Gold Fox: Thunderwave 6

Gold Fox slunk off into the darkness, taking a vantage point where she could see down into the manor. She gave a chuckle as the guards kept running around in confusion and the barking dogs caused chaos. It was always a pleasure to watch the chaos she caused to play out. Fox gave a little hoot in surprise as one of the guards shot another by accident, though frowned as that caused the chaos to start to subside as people started running around for medical supplies and recover their composure.

Once the show was over, she moved off and away, tracking through some brushes along the roadway. In the moonlight, she saw a strange glint and crept closer to what caught her attention. When she brushed aside a branch of the brushes, she found a small statue about two feet tall.

Gold Fox picked it up and held onto it as she moved to a spot where she could stay hidden but had enough moonlight to examine it. Ducking behind such cover, she was startled to find it was a statue of the Goddess of Tricksters. Nowadays, such a thing was quite the rarity. It is no wonder someone secreted it away, they probably still worshipped it but would not let others know that.

Finder’s keepers, however, was one of the rules of the Goddess of Tricksters, so Fox held onto it as she went back to Cunning Linguist’s apartment. There, she set it on a table and started to take a nap on the couch.

She woke up a few hours later, in the early morning light, with Cunning shaking her gently. Her hostess asked, “Have a good night?”

“It was very productive, yes. Everything’s set up on my end. Yours?”

“I got most of the gangs ready to meet me in a few hours. Everything’s good on my end.”

“Good. Can I ask you a favor?”

Cunning gave a nod as she sat next to Fox, “Sure, what is it?”

Pointing to the statue, Fox inquired, “Could you mail that to a special location of mine if I pay for the postage?”

“Of course, that’s not a problem,” Cunning then leaned in to study the statue a bit, “Isn’t that…?”

“Yes, the Goddess of Tricksters.”

“But…her worship’s been banned, hasn’t it?”

Fox gave a slight nod, “Sort of. In the non-human lands, it has been, yes. Elfland forbids it, and the dwarf clans won’t allow the iconography in their lands. Before they were wiped out by the humans, the orc tribes abhorred her and called her a demon. Only a few humans and maybe a rare half-elf will worship her still.”

“A rare half-elf….like you?”

Fox laughed softly, “I’m a rare half-elf, but I do not worship the Goddess of Tricksters. On the other hand, I do not disrespect her, and I do collect rare art. When I can.”

“I see.” Cunning looked at the statue then asked, “Why don’t more humans worship her?”

“Humans do not worship very much at all. And when they do, it’s nearly never one deity, it’s a pantheon of. Even the odd ones who heavily favor one amongst their pantheon almost never take the Goddess of Tricksters, for they say ‘she is like a dagger, liable to be thrown back at you’. Too risky for their taste, in general. I suppose most who do worship her did so to placate her and try to keep her happy and content and not bring mischief to them.”

“It’s odd though, that humans do not worship her as their primary choice.”

“Why do you say that, Cunning?”

“Well, I heard the story that humans gained their prominence because of her.”

“Ah, yes. Let’s see now….” Gold Fox paused in thought some, then continued, “If I recall right, it went like so: Elfs are superior at magic and very good at art, Dwarfs are superior at crafting and very good at war, and Orcs are superior at war and very good at magic, of the shamanic sort. But humans, they were superior at nothing whatsoever, nor very good at anything. They were, in effect, third best in all things. Which made them, suppoedly, better at Elfs at war, better than Dwarfs at magic, and better than Orcs at art, but bested on a whole.”

“Yes. And feeling marginalized and inferior, humans kept mostly to themselves and learned to hate the other peoples.”

“I think they were more jealous than hateful. After all, when Elfkind originally sent a delegation to Humanity, the two peoples became strong allies and lived like the best of friends for centuries. That is, until almost a century ago.”

Cunning pointed to the statue and said, “And that’s when she stepped in. Now, at this point in the story, there’s some variations. What is the one you heard?”

“The Goddess of Tricksters stepped before the other deities and pointed out the disparity in abilities. How Elfs were so good at magic, and Dwarfs so good at crafting, and Orcs were so good at war, and she demanded that the humans be the best at something.”

“I’m with you so far.”

Fox nodded, “The other deities asked whatever else they could be good at, as magic, art and war were taken, and the Goddess of Tricksters pointed out that humans have a lot of supersitions. That if you leave a bowl of milk out, one of the Little Folk will do household chores for you, that if cold iron touches an Elf they act as if burnt, that if you hang a crooked nail over your doorframe a Dwarf can not enter your house, and so forth.”

“Ah, this version of the stsory.””

“Indeed. So the Goddess of Tricksters asked the other deities to make the human superstitions real. That humans should excel at storytelling, to the point that their stories can be real. The deities gave consent to the superstitions granting powers over others, but with the caveat that humans did not have the power to tell stories that could influence reality.”

“And, once their folklore became real,” Cunning ended the story for Fox, “they used the power to first take control of the Little Folk, then forced one sided contracts upon the Dwarfs, then sought control over the other beings of our world. And they put the Little Folk to work in their factories, which gave them far more weaponry than Orcs or Dwarfs could make. And so forth, until we got to today.”

“That is indeed the story I heard. What was the version you heard, Cunning?”

“I heard that the Goddess of Tricksters convinced the other deities to grant Humanity the abilities of any other peoples they conquered. So the Little Folk begged to be enslaved instead of destroyed, but the Orcs did not, and they became extinct when Humanity sought to be the best at war and out-produced weapons to use against them. Now Humanity are the best at warfare, for they took that power from the Orcs.”

Fox gave a slight nod, “That could be. But if that were so, how come Humanity and the Dwarf Clans have a neutrality agreement? If they rendered the Clans extinct also, they’d be the best at warfare and crafting, would they not?”

A shrug from Cunning, “Mayhaps. Mayhaps it is the story you heard. Mayhaps, also, it is another story. Or no story. Or many stories put together.”

Fox stood up and tapped the statue gently, “Knowing her, it may be all that, or none of that. Regardless, it is good stories, and good guesses as to how Humanity rose so fast in the past century and change.”

“Agreed. But for now, breakfast. We have a big day ahead of us.”

Once breakfast was done, Fox wrote down the address and put a few coins on the table. Cunning may or may not be able to mail the statue today, but she trusted the other half-elf will do it soon enough. The two then wished each other luck and left their various ways. Cunning Linguist walked out of her front door. Gold Fox snuck out on the fire escape in the illusion of a cat, then walked to the rooftops. Once there, in her Dark Elf Butterfly guise, she ran from rooftop to rooftop, jumping across the gaps with ease.

Fox ran with speed towards a safe spot close enough to the spot between the two crime family’s houses while still being able to hide in a safe spot. She made it in time, for the crime families spent their mornings trying to figure out how to proceed, before eager and aggressive members of their groups demanded bloody justice.

About a half hour after Fox arrived on the spot, the Surkelli family came out to shout invictives towards their rivals, who then responded by bringing their own men out. Both sides shouted at one another and pushed each other back and forth, but it was all posturing.

This kept going until both bosses came out. They quited down their own groups, then moved to the middle to converse. Fox gave a smirk, then gave the command word, “Funtime”. Once said, the disks she planted on the back of each boss’ head overnight exploded, tearing half the head of each man apart, rendering them both deceased.

No one noticed during the posturing two nondescript, plain looking men suddenly appear in the group, illusions cast by Fox. Once the disks exploded, she had the illusions hold thundercaster pistols up in the air, then declare that war begun.

Hot headed, blood riled already, the war between the criminal families had, indeed, begun. Right on the street between their manors blood was shed and thundercasters were drawn and fired. The criminal problem of this island was sorting itself out in a bloody harvest.

Several members of the house guard of the actual house she wanted to sneak into did leave their gated premises to guard the outer premises of their guarded property. A few shots of a thundercaster could tear down their wall, and no one  in the large compound wanted the bloodshed to spread onto their yard.

Gold Fox snuck into the yard through the tunnel she was shown by Cunning Linguist earlier. It snaked around and sloped down, then upwards, until she infiltrated into the compound behind bushes in a corner.

Knowing that night would not increase her odds of success dramatically, she waited only momentarily to dust herself off and insure no one was looking her way. Then, she ran towards the house itself and snuck into the basement window.

Here, she quietly began the long process of quietly sneaking through a mansion without being detected, until she could get to the third floor office that was her true objective.

It always seemed easier in simulations.

NPC43: Enter Your Name 9

Slaying the guardian of the sword, Eris took hold of the hero’s blade and heard the sage say, “I was the Mystic of Truth. You will soon understand how to pierce to it, Reincarnated Hero.”

Eris gave one look around from the entrance to the castle, studying the world from the vantage point of the highest point of the small island the dark lord took residence upon. She looked to the sky without a sun, without clouds, without a sky itself, gripped the hilt of her newest sword, then went into the final castle.

Eris quickly walked about the first level, easily dispatching the monsters that approached before her. She walked up to a throne with a vicious looking being upon it. She used a few herbs to fill her hit points, then talked to it to initiate dialogue then, inevitably, combat.

“I am the great and powerful dark lor-”

“No you’re not.”

The being stopped, “Yes I am.”

“No, you’re just a….wait.”

“Wait, why?”

Eris gave a frown, “You’re replying to me.”

“Am I?”

“Yes, you certainly are.”

Both beings paused for some time. The fake dark lord gave a shrug, “So I am. What of it?”

“What of it?” Eris was delighted, “You’re the first being in this entire world I can hold a conversation with! I thought the silence of the world was going to get the better of me.”

“I am your enemy, you know.”

“No you’re not.”

“I most certainly am!”

Eris gave a snort, “No, you really aren’t. You’re just a minion the dark lord tasked with scaring or fooling…who? There’s no other heroes around. All this just for me?”

The robed being shrugged his shoulders, “All this just for the Reincarnated Hero.When he approached me, he fought and killed me.”

“You look better.”

“Yes, well, it was not a pleasant experience, regardless.”

Eris squinted and looked at the being a bit closer, “I don’t believe you.”

“W-what? Why not? I’ll have you know I’m a very trustworthy person! Monsters. Monster person.”

“That may be true, but I do not think you met any prior Reincarnated Heroes.”

“No? Why not?”

“Because I think you WERE a prior Reincarnated Hero!”

The being in the robes paused in mid-motion of switching which leg was crossed over the other and leaning from one side to the other. He sat up straight, then leaned in, “How’s that?”

“I think you were a prior Reincarnated Hero. But the only one I ever knew was DICK. I think you’re him. Admit it!”

The being leaned back in the throne and sighed, “Of a sort. I am DICK’s failure.”

“His failure?”

“The being pointed behind him and then down, “The stairs behind me go down, two levels, and you meet the real dark lord. There, he asks if you wish to join or oppose him.”

“If you oppose him, you fight, that’s obvious. If you join him….?”

“If you join him, your game is erased. You lose your save game and everything and start over once again. A copy of you then sits on this throne and tries to fool the next Reincarnated Hero.”

“Lose everything? Save game? Start over?” She mused a bit, “I do not know what that entails. Yet if I join him, I rule the world with him?”

“So the promise is.”

“So it is. Anything else you wish to say?”

“Just that if you oppose him and win…I know not what happens to us. Is it not an idea to sit on this throne, forever? Is that not a reward?”

Eris walked about the throne to find the hidden stairs, departing with a simple, “It may be, to some.”

As she traversed the other two levels, she battled other monsters that approached her, but she was not focused on the fights. She thought about the conversation she had above. She thought about joining the dark lord.

What’s a save game? What if she lost her own? Eris thought to herself, imagined that if she lost her saved game, she’d…she’d lose herself! She’d become non-existent, what she was before. A mere, simple, NPC, greeting people coming to town.

She weighed that against the life she did know. Poison hurt. Flames hurt. Getting punched in the face by golems hurt. The fire breaths of dragons particularly hurt. Her feet hurt from walking everywhere. Her mind hurt from a nightmare about being forced to love someone she loathed.

Existence was a bummer.

She thought about it. A part of her would live forever in the town greeting others. Another part of her would live forever in this castle, on the throne, ruling the castle in masquerade.It would not be so bad. She’d control all the monsters, she wouldn’t have to worry about marrying a princess. She would never have to sleep overnight at an inn only to wake up the day she first entered the inn, which still confused her.

Enticing the option was.

Before she knew it, she was standing before the real dark lord. She used a few herbs to fill her hit points again, then stepped forward to initiate the question.

“Will you join me, or oppose me?”

Eris looked at the choices. She looked at the first one, and thought seriously about joining.

Time passed and the dark lord waited patiently.

Time continued to pass as Eris considered. She knew what would happen if she joined, but what if she defeated the dark lord? Would her existence still end? Would, with the game being complete, mean her life would be as well? Would, with no need for a Reincarnated Hero, the world erase her?

Surely, she thought, it would be safer to just stay in a comfortable world, eternally upon a comfortable throne. Surely the unknown is best left unknown.

Unbidden into her mind came visions. She saw the shadowy forms of beings she would come to know as ‘friends’. She saw a colorful and wondrous castle. She saw monsters happy to see her, racing her enemies in a friendly fashion, flying through space in a starfighter to guard others. She saw fighting tournaments and gun tournaments and sports tournaments. She saw worlds that sprawled infinitely before her. She saw and endless array of items and power ups and friends and foes.

She saw a future.

And she gave a grim smirk and chose to oppose. She knew that, unknown or not, a fight for the future was always what a hero is supposed to do. She clenched her sword and swung to!

An enemy LOTR approached!

Eris and the dark lord clashed again and again, the powerful sword singing a siren song of death, while the dark lord slung powerful arcane magic at her. She fired back with a number of her own spells, and healed herself a few times, but Eris had spent a long time grinding to maximum level, and her 30 levels gave her great power.It took her only mild effort to defeat the dark lord, which earned her no gold pieces nor experience points.

Stingy final boss.

“To imagine, that you, the Reincarnated Hero Eris, should defeat I, Lotrick!” The dying demon lord coughed a few times, “I was sure in my victory. Surely, my own reincarnation could not defeat me. Yet, you have bested the ancient hero who had become the dark lord. Your journey is over, your quest….complete.”

Eris suddenly found herself at the first castle, before the king who had congratulated her on finishing her quest. She saw as much as heard words floating above her head, denoting the conclusion of the story. The king demanded she take over the kingdom and marry the princess. She declined the first, stating that if she should run a kingdom, it would be of a land of her own making. The princess stuck by her side.

Eris then had a sudden feeling of importance. She ran out of the castle as she felt the world starting to darken again, to shut down. She came to understand something, but first had to find a slime. A blue slime, a red slime, it mattered not to her, a slime was imperative to this.

A slime approached! Command?

With the princess still at her side, Eris knew. She knew that she had the ability to grant sapience, intelligence, awareness to any one being she kissed, once she beat the game. She knew that she could bring that one being she kissed with her as a friend and ally, who would travel as her companion with her and aid her.

And she knew that she had to do this before the game finished the ending and went back to the starting screen. Time was short!

Eris shoved the princess aside and kissed the blue slime.

Gold Fox: Thunderwave 5

“Just how are you going to assassinate the two crime bosses, Fox?”

“Actually,” said the half-elf spy, as she finished sliding on her Butterfly gear, “that may be the easier task in this regard. The harder task may lay in having the two bosses die when they’re together, or at least in a way that their most loyal blames the other.”

“But what if you’re caught?”

Fox gave a shrug, “I don’t mind being seen, it would help spread a rumor that a dark elf Butterfly has come to this island. May help shake up the people at the compound I really want to go to.”

“But what if you’re CAUGHT?”

The half-elf gave a laugh, “Don’t worry about that. These are pretty average criminals, no matter their bravado. The only thing they’ll be able to do is see a glimpse of me, and only because I allow that.”

Cunning Linguist, the questioner of this conversation gave a short frown, “Awfully confident, aren’t you?”

“I’m aware of my own capabilities, and do overestimate those of my opponents. I will be fine. Did you manage to procure that short sword?”

Cunning gave a nod and pointed to a closet, “That and a few other small items are in a small bag there.”

Gold Fox gave a quirk of a brow, “A few other small items?” She smiled as she continued, “You bought me gifts?”

Cunning snorted and rolled her eyes some, “Minor insurance, maybe.”

Gold Fox went to the closet and pulled out the fabric bag by its handles. She opened it up, taking the short sword and attaching its sheath firmly into a loop in her outfit at the small of her back. She rested her right hand on the handle and practiced sliding it in and out of the sheath a few times, then gave the sword a few test swings to test for balance, before resheathing it one last time, “Very nice.”

“Thank you. I’m just afraid it’s not a real Butterfly blade.”

“Don’t worry about it. Traditional Butterfly blades had their own style, yes, but obtaining one of those nowadays means you’ve had one passed down in your family, typically. Or taking one off a dead Butterfly with one, and that’s not something easy to do.”

“No, I imagine not.”

“Most Butterflies nowadays use whatever short swords they have access to, which means most use a straight dual edged human blade, as those are very common.” She pulled the sword out again, looked at it, and placed it back into the sheath, “This looks to be an officer’s blade from the Navy of Humanity. It’s very nice.”

“Thank you.”

“Not your father’s or uncle’s or anything of the sort, is it?”

Cunning shook her head, “No, it came from no one I knew, or anyone one of my friends knew. It’s just a sword.”

“Well, thank you very much.” Fox then dug into the bag again, pulling out two straps full of throwing knives. She slide them over her torso in a criss cross, tapping the handle of each one to see the ease of sliding them out of their sheath and ready them, as well as to familiarize herself with the location of all of them. When she found two at her back were harder to reach, she adjusted the straps slightly, then pulled those two out and began to juggle the pair for balance, “Now these are very nice.” She put them back in their sheaths and she nodded, “I like those.”

“I’m glad I bought them then.”

“I’ll reimburse you for that.”

“Don’t worry about it, Fox. I feel like I’m going to have more money than I can spend, should this ploy really work.”

Fox gave her new friend a soft smile, “You doubt me?”

“I doubt success until success has been achieved, and then I’m wary of repercussions.”

Fox gave a short nod, “A pretty good philosophy.”

“Lasted me this long.”

The spy fished out the last items in the bag, then gave a short hmmm in thought. They were a pair of runed disks, their runes intricate and of an elfin nature. She asked, “What’s the spell on these?”

“They’ll combust when the command word is spoken to them. Command word is written in Elfin on the side. I’m not sure how useful they’ll be to you, but, well, fire always burns.”

Fox gave a short nod, studying them a bit, “That it does.” She then pulled her purse from Away and took a portion of the explosive trim from the purse, tearing it in two and wrapping the flexible strips around the small magical disks. She then asked, “Do you have glue, and a common anasthaetic?”

Cunning Linguist went past Fox into the bathroom, bringing back a gel that will numb, but not deaden, the skin. She then went to fish some glue from a drawer, handing both over to Fox. Fox used the glue to adhere the explosive wiring around the magical disks, and slid the small bottle of gel into a pocket. She gave a nod, “Well, I think I’m ready.”

“You think?”

“Sure, I’m pretty sure I’m ready for this stage of my mission. I mean, unless you have what my target is in the compound, somehow, and are just willing to give it to me, so we can skip this portion of the plan and I can just head back…”

“Hah! Like I could be a better superspy than you!” Cunning shook her head, “I’m just someone with several friends, a lot o local lore, and a job that lets me hear everything.”

“And soon to be the power  behind the power on this island, do not forget.” Fox gave her friend a soft kiss to each cheek and a gently hug, then stepped back and gave a smile, “You’ve been the most helpful field contact I’ve met on any of my missions.”


“Well, the most helpful sapient one. There was one mission where a dog I met basically completed the mission himself.”

“Smart dog.”

“He really was.” Fox then stepped out of Cunning’s apartment window and onto the fire escape, then said, “I’ll give you the morning to do what you need to do, but the bosses will die at noon. Can you get the two organizations together and gather enough half-elfs to take over from them?”

“Don’t worry about my own mission, just work your own. Go, and best of luck.”

“You too,” Gold Fox then jumped up from the fire escape to the escape above, and continued to jump upwards until she hit the rooftops. There, she put on her mask, headwrap and hood, then peered downwards, “Nice enough girl, for now. Shame I’ll eventually need to kill her.”

Gold Fox then ran across the rooftop and hopped over, flipping in midair, landing in a soft crouch to the rooftop across the next street. She repeated this process time and again, moving across a quarter of the entire island in this way. Eventually, she got to the Zonboli residence, landing behind a bush with a soft, silent crouch.

There, she looked around for patrols, then used one of her favorite spells to conjure a small spying globe. She sent that up and floated it over the residence, which transmitted in front of her an illusion of what it was able to see, marking in her memory the location of the guards. They had all been stationary at certain points, and not working patrols. How easy.

Gold Fox ran across the sward and hopped from the wall to the chimney and back, repeating until she clung to a third floor ledge. She lifted herself up so she could look into the room, finding it the master bedroom, as she intended. She silently opened the window and crept in.

Boss Zonboli was sleeping, the heavyset and balding man snoring loudly. Gold Fox gently rolled him over and began to put the medical gel to numb his feeling at the base of his skull, where his hair was still pretty thick. Then she hid the small impromptu explosive device there.

Gold Fox knew that at least one guard would be posted outside the door, so she left through the window again, closing it as she did so. She hopped over to the next ledge, finding that the only son of Boss Zonboli was sleeping in this room.

Gold Fox gave a shrug and entered this room quietly, skulking over to the sleeping form of the man slowly coming towards his middle age years. She pulled out her short sword, then sliced it across the sleeper’s neck, killing him instantly. Then she carved three lines into the newly deceased’s chest, making the mark of an old assassin’s guild that people still feared. Gold Fox then pocketed a Zonboli family ring from the desk and left.

She hopped up to the roof, and considered how to be seen without giving her work away. She noted the Surkelli residence and that the two mansions had their front gates facing one another, albeit across a very wide street.

She figured she might as well just use the front gate.

So she hopped over the edge and climbed down a pipe, then rushed across the front sward, straight at a guard post. It was manned with four guards, but she only pulled out two throwing daggers. Those were flung hard into the back of the necks of the two closest guards, who fell almost instantly with a solid thud.

She jumped into the guardpost and slashed one guard’s stomach, causing him a serious wound that prevented him from acting against her, but not killing him. She wanted witnesses. The other man she kicked in his gut, then said to him, “Boss Surkelli thanks you for your help!” With that, the woman looking like a dark elf Butterfly left through the front gate, leaving behind enough witnesses and suspicions that the Zonboli family should have a full gang war ready by the morning.

To a user of fox magic like her, the best illusions are those that make the victims believe what she wants them to believe, without using magic to do so.

The Surkelli mansion was slightly harder. She used the spying globe again, studying the illusion it transmitted to her location. This mansion had guard dogs, as the Surkelli family boss was not afraid of dogs, unlike the Zonboli one, a fact she’d later learn. Two men and a dog made up one patrol group, and there were numerous patrol groups guarding the place. There was also a guard post at the four corners of the yard. Shadows moving in windows showed that the mansion itself had guards inside of it.

In days past, a real dark elf Butterfly used egg shells with blinding or sneezing powders in them, and with a few of those, she could incapacitate any of the patrols. But she did not have the proper materials for the delicate work those entailed, nor the proper carrying cases, so did not incorporate that bit of the traditional Butterfly panalopy into her equipment. Without a smell, an illusion wouldn’t trick a dog for very long.

Gold Fox went around to the side of the residence and hopped onto the exterior wall, looking in.and studying both the yard and the house. She ducked low when the patrols passed and she plotted out her excursion.

Unlike the Zonboli residence, when she was ‘caught’ at the end, she figured she could get that done at the beginning, here. She could get in and out without being caught, as she timed the gaps in the patrols, but decided that a bit of chaos may help obfuscate her goal.

Her maternal grandmother, she was told, was a nine tailed kitsune. An immortal fox shapeshifter, she only left this world when summoned by the deities to the spirit world, there, it is said, to train as a minor deity herself, and mayhaps more. Gold Fox did not have nine tails, nor even one, but did inherit her grandmother’s capability for manifesting multiple advanced illusions. Will her grandmother could do a number of complex illusions that seemed limitless, Gold Fox could do but six.

Six, however, was plenty. She meditated for close to thirty minutes outside the residence to get the magical working complete, envisioning just what she wanted. The sights of six other dark elf Butterflies, three running across the yard then over the walls, and three in the house, one on each floor, would be far more than sufficient to cause the distractions she needed. With the magical energy summoned and shaped, she hopped over the wall.

Gold Fox timed the patrols, then ran across the yard, scaling the house soon after. Once she got near the third floor, she used the stored magical energy, manifesting the six illusions, letting them run through their scripted actions. She soon heard the yells and shouts of guards as the patrols became disrupted.

Boss Surkelli was starting to awaken due to the commotion. She quickly shot the gel onto the back of his head and slapped the explosive disk to the base of his skull. Then she tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the Zonboli family ring she took from that estate, “Ask your son about this. His lover, spurned, hired me to kill him.” She left the started boss as easily as she entered, saying, “Unless you do it first, I’ll return to complete that job tomorrow.”

Of course, she knew she would not have to return to the house. Everyone currently in this house should be dead by this time tomorrow.

NPC43: Enter Your Name 8

Before she set off again, Eris went to the inn. She knew that, even though she would sleep the night, she’s wake up in the morning of the very same day. The lack of passing time was something that still disturbed here, but not something she dwelt on much, any longer.

For the first time in her existence, she had a dream. She did not have visions in the dream that she recalled, just someone repeatedly saying, “Dost thou love her? But thou must!” over and over and over again, far too many times for her to be comfortable with.

Eris woke up screaming, “No! I don’t love her! Stop it!”

As she got up and stretched, she looked at her inventory again and checked her equipment. She noticed she was carrying a ‘Pixie Lute’ and took it out, giving it a little look over  before recalling, “Oh yes. I picked this up at the last town I visited, just north of that dragon’s cave.” She shook it about a bit, giving a soft hrm as she thought, “If this thing is supposed to be able to put people to sleep, does that mean I can rest a night without spending money at an inn? I wonder.”

Eris went downstairs, then looked at the innkeeper and the lute. She lifted it up and began to strum it to see if the Innkeeper would fall asleep.


She kept playing.

Still nothing.

Giving up, she slid the instrument back into her back, “Well, whatever. I suppose they don’t interact at all, except to say something or sell something.” She walked out of the inn, adding, “Shame, this lack of stimulating conversation is starting to highly annoy me.” Eris left town, and thought for a bit about where to go.

She remembered that people of the first town she visited that was not her hometown, which was to the northwest had some sort of secret. She also recalled that there was a few locked doors in the castle she couldn’t enter…even though she threatened the king to open them. And she recalled people of the town north of the dragon’s cave that she obtained the Pixie Lute from say that south of the cave had a town of magic, but powerful enemies around.

As that area was  blocked by the dragon that Eris defeated to rescue the princess, and she handidly dealt with the dragon, it seemed now open to her. And as it was the place furthest away, she decided to try it, first. She could always explore the locked castle doors and the nearby northwestern town easily.

So she crossed the bridge north of the castle, killed several giant scorpions, still harboring a grudge against them, and crossed the other bridge. Feeling good still, without much loss of hit points, she went right into the former dragon’s cave and went south, able this time to get to the other side without being blocked.

After leaving the other side, Eris was beset by metal scorpions! As if giant scorpions were not enough, they now have metal covering them like armor, and they still poisoned her! She came to hate all things scorpion, and the beasts did not die easily. It took several swings of her weapon and many counterattacks hitting her from the metal scorpion’s tail before even one fell.

She came to curse every single scorpion she ran into.

The wyrms and goldbeings she met were less of a danger. The wyrms breathed fire, but it did not burn her as the old fireballs from drakeys did. And the goldbeings gave a few hundred gold pieces each kill, so she enjoyed running into them.

It was a quick trek and several combats before she made it into the magical town, with half her magic points still left from the healings and many hit points. As it was a habit of hers, she still went first to the inn to sleep.

“Dost thou love her? But thou must!” kept running through her head her entire sleep. She woke up swinging her fist into a wall, growling, “It’s like a curse! A sick and twisted compulsion gnawing at me because I abhor the princess!” Another punch.

She looked at the wall, studying it. She did no damage to it, which caused her to frown. If she did, she would have figured out a new way to explore the locked areas of the castle, and in amusing ways. Aggressive remodeling seemed like it would be a nice therapy for her.

Eris’ stay in the town was profitable. She had enough money to buy a broadsword, so did that right off the bat, selling her old weapon. She found Arcane Armor for 7600 gold pieces and looked at her purse. A good bit short of that, she knew that, again, she’d be grinding up for some money in the near future. She also bought several magical keys once she found the key seller, guaranteed to be open any door she ran into.

The townspeople were somewhat helpful. One gave her a clue about the secret passage in the town far away. She wondered how someone would know such a thing all the way over here, however, but did not question it too much. Others talked of a ruined town with an ancient and powerful armor, including where the likely spot to find it was, and a town to the south that could only be journeyed to by walking along the western end of the continent.

Finally, perhaps her most important piece of information, one of the townspeople told her that if she could make a rainbow with the two mystical items she could travel to the evil castle and defeat the demon.

One thing at a time, however. Eris left the town and swung her new broadsword through the bodies of many an enemy. She accrued great wealth from the deceased, gave no pause to think of a corpse driven economy, and bought herself the arcane armor.

Then she thought how much easier the fight against the dragon could have been should she have been able to visit this town, first. But she played with her new spell which allowed her to return to the castle, and there, used the magical keys to open the locked doors.

She found in one of them a ‘Light Bead’, which was said to be able to call the sun. The sun? She hasn’t seen the sun for as long as she existed!

She had no idea what the sun was.

The joy of finding a new item was very quickly dispatched when she recalled the unfortunate fact she had no idea what a sun was, or why it was important. So she tossed the Light Bead in her backpack, talked to a few people, got a few more hints about her quest, and continued on.

As she left the castle, she turned around to wonder how anyone could be living inside a locked part of the castle, without even a bed to lay down on. Then she gave a shrug, waved a hand dismissively, and moved onwards.

Eris took a quick trek up north then west, once again running from slimes, for she still had no interest in fighting them, but mercilessly and gleefully splitting any drakey asunder. It was not that she needed the experience points or gold they gave her, it was out of simple malice and a vindictive streak.

She was still upset one had been responsible for her death earlier.

Eris found the secret passages int he town, used a magical key to enter a locked area, found the grave of an ancient bard, and took his silver harp. It is not like he would ever use it again. She brushed it off of grave dirt, then found an old man who suggested they make a trade.

“I want your silver harp, and I will trade you for this Storm Staff.”

Eris congratulated the old man on his ruthless desire and simple quid pro quo personality, and made the trade. The old man tossed in the information, “If Storm and Sun meet, a rainbow shall be born!”

Excellent, she now knew how to make a rainbow and thus gain entry to the demon’s castle!

Still, she knew she had work to do. So from this town, as it was to the western part of the continent, she went south. She crossed a bridge, went past a desert, crossed another bridge, through a winding mountain pass, killing many strange, sometimes powerful beasts along the way.

The monsters stood little chance to her, and she accumulated a few levels and a nice sum of gold thanks to them. By the time she saw the town, however, she was starting to get low on magic points and couldn’t heal herself with her herbs she brought in an emergency back to full.

But still, in the town she could sleep at the inn and replenish her supplies.

She went towards this southernmost town in the continent, noticing that it had walls built around it. The Reincarnated Heroine paused and recalled something said in the magic town, “In a city with walls, a powerful yet sleepy giant guards.”

Eris gave a dark frown. She was not at her best for fighting a powerful foe, but she also could not run back to the castle and heal at the inn, for she’d only have to travel this path again. She’d always arrive here in a weakened and battered state, and the guard would always be waiting for her until she dealt with it.

Using up the last of her herbs, she took the final steps to the city, meeting the giant rockman guard.

While Eris scored a critical strike with her first attack, the broadsword slicing deep through the rockman, the counterattack from the guard, a mere punch, seriously damaged her, taking out almost a fifth of her hit points. Only four more attacks like this would kill her!

Eris struck again with her broadsword, but did not score a critical hit. The guard’s counterattack hit her hard again, and she had only about three such hits left she could endure.

Then she recalled ‘sleepy guard’ and ‘puts beings to sleep’. She took out the Pixie Lute and began to play it in front of the guard. If she was likely going to die, might as well experiment. After all, she’d return here as many times as needed to defeat the guard, and information was power. If her first time failed, the information she gained from it could provide for another strategy.

To her amazement, the rockman guard fell asleep.

She hit it with her sword again. It stayed asleep. Eris gave a wicked laugh as she chopped the guard into little rock pieces and ended the barricade in her path to the city.

Once the rockman guard was defeated, a glowing Emblem floated out of its corpse and she heard the spirit of the guard state, “I was the Mystic of Dreams. You will soon understand how powerful those are, Reincarnated Hero.”

Eris grabbed the Emblem, which was a token of proof that she was the Reincarnated Hero and the original hero’s descendant. When she did so, it took one of the spots in her backpack but provided her with a power boost, giving her extra defenses she did not have before.

In this town, she found every single item from every other store in the cities of the continent, as well as the Mirror Shield and Fire Sword. She could not afford either, but ran around the town talking to the townspeople and learning more clues to complete her quest.

Helpful people, those townspeople.

Once done, and once she got all the treasure chests of the town, for they were just lying there for her to take, she left the city and began to grind once again.

Each time she visited the inn, she had the same dream. “Dost thou love her? But thou must!”. She cursed the Mystic of Dreams for his words, for the words of her dream had no power, they were just highly annoying.

The Fire Sword and Mirror Shield purchased, she visited the inn one last time. Then went back up northwards, this time when she hit the desert, she went further west and found the ruined town.

In here were incredibly powerful monsters, the very first one nearly killing her in one shot! She ran from each and every one until she got near where the item of great importance is supposed to be hiding.

Paranoid, she healed herself up, then stepped forward.

She was soon thankful she did so, for a giant knight with a powerful axe challenged her to a fight! His axe bit deep, but her arcane armor helped protect her, and her fire sword seemed to cut deep into his armor andburn at the mystical being inside. After many bouts and several clashes, she emerged the victor.

“I was the Mystic of the Heart. You will soon understand what your greatest armor truly is, Reincarnated Hero.”

She took the armor of the legendary hero, the powerful and magical armor of her ancient forebear, then put it on.

Two ancient treasures obtained, one to go. She returned to the castle, rested at the inn, resupplied herself, and talked to the king to save her progress.

For she now had but one step left to do. Find the sword of the ancient hero, then plunge it into the demon’s vacuous heart.

Another Kind of Haunted House 2

The group of six teens loitered a bit after their fast food dinner, until Jamal pointed out they still had quite some distance to walk and that it would be getting darker sooner rather than later. They slowly shuffled out, with Brad bringing up the rear after smoking a clove. Jamal and Aayisha took the lead, for they knew where to go.

“Hey, uh, J-dude,” Croc started, “About how much longer?”

“If we continue at this pace, just under an hour.”

“An hour of walking?” spouted Fern.

“Well, an hour more of walking, if you add in what we walked before.”

“This is quite out of the way,” noted Fern, “It better be worth it.”

Aayisha gave a nod, “I think it is.”

Silence for some time, then Croc asked, “So who owns this place again?”

Amy replied this time, “You do, Croc, you just forgot about it.”

“Uh…” Croc paused a bit then shook his head, “No no…I don’t think that’s true.”

Even Croc’s girlfriend, Fern, rolled her eyes, “Of course it’s not true. If you owned the place, it’d probably be trashed already, and not worth visiting.”

Croc seemed a bit proud for a moment and gave a nod, “Hehe. Yeah. S’true.”

Once the couple seemed done, Amy continued, “Jamal owns the house.”

“Whoa, nice,” spouted Brad.

Jamal shook his head, “I don’t actually own the house, to be precise. I own the land the house belongs on. The house just sits on the land I own.”

“Yeah?” Fern’s turn to inquire, “Then who owns the house?”

Aayisha answered for Jamal, “From what we could find…no one does. we couldn’t find any records of this particular house being owned. By anyone.”




“Yeah…” Jamal said to Fern, who kept going ‘huh’, “So Aayisha and I came by once or twice before to check the place out. Photograph it. Try to find any records in the place.”

“How’d that go?” This time it was Amy.

Jamal shrugged, “All we can figure is that the place was built sometime when the Victorian style was popular, so turn of the century most likely, but no one moved into it. Perhaps it was built for a family who died before moving in. Or someone built it to sell it and it never had any buyers. One thing is odd, though.”

“What’s that, dude?” That was Brad, catching up to the group.

“For being almost a century old and never lived in…it looks brand new.”

“Huh,” came the other four.

Aayisha pointed out, “The decor is odd, though.”

“How so?” asked Amy.

Aayisha continued, “The place has no pictures, no photographs. But it has portraits and paintings all over. But the paintings and portraits are…odd.”

“How so?” agian asked Amy.

“They were, like…too generic? They looked like they were placed there because they should have been there, but the people and places they depicted, they were just…unmemorable.”

“Yeah,” added Jamal, “The first time we left the place and walked home, neither of us could exactly remember any of the paintings. We tried to describe any of them to each other, and just kept up coming up with blanks.”

“Now that’s damn odd,” said Croc.

Amy then added, “You said decor, that means more than just the paintings, right?”

Jamal gave a nod, “Very astute, yes indeed. The furniture seemed like a mix of things. A chandelier from the 1930s. The staircase bannister looks like it is from the Gilded Age of the ’20s. A small TV from the ’70s lay next to a floor lamp from the ’40s. There was a VCR from the ’80s in, of all places, the kitchen, connected to a microwave you can buy now.”

Amy was the first to get it, “Connected to the microwave? A VCR?”

Aayisha nodded, “Yeah, it was odd. The wires that you’re supposed to put into the back of the TV? They were put into the microwave with the door shut on them. And then the ends just sat in a hole in the inner wall of the microwave.”

Helpfully, Croc offered, “Well, we cna help you fix your house up, dude.”

“It’s not my hou-”

“DUDE!” Brad finally got it, “Those are all different decades!” When everyone paused and gave him a glare, he asked, “What?” He gave a shrug and continued, “I mean, like…if no one’s been there…how come it seems someone’s been there at least once a decade?”

The group was silent for a time as they considered things, then they all shrugged and gave up on the question. It was a good one, to be sure, but none of them could consider the answer. Finally, Fern offered, “It’s haunted?”

Her boyfriend, Croc, chuckled, “Heh. What ghost goes shopping? Huh? Heh.”

The group gave a soft laugh, then Amy asked, “So how did you come to owning the house, Jamal?”

“I told you, I don’t actually own the house. The house, in fact, is not even mentioned in the paperwork. But I do own the land it sits on.”

“OK, how do you own the land?” pressed Amy.

“My ancestors…they were brought here as slaves.”

“Sorry, dude.”

“Thanks, Croc. After the good guys won the Civil War, and Africans were freed, a lot of land was taken over by sharecroppers. It was hard work, it was almost a slavery of itself, but my ancestors, they worked hard and made it work. They bought the land and when my paternal grandparents wed, their parents joined all their land together and gifted it to them.”

“Nice,” said Amy, “Very kind of them.”

“Yeah, dude, sorry about the painful parts, but, nice gesture,” added Brad.

“Thank you both. Anyway, it seems my grandparents never sold the land, even though people in power kept on insisting they did. Lawsuits kept going back and forth over the decades, meaning that neither my grandparents nor the people who wanted to build on the land could use it. Just before she died, my grandma proved the land was still her own, and that she put it in her will.”

“So it should be your dad’s, right?” asked Fern.

Jamal stopped walking a moment and looked down. He did not reply.

“Jama’ls dad is in jail, Fern,” spoke Aayisha softly, “On a charge of pot possession. He’s in jail for two decades. He has sixteen years to go.”

“Oh, man, so sorry dude.”

“Yeah, that’s rough.”

“Total bummer, man.”

Amy just gave a squeeze on her best friend’s shoulder, and Aayisha gave him a one armed hug around his waist. Jamal smiled, “Thanks, guys. It was a bum wrap, but we can put appeals in, and with good behavior there’s parole.”

Brad offered, “You could sell the land, make a lot of money, then use it to help spring him.”

Jamal shook his head, “Can’t. I’d like to, but no. First, no one wants to buy it, it’s too far out of town, not worth so much. Second, one of the stipulations of my grandma’s will was that if it did not stay in the family, if I tried to sell it…or my dad did, as it was willed first to him, then to me if he could not own it…that instead it be given to the state for use that would benefit the community. Like a college campus, or a hospital, or stuff like that.”

“What about selling the house?” continued Brad.

Jamal tilted his head, then shrugged, “I thought about it, but how can I sell a place that I can’t legally say I own?”

“Dude,” Croc interjected, “The house’s a squatter. If it is on your land and all, it should be yours, too.”

“Actually,” Fern asked, “what about your grandparent’s house, and their house? Are they still up?”

Jamal shook his head, “All my ancestor’s places burnt down in a fire in the late ’40s, when a group of KKK tried to drive them away. Only the land’s left.”

“Bummer,” frowned Croc. He then started, “Hey….”

Fern, however, picked up on it first, “Hey…if your family’s homes were burnt in the ’40s…and this house is supposed to have been built at the turn of the century…”

Jamal shrugged, “My grandmother told me nothing about this house. I don’t know if she forgot about it, never knew about it, or just doesn’t want to talk about it. My dad had a younger sister who died when she was…three? Four? My grandparents never talked about it.”

You don’t think this house killed her, do you?” asked Amy softly.

Jamal shook his head, “Probably not, but it’s always possible. What if she fell off a porch, for example, or the stairs. Or maybe whoever was living there-”

“If anyone ever was,” helpfully stated Brad.

“Yes, that too. Maybe whoever was living there, if anyone ever was, found her trespassing and shot her.”

“But if it’s your family’s land…” Fern started.

Jamal shrugged, “Like I said, I just don’t know.”

The group walked on in silence, thinking about the various questions and conundrums this information brought to their minds. Almost an hour of walking from the fast food place took them to many acres of empty land with a single house sitting upon it. It was the very model of a perfect, but generic, Victorian style house. And while the windows were boarded up, it still looked new.

When the group arrived, it was nearly fully dark, but the house was still visible enough for them to see. Jamal took a flashlight out of his pack and swung it about the house to get a better view of it, “There it is.”

Except for Aayisha, who stayed with her boyfriend, the other four stopped in their tracks. Jamal and Aayisha kept walking until they sensed they were alone and the other four were behind them. They asked basically in unison, “What’s wrong?”

“No way, man,” Brad shivered, “I know this place. This is the house where a bunch of Satanists killed dozens of cats in the late ’70s.”

“Bullshit, man,” Croc argued, “This is the house where in ’42 a family of Japanese people were all hung because the townspeople thought they were spies.”

Fern shook her head, “No no. This is the house where half the cheerleaders of the ’84 senior squad was found without their heads!”

Amy pointed out, “None of that could be true. Because this is the house my uncle and three fellow fire fighters died in when it burnt down to the ground in ’92!”



Gold Fox: Thunderwave 4

Gold Fox woke up in Cunning Linguist’s bed later than normal. She gave her new friend a soft kiss and started breakfast. The two ate, showered, then finally put on some clothing. Then they got down to business.

The other kind of business.

“So I was told you had information on the island, and my target.”

Cunning gave a nod, “Indeed. The mansion you want access to is going to be hard to get into, but not impossible. It’s a large compound up on the tallest hill on the island. Its size could be used against it.”

Fox nodded, “Too big of a place gives me many spots to hide.”

“Exactly. Your target has two powerful neighbors, though.”

“Is that so?” Fox went over to a sofa and fell onto her back on it, legs hooked over the sofa’s arm, “Both of them are humans I bet?”

“Yeah. Humans are definitely in charge here.” Cunning then sat on the sofa near Fox’s head, petting the spy’s hair gently, “Half-elfs are a definite second class.”

Fox looked up at the other half-elf, “Our people are more numerous though, right?”

A nod and a shrug, “Yes, but we tend to be splintered up into smaller gangs.”

Fox gave a soft hmmm of thought, asking, “So an ideal situation would be to unite the half-elf gangs, get the two powerful human houses next to my target to fight, and get my own mission complete, wouldn’t you say?”

Cunning gave a slight nod, “I imagine so. I can’t, however, imagine how we’ll do it.”

Fox smiled, “Cunning is a weapon that never dulls yet always sharpens with use.”

Cunning gave Fox a look and a quirk of the brow, “I like that adage.”

“Now, however, you brought up the subject of the neighbors, deign enlighten me?’

“But of course. The houses are held by Boss Zonboli and Boss Surkelli.”

“Criminal empires, it seems?”

“And most humans here work for them, in fact.”

Fox sat up enough to put her head in Cunning’s lap, “So if we get the two fighting, most of the island is going to get embroiled into the fight?”

“I suppose so, but it would need to be a big reason to get them to wage such a massive war.”

Fox grinned, “Would assassination work?”

Cunning stopped petting Fox’s hair, looking at her again. She gave a slow nod, “It would need to be a large enough target…”

“I figure I can kill both the leaders without much of a problem and plant evidence to frame the other. A war should follow soon after.”

“Yes, yes that would do. It seems like a lot of effort for no reason, though.”

Fox shook her head, “Oh no no. There are reasons.”

“Oh, what is it?”

“What are they.” Fox smirked, “If the two criminal families are at war, it gives us two opportunites.”

“Which are?”

“First, for me, with two very unruly neighbors, my own target would be focused on them and confused, especially if the war spoils onto the compound.”

“This is true, I suppose.”

“And for you, it allows a chance for someone to unite all the half-elf gangs under one ruler, then sweep in at the right time, finish the criminal families off and take over the island for yourselves.”

“True, true.” Cunning looked up towards the ceiling, “But who would that leader be?”

Fox laughed, “Sometimes all it needs is the right person to say  the right thing at the right time. I can write down a few things to start you off, and I’m sure you’ll be able to finish off your speech at the scene.”

“You want me to lead our people here?”

Fox gave a shrug, “Why not? Of course. You have it in you to lead. And from what you told me last night, you have a vision for a half-elf utopia. You can at least start that here, on this island, if you were in charge of it.”

Cunning gave a nod, “I suppose I can….but isn’t leading a lot of work?”

“Learn to delegate and you’ll be fine.”

“Hah! I suppose!” Cunning gave a shrug, “Why not? It’s not like you’d not use this plan anyway, whether or not I agreed. So I might as well know who is going to lead the gangs.”

Fox smiled, “That’s the way to look at it.”

“No, it’s one way to look at it. But I’m comfortable enough with it. But if this goes awry and I die, I’m haunting you.”

“Fair enough.” Fox sat up then and looked at CUnning, “You said before you had a map of the compound?”

“Calling it a map is being somewhat generous. I got notes on the compound. I got sketches. I got possible entryways into it. Maybe some escape paths. No one has been on the premises that I’m aware of, and come back off of them, since the place was built.”


“Yes, all the guards are all single and live on the compound. No kids, no wives, no visiting in-laws. It’s like a little fortress. So I got what I could on various scouting missions up there.”

“Well, thank you very much, Cunning.”

“My pleasure, Gold.”


The duo then knelt at the side of Cunning’s coffee table as she brought out said notes and sketches. They went over what Cunning was able to obtain, before she asked, “What do you think?”

“It should be easy enough once we get the distraction going.”

“You sure that’s going to work?”

“No, but it should be entertaining even if it doesn’t!”

Cunning gave a laugh, then a shrug, “If you say so, Fox.”

“The only real problem is that he can’t see me. If I’m made, it’s all for naught. Excepting the bonus of you running this island, of course.”

“Of course. But why does this fail if you’re seen?”

“Because,” Fox gave a soft grin, “My target knows who I am and who my handler is. He could then frame my boss or discredit him, and work his own plans to counter ours. It would not be nice.”

“Aren’t you an illusionist?”

Fox nodded, “I have some illusionary powers.” More than some, but she did not need to say this, “But he has the ability to detect magic in the area. If I used illusions to make myself look like someone else, he’d detect that I’m using an illusion and then try to see through it, cancel it, or run into an emergency plan. It would be just as if I was caught.”

“I see. That’s a wrinkle.”

“Yes…” Fox said, before looking to Cunning, “However, I can work that to my advantage. I could use illusions, for example, in key spots in his house which would make him move in ways I intend. Or…”


“The art of illusion is to make your target see what you want them to see. Or to not see what you don’t want them to see. Or, both.”

“I see.”

“Or neither.”

“I don’t see, that.”

Fox laughed, “Don’t worry about it. But there’s other ways to make someone see what you want them to see, or not see, without using illusionary magic.”

“Is that so?”

Fox gave a nod, “Indeed. And I can add some insurance to my infiltration by making him be unable to see me for me.”

“How so?”

Fox smirked, “By not looking like me. My mission is not exactly time sensitive. The information he has wouldn’t change very much if at all if I wait one day or one week.”

“So, we’re going to be doing this over time?”

“Of course. It would make the assassinations easier, as well.”

Cunning gave a nod, “I imagine it might. What do you need for this?”

Fox smirked, “Nearest nude beach.” Then a pause and she put her hands upon her ears and stuck her fingers out horizontal, “And fake elf ears.”

Cunning looked at Fox’s pointed ears, pouting, “But I like your ears as they are.” Half-elfs have upward pointing ears, longer than a human’s but not quite as long as an elf’s. An elf’s pair of ears were very long, sticking straight out horizontally from the elf’s head, tips ending past their shoulders.

“As do I, but fret not. Those will only be worn in the final stages. Now, the nude  beach?”

“What’s your plan?”

Fox smiled, “I plan on getting a dark tan!”

Cunning shook her head, “Why?”

“So I can look like a dark elf, of course. He knows I’m a half-elf, but he wouldn’t be expecting me to be a full dark elf. For that matter, I doubt he’d expect or know any dark elf. He works with all human teams in human lands.”

“Does he?”

“Ah, yes, but don’t worry about that.I do have a spare Butterfly outfit I can use for this also. If he saw a dark elf Butterfly in his mansion, he’d expect an assassination, not a theft.”


“Hmmm?” Fox gave a soft nod, “Right. A Butterfly is a dark elf shadow warrior. The arts are learned by other elfs also, but most of the practitioners of the art are dark  elfs. It’s the art of stealth, assassination, martial arts, trickery, sabotage, espionage, and so forth. A semi-mystical unseen killer.”

Cunning narrowed her eyes and looked at Fox, “Why do I think you may actually be a Butterfly?”

Gold Fox gave a soft shrug, “I may have had…some….training.”

The conversation ended shortly after, and after lunch, the two ladies walked towards the closest nude beach. They spent the afternoon there together, had dinner out, then spent the rest of the evening in Cunning’s place. They stayed up late and slept soundly.

Gold Fox spent the next three days going to the nude beach from dawn to dusk to get her naturally tanned skin a few shades darker. Once she was satisfied she could pass for a dark elf, she started her work against the crime families.

She chose Boss Zonboli for her first target.

NPC43: Enter Your Name 7

After grinding again, which allowed her to obtain new levels, more spells, greater hit points and statistics, not to mention enough gold pieces to buy all new equipment, Eris felt confident of her next challenge.

But not too confident. She learned her lesson from crossing the bridge before and running into one giant scorpion after another. She felt not confident so much as assured. Assured that she can meet the next obstacles that stand in her path. She felt that when she went into the cave the dragon held the princess, she had a good chance to defeat the dragon and rescue the princess.

Well, she hoped she did at least. There was only one thing she could do to prove it, and that was to prove it. Or fail. Either way, her path would not rise to meet her feet, she would need to overcome it.

Eris slew a few extra giant scorpions on the way south, for they were in her way and she learned to despise them. The cave was deeper than she anticipated, and went down a few levels. Along the way she met new and unique looking monsters.

Which she deftly dispatched with aplumb.

The only real threat she faced was the green dragon. After defeating several of the monsters in the caves, she found him, with the princess bound by his side. Eris just gave a small smirk as she adjusted the grip she held on her iron broadsword.

She walked cautiously towards the dragon, each step careful, methodical, probing. The dragon stayed still, just watching her approach. Eris slid her broadsword into an overhead position, her iron shield held out before her and just under her nose, giving her both maximum protection and not hinder her eyesight at all.

Then, there was an explosion of activity as combat commenced!

Eris shifted her left foot, giving her leverage with the ball of said foot and allowing her ankle to extend, the woman pushing herself forward. Her right foot leaped forward, and she gave a quick charge straight at the dragon. Her upraised broadsword cut cleanly through the air as she pressed forward in her quick burst of speed, her arms shoving it forwards to pierce the strong tip into the dragon’s snout, right between its nostrils.

WIth a roar, the dragon’s front left foot shot forward, the sharp claw battering into Eris’ upraised iron shield, denting the heavy metal with the single strike. Eris used the inertia from the strike to push herself back and pivot on her own left foot, swinging herself in a circle, her sword raised in a wide arc that bit deep across the green dragon’s chin, giving a deep gash into the draconic scales.

The dragon roared and unleashed a blast of fury embodied in scorching flame, but Eris barely ducked in time to only take the periphery of the flames, keeping her from being roasted in her armor. With the length of her sword working against her in this position, she gave a fierce uppercut as she launched herself back upwards with her left hand, the upper rim or her iron shield jamming itself hard into the dragon’s lower jaw.

The dragon’s right front leg swept out, tripping Eris. He caught her up in his hard grip and threw her against the cave walls. Stunned only momentarily, the Reincarnated Hero quickly recovered and leapt with her strong, long legs from one rocky outcropping to another until she attained altitude.

Then the heroine pushed herself off of the cave wall and launched herself at the dragon. She gave a deep howl of scorn as she flew like an armored missile at the dragon’s head. The point of her sword bit deep within the dragon’s forehead. It was only loosened by the frantic shaking of the reptilian neck and head, sending Eris sprawling to the side. Then her leg was slammed into by the front right paw of the dragon, who stomped hard upon the heroine’s fallen form.

Eris reacted with a baleful howl and wildly thrust upwards, her sword connecting and biting deep into the dragon’s chest. It struck right through the ribcage and stuck deep into the dragon’s heart, slaying the beast. Eris was bathed in the vivid crimson heated blood of the dragon as it roared its last and fell dead.

At least, that is how it played out in her head. In her own reality, she hacked at the dragon and the dragon slashed back with its claws. It breathed flames once and she scored a critical hit upon it. The dragon’s hit points went to zero before her own did, so she was the victor.

And to the victor, goes the princess. Eris untied the princess, who gave her a hug and a kiss, then said, “Let us away to mine father!”

From her backpack, Eris pulled out a wyrm wing and flung it into the air. Herself and the princess flew upwards, only for the both to hit their heads hard into the cavern walls.

Eris gave a dark curse as she now sensed a heavy headache impending in her life, but at least she wore a helmet. The princess took the brunt of the damage as her head was unprotected. Eris asked the princess, “Are you alright?”

“Let us away to mine father!”

Yup, everything was normal. Eris guided the princess out of the cave, slaying whichever monsters had the gall to appear before her, healing herself of her wounds with her spells or herbs as needed. Then, as soon as she was outside of the cave, she used the wyrm wing again. This time, both the heroine and the princess flew through the stagnant, unchanging air and came almost instantly to be before the king.

“Reincarnated Hero Eris, greetings!” exclaimed the king, “I must thank you for rescuing my daughter!”

“It was nothing,” Eris started, before the king continued.

“As a reward, I would give you her hand in marriage and half my own kingdom.”

“I’m not really the ruling type,” admitted Eris.

“Please marry my daughter.”

Eris gave a shrug, “I’m grateful, really, that’s a nice reward, but I will need to pass.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

Eris frowned, “No, really, King, she’s nice enough, but she’s not my type.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

The dark skinned heroine ran a hand in her purple hair and sighed, “Look, I really don’t want to. I’m just not into blondes.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

“You’re going to be one persistent royal pain, aren’t you? I don’t want to.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

Eris tried to move, but there was some force preventing her from doing so. She could only accept the proposal or not. And she kept on declining it several times. Perhaps there was a limit to the number of declines she had to make before the king finally learns that his daughter’s going to stay unwed and unloved. Eris said sternly, “Desist in this, old man, or I shall cleave your shallow heart from your chest.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

“I’ll use your skull as a chamberpot before I marry that cow you spawned.”

“Please marry my daughter.”

Eris knew it was futile, but it gave her relief to do so…she hefted her sword and struck it into the king. The king did not flinch, for the sword did not interact with him at all. As she did so, she shouted, “No!”

“Please marry my daughter.” The king did not move, did not flinch, did not raise his hand nor voice. He just kept repeating his request in his simple royal monotone.

“No! Never!”

“Please marry my daughter.”

“I refuse, you infertile insipid bastard!”

“Please marry my daughter.”

Eris stabbed and slashed and kicked and bashed the king repeatedly, each time shouting vindictives at the royal form. The princess, Gwen, just stayed sitting in her seat as if nothing at all was happening. The king simply stayed still himself and kept repeating himself. This continued for another one hundred and sixteen times before Eris conceded defeat, “Blast, I’d have an easier time teaching a stone wall to play fetch. Fine, I’ll marry your daughter, but she’s going to go unloved.”

“Excellent! Please provide me with many grandkids!”

Eris dropped her sword, letting it clang to the ground. She took a few steps back, startled, dropping to one knee. She rested her forehead on one hand, eyes downcast. Then she gave a loud and angry roar from deep in her heart, head tossed back to the blank heavens before shouting to the king, “That wasn’t part of the deal! You need to provide more information the next time you ask something of me, you idiot!”

“Excellent! Please provide me with many grandkids!”

Eris looked at the princess, Gwen. She tilted her head and studied the blonde woman. Eris gave a look to Gwen’s breasts, then looked down at her own. She knew she was a female, and that the princess was also. So she asked the King, “About that….how?”

The channel of water that prevented Eris from walking from the castle town that was her home to a dark and forboding castle went from blue to purple several times and an uproarious cacaphony issued forth from the aforementioned stone edifice, “Reincarnated Hero Eris! For destroying one of my children, I shall destroy a city! Face me if you dare!”

Eris looked at her iron broadsword and battered iron shield. Then she looked to the king, “About that half of the kingdom you said you’d give me. Can I sell it back to you? I need to buy better equipment.”

On Horror

I feel like I should define to the reader who found this what I feel horror is and is not.


Horror is NOT:
Gore, though one part of the story will have it.

Startling things from nowhere, because shouting ‘Boo!’ or a zombie popping out of a closet just because isn’t horrifying. It is just startling.

A typical monster done in a typical way.

Slasher or splatter, where blood substitutes for content. That’s not horrifying. It’s terrible, sure, and not something I’d want done to me or mine, but horror? Nah. It’s just disgusting and pointless.


Horror IS:
Real horror is existential. It is a story that makes the reader (or viewer) question fundamental paradigms ingrained into them. The value of their life. The worthiness of existence itself. The futility of effort.

If, after reading a horror story by me, one reader goes, “Damn, what am I doing in life?” then I feel like I’ve written the correct horror story.

Another Kind of Haunted House 1


All characters are in 11th grade of high school

Amy: A fairly demure looking girl. She wears glasses and has long black hair that is really curly in all the wrong ways. She tends to speak softly. She has thick, course hairy arms that leads others to call her ‘Monkey Amy’ behind her back. She is here because she’s childhood friends with Jamal (they were neighbors) and wants to date Brad. She wears thick glasses.

Brad: A rebel without a clue. Smokes anything that can be smoked, scruffy facial hair, and wears an out of date hairstyle. He should wear glasses but does not. Brad always wears jeans and black boots. He doesn’t really notice Amy, but does secretly like…Jamal.

Jamal: Is an African-American academic with all the top honors. Even with Advanced Placement courses, he’s getting a 4.0 and straight A grading. There’s very few intellectual problems he can’t solve given enough time and information. If he was not born as a person of color and in a poorer section of his city, he’d have likely been admitted to college early, by age 14. Besides Aayisha, his girlfriend, and Amy, his neighbor from childhood, he doesn’t socialize very well.

Aayisha: She is a beauteous young lady of biracial parentage. Easily the most attractive of the group, Jamal wonders why she is even with him. In truth it started because he was one of the few fellow students of color at their high school, but she eventually grew to admire his brainpower. Enjoys holding conversations with him about any topic. Socially and intellectually she i slightly above average, though bouts of shyness and self-doubt tend to hit her. Croc secretly likes her, but Fern despises her.

Fern: Croc’s girlfriend. She is the odd one out of this group in that she’s only here because of Croc. Realistically, she dislikes the rest of the group. It is not outright hate, except for Amy, but she does often deliver snide remarks or sneering barbs. Very jealous of Aayisha. Fern is a very average looking Aryan girl who tried out for the cheerleading squad and got turned down for someone slightly more attractive, though less skilled and enthusiastic. Her and Croc are the intellectual inferiors of the group, but she also defeats him at being the moral inferior. Has started to flirt with Brad to raise Croc’s ire.

Croc: Just as his girlfriend, Fern, failed to enter the cheerleader squad, Croc failed to be a football player. In his depression, he started to hang out with Brad and take drugs. Jamal helped to tutor him, but also helped him kick the habit, and he feels he owes the young genius. He sexually assaulted Amy one night when he was drunk, and she has never forgiven him, and he can’t look her in the eye cause of the guilt. Him and Fern are sexually promiscuous but he can’t stand her. He’s a literal red headed step child, and his drunk step-father has abused him in the past. He takes that abuse out on Fern in aggressive sex.

Our story takes place in the year 1996, in any small town of America.


Though it was Spring Break, Amy was still wearing her typical sweater and long skirt. Her thick glasses had slid down her nose slightly and the teen looked over ehr thick turtle shell rims at the rest of the group with a frown. Earlier in the day she was excited beyond belief when Brad of all people, whom she had a crush on for his vaingloriously rebellious ways, called her and invited her out.

He neglected to say, however, that they were going to be spending the weekend at a supposedly haunted house just a bit on the outskirts of town. He further neglected to state that Aayisha had asked Brad to ask Amy until it was brought up in passing on the journey over. As none of the group had been able to drive, except Croc, whose step-father did not let borrow his car, the group of six spent a good portion of the day walking to their destination.

Like American teens are wont to do, they gleefully disrespected the property of others. Croc had kicked out a board on one of the neighbor’s fences and walked through their backyard. Jamal softly pointed out how wrong that was and that Croc should repair the damage as soon as possible, but still followed the group. It was a shortcut that, as there was an empty lot beyond this backyard, saved about three blocks of walking for the group.

Amy lagged behind the group, the least physically adept and afflicted with asthma if she pushed herself too hard, it was to be expected. She snagged a book to bring with her, secreted away in her backpack, but she picked the wrong one, for she had already read it. Twice. She meant to pick up the book underneath of it, borrowed from the library. That was going to gnaw on her the whole weekend.

“So, like, jes so I know, right…” Fern blabbered, “This place, it ain’t really for real haunted is it?”

“Scared of ghosts, babe?” chortled Croc, “Don’t worry, I’ll just punch any that bother you!”

With a roll of her eyes, Fern snorted, “Oh, my hero. You idiot, ghosts are in…inco….incoherent!”

“Incorporeal,” Jamal corrected.

“Yeah, like, that too, totally.”

“Uh, yeah, so I just punch him hard enough to make them not…inco…pottyable.”

Amy snorted loudly at the stupidity that Fern and Croc just displayed. Aayisha looked over her shoulder at Amy and gave her a soft smile.

“What if it’s a girl ghost?” came Brad’s input.

“Uh….” Croc gave a pause and considered for a time. The group kept on walking, and even split into smaller conversations. Aayisha and Jamal were talking while holding hands. Brad and Fern were mentioning to one another what they should order for dinner. Amy just sighed to herself and considered turning around again for the dozenth or so time. Finally Croc gave a jubilant shout, “I’d kick her until she turned into a guy ghost, then punch her to death!”

The other five all stopped in midstride and all glanced at one another. Each quirked a brow, gave a glance to Croc, who seemed proud of himself and kept walking. They all gave a shrug and a frown, very much resisting the urge to call an idiot a dumbass.

Brad eventually got tired of talking to Fern, who seemed to not be respecting his penchant for munchies and kept suggesting various salads, and lit a joint, smoking it as he kept walking with the group. In this way, he did not have to vocalize calling Croc what he thought of him.

Jamal and Aayisha, for their part, kept to themselves and did not speak to the group at large. Their excuse was the usual banter between two young lovers and the small jokes they shared.

Fern just slapped her boyfriend upside the head.

Croc gave a loud growl at that, almost instinctively. That was much the same way his step-father would hit him and it grated on his nerves. If he wasn’t planning on wrecking a bed with Fern later tonight, he’d have very likely have said rather rude explitives at her at the best, or thrown her to the ground at worst.

As it was, he just clenched his fists, gave a growl, and uttered very darkly the single word of, “Don’t” to Fern.

Fern, for her part, was smart enough to back away a bit with a frown. This was not going as expected already. She wanted time alone with Croc, for a ‘romantic’ weekend. But one person talked to another and soon the entire group had been involved. She even packed away some sexy lingerie in her backpack that she had planned to entice Croc with and run around the house in. Now, she saw her romps restricted only to nights and she’d have to muffle her screams. She was very disappointed.

She blamed Jamal. She also blamed Amy. But mostly, she blamed Aayisha, who always seemed to be the group’s mediator and social center. She mostly blamed the last person out of petty jealousy, for Aayisha was, without a doubt, the most beautiful girl in the school, far surpassing Fern’s mediocre looks.

Fern gave Aayisha a most devastating look, but the biracial beauty either did not notice or chose to ignore it. Either infuriated Fern even more. Before she could say anything, however, she felt a tap on her shoulder and gave a resigned, “What?”

It was Croc, pointing to Brad, “Yo, he was calling you, space case.”


Brad waved, “I was, like, totally saying, uh…that…wait.” The group kept walking, for the house was still some distance off, “What were we talking about before?”

Fern rolled her eyes, “Dinner, idiot.”

Brad snorted, “Idiot, haha!” Then he blinked a bit and tilted his head, “Wait a minute….”

Amy helpfully pointed out, “Yes, she was calling you an idiot.”

Brad looked from one girl to the other, then shouted at both, “Well fuck you bitches!”

Amy blushed darkly and gave a scathing frown. Fern however kicked a rock towards Brad. It missed, but the sentiment was there.

The blonde, Fern, hissed a vindictive, “Sit and spin, pothead,” as she flicked Brad the finger.

Croc was the mediator this time, the couple of color had wisely moved away several feet and pretended to be in their own little world. Croc waved his arms about to get the groups attention, “Yo yo yo, alright, chill y’all. Relax. You wanted to say something, Brad/”

“Uh, yeah, uh…..uhhhhhh.”

Fern interjected, “Durrrrrrrr.”

“That’s enough,” her red headed boyfriend quickly replied, “Give him a moment.”

Five minutes passed.

Most of the group forgot that Brad was talking, until he shouted, “OH YEAH!” Then a pause, “What we were talking about before, uh…” He pointed to Fern, “Blondie girl…”

“Fern, damn you!”

“Yeah, heh. Fern. Like you’re a flower. Heh. Heh. You-”

Croc gave a growl, “Focus! And no fighting!”

“Riiiiiiight. Um. The thing we were talking about before. That thing.”


“Yeah! That thing!” Brad gave a smile to Fern, “Totally that thing. Thanks.”

The conversation paused for a minute, and Fern finally asked, “Well? What of it?”

“What of what?”

“Dinner, dumbass!”

Brad pointed down the hill they were walking on where an interstate repair project was started but funds were soon diverted into the pockets of politicians taking kickbacks, “Jack in the Box. We should totally eat there.”

“Only a pothead,” said Amy, “would suggest Jack in the Box.”

Fern snorted, “I agree with Monkey Amy.”

Amy clenched her fist hard enough that her nails dug into her palms and started to bleed. If she had not been a normally demure and soft spoken person more interested in burying herself in books than burying herself in corpses, she’d have violently lashed out at the Aryan teen. Instead her retort was a simple, “Have another abortion, Hitlerspawn.”

As much as Brad would have enjoyed watching two girls go at it, even if he had not been attracted to either, it was him this time that played diplomat. He shook his head, “Totally enough, you’re both bitches, harshing my buzz! Fuck you both!”

The nice couple, however, kept walking hand in hand. They had diverted their path towards the aforementioned fast food joint, silently leading the group there. Or not, it was their choice in where to go. But understanding the group dynamics of the American teen, Jamal knew that odds were the group would, if not at first, all join him and Aayisha in the restaurant.

The teenager is the rebellious loner that must stick to its clique or die its social life. Alone in a crowed, so lonely.

Jamal and Aayisha made it in first, of course, and had already selected a table large enough for the whole group to sit at. Eventually, Amy came in, ordered her food, and joined the couple. As she sat, she gave Jamal a longing look and a gentle sigh.

Brad had rested with his back against a window pane and smoked a clove. Croc and Fern went to make out and do some heavy petting behind the dumpster until one of the employees found them there while dumping garbage. The three finally joined with the others.

Perhaps in part testament to the teenager ability to forgive their friends, or because half the group likely forgot the argument thanks to drugs or hormones, they had dinner in a very friendly manner. The group joked, the group laughed, the group talked behind the backs of their peers. They made fun of their science teacher who had lost his hand in Vietnam and made up new names for their principal.

Jamal and Aayisha did not enjoy the times when the others made fun of others, especially the wounded vet turned science teacher, but stayed with the group. They felt they had to, for some reason.

Perhaps they knew the smiles would die shriveled and dessicated, like leaves during Winter.

Gold Fox: Thunderwave 3

Gold Fox was preparing to take a shower. She had sent her gear and clothing to Away, which helped to keep it all clean and prevent it from getting misplaced. For the delicate tools, like the camera, it helped prevent it from getting wet. She heard the tell-tale ticking of a time bomb behind the toilet as she was about to step into the shower.

So she used one of the only combat offensive spells she had in her repetoire. She cast a ball of fire right into the shower, into the wall where the pipes were, which just happened to be the exteroir wall of the ship. The heat of the fireball rapidly expanded the water in those pipes, the steam expanding rapidly, helping to make the wall explode outwards. With the wall mostly gone, the nude spy jumped out of the ship and into the sea, the boat exploding just as she finished her dive and fully immersed herself in the sea water.

The beauteous half-elf kicked with her powerful legs and swam underwater several meters before she started to surface. Not wanting anyone to spot her, she did not actually surface, but swam underwater with her head up higher than her body, her mouth just cresting the waves to quickly suck in air.

With that, she kicked and swam with powerful strokes underwater, moving like a sleek torpedo through the water. The pointed ears heard a muffled sound express itself in the water and she glanced around.

She was able to catch a shark with its mouth open coming down on her just in time to sink lower and dodge it. Then she recalled something.

She was supposed to dock in Shark Bay.

Gold Fox looked around quickly, trying to see if there were any other sharks in the area. She found a small number of them swimming about below her and a few others in the vicinity, beyond the one that overshot her and was now turning about for another snap at her.

This was not good. This shark had obvious intent to turn her into an entree. Such was not the fashion she desired her life to end. Fox swam to the left of the shark as it came back towards her, and summoned two items from Away to her grip.

In her right hand, one of her Fangs, and in her left, one of her pistrol crossbows.

Fox gave a swipe with her Fang at the shark’s tailfin, nicking it but not drawing blood. The shark reacted by giving a powerful flick of pain with said tail, sending enough turbulence in the water to cause Gold Fox to roll a few times away from it, her long hair whipping about her as she did so.

She did her best to put more space between herself and the dangerous beast that was basically fins and teeth. Gold Fox kicked herself away as powerfully and rapidly as she could, getting almost a half dozen meters away from the marine beast. It was starting to turn again.

Fox lifted her pistol crossbow up and tapped the ice enchantment setting on it. For now, her bolts would fire ice enchanted bolts, her intent not to just wound the shark but freeze it as well. Ideally the freezing would prevent the shark from bleeding and causing a feeding frenzy with its companions, as well.

Fox’s first shot went a bit high, as she had not accounted for the refractionn of light underwater in relation to ballistic trajectory. She then quickly adjusted and fired a second bolt into the side of the shark. It bit deep into a spot just before the dorsal fin, instantly freezing over. She didn’t notice a drop of blood escape the shark, but did see a ball of ice freeze over that fin, rendering it immobile.

She kept on kicking to propel herself away from the shark. As she did so, she gave a quick look around to see if the other sharks noticed her or if that shot did bleed the target and start a feeding frenzy. It seemed that she was lucky right now, the only shark actively threatening to her being the first one.

Alas for her, said shark was still intent on being her chum. Or rather, making her his chum. As it bared down on her, mouth open wide, she fired another bolt at it, scoring a hit just in front of its left eye, the ice quickly freezing over the eye and blinding it. The sudden shock of the cold so near a sensitive spot made the shark thrash and spasm, either trying to free itself of the bolt embedded into it or warm itself up from motion.

As it did so, its mouth kept on gnashing and going wide. Still kicking away from it, Gold Fox set the crossbow to lightning mode. She swam as fast as she can, waiting for the perfect shot, aiming her crossbow at the beast the entire time. When the shark’s mouth was fully open, she fired.

Her bolt went right down its gullet, vanishing into its body. She sent both her weapons back to Away instantly, then swam with all four limbs away at the highest possible speed. It took a few seconds before she felt the tingling of electricity zapping through her and the water around her.

It felt to her like a tickling and slightly numbing sensation mixed with low heat. But to the shark, it felt much worse. The electrical discharge inside of its belly ripped through its body and send all its nerves not just on fire, but into an inferno. It would be forevermore paralyzed for as long as its life continued.

Sharks must continue to swim in order to breathe, however, for they need water flowing over their gills to be able to obtain oxygen from it. A paralyzed shark is a drowning one, Gold Fox would have been able to say she succeeded in drowning a shark, except for one thing.

Sharks are also highly sensitive to electrical impulses. That is really how they hunt, by sensing the electrical impulses of their prey’s brains. For the shark that is now conducting electricity, it is saying to the others in big neon letters that it is food.

Gold Fox managed to hit a sand bar just as the feeding frenzy started.

She kept low and crawled across the meter wide bar before sliding into the water again, much closer to the shoreline of the island she had as her destination. The half-elf peeked her head up, just to eye level, to scout about the shoreline, but it was mostly empty. A quick read of a sign explained why.

Nudist beach.

Well, she was certainly wearing enough for that. So she swam up to the beach and rested on a beach chair. Gold Fox spent some time sunning her already tanned body to dry herself off. After her front was dry, she turned over to dry her back. An hour or so after hitting the beach she was dry and relaxed and warmed up from the cool water, so stood up and moved over to the changing areas. Gold Fox moved to the changing booths, showered quickly to wash the sand off her, summoned her clothing from Away, and soon left the beach in her outfit.

Gold Fox had walked a city block, looking around the island. The nudist beach section of the shoreline was near an upper middle class neighborhood. People who had enough money to buy very nice clothing but ironically did not want to wear any seemed to have designated the nude section. That and the rocky outcroppings from the hills to keep voyeurs away were the two probable factors for this location.

No one seemed to mind her presence or even notice it. None of the houses had any nosy busybodies looking out their windows to see what was going on in their neighborhood. There were a few men, humans, who had been out gardening their small gardens, but they did not really pay attention to her, even in her beautiful outfit. The only person in the vicinity who seemed to notice her was a young teen boy, a human, who was riding his bicycle and delivering the evening edition of the local newspaper.

As teen boys are wont to do, this one stopped to admire a pretty lady.

She gave the teen a smile and waved to him, brushing her hair over the pointed tips of her ears to cover that she was a half-elf. She asked in a cheerful tone, “Hey there, busy delivering the good news are you?”

“Boy, aren’t you good news yourself.”

Fox gave a quirk of a brow and a short laugh, “Okay, was not expecting that. You got a future as a womanizer it seems. Be responsible with it.”

“Do what now?”

“Nevermind. Just don’t go catching crabs.”

The boy shrugged, “I don’t like shellfish.”

“Right. Well. Listen, I need to find somewhere called ‘White Wagon Diner’. I’m to meet a friend there.”

“Your boyfriend?”

Gold Fox shook her head some.

“Well, I can take you there, pretty lady, if you buy me a burger sandwich and I can call it a date.”

Gold Fox laughed a bit, “If it were a date, wouldn’t you be the one paying?”

The teen frowned, “I suppose. Alright, here’s where you find it…” He then gave the directions to the place, which was a dozen or more city blocks away. Then he said, “How about it, I’ll let you ride behind me on my bike if we call it a date, pretty lady.”

Gold Fox brushed the hair away from her left ear, letting the pointed tip denoting her half-elf heritage show and she asked with a smile, “Really?”

The boy gave a frown and turned his head, pedalling away, “Nevermind, damn Empty.”

Gold Fox gave a short snort, but continued on. She wasn’t exactly used to being called an Empty, but it did not really bother her. Both humans and elfs, each thinking only they have a soul and the other a soulless abomination, call a half-elf, a product of intermingling of the two species, an Empty, for to both of them, a half-elf is empty of souls. It is one of the few things both peoples seem to agree on.

Gold Fox wished she found a bicycle herself by the fourth block, or took the teen up on his offer to take her there. At the fifth block, though, the upper middle class neighborhood faded into much smaller houses clumped tighter together on smaller yards. A lot of these houses had obvious damage to them, some extensive. A few had their windows still boarded up from the last storm. Most had messes of sand and stone in their front yards.

She found the section where people either came to the beach a few times a year, or who had lived here year round but could not afford the upkeep of the houses. And with the war going on, vacation housing took a decided backseat. She only found one person on this city block, a suntanned older man who probably lived here year round. She also saw he had been pedalling a bicycle with a large food bin on the front of it. He was obviously a traveling food seller.

“Hey, foodman!”

“Hi, lady!”

Gold Fox pointed to the bicycle end of the man’s livelihood, “Do you know where the White Wagon Diner is, and moreover, would you be willing to let me ride with you there?”

The man waved her over, “Sure, you can stand upon the back pegs and I can pedal you near there. Just two conditions.”


“You don’t mind me stopping to sell my food with whoever wants to buy.”

Gold Fox gave a nod of her head, “Course not, I wouldn’t want to deprive your livelihood. Your next?”

“I charge a half a gold coin a block for the service. Fair?”

“Sure, how far away is it anyway?”

The man gave a short laugh, “I’ll tell you when you give me fourteen gold pieces and climb on.”

Fox gave a blink, “Twenty eight blocks away?”


She jerked a thumb behind her, “Some kid told me it was ‘a dozen or so’ blocks away.”

“Eh, ‘or so’ can mean two or three dozen to some people, I guess. Stupid kids. Anyway, shall we?”

Gold Fox took out fifteen gold pieces from her purse and pointedly put each one into the cash drawer of the man’s food bike. As she did so, her pointed ear was right before him. She said as she did so, “I’m a half-elf you know.”

“Everyone’s someone.”

“That doesn’t bother you?”

“Only thing that bothers me, lady, is the lovely woman I’m supposed to taxi isn’t on my bike to be taxied yet. Climb on.”

As she did so, she said, “Thank you.”

“Think nothing of it. I don’t care who a person is, so long as they’re not harming me or mine and pay for whatever services are given. You know? It’s not like you get to pick your parents, after all.”

“This is…true. If more people thought like you, perhaps we’d not have this war.”

The man grunted, “Damn war. Bad for my business. Only ever good for the already wealthy. Who suffers? The conscripts, the poor, the women, the children, the regular person. Who doesn’t suffer? The wealthy. The officers. And for what?”

“For what, indeed,” Gold Fox mused. For what indeed. Humanity and Elfkind used to be two strong allies, their powerful friendship helping to change the world. Then suddenly, they were at war, each seeking to exterminate the other.

For what?

The ride was full of small talk. The man was pleasant but plebian, his biggest care was for himself and his own family, but he was not unkind. He did not care who a person was so long as they paid, just as he said, but he was not a deep thinker of any sort. His best traits were his willingness to help for payment and his hate of the war. They stopped five times and sold sausages on buns to eight people. Then, eventually, he stopped.

“This is as far as I can take you, miss. Just go down yonder,” he pointed to the side street, “about three blocks. The diner’s hard to miss, it’s all white brick and windows on a city block that’s full of wooden stores.”

Gold Fox thanked the man and hopped off, then wished him and his family good luck. He gave a smile at that, then went back in the direction he just came from. Gold Fox went to the dinner just as twilight ended and evening proper settled upon the island.

She slid into the diner just as the dinner crowd came in, and went to a bar stool. She kept looking around for the contact she was supposed to meet, and watching the crowed. It seems that everyone here was just like her, a half-elf. It seems, perhaps, this is the half-elf portion of the island, which is why the human male did not take her here directly.

After waving off the wrong waitress a few times, she finally ordered herself a dinner. Local favorite drink. Half a tuna sandwich and a garden salad. And a creamy broth soup. The soup came first and had crab meat in it, along with rice and herbs. She found it very tasty and would try to remember to make this herself sometime. The rest of the dinner was delicious but unspectacular.

She did her best to eat slow, keep to herself, and delay the waitress from pestering her to order more or pay the bill. The waitress she was supposed to meet still had not arrived.

It came to be that, after a second bowl of the soup she enjoyed, that the dinner rush was over and the one she was waiting for finally entered. She paid her bill and gave her first waitress a tip then moved over to the one she was to meet, saying with a smile, “Excuse me, I think a friend of ours suggested I meet you. Can I ask your name?”

The half-elf with the tattoo under her eye was pretty. Long raven hair, pale skin that tanned on island life, for tanlines showed upon it, and bright blue eyes. She said in a soft and lovely voice, “I am Cunning Linguist. And you?”

“Yes, I’m quite sure you are good with your tongue.” Gold Fox then gave a smirk, “Name’s Fox. Gold Fox.”

“Well, Fox Gold Fox, how can I help you?”

“I’ve come to buy the Thunderwave.” Then, Gold Fox tapped her chin and added, “But first…milkshake. Strawberry. Shaken, not stirred.”