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Written by SelfTitled in portal Fantasy

The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Four: The Best Friend

Arya met Leon Adams in the woods outside of Unnamed when she was eight and he was nine. Back then, Arya’s hair was so long it fell to the backs of her knees in a messy french braid that swung wildly when she ran. Arya didn’t live far away from a forest surrounding the city back then and she would always take the wooden sword her father made her in there, escaping into the trees. She would pretend to be Vapor Karstaag, the greatest swordswoman alive, chopping her sword through branches and bushes, screaming war cries at the top of her lungs.

One day, she wandered farther from her home into the deep woods. She stumbled across a two-story, private home in the heart of the trees. The house looked like it has been untouched for years, but it carried a certain life about it that Arya didn’t understand for a very long time. There was a little boy around her age with his own, wood-plank sword, yelling and swinging furiously at the air.

Arya was mesmerized. She had never seen anyone so good with a sword. His technique was near-perfection. His shouts were merciless. The feral anger in his eyes was awesome.

(Of course, at the time, Arya would think that an angry little boy spewing random curses while hacking a slab of woods around like a madman was something to gawk at. She was only eight after all.)

Leon paused when hearing rustling in the bushes. Gritting his teeth, he spun around and pointed his “blade” defensively at the little girl staring at him with shock written all over her face. “Who dares disturb me?!” He bared with narrowed eyes before they settled on the admirable weapon in her hands. “A challenger?” He shrieked, outraged. “Come to try defeating me? Who are you?!”

Arya decided then and there that if she wanted to be the best, she was going to have to beat this guy. She brandished her sword courageously, glare set deep on her face. “I am Vapor Karstaag! The greatest swordswoman to ever live!”

“Karstaag, huh?” He scoffed, grip on the hilt of his sword tightening. “No one is better than me! I am the powerful Othello Axel! Wielder of the Demon Blade, Abel! And if I must destroy you to prove I am greater, I will.”

“So this is how it’s gonna be.” Arya stepped forth from the bushes, mighty took glinting in the sunlight. Her foe backed away some, reading her body language, ready to defend his honor to the very end. “A proper swordsman must bow before the final battle.” She made show of bowing deeply, arms outstretched and feet crossed, before falling back into an offensive stance. She held her sword high, the useless hand parallel, pretending that she had another sword to dual wield with just like the real Vapor Karstaag.

“Touché.” Leon spat, flipping the end of the sword toward the ground and pressing the enclosed fist to his chest, bowing, then righting himself once more. Leon mimicked the combat style of Othello Axel himself, his sword held loosely in his hand like a knife, ready to flop between the fingers for any slashes or jabs.

“May the better swordsman win,” Arya announced, shifting her weight forward to the balls of her feet. Leon mocked her actions, a cocky smirk playing at his lips.

“I am the better swordsman.” Sneering, the two children shouted their final cries and burst forward at each other, out for blood and victory.

The fight lasted a little over seven minutes. By the time they were done, Leon had a nasty black eye forming on his face, cuts on his arms and a bruised ego. Arya’s lip was busted, one of her wiggly teeth came out and her nose was bleeding. They sat on the ground together, backs pressed up while they sharpened their mighty blades with rocks.

“I think a tie is fair enough,” Leon said finally after minutes of heavy silence. “But I’m still the best.”

“You’re just jealous because I made you cry,” Arya taunted, turning around to face him. Leon’s cheeks flushed and he shoved her half-hearted, but hard enough to make her fall over. Arya glared at him and sat up, brushing off her sleeve. “Othello Axel isn’t even the best swordsman anyway,” she pointed out. “Terrance Adams is.”

Leon’s expression grew so dark that it scared Arya. “Terrance Adams is trash. My parents always talk about how great he is. I’m great. Not him. And I’ll prove it to the world. I swear I will.” When Arya didn’t respond, Leon’s momentary anger died down enough to see the fearful look on her face. His cheeks burst into blushing flames, worse than before. “I-I mean-- I’m sorry! I scared you! God, I’m so dumb…”

“I don’t think you’re dumb,” Arya admitted, wiping some blood from her nose with a sniff. “I think you’re super cool.”

Leon stared at her, astonished. “R-Really?” Arya grinned with a nod.

“Yeah. And you’re an awesome swordsman. You’ll definitely be just as good as Othello Axel-- even better, even!” Leon timidly smiled back, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Thanks,” he said sheepishly. “You’re really good, too. I think you’ll be better than Vapor Karstaag. I think you’ll be better than Vapor Karstaag one day. You just have to practice a lot more.”

“But I already practice everyday,” she whined, crestfallen. Leon laughed at her.

“Then you’re just gonna have to do it every night, too.” After thinking it over, Arya beamed at him, taking his hands in her own.

“You can train with me then! We can be partners! We can meet up everyday here and spar. And then when we get super good, we’ll see who really is the best. Deal?” Leon spat in his hand then held it out to Arya.

“Spit deal.” It was gross and she didn’t want to shake slobbery hands with him, but she thought of it as their first challenge for greatness. Determined to be the best there is, Arya snorted then spat hard in her hand, latching it with Leon’s in a firm shake.

“Spit deal.” Leon decided that he liked this girl.

“May the best swordsman win.” Arya smirked at him, her heart pounding hard in her chest.

“I am the best.” From that day on, she was hopelessly in love with him.

Nine years later, Arya was barging into Leon’s room, a wide grin on her face. “Leon! Guess what I--” She stopped in her tracks when he threw a blanket on his bed over his bottom half, face flushed and scandalous. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“Can’t you knock?” He grunted, sighing at the lack of relief. Arya shook her head, using her scarf to hide the blush on her face.

“Sorry. Just-- um. I can leave. If you, like, cold shower and such.”

“No, no, no!” He said that all too quickly before shrinking down in the pillows on his bed and puffing some hair out of his face. “What I mean is you can stay. I’ll be fine. Wanna sit?” Arya raised an eyebrow. “Bed’s perfectly clean, I swear.” Reluctantly, the younger of the two tip-toed over the random knives and swords tossed haphazardly across the floor before sitting next to him. She was so short that she barely touched the ground, which irked her, so she crawled onto the queen-sized bed, criss-crossing her legs. “So, what did you suddenly come over for?”

“Am I not wanted?” She asked curtly, crossing her arms over her chest.

“You know what I meant,” he chuckled, leaning back against his hands. Arya resisted to urge to stare at his loose t-shirt sliding down from one of his broad shoulders. He was so strong now, after all of the years sword fighting and demon hunting. He could probably lift her with no problem. What would it feel like if he just laid her down on the red and roughly tore her--

“Arya.” She snapped out of her thoughts. For the Gods’ sake, get it together, she chided herself, bringing her scarf up to her nose now. Leon looked unamused. “What were you just thinking about?”

“What were you thinking about when I walked in on you?” Leon’s cheeks darkened a little, but he scoffed to cover it up.

“Pretty blonde.” Arya wasn’t blonde, so she definitely did not feel pretty at that moment. She hoped that he couldn’t hear another piece of her heart shatter. Who could blame him though? Arya had her body-temperature issues, so she always wore three of four layers of winter clothes. Her female cousins told her that she had an amazing body, but no one had ever seen her exposed. She was seventeen now and she had never dated. And, obviously, her life-time crush and best friend had no idea what her feelings were. She could count on staying single forever then.

“Well, anyway,” she redirected, clearing her throat. “I’m going to find Excalibur tomorrow.” Leon blinked.

“You watched that video, didn’t you?”

“It’s not fake!” She argued, fists clenching. “I talked to Fenrir and Sköll and they said that the sword is real. And I got a ticket into that forest from Low Key. It’s all real. So I’m going.”

“I never said it wasn’t real, Arya,” he countered, surprised at how defensive she was. “And I’m not here to stop you. I’m your friend. I support any decision you make wholeheartedly.”

But?” The young man frowned at her.

But, I don’t know if you should go alone. You saw what happened to those mages. It’s not safe.”

“I won’t be alone,” she reminded him. “I have my pack.”

“Which is good, but who says they’ll save you from every danger in that forest? You don’t know what’s there, Arya. I’d hate for you to get hurt.” Her heart fluttered and she hated it.

“Then…” She brightened at an idea and took his hands, leaning in some, despite the fact that he was just having private time. “Then you come with me! We can find the sword together and it can be our’s.” Leon smiled at the idea and almost nodded. Almost. The more something that Arya knew nothing of came crashing down on him, the more his face and shoulders fell.

“I… can’t. I’m sorry. I’d really love to go to Elsinore and hunt with you, but there’s just a lot going on right now and…”

“‘A lot going on?’” Arya couldn’t believe this. “What exactly can be more important than Excalibur?” Leon averted his eyes, quiet. “Leon? What aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s none of your concern.” His voice was cold as ice. Arya shrank back, hurt plastered across her face. Leon winced and reached out. “Arya, I--”

“I should go.” Leon pursed his lips, hand dropping in his lap. He watched her slide down from his bed, step over the boobytraps on the floor, then head to the door.

“Arya. Wait.”” She hesitated. Just for a second. Just for him. “Stay safe.” Slowly, she nodded and left wordlessly. Leon groaned into his hands, slumping deep into the mattress. Beside him, his phone vibrated. He checked it.

Meet us at the park tomorrow morning. We have a surprise that we think you’ll like. Leon frowned at the screen and shut the device off. What he was doing, it was worth it. He would be the best, just like he promised Arya. Eventually, she’ll understand.

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Written by SelfTitled in portal Fantasy
The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Four: The Best Friend
Arya met Leon Adams in the woods outside of Unnamed when she was eight and he was nine. Back then, Arya’s hair was so long it fell to the backs of her knees in a messy french braid that swung wildly when she ran. Arya didn’t live far away from a forest surrounding the city back then and she would always take the wooden sword her father made her in there, escaping into the trees. She would pretend to be Vapor Karstaag, the greatest swordswoman alive, chopping her sword through branches and bushes, screaming war cries at the top of her lungs.

One day, she wandered farther from her home into the deep woods. She stumbled across a two-story, private home in the heart of the trees. The house looked like it has been untouched for years, but it carried a certain life about it that Arya didn’t understand for a very long time. There was a little boy around her age with his own, wood-plank sword, yelling and swinging furiously at the air.

Arya was mesmerized. She had never seen anyone so good with a sword. His technique was near-perfection. His shouts were merciless. The feral anger in his eyes was awesome.
(Of course, at the time, Arya would think that an angry little boy spewing random curses while hacking a slab of woods around like a madman was something to gawk at. She was only eight after all.)

Leon paused when hearing rustling in the bushes. Gritting his teeth, he spun around and pointed his “blade” defensively at the little girl staring at him with shock written all over her face. “Who dares disturb me?!” He bared with narrowed eyes before they settled on the admirable weapon in her hands. “A challenger?” He shrieked, outraged. “Come to try defeating me? Who are you?!”

Arya decided then and there that if she wanted to be the best, she was going to have to beat this guy. She brandished her sword courageously, glare set deep on her face. “I am Vapor Karstaag! The greatest swordswoman to ever live!”

“Karstaag, huh?” He scoffed, grip on the hilt of his sword tightening. “No one is better than me! I am the powerful Othello Axel! Wielder of the Demon Blade, Abel! And if I must destroy you to prove I am greater, I will.”

“So this is how it’s gonna be.” Arya stepped forth from the bushes, mighty took glinting in the sunlight. Her foe backed away some, reading her body language, ready to defend his honor to the very end. “A proper swordsman must bow before the final battle.” She made show of bowing deeply, arms outstretched and feet crossed, before falling back into an offensive stance. She held her sword high, the useless hand parallel, pretending that she had another sword to dual wield with just like the real Vapor Karstaag.

“Touché.” Leon spat, flipping the end of the sword toward the ground and pressing the enclosed fist to his chest, bowing, then righting himself once more. Leon mimicked the combat style of Othello Axel himself, his sword held loosely in his hand like a knife, ready to flop between the fingers for any slashes or jabs.

“May the better swordsman win,” Arya announced, shifting her weight forward to the balls of her feet. Leon mocked her actions, a cocky smirk playing at his lips.

“I am the better swordsman.” Sneering, the two children shouted their final cries and burst forward at each other, out for blood and victory.

The fight lasted a little over seven minutes. By the time they were done, Leon had a nasty black eye forming on his face, cuts on his arms and a bruised ego. Arya’s lip was busted, one of her wiggly teeth came out and her nose was bleeding. They sat on the ground together, backs pressed up while they sharpened their mighty blades with rocks.

“I think a tie is fair enough,” Leon said finally after minutes of heavy silence. “But I’m still the best.”

“You’re just jealous because I made you cry,” Arya taunted, turning around to face him. Leon’s cheeks flushed and he shoved her half-hearted, but hard enough to make her fall over. Arya glared at him and sat up, brushing off her sleeve. “Othello Axel isn’t even the best swordsman anyway,” she pointed out. “Terrance Adams is.”

Leon’s expression grew so dark that it scared Arya. “Terrance Adams is trash. My parents always talk about how great he is. I’m great. Not him. And I’ll prove it to the world. I swear I will.” When Arya didn’t respond, Leon’s momentary anger died down enough to see the fearful look on her face. His cheeks burst into blushing flames, worse than before. “I-I mean-- I’m sorry! I scared you! God, I’m so dumb…”

“I don’t think you’re dumb,” Arya admitted, wiping some blood from her nose with a sniff. “I think you’re super cool.”

Leon stared at her, astonished. “R-Really?” Arya grinned with a nod.

“Yeah. And you’re an awesome swordsman. You’ll definitely be just as good as Othello Axel-- even better, even!” Leon timidly smiled back, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Thanks,” he said sheepishly. “You’re really good, too. I think you’ll be better than Vapor Karstaag. I think you’ll be better than Vapor Karstaag one day. You just have to practice a lot more.”

“But I already practice everyday,” she whined, crestfallen. Leon laughed at her.
“Then you’re just gonna have to do it every night, too.” After thinking it over, Arya beamed at him, taking his hands in her own.

“You can train with me then! We can be partners! We can meet up everyday here and spar. And then when we get super good, we’ll see who really is the best. Deal?” Leon spat in his hand then held it out to Arya.

“Spit deal.” It was gross and she didn’t want to shake slobbery hands with him, but she thought of it as their first challenge for greatness. Determined to be the best there is, Arya snorted then spat hard in her hand, latching it with Leon’s in a firm shake.

“Spit deal.” Leon decided that he liked this girl.

“May the best swordsman win.” Arya smirked at him, her heart pounding hard in her chest.

“I am the best.” From that day on, she was hopelessly in love with him.

Nine years later, Arya was barging into Leon’s room, a wide grin on her face. “Leon! Guess what I--” She stopped in her tracks when he threw a blanket on his bed over his bottom half, face flushed and scandalous. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“Can’t you knock?” He grunted, sighing at the lack of relief. Arya shook her head, using her scarf to hide the blush on her face.

“Sorry. Just-- um. I can leave. If you, like, cold shower and such.”

“No, no, no!” He said that all too quickly before shrinking down in the pillows on his bed and puffing some hair out of his face. “What I mean is you can stay. I’ll be fine. Wanna sit?” Arya raised an eyebrow. “Bed’s perfectly clean, I swear.” Reluctantly, the younger of the two tip-toed over the random knives and swords tossed haphazardly across the floor before sitting next to him. She was so short that she barely touched the ground, which irked her, so she crawled onto the queen-sized bed, criss-crossing her legs. “So, what did you suddenly come over for?”

“Am I not wanted?” She asked curtly, crossing her arms over her chest.

“You know what I meant,” he chuckled, leaning back against his hands. Arya resisted to urge to stare at his loose t-shirt sliding down from one of his broad shoulders. He was so strong now, after all of the years sword fighting and demon hunting. He could probably lift her with no problem. What would it feel like if he just laid her down on the red and roughly tore her--

“Arya.” She snapped out of her thoughts. For the Gods’ sake, get it together, she chided herself, bringing her scarf up to her nose now. Leon looked unamused. “What were you just thinking about?”

“What were you thinking about when I walked in on you?” Leon’s cheeks darkened a little, but he scoffed to cover it up.

“Pretty blonde.” Arya wasn’t blonde, so she definitely did not feel pretty at that moment. She hoped that he couldn’t hear another piece of her heart shatter. Who could blame him though? Arya had her body-temperature issues, so she always wore three of four layers of winter clothes. Her female cousins told her that she had an amazing body, but no one had ever seen her exposed. She was seventeen now and she had never dated. And, obviously, her life-time crush and best friend had no idea what her feelings were. She could count on staying single forever then.

“Well, anyway,” she redirected, clearing her throat. “I’m going to find Excalibur tomorrow.” Leon blinked.

“You watched that video, didn’t you?”

“It’s not fake!” She argued, fists clenching. “I talked to Fenrir and Sköll and they said that the sword is real. And I got a ticket into that forest from Low Key. It’s all real. So I’m going.”

“I never said it wasn’t real, Arya,” he countered, surprised at how defensive she was. “And I’m not here to stop you. I’m your friend. I support any decision you make wholeheartedly.”

But?” The young man frowned at her.

But, I don’t know if you should go alone. You saw what happened to those mages. It’s not safe.”

“I won’t be alone,” she reminded him. “I have my pack.”

“Which is good, but who says they’ll save you from every danger in that forest? You don’t know what’s there, Arya. I’d hate for you to get hurt.” Her heart fluttered and she hated it.

“Then…” She brightened at an idea and took his hands, leaning in some, despite the fact that he was just having private time. “Then you come with me! We can find the sword together and it can be our’s.” Leon smiled at the idea and almost nodded. Almost. The more something that Arya knew nothing of came crashing down on him, the more his face and shoulders fell.

“I… can’t. I’m sorry. I’d really love to go to Elsinore and hunt with you, but there’s just a lot going on right now and…”

“‘A lot going on?’” Arya couldn’t believe this. “What exactly can be more important than Excalibur?” Leon averted his eyes, quiet. “Leon? What aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s none of your concern.” His voice was cold as ice. Arya shrank back, hurt plastered across her face. Leon winced and reached out. “Arya, I--”

“I should go.” Leon pursed his lips, hand dropping in his lap. He watched her slide down from his bed, step over the boobytraps on the floor, then head to the door.

“Arya. Wait.”” She hesitated. Just for a second. Just for him. “Stay safe.” Slowly, she nodded and left wordlessly. Leon groaned into his hands, slumping deep into the mattress. Beside him, his phone vibrated. He checked it.

Meet us at the park tomorrow morning. We have a surprise that we think you’ll like. Leon frowned at the screen and shut the device off. What he was doing, it was worth it. He would be the best, just like he promised Arya. Eventually, she’ll understand.

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Written by SelfTitled in portal Fantasy

The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Three: The Trickster

Summoning Norse Gods usually made Arya nauseous for the simple fact that she loathed them with every fiber in her body. They were arrogant, selfish, vulgar Gods whose only relevance was to fuel the power of their last worshipers. The Iero family-- Arya’s family. And with each generation, the first born child would be picked by that year’s chosen deity to serve as their Champion. Although the Champion would have stronger magical power than the rest of the family, they were subject to constant ridicule, humiliation and harassment by the rest of the Gods sitting atop Asgard.

Arya Iero was the filthy, virgin Champion of Odin. Every second she spent alive, the most bloodlust she grew towards the Norse. One day, she’d figure out a plan to strike them down and keep her magic. But not today.

Lucas (or Low Key, formerly Loki) was the only Norse deity Arya liked. For one thing, he was the outsider among them. The bastard Frost Giant. The adopted nuisance. He would never be like the rest of his cruel, perverted family, which he was more than fine with. They were an embarrassment to him. For another thing, he allied himself with the New Gods that arose and replaced the Greeks, Romans, Norse, Egyptians and Hindi. So he technically wasn’t qualified as Norse anymore, something Arya admired. Finally, there were those few unfortunate events that Lucas never spared to bring up during one of his “Anti-Asgard” tirades.

“Because when you get fucked by a horse, you get fucked.” Arya kept the imagery to a minimum and took a sip from the glass of... some liquor Lucas offered to her, trying not to gag. “And that ain’t even the worst of it. Giving birth-- holy shit, dude. It felt like my poor vag tore to shreds. I am completely serious here. For the Gods’ sake, Arya, because I like you, never get knocked up. It will be the worst decision you’ve ever made.”

“Right,” she agreed, awkward, clearing her throat. “So, um, how’s Wren?” She wanted nothing more than to move on from the subject. Lucas’s sour attitude instantly brightened at the mention of his former apprentice.

“Oh, she’s been great! I just talked to her not too long ago. Totally has the goddess thing down now. Took her long enough. I started mentorin’ her, like, twenty years ago.”

“Uhuh.” Arya thought that the lounge that every supernatural creature went to, The Wishing Well, was a neutral place for them to talk business. She totally forgot about Lucas’s short attention span. He was pretty much everywhere at once; buying drinks, making it rain, talking circles around her… Arya’s eyes met with Eran’s, the vampire who tended the bar during the day and who was also leader of the Dracula Clan. He looked more than amused. Arya scowled and flipped him off. Unfortunately, Lucas noticed and grinned from ear-to-ear at her.

“Oh, I think I see what’s goin’ on here. Who knew you were into Eran? Although he’s such a dreamy, sparkling, mysterious vampire,” he cooed playfully, ruffling Arya’s hair when her face pinkened. “But I should mention that he’s centuries older than you, kiddo.... And he don’t sparkle.”

The Champion groaned, throwing her head back in frustration. “Lucas, look. I need your help with something and I’ve been trying to talk to you about it for the last two hours, but you haven’t listened to me at all. So can you just--”

“You want my blessing so you can go find Excalibur.” Arya stared dumbstruck at him for several minutes. Lucas just sat down on the chaise across from her, smirking.

“H-How did you know…?”

“Because let’s be honest, girly. You never call me just to mingle. It’s either you want something or the kids wanna visit their old man… slash madre. Plus, I saw the video of those kids getting mauled. The reason I didn’t say nothin’ about it earlier is cuz I was waiting on you to be assertive. Take charge. I like being dominated sometimes.” He winked playfully at her, making her eye twitch.

“You’re insufferable.”

“The best annoyance there is,” he laughed, suddenly sitting next to her with his arm draped over her shoulders. “But of course I’ll give you my blessing. I’m not a cunt like the rest of the Norse after all. I’m just your standard, everyday bag of dicks.” Arya shook her head with a lazy smile.

“Thanks,” she said, brushing some hair out of her face.

“No problemo.” Opening up his hand, he held a silver-studded earring that looked nothing like the one he was already wearing. “That’s your ticket to King Arthur’s burial ground. Here.” Fingering her hair behind her left ear, he latched the stud in place for her. “There ya go. Don’t lose it. And especially don’t take it out once you’re in there. If it’s not on at all times, you’ll get stuck in there for eternity. And that would be absolute shit.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Arya turned to him with a quirked eyebrow. “I’m assuming you want payment now?”

“Payment, huh? I didn’t really think that far…” He scratched under his chin, lost in thought. “But I guess there’s one thing.” He met her eyes seriously, a firm frown on his face. Arya had never seen him look like that before. “I’m sure you know that if you do succeed in pulling out Excalibur, you own a God Killer. Only a complete idiot wouldn’t know what you’d do next. Lucky for you, my family’s full of complete idiots. But I’m not.” He lowered his voice to point Arya barely heard him over the booming music. “I’ve been nothing but nice to you all these years. Leave me off your list.”

“You were never on my list to begin with,” Arya said, just as serious. “I like you. I wouldn’t betray a friend like that.” It didn’t take much for Lucas to beam with a loud awww! that disturbed some nearby strippers. He threw his arms around her neck, hugging her tightly and nuzzling his cheek against her’s.

“You like me! You really, really like me!” Arya fought off the embarrassed groan bubbling in her mouth. This already felt like a long trip…

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Written by SelfTitled in portal Fantasy
The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Three: The Trickster
Summoning Norse Gods usually made Arya nauseous for the simple fact that she loathed them with every fiber in her body. They were arrogant, selfish, vulgar Gods whose only relevance was to fuel the power of their last worshipers. The Iero family-- Arya’s family. And with each generation, the first born child would be picked by that year’s chosen deity to serve as their Champion. Although the Champion would have stronger magical power than the rest of the family, they were subject to constant ridicule, humiliation and harassment by the rest of the Gods sitting atop Asgard.

Arya Iero was the filthy, virgin Champion of Odin. Every second she spent alive, the most bloodlust she grew towards the Norse. One day, she’d figure out a plan to strike them down and keep her magic. But not today.

Lucas (or Low Key, formerly Loki) was the only Norse deity Arya liked. For one thing, he was the outsider among them. The bastard Frost Giant. The adopted nuisance. He would never be like the rest of his cruel, perverted family, which he was more than fine with. They were an embarrassment to him. For another thing, he allied himself with the New Gods that arose and replaced the Greeks, Romans, Norse, Egyptians and Hindi. So he technically wasn’t qualified as Norse anymore, something Arya admired. Finally, there were those few unfortunate events that Lucas never spared to bring up during one of his “Anti-Asgard” tirades.

“Because when you get fucked by a horse, you get fucked.” Arya kept the imagery to a minimum and took a sip from the glass of... some liquor Lucas offered to her, trying not to gag. “And that ain’t even the worst of it. Giving birth-- holy shit, dude. It felt like my poor vag tore to shreds. I am completely serious here. For the Gods’ sake, Arya, because I like you, never get knocked up. It will be the worst decision you’ve ever made.”

“Right,” she agreed, awkward, clearing her throat. “So, um, how’s Wren?” She wanted nothing more than to move on from the subject. Lucas’s sour attitude instantly brightened at the mention of his former apprentice.

“Oh, she’s been great! I just talked to her not too long ago. Totally has the goddess thing down now. Took her long enough. I started mentorin’ her, like, twenty years ago.”

“Uhuh.” Arya thought that the lounge that every supernatural creature went to, The Wishing Well, was a neutral place for them to talk business. She totally forgot about Lucas’s short attention span. He was pretty much everywhere at once; buying drinks, making it rain, talking circles around her… Arya’s eyes met with Eran’s, the vampire who tended the bar during the day and who was also leader of the Dracula Clan. He looked more than amused. Arya scowled and flipped him off. Unfortunately, Lucas noticed and grinned from ear-to-ear at her.

“Oh, I think I see what’s goin’ on here. Who knew you were into Eran? Although he’s such a dreamy, sparkling, mysterious vampire,” he cooed playfully, ruffling Arya’s hair when her face pinkened. “But I should mention that he’s centuries older than you, kiddo.... And he don’t sparkle.”

The Champion groaned, throwing her head back in frustration. “Lucas, look. I need your help with something and I’ve been trying to talk to you about it for the last two hours, but you haven’t listened to me at all. So can you just--”

“You want my blessing so you can go find Excalibur.” Arya stared dumbstruck at him for several minutes. Lucas just sat down on the chaise across from her, smirking.

“H-How did you know…?”

“Because let’s be honest, girly. You never call me just to mingle. It’s either you want something or the kids wanna visit their old man… slash madre. Plus, I saw the video of those kids getting mauled. The reason I didn’t say nothin’ about it earlier is cuz I was waiting on you to be assertive. Take charge. I like being dominated sometimes.” He winked playfully at her, making her eye twitch.

“You’re insufferable.”

“The best annoyance there is,” he laughed, suddenly sitting next to her with his arm draped over her shoulders. “But of course I’ll give you my blessing. I’m not a cunt like the rest of the Norse after all. I’m just your standard, everyday bag of dicks.” Arya shook her head with a lazy smile.

“Thanks,” she said, brushing some hair out of her face.

“No problemo.” Opening up his hand, he held a silver-studded earring that looked nothing like the one he was already wearing. “That’s your ticket to King Arthur’s burial ground. Here.” Fingering her hair behind her left ear, he latched the stud in place for her. “There ya go. Don’t lose it. And especially don’t take it out once you’re in there. If it’s not on at all times, you’ll get stuck in there for eternity. And that would be absolute shit.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Arya turned to him with a quirked eyebrow. “I’m assuming you want payment now?”

“Payment, huh? I didn’t really think that far…” He scratched under his chin, lost in thought. “But I guess there’s one thing.” He met her eyes seriously, a firm frown on his face. Arya had never seen him look like that before. “I’m sure you know that if you do succeed in pulling out Excalibur, you own a God Killer. Only a complete idiot wouldn’t know what you’d do next. Lucky for you, my family’s full of complete idiots. But I’m not.” He lowered his voice to point Arya barely heard him over the booming music. “I’ve been nothing but nice to you all these years. Leave me off your list.”

“You were never on my list to begin with,” Arya said, just as serious. “I like you. I wouldn’t betray a friend like that.” It didn’t take much for Lucas to beam with a loud awww! that disturbed some nearby strippers. He threw his arms around her neck, hugging her tightly and nuzzling his cheek against her’s.

“You like me! You really, really like me!” Arya fought off the embarrassed groan bubbling in her mouth. This already felt like a long trip…

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The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Two: The Hidden Forest

Oh, that’s it alright, Fenrir answered finally after the sword in the stone was revealed. Arya was showing him the video on her phone. The young Mage beamed, feeling accomplished with her progress already. She was sitting on her floor, back resting against the bed. Tiredly sprawled against the ground beside her with his chin resting on her knee was a large, jet-black wolf with crimson eyes and oddly spiked fur. The Arya’s right was a medium-sized grey wolf with a missing right eye. He was sitting up in attention, unlike his counterpart.

Fenrir yawned, the action sounding like a whine. And that was definitely a bear. Now can I go home? I’m exhausted.

“Not yet. I need to make sure everything about his is right.” Arya stoked the smaller wolf’s fur with a smile. “Geri, is there anything Fenrir missed from this?” Geri’s ears perked up.

There’s a lot of things he missed! Geri informed, excited to please his master, drawing an irritated growl from the other wolf. Like, for instance, there’s no forest outside of Elsinore the last time I checked.

“Really now?” Arya cut her eyes at Fenrir, yanking his ear hard.

Ow! Bitch… he bared his teeth threateningly at Arya, but the deep scowl on her face quenched her frustration. He laid his head back down, to the floor this time, bloody eyes narrowed at a spider crawling in front of his snout. Satisfied, the young mage turned back to Geri.

“What happened to the forests?”

They were cut down for the city’s expansion, Mistress, in 2036.

Don’t they teach you about shit like this in school? Fenrir chided, but Arya flicked his nose, something her sneezed from.

“No, they don’t teach us about where every deforestation project is.” She sighed deeply, at a loss. “How could they enter a forest that doesn’t exist? Maybe it’s really a fake after all…”

Don’t give up, Mistress! Geri encouraged, standing and wagging his tail. Geri honestly reminded Arya more of a Beagle than one of Odin’s messengers. Perhaps there is something in the video that we missed. Watch it again.

Reluctantly, Arya picked up her phone from her knee and replayed it from the top. She bypassed the pink-haired girl arguing with the boy and nearly gave up when Fenrir said Stop.

“What is it?”

Right there. The mediocre pyro burning the fire. Look at what she’s wearing around her neck. Arya squinted; she should’ve just put on her glasses, but it was clear enough to tell.

“That’s an amulet.”

Right. Now who's amulet?

Arya gasped, nearly dropping her phone, startling Geri into a short yelp. “That’s one of Frija’s! How did she get that? She’s no Champion and she certainly isn’t related to me.”

If it is relevant, Lady Frija did report a robbery a few weeks ago at her earthen home, Geri added.

“So the girl stole it. Clearly. But why?”

Sköll may know, Fenrir informed. What time is it?

Arya checked the corner of her phone. “Pushing six. It’s early, but it should still work. The Champion closed her eyes and muttered a long, Germanic curse under her breath. When reopening them, a medium-sized, albino wolf with eyes redder than fresh apples was sitting in front of her, head-bowed.

Y-You’ve summoned me, M-Mistress, the albino stuttered shyly. Is th-there something the matter? Am I in trouble? Her head sank sank lower, fluffy, white tail sweeping between her legs. P-Please forgive me for whatever it is that I have done wrong...

“Sköll, it’s okay. You did nothing wrong. We just need your expertise on something.” Arya reached out and scratched behind her wolf’s ear for encouragement. Sköll slowly leaned into the touch, tail wagging in content.

Th-Then, I shall aid my Mistress. She’s so kind, Sköll sighed. Arya smiled and it showed her the video, stopping it at the boy trying to pull the sword from the stone. Sköll gasped and cowered, ears drooping in fear. Th-That’s Sire’s sword! Sire killed many creatures when he was champion, he did. Much blood spilled…

“So you know it, too.” There was a gentle relief knowing she had somewhat of a chance. “Do you know where King Arthur hid it?” Sköll hesitated, but peaked one, scarlet eye up at her mistress.

Sire hid many things in that forest, she reminisced ominously. Many monster did he take there, oh yes. Lives, he did. Buried deep within the ground to rot. I watched him do it when he ordered me not to. In the shadows, I did. No man can find me there.

“You Concealed yourself,” Arya nodded, understanding. “That’s good.”

No! No good, it was! Sköll sunk back into a state of submission, whimpering in both dog and Germanic tongues that Arya couldn’t make out. Fenrir sat up, muzzling the smaller wolf’s head.

Sister, he coaxed, licking the side her of face affectionately. We need to know where King Arthur hid the sword. Where is the forest, luv? Sköll pawed at the ground, apprehensive, for several long moments. Geri whispered impatient swears under his breath, but Fenrir and Arya shut him down with a growl and glare.

Finally, Sköll murmured, A live soul can enter the forest with The Witch’s Blessing…

“Frija?” Distaste coiled in Arya’s mouth. She could only imagine all of the lewd, humiliating stunts she would have to entertain the Mother Goddess with if she wanted another piece of jewelry.

Not just her, Sköll corrected, but the Trickster, too. He can give you a key to Sire’s grave.

“Loki.” Arya shook her head, correcting herself. “Low Key. Lucas. Right. I’ll speak to your father.”

Slash mother, Fenrir reminded, nipping at his younger sister’s ear in gratitude. And before you say it, we’re seeing him in the morning. You need your rest. I definitely do. Arya rolled her eyes at the elder wolf, but nodded.

“You’re right. You all are free to go. Thanks.” Fenrir was the first to leave, melting into the pit of his shadow. Sköll fled in a stream of white fog. Geri bowed his head and faded, leaving a tiny trail of gold glitter in his wake. Arya stood up with a stretch, stripping herself of her four layers of jackets and long sleeved shirts for the night. When the morning came, she’d call Lucas, earn his blessing, then be on her way to Elsinore. Only then would Excalibur truly be her’s.

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The Quest for Excalibur: Chapter Two: The Hidden Forest
Oh, that’s it alright, Fenrir answered finally after the sword in the stone was revealed. Arya was showing him the video on her phone. The young Mage beamed, feeling accomplished with her progress already. She was sitting on her floor, back resting against the bed. Tiredly sprawled against the ground beside her with his chin resting on her knee was a large, jet-black wolf with crimson eyes and oddly spiked fur. The Arya’s right was a medium-sized grey wolf with a missing right eye. He was sitting up in attention, unlike his counterpart.

Fenrir yawned, the action sounding like a whine. And that was definitely a bear. Now can I go home? I’m exhausted.

“Not yet. I need to make sure everything about his is right.” Arya stoked the smaller wolf’s fur with a smile. “Geri, is there anything Fenrir missed from this?” Geri’s ears perked up.

There’s a lot of things he missed! Geri informed, excited to please his master, drawing an irritated growl from the other wolf. Like, for instance, there’s no forest outside of Elsinore the last time I checked.

“Really now?” Arya cut her eyes at Fenrir, yanking his ear hard.

Ow! Bitch… he bared his teeth threateningly at Arya, but the deep scowl on her face quenched her frustration. He laid his head back down, to the floor this time, bloody eyes narrowed at a spider crawling in front of his snout. Satisfied, the young mage turned back to Geri.

“What happened to the forests?”

They were cut down for the city’s expansion, Mistress, in 2036.

Don’t they teach you about shit like this in school? Fenrir chided, but Arya flicked his nose, something her sneezed from.

“No, they don’t teach us about where every deforestation project is.” She sighed deeply, at a loss. “How could they enter a forest that doesn’t exist? Maybe it’s really a fake after all…”

Don’t give up, Mistress! Geri encouraged, standing and wagging his tail. Geri honestly reminded Arya more of a Beagle than one of Odin’s messengers. Perhaps there is something in the video that we missed. Watch it again.

Reluctantly, Arya picked up her phone from her knee and replayed it from the top. She bypassed the pink-haired girl arguing with the boy and nearly gave up when Fenrir said Stop.

“What is it?”

Right there. The mediocre pyro burning the fire. Look at what she’s wearing around her neck. Arya squinted; she should’ve just put on her glasses, but it was clear enough to tell.

“That’s an amulet.”

Right. Now who's amulet?

Arya gasped, nearly dropping her phone, startling Geri into a short yelp. “That’s one of Frija’s! How did she get that? She’s no Champion and she certainly isn’t related to me.”

If it is relevant, Lady Frija did report a robbery a few weeks ago at her earthen home, Geri added.

“So the girl stole it. Clearly. But why?”

Sköll may know, Fenrir informed. What time is it?

Arya checked the corner of her phone. “Pushing six. It’s early, but it should still work. The Champion closed her eyes and muttered a long, Germanic curse under her breath. When reopening them, a medium-sized, albino wolf with eyes redder than fresh apples was sitting in front of her, head-bowed.

Y-You’ve summoned me, M-Mistress, the albino stuttered shyly. Is th-there something the matter? Am I in trouble? Her head sank sank lower, fluffy, white tail sweeping between her legs. P-Please forgive me for whatever it is that I have done wrong...

“Sköll, it’s okay. You did nothing wrong. We just need your expertise on something.” Arya reached out and scratched behind her wolf’s ear for encouragement. Sköll slowly leaned into the touch, tail wagging in content.

Th-Then, I shall aid my Mistress. She’s so kind, Sköll sighed. Arya smiled and it showed her the video, stopping it at the boy trying to pull the sword from the stone. Sköll gasped and cowered, ears drooping in fear. Th-That’s Sire’s sword! Sire killed many creatures when he was champion, he did. Much blood spilled…

“So you know it, too.” There was a gentle relief knowing she had somewhat of a chance. “Do you know where King Arthur hid it?” Sköll hesitated, but peaked one, scarlet eye up at her mistress.

Sire hid many things in that forest, she reminisced ominously. Many monster did he take there, oh yes. Lives, he did. Buried deep within the ground to rot. I watched him do it when he ordered me not to. In the shadows, I did. No man can find me there.

“You Concealed yourself,” Arya nodded, understanding. “That’s good.”

No! No good, it was! Sköll sunk back into a state of submission, whimpering in both dog and Germanic tongues that Arya couldn’t make out. Fenrir sat up, muzzling the smaller wolf’s head.

Sister, he coaxed, licking the side her of face affectionately. We need to know where King Arthur hid the sword. Where is the forest, luv? Sköll pawed at the ground, apprehensive, for several long moments. Geri whispered impatient swears under his breath, but Fenrir and Arya shut him down with a growl and glare.

Finally, Sköll murmured, A live soul can enter the forest with The Witch’s Blessing…

“Frija?” Distaste coiled in Arya’s mouth. She could only imagine all of the lewd, humiliating stunts she would have to entertain the Mother Goddess with if she wanted another piece of jewelry.

Not just her, Sköll corrected, but the Trickster, too. He can give you a key to Sire’s grave.

“Loki.” Arya shook her head, correcting herself. “Low Key. Lucas. Right. I’ll speak to your father.”

Slash mother, Fenrir reminded, nipping at his younger sister’s ear in gratitude. And before you say it, we’re seeing him in the morning. You need your rest. I definitely do. Arya rolled her eyes at the elder wolf, but nodded.

“You’re right. You all are free to go. Thanks.” Fenrir was the first to leave, melting into the pit of his shadow. Sköll fled in a stream of white fog. Geri bowed his head and faded, leaving a tiny trail of gold glitter in his wake. Arya stood up with a stretch, stripping herself of her four layers of jackets and long sleeved shirts for the night. When the morning came, she’d call Lucas, earn his blessing, then be on her way to Elsinore. Only then would Excalibur truly be her’s.

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Sanctuary: Chapter Two: Sobriety

Unbeknownst to those who roam the Surface, Hell has very good cell service. Towers were constructed decades before the first telephones were created on Earth. Saturn had no problem connecting to the palace’s WiFi on the laptop Beatrice delivered to her room, logging onto Skype. Hell’s timezone followed that of New York City, so she wasn’t surprised to see her brother’s icon green. It was 8:45 at night. She hoped she wouldn’t miss her chance when calling him.

The Skype jingle didn’t play for very long. Chase answered almost immediately, his bust taking up the frame. He was sitting down at a desk in what looked like a dormitory, sporting a John Hopkins sweatshirt.

“Saturn!” He exclaimed, beaming at his older sister. “It’s so good to see you! I didn’t know you brought your laptop Downstairs.”

Saturn sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck with a dry chuckle. “I didn’t. This one is mine for the meantime, I guess.”

“You guess?” His smile fell into a concerned frown. It was the little expressions he’d make, like those, that reminded Saturn how different Chase was from Samuel even though they were the spitting image of each other. “Sis, where are you right now?”

“I’m… um… it’s complicated.”

Sis.”

“Ugh, fine. Just promise you won’t panic, okay?” Chase pursed his lips, but reluctantly nodded. “I’m at Tanner’s.”

“WHAT?!”

“Damnit, Chase, you promised!”

“What do you mean you’re at his place?! Like, in his house?! Are you being held hostage?! Oh my God, Saturn, please be okay! I don’t wanna see you die!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. I promise.” She huffed through her nostrils, rubbing circles into her temples to calm her growing headache. “Please, just calm down for me.” Chase hyperventilated like a girl for an age, hands fisting his hair anxiously. It had been a long time since Chase had a panic attack. Saturn wished that she could be there with him to help him through it; she felt absolutely useless. But Chase was finally able to regulate his breathing until he sighed, relaxed.

“Okay… I’m okay… just tell me what’s going on.” Saturn explained the truce and Blood Oath to Chase, leaving out the unusual events that led to her arriving at the palace in the first place. She knew that he’d only freak out again if she told him that. The last thing Chase needed was stress. She made sure to specify the terms with the Oath and the consequences if either of them violated the contract. Chase listened to her in a firm quietude, nodding on occasion, but not saying a word until she was done.

“Wow,” he breathed, stunned. “I don’t know if you’re crazy, really patient, nice or stupid. But I definitely know that you’re neither of the good things, so it must be one of the other two.”

“Shut up.” Chase laughed at her, relieving Saturn that he understood. “But seriously, you’re okay with this?”

“I trust any decision that you make. You know what you’re doing. It’s not my place to deter you.” Saturn smiled fondly at that.

“Since when did you get so wise?”

“It’s not wisdom. I just know that you’ll bitch if I said anything different.”

“Hey,” the young woman complained half-hearted, laughing with her little brother for a couple moments.

“I still think you should call Julius and tell him what’s up, too. In case you need backup or something.”

“Yeah. Good idea. He doesn’t have a Skype, so I’ll call Ben. I just hope Annabelle isn’t home. She’ll freak out worse than you did…”

“It’s only because she loves you.”

“And she wants to kick the shit out of Tanner for 225 years of bad sex.”

“That, too,” he snickered. “I really miss you.”

“I miss you, too. How’s Venus and Keith?”

“Venus is filming in Colorado right now. Some movie about marijuana. She got a boyfriend by the way. He’s kinda a vampire.” Saturn was taken aback. It was about time that the pretty twin got some.

“Wait, what do you mean kinda?”

“He’s, like, genetically engineered.”

“You can do that now?”

“Science and money are a dangerous mix. He’s really cool, though. Super chill. Not Twilipse in any sense.”

“I wonder if Eran talked to him…”

“I don’t think so. This guy stays off the grid. His name’s Atticus by the way. But anyway, Keith is good. He’s about to finish up school. He and Cadence started going out.”

“Took long enough. Cael teach him the God of Death shit yet?”

“Cael kinda threw him to the wolves, so Cadence is helping him out the best she can.”

“She’s so sweet.” Saturn sighed. “I should be home by next week.”

“Call Julius soon, please.”

“I will. Right now. Okay?”

“Okay.” Chase frowned at the screen, blue eyes getting glassy. “Please stay safe. And make the bastard pay.”

“I’ll bring you his head. I promise.” Saturn felt herself tearing up. She hated feeling emotional. She hated crying. “I love you.” Chase choked out something between a giggle and a gasp, tears streaming down his cheeks that he quickly wiped away.

“I love you, too.” The last thing Saturn saw was his smile before he cut the video chat. She sat back against the throw pillows propped behind her on the bed, fighting off tears. She needed to focus. She had two more calls to make.

Clicking on Ben’s icon to the left of the screen, she video called him. He was on mobile. It took two tries before he finally picked up, the phone showing his forehead and messy blond hair before he adjusted the screed to fit the rest of his upper body.

“Saturn?” He asked, groggy. Saturn’s eyebrows rose some.

“Were you sleeping? This early? At all?”

“I haven’t been feeling well, ‘s all. Hey.” She couldn’t help the smile on her face from his nonchalance, as if he forgot what Saturn left to go do. Out of everyone, Ben probably had the most faith that she’d kill Samuel, so he never worried about her.

“Hi. Where’s Julius?” Ben sniffed and rubbed the crust from the corners of his eyes.

“Probably downstairs watching basketball with Mom. Bi’s downstairs, too. You wanna talk to them?”

“Yeah, please.” Ben huffed and rolled out of bed, the phone making some cracking and popping noises while he did so. He made sure to keep the camera on himself as forced himself out of his room. The change in lighting made Saturn wince.

“Mom, Dad, Bi. I’ve got Saturn on Skype. She wants to talk,” Ben announced with a yawn.

“Seriously? Isn’t she still in Hell?” Saturn heard Bianca ask distantly, probably from the kitchen. The TV’s volume lowered some and the phone was handed off to Julius, the older demon sitting on the couch with an arm draped over his wife’s shoulders. Annabelle beamed at Saturn, who smiled and waved, while Julius’s eyes were set more so on the throw pillows and deep brown headboard behind Saturn. The girl resisted the wince forming; she know she was going to get hell for this.

“Saturn, where exactly are you?” The man asked, stern, a serious look on his face. At first, Saturn considered evading the question altogether, but that would just lead to chaos.

“I’m, uh, in a mansion…” Now Annabelle's smile fell. “Tanner’s mansion to be more accurate.”

“WHAT?!” Annabelle screeched, looking both terrified and enraged. Julius looked like he went partially deaf. “Are you okay?!”

“Yeah, Anna, I’m--”

“Do I need to come down there?!”

“No way! I swea--”

Ooh! The things I’ll do to that son of a bitch when I get my hands on him!”

“Anna.” Julius this time, now recovered from the ear-ringing. “Relax. Breathe for me.” Annabelle glared at her husband, but stopped yelling, letting her blood pressure steady once more. “Good. That’s it. Now listen. Saturn says that she’s fine. And from the looks of it, she is. But what I’m waiting for is a damn good explanation as the what the fuck is going on.”

The more the English accent revealed itself, the more Saturn felt like pissing herself. For the second time, she explained how she happened to be in her circumstances, just more hastily than the last. The two older demons relaxed enough to not seem angry, but just flat-out irritated. Bianca was heard stifling laughter off screen, something that caught Saturn off guard considering how she never laughed.

“This is giving me a headache,” Annabelle moaned, holding her head.

“Sorry. Chase is the one who suggested I tell you guys what’s up. In case I need some extra hands on deck, ya know?” Julius nodded, sighing through his nose.

“That was good thinking on his part. Who knows the kind of shit you just got yourself into?” Saturn swallowed thickly, feeling less confident than how she did hours ago. “But the Blood Oath was quite clever. Good job. You’ve backed the bastard into a corner.”

“Just don’t let him manipulate you. He might try to use this to his advantage. Make you forget what you came there for. He’s good at doing things like that.” Obviously, Annabelle spoke from experience, knowing full-well the kind of snake Samuel could be. She was right. Saturn couldn’t risk letting her guard down.

There was some beeping on the other end, then Julius sucked in a breath. “Ben’s phone is about to die. We should hang up. I guess this is goodbye for the moment.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I’ll see you all really soon.”

“Take care,” Bianca called from the kitchen.

“Remember what I said,” Annabelle added, blowing a kiss at the screen. “Stay safe. Remember your guard.”

“Yes ma’am. Tell Ben I said get better.” Saturn hung up. She started up at the ceiling for a while, lost in thought. Forget what she came for? Sounded tempting.

The last call of the night took three rings. “Hi.”

“Hey.” Kevin was lying on his bed from the looks of it, room somewhat dark. The lights must’ve been dimmed. He was wearing a loose Thrasher t-shirt that showed the anti-possession charm tattooed on his chest. His rosary was strung loose around his neck. His eyes looked heavy, as if he hadn’t been sleeping well. Saturn smiled lightly at the sight; God, she missed him.

“I’m coming home soon,” she said, voice low.

“You kill him?”

“Not yet. Some stuff is going on with us. Had to make an Oath.”

“Like how Dad taught you?”

“Mhmm.” Samuel probably thought Dwayne or Julius showed her the Oath ritual. Terrance Adams will always be her first mentor and father figure. “It expires at the end of the week. Then it’s game time.”

“You’ll beat him. I know you will.” Kevin sounded like he was trying to convince himself that for the most part.

“You don’t need to be scared. I’ll be okay.”

“Are you scared though?” The question never crossed her mind until now.

“To be honest, yeah. After knowing all of the terrible evil he’s done, I am. But I can push through it. I have a plan.”

“That’s good,” he said. They sat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying each other’s company.

“How’s Katie?”

“Training with Mom. It’s nice having the house to myself. I mean, Dad’s here, too, but it’s not a problem.”

“Yeah. Mr. Adams is cool.”

“Yeah.” Then, “I miss you.” Usually Saturn was the affectionate one, not the other way around. But it felt nice to heard him say that. It made her feel stronger.

“When I get home,” she declared, “we’re having tons of sex.”

“Tons?”

“Tons.”

“Whose house?”

“I like your bed better than mine. It has that vintage creak thing going on.”

“Dad’ll complain about you being loud again.”

“I’ll try not to disturb him.”

“That’s unfortunate. I like hearing you scream.”

“This conversation is making me horny.”

“Too bad you’re not here right now.”

“I’ll just have to come back real soon then.”

“I’m counting on it.” She was grinning from ear to ear when Kevin chuckled and smiled some. She missed him. She loved him. One day she was going to marry him. She knew it.

“You want any souvenirs while I’m here by the way?”

“Other than his head?”

“I promised Chase that?”

“Then his soul.”

“I…” She forced a snicker and a nod. “I’ll see what I can do.” Kevin looked unphased.

“You’re not thinking of doing what I’m thinking, right?”

“I might be.”

“Then be safe doing it, because only God knows the consequences.” He was never really her voice of reason, but what he said still filled her with confidence.

“Thank you.”

“What I want is you back in one piece. Come home you. Deal?”

“Deal.” The call ended.

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Sanctuary: Chapter Two: Sobriety
Unbeknownst to those who roam the Surface, Hell has very good cell service. Towers were constructed decades before the first telephones were created on Earth. Saturn had no problem connecting to the palace’s WiFi on the laptop Beatrice delivered to her room, logging onto Skype. Hell’s timezone followed that of New York City, so she wasn’t surprised to see her brother’s icon green. It was 8:45 at night. She hoped she wouldn’t miss her chance when calling him.

The Skype jingle didn’t play for very long. Chase answered almost immediately, his bust taking up the frame. He was sitting down at a desk in what looked like a dormitory, sporting a John Hopkins sweatshirt.

“Saturn!” He exclaimed, beaming at his older sister. “It’s so good to see you! I didn’t know you brought your laptop Downstairs.”

Saturn sheepishly rubbed the back of her neck with a dry chuckle. “I didn’t. This one is mine for the meantime, I guess.”

“You guess?” His smile fell into a concerned frown. It was the little expressions he’d make, like those, that reminded Saturn how different Chase was from Samuel even though they were the spitting image of each other. “Sis, where are you right now?”

“I’m… um… it’s complicated.”

Sis.”

“Ugh, fine. Just promise you won’t panic, okay?” Chase pursed his lips, but reluctantly nodded. “I’m at Tanner’s.”

“WHAT?!”

“Damnit, Chase, you promised!”

“What do you mean you’re at his place?! Like, in his house?! Are you being held hostage?! Oh my God, Saturn, please be okay! I don’t wanna see you die!”

“I’m fine, I’m fine. I promise.” She huffed through her nostrils, rubbing circles into her temples to calm her growing headache. “Please, just calm down for me.” Chase hyperventilated like a girl for an age, hands fisting his hair anxiously. It had been a long time since Chase had a panic attack. Saturn wished that she could be there with him to help him through it; she felt absolutely useless. But Chase was finally able to regulate his breathing until he sighed, relaxed.

“Okay… I’m okay… just tell me what’s going on.” Saturn explained the truce and Blood Oath to Chase, leaving out the unusual events that led to her arriving at the palace in the first place. She knew that he’d only freak out again if she told him that. The last thing Chase needed was stress. She made sure to specify the terms with the Oath and the consequences if either of them violated the contract. Chase listened to her in a firm quietude, nodding on occasion, but not saying a word until she was done.

“Wow,” he breathed, stunned. “I don’t know if you’re crazy, really patient, nice or stupid. But I definitely know that you’re neither of the good things, so it must be one of the other two.”

“Shut up.” Chase laughed at her, relieving Saturn that he understood. “But seriously, you’re okay with this?”

“I trust any decision that you make. You know what you’re doing. It’s not my place to deter you.” Saturn smiled fondly at that.

“Since when did you get so wise?”

“It’s not wisdom. I just know that you’ll bitch if I said anything different.”

“Hey,” the young woman complained half-hearted, laughing with her little brother for a couple moments.

“I still think you should call Julius and tell him what’s up, too. In case you need backup or something.”

“Yeah. Good idea. He doesn’t have a Skype, so I’ll call Ben. I just hope Annabelle isn’t home. She’ll freak out worse than you did…”

“It’s only because she loves you.”

“And she wants to kick the shit out of Tanner for 225 years of bad sex.”

“That, too,” he snickered. “I really miss you.”

“I miss you, too. How’s Venus and Keith?”

“Venus is filming in Colorado right now. Some movie about marijuana. She got a boyfriend by the way. He’s kinda a vampire.” Saturn was taken aback. It was about time that the pretty twin got some.

“Wait, what do you mean kinda?”

“He’s, like, genetically engineered.”

“You can do that now?”

“Science and money are a dangerous mix. He’s really cool, though. Super chill. Not Twilipse in any sense.”

“I wonder if Eran talked to him…”

“I don’t think so. This guy stays off the grid. His name’s Atticus by the way. But anyway, Keith is good. He’s about to finish up school. He and Cadence started going out.”

“Took long enough. Cael teach him the God of Death shit yet?”

“Cael kinda threw him to the wolves, so Cadence is helping him out the best she can.”

“She’s so sweet.” Saturn sighed. “I should be home by next week.”

“Call Julius soon, please.”

“I will. Right now. Okay?”

“Okay.” Chase frowned at the screen, blue eyes getting glassy. “Please stay safe. And make the bastard pay.”

“I’ll bring you his head. I promise.” Saturn felt herself tearing up. She hated feeling emotional. She hated crying. “I love you.” Chase choked out something between a giggle and a gasp, tears streaming down his cheeks that he quickly wiped away.

“I love you, too.” The last thing Saturn saw was his smile before he cut the video chat. She sat back against the throw pillows propped behind her on the bed, fighting off tears. She needed to focus. She had two more calls to make.

Clicking on Ben’s icon to the left of the screen, she video called him. He was on mobile. It took two tries before he finally picked up, the phone showing his forehead and messy blond hair before he adjusted the screed to fit the rest of his upper body.

“Saturn?” He asked, groggy. Saturn’s eyebrows rose some.

“Were you sleeping? This early? At all?”

“I haven’t been feeling well, ‘s all. Hey.” She couldn’t help the smile on her face from his nonchalance, as if he forgot what Saturn left to go do. Out of everyone, Ben probably had the most faith that she’d kill Samuel, so he never worried about her.

“Hi. Where’s Julius?” Ben sniffed and rubbed the crust from the corners of his eyes.

“Probably downstairs watching basketball with Mom. Bi’s downstairs, too. You wanna talk to them?”

“Yeah, please.” Ben huffed and rolled out of bed, the phone making some cracking and popping noises while he did so. He made sure to keep the camera on himself as forced himself out of his room. The change in lighting made Saturn wince.

“Mom, Dad, Bi. I’ve got Saturn on Skype. She wants to talk,” Ben announced with a yawn.

“Seriously? Isn’t she still in Hell?” Saturn heard Bianca ask distantly, probably from the kitchen. The TV’s volume lowered some and the phone was handed off to Julius, the older demon sitting on the couch with an arm draped over his wife’s shoulders. Annabelle beamed at Saturn, who smiled and waved, while Julius’s eyes were set more so on the throw pillows and deep brown headboard behind Saturn. The girl resisted the wince forming; she know she was going to get hell for this.

“Saturn, where exactly are you?” The man asked, stern, a serious look on his face. At first, Saturn considered evading the question altogether, but that would just lead to chaos.

“I’m, uh, in a mansion…” Now Annabelle's smile fell. “Tanner’s mansion to be more accurate.”

“WHAT?!” Annabelle screeched, looking both terrified and enraged. Julius looked like he went partially deaf. “Are you okay?!”

“Yeah, Anna, I’m--”

“Do I need to come down there?!”

“No way! I swea--”

Ooh! The things I’ll do to that son of a bitch when I get my hands on him!”

“Anna.” Julius this time, now recovered from the ear-ringing. “Relax. Breathe for me.” Annabelle glared at her husband, but stopped yelling, letting her blood pressure steady once more. “Good. That’s it. Now listen. Saturn says that she’s fine. And from the looks of it, she is. But what I’m waiting for is a damn good explanation as the what the fuck is going on.”

The more the English accent revealed itself, the more Saturn felt like pissing herself. For the second time, she explained how she happened to be in her circumstances, just more hastily than the last. The two older demons relaxed enough to not seem angry, but just flat-out irritated. Bianca was heard stifling laughter off screen, something that caught Saturn off guard considering how she never laughed.

“This is giving me a headache,” Annabelle moaned, holding her head.

“Sorry. Chase is the one who suggested I tell you guys what’s up. In case I need some extra hands on deck, ya know?” Julius nodded, sighing through his nose.

“That was good thinking on his part. Who knows the kind of shit you just got yourself into?” Saturn swallowed thickly, feeling less confident than how she did hours ago. “But the Blood Oath was quite clever. Good job. You’ve backed the bastard into a corner.”

“Just don’t let him manipulate you. He might try to use this to his advantage. Make you forget what you came there for. He’s good at doing things like that.” Obviously, Annabelle spoke from experience, knowing full-well the kind of snake Samuel could be. She was right. Saturn couldn’t risk letting her guard down.

There was some beeping on the other end, then Julius sucked in a breath. “Ben’s phone is about to die. We should hang up. I guess this is goodbye for the moment.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I’ll see you all really soon.”

“Take care,” Bianca called from the kitchen.

“Remember what I said,” Annabelle added, blowing a kiss at the screen. “Stay safe. Remember your guard.”

“Yes ma’am. Tell Ben I said get better.” Saturn hung up. She started up at the ceiling for a while, lost in thought. Forget what she came for? Sounded tempting.

The last call of the night took three rings. “Hi.”

“Hey.” Kevin was lying on his bed from the looks of it, room somewhat dark. The lights must’ve been dimmed. He was wearing a loose Thrasher t-shirt that showed the anti-possession charm tattooed on his chest. His rosary was strung loose around his neck. His eyes looked heavy, as if he hadn’t been sleeping well. Saturn smiled lightly at the sight; God, she missed him.

“I’m coming home soon,” she said, voice low.

“You kill him?”

“Not yet. Some stuff is going on with us. Had to make an Oath.”

“Like how Dad taught you?”

“Mhmm.” Samuel probably thought Dwayne or Julius showed her the Oath ritual. Terrance Adams will always be her first mentor and father figure. “It expires at the end of the week. Then it’s game time.”

“You’ll beat him. I know you will.” Kevin sounded like he was trying to convince himself that for the most part.

“You don’t need to be scared. I’ll be okay.”

“Are you scared though?” The question never crossed her mind until now.
“To be honest, yeah. After knowing all of the terrible evil he’s done, I am. But I can push through it. I have a plan.”

“That’s good,” he said. They sat in silence for a few minutes, just enjoying each other’s company.

“How’s Katie?”

“Training with Mom. It’s nice having the house to myself. I mean, Dad’s here, too, but it’s not a problem.”

“Yeah. Mr. Adams is cool.”

“Yeah.” Then, “I miss you.” Usually Saturn was the affectionate one, not the other way around. But it felt nice to heard him say that. It made her feel stronger.

“When I get home,” she declared, “we’re having tons of sex.”

“Tons?”

“Tons.”

“Whose house?”

“I like your bed better than mine. It has that vintage creak thing going on.”

“Dad’ll complain about you being loud again.”

“I’ll try not to disturb him.”

“That’s unfortunate. I like hearing you scream.”

“This conversation is making me horny.”

“Too bad you’re not here right now.”

“I’ll just have to come back real soon then.”

“I’m counting on it.” She was grinning from ear to ear when Kevin chuckled and smiled some. She missed him. She loved him. One day she was going to marry him. She knew it.
“You want any souvenirs while I’m here by the way?”

“Other than his head?”

“I promised Chase that?”

“Then his soul.”

“I…” She forced a snicker and a nod. “I’ll see what I can do.” Kevin looked unphased.

“You’re not thinking of doing what I’m thinking, right?”

“I might be.”

“Then be safe doing it, because only God knows the consequences.” He was never really her voice of reason, but what he said still filled her with confidence.

“Thank you.”

“What I want is you back in one piece. Come home you. Deal?”

“Deal.” The call ended.
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Written by SelfTitled in portal Journal

The R Rated Story Challenge...

I really want that money, man, but I don't have enough coins .__.

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Written by SelfTitled in portal Journal
The R Rated Story Challenge...
I really want that money, man, but I don't have enough coins .__.
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Describe freedom in 15 words... with one caveat: you can't use the words free, freedom, freeing, freest or freer (even in the title).
Written by SelfTitled

Fettered.

That hopeful feeling that comes

when the tight, soulless, rusted shackles

fall from your wrists.

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Describe freedom in 15 words... with one caveat: you can't use the words free, freedom, freeing, freest or freer (even in the title).
Written by SelfTitled
Fettered.
That hopeful feeling that comes
when the tight, soulless, rusted shackles
fall from your wrists.
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In G.K. Chesterton's essay "The Drift from Domesticity" he states that "...the hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel." Please elaborate on this idea; explain why it is true or false. (Please only standard paragraph(s).)
Written by SelfTitled in portal Philosophy

Mandatory Kindness.

"The hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel." The most obvious difference between the two settings will be money. A housewife or stay-at-home father/house-husband is not paid to treat the person or people they live with politely. They can choose, depending on their mood, whether they want to express kindness or not. At a hotel, however, the concierge expects a tip after ever so graciously hauling your dozens of bags to your room. The front-desk resident, housekeepers, cooks and janitorial staff must follow the expectation of proper hospitality, no matter how rude or cynical their guest may be, if they wish to meet their handsome check at the end of the week.

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In G.K. Chesterton's essay "The Drift from Domesticity" he states that "...the hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel." Please elaborate on this idea; explain why it is true or false. (Please only standard paragraph(s).)
Written by SelfTitled in portal Philosophy
Mandatory Kindness.
"The hospitality of a house will always be different from the hospitality of a hotel." The most obvious difference between the two settings will be money. A housewife or stay-at-home father/house-husband is not paid to treat the person or people they live with politely. They can choose, depending on their mood, whether they want to express kindness or not. At a hotel, however, the concierge expects a tip after ever so graciously hauling your dozens of bags to your room. The front-desk resident, housekeepers, cooks and janitorial staff must follow the expectation of proper hospitality, no matter how rude or cynical their guest may be, if they wish to meet their handsome check at the end of the week.
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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by SelfTitled

Ibuprofen

It's your friend

while your uterus tries

killing itself

from the inside out.

"PSM," that's what it is

getting high off the pills

you down just to feel sane.

Don't mind the bloating

I'm just pregnant from the salts

I've forced down my maw

$0.99 potato chips

the dollar store is your friend.

Don't mind the Moses

stepping into the Nile River

that drowns your senses

leaves you limping

clutching your stomach

writhing in the sheets

eggs are dropping

it's only a matter of time

before the week's up.

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Hey there, random proser. I have a question for you which varies based on your genetalia (you'll understand why in a moment; I promise I'm not sexist.) If you are biologically female, describe what a period cramp feels like. Or, if you have given birth, describe the pain. If you are biologically male, describe what it feels like when someone hits etc your family jewels. I understand this will likely make people uncomfortable. But I feel like many people have trouble describing pain and also, as writers, we write about tons of gory topics or *crude* things and thus are used to this kind of stuff (at least I think we are and I know I am.) Thanks for reading this and good luck.
Written by SelfTitled
Ibuprofen
It's your friend
while your uterus tries
killing itself
from the inside out.
"PSM," that's what it is
getting high off the pills
you down just to feel sane.
Don't mind the bloating
I'm just pregnant from the salts
I've forced down my maw
$0.99 potato chips
the dollar store is your friend.
Don't mind the Moses
stepping into the Nile River
that drowns your senses
leaves you limping
clutching your stomach
writhing in the sheets
eggs are dropping
it's only a matter of time
before the week's up.
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Teenage angst. Admit it, we've all been there haha. Share your most angst filled poem from those dramatic teenage years, or, you could write a new one from a teenagers point of view.
Written by SelfTitled

Middle Fingers

Downing the red wine when no one's downstairs

I need a moment to forget that shit from today

the black faces screaming in my face

another black body down, three more to go.

Whiskey's my "friend,"

from what the misleading ads may tell me

I've gotta try it, take a sip

Go down on me.

Foreign eyes glaring this way

No idea what to make of them

I'll just go on and keep my head low

So I don't fall further into that sunken place.

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Teenage angst. Admit it, we've all been there haha. Share your most angst filled poem from those dramatic teenage years, or, you could write a new one from a teenagers point of view.
Written by SelfTitled
Middle Fingers
Downing the red wine when no one's downstairs
I need a moment to forget that shit from today
the black faces screaming in my face
another black body down, three more to go.

Whiskey's my "friend,"
from what the misleading ads may tell me
I've gotta try it, take a sip
Go down on me.

Foreign eyes glaring this way
No idea what to make of them
I'll just go on and keep my head low
So I don't fall further into that sunken place.
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"In the end..." | RIP Chester Bennington.
Written by SelfTitled

Inspiration

Because you brought together Gerard Way and his wife.

Because you changed lives through music and charity.

Because you spoke the truth to people to scared to do it themselves.

In the end, you fixed lives, but you couldn't fix your own.

I wish you knew you weren't alone.

I wish you had that support you needed.

We were your love-sick Romeo.

You were our star-struck Juliet.

Rest in peace.

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"In the end..." | RIP Chester Bennington.
Written by SelfTitled
Inspiration
Because you brought together Gerard Way and his wife.
Because you changed lives through music and charity.
Because you spoke the truth to people to scared to do it themselves.
In the end, you fixed lives, but you couldn't fix your own.
I wish you knew you weren't alone.
I wish you had that support you needed.
We were your love-sick Romeo.
You were our star-struck Juliet.
Rest in peace.
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