he was waiting for as the battle spread across the castle. He fought long and finally the tyrant king would be brought to justice. At the end of the long hall, sat the king. His crown brightly glinting on the top of his head, his robes neatly pressed and cleaned. He was magnificent to behold, as the rumors had rang true. King Galford was a beast of a man as he sat waiting, holding the arms of the grand chair as the light of the torches gave him a sinister appeal. Holding his hand to halt his comrades, Athello walked forward alone. It was a long stretch from the door to the chair as his footsteps echoed off the walls. 

Time itself seemed to stop as Athello’s body shifted into that of a different being. The embodiment of Chaos stepped out from the shell of the man while he smiled mockingly. With a grand gesture, he opened his arms wide as if to accept an embrace from the king. Stopping with still space between them, he called out to him.

“It has been a while, Order. Or shall I call you ‘Brother’?”

Hiding a wince, the king grumbled. “Chaos. I should have known you would have been behind this all.”

Chuckling, Chaos dropped his arms as he took upon his true name. “Yes, it wasn’t hard to find you. Being that it was always easy to seek you out. To come and destroy what you have built so meticulously. Although, I must say, you did a fine job making it difficult at first.”

Order gripped with white knuckles at the King’s chair. “And what was it this time that called you out of your hole? Was it the structure of peace between the other countries? The strong alliances of nobles and their resources? Surely there was no reason to besmirch my efforts.” 

Standing up the king waved his hand off towards the farmlands he knew laid in the far distance for his window. 

“I have made this kingdom more prosperous than it has ever been. Our lands are rich in soil and abundant in harvest. We have ships and armies that could conquer our enemies and change the way of things.” 

Order took a few steps towards the wall, placing his hands behind his back as he stood with such regal beauty. With a heavy heart, he sighed as he closed his eyes. “Everything was going according to plan, so why must you bring your influence here?”

Tiptoeing towards the King, Chaos giggled like a child. “Because it was not ‘free’ brother. Your obsession of influence was stifling.” 

Dramatically sliding the rest of the way to stand beside Order, Chaos conjured with his hand across the wall, sharing the image of the castle from afar.

“You see prosperity, I see devastation. The people of the lands were suffering while the rich were feasting and plumpening up.To see those who work their hands to the bone, tilling the soil with blood and tears while those who were born into better lives sit on the carcasses of the hard working. Fat pigs on fertilizer, they stop the innocent into the ground and to their deaths.” 

The image flashed as it showed the farmers in their fields, weak and frail, some passing out from the heat. From there it showed carts full of those who have died from hunger and starvation. The king gruffed. 

“This is necessary to build. Without their sacrifices, we could accomplish nothing. They provided food for the soldiers to fight and keep peace.”

The image flashed to the guards enforcing the time curfew as well as beating those who could not pay taxes.

“What about the suppression? Adding the curfew to those who wandered around the streets? How the people feed the armies that in turn beat and assault them?”

Order turned snarling, “I gave them a choice! Offering help to those in need and asking only of them to work. Instead they lazed about and drank away their gains, gambled their fortunes and whored at the brothels. They refused to listen so I gave them guidelines to reconstruct their failures. The weak are only in their will, abiding by the rules would have saved them.” 

Chaos tilted his head, curious to learn more. “And yet they starve, unable to provide more than what was taken from them. Death tolls increasing, food stores drying up and yet the nobles throw parties. Even while you throw balls and festivals, doing the very thing you punish your people for.”

With a dominating presence, Order pointed his finger up towards Chaos. 

“Since when did you care for the people and suppression? Are you not the one that brings misery to those around you? To hurt the innocent bystanders in your war as you trampled them at the gate? Had they listened to me there would have been no death or blood shed. Harmony alongside others. We could accomplish great things and yet they turn their backs on those they do not know!”

Chaos swung his sword in hand, playfully as the sound whirled around it. “It is as you would say part of the cycle. It’s not about the death’s or emotions of those involved. If not for your disturbance in the balance, there would be no need for either mine or your influence. Your power had over reached its limits, giving me power. The power to pull at the small tethers of rebellion in the hearts of the free wills. Without my chaos, there could never be order. Your power is to keep those in line, yet when that line is to narrow it is hard to keep a strong step. The bridge over the water would crumble as those trying to cross would parish. The lines of power are too much push and no pull.” 

Order fumed, his fists clenched tightly as he held dearly to the body of the king. “Everything was fine! I was so close to perfection and beginning this world to a new order! Laws and expectations finally match! The only influence you brought was to undermine my greatness!

Placing a hand on Order’s shoulder, Chaos gave him a tender smile while trying to calm him. 

“I am not destroying your work, Dear brother. I am only helping encourage it. With my help you can rebuild again, stronger and more unwavering than before. The slate will wipe clean and a new path reborn.” 

Order held stern to Chao’s eyes, shaking in his anger only for a moment. Had he been blind to how out of control of the influence he had been? Scanning the sincerity of his brother’s face, he looked back to the images of the present. The pain of the people unable to keep up and the gluttony of the ones who rode on their backs. It was not his plan at all as he defeatedly dropped his hand to his side. Yes, his brother had been right to come and cleanse the land of this terror that had ruled over them all. He had been so blind and focused on the goals that he had truly lost sight of the real goal he had come to achieve. The utopia he sought to bring had fallen short and the glass had now shattered. Looking back to Chaos, Order accepted his fate as the skin of the King faded away. There in a golden glow was Order’s true form. 

“You are right, little brother. You were always right. I have overstayed my time, warped the minds of the people. Please forgive my shortcomings and may you do better to succeed in my stead.”

Reaching out to grasp his brother’s shoulder, Order smiled with care as they held each other. “It was good to see you once more brother. Next time I shall make it more exciting for you and not keep you too far out of reach.”

Chaos smiled brightly, nodding proudly. 

“I await with anticipation.”

It was a flash as the peasant cupped the back of the King’s head, thrusting the sword deep into the rib cage and into the heart. Chaos looked down to see the sword thrusted into him, his appearance shaping back into that of King Galford. He looked up as Order held strong unto the hilt, the shape of Athello covering his face. King Galford coughed up blood as it dribbled down his chin. Athello grabbed tight to the King’s body as he helped him lay down to the ground. They watched each other as the life seeped out of Galford’s eyes. Waiting a few moments more as the air finally let loose from his lungs, Athello ripped his blade from the body and stood up. Looking down at the now dead King, he nodded with solemn eyes. “Goodbye brother. I will miss these family meetings.”

Athello turned to the men by the door as they cheered. The tyrant king now slain and a new leader born as Athello took the crown from the body and placed it upon his head. The war had ended as they exchanged the hands of power. As Athello now became ruler of the land, he stood on the steps of the castle as he took in the faces of the people who fought beside him.

“The King is dead! And I in his stead will lead us to the new beginnings! I will bring order and peace, as we rebuild what the king had destroyed. This time, I will do it right.”The crowd’s cheer was deafening as Athello looked out across the sea of people. Order smirked with determination. Yes, I will do it right this time.

Unexpected Changes

She started climbing down the side of the rocky cavern. The air was dark, heavy and dead. Obviously, there hasn’t been any airflow for some years now. How come a tunnel that ran deep into the earth like this has never been uncovered before? Cindy finally made it to the sandy bottom where she let out a harsh grunt. It’s been a while since she’s had to free climb in a long time without gear. She turned from the wall and looked out into the newly entered room of the tunnel. It was completely pitch black. Cindy turned on the light from her headband, squinting from the sudden brightness that enveloped the entirety of the room. It was a spacious gap that spread out into a circular almost smooth dome. The floor was a sandy spiral of speckled colors and small stones, reflecting the light coming from her headband. It gave a beautiful eyry glow. 

Cindy stepped out into the open space, no echo bounced back as she took each step. It took her by surprise the silence from her boots as she expected the sound to vibrate off the walls. The room emitted a strange peace where everything seemed to be locked away in a different spectrum of time. She scanned the walls to see if any other tunnels lead further in, but found that this was a dead end. She reached the center of the cavern and inspected the middle. Shockingly there was a plaque with strange symbols discreetly placed just under the sand. She hardly noticed it as it purposely blended with the surroundings, bouncing off the same eyry glow the rest of the stones and sand did. With one slower glance around the room, Cindy knelt down to get a closer look at the plaque. She had studied different symbols from the past as well as dead cultures that left a very subtle hint of existence but had not encountered anything like this before. She reached out to touch the carved symbols but stopped just hovering over them. Instinctively she felt a sense of foreboding and withdrew her hand. She stood up and pulled her walky-talky out of her pocket. Still looking at the plaque she radioed her assistant. 

With a damped bloop, she spoke into the mic, “Joe, I found what looks to be a meditation ring.” As she let go of the button another damp bloop sounded, signifying she was done talking. 

A split second later a returning bloop rang and a male voice crackled through, “Anything cool looking? I don’t want to go home empty-handed this time.” 

It ended with another bloop. Cindy frowned and shook her head. Did he think that all the explorations had to end with some big treasure? This was a quest for knowledge, not gold and silver. Her voice was laced with irritation as she replied, “Just get your ass down here.” 

With the last bloop, she shoved with talky back into her pocket. He was going to take a while as he wasn’t very good at rock climbing. Cindy vindictively envisioned him falling on his attractive looking face as he came down. Why she chose him to be her assistant was beyond her comprehension. He was mediocre with any history or culture, greedy and very sly. A part of her wanted to release him from the position she gave him, but she had this nagging feeling he would be handy someday for her. She let him stay on her gut feelings. Cindy could never quite understand how she could understand these feelings, but they drew her to places no one else knew or discovered. This made her very successful with being the first person to uncover these hidden civilizations that people thought to have never existed. Although she firmly believed Atlanta didn’t exist, people urged her to go and find it because of her gift. Thankfully she proved herself right thus far. 

While she was deep in thought she walked towards the walls and ran her finger along the almost perfectly smooth walls. It was as if the walls were somehow shaped naturally from water, like how broken glass would be smoothed down on the beach from the tide. Of course, that couldn’t have happened as they found the original cave so far inland from any major bodies of water. To top it off all the rest of the tunnels leading to this room were sharp and jagged, proving to be difficult to climb and hike through. As Cindy walked the outskirts of the room still running her hands on the stone, she felt like there was a reason she was brought here. This was no small coincidence that she happened upon the entrance and bullied Joe to follow along. She found herself smiling as he remembered his bitching and complaining the whole way through as she found slight pleasure in torturing him. He was a pretty city boy who struggled to the outback. It did come in handy though as he was amazing with technology where she was awful with computers.

Cindy shook her head as she realized she zoned out on thoughts again. As she forced herself back into the present she realized she was stopped at a particular part of the room facing the wall. Her hand stopped right on top of some very subtle markings left on the wall. It was the same style of symbols that was on the plaque. She hardly even noticed them as she moved her hand off the markings. She astonished herself on her inept ability to just stumble across things. She sighed and whispered aloud, “Now if I could only obtain the ability to communicate with people the same way I can discover things, I think I would be a pro.”

As she finished whispering, Joe fell off the remainder of the wall and landed flat on his face with a damp thud sound. She jumped as it broke her train of thought and she looked over at him. The room had an incredible ability to dampen noise that it was terrifying. She sighed as she realized it was just Joe and put her hands on her hips. “Are you wearing those boots I got you with the grip?” 

Joe stood up with a grunt and he brushed off the sand caught in his stubbly face. He looked rough with the week look of growth and drenched with sweat. He said with absolute confidence once he was brushed off, “No. I am not.” 

Joe turned on his headband and looked quickly around the room and drooped with disappointment. Cindy scowled but turned around back to the wall. 

“It’s just an empty stupid room.” Joe whinnied, “What use is this to us? “Let’s go off the hard beaten path,” she says, “let’s go into this sketchy cave!” she says. “Hey, I brought us to a dead end with no profit,” she says!” 

Cindy rolled her eyes and she hardly heard him kick something and caught him saying “ow” under his breath. Ignoring Joe, she pulled out some paper and lead to place over the top of the symbols. She thankfully imprinted the symbols onto the paper and studied the page intensely. 

“I wonder what this means..” she thought out loud then trailed into thought. 

Joe limped over behind her and looked over her shoulder at the page. Puzzled he asked, “How did you even see that? Do you think there is a hidden pathway that would open up from here?” 

He gently reached for the paper out of her hand, brushing hers as he did so. Cindy blushed at the contact and let him take it. 

Stammering she replied,” Oh.. uh… I kinda just… Found it. Like how I usually just “find” things.” She nervously chuckled as crossed her arms. She hesitated to say anything further as she always thought he would never believe her. Joe turned and walked towards the center of the room, studying the paper just as intensely as Cindy was. She watched him still with her arms crossed. 

As he was walking she remembered the plaque on the ground and yelled, “ Stop! Don’t stand on the…” He kept walking and stepped on the plaque which shot a blinding light up and out of the ground. He was caught in the pillar of light jerked outwards as he shot his head up and silently screamed, pain wrenched through his face. Cindy was quickly dazed by the light and felt a harsh energy blow right through her. Voices of a different language blurred into her mind as she recovered her sight to see Joe trapped in the pillar of light. Confusion slammed her as the voices yelled loudly as she tried to take a step towards Joe. Cindy yelled out but nothing came out. As quickly as the light had burst out from the middle, a thunderous wind blew out and slammed Cindy to the wall. The deafening voices stopped and the light disappeared. Everything went black. 

Cindy woke up. Her head throbbed violently as she tried to sit up. She must have hit the wall hard enough to knock her out. It took her a good while to recollect herself and try to make sense of where she was. It was still pitch black and she reached for her headband to feel it was missing. She rolled to her hands and knees and felt along the sandy ground to attempt to find the light, still in a daze. Suddenly she remembered Joe and the pillar of light and in a panic screamed his name. There was no reply and no echo in return. Oddly enough in her panic, she felt a strange calm. She tried to scream his name again but found her voice was quieter than she intended. She crawled still feeling the sand under her hand, the throb in her head still pounding. She couldn’t tell where she was in the room if they were still in the room, but she felt herself stop her hand in midair. Instinct hit her again as she knew she had reached the plaque. Where was Joe? 

She felt the ground around the area and felt the fabric of a headband. Cindy fumbled as she gripped the band tightly and felt for the light switch on the light. Light burst forth from the bulb as she shakily tried to put the band around her head. She sat on her bottom, closed her eyes, and took slow deep breaths. Now that she could see, she needed to calm down. No use being unreasonable while trying to figure out what had happened. She allowed the strange peace to envelop her as she took her firm and steady breaths. On the last exhale she opened her eyes, ready for the worst. She scanned the room to find that she was indeed in the middle of the room and the plaque was right in front of her. The room was as if nothing had happened. There also was no Joe. 

“Ok. Rationally, there is no way he could have disappeared.” Talking to herself helped her feel like she was still sane. “Maybe he got up and tried to leave.” 

She leaned back onto her knees to look for footprints. As she surveyed the area she realized that there were no markings anywhere. The sand moved under her hands but left no indents as she shuffled on the ground. The sand purposely leveled out as if there was a brush flattening it as she moved around. 

She leaned back on her legs and sat there. He was gone with no trace. She realized he had the paper that she traced the markings on. She looked around again and realized not only was there any signs of tracks. There was no sign of anything at all, including the paper. Sadness hit her just as hard as the wind did.

 “What is happening…?” She felt like crying but the peace the room emitted would not allow for it. Cindy got up and walked to the wall where the symbols were. Maybe she could get some clues from the writings but as she approached they too, where missing. She stared into nothingness for a moment, then glanced at the plaque. The only way she is going to know what happened is to do the same thing. She crawled over to the plaque and took a deep breath. She slammed her hand down on the stone and closed her eyes while she did so. Still keeping her eyes close she waited. Nothing happened. She waited a moment longer then slowly let go of her breath and opened her eyes. She looked at the plaque and realized that something was different about it. She blinked, and slowly the realization started to sink in. 

An angry, annoyed eye stared up from the stone, her hand over the other one. She blinked again. “Oh, God. I must still be dreaming. Or… or I hit my head really badly.” 

A voice spoke into her head. ‘Please remove your hand from my eye. That really hurt.’

She ripped her hand from the plaque and yelped. She stared at the plaque and shook her head slowly. “No. This is impossible.” 

The plaque no longer had any markings or symbols, just the eyes now staring back up at her. The look was now concerned and desperate. Cindy felt a sharp pain within her chest. She felt around the plaque and felt loose sand around it. She dug along the edges of the stone in the ground as desperation hit her hard despite the peace she felt from the room. She began to uncover the edges and was able to pull the plaque out of the ground. She lifted up the piece and slowly sank back into the ground, holding it shakily. Her mouth was dry as she was panting, and managed to finally force out the words.