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Short children's story
Written by Harry_Situation

Something's Under The Bed... Yet Again

"LU? LU!" Regan's voice cried out from the darkness.

Her stepfather Lu, the devil himself, burst open the door and approached her bedside and calmly asked. "Yes Regan. What is it?"

"Lu, I think there's another monster under the bed." the frightened five-year old peeped as she shuttered under her covers. "Can you go check it, please?"

"Another monster, you say, eh?" the devil playfully chimed. "You know, kiddo, there comes a time where we-"

The musical melody of Lu's phone paused his words. "Hello?" the devil answered.

It was Lilith's voice on the other line. "Pardon for disturbing you at this hour, boss. But Legion wanted me to inform you that one of his experiments has broken loose, and seems to have scattered off. Could you be on the look out for it?"

Lu's face froze. His black heart tapped against his breast faster. Then he heard a soft shuffle underneath his young stepdaughter's bed. Mustering enough courage to take a peak under the bed, Lu locked eyes with a shadowy mass that scurried into the back corner. 

It was too dark underneath to get a good glimpse, but he saw that the mass was rounded like a basketball, covered in slimy fur, wiggly tentacles that squirmed around, and eight set of eyes staring back fearfully at the king of the Inferno.

                                                             ***

Carmen Gravely heard the pattering of feet enter her bedroom. She woke to find her husband cradling her youngest daughter safely in his arms. They pair then plopped themselves in the comforts of the king's sized bed.

"Huh-wah?" Mrs. Gravely mumbled, too tired and exhausted to open her eyes or grab her glasses off the nightstand. "What's going on?"

"She's just gonna sleep with us for tonight, okay?" Lu frantically jabbered as he tucked himself and Regan under the covers. "Night, night."

Carmen shrugged and laid back down next to her daughter, who slept quietly. Lu stayed awake and aware, hoping that no monsters doesn't crawl under their bed tonight.

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Short children's story
Written by Harry_Situation
Something's Under The Bed... Yet Again
"LU? LU!" Regan's voice cried out from the darkness.

Her stepfather Lu, the devil himself, burst open the door and approached her bedside and calmly asked. "Yes Regan. What is it?"

"Lu, I think there's another monster under the bed." the frightened five-year old peeped as she shuttered under her covers. "Can you go check it, please?"

"Another monster, you say, eh?" the devil playfully chimed. "You know, kiddo, there comes a time where we-"

The musical melody of Lu's phone paused his words. "Hello?" the devil answered.

It was Lilith's voice on the other line. "Pardon for disturbing you at this hour, boss. But Legion wanted me to inform you that one of his experiments has broken loose, and seems to have scattered off. Could you be on the look out for it?"

Lu's face froze. His black heart tapped against his breast faster. Then he heard a soft shuffle underneath his young stepdaughter's bed. Mustering enough courage to take a peak under the bed, Lu locked eyes with a shadowy mass that scurried into the back corner. 

It was too dark underneath to get a good glimpse, but he saw that the mass was rounded like a basketball, covered in slimy fur, wiggly tentacles that squirmed around, and eight set of eyes staring back fearfully at the king of the Inferno.

                                                             ***
Carmen Gravely heard the pattering of feet enter her bedroom. She woke to find her husband cradling her youngest daughter safely in his arms. They pair then plopped themselves in the comforts of the king's sized bed.

"Huh-wah?" Mrs. Gravely mumbled, too tired and exhausted to open her eyes or grab her glasses off the nightstand. "What's going on?"

"She's just gonna sleep with us for tonight, okay?" Lu frantically jabbered as he tucked himself and Regan under the covers. "Night, night."

Carmen shrugged and laid back down next to her daughter, who slept quietly. Lu stayed awake and aware, hoping that no monsters doesn't crawl under their bed tonight.
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Chapter 6 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy

TIME TO REMEMBER (Final chapter)

Kaido illustriously gave me the grand tour of the castle. Every now and then, a fuzzy picture would come to mind, small things such as the two of us talking about something or a meal we had eaten in a certain room. We had lived here together for quite some time before my disappearance and it had the comfortable vibe of being a warm, happy place.

“This next room was your favorite.” Kaido led me to a large room and when we entered, my body froze. 

In the back corner stood an ornate grand piano, its dusky wood gleaming as though it had been freshly polished. Around the edges of the room were tables and chairs and off to one side was a small anteroom with comfortable lounge chairs. A set of double, glass-windowed doors opened out onto a long balcony that overlooked a gorgeous, flower filled garden. The centre of the room was empty and obviously used for dancing. It was a ballroom. 

Kaido walked up to the piano and stroked its top fondly. “You would sit and play for hours. Such beautiful music would pour forth through your fingers. It was mesmerizing.” He sat down on the plush stool and beckoned me to join him. Warily, I did so. Was he going to ask me to play? As far as I could remember, I never played a piano in my life. “Over the years you were gone it was both a comfort and a torment for me to come in here. Your presence was still so strong, especially when I would play.” 

Reverently, his long, deft fingers began pressing down on the keys and euphonic tones began to fill the room. At first, the mood was somber. In the lachrymose notes, I could sense Kaido’s anguish at being separated from me. It was gut-wrenching and I clutched at my heart in remorse. Then, when I thought I could take no more of the agony, my hands seemed to move of their own accord and I watched in horror as they began to play, matching Kaido’s skillful tunes. I tried to stop only to find that I could not and as I continued to play, the music morphed into something more upbeat, exultant even. We played in such perfect harmony. Kaido was ecstatic. A look of amazement, wonder and pleasure painted his face and despite my reluctance, I couldn’t help but be caught up in his enthusiasm. My stomach clenched as the melody washed through me but it was not clenching in pain. For the first time in months, the music did not hurt me. Instead, the emotion welling up inside me was joy. I was so overcome that I began to cry tears of happiness. Together, we brought the song to a close and for several minutes we sat there in silence. There was really no need to speak as we could each feel the other so keenly. I could not tell where Kaido ended and I began. We were both breathing hard and almost on instinct, we reached zealously for each other. Kaido pulled me onto his lap and held me firmly against him. I snuggled into his embrace and let my tumultuous emotions run free, laughing and crying at the same time. Something magical had just happened and my poor soul was struggling to comprehend the magnificence of it.

“I don’t even know how I did that,” I cried between guffaws and sniffles. “When I started falling ill, music became unbearable for me to hear. The vibes and sentiment were too much.”

“I know. We feel our emotions on a far greater level than humans.” He gently caressed my cheek and wiped my tears. “You loved this room for another reason also.”

I froze again, knowing what he was going to say. With great difficulty, I spoke first. “Dancing?” It appeared there was no escaping my passion for dancing. Even in my other life it had been important to me.

“You would dance with such grace and elegance. I could have watched you forever. You danced for me quite often,” he informed me with a touch of cheekiness.

I scowled at him, but only in jest, giving him a playful shove.

Grinning, he jumped up off the stool and moved towards one of the walls. With a touch of his hand, a panel in the wall slid back to reveal a modern stereo. He pressed a button and music once more permeated the room. Eyes bright with anticipation, Kaido offered me his hand. “May I have this dance?”

My hands trembled. Was I ready for this? He waited patiently while I silently waged a violent, internal war. “I… I…” I stammered. The panic was rising again. I couldn’t do it. My shoulders slumped dejectedly. Yet again, I was hurting the man who been nothing but kind to me. Why couldn’t I just remember?

Kaido placed a finger under my chin and tilted my head up. His handsome face was soft with sympathy. He knew exactly what I was feeling. Hastily, he turned off the music and came to sit beside me, straddling the stool so that he could face me. “I am sorry, Leira. My hopes got the better of me. Forgive me?”

“Of course. It’s me who should be apologizing.” I hung my head sadly.

“Nonsense. Though perhaps, if you feel the need to make it up to me, you will allow me to take a raincheck?” His eyes sparkled impishly and I knew he was trying to cheer me. I wished I could say yes, absolutely another time, but I could not even say that. The mere thought of dancing – especially dancing with Kaido – sent me into overdrive, though my body yearned to be held by him. I was awash with conflicting emotions. Not for the first time, I wished I could ignore them or at least control them. There had to be a way to distract myself from this torment. I wanted him yet feared to be with him, I longed to dance yet feared to dance; so many opposing emotions. I felt like I would soon split into a million pieces. Was there a way to force them into some sort of order? Was there another trigger just waiting for me to find that would be my saving grace? Kaido moved to kiss me on the cheek but I quickly turned my head so that his lips landed on mine. I needed this. I needed to feel something tangible, something I could not question. For the first time since arriving at this castle, I gave in to my lust. I wanted to be closer to him. Barely breaking the kiss, I turned to straddle the stool as he did, dragging myself closer until I could wrap my legs around him. He groaned softly as I deepened our kiss and I could taste the fervor of his lust as his hands reached for my hips, attempting to draw me closer still. My hands slipped themselves into his silky hair, my fingers running through its length. With a sigh, Kaido reluctantly pulled back.

“Leira,” he whispered. “Oh, my Leira.” His breath came is halting gasps. “You are really here.” He sounded amazed. “It can be dangerous out there for a solitary phoenix. There are humans and other creatures who will murder us on sight.” Kaido’s distress was evident. “That is the only way we can die. I was so afraid you had been lost to me forever,” he whispered against my hair. “And although I would very much like this to continue, you are not ready. You just needed a distraction and I do not want to take advantage of your vulnerability.”

As much as I did not want to admit it, he was right. I could never hide anything from him. It was a comfort and an inconvenience as, I wasn’t entirely sure I would have regretted it if things had progressed. With a last look at the ballroom, I took Kaido’s offered hand and we continued our tour.

For the next several days we spent every spare minute together. We would go for long walks in the forest and he would tell me of the creatures who lived there; fairies, elves, sprites and even unicorns habited this alternate Nantahala. Larken visited often, always with a new story to tell me about our misadventures yet, despite their best efforts, my memories remained fuzzy. The days turned into weeks and I began to worry that we were attempting the impossible. Kaido and I were lamenting over this while we sat relaxing on a picnic rug in the quaint little garden behind the castle, when an idea occurred to him.

“There is one thing we have not tried. I thought of it earlier but did not mention it as I was not sure you were ready. Now, I cannot think of anything else.”

“Tell me.” At this point, I was willing to try almost anything. The fuzzy memories were becoming annoying and they were giving me headaches. It was like I was trying to chase shadows. I could always see them just there in front of me but could never catch them.

“We could try to get you to shift into your Phoenix form,” he suggested.

My breath caught in my chest and I felt my stomach plummet to the ground. “Why… why would that help?” I sputtered.

“My thought is that maybe the shift will trigger not just a physical change but a psychological change also, thereby unlocking your memories.”

The idea sounded plausible; except there was one problem. “How do I make myself change?”

“Usually it is done by applying thought and willpower. Are you willing to try?”

I could see the fragile hope lingering behind his calm demeanor. This whole thing had to be hurting him and yet he never rushed or pushed me. I had to try. I owed him that much at least. I swallowed my fear and nodded. He took my hand and kissed it. 

“My brave Eirwin,” he uttered with pride. “I will try to talk you through it. Close your eyes and relax.”

I did as he said and tried to block out everything but the sound of his voice as he instructed me to envision myself in my Phoenix form. Unfortunately, and perhaps ironically, I could not remember my Phoenix form. I tried to picture myself covered in the feathers I had seen begin to sprout from my skin and superimpose that onto an image of Kaido as a Phoenix. It was not enough. Growling in frustration, I opened my eyes. 

“I can’t! I can’t do it. I can’t even remember myself in Phoenix form so how am I supposed to picture it.” My energy gave out and I dropped like a wilted flower in despair.

Kaido on the other hand, did not appear discouraged. “It is only your first attempt. Do not give up so easily, my love.” He tapped a long, slender finger to his chin, thinking. “You need a trigger.”

“That’s what happened the other times. It was like my body just responded automatically. I really didn’t even have time to think about anything,” I recalled drearily.

“We need a catalyst. Something strong enough to bring out the full change and, you will have to allow it to happen. If you try to block it as you did in the past, it will not work,” Kaido warned me. “Your body knows what to do. It just has to be pushed a little.”

I admired Kaido’s persistence and unwavering dedication. “What do you propose?”

“Let us see if my own change will provoke you again. Remember, do not fight it this time.” He got to his feet and, like before, Kaido was once again immersed in a burst of flames. When it dissipated, there he was in his glorious Phoenix form. It was as enthralling as it was the first time. I reached out a hand to stroke his resplendent feathers and he made a noise deep in his throat, nuzzling into my hand. Emotions welled up inside me and I tried to let go, tried to surrender to them so that the change would find no obstacles in its way. Nothing happened. I closed my eyes, focusing on the feel of Kaido’s downy feathers beneath my hand, willing the change to come. Still nothing. I sensed Kaido shift back to his human form and before I could open my eyes I was pulled sharply into his arms. My arms twined themselves around his taut middle and my head nestled against his chest. I could hear his heart beat and I savoured the sound. Since the incident in the ballroom, we had tried to keep our distance as much as we could. We both agreed it was probably for the best until my memories returned. However, the connection between us deepened the more time we spent together and it grew harder and harder to hold onto decency. Even if we were apart, I knew exactly where he was. I could feel him there constantly, as though a piece of him was literally living inside me. It was a pleasant reassurance that I was never alone, that I would never be incomplete again, and I began to wonder how I had ever lived without it. I felt amazing and so incredibly alive. Finally, the internal wound no longer ached, the persistent chill was melted into a warm, soothing balm that pumped and flowed and pulsed through my blood. What I failed to realise, however, was that I had fallen hopelessly and inescapably in love with this man. In fact, I had loved him from the moment I first saw him. I just had not known it at the time. This sudden revelation burst violently in my heart and knocked the breath from my lungs with brutal force. I felt Kaido tense and draw in a sharp breath as he, too, felt my epiphany. Pulling back, I gazed up into his face. His eyes, simpering with salacity, met mine and I could hold back no longer. With tears tracing their way down my cheeks, I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. There was no stopping me this time. He returned my kiss with rapacious need as I let all the love I had trapped inside me reveal itself. Both breathless, Kaido separated our lips just long enough to gently lay me down on the picnic rug. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t have to for me to know the question that he dearly wanted to ask. There was no hesitation. I knew exactly what I wanted and it was high time I got it. How much time passed, I didn’t know, nor did I care. I bared all; let my heart throw its doors wide open and held nothing back. He deserved everything I could give so I gave him everything I had. Never had I known such ecstasy or such a sweet, unrelenting and ravenous desire. It was intoxicating on the most delectable level. We fed and fed, drinking each other in until our heads spun in drunken euphoria. After, as we lay panting in each other’s arms, I said the words I knew Kaido had been yearning to hear. 

“I love you.”

Tears flowed freely down his cheeks. “My precious, sweet Leir… Eirwin. I love you.”

I smiled. “Leira,” I whispered. “My name is Leira.”

In the next instant, my body was heaving. Feathers began to sprout from my skin and I cried out in both surprise and joy. Kaido stared at me, eyes wide but I wasn’t looking at him. I couldn’t even see him. Instead, I was watching image after image flash through my mind like a movie – five hundred years of memories.

“I remember!” The words were a mighty roar.

Transfixed, I waited for the one memory that would explain where I had gone; the memory both Kaido and I wanted to know the most. Eventually, it came. “Ooooooh,” I breathed.

“What it is? Are you alright?” I still could not see him, but I could feel him. His warm hands wrapped around mine as I told him what had happened; how I had been drawn to the agonizing cries of a tiny baby girl, alone and hungry in the arms of her deceased mother and how I had wanted to help her. Tears again streamed down my cheeks as I remembered that little life slipping away and how my memories had slipped away with it. Sobbing out my apologies to Kaido, I felt him kiss my hands.

“I would have expected you to do nothing less, my darling.” I could sense the pride behind his words and I beamed with pleasure, My heart blossomed as I realised how much I was truly loved. I was so lucky. My tears turned from pain to joy and I laughed in jubilation as my body convulsed one last time, completing the change. I felt the power behind my newfound wings – wings the same colour as my hair. I flexed, stretching them wide. They had not been used for a long time and were eager to fly. On the edges of my awareness, I sensed Kaido changing form beside me. My wings flapped impatiently, wanting to touch the sky except I still couldn’t see beyond the barrage of pictures working their way into my mind, demanding to be seen. Finally, everything became still and standing in the place where two human forms had only moments ago been lost in the throes of passion, were two striking, elegant birds. Kaido made a sound of pure contentment as he nuzzled his face to mine. Playfully, I nipped at the feathers on his neck, as I had done so many times before and took off into the heavens. I twirled and dipped, dancing on air as I arched graceful patterns across the twilight sky. Soaring higher and higher, I felt the last vestiges of my wounded soul sigh in peace. It was whole once more. I was whole once more. 

“Kaido, my love. Come dance with me.”

EPILOGUE 

Beautiful music floated through the air. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the trees adding their own unique melody. It was the perfect moment. My wedding dress draped my body in brilliant, winter-white with shimmering, silver snowflakes weaving intricate patterns along the skirt and bodice, matching the snowflake tiara I wore in my hair. A sun stone blazed from its place on a white gold pendant around my neck; the colour of summer and the colour of my beloved Kaido. It was his wedding gift to me. Encircling his neck was a cord from which hung a glistening moonstone – the colour of winter and my wedding gift to him. His suit was white, trimmed with orange and he wore an orange shirt. We were Summer and Winter, together at long last. As the trees and all manner of creatures watched on – even Angie was there – Kaido stretched out his hand to me. Trembling, and with racing heart, I gently placed my hand in his. He pulled me into his arms, kissed me upon the lips and then we began to move in rhythmic, flowing motions. The tension melted away. I was dancing with my beloved for the first time as a human since my memories had returned. We had flown together several times, dancing on air, but this was different. It was in that instant that I knew I had truly returned. Life was finally complete.

THE END

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Chapter 6 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy
TIME TO REMEMBER (Final chapter)
Kaido illustriously gave me the grand tour of the castle. Every now and then, a fuzzy picture would come to mind, small things such as the two of us talking about something or a meal we had eaten in a certain room. We had lived here together for quite some time before my disappearance and it had the comfortable vibe of being a warm, happy place.

“This next room was your favorite.” Kaido led me to a large room and when we entered, my body froze. 

In the back corner stood an ornate grand piano, its dusky wood gleaming as though it had been freshly polished. Around the edges of the room were tables and chairs and off to one side was a small anteroom with comfortable lounge chairs. A set of double, glass-windowed doors opened out onto a long balcony that overlooked a gorgeous, flower filled garden. The centre of the room was empty and obviously used for dancing. It was a ballroom. 

Kaido walked up to the piano and stroked its top fondly. “You would sit and play for hours. Such beautiful music would pour forth through your fingers. It was mesmerizing.” He sat down on the plush stool and beckoned me to join him. Warily, I did so. Was he going to ask me to play? As far as I could remember, I never played a piano in my life. “Over the years you were gone it was both a comfort and a torment for me to come in here. Your presence was still so strong, especially when I would play.” 

Reverently, his long, deft fingers began pressing down on the keys and euphonic tones began to fill the room. At first, the mood was somber. In the lachrymose notes, I could sense Kaido’s anguish at being separated from me. It was gut-wrenching and I clutched at my heart in remorse. Then, when I thought I could take no more of the agony, my hands seemed to move of their own accord and I watched in horror as they began to play, matching Kaido’s skillful tunes. I tried to stop only to find that I could not and as I continued to play, the music morphed into something more upbeat, exultant even. We played in such perfect harmony. Kaido was ecstatic. A look of amazement, wonder and pleasure painted his face and despite my reluctance, I couldn’t help but be caught up in his enthusiasm. My stomach clenched as the melody washed through me but it was not clenching in pain. For the first time in months, the music did not hurt me. Instead, the emotion welling up inside me was joy. I was so overcome that I began to cry tears of happiness. Together, we brought the song to a close and for several minutes we sat there in silence. There was really no need to speak as we could each feel the other so keenly. I could not tell where Kaido ended and I began. We were both breathing hard and almost on instinct, we reached zealously for each other. Kaido pulled me onto his lap and held me firmly against him. I snuggled into his embrace and let my tumultuous emotions run free, laughing and crying at the same time. Something magical had just happened and my poor soul was struggling to comprehend the magnificence of it.

“I don’t even know how I did that,” I cried between guffaws and sniffles. “When I started falling ill, music became unbearable for me to hear. The vibes and sentiment were too much.”

“I know. We feel our emotions on a far greater level than humans.” He gently caressed my cheek and wiped my tears. “You loved this room for another reason also.”

I froze again, knowing what he was going to say. With great difficulty, I spoke first. “Dancing?” It appeared there was no escaping my passion for dancing. Even in my other life it had been important to me.

“You would dance with such grace and elegance. I could have watched you forever. You danced for me quite often,” he informed me with a touch of cheekiness.

I scowled at him, but only in jest, giving him a playful shove.

Grinning, he jumped up off the stool and moved towards one of the walls. With a touch of his hand, a panel in the wall slid back to reveal a modern stereo. He pressed a button and music once more permeated the room. Eyes bright with anticipation, Kaido offered me his hand. “May I have this dance?”

My hands trembled. Was I ready for this? He waited patiently while I silently waged a violent, internal war. “I… I…” I stammered. The panic was rising again. I couldn’t do it. My shoulders slumped dejectedly. Yet again, I was hurting the man who been nothing but kind to me. Why couldn’t I just remember?

Kaido placed a finger under my chin and tilted my head up. His handsome face was soft with sympathy. He knew exactly what I was feeling. Hastily, he turned off the music and came to sit beside me, straddling the stool so that he could face me. “I am sorry, Leira. My hopes got the better of me. Forgive me?”

“Of course. It’s me who should be apologizing.” I hung my head sadly.

“Nonsense. Though perhaps, if you feel the need to make it up to me, you will allow me to take a raincheck?” His eyes sparkled impishly and I knew he was trying to cheer me. I wished I could say yes, absolutely another time, but I could not even say that. The mere thought of dancing – especially dancing with Kaido – sent me into overdrive, though my body yearned to be held by him. I was awash with conflicting emotions. Not for the first time, I wished I could ignore them or at least control them. There had to be a way to distract myself from this torment. I wanted him yet feared to be with him, I longed to dance yet feared to dance; so many opposing emotions. I felt like I would soon split into a million pieces. Was there a way to force them into some sort of order? Was there another trigger just waiting for me to find that would be my saving grace? Kaido moved to kiss me on the cheek but I quickly turned my head so that his lips landed on mine. I needed this. I needed to feel something tangible, something I could not question. For the first time since arriving at this castle, I gave in to my lust. I wanted to be closer to him. Barely breaking the kiss, I turned to straddle the stool as he did, dragging myself closer until I could wrap my legs around him. He groaned softly as I deepened our kiss and I could taste the fervor of his lust as his hands reached for my hips, attempting to draw me closer still. My hands slipped themselves into his silky hair, my fingers running through its length. With a sigh, Kaido reluctantly pulled back.

“Leira,” he whispered. “Oh, my Leira.” His breath came is halting gasps. “You are really here.” He sounded amazed. “It can be dangerous out there for a solitary phoenix. There are humans and other creatures who will murder us on sight.” Kaido’s distress was evident. “That is the only way we can die. I was so afraid you had been lost to me forever,” he whispered against my hair. “And although I would very much like this to continue, you are not ready. You just needed a distraction and I do not want to take advantage of your vulnerability.”

As much as I did not want to admit it, he was right. I could never hide anything from him. It was a comfort and an inconvenience as, I wasn’t entirely sure I would have regretted it if things had progressed. With a last look at the ballroom, I took Kaido’s offered hand and we continued our tour.

For the next several days we spent every spare minute together. We would go for long walks in the forest and he would tell me of the creatures who lived there; fairies, elves, sprites and even unicorns habited this alternate Nantahala. Larken visited often, always with a new story to tell me about our misadventures yet, despite their best efforts, my memories remained fuzzy. The days turned into weeks and I began to worry that we were attempting the impossible. Kaido and I were lamenting over this while we sat relaxing on a picnic rug in the quaint little garden behind the castle, when an idea occurred to him.

“There is one thing we have not tried. I thought of it earlier but did not mention it as I was not sure you were ready. Now, I cannot think of anything else.”

“Tell me.” At this point, I was willing to try almost anything. The fuzzy memories were becoming annoying and they were giving me headaches. It was like I was trying to chase shadows. I could always see them just there in front of me but could never catch them.

“We could try to get you to shift into your Phoenix form,” he suggested.

My breath caught in my chest and I felt my stomach plummet to the ground. “Why… why would that help?” I sputtered.

“My thought is that maybe the shift will trigger not just a physical change but a psychological change also, thereby unlocking your memories.”

The idea sounded plausible; except there was one problem. “How do I make myself change?”

“Usually it is done by applying thought and willpower. Are you willing to try?”

I could see the fragile hope lingering behind his calm demeanor. This whole thing had to be hurting him and yet he never rushed or pushed me. I had to try. I owed him that much at least. I swallowed my fear and nodded. He took my hand and kissed it. 

“My brave Eirwin,” he uttered with pride. “I will try to talk you through it. Close your eyes and relax.”

I did as he said and tried to block out everything but the sound of his voice as he instructed me to envision myself in my Phoenix form. Unfortunately, and perhaps ironically, I could not remember my Phoenix form. I tried to picture myself covered in the feathers I had seen begin to sprout from my skin and superimpose that onto an image of Kaido as a Phoenix. It was not enough. Growling in frustration, I opened my eyes. 

“I can’t! I can’t do it. I can’t even remember myself in Phoenix form so how am I supposed to picture it.” My energy gave out and I dropped like a wilted flower in despair.

Kaido on the other hand, did not appear discouraged. “It is only your first attempt. Do not give up so easily, my love.” He tapped a long, slender finger to his chin, thinking. “You need a trigger.”

“That’s what happened the other times. It was like my body just responded automatically. I really didn’t even have time to think about anything,” I recalled drearily.

“We need a catalyst. Something strong enough to bring out the full change and, you will have to allow it to happen. If you try to block it as you did in the past, it will not work,” Kaido warned me. “Your body knows what to do. It just has to be pushed a little.”

I admired Kaido’s persistence and unwavering dedication. “What do you propose?”

“Let us see if my own change will provoke you again. Remember, do not fight it this time.” He got to his feet and, like before, Kaido was once again immersed in a burst of flames. When it dissipated, there he was in his glorious Phoenix form. It was as enthralling as it was the first time. I reached out a hand to stroke his resplendent feathers and he made a noise deep in his throat, nuzzling into my hand. Emotions welled up inside me and I tried to let go, tried to surrender to them so that the change would find no obstacles in its way. Nothing happened. I closed my eyes, focusing on the feel of Kaido’s downy feathers beneath my hand, willing the change to come. Still nothing. I sensed Kaido shift back to his human form and before I could open my eyes I was pulled sharply into his arms. My arms twined themselves around his taut middle and my head nestled against his chest. I could hear his heart beat and I savoured the sound. Since the incident in the ballroom, we had tried to keep our distance as much as we could. We both agreed it was probably for the best until my memories returned. However, the connection between us deepened the more time we spent together and it grew harder and harder to hold onto decency. Even if we were apart, I knew exactly where he was. I could feel him there constantly, as though a piece of him was literally living inside me. It was a pleasant reassurance that I was never alone, that I would never be incomplete again, and I began to wonder how I had ever lived without it. I felt amazing and so incredibly alive. Finally, the internal wound no longer ached, the persistent chill was melted into a warm, soothing balm that pumped and flowed and pulsed through my blood. What I failed to realise, however, was that I had fallen hopelessly and inescapably in love with this man. In fact, I had loved him from the moment I first saw him. I just had not known it at the time. This sudden revelation burst violently in my heart and knocked the breath from my lungs with brutal force. I felt Kaido tense and draw in a sharp breath as he, too, felt my epiphany. Pulling back, I gazed up into his face. His eyes, simpering with salacity, met mine and I could hold back no longer. With tears tracing their way down my cheeks, I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him hard on the mouth. There was no stopping me this time. He returned my kiss with rapacious need as I let all the love I had trapped inside me reveal itself. Both breathless, Kaido separated our lips just long enough to gently lay me down on the picnic rug. He didn’t say anything; he didn’t have to for me to know the question that he dearly wanted to ask. There was no hesitation. I knew exactly what I wanted and it was high time I got it. How much time passed, I didn’t know, nor did I care. I bared all; let my heart throw its doors wide open and held nothing back. He deserved everything I could give so I gave him everything I had. Never had I known such ecstasy or such a sweet, unrelenting and ravenous desire. It was intoxicating on the most delectable level. We fed and fed, drinking each other in until our heads spun in drunken euphoria. After, as we lay panting in each other’s arms, I said the words I knew Kaido had been yearning to hear. 

“I love you.”

Tears flowed freely down his cheeks. “My precious, sweet Leir… Eirwin. I love you.”

I smiled. “Leira,” I whispered. “My name is Leira.”

In the next instant, my body was heaving. Feathers began to sprout from my skin and I cried out in both surprise and joy. Kaido stared at me, eyes wide but I wasn’t looking at him. I couldn’t even see him. Instead, I was watching image after image flash through my mind like a movie – five hundred years of memories.

“I remember!” The words were a mighty roar.

Transfixed, I waited for the one memory that would explain where I had gone; the memory both Kaido and I wanted to know the most. Eventually, it came. “Ooooooh,” I breathed.

“What it is? Are you alright?” I still could not see him, but I could feel him. His warm hands wrapped around mine as I told him what had happened; how I had been drawn to the agonizing cries of a tiny baby girl, alone and hungry in the arms of her deceased mother and how I had wanted to help her. Tears again streamed down my cheeks as I remembered that little life slipping away and how my memories had slipped away with it. Sobbing out my apologies to Kaido, I felt him kiss my hands.

“I would have expected you to do nothing less, my darling.” I could sense the pride behind his words and I beamed with pleasure, My heart blossomed as I realised how much I was truly loved. I was so lucky. My tears turned from pain to joy and I laughed in jubilation as my body convulsed one last time, completing the change. I felt the power behind my newfound wings – wings the same colour as my hair. I flexed, stretching them wide. They had not been used for a long time and were eager to fly. On the edges of my awareness, I sensed Kaido changing form beside me. My wings flapped impatiently, wanting to touch the sky except I still couldn’t see beyond the barrage of pictures working their way into my mind, demanding to be seen. Finally, everything became still and standing in the place where two human forms had only moments ago been lost in the throes of passion, were two striking, elegant birds. Kaido made a sound of pure contentment as he nuzzled his face to mine. Playfully, I nipped at the feathers on his neck, as I had done so many times before and took off into the heavens. I twirled and dipped, dancing on air as I arched graceful patterns across the twilight sky. Soaring higher and higher, I felt the last vestiges of my wounded soul sigh in peace. It was whole once more. I was whole once more. 

“Kaido, my love. Come dance with me.”


EPILOGUE 
Beautiful music floated through the air. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves of the trees adding their own unique melody. It was the perfect moment. My wedding dress draped my body in brilliant, winter-white with shimmering, silver snowflakes weaving intricate patterns along the skirt and bodice, matching the snowflake tiara I wore in my hair. A sun stone blazed from its place on a white gold pendant around my neck; the colour of summer and the colour of my beloved Kaido. It was his wedding gift to me. Encircling his neck was a cord from which hung a glistening moonstone – the colour of winter and my wedding gift to him. His suit was white, trimmed with orange and he wore an orange shirt. We were Summer and Winter, together at long last. As the trees and all manner of creatures watched on – even Angie was there – Kaido stretched out his hand to me. Trembling, and with racing heart, I gently placed my hand in his. He pulled me into his arms, kissed me upon the lips and then we began to move in rhythmic, flowing motions. The tension melted away. I was dancing with my beloved for the first time as a human since my memories had returned. We had flown together several times, dancing on air, but this was different. It was in that instant that I knew I had truly returned. Life was finally complete.

THE END

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Chapter 11 of Sins of the Father: The Devil's Intern
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction

The Devil's Intern Part 11

The elevator finally screeched to a halt, slamming hard at the bottom of the shaft. Joshua exited alone amidst a chamber of imprisoned fiends. He felt the darkness of the chamber coming to swallow him whole. Only one source of light in the whole chamber and it was at the far end, where one demon sat alone behind a desk. 

It didn't seem that far, Joshua thought, Just walk right down the hallway and that's it.

The boy gripped both hands around his booklet, where his treasured cross was tucked between the pages. His shaking feet took their first steps outside. 

WHAM!

It wasn't even a foot out of the elevator and something made their presence known to Joshua. The boy jumped where he stood and faced the greatest nightmares of this realm. 

There were three of them, trapped behind a thick sheet of unbreakable glass. They looked almost human. Hairless, freakishly thin enough that their pale, leathery skin exposed every bone connected in their shriveled, naked bodies. These were the demons that Joshua's mother had warned him about. The scavengers of the damned. Horrid creatures that stalked through the shadows and kill everything on sight. Joshua heard the many grisly stories of these monsters, both from the demons and his friend Rosemary. How these creatures can swarm around a whole platoon of Doomsguard soldiers and overpower them. How they are capable of destroying an entire village over night, leaving no survivors in the wake. Often they were told to demon children as a way to scare them into good behavior, but they served as a warning that their homeland wasn't always safe. Suppose even demons had their own demons to fight.

The vile monsters slapped their bare, eyeless heads against the glass barrier, barely leaving a scratch. Their rotted, toothy maws bit at the air as they were desperate for a meal. The aching shrieks they emitted was haunting like nails across the chalkboard.

Sure am glad there kept in there and not out here, Joshua thought to himself. But he couldn't help but wonder why scavengers were kept underneath the tower. Were they souls once and they kept them here for research? Research into what? A cure? Extermination?

Joshua kept walking by. He proceeded to walk by from one disturbing cell to the next. One cell contained a prisoner with slimy tentacles extending from the bars, trying to grasp around him but Joshua was too quick. Another cell where he saw dozens of basketball sized eyes poking from inside the dark space, watching closely without blinking a single one. The oddest of the bunch was when he saw a small cage. With it was an even smaller vase. The vase then bounced from its spot and unleashed a horrible, blood curdling roar, forcing Joshua to jump back into another cage door. 

The only thing that helped the boy to continue his task was whispering a passage from the Bible. It was something that he memorized to heart, to help give him the courage he desperately needed. 

At last, Joshua finally reached the end of the corridor. He approached the demon at the front desk. The pits of Joshua's polo and his brows were caked with sweat.

"Um, excuse me," he piped, "I'm here to pick up something for Lu. The boss."

The sole guard glanced up, tossing aside a magazine he was reading. "Ah yes. I got it right-" 

The desk phone rang. "Hold on a sec." the guard answered the call. "Yeah? Now? Alright, I'm be there soon."

He laid the phone down and looked to Joshua, "Sorry. Something I gotta take care of at this moment. Wait right here."

"You're leaving me alone here?" Joshua gulped. His heart raced faster.

"No worries, kid," the guard assured, "Nobody's getting outta those cages. I'll be back in 5 minutes."

The guard got up and left into the backdoor of the containment chamber. Again, Joshua was alone amidst a chamber of imprisoned fiends. He tried reaching for his cross inside his booklet. 

He felt nothing. His hands held nothing. His booklet. His cross. They were gone. 

All Joshua could do was recite his Lord's words. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." he whispered, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth-

"He leadeth me beside the still waters." another voice spoke from the dark hallway. Joshua jumped again of the sound of his cold, monotone call as it too quoted the passage. "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

Joshua followed the voice, who continued reciting. A several feet away from the desk he found the source. It was him. The man, or demon or thing, in the dark. The prisoner Lu showed to Joshua a couple days ago. His unusual silhouette sat on top of a ratty mattress. He held something in his hands, a thin book by what Joshua could tell.  

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23. King James Version, correct?"

Joshua had no words. The hairs on his neck stood frozen. His throat dry up like a pond under the sun.

"When someone asks another a question, it is usually proper to answer them." the figure calmly berated, "Let me repeat, is that not the correct passage?"

"Y-yes sir." Joshua stammered, finally finding his words. "It is."

"That's better. I'm familiar with that passage. Must have read that a hundred times. A little off putting since the original translation was butchered."

The figure's head turned, facing the boy. His face still masked by the shadows. "I know you, boy. I never forget a face. You were with Lucifer and the others. You're human too, correct?"

"Y-yes sir." the boy answered again. "I am."

"Tell me, boy, what is a human doing among demons? Are you related some way? Any ties with those Gravelys." The last word came out more like a distasteful growl.

"I'm an intern."

"Intern? How interesting. Come closer into the light. So I can see you better."

Joshua didn't want to, yet curiosity possessed him. He stepped a little closer to the bars, but not too close. He was still afraid of the figure. 

The figure in the dark stood up, lumbering his way towards the cell door. Joshua heard the rattling of chains each step the figure took. In the light Joshua saw his true appearance.

He was a tall figure, standing over seven feet. His body was that of a muscular man but his head was that of a mountain goat, long and narrow with a rounded muzzle. Dark grey and black fur covered much of his body while his face, hands, and feet were all bare. His ears were long and pointy like a goat's too, and even a the back of his head crowned a pair of long horns.

The figure was dressed in a dark blue prisoner's jumpsuit with shackles and chains linked around his wrists and ankles. His eyes were dark as coal, all three of them. The third eye that hung in the middle of his long forehead frightened Joshua the most, how it continually stared at him without blinking.

The demonic satyr pulled something out of his deep pockets. He held out a round, red fruit before him. "Apple?" he offered.

Joshua studied it carefully. It looked like an ordinary apple, but it could be something more devious. Was it hexed? Joshua rapidly shook his head no.

The prisoner frowned, insulted by the boy's response. "Oh don't worry. I didn't poison it or anything." the prisoner raised his hand, showing off the chains and shackles. "These negate all my powers." he took a bite. The juices leaked out of the fresh bite mark. "If there's one thing I'm grateful for is that those fools continue to give me two things I enjoy in life: a couple books to read and a bushel of apples."

"Who..." Joshua muttered, "who are you?"

"Introductions, I see. In case you're having trouble with pronunciation—or you are illiterate—my name is as it is etched into that wall. I am Mephistopheles, the Master of the Deal and, I suppose, former owner of Babylon too. I was once Lucifer's majordomo—a right-hand man, in case you're not up to par with polysyllables. But now I reside here."

"How long have you been here?"

"Let's see..." Mephistopheles scratched his chin as he pondered. "How long has been Lucifer been married now? Few months? Probably around that time. May longer? I've forgotten. I didn't even get to see pictures of that wedding, come to think of it."

"Why are you in here?"

The satyr grimaced. "I tried to show our king reason. He refused. And here I am." The demon then smiled, showing an uncomfortable friendly side to him. "I shared some things about myself, now you. What do you have to share with me? What is your name, young lad."

The boy didn't want to answer but he did. "Joshua Wordsworth."

"You share the name of a poet."

"My mother claims were related to him somehow."

"And what of your mother?"

"She's the principal of my school."

"A Christian too?"

"Yes sir."

"And what of your father?"

Joshua bent his head down. He gave the excuse his mother would give. "He's on vacation."

"I see." Mephistopheles realized the truth. "Both my parents are dead."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not. I killed them."

Joshua's phone buzzed. It always surprised him how well cell services were down in the Inferno. He slipped it out of his pocket. It was a text from Rosemary.

ROSEMARY: Yo! What Lu got you doing?

"Your mother?" Mephistopheles asked, feeling rather annoyed by the interruption.

"Um yeah," Joshua lied, "she constantly worries about me."

"Sounds a bit clingy to me." the three-eyed satyr groaned. "You said you were an intern. I assume he taught you much of our world."

"Uh huh." the boy mumbled. He started texting away at his phone.

JOSHUA: Stuff.

                 What u know of Mephistopheles?

"What have you learned so far?" the demon said.

"Just what Lu does. What he and his friends do. Lots of stuff."

"Did he show you the souls?"

"He did." Joshua sighed. Thinking of those poor, mistreated souls saddened him. Even if he believed that they didn't obey God, he believed deep down they didn't deserve this fate. 

"And why do you think he would show you just things?"

"I don't know." Joshua shrugged. "Because its his duty and its for my grade."

Joshua's phone buzzed again. Rosie's messages returned more sporadic.

ROSEMARY: DONT TRUST HIM!!!

                      PURE EVIL!!!

                      TRIED TO KILL US!!!

Joshua's eyes widened. He then glared back at the demon, who's grin was far more sinister than Lucifer's.

"Answer me this: do you really believe you are here because of a coincidence?"

"What do you mean?" Joshua said, a rage was boiling inside.

"Come on boy, I think you know why your here. It isn't by chance, or fate, and it certainly isn't by the will of God. You know the truth, boy. Lu rigged it, right from the very start."

"You're lying!" Joshua fired back. 

"And he's not?" Mephistopheles' smug grin grew larger. "What is the devil if not a liar? Come now, boy, you're smarter than that. You don't trust Lu. That's why you carried all that holy water in your bag."

Joshua gasped. His heart skipped a beat. How did he know?

The demonic satyr continued, "Don't think I didn't hear that stuff sloshing around in those vials with every step you made. What do you intend to use that for?"

"It can't hurt you! If crosses can't..."

"Sure about that? He might have shared somethings, but he certainly didn't share everything." All three eyes locked on Joshua. His grin grew more grim. "Did the king tell you what it can do to demons? Did, sometime during the tour, he mention that some souls can get out of their punishments and become full fledged demons, like Balthazar for example? Or how about you why he betrayed the angels in the first place? Or what about his real intentions were for your world once he got hitched?

"Ask him next time. Ask him if he didn't intend for you to be under his wing or he did. See if he'll give the answer you want, or the answer he can scheme up."

Joshua finally heard the backdoor open again with the single guard exiting out. He ran back to the front desk, as far as he could from the deranged prisoner. 

"Sorry about that," the guard said. "but thanks for being patient. Here you go."

The demon guard handed a small box, no bigger than a baseball, to the young human. Joshua thanked the guard and made his way back to the elevator. The farther away from the prison level the better.

As Joshua hurried along back, he heard Mephistopheles call for him again. "Oh Joshua." His chilling tone made the boy shudder. "I believe you've dropped this." 

A small, black booklet slipped between the satyr's cell bars. Joshua's art booklet. 

Joshua crept over toward the cell and snatched back his book. He tried not to look directly at the imprisoned demon. But that eye. That spiteful third eye on the demon's forehead. That eye that looked as though it was staring deep into Joshua's soul, caught the him in a petrified gaze.

"Quite a talent you have there. It's been a pleasure talking to you, Joshua. Take care now. And do tell Lu's family I said hello."

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Chapter 11 of Sins of the Father: The Devil's Intern
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction
The Devil's Intern Part 11
The elevator finally screeched to a halt, slamming hard at the bottom of the shaft. Joshua exited alone amidst a chamber of imprisoned fiends. He felt the darkness of the chamber coming to swallow him whole. Only one source of light in the whole chamber and it was at the far end, where one demon sat alone behind a desk. 

It didn't seem that far, Joshua thought, Just walk right down the hallway and that's it.

The boy gripped both hands around his booklet, where his treasured cross was tucked between the pages. His shaking feet took their first steps outside. 

WHAM!

It wasn't even a foot out of the elevator and something made their presence known to Joshua. The boy jumped where he stood and faced the greatest nightmares of this realm. 

There were three of them, trapped behind a thick sheet of unbreakable glass. They looked almost human. Hairless, freakishly thin enough that their pale, leathery skin exposed every bone connected in their shriveled, naked bodies. These were the demons that Joshua's mother had warned him about. The scavengers of the damned. Horrid creatures that stalked through the shadows and kill everything on sight. Joshua heard the many grisly stories of these monsters, both from the demons and his friend Rosemary. How these creatures can swarm around a whole platoon of Doomsguard soldiers and overpower them. How they are capable of destroying an entire village over night, leaving no survivors in the wake. Often they were told to demon children as a way to scare them into good behavior, but they served as a warning that their homeland wasn't always safe. Suppose even demons had their own demons to fight.

The vile monsters slapped their bare, eyeless heads against the glass barrier, barely leaving a scratch. Their rotted, toothy maws bit at the air as they were desperate for a meal. The aching shrieks they emitted was haunting like nails across the chalkboard.

Sure am glad there kept in there and not out here, Joshua thought to himself. But he couldn't help but wonder why scavengers were kept underneath the tower. Were they souls once and they kept them here for research? Research into what? A cure? Extermination?

Joshua kept walking by. He proceeded to walk by from one disturbing cell to the next. One cell contained a prisoner with slimy tentacles extending from the bars, trying to grasp around him but Joshua was too quick. Another cell where he saw dozens of basketball sized eyes poking from inside the dark space, watching closely without blinking a single one. The oddest of the bunch was when he saw a small cage. With it was an even smaller vase. The vase then bounced from its spot and unleashed a horrible, blood curdling roar, forcing Joshua to jump back into another cage door. 

The only thing that helped the boy to continue his task was whispering a passage from the Bible. It was something that he memorized to heart, to help give him the courage he desperately needed. 

At last, Joshua finally reached the end of the corridor. He approached the demon at the front desk. The pits of Joshua's polo and his brows were caked with sweat.

"Um, excuse me," he piped, "I'm here to pick up something for Lu. The boss."

The sole guard glanced up, tossing aside a magazine he was reading. "Ah yes. I got it right-" 

The desk phone rang. "Hold on a sec." the guard answered the call. "Yeah? Now? Alright, I'm be there soon."

He laid the phone down and looked to Joshua, "Sorry. Something I gotta take care of at this moment. Wait right here."

"You're leaving me alone here?" Joshua gulped. His heart raced faster.

"No worries, kid," the guard assured, "Nobody's getting outta those cages. I'll be back in 5 minutes."

The guard got up and left into the backdoor of the containment chamber. Again, Joshua was alone amidst a chamber of imprisoned fiends. He tried reaching for his cross inside his booklet. 

He felt nothing. His hands held nothing. His booklet. His cross. They were gone. 

All Joshua could do was recite his Lord's words. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." he whispered, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth-

"He leadeth me beside the still waters." another voice spoke from the dark hallway. Joshua jumped again of the sound of his cold, monotone call as it too quoted the passage. "He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

Joshua followed the voice, who continued reciting. A several feet away from the desk he found the source. It was him. The man, or demon or thing, in the dark. The prisoner Lu showed to Joshua a couple days ago. His unusual silhouette sat on top of a ratty mattress. He held something in his hands, a thin book by what Joshua could tell.  

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23. King James Version, correct?"

Joshua had no words. The hairs on his neck stood frozen. His throat dry up like a pond under the sun.

"When someone asks another a question, it is usually proper to answer them." the figure calmly berated, "Let me repeat, is that not the correct passage?"

"Y-yes sir." Joshua stammered, finally finding his words. "It is."

"That's better. I'm familiar with that passage. Must have read that a hundred times. A little off putting since the original translation was butchered."

The figure's head turned, facing the boy. His face still masked by the shadows. "I know you, boy. I never forget a face. You were with Lucifer and the others. You're human too, correct?"

"Y-yes sir." the boy answered again. "I am."

"Tell me, boy, what is a human doing among demons? Are you related some way? Any ties with those Gravelys." The last word came out more like a distasteful growl.

"I'm an intern."

"Intern? How interesting. Come closer into the light. So I can see you better."

Joshua didn't want to, yet curiosity possessed him. He stepped a little closer to the bars, but not too close. He was still afraid of the figure. 

The figure in the dark stood up, lumbering his way towards the cell door. Joshua heard the rattling of chains each step the figure took. In the light Joshua saw his true appearance.

He was a tall figure, standing over seven feet. His body was that of a muscular man but his head was that of a mountain goat, long and narrow with a rounded muzzle. Dark grey and black fur covered much of his body while his face, hands, and feet were all bare. His ears were long and pointy like a goat's too, and even a the back of his head crowned a pair of long horns.

The figure was dressed in a dark blue prisoner's jumpsuit with shackles and chains linked around his wrists and ankles. His eyes were dark as coal, all three of them. The third eye that hung in the middle of his long forehead frightened Joshua the most, how it continually stared at him without blinking.

The demonic satyr pulled something out of his deep pockets. He held out a round, red fruit before him. "Apple?" he offered.

Joshua studied it carefully. It looked like an ordinary apple, but it could be something more devious. Was it hexed? Joshua rapidly shook his head no.

The prisoner frowned, insulted by the boy's response. "Oh don't worry. I didn't poison it or anything." the prisoner raised his hand, showing off the chains and shackles. "These negate all my powers." he took a bite. The juices leaked out of the fresh bite mark. "If there's one thing I'm grateful for is that those fools continue to give me two things I enjoy in life: a couple books to read and a bushel of apples."

"Who..." Joshua muttered, "who are you?"

"Introductions, I see. In case you're having trouble with pronunciation—or you are illiterate—my name is as it is etched into that wall. I am Mephistopheles, the Master of the Deal and, I suppose, former owner of Babylon too. I was once Lucifer's majordomo—a right-hand man, in case you're not up to par with polysyllables. But now I reside here."

"How long have you been here?"

"Let's see..." Mephistopheles scratched his chin as he pondered. "How long has been Lucifer been married now? Few months? Probably around that time. May longer? I've forgotten. I didn't even get to see pictures of that wedding, come to think of it."

"Why are you in here?"

The satyr grimaced. "I tried to show our king reason. He refused. And here I am." The demon then smiled, showing an uncomfortable friendly side to him. "I shared some things about myself, now you. What do you have to share with me? What is your name, young lad."

The boy didn't want to answer but he did. "Joshua Wordsworth."

"You share the name of a poet."

"My mother claims were related to him somehow."

"And what of your mother?"

"She's the principal of my school."

"A Christian too?"

"Yes sir."

"And what of your father?"

Joshua bent his head down. He gave the excuse his mother would give. "He's on vacation."

"I see." Mephistopheles realized the truth. "Both my parents are dead."

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not. I killed them."

Joshua's phone buzzed. It always surprised him how well cell services were down in the Inferno. He slipped it out of his pocket. It was a text from Rosemary.

ROSEMARY: Yo! What Lu got you doing?

"Your mother?" Mephistopheles asked, feeling rather annoyed by the interruption.

"Um yeah," Joshua lied, "she constantly worries about me."

"Sounds a bit clingy to me." the three-eyed satyr groaned. "You said you were an intern. I assume he taught you much of our world."

"Uh huh." the boy mumbled. He started texting away at his phone.

JOSHUA: Stuff.
                 What u know of Mephistopheles?

"What have you learned so far?" the demon said.

"Just what Lu does. What he and his friends do. Lots of stuff."

"Did he show you the souls?"

"He did." Joshua sighed. Thinking of those poor, mistreated souls saddened him. Even if he believed that they didn't obey God, he believed deep down they didn't deserve this fate. 

"And why do you think he would show you just things?"

"I don't know." Joshua shrugged. "Because its his duty and its for my grade."

Joshua's phone buzzed again. Rosie's messages returned more sporadic.

ROSEMARY: DONT TRUST HIM!!!
                      PURE EVIL!!!
                      TRIED TO KILL US!!!

Joshua's eyes widened. He then glared back at the demon, who's grin was far more sinister than Lucifer's.

"Answer me this: do you really believe you are here because of a coincidence?"

"What do you mean?" Joshua said, a rage was boiling inside.

"Come on boy, I think you know why your here. It isn't by chance, or fate, and it certainly isn't by the will of God. You know the truth, boy. Lu rigged it, right from the very start."

"You're lying!" Joshua fired back. 

"And he's not?" Mephistopheles' smug grin grew larger. "What is the devil if not a liar? Come now, boy, you're smarter than that. You don't trust Lu. That's why you carried all that holy water in your bag."

Joshua gasped. His heart skipped a beat. How did he know?

The demonic satyr continued, "Don't think I didn't hear that stuff sloshing around in those vials with every step you made. What do you intend to use that for?"

"It can't hurt you! If crosses can't..."

"Sure about that? He might have shared somethings, but he certainly didn't share everything." All three eyes locked on Joshua. His grin grew more grim. "Did the king tell you what it can do to demons? Did, sometime during the tour, he mention that some souls can get out of their punishments and become full fledged demons, like Balthazar for example? Or how about you why he betrayed the angels in the first place? Or what about his real intentions were for your world once he got hitched?

"Ask him next time. Ask him if he didn't intend for you to be under his wing or he did. See if he'll give the answer you want, or the answer he can scheme up."

Joshua finally heard the backdoor open again with the single guard exiting out. He ran back to the front desk, as far as he could from the deranged prisoner. 

"Sorry about that," the guard said. "but thanks for being patient. Here you go."

The demon guard handed a small box, no bigger than a baseball, to the young human. Joshua thanked the guard and made his way back to the elevator. The farther away from the prison level the better.

As Joshua hurried along back, he heard Mephistopheles call for him again. "Oh Joshua." His chilling tone made the boy shudder. "I believe you've dropped this." 

A small, black booklet slipped between the satyr's cell bars. Joshua's art booklet. 

Joshua crept over toward the cell and snatched back his book. He tried not to look directly at the imprisoned demon. But that eye. That spiteful third eye on the demon's forehead. That eye that looked as though it was staring deep into Joshua's soul, caught the him in a petrified gaze.

"Quite a talent you have there. It's been a pleasure talking to you, Joshua. Take care now. And do tell Lu's family I said hello."
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Written by Lucianowrites in portal Fantasy

The Forgotten Kingdom & The Summoner's Plea

The ruins of the ancient kingdom looked surprisingly well maintained especially since no living person or breathing civilization had settled in this area in tens of thousands of years. It had a history that extended millennia beyond any history texts that had been written by any present day scholars. In an age forgotten to even the most diligent historians of the world of Ramora an ancient deity had cursed the kingdom to suffer from an unspeakable curse: it’d be forgotten by men and monsters alike, only remembered by the undead and by the spirits of nature who’d come to inhabit it and even then only the spirits and undead themselves in the area once considered part of the ancient kingdom would be forgotten.

The reactions from the undead and from the spirits of nature could not be more different: the undead despised this curse as it trapped them there, due to a mystical law in the world of Ramora about the nature of the undead: an undead being from outside of the kingdom moved into the area by accident or by force would be stuck in the area due to it losing the majority of its powers which stem from memories that those who loved them and those who hated them had of them. Undead in the area would lose too much power to maintain themselves if they weren’t being fed it by the rulers of the Forgotten Kingdom who due to their ancient age had developed a way to feed themselves the energy needed to maintain their existences as undead. Spirits of nature on the other hand drew mystical might and energy from nature itself and thus could come to the Forgotten Kingdom freely and even cherished the place as an area free of humanity where they could live in peace. In time the Forgotten Kingdom became a place of legend. Explorers independent of their species would hear whispers of a land of the dead where spirits and ghosts gathered in great numbers and soon whispers turned into legends of a strange region of the furthest continent where a culture of the dead was beginning to appear. This rumor was spread deliberately by the final and most beloved king of the Forgotten Kingdom. The ancient Golden King tricked both the living and the dead to come to the Forgotten Kingdom. When the dead arrived and realized that they’d been tricked they were approached with a way out: to be absorbed by the Golden King who in life had been a powerful sorcerer and knew the unspeakably powerful magic needed to break the laws of the world that kept an undead being tethered to the world that logically should have belonged to the living which would immediately send the energy that remained in them into the king himself. In this way the ancient Golden King had powers that gradually went from being a reasonably powerful sorcerer in life to powers that had reached the levels of the gods themselves in death.

The Golden King had long since defeated the deity responsible for the curse but in doing so he had depleted the majority of his energy and it took generations to buildup enough magical fuel to finally defeat the curse. On the eve of the 7th era of Ramora’s history the Golden King cast a single powerful incantation with two reality bending effects: He shattered the curse which kept the living from remembering the ancient kingdom and destroyed the meta-physical fears which pushed the living away from the land that was once the ancient kingdom, and he summoned a powerful figure who he hopes will lead the people who come to this newly inhabitable land into a new age of glory and influence.

In the midst of the spell’s activation time had frozen around the Golden King who was surprised by this sudden development. He found himself staring at something vaguely resembling a character creation screen which would be familiar to fans of Role-Playing Games back on Earth. In truth this “screen” was merely the spell urging the Golden King to select criteria from which the summoning aspect of the powerful incantation would be able to best bring forth a candidate from the variety of other worlds it was shuffling through. The Golden King was tasked with selecting characteristics through which the spell he was casting could pick the single greatest candidate for fulfilling the wishes of the King and those who had stayed behind to watch the day the unspeakable curse had been broken. The Golden King selected the following characteristics for his ideal summon: “Someone with great ambition, which is of course a necessary trait for country-building” “Someone with the knowledge necessary to build a stable nation” “Someone with the power to strengthen and harness the might of both the living and the dead” “Someone who possesses legendary management capability who’ll care about getting results more than arbitrary characteristics such as gender, species, social status or even whether or not his allies are among the living or the dead” “Someone who can create a cohesive and multicultural society where any talented figures can come and contribute”. Even for the spell going across multiple worlds it was difficult to find such a figure. Difficult. But not impossible. Which is how the Forgotten Kingdom and the Summoner’s Plea brought Jonathan Marshal to the world of Ramora. 

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Written by Lucianowrites in portal Fantasy
The Forgotten Kingdom & The Summoner's Plea
The ruins of the ancient kingdom looked surprisingly well maintained especially since no living person or breathing civilization had settled in this area in tens of thousands of years. It had a history that extended millennia beyond any history texts that had been written by any present day scholars. In an age forgotten to even the most diligent historians of the world of Ramora an ancient deity had cursed the kingdom to suffer from an unspeakable curse: it’d be forgotten by men and monsters alike, only remembered by the undead and by the spirits of nature who’d come to inhabit it and even then only the spirits and undead themselves in the area once considered part of the ancient kingdom would be forgotten.

The reactions from the undead and from the spirits of nature could not be more different: the undead despised this curse as it trapped them there, due to a mystical law in the world of Ramora about the nature of the undead: an undead being from outside of the kingdom moved into the area by accident or by force would be stuck in the area due to it losing the majority of its powers which stem from memories that those who loved them and those who hated them had of them. Undead in the area would lose too much power to maintain themselves if they weren’t being fed it by the rulers of the Forgotten Kingdom who due to their ancient age had developed a way to feed themselves the energy needed to maintain their existences as undead. Spirits of nature on the other hand drew mystical might and energy from nature itself and thus could come to the Forgotten Kingdom freely and even cherished the place as an area free of humanity where they could live in peace. In time the Forgotten Kingdom became a place of legend. Explorers independent of their species would hear whispers of a land of the dead where spirits and ghosts gathered in great numbers and soon whispers turned into legends of a strange region of the furthest continent where a culture of the dead was beginning to appear. This rumor was spread deliberately by the final and most beloved king of the Forgotten Kingdom. The ancient Golden King tricked both the living and the dead to come to the Forgotten Kingdom. When the dead arrived and realized that they’d been tricked they were approached with a way out: to be absorbed by the Golden King who in life had been a powerful sorcerer and knew the unspeakably powerful magic needed to break the laws of the world that kept an undead being tethered to the world that logically should have belonged to the living which would immediately send the energy that remained in them into the king himself. In this way the ancient Golden King had powers that gradually went from being a reasonably powerful sorcerer in life to powers that had reached the levels of the gods themselves in death.

The Golden King had long since defeated the deity responsible for the curse but in doing so he had depleted the majority of his energy and it took generations to buildup enough magical fuel to finally defeat the curse. On the eve of the 7th era of Ramora’s history the Golden King cast a single powerful incantation with two reality bending effects: He shattered the curse which kept the living from remembering the ancient kingdom and destroyed the meta-physical fears which pushed the living away from the land that was once the ancient kingdom, and he summoned a powerful figure who he hopes will lead the people who come to this newly inhabitable land into a new age of glory and influence.

In the midst of the spell’s activation time had frozen around the Golden King who was surprised by this sudden development. He found himself staring at something vaguely resembling a character creation screen which would be familiar to fans of Role-Playing Games back on Earth. In truth this “screen” was merely the spell urging the Golden King to select criteria from which the summoning aspect of the powerful incantation would be able to best bring forth a candidate from the variety of other worlds it was shuffling through. The Golden King was tasked with selecting characteristics through which the spell he was casting could pick the single greatest candidate for fulfilling the wishes of the King and those who had stayed behind to watch the day the unspeakable curse had been broken. The Golden King selected the following characteristics for his ideal summon: “Someone with great ambition, which is of course a necessary trait for country-building” “Someone with the knowledge necessary to build a stable nation” “Someone with the power to strengthen and harness the might of both the living and the dead” “Someone who possesses legendary management capability who’ll care about getting results more than arbitrary characteristics such as gender, species, social status or even whether or not his allies are among the living or the dead” “Someone who can create a cohesive and multicultural society where any talented figures can come and contribute”. Even for the spell going across multiple worlds it was difficult to find such a figure. Difficult. But not impossible. Which is how the Forgotten Kingdom and the Summoner’s Plea brought Jonathan Marshal to the world of Ramora. 
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Written by BrittneySowards in portal Trident Media Group

AURORA

          It was a normal day. I was a blonde haired, blue eyed eleven year old girl with good grades and a bright future. That morning my family ate breakfast together at the kitchen table before my sister and I caught the school bus and our parents drove to work. My father read the newspaper in between bites of his toast. My mother wore an apron while she cooked and waved to the neighbors on her way to get the mail. My little sister giggled with her missing front teeth and milk mustache. We did our homework when we got home from school. We played outside in the back yard on our wooden swing set. We were a perfect family with a perfect life. That night I held my little sisters hand as we hid under our bed and our parents were murdered.          

          We lived in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac street. When you would look out the window, you would see kids riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Crime was unheard of, but that didn’t stop it from happening to us. I remember the sound of the gun shots. I remember feeling my pounding heart, the sticky sweat in between mine and my sister’s clenched hands, and the sick feeling in my stomach. I was terrified that we were next. I don’t remember what happened, and I don’t remember why, but the intruder didn’t get us.

           I haven’t seen my sister since that night. My Godfather, George Spencer, took me in. (I just call him Godfather though. Sounds cooler.) He is a rich, old friend of my parents. There wasn’t any family left to go to. My Grandparents had already passed away from cancer and heart disease. For the most part, I grew up without them. I was diagnosed with PTSD and heavily medicated. The absence of my sister was something I never really got an explanation for. Staying quiet and not asking questions was something I learned how to do over the years. Memories are now too foggy to make sense of anything, so I had to just move forward and try to put the past behind me.

           This year I entered my senior year of high school at The Buckley School, a private school in Sherman Oaks, California. No one knows about my past except for my best friend, Lucille. We don’t even talk about it anymore. We’re concerned with normal things that seniors are concerned with like getting our driver’s license and how many days there are until graduation.

           I so badly want things to be normal. I haven’t seen my therapist in three years. The only thing left to do… the thing that would make things one hundred percent normal again was to stop taking my medication. So I stopped. That’s when the nightmares started. Nobody knows about them. I don’t want Godfather to be worried about me. He already worries enough. He has our butler, Albert, waiting on me hand and foot, making sure I am perfectly content at all times. Plus he would just send me back to a therapist. So I can’t tell him. I just have to keep going until I am eighteen. Then nobody can make me do anything.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NIGHTMARES

           Aurora rubbed her eyes and looked at her alarm clock. 3:03. It was pointless to try to go back to sleep when she knew she would just wake up again in an hour. Her heart was still pounding from the nightmare. Was I going mad? She sighed. Her bedroom was completely dark. She reached over and turned on the lamp sitting on her nightstand. That’s when she remembered the full bottle of pills sitting inside her nightstand drawer. I’m not going to take them. She laid there for a moment waiting for her heart to settle. Then she reached over and opened the drawer. She grabbed the bottle, took them to her en suite bathroom, and flushed the pills down the toilet.

           With squinty eyes, she stared back at her face in the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes were now impossible to miss. She swore they were getting darker as the nights passed. Normally she had a fresh, baby face. People easily mistook her for being twelve rather than seventeen. It was something that got on her nerves, but she always just smiled back at them. She splashed cold water on her face. The water trickled down onto her oversized white t-shirt. Her mouth was dry. She really didn’t want to have to go downstairs and get a drink, because she might wake up Godfather or Albert in the process, but tap water from the sink wasn’t sounding very appetizing, no matter how many filters Godfather had hooked up to the main water line of the house.

           Aurora got her cell phone from on top of her dresser to use as a flashlight, and crept out of her bedroom into the dark hall. Albert’s bedroom was at the opposite side of the house and Godfather’s bedroom was the master suite downstairs. While in the hall, she peeked over the railing to take a look at the Great Room below to see if she could see anyone who might be awake. Godfather liked to sit in his armchair in front of the fireplace there. His chair, and what she could see in the darkened room, was empty. She slowly walked down the curved staircase and into the two story foyer. Moonlight poured into the room from the glass in the large, wooden front door. She took a look at the bright moon. It was full. When she got to the kitchen, she took a pitcher of orange juice from the stainless steel refrigerator, and poured it in her glass.

           Suddenly, a thundering noise echoed through the kitchen. Aurora jerked, knocking over her glass, shattering it to the floor. She turned around quick and saw Godfather standing there. He had accidentally knocked over the trash can. He flipped on the lights.

           “I’m sorry,” Godfather apologized, running to the pantry to grab a broom. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

           “It’s alright,” Aurora squinted from the blinding light.

           Godfather swept up the broken glass while Aurora poured a new glass of orange juice. She quickly drank it down.

           “What are you doing awake?” Godfather questioned as he put away the broom.

           “I just woke up and needed a drink. What are you doing awake?”

           “I was just finishing up some work in my office.” Godfather also got himself a glass of orange juice. “You look really tired.”

           “Well it is three o’clock in the morning.”

           “True.”

           They sat down together at the small wooden table in the kitchen drinking their juice.

           “What are the odds both of us up at the same time?”

           “Must be the full moon,” Aurora laughed.

           Godfather laughed back and got up from his chair. “Well, I’m going to go get some sleep. I have a meeting in the morning.” He sat his empty glass in the dishwasher. “Goodnight, sweetheart.”

           “Goodnight,” Aurora replied as Godfather walked out of the kitchen. She wondered why he had so many meetings lately, but she didn’t ask. He was hardly ever home. Talking to him just now was more conversation than she’d had with him in days.

           When Aurora got back up to her bedroom, she laid on her soft, fluffy bed staring up at the ceiling for a while, then finally drifted off to sleep.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CLASSIFIED

          Aurora awoke by the bright sunlight streaming in through her curtains. She reached for her alarm clock to check the time and accidentally knocked it off the table. She let out an irritated sigh and didn’t even bother picking it up. Remembering it was the weekend perked her up a little bit. School was something she dreaded more than just about anything.

           She sat up in bed and stretched. There was a knock at her door.

           “Come in,” Aurora responded.

           Alfred walked in.

           “Good. You are already awake. I was hoping I didn’t have to wake you up myself,” he said relieved. “I knew you weren’t going to have breakfast at the regular time since it’s a Saturday, and I know how much you enjoy sleeping in, but it is now past noon… Would you like breakfast now or would you like me to fix you a lunch?”

           Aurora laughed. “I’ll have breakfast now, Alfred. Thank you.”

           “The regular or are you feeling more adventurous today?” he asked.

           “The regular.”

           Chocolate chip pancakes and a cup of coffee. Black.

           “Will do,” he responded, turned on his heel, and took off with stride out the door.

           Aurora stood up and made her bed. No matter how many times Alfred told her not to she still did. She slipped on her house slippers and walked to her bathroom. Her blonde hair was sticking up in all directions, so she brushed it. Then she brushed her teeth. She put on a long cardigan to cover her sleeveless shirt and pajama shorts and walked downstairs.

           In the kitchen Alfred was listening to Beethoven. He confidently flipped her pancakes up into the air and back down into the stainless steel skillet. Aurora sat down at the island bar. Watching him cook was always rather interesting, but today she was interested in more than that.

           “Alfred, may I ask you a question?”

           “Of course,” he answered.

           “What is going on with Godfather? Why is he staying up so late, and what’s with all of the meetings suddenly? He seems so distracted, and he’s not sleeping well.”

           “That I do not know,” Alfred replied. “Your Godfather and I have always been close, but when it comes to his work, that is where he draws the line. I cook. I clean. I do not ask him questions on the subject.”

           “Hmm,” Aurora thought wishing there was a least something Alfred could tell her. “I would really like to ask him, but I don’t think he would tell me.”

           “You’re right,” Alfred assured her while expertly flipping pancakes. “Your Godfather doesn’t want anybody to worry about what he is up to.”

           Alfred’s eyes widened wishing he could take back what he said.

           Too late.

           “What he is up to…?” Aurora repeated. “What is he up to?”

           “Oh!” Alfred explained, ignoring her question. “I almost burnt your pancake. You should eat now.” He quickly put her pancakes on a plate and poured her coffee. “I have a lot of work to do today. Your Godfather wants me to organize his book collection in the library. I must get to work. Just leave your dishes there. I will clean up.”

           He quickly walked out of the kitchen.

           Aurora sat there stunned for a moment wondering what he was hiding. She had to figure out what was going on.

           In between bites of pancakes and slurps of coffee, she spoke.

           “Lucille, I need you to come over to my house. I need your help with something important,” she said into her cell phone.

           “Help with what?” Lucille questioned.

           “Are you busy?” Aurora asked.

           “No.”

           “Good,” she replied. “Oh, and park beside the stone wall where you can’t be seen. Don’t park in front of the gate and stay in your car. After that, call me.”

           “What in the hell is going- ?”

           Aurora ended the call before she could finish. She put her phone’s ringtone on vibrate and poured herself another cup of coffee. It would take Alfred hours to finish organizing Godfather’s book collection, but she was still anxious. She ignored Alfred’s request to leave her dishes and placed them in the dishwasher.

           She walked upstairs to her bedroom and opened her closet door in search of something to wear. After trying on four different outfits, she decided on a floral dress with white flats. She put on some mascara and lip gloss in her vanity mirror.

Her cell phone started buzzing. She quickly answered the call.

           “Lucille,” she said. “Leave your car where it is. I’m going to let you in the front gate. Walk to the front door. I will see you and let you in.”

           “Aurora, what is- ”

           “I’ll explain when you get here,” Aurora interrupted.

           She ended the call. Then she sneaked out of her room, wincing when the door creaked. She moved stealthily down the stairs, trying to avoid the squeaky ones, and to the front door. On the wall near the door was a hidden panel. She opened it and looked at the screen. She didn’t see Lucille’s car anywhere. She was standing at the gate.

           “Good job,” she whispered to herself.

           She pushed the button below the screen to open the gate. She watched her sneak across the circle path towards the front door. She dove behind the fountain that was in the center of the circle path halfway from the gate to the front door. Tufts of her strawberry blonde hair was sticking out. Aurora giggled. She got back up and walked to the front door. Aurora slowly opened it.

           “Shh…” she whispered as Lucille walked in.

           Lucille looked at her like she had never been more confused in her life, and then followed Aurora up the stairs. She shut her bedroom door behind them.

           “Okay, I need to know right now. What is going on?” Lucille demanded.

           “My Godfather is up to something, and I need to figure out what it is.”

           “What do you mean?”

           “He’s had so many meetings lately. He’s been staying up all night working. Alfred accidentally mentioned that he doesn’t want anyone to know what he is up to.”

           “Ooooh cool. We get to be like secret agents,” Lucille beamed. “What’s the plan?”

           “Well we need to figure out a way to get into his office. Then I guess we’ll just look around.”

           “Great plan,” Lucille said sarcastically.

           Aurora laughed and punched her arm.

           “Ow!” Lucille yelled.

           “Shh!” Aurora whispered. “He keeps his office door locked, so we’ll have to find a key to get in. I’m hoping he has one in his bedroom somewhere.”

           Aurora took a notepad and pen off of her desk and stuck it in her back pocket. She took her digital camera out of her desk drawer and hung it around her neck. She walked over and got a flashlight out of the drawer in her night stand.

           “Here take the flashlight,” she said handing it to Lucille. “Follow me.”

           Aurora slowly opened her bedroom door. She looked down the long hallway to the left and to the right. There was no one there, so she walked out. Lucille followed her. Godfather’s bedroom was on the first floor across from his office. They had to go past the library in order to get to her Godfather’s bedroom. They sneaked down the staircase and then down the long hall behind it. Aurora peered into the library. Thankfully Alfred had his back turned to them. He was humming and piling books into a stack on a desk. They sneaked by the door and down the hall to Godfather’s bedroom. The door was unlocked.

Aurora slowly pushed open the door. Even with the king sized poster bed, his bedroom was huge. The floor was made of a grey marble and fur rugs laid on the floor. A stone fireplace was across from his bed. Aurora walked over to his dresser and started rummaging through the drawers hoping to find something while Lucille stood there looking around the room in amazement.

           “Lucille, go stand by the door. Keep an eye out for Alfred,” Aurora whispered motioning at the bedroom door.

           Lucille quickly moved to the door and looked down the hallway. Aurora began searching around the room and under the bed. Nothing. She walked back to the dresser. There was a wooden box sitting on it. She opened the box and looked inside. It was empty.

           Strange. Why is there a box here if it’s empty? Just for decoration?

           She took a closer look at the box. The part that you could see when you opened the box was actually not as deep as the box itself. She pulled on the front of the box. A-ha! It opened to reveal a hidden compartment. Inside was a note and two keys. The note had a phone number written on it. She scribbled it down in her note pad. She took out the keys, closed the box, and sat it back down on the dresser.

           “Hopefully one of these opens his office door,” she whispered to Lucille.

           Aurora peered down the hallway to see if the coast was clear. It was empty. Lucille followed her across the hall to Godfather’s office. Aurora tried both keys, and the second one unlocked the door. They slowly opened it and shut it behind them.

           Aurora looked around. She had never been in Godfather’s office before. Facing them was a large wooden desk with a computer sitting on it in the center of the room. A large, floor to ceiling window with red curtains was behind it. There were bookshelves covering the majority of the walls except for a small section with two filing cabinets sitting side by side. Above the filing cabinets was a large bulletin board with a map of New York City. There were thumb tacks stuck on certain locations. She took out her digital camera and took a photo of the map.

           “Aurora, come and look at this,” Lucille said.

           Aurora walked over to Lucille who was standing behind the desk. She looked at the computer screen. On it were small screens showing different rooms in the house. Every room in the house, except for the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the screen. She could see Alfred sorting books in the library, and she could see Lucille and herself right on the screen in the office.

           “Shit,” Aurora mumbled.

           “What are we going to do?” Lucille panicked.

          Aurora took a look at the surveillance program. She clicked on the options tab, then cameras. There were names given to each camera put in the house – entry, stairs, hallway 1, hallway 2, office, kitchen, library, living room, and entertainment room. There were also choices to add and remove them. On the 'Find and Play Recordings' tab were a list of the recordings when motions were detected by the cameras. It showed the date and time, and you could play and delete them. You could also select to turn the motion detection on or off and to turn each camera on or off.

           “Okay, what we are going to do is delete the recordings from the time right before you got here till now, then we are going to turn off all of the cameras, but not delete them from the program,” Aurora decided. “Hopefully Godfather will just think that there is something wrong with the program and not suspect anything.”

           “Alright,” Lucille agreed.

           Aurora clicked on the off button for all cameras being recorded in the house and then deleted all of the video files to the time right before Lucille arrived.

           “We should see what else is on this computer,” Aurora suggested.

           She minimized the surveillance program. The background image of the computer desktop was a simple landscape photo of some mountains. What few icons there were on the desktop were nice and organized. Something Aurora wasn’t used to seeing on her own computer. She noticed the icon of his email account and opened it. There were four unread emails from website subscriptions, but none seemed out of the ordinary. She noticed a read email from someone of the name Kathleen J. It was marked as urgent. She opened the email.

Mr. Spencer,

The assignment is set to take place on April 22nd. Your plane is scheduled to depart Los Angeles for New York City on April 20th at 6:30 a.m. Your driver will be waiting for you upon arrival at the JFK International Airport to transport you to your hotel. We will meet that evening at 5 o’clock. I will call you beforehand to secure the location. I look forward to meeting with you.

Kathleen J.

           April 22nd was in two weeks.

           “What assignment?” Lucille wondered out loud.

           “I don’t know. This might be important,” Aurora stated. “Write all of it down. Then close out of the email.”

           She handed Lucille the notepad and pen. Then she walked over to the filing cabinets and began looking through the drawers. She opened the files and looked at the documents inside. There was nothing interesting until she pulled out a folder that said Classified. She flipped through the papers in the folder and noticed a photo inside of a couple and two children.

            “Oh my god,” Aurora whispered.

           Lucille heard and came over to see.

           “Who are they?” Lucille asked.

           “That is me, my parents, and my little sister,” Aurora answered.

           She flipped through the rest of the papers and found more photos. This time they were the police photos of the crime scene that occurred the night of her parent’s death. Her parents lay sprawled on the floor covered in blood.

           Aurora dropped the folder sending all of its contents flying all over the floor.

           “Aurora!” they heard Alfred yell. “Where are you? Did you leave?”

           “Oh shit."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Quotes from Aurora:

           “Whenever you were a little girl, you could do things that other people cannot. You knew things were going to happen before they happened. When you were six years old you stopped your family from getting in a horrible car accident. You screamed and screamed in the car until they pulled over. There ended up being a ten car pileup ahead which began from an intoxicated truck driver and would have included you if your father had not pulled the car over. You knew things that people were going to say as if you could read their minds. You knew things about outer space that hadn’t even been taught to you. You never got sick, and you were very strong. We tried to teach you to keep your abilities hidden around other people, but you had to go to a doctor every year for a check-up, plus you had to go to school. Your doctor was very curious about how from your birth you had never been sick once. Most kids have ear infections and colds, but you didn’t have any of those things. Instead of being happy you were a healthy child, it’s as if they were fearful. And your teachers… they didn’t like that you were smarter than they were. They began to ask questions. When your parents tried to pull you from school and have someone tutor you at home, they called Child Protective Services. Then when your parents moved from Seattle to Portland, they got even more suspicious. The police showed up at your new home and wanted to take you in for an investigation. Then the F.B.I. and military got involved. They wanted to do experiments on you and offered millions of dollars. - Godfather

          "The night your parents died, you called me crying. I think you knew what was going to happen. You didn’t explain anything, but I came over right away. I got to your parent’s house, not in time to save them, but in time to save you and your sister. The people who killed your parents had already gotten away. I took you both from the home and you were declared missing persons. If the police would have found you, they would have gotten you and who knows what would have happened. You could be in a petri dish right now. I made a vow to your parents to always protect you. I changed both our last names, and we started over.”- Godfather

          “With you knowing the truth,” Godfather continued. “This is the first step to remembering. The first step to possibly awakening your abilities inside of you once again. And you know if you do that, it is going to turn you into the biggest lit up billboard in the world, and all of the darkness is going to find you once again. You have to either be ready for it, or you must not go any further down this road.”

           “I’m ready.”

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Title: Aurora

Classification: Fiction

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult

Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)

Type of Work: Novel

Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult

Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the world?

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Written by BrittneySowards in portal Trident Media Group
AURORA
          It was a normal day. I was a blonde haired, blue eyed eleven year old girl with good grades and a bright future. That morning my family ate breakfast together at the kitchen table before my sister and I caught the school bus and our parents drove to work. My father read the newspaper in between bites of his toast. My mother wore an apron while she cooked and waved to the neighbors on her way to get the mail. My little sister giggled with her missing front teeth and milk mustache. We did our homework when we got home from school. We played outside in the back yard on our wooden swing set. We were a perfect family with a perfect life. That night I held my little sisters hand as we hid under our bed and our parents were murdered.          
          We lived in a neighborhood with a cul-de-sac street. When you would look out the window, you would see kids riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Crime was unheard of, but that didn’t stop it from happening to us. I remember the sound of the gun shots. I remember feeling my pounding heart, the sticky sweat in between mine and my sister’s clenched hands, and the sick feeling in my stomach. I was terrified that we were next. I don’t remember what happened, and I don’t remember why, but the intruder didn’t get us.
           I haven’t seen my sister since that night. My Godfather, George Spencer, took me in. (I just call him Godfather though. Sounds cooler.) He is a rich, old friend of my parents. There wasn’t any family left to go to. My Grandparents had already passed away from cancer and heart disease. For the most part, I grew up without them. I was diagnosed with PTSD and heavily medicated. The absence of my sister was something I never really got an explanation for. Staying quiet and not asking questions was something I learned how to do over the years. Memories are now too foggy to make sense of anything, so I had to just move forward and try to put the past behind me.
           This year I entered my senior year of high school at The Buckley School, a private school in Sherman Oaks, California. No one knows about my past except for my best friend, Lucille. We don’t even talk about it anymore. We’re concerned with normal things that seniors are concerned with like getting our driver’s license and how many days there are until graduation.
           I so badly want things to be normal. I haven’t seen my therapist in three years. The only thing left to do… the thing that would make things one hundred percent normal again was to stop taking my medication. So I stopped. That’s when the nightmares started. Nobody knows about them. I don’t want Godfather to be worried about me. He already worries enough. He has our butler, Albert, waiting on me hand and foot, making sure I am perfectly content at all times. Plus he would just send me back to a therapist. So I can’t tell him. I just have to keep going until I am eighteen. Then nobody can make me do anything.

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NIGHTMARES
           Aurora rubbed her eyes and looked at her alarm clock. 3:03. It was pointless to try to go back to sleep when she knew she would just wake up again in an hour. Her heart was still pounding from the nightmare. Was I going mad? She sighed. Her bedroom was completely dark. She reached over and turned on the lamp sitting on her nightstand. That’s when she remembered the full bottle of pills sitting inside her nightstand drawer. I’m not going to take them. She laid there for a moment waiting for her heart to settle. Then she reached over and opened the drawer. She grabbed the bottle, took them to her en suite bathroom, and flushed the pills down the toilet.
           With squinty eyes, she stared back at her face in the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes were now impossible to miss. She swore they were getting darker as the nights passed. Normally she had a fresh, baby face. People easily mistook her for being twelve rather than seventeen. It was something that got on her nerves, but she always just smiled back at them. She splashed cold water on her face. The water trickled down onto her oversized white t-shirt. Her mouth was dry. She really didn’t want to have to go downstairs and get a drink, because she might wake up Godfather or Albert in the process, but tap water from the sink wasn’t sounding very appetizing, no matter how many filters Godfather had hooked up to the main water line of the house.
           Aurora got her cell phone from on top of her dresser to use as a flashlight, and crept out of her bedroom into the dark hall. Albert’s bedroom was at the opposite side of the house and Godfather’s bedroom was the master suite downstairs. While in the hall, she peeked over the railing to take a look at the Great Room below to see if she could see anyone who might be awake. Godfather liked to sit in his armchair in front of the fireplace there. His chair, and what she could see in the darkened room, was empty. She slowly walked down the curved staircase and into the two story foyer. Moonlight poured into the room from the glass in the large, wooden front door. She took a look at the bright moon. It was full. When she got to the kitchen, she took a pitcher of orange juice from the stainless steel refrigerator, and poured it in her glass.
           Suddenly, a thundering noise echoed through the kitchen. Aurora jerked, knocking over her glass, shattering it to the floor. She turned around quick and saw Godfather standing there. He had accidentally knocked over the trash can. He flipped on the lights.
           “I’m sorry,” Godfather apologized, running to the pantry to grab a broom. “I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
           “It’s alright,” Aurora squinted from the blinding light.
           Godfather swept up the broken glass while Aurora poured a new glass of orange juice. She quickly drank it down.
           “What are you doing awake?” Godfather questioned as he put away the broom.
           “I just woke up and needed a drink. What are you doing awake?”
           “I was just finishing up some work in my office.” Godfather also got himself a glass of orange juice. “You look really tired.”
           “Well it is three o’clock in the morning.”
           “True.”
           They sat down together at the small wooden table in the kitchen drinking their juice.
           “What are the odds both of us up at the same time?”
           “Must be the full moon,” Aurora laughed.
           Godfather laughed back and got up from his chair. “Well, I’m going to go get some sleep. I have a meeting in the morning.” He sat his empty glass in the dishwasher. “Goodnight, sweetheart.”
           “Goodnight,” Aurora replied as Godfather walked out of the kitchen. She wondered why he had so many meetings lately, but she didn’t ask. He was hardly ever home. Talking to him just now was more conversation than she’d had with him in days.
           When Aurora got back up to her bedroom, she laid on her soft, fluffy bed staring up at the ceiling for a while, then finally drifted off to sleep.

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CLASSIFIED

          Aurora awoke by the bright sunlight streaming in through her curtains. She reached for her alarm clock to check the time and accidentally knocked it off the table. She let out an irritated sigh and didn’t even bother picking it up. Remembering it was the weekend perked her up a little bit. School was something she dreaded more than just about anything.
           She sat up in bed and stretched. There was a knock at her door.
           “Come in,” Aurora responded.
           Alfred walked in.
           “Good. You are already awake. I was hoping I didn’t have to wake you up myself,” he said relieved. “I knew you weren’t going to have breakfast at the regular time since it’s a Saturday, and I know how much you enjoy sleeping in, but it is now past noon… Would you like breakfast now or would you like me to fix you a lunch?”
           Aurora laughed. “I’ll have breakfast now, Alfred. Thank you.”
           “The regular or are you feeling more adventurous today?” he asked.
           “The regular.”
           Chocolate chip pancakes and a cup of coffee. Black.
           “Will do,” he responded, turned on his heel, and took off with stride out the door.
           Aurora stood up and made her bed. No matter how many times Alfred told her not to she still did. She slipped on her house slippers and walked to her bathroom. Her blonde hair was sticking up in all directions, so she brushed it. Then she brushed her teeth. She put on a long cardigan to cover her sleeveless shirt and pajama shorts and walked downstairs.
           In the kitchen Alfred was listening to Beethoven. He confidently flipped her pancakes up into the air and back down into the stainless steel skillet. Aurora sat down at the island bar. Watching him cook was always rather interesting, but today she was interested in more than that.
           “Alfred, may I ask you a question?”
           “Of course,” he answered.
           “What is going on with Godfather? Why is he staying up so late, and what’s with all of the meetings suddenly? He seems so distracted, and he’s not sleeping well.”
           “That I do not know,” Alfred replied. “Your Godfather and I have always been close, but when it comes to his work, that is where he draws the line. I cook. I clean. I do not ask him questions on the subject.”
           “Hmm,” Aurora thought wishing there was a least something Alfred could tell her. “I would really like to ask him, but I don’t think he would tell me.”
           “You’re right,” Alfred assured her while expertly flipping pancakes. “Your Godfather doesn’t want anybody to worry about what he is up to.”
           Alfred’s eyes widened wishing he could take back what he said.
           Too late.
           “What he is up to…?” Aurora repeated. “What is he up to?”
           “Oh!” Alfred explained, ignoring her question. “I almost burnt your pancake. You should eat now.” He quickly put her pancakes on a plate and poured her coffee. “I have a lot of work to do today. Your Godfather wants me to organize his book collection in the library. I must get to work. Just leave your dishes there. I will clean up.”
           He quickly walked out of the kitchen.
           Aurora sat there stunned for a moment wondering what he was hiding. She had to figure out what was going on.
           In between bites of pancakes and slurps of coffee, she spoke.
           “Lucille, I need you to come over to my house. I need your help with something important,” she said into her cell phone.
           “Help with what?” Lucille questioned.
           “Are you busy?” Aurora asked.
           “No.”
           “Good,” she replied. “Oh, and park beside the stone wall where you can’t be seen. Don’t park in front of the gate and stay in your car. After that, call me.”
           “What in the hell is going- ?”
           Aurora ended the call before she could finish. She put her phone’s ringtone on vibrate and poured herself another cup of coffee. It would take Alfred hours to finish organizing Godfather’s book collection, but she was still anxious. She ignored Alfred’s request to leave her dishes and placed them in the dishwasher.
           She walked upstairs to her bedroom and opened her closet door in search of something to wear. After trying on four different outfits, she decided on a floral dress with white flats. She put on some mascara and lip gloss in her vanity mirror.
Her cell phone started buzzing. She quickly answered the call.
           “Lucille,” she said. “Leave your car where it is. I’m going to let you in the front gate. Walk to the front door. I will see you and let you in.”
           “Aurora, what is- ”
           “I’ll explain when you get here,” Aurora interrupted.
           She ended the call. Then she sneaked out of her room, wincing when the door creaked. She moved stealthily down the stairs, trying to avoid the squeaky ones, and to the front door. On the wall near the door was a hidden panel. She opened it and looked at the screen. She didn’t see Lucille’s car anywhere. She was standing at the gate.
           “Good job,” she whispered to herself.
           She pushed the button below the screen to open the gate. She watched her sneak across the circle path towards the front door. She dove behind the fountain that was in the center of the circle path halfway from the gate to the front door. Tufts of her strawberry blonde hair was sticking out. Aurora giggled. She got back up and walked to the front door. Aurora slowly opened it.
           “Shh…” she whispered as Lucille walked in.
           Lucille looked at her like she had never been more confused in her life, and then followed Aurora up the stairs. She shut her bedroom door behind them.
           “Okay, I need to know right now. What is going on?” Lucille demanded.
           “My Godfather is up to something, and I need to figure out what it is.”
           “What do you mean?”
           “He’s had so many meetings lately. He’s been staying up all night working. Alfred accidentally mentioned that he doesn’t want anyone to know what he is up to.”
           “Ooooh cool. We get to be like secret agents,” Lucille beamed. “What’s the plan?”
           “Well we need to figure out a way to get into his office. Then I guess we’ll just look around.”
           “Great plan,” Lucille said sarcastically.
           Aurora laughed and punched her arm.
           “Ow!” Lucille yelled.
           “Shh!” Aurora whispered. “He keeps his office door locked, so we’ll have to find a key to get in. I’m hoping he has one in his bedroom somewhere.”
           Aurora took a notepad and pen off of her desk and stuck it in her back pocket. She took her digital camera out of her desk drawer and hung it around her neck. She walked over and got a flashlight out of the drawer in her night stand.
           “Here take the flashlight,” she said handing it to Lucille. “Follow me.”
           Aurora slowly opened her bedroom door. She looked down the long hallway to the left and to the right. There was no one there, so she walked out. Lucille followed her. Godfather’s bedroom was on the first floor across from his office. They had to go past the library in order to get to her Godfather’s bedroom. They sneaked down the staircase and then down the long hall behind it. Aurora peered into the library. Thankfully Alfred had his back turned to them. He was humming and piling books into a stack on a desk. They sneaked by the door and down the hall to Godfather’s bedroom. The door was unlocked.
Aurora slowly pushed open the door. Even with the king sized poster bed, his bedroom was huge. The floor was made of a grey marble and fur rugs laid on the floor. A stone fireplace was across from his bed. Aurora walked over to his dresser and started rummaging through the drawers hoping to find something while Lucille stood there looking around the room in amazement.
           “Lucille, go stand by the door. Keep an eye out for Alfred,” Aurora whispered motioning at the bedroom door.
           Lucille quickly moved to the door and looked down the hallway. Aurora began searching around the room and under the bed. Nothing. She walked back to the dresser. There was a wooden box sitting on it. She opened the box and looked inside. It was empty.
           Strange. Why is there a box here if it’s empty? Just for decoration?
           She took a closer look at the box. The part that you could see when you opened the box was actually not as deep as the box itself. She pulled on the front of the box. A-ha! It opened to reveal a hidden compartment. Inside was a note and two keys. The note had a phone number written on it. She scribbled it down in her note pad. She took out the keys, closed the box, and sat it back down on the dresser.
           “Hopefully one of these opens his office door,” she whispered to Lucille.
           Aurora peered down the hallway to see if the coast was clear. It was empty. Lucille followed her across the hall to Godfather’s office. Aurora tried both keys, and the second one unlocked the door. They slowly opened it and shut it behind them.
           Aurora looked around. She had never been in Godfather’s office before. Facing them was a large wooden desk with a computer sitting on it in the center of the room. A large, floor to ceiling window with red curtains was behind it. There were bookshelves covering the majority of the walls except for a small section with two filing cabinets sitting side by side. Above the filing cabinets was a large bulletin board with a map of New York City. There were thumb tacks stuck on certain locations. She took out her digital camera and took a photo of the map.
           “Aurora, come and look at this,” Lucille said.
           Aurora walked over to Lucille who was standing behind the desk. She looked at the computer screen. On it were small screens showing different rooms in the house. Every room in the house, except for the bedrooms and bathrooms were on the screen. She could see Alfred sorting books in the library, and she could see Lucille and herself right on the screen in the office.
           “Shit,” Aurora mumbled.
           “What are we going to do?” Lucille panicked.
          Aurora took a look at the surveillance program. She clicked on the options tab, then cameras. There were names given to each camera put in the house – entry, stairs, hallway 1, hallway 2, office, kitchen, library, living room, and entertainment room. There were also choices to add and remove them. On the 'Find and Play Recordings' tab were a list of the recordings when motions were detected by the cameras. It showed the date and time, and you could play and delete them. You could also select to turn the motion detection on or off and to turn each camera on or off.
           “Okay, what we are going to do is delete the recordings from the time right before you got here till now, then we are going to turn off all of the cameras, but not delete them from the program,” Aurora decided. “Hopefully Godfather will just think that there is something wrong with the program and not suspect anything.”
           “Alright,” Lucille agreed.
           Aurora clicked on the off button for all cameras being recorded in the house and then deleted all of the video files to the time right before Lucille arrived.
           “We should see what else is on this computer,” Aurora suggested.
           She minimized the surveillance program. The background image of the computer desktop was a simple landscape photo of some mountains. What few icons there were on the desktop were nice and organized. Something Aurora wasn’t used to seeing on her own computer. She noticed the icon of his email account and opened it. There were four unread emails from website subscriptions, but none seemed out of the ordinary. She noticed a read email from someone of the name Kathleen J. It was marked as urgent. She opened the email.

Mr. Spencer,
The assignment is set to take place on April 22nd. Your plane is scheduled to depart Los Angeles for New York City on April 20th at 6:30 a.m. Your driver will be waiting for you upon arrival at the JFK International Airport to transport you to your hotel. We will meet that evening at 5 o’clock. I will call you beforehand to secure the location. I look forward to meeting with you.
Kathleen J.

           April 22nd was in two weeks.
           “What assignment?” Lucille wondered out loud.
           “I don’t know. This might be important,” Aurora stated. “Write all of it down. Then close out of the email.”
           She handed Lucille the notepad and pen. Then she walked over to the filing cabinets and began looking through the drawers. She opened the files and looked at the documents inside. There was nothing interesting until she pulled out a folder that said Classified. She flipped through the papers in the folder and noticed a photo inside of a couple and two children.
            “Oh my god,” Aurora whispered.
           Lucille heard and came over to see.
           “Who are they?” Lucille asked.
           “That is me, my parents, and my little sister,” Aurora answered.
           She flipped through the rest of the papers and found more photos. This time they were the police photos of the crime scene that occurred the night of her parent’s death. Her parents lay sprawled on the floor covered in blood.
           Aurora dropped the folder sending all of its contents flying all over the floor.
           “Aurora!” they heard Alfred yell. “Where are you? Did you leave?”
           “Oh shit."

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Quotes from Aurora:

           “Whenever you were a little girl, you could do things that other people cannot. You knew things were going to happen before they happened. When you were six years old you stopped your family from getting in a horrible car accident. You screamed and screamed in the car until they pulled over. There ended up being a ten car pileup ahead which began from an intoxicated truck driver and would have included you if your father had not pulled the car over. You knew things that people were going to say as if you could read their minds. You knew things about outer space that hadn’t even been taught to you. You never got sick, and you were very strong. We tried to teach you to keep your abilities hidden around other people, but you had to go to a doctor every year for a check-up, plus you had to go to school. Your doctor was very curious about how from your birth you had never been sick once. Most kids have ear infections and colds, but you didn’t have any of those things. Instead of being happy you were a healthy child, it’s as if they were fearful. And your teachers… they didn’t like that you were smarter than they were. They began to ask questions. When your parents tried to pull you from school and have someone tutor you at home, they called Child Protective Services. Then when your parents moved from Seattle to Portland, they got even more suspicious. The police showed up at your new home and wanted to take you in for an investigation. Then the F.B.I. and military got involved. They wanted to do experiments on you and offered millions of dollars. - Godfather

          "The night your parents died, you called me crying. I think you knew what was going to happen. You didn’t explain anything, but I came over right away. I got to your parent’s house, not in time to save them, but in time to save you and your sister. The people who killed your parents had already gotten away. I took you both from the home and you were declared missing persons. If the police would have found you, they would have gotten you and who knows what would have happened. You could be in a petri dish right now. I made a vow to your parents to always protect you. I changed both our last names, and we started over.”- Godfather

          “With you knowing the truth,” Godfather continued. “This is the first step to remembering. The first step to possibly awakening your abilities inside of you once again. And you know if you do that, it is going to turn you into the biggest lit up billboard in the world, and all of the darkness is going to find you once again. You have to either be ready for it, or you must not go any further down this road.”
           “I’m ready.”

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Title: Aurora
Classification: Fiction
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Young Adult
Word Count: 11,295 (and counting...)
Type of Work: Novel
Target Age Range: 16-18 Young Adult, 18+ Adult
Hook: As a child, Aurora Spencer was taken in and hidden by her parent’s best friend after they were mysteriously murdered. Now that she is a teenager, she, along with her best friend Lucille, is trying to uncover the secrets of her past. Some even out of this world. She finds that being aware of those secrets is unlocking abilities within her that she will need to use to stop the corruption the world is headed towards. Will she find out who she really is? Can she save the world?
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Chapter 10 of Sins of the Father: The Devil's Intern
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction

The Devil's Intern Part 10

Day four of Internship Week was nothing too hectic (all things considered). Joshua was sitting inside Lu's office, listening to the boss negotiate a bargain with a potential client. Another lesson that Joshua had to learn was that while there are demons that make deals with most humans, some wish to speak directly to the source. 

While the negotiations seemed to go on forever, Joshua was lucky that he brought his prized notebook along so he draw more action-packed doodles. His little cross was placed comfortably between the pages, serving as a marker for when he wishes to continue his work. His pencil as mighty as a sword obeyed him as he etched out new figures and characters in his ongoing artistic crusade.

The client didn't seem too interesting. Just another young, up-and-coming athlete looking for a way to boost his reputation. He heard from a buddy of where he can summon a demon that can grant him his greatest desires, with a cost of course. The specifics of the cost was not disclosed but the young man found himself within one of Inferno Tower's office spaces; and then he was talking to the man in charge.

"Just sign on the dotted line," the devil persuaded. His smirk sinister as ever. "and your success shall come to you—give or take a few days. But you'll be the biggest MVP this north of the states!"

The client smiled and shrugged, taking the pen and ready to sign the mystic paper contract. When he pressed on the ball-point, he felt a quick pinch like a needle tapped through his thumb. The vial inside pen filled itself with the client's blood. Blood was far more permanent than ink.

The athlete signed the paper and the deal was sealed. He was then transported back to where he had came through the enchanted elevator that transported anyone of Joshua's world to the demon world.

"Another day, another sucker," Lu flinched and then looked back to Joshua, "I mean, another satisfied customer!" He nervously smiled.

BLEEP! BLEEP! Saved by the intercom. Lilith's voiced echoed through, "Boss, you got a call from the President."

Lu pressed the button to answer. "President of what?"

"America."

"Must be asking for another extension on his deal. Hey Joshie, could you run a quick errand for me?"

"Sure," Joshua replied, closing his notebook, "What do you need?"

"I need you to pick up something from the front desk on the ninth floor."

"The n-ninth floor?" Joshua stammered, "W-where all the prisoners are?"

"They're in the secure cages designed by the best." Lu assured. "You'll be just fine. Just don't interact with any of the prisoners. Now hurry along, and don't keep me waiting."

Joshua was afraid but he still obeyed. He walked out of Lu's office, waved at Lilith when he walked by her desk, and entered in the lengthy hallway filled with detailed history. Painted in the walls were all the names of the devils before. Each had a short poem depicting their reign. 

Joshua stopped, gazing up at the horrific but stunning paintwork of each of the seven kings. The first one he saw was that of a demon with a man's body and the head of a dragon. Different hues of red, yellow, and orange wrapped around the body like it was bathing in a pool of fire. The scripture read:

             Satan, the first of our kin 

             To unite the World of Sin

            He sought to conquer the souls up high

            His wrath bled his enemies dry

            Death came sudden on the darkest day

           In his honor, his name, for eternal, we pray

  

The next one Joshua say he thought it looked disgusting. It depicted of a large, blob-like mass much like a snail or slug with the head and limbs of a fly, or maybe a cockroach. What kind of demon looked like that? In its foreground was mountains of food that the ancient demon seemed to be stuffing into its mandibles. This one read:

          When our King fell in flame

          Beelzebub, The Glutton, took His name

          He left no spoils or waste

         For his gluttonous taste

         He wished to be forever fed

         Until he ate himself dead

The third looked more humanoid compared to the others, with the exception of his massive horns above the brows and lion-like main around his neck. Naked men and women seemed to dangle around his arms like drunken monkeys on tree branches. It read:

          Asmodeus, The Lustful King

         Fathered many bastardsthe Lecherous Offspring

         This would sing his claim

         Forever of his self-righteous fame

        The name of every lover, lady and lad

        Boasting about the best he ever gave and had

The fourth one was another humanoid creature with big fangs, hoofed feet, large eyes like an owl, and even a bird's beak for a mouth. Like the second king before him, there was a mountain in the foreground. But this mountain was made of gold. Even the small throne he sat in was gold too. The paint was sure enough to make sure the gold looked genuine—or maybe it was real gold they used. The scripture for this king read:

       Mammon, The Accountant

       Give him all the treasures, he'd rant

       Locked forever in this keep

       Locked forever away in the deep

       Mountains of Silver and Gold

       Forever hidden within his stronghold

Joshua was astound by all the paintings. As he walked further down the hall he saw the fifth king. A rather fat demon with a long mouth and large horns above his ears. This one seemed the least interesting because it depicted him sleeping on a wide bed. Even his scripture seemed dull:

      Malbolgia, had the shortest reign

      By birthright his throne claim

      The sloth would lay in his lair

      Letting others carry his affair

      He'd lie cozily in the Abysmal Deep

      Until killed by his Brother in his sleep

The next one gave Joshua chills. The detailed artistry of dead angels at the feet of this demon. The demon looked to be covered head to toe in armor as black as tar. It was difficult to tell if there was a man or monster underneath; but the piercing gave of its hellish red eyes and fiery, gaping maw was enough to scare anyone. 

It looked as though every one seemed to be afraid of this one. He noticed that some worker demons and a few souls refused to look or glanced away from this one. Its scripture read:

      Baracrus, the one who craved power

      Ruled Inferno the long, dark hour

      Feared by angel and demon alike 

      Slayed enemies through sword and pike

     The cruelty and malice he ordered in each breath

      Finally silenced, the War ended, with his death

Finally he had come to the current king, Lucifer. Not much was depicted other than he looked as he does now, but he wore a crimson armor instead of his red suit. But something in the background caught Joshua's eye. It looked as some monstrous dragon-dinosaur hybrid was shadowed by Lu. Lu's scripture read as it was:

      Our king, Lucifer, once God's angel

      Once was of the Heavens, cast into Hell

      He rules our realm with justly pride

      Yet beware, The Beast, locked inside

      The blood of the First Devil in his vein

      He'll carry with him until his last reign

The Beast. He had remembered the warnings of the Beast from his church sessions. But what did this mean? He had remembered that Rosie once told him that he saw another side to Lu. A side so menacing that it had once frightened her. But she said it, or he, saved her. Yet another tale was told about how it had attack his brother in a predatory rage. Joshua wasn't sure what to believe.

More history was graphed into the walls. A large, black mass crashing into a field of green. A heart forged in a sea of fire. Then there was one where demons were battling against some winged people on top of city in the clouds, and another where demons were dissolving in a large body of water where in the distant background some sort of boat or box was floating on top. The most disturbing Joshua saw was the graphic depiction of a burned man being transfigured into the hideous monster he saw inside Lu's painting.

"Quite marvelous, isn't it?" a low, haunting voice bellowed, forcing Joshua to jump. He turned to find Lu's adviser Legion was also looking upon the artwork. "Such craftsmanship. Such defined detail."

"These were all kings?" Joshua muttered nervously. "They were all devils?"

"Indeed." the ancient one answered. "Some were good kings, others not so much. He was the worst of them." Legion tapped his old staff on the painting of the sixth king, Baracrus. "We had many disagreements, him and I. What was to be done with prisoners of war. What was to be done with souls. His spiteful experiments."

"You served them all?"

"I did. I was also involved in some of the history depicted here."

Joshua looked around the mural some more. Then he spotted something that seemed off from the others. "What's the history behind that one?" he asked, pointing at a corner of the wall.

One of Legion's six eyes blinked at stared in the direction the boy pointed toward. "I believe Lord Lucifer has given you a task, Master Wordsworth." he bellowed. "It would be wise not to procrastinate so long on it."

Joshua hesitantly agreed. He walked away from the old demon sorcerer and entered inside the elevator down the end of the hall. He pressed the button that would ascend him to the ninth floor and the doors close behind.

The mortal boy was gone. Legion was now alone with the ancient history painted all over the hall. His round, hidden head rotated to way Joshua was pointing at earlier. It wasn't anything secret to the demons, but it was not something that a mere mortal needed to know. Legion looked and saw the piece of history he would never forget. A small patch where a cloaked spider-demon, extending a decrepit hand to three individuals with light surrounding them. The light seemed to be attached to the backs of the three figures like wings of bird—or wings of an angel.

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Chapter 10 of Sins of the Father: The Devil's Intern
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction
The Devil's Intern Part 10
Day four of Internship Week was nothing too hectic (all things considered). Joshua was sitting inside Lu's office, listening to the boss negotiate a bargain with a potential client. Another lesson that Joshua had to learn was that while there are demons that make deals with most humans, some wish to speak directly to the source. 

While the negotiations seemed to go on forever, Joshua was lucky that he brought his prized notebook along so he draw more action-packed doodles. His little cross was placed comfortably between the pages, serving as a marker for when he wishes to continue his work. His pencil as mighty as a sword obeyed him as he etched out new figures and characters in his ongoing artistic crusade.

The client didn't seem too interesting. Just another young, up-and-coming athlete looking for a way to boost his reputation. He heard from a buddy of where he can summon a demon that can grant him his greatest desires, with a cost of course. The specifics of the cost was not disclosed but the young man found himself within one of Inferno Tower's office spaces; and then he was talking to the man in charge.

"Just sign on the dotted line," the devil persuaded. His smirk sinister as ever. "and your success shall come to you—give or take a few days. But you'll be the biggest MVP this north of the states!"

The client smiled and shrugged, taking the pen and ready to sign the mystic paper contract. When he pressed on the ball-point, he felt a quick pinch like a needle tapped through his thumb. The vial inside pen filled itself with the client's blood. Blood was far more permanent than ink.

The athlete signed the paper and the deal was sealed. He was then transported back to where he had came through the enchanted elevator that transported anyone of Joshua's world to the demon world.

"Another day, another sucker," Lu flinched and then looked back to Joshua, "I mean, another satisfied customer!" He nervously smiled.

BLEEP! BLEEP! Saved by the intercom. Lilith's voiced echoed through, "Boss, you got a call from the President."

Lu pressed the button to answer. "President of what?"

"America."

"Must be asking for another extension on his deal. Hey Joshie, could you run a quick errand for me?"

"Sure," Joshua replied, closing his notebook, "What do you need?"

"I need you to pick up something from the front desk on the ninth floor."

"The n-ninth floor?" Joshua stammered, "W-where all the prisoners are?"

"They're in the secure cages designed by the best." Lu assured. "You'll be just fine. Just don't interact with any of the prisoners. Now hurry along, and don't keep me waiting."

Joshua was afraid but he still obeyed. He walked out of Lu's office, waved at Lilith when he walked by her desk, and entered in the lengthy hallway filled with detailed history. Painted in the walls were all the names of the devils before. Each had a short poem depicting their reign. 

Joshua stopped, gazing up at the horrific but stunning paintwork of each of the seven kings. The first one he saw was that of a demon with a man's body and the head of a dragon. Different hues of red, yellow, and orange wrapped around the body like it was bathing in a pool of fire. The scripture read:

             Satan, the first of our kin 
             To unite the World of Sin
            He sought to conquer the souls up high
            His wrath bled his enemies dry
            Death came sudden on the darkest day
           In his honor, his name, for eternal, we pray
  
The next one Joshua say he thought it looked disgusting. It depicted of a large, blob-like mass much like a snail or slug with the head and limbs of a fly, or maybe a cockroach. What kind of demon looked like that? In its foreground was mountains of food that the ancient demon seemed to be stuffing into its mandibles. This one read:

          When our King fell in flame
          Beelzebub, The Glutton, took His name
          He left no spoils or waste
         For his gluttonous taste
         He wished to be forever fed
         Until he ate himself dead

The third looked more humanoid compared to the others, with the exception of his massive horns above the brows and lion-like main around his neck. Naked men and women seemed to dangle around his arms like drunken monkeys on tree branches. It read:

          Asmodeus, The Lustful King
         Fathered many bastardsthe Lecherous Offspring
         This would sing his claim
         Forever of his self-righteous fame
        The name of every lover, lady and lad
        Boasting about the best he ever gave and had

The fourth one was another humanoid creature with big fangs, hoofed feet, large eyes like an owl, and even a bird's beak for a mouth. Like the second king before him, there was a mountain in the foreground. But this mountain was made of gold. Even the small throne he sat in was gold too. The paint was sure enough to make sure the gold looked genuine—or maybe it was real gold they used. The scripture for this king read:

       Mammon, The Accountant
       Give him all the treasures, he'd rant
       Locked forever in this keep
       Locked forever away in the deep
       Mountains of Silver and Gold
       Forever hidden within his stronghold

Joshua was astound by all the paintings. As he walked further down the hall he saw the fifth king. A rather fat demon with a long mouth and large horns above his ears. This one seemed the least interesting because it depicted him sleeping on a wide bed. Even his scripture seemed dull:

      Malbolgia, had the shortest reign
      By birthright his throne claim
      The sloth would lay in his lair
      Letting others carry his affair
      He'd lie cozily in the Abysmal Deep
      Until killed by his Brother in his sleep

The next one gave Joshua chills. The detailed artistry of dead angels at the feet of this demon. The demon looked to be covered head to toe in armor as black as tar. It was difficult to tell if there was a man or monster underneath; but the piercing gave of its hellish red eyes and fiery, gaping maw was enough to scare anyone. 

It looked as though every one seemed to be afraid of this one. He noticed that some worker demons and a few souls refused to look or glanced away from this one. Its scripture read:

      Baracrus, the one who craved power
      Ruled Inferno the long, dark hour
      Feared by angel and demon alike 
      Slayed enemies through sword and pike
     The cruelty and malice he ordered in each breath
      Finally silenced, the War ended, with his death

Finally he had come to the current king, Lucifer. Not much was depicted other than he looked as he does now, but he wore a crimson armor instead of his red suit. But something in the background caught Joshua's eye. It looked as some monstrous dragon-dinosaur hybrid was shadowed by Lu. Lu's scripture read as it was:

      Our king, Lucifer, once God's angel
      Once was of the Heavens, cast into Hell
      He rules our realm with justly pride
      Yet beware, The Beast, locked inside
      The blood of the First Devil in his vein
      He'll carry with him until his last reign

The Beast. He had remembered the warnings of the Beast from his church sessions. But what did this mean? He had remembered that Rosie once told him that he saw another side to Lu. A side so menacing that it had once frightened her. But she said it, or he, saved her. Yet another tale was told about how it had attack his brother in a predatory rage. Joshua wasn't sure what to believe.

More history was graphed into the walls. A large, black mass crashing into a field of green. A heart forged in a sea of fire. Then there was one where demons were battling against some winged people on top of city in the clouds, and another where demons were dissolving in a large body of water where in the distant background some sort of boat or box was floating on top. The most disturbing Joshua saw was the graphic depiction of a burned man being transfigured into the hideous monster he saw inside Lu's painting.

"Quite marvelous, isn't it?" a low, haunting voice bellowed, forcing Joshua to jump. He turned to find Lu's adviser Legion was also looking upon the artwork. "Such craftsmanship. Such defined detail."

"These were all kings?" Joshua muttered nervously. "They were all devils?"

"Indeed." the ancient one answered. "Some were good kings, others not so much. He was the worst of them." Legion tapped his old staff on the painting of the sixth king, Baracrus. "We had many disagreements, him and I. What was to be done with prisoners of war. What was to be done with souls. His spiteful experiments."

"You served them all?"

"I did. I was also involved in some of the history depicted here."

Joshua looked around the mural some more. Then he spotted something that seemed off from the others. "What's the history behind that one?" he asked, pointing at a corner of the wall.

One of Legion's six eyes blinked at stared in the direction the boy pointed toward. "I believe Lord Lucifer has given you a task, Master Wordsworth." he bellowed. "It would be wise not to procrastinate so long on it."

Joshua hesitantly agreed. He walked away from the old demon sorcerer and entered inside the elevator down the end of the hall. He pressed the button that would ascend him to the ninth floor and the doors close behind.

The mortal boy was gone. Legion was now alone with the ancient history painted all over the hall. His round, hidden head rotated to way Joshua was pointing at earlier. It wasn't anything secret to the demons, but it was not something that a mere mortal needed to know. Legion looked and saw the piece of history he would never forget. A small patch where a cloaked spider-demon, extending a decrepit hand to three individuals with light surrounding them. The light seemed to be attached to the backs of the three figures like wings of bird—or wings of an angel.
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Chapter 5 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy

ANSWERS

It was a beautiful sunny sky that greeted us as we set off on our hike. We tried not to think too much about what we were doing or what we were looking for. Hours flew by and we must have walked several miles yet we found no evidence of any castle. Dejected, I sat down on a rock and let my head fall into my hands. Would I never get answers? Was I doomed to feel incomplete for the rest of my life?

“Oh, Kaido,” I muttered sullenly. “Where are you?”

“Don’t give up, Eirwin. There is something going on. I saw it too remember, saw you start to… change.” The notion still made her uncomfortable. “So, you’re not crazy. If you’re crazy then I must be too!” Angie sat down beside me, pulling a water bottle from her pack.

“You called for me?”

Both of us jumped, causing water to come flying out of Angie’s mouth and me to shriek in surprise.

It was Kaido, as alluring and elegant as I remembered him. Angie’s jaw nearly hit the ground and she threw me a wide-eyed look. It wasn’t often that Angie was left speechless.

“Um, not exactly,” I answered timidly. “It was an accident.”

“Oh.” The hope on Kaido’s face vanished.

“But,” I amended quickly, “I am glad you came.” He watched me quietly, curiously, waiting for me to go on except, I had no idea what to say. Maybe I should start with an apology. “I am sorry for running out on you yesterday. You have to understand how much of a shock it all was.”

Crossing his arms, he leant lazily against a tree. “Does it still shock you?”

“Yes,” I admitted. “But I am ready to understand.”

“So, you have come for more answers.”

I nodded and he smiled sweetly. “Then you will have to come with me.” Kaido held out his hand and beckoned me to come closer.

“Ahem,” Angie cut in. “Where she goes, I go.”

“Kaido, this is my friend, Angie. She, um, she knows about me... us.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Angie. Any friend of Leira’s, ah, that is Eirwin’s, is a friend of mine, however I must apologise. You cannot follow where we are going but I promise Eirwin will be completely safe and shall return to you unharmed.” He even threw in a bow, hand to heart as though swearing an oath.

I took Angie’s hand. “I will be alright.” She squeezed my hand tightly and I feared she would not let me go. “Angie, please,” I begged. “I have to do this.”

Finally, she let go. “Be careful,” she warned.

“I will.” I took Kaido’s offered hand and together we strode into the forest. After a short while, the castle appeared before us though I could have sworn it was not there a moment ago. I would have seen it. Slowly, I took a few steps back and the castle disappeared again and so had Kaido. I moved forward again and there it was, standing tall and solid.

Kaido chuckled at my expression. “This castle is hidden from human sight. It exists in a slightly different dimension, accessible via the gateway we just crossed. If a human were to pass through the gateway, they would see nothing but forest. We, on the other hand – and other creatures like us – can move through dimensions. Have a look at the sky,” he invited. “I dare say you did not notice it yesterday.”

I glanced up and gasped. The sky was awash with surreal hues of lilac and gold with fluffy orange clouds drifting lazily along. “I don’t understand. Are you saying we are on a different planet or something, or an alternate reality? Parallel universe?”

“No, we are still on Earth only, a slightly different version of Earth. So, yes, alternate reality would be correct, or alternate dimension.”

I was never any good at science back at school and this was getting into quantum physics type stuff.

“Think of it like this,” Kaido offered, “there are several dimensions that exist all at once and they overlap each other at various points. Humans are not aware of their existence, nor are they able to accidently cross over into one.”

“But, wouldn’t that mean that there is another version of me here? Doesn’t the theory of alternate dimensions or whatever, state that everything possible exists as alternate dimensions?” It was something like that I was sure.

“That is true for humans. However, it is not a problem for interdimensional creatures like us.”

“What?” This was getting too much for my brain to handle.

“Basically, there cannot be more than one of a creature who was made to travel interdimensionally.”

That made sense, I supposed. “Why can’t we just live in the same dimension as humans? Wouldn’t that make things easier?”

“Humans are not ready to accept our existence just yet. Who knows, maybe they never will be. To them, we are creatures of fantasy, fiction and myth.”

Again, it made some sort of sense if one was willing to think illogically. This time, I could walk into the castle on my own two feet and took my time to admire it. I felt like I was in a fairy tale and Kaido was Prince Charming while I was Cinderella. Kaido escorted me through the entry into a comfortable sitting room, encouraging me to make myself at home. As I was settling into one of the cozy, over-sized armchairs, a man-like creature appeared at the door. Though it had the body shape of a human male, it was not human. The skin covering his body – I assumed it was a male – was green, as was the hair falling loosely to its shoulders. His slightly tilted eyes were also green and held a mischievous twinkle. He wore no clothing save for a pair of brown pants and a brown, plaited cord tied around its head. Intricate patterns of vine-like swirls covered all the bare skin I could see, including the face. Despite the foreign appearance, something about the creature was familiar.

It spoke in a lilting, almost musical voice. “Ah, apologies, Kaido. I see you have company. I was awaiting your arrival however, I can return at another time if this would be more advantageous to you.”

“No apology is necessary, friend. Allow me to reintroduce you to Leira, although she goes by Eirwin now.”

Larken’s hand flew to his mouth. “You found her,” he whispered. I stood as he walked over to me. “I would not even have recognized you.” Then, without any warning, the creature threw its arms around me in a tight embrace. “I am so happy to see you again!” Not wanting to cause offense, I returned the embrace. “We have so much to catch up on, my sweet Leira. Ah but it shall be fun around here once more!” Larken was grinning from ear to ear.

“Am I not fun, Larken?” Kaido countered, pretending to sulk.

Larken laughed cheerfully. “You, my friend, are far too serious and passionate for real fun.”

“Some of us have to be,” Kaido retaliated. “And besides," he added with a cheeky smirk, "it depends on what you label as fun." 

Larken chuckled and shook his head but grumbled when Kaido informed him that Eirwin/Leira would be staying at the castle for the time being. “That’s not fair," he poutred. "Leira will not stand for that. Will you?”

“Ahhh, I… I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I don’t actually remember anything.”

Larken laughed again. “Oh, still the same I see. Nice try, Leira. You shan't get away from me that easily.”

“She speaks the truth, Larken,” Kaido informed him solemnly. “She does not remember who or what she is.”

Larken switched his gaze between the two of us and seemed to wilt as he finally realised this was no joke. “You… You truly remember nothing?”

I shook my head sadly, regretfully. I didn’t want to upset anyone else with this damned amnesia. Hurting Kaido was enough.

“Is that even possible?” Larken asked Kaido.

“It is not unheard of,” Kaido replied. “Sometimes the spirit chooses to reincarnate into human form. We do not know why. It is so rare that we have not had time to study it properly.”

“Ahem,” I cleared my throat to get their attention. What on Earth were they talking about? Reincarnation? I was here for answers, not for them to speak about me over my head. “Could someone just tell me what is going on? Please.” There was a note of desperation in my voice.

Kaido gave a start then bowed his head to me. “Of course. My apologies, Eirwin. Larken, you are welcome to stay if you like,” he offered.

“I think I will. Maybe I can help jog some memories,” he said hopefully.

I smiled at him. “Thank you. Um, I was wondering though, what are you?”

“You don’t even know that much?” he scoffed playfully. His good humor had returned. “I’m a Sprite, a forest Sprite to be precise.”

“Cool,” I remarked. “Are you from the same place we are?”

“Indeed, I am.”

It appeared I lived among some remarkable creatures in this alternate reality. “So, what am I?”

Kaido took a deep breath, hesitating slightly. “You are a Winter Phoenix. I, on the other hand, am a Summer Phoenix.”

My mouth gaped. Given my body’s odd behaviour of late, this should have been easy to believe. It was not. “Are you trying to tell me that we control the weather?”

“Not exactly,” Kaido corrected. “We keep the balance. You may have noticed it has been rather warm here despite it being winter?”

I nodded in affirmation and Kaido continued. “That is because you were not here. Together, you and I, along with the spring and fall Phoenixes, maintain equilibrium between the seasons. Without one of us, the weather changes accordingly. We did not have our winter Phoenix, therefore the weather remained warm.”

My suspicions had been right. I was connected to the weather, as outrageous as that sounded. “If that is the case, why has it not cooled down since I came back?”

“You are an embodiment of winter – an embodiment of winter that does not remember who she is and hence, winter does not remember how to be winter. It is not your fault, my love,” he was quick to reassure me when he saw the worry and guilt on my face. 

I was crestfallen. It suddenly became imperative that I remember and I motioned Kaido to go on, listening intently, hanging on every word he said as he went on to tell me about my past. Some twenty-seven years ago, I had experienced my first rebirth which made me young for a Phoenix. Instead of dying, Phoenixes burst into flames and are then reborn from the ashes, making us immortal in a roundabout way. Kaido had been through two rebirths which meant he was still young as well. We had been lovers. That much I had surmised for myself but still, to hear it confirmed made my cheeks heat up.

“So, we’ve ah, we’ve…” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence although Kaido knew full well what I was trying to say.

“We have,” he replied silkily.

My whole body flushed crimson which Kaido and Larken found quite hilarious. Apparently, I was not usually so shy. 

It was at this point in the story, Kaido paused and a deep melancholy clouded his mood. “This is where things went very wrong.”

“What happened to me?” I asked gently.

“Phoenixes have the ability to shape shift into human form. It has not always been this way. It is a skill we developed over time to fit in more with our human neighbours. But God did not make us to live exclusively as a human. If we remain in the human form for too long, we fall ill. Sound familiar?”

It most certainly did. Everything was slowly coming together, like pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, although his mention of God surprised me a little. I guess the big man upstairs really was God of all; even supposed myths and legends.

After a moment, he went on. “Phoenixes like to keep their rebirths secret so when it is time, we will go off somewhere on our own. Not even our closest loved ones know where. For some reason, during the rebirth, you decided to send your spirit to a human and I could no longer sense you as I once had. Half of me died that day. I searched everywhere for you. Then, a while ago, I began to feel something tickling at the edges of my consciousness. At first, I thought I was imagining it but it grew stronger and I knew that it was you. The connection was not strong enough for me to track you but I was able to send you dreams to show you where to find me.”

“Those dreams were from you?” I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. I’d thought I’d come here of my own volition but instead, it turned out I had been beguiled and lured here. “You brought me here! What if I didn’t want to come? Did you ever stop to think about what I wanted? Maybe I disappeared for a reason!” I began pacing angry lines across the floor.

“My only thought was to help you, to show you the way back home,” Kaido explained sincerely as the corners of his mouth turned down. “I did not think you would wish to remain hidden.”

Immediately, I regretted my harsh words. “I’m sorry, Kaido. It’s just that, I thought I had come here on my own, that I had planned this new start.”

Kaido seemed confused. “You did. I did not force you. You could have ignored the dreams if you wanted to.”

Now I was confused. “Ignore them! I could ignore them as easily as I could ignore the sun or the moon! I could not get enough of those dreams. I knew they held answers to what was happening to me and the pull was so strong I could not resist!”

“They were your own feelings.” Kaido’s face brightened. “A part of you must have started to remember me for it to be like that.”

I relaxed, glad that I had not been a puppet after all. There was still one thing Kaido had not explained to me – why was I able to feel the emotions of others and, there was also the incident with the bear. 

When I asked the question, Kaido nodded. “I was coming to that. We Phoenixes are extremely sensitive to each other and to everything and everyone around us. We are kindred spirits with every living thing, even humans despite their lack of affinity for us. The bear was simply greeting a friend. Also,” he added, “I had spread the word that you may have returned and asked if all forest creatures could keep a look out. When I saw that bear greet you, my heart nearly leapt into my throat. Your human form has changed since last I saw it so, I could not be sure it was you until you turned around and looked at me with those glorious eyes. Your hair and eyes have remained the same.”

I ducked my head self-consciously under his piercing scrutiny. “Oh!” I exclaimed, suddenly remembering something I had to ask. “Were you watching me one day? It was months ago now. I was walking in the forest and the distinct feeling of being watched hit me. I didn’t see who or what it was but I found a feather, a dark red feather. The wind whisked it away before I could grab it and it almost seemed to beckon me to follow it. Was that you?”

“Ah,” Kaido recalled. “That is what you meant yesterday when you asked if I was there. No, it was not me. I did not lay eyes on you until yesterday. The watcher you are referring to was Aski, a Fall Phoenix. He was one of the first to spot you.”

“Does any of this jog your memory?” Larken piped up abruptly.

I sighed heavily. “Not really.”

“Perhaps if I tell of you of our friendship,” Larken wondered aloud.

“Please do,” I encouraged him. “I would like to know.”

Larken had me laughing with all the silly antics we used to get up to. Apparently, we had become fast friends from the moment we had met. “How could I have forgotten such a wonderful life? How could I forget each of you?”

“We know of ten cases where the same has happened. Ten documented cases in all our history. Of course, there could be more that we missed,” Kaido admitted, “however, Phoenixes tend to be rather good at keeping track of history.”

“What happened to these others?”

Kaido shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well, as far as we can ascertain, there were various causes. Grief was a major contributor. Sometimes, when a Phoenix experiences profound grief, it can trigger a rebirth, almost as though they burn up from the agony of heart break. The theory is that they seek to escape the pain and so plant their consciousness into a human.”

“Was I grieving?”

“Not that I was aware of.”

“Nor I,” Larken added.

“What happened to them afterwards? Did they all regain their memories?” I needed to know what my own outcome would be, no matter what it was.

“The outcome was different for all although, those who were bonded with their mate had significantly better recoveries than those who had not.”

“Why?”

“Love,” Kaido said with a shrug. “Pure, simple, unadulterated love. When Phoenixes mate, they mate for life and the bond between the two is unbreakable, no matter what situation either of them is in. It was that bond between us that brought you here.” 

Kaido’s eyes were steaming with molten lava as he studied me. I didn’t know how much longer I could resist and I could see the strain that it was putting on Kaido as well. But it wasn’t time for that yet. I didn’t know if that time would ever come. Firstly, I had to remember. I lifted my chin in determination. 

“So, how do I remember?”

Larken clapped his hands while Kaido merely smiled, those fiery eyes never leaving mine. “Stay with me.” It wasn’t a question but it was not an order either. It was a request, one I could not possibly reject when spoken in a deep, sultry voice, husky with emotions. Unable to speak, I nodded at him.

“This is excellent!” Larken jumped up and pulled me into his arms. “You have made me very happy. I have missed my friend but I have no doubts that Kaido will bring your memories out. He will not give up and neither will I,” he vowed.

I stood on tip toes and placed a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, Larken. I can see why I would be friends with someone like you.”

He nodded vigorously. “I am definitely amazing,” he said with a wink and a chuckle. “I’ll leave you two to get started. Have fun!”

We said our goodbyes and then it was just me and Kaido. The tension and heat in the air was palpable.

“Lei… Eirwin, I…”

I crossed the rug to kneel in front of him. Taking his hands in mine I stared up at him imploringly. “Help me remember?”

Kaido stood and pulled me up with him. Cupping my face in his soft hands he gently kissed me. “Of course.”

The kiss made my head whirl in bliss and I laughed. “We’d better make it fast!”

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Chapter 5 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy
ANSWERS
It was a beautiful sunny sky that greeted us as we set off on our hike. We tried not to think too much about what we were doing or what we were looking for. Hours flew by and we must have walked several miles yet we found no evidence of any castle. Dejected, I sat down on a rock and let my head fall into my hands. Would I never get answers? Was I doomed to feel incomplete for the rest of my life?

“Oh, Kaido,” I muttered sullenly. “Where are you?”

“Don’t give up, Eirwin. There is something going on. I saw it too remember, saw you start to… change.” The notion still made her uncomfortable. “So, you’re not crazy. If you’re crazy then I must be too!” Angie sat down beside me, pulling a water bottle from her pack.

“You called for me?”

Both of us jumped, causing water to come flying out of Angie’s mouth and me to shriek in surprise.

It was Kaido, as alluring and elegant as I remembered him. Angie’s jaw nearly hit the ground and she threw me a wide-eyed look. It wasn’t often that Angie was left speechless.

“Um, not exactly,” I answered timidly. “It was an accident.”

“Oh.” The hope on Kaido’s face vanished.

“But,” I amended quickly, “I am glad you came.” He watched me quietly, curiously, waiting for me to go on except, I had no idea what to say. Maybe I should start with an apology. “I am sorry for running out on you yesterday. You have to understand how much of a shock it all was.”

Crossing his arms, he leant lazily against a tree. “Does it still shock you?”

“Yes,” I admitted. “But I am ready to understand.”

“So, you have come for more answers.”

I nodded and he smiled sweetly. “Then you will have to come with me.” Kaido held out his hand and beckoned me to come closer.

“Ahem,” Angie cut in. “Where she goes, I go.”

“Kaido, this is my friend, Angie. She, um, she knows about me... us.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Angie. Any friend of Leira’s, ah, that is Eirwin’s, is a friend of mine, however I must apologise. You cannot follow where we are going but I promise Eirwin will be completely safe and shall return to you unharmed.” He even threw in a bow, hand to heart as though swearing an oath.

I took Angie’s hand. “I will be alright.” She squeezed my hand tightly and I feared she would not let me go. “Angie, please,” I begged. “I have to do this.”

Finally, she let go. “Be careful,” she warned.

“I will.” I took Kaido’s offered hand and together we strode into the forest. After a short while, the castle appeared before us though I could have sworn it was not there a moment ago. I would have seen it. Slowly, I took a few steps back and the castle disappeared again and so had Kaido. I moved forward again and there it was, standing tall and solid.

Kaido chuckled at my expression. “This castle is hidden from human sight. It exists in a slightly different dimension, accessible via the gateway we just crossed. If a human were to pass through the gateway, they would see nothing but forest. We, on the other hand – and other creatures like us – can move through dimensions. Have a look at the sky,” he invited. “I dare say you did not notice it yesterday.”

I glanced up and gasped. The sky was awash with surreal hues of lilac and gold with fluffy orange clouds drifting lazily along. “I don’t understand. Are you saying we are on a different planet or something, or an alternate reality? Parallel universe?”

“No, we are still on Earth only, a slightly different version of Earth. So, yes, alternate reality would be correct, or alternate dimension.”

I was never any good at science back at school and this was getting into quantum physics type stuff.

“Think of it like this,” Kaido offered, “there are several dimensions that exist all at once and they overlap each other at various points. Humans are not aware of their existence, nor are they able to accidently cross over into one.”

“But, wouldn’t that mean that there is another version of me here? Doesn’t the theory of alternate dimensions or whatever, state that everything possible exists as alternate dimensions?” It was something like that I was sure.

“That is true for humans. However, it is not a problem for interdimensional creatures like us.”

“What?” This was getting too much for my brain to handle.

“Basically, there cannot be more than one of a creature who was made to travel interdimensionally.”

That made sense, I supposed. “Why can’t we just live in the same dimension as humans? Wouldn’t that make things easier?”

“Humans are not ready to accept our existence just yet. Who knows, maybe they never will be. To them, we are creatures of fantasy, fiction and myth.”

Again, it made some sort of sense if one was willing to think illogically. This time, I could walk into the castle on my own two feet and took my time to admire it. I felt like I was in a fairy tale and Kaido was Prince Charming while I was Cinderella. Kaido escorted me through the entry into a comfortable sitting room, encouraging me to make myself at home. As I was settling into one of the cozy, over-sized armchairs, a man-like creature appeared at the door. Though it had the body shape of a human male, it was not human. The skin covering his body – I assumed it was a male – was green, as was the hair falling loosely to its shoulders. His slightly tilted eyes were also green and held a mischievous twinkle. He wore no clothing save for a pair of brown pants and a brown, plaited cord tied around its head. Intricate patterns of vine-like swirls covered all the bare skin I could see, including the face. Despite the foreign appearance, something about the creature was familiar.

It spoke in a lilting, almost musical voice. “Ah, apologies, Kaido. I see you have company. I was awaiting your arrival however, I can return at another time if this would be more advantageous to you.”

“No apology is necessary, friend. Allow me to reintroduce you to Leira, although she goes by Eirwin now.”

Larken’s hand flew to his mouth. “You found her,” he whispered. I stood as he walked over to me. “I would not even have recognized you.” Then, without any warning, the creature threw its arms around me in a tight embrace. “I am so happy to see you again!” Not wanting to cause offense, I returned the embrace. “We have so much to catch up on, my sweet Leira. Ah but it shall be fun around here once more!” Larken was grinning from ear to ear.

“Am I not fun, Larken?” Kaido countered, pretending to sulk.

Larken laughed cheerfully. “You, my friend, are far too serious and passionate for real fun.”

“Some of us have to be,” Kaido retaliated. “And besides," he added with a cheeky smirk, "it depends on what you label as fun." 

Larken chuckled and shook his head but grumbled when Kaido informed him that Eirwin/Leira would be staying at the castle for the time being. “That’s not fair," he poutred. "Leira will not stand for that. Will you?”

“Ahhh, I… I’m sorry,” I stammered. “I don’t actually remember anything.”

Larken laughed again. “Oh, still the same I see. Nice try, Leira. You shan't get away from me that easily.”

“She speaks the truth, Larken,” Kaido informed him solemnly. “She does not remember who or what she is.”

Larken switched his gaze between the two of us and seemed to wilt as he finally realised this was no joke. “You… You truly remember nothing?”

I shook my head sadly, regretfully. I didn’t want to upset anyone else with this damned amnesia. Hurting Kaido was enough.

“Is that even possible?” Larken asked Kaido.

“It is not unheard of,” Kaido replied. “Sometimes the spirit chooses to reincarnate into human form. We do not know why. It is so rare that we have not had time to study it properly.”

“Ahem,” I cleared my throat to get their attention. What on Earth were they talking about? Reincarnation? I was here for answers, not for them to speak about me over my head. “Could someone just tell me what is going on? Please.” There was a note of desperation in my voice.

Kaido gave a start then bowed his head to me. “Of course. My apologies, Eirwin. Larken, you are welcome to stay if you like,” he offered.

“I think I will. Maybe I can help jog some memories,” he said hopefully.

I smiled at him. “Thank you. Um, I was wondering though, what are you?”

“You don’t even know that much?” he scoffed playfully. His good humor had returned. “I’m a Sprite, a forest Sprite to be precise.”

“Cool,” I remarked. “Are you from the same place we are?”

“Indeed, I am.”

It appeared I lived among some remarkable creatures in this alternate reality. “So, what am I?”

Kaido took a deep breath, hesitating slightly. “You are a Winter Phoenix. I, on the other hand, am a Summer Phoenix.”

My mouth gaped. Given my body’s odd behaviour of late, this should have been easy to believe. It was not. “Are you trying to tell me that we control the weather?”

“Not exactly,” Kaido corrected. “We keep the balance. You may have noticed it has been rather warm here despite it being winter?”

I nodded in affirmation and Kaido continued. “That is because you were not here. Together, you and I, along with the spring and fall Phoenixes, maintain equilibrium between the seasons. Without one of us, the weather changes accordingly. We did not have our winter Phoenix, therefore the weather remained warm.”

My suspicions had been right. I was connected to the weather, as outrageous as that sounded. “If that is the case, why has it not cooled down since I came back?”

“You are an embodiment of winter – an embodiment of winter that does not remember who she is and hence, winter does not remember how to be winter. It is not your fault, my love,” he was quick to reassure me when he saw the worry and guilt on my face. 

I was crestfallen. It suddenly became imperative that I remember and I motioned Kaido to go on, listening intently, hanging on every word he said as he went on to tell me about my past. Some twenty-seven years ago, I had experienced my first rebirth which made me young for a Phoenix. Instead of dying, Phoenixes burst into flames and are then reborn from the ashes, making us immortal in a roundabout way. Kaido had been through two rebirths which meant he was still young as well. We had been lovers. That much I had surmised for myself but still, to hear it confirmed made my cheeks heat up.

“So, we’ve ah, we’ve…” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence although Kaido knew full well what I was trying to say.

“We have,” he replied silkily.

My whole body flushed crimson which Kaido and Larken found quite hilarious. Apparently, I was not usually so shy. 

It was at this point in the story, Kaido paused and a deep melancholy clouded his mood. “This is where things went very wrong.”

“What happened to me?” I asked gently.

“Phoenixes have the ability to shape shift into human form. It has not always been this way. It is a skill we developed over time to fit in more with our human neighbours. But God did not make us to live exclusively as a human. If we remain in the human form for too long, we fall ill. Sound familiar?”

It most certainly did. Everything was slowly coming together, like pieces of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, although his mention of God surprised me a little. I guess the big man upstairs really was God of all; even supposed myths and legends.

After a moment, he went on. “Phoenixes like to keep their rebirths secret so when it is time, we will go off somewhere on our own. Not even our closest loved ones know where. For some reason, during the rebirth, you decided to send your spirit to a human and I could no longer sense you as I once had. Half of me died that day. I searched everywhere for you. Then, a while ago, I began to feel something tickling at the edges of my consciousness. At first, I thought I was imagining it but it grew stronger and I knew that it was you. The connection was not strong enough for me to track you but I was able to send you dreams to show you where to find me.”

“Those dreams were from you?” I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about that. I’d thought I’d come here of my own volition but instead, it turned out I had been beguiled and lured here. “You brought me here! What if I didn’t want to come? Did you ever stop to think about what I wanted? Maybe I disappeared for a reason!” I began pacing angry lines across the floor.

“My only thought was to help you, to show you the way back home,” Kaido explained sincerely as the corners of his mouth turned down. “I did not think you would wish to remain hidden.”

Immediately, I regretted my harsh words. “I’m sorry, Kaido. It’s just that, I thought I had come here on my own, that I had planned this new start.”

Kaido seemed confused. “You did. I did not force you. You could have ignored the dreams if you wanted to.”

Now I was confused. “Ignore them! I could ignore them as easily as I could ignore the sun or the moon! I could not get enough of those dreams. I knew they held answers to what was happening to me and the pull was so strong I could not resist!”

“They were your own feelings.” Kaido’s face brightened. “A part of you must have started to remember me for it to be like that.”

I relaxed, glad that I had not been a puppet after all. There was still one thing Kaido had not explained to me – why was I able to feel the emotions of others and, there was also the incident with the bear. 

When I asked the question, Kaido nodded. “I was coming to that. We Phoenixes are extremely sensitive to each other and to everything and everyone around us. We are kindred spirits with every living thing, even humans despite their lack of affinity for us. The bear was simply greeting a friend. Also,” he added, “I had spread the word that you may have returned and asked if all forest creatures could keep a look out. When I saw that bear greet you, my heart nearly leapt into my throat. Your human form has changed since last I saw it so, I could not be sure it was you until you turned around and looked at me with those glorious eyes. Your hair and eyes have remained the same.”

I ducked my head self-consciously under his piercing scrutiny. “Oh!” I exclaimed, suddenly remembering something I had to ask. “Were you watching me one day? It was months ago now. I was walking in the forest and the distinct feeling of being watched hit me. I didn’t see who or what it was but I found a feather, a dark red feather. The wind whisked it away before I could grab it and it almost seemed to beckon me to follow it. Was that you?”

“Ah,” Kaido recalled. “That is what you meant yesterday when you asked if I was there. No, it was not me. I did not lay eyes on you until yesterday. The watcher you are referring to was Aski, a Fall Phoenix. He was one of the first to spot you.”

“Does any of this jog your memory?” Larken piped up abruptly.

I sighed heavily. “Not really.”

“Perhaps if I tell of you of our friendship,” Larken wondered aloud.

“Please do,” I encouraged him. “I would like to know.”

Larken had me laughing with all the silly antics we used to get up to. Apparently, we had become fast friends from the moment we had met. “How could I have forgotten such a wonderful life? How could I forget each of you?”

“We know of ten cases where the same has happened. Ten documented cases in all our history. Of course, there could be more that we missed,” Kaido admitted, “however, Phoenixes tend to be rather good at keeping track of history.”

“What happened to these others?”

Kaido shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Well, as far as we can ascertain, there were various causes. Grief was a major contributor. Sometimes, when a Phoenix experiences profound grief, it can trigger a rebirth, almost as though they burn up from the agony of heart break. The theory is that they seek to escape the pain and so plant their consciousness into a human.”

“Was I grieving?”

“Not that I was aware of.”

“Nor I,” Larken added.

“What happened to them afterwards? Did they all regain their memories?” I needed to know what my own outcome would be, no matter what it was.

“The outcome was different for all although, those who were bonded with their mate had significantly better recoveries than those who had not.”

“Why?”

“Love,” Kaido said with a shrug. “Pure, simple, unadulterated love. When Phoenixes mate, they mate for life and the bond between the two is unbreakable, no matter what situation either of them is in. It was that bond between us that brought you here.” 

Kaido’s eyes were steaming with molten lava as he studied me. I didn’t know how much longer I could resist and I could see the strain that it was putting on Kaido as well. But it wasn’t time for that yet. I didn’t know if that time would ever come. Firstly, I had to remember. I lifted my chin in determination. 

“So, how do I remember?”

Larken clapped his hands while Kaido merely smiled, those fiery eyes never leaving mine. “Stay with me.” It wasn’t a question but it was not an order either. It was a request, one I could not possibly reject when spoken in a deep, sultry voice, husky with emotions. Unable to speak, I nodded at him.

“This is excellent!” Larken jumped up and pulled me into his arms. “You have made me very happy. I have missed my friend but I have no doubts that Kaido will bring your memories out. He will not give up and neither will I,” he vowed.

I stood on tip toes and placed a kiss on his cheek. “Thank you, Larken. I can see why I would be friends with someone like you.”

He nodded vigorously. “I am definitely amazing,” he said with a wink and a chuckle. “I’ll leave you two to get started. Have fun!”

We said our goodbyes and then it was just me and Kaido. The tension and heat in the air was palpable.

“Lei… Eirwin, I…”

I crossed the rug to kneel in front of him. Taking his hands in mine I stared up at him imploringly. “Help me remember?”

Kaido stood and pulled me up with him. Cupping my face in his soft hands he gently kissed me. “Of course.”

The kiss made my head whirl in bliss and I laughed. “We’d better make it fast!”
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Last words. Write about someone dying whether on their sick bed or by suicide, it doesn't matter, and share their last words. Why is this final sentence important?
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction

Olenna Tyrell FTW

"I hate to die like your son, clawing at my neck. Foam and bile spilling out of my mouth. Eyes blood red. Skin purple. Must have been horrible for you, as a Kingsguard, as a father. It was horrible enough for me. A shocking scene. Not at all what I intended. You see, I never seen the poison work before.

"Tell Cersei, I wanted her to know it was me."

This final sentence is important because it shows that even at the end of her life, the Queen of Thorns is still awesome, dropping snarky comments even at death's door.

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Last words. Write about someone dying whether on their sick bed or by suicide, it doesn't matter, and share their last words. Why is this final sentence important?
Written by Harry_Situation in portal Fiction
Olenna Tyrell FTW
"I hate to die like your son, clawing at my neck. Foam and bile spilling out of my mouth. Eyes blood red. Skin purple. Must have been horrible for you, as a Kingsguard, as a father. It was horrible enough for me. A shocking scene. Not at all what I intended. You see, I never seen the poison work before.

"Tell Cersei, I wanted her to know it was me."

This final sentence is important because it shows that even at the end of her life, the Queen of Thorns is still awesome, dropping snarky comments even at death's door.
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Chapter 4 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy

QUESTIONS

I flung myself through the door of my home. By this time, my body had calmed down and the shifting had stopped which was fortunate given the fact that my house was not empty.

“Eirwin!” Angie rushed towards me and grabbed me fiercely in her arms. “Thank goodness you’re alright!”

I fought for breath and leaned heavily on Angie to stop my legs from caving under me.

“You’re exhausted! Sit down, here.” She guided me to a chair at my small kitchen table and raced to get me a glass of water. I drank it down in a single gulp.

“Where were you?” Angie squealed. She was near to having a fit. “You didn’t show up for your shift. I tried to call you and when there was no answer I decided to just come on over to see if you were alright only, you weren’t here! I checked all over town but no one had seen you since you left the café yesterday afternoon and…” She stopped as she finally realised my state of dress. “What are you wearing?” I glanced down at myself. The robe that was now riddled with rips and tears hung open, revealing the skimpy nightgown.

I shrugged. “My pajamas?” I offered weakly.

Angie sat down opposite me and took my hands in hers. “Eirwin, what happened?”

Without warning, a laugh escaped my lips and I couldn’t stop. I laughed until tears poured down my cheeks and my ribs ached. Angie stared at me as though I had gone mad. For what seemed like the one-millionth time, I wondered if maybe I had. I could rock a straight-jacket… The visual image made me laugh even harder. The laughter died as Angie continued to stare at me, clearly perturbed and unsure what to do.

“I’m sorry, Ang. You wouldn’t believe my story even if I told you.” I shook my head with a wry smile. I wasn’t even sure I fully believed it. Maybe I had been drugged somehow and it had all been a hallucination. The only way I would ever know would be to go back there again, retrace my steps. It would be easy enough to do. The map was not only still seared onto my brain but I could now sense Kaido as though he were a part of me. I knew that no matter where he was, I would be able to find him. It should have felt invasive given that I knew he could also sense me. Instead, it made me feel safe.

“You’re not going to tell me?” Angie cried. “Do you have any idea how worried I have been? How worried everyone has been?” She took a deep breath. “Eirwin, you have to tell us. The police will be back here soon. They and half the town are out searching for you. I opted to stay here in case you showed up.”

I sighed. “I went for a walk in the forest yesterday after work and got lost. That’s all.”

Angie clearly didn’t believe me and eyed me skeptically. “You went for a walk in your nightgown?”

“Would you believe me if I said yes?”

“No," she answered bluntly.

“Of course you wouldn’t. Who would?” I mumbled quietly. “Angie…” I began.

“Go and get changed. It will only raise more suspicions if the police arrive to find you in that state. Quickly!” She pulled me to my feet and ushered me to my room. “They will be here in ten minutes and there are obviously things you don’t want anyone to know.” 

Before closing my door, she jabbed a finger in my face. “But don’t think for one moment that I am going to let it go easily. You have your secrets and I respect that however, there is only so much I am willing to ignore.” The door banged shut after her. She wasn’t angry with me. I knew Angie well enough by now to tell that her mood was a side effect of her concern.

The robe was a mess. I almost felt sorry that something so pretty had been ruined. I kicked it under the bed, and the nightgown with it – I would throw them away later – then grabbed a pair of shorts and a shirt. A quick braid tidied my hair and I went to rejoin Angie in the kitchen with minutes to spare. As the police walked in, Angie ran her hands through her wavy, chocolate brown locks, smoothed her clothes and flashed Officer Brandon Jakes a gorgeous smile. Angie had had a crush on him for longer than I had known her and I was convinced he felt the same yet, they continued to do this little dance with neither of them wanting to make the first move. He was handsome with his short dark hair and coffee coloured eyes, and his uniform shirt straining over broad shoulders and well defined arms. Despite his clean-cut, dreamy good looks, I couldn’t help but recall an even more ravishingly pulchritudinous and dazzling gentleman. Squashing the thought before I could blush, I focused on Officer Jakes.

“You gave us quite the scare, Eirwin,” he remarked once they had established I was unharmed. “Maybe just remember to let someone know where you’re going next time, ay?”

I nodded sheepishly. Thankfully, they had bought my story about simply getting lost in the forest. I hadn’t really been in Franklin all that long so it was perfectly plausible. 

“Sorry, Jakes,” I replied with just the right hint of bashfulness.

“Alright then, we’ll go let everyone know that you have been found and that you’re okay. Do you need anything?”

“No, thank you. I’ll be fine.” I stood to see them out the door.

Officer Jakes turned back. “Angie? You’ll be sticking around for a while, right?”

“Yeh, I’ll keep an eye on her,” Angie promised.

“Good.” Jakes grinned at her, his gaze lingering a moment then, with a wave he hopped into the patrol car with his partner, Officer Landen. Angie sighed dreamily as we watched them pull away and I went back inside to make some tea.

“Want some?” I asked Angie, indicating the kettle.

“Sure.” She watched me silently as I prepared the tea, an air of expectation about her. Should I tell her? I knew she wouldn’t push me to talk but Angie was a patient woman. She would simply wait me out until I caved.

“So, when are you going to ask Jakes out already?” I implored, feigning exasperation. 

Usually, the subject of Brandon Jakes was enough to distract her for hours. Now, she just looked at me cynically.

“That isn’t going to work this time, sweet heart.”

I sighed and dropped my head into my hands. We sat in silence, sipping our tea while I mulled over what to say.

“How far have you ventured into the forest?” I finally asked her.

“Um, I don’t know exactly. Pretty far, I guess.”

Taking a chance, I stepped out on a limb and asked another question. “Have you ever come across a castle?”

Angie blinked at me over her teacup. “I can’t say I have, no. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I… I, um, sort of found one.” I held my breath as I waited for that to sink in.

Her expression was nothing short of pessimistic. “You found a castle? In the Nantahala Forest?”

I nodded. “That’s where I was last night. I did get lost,” I professed adamantly, “and a man found me.” My cheeks immediately blossomed into a bright shade of crimson.

“Must have been some man,” Angie smirked, raising her eye brows. I don’t think she believed a thing I was saying.

“It’s true. You wanted to know what happened and I’m telling you. This man found me and I passed out. He must have carried me back to that castle because when I came to, I was lying in a luxurious bed in a room I’d never seen before.”

Angie studied me closely, a slight frown creasing her forehead as she chewed on her bottom lip. “I think I should take you to see Doc,” she repeated her suggestion from the day before. “Dizzy spells and now this… Maybe you were hallucinating. Have you started any new medications? Or, ah… Not that I would judge you if you did but…”

“I don’t take drugs,” I interjected. “And I haven’t started any new meds. I considered hallucinations as a possibility but, that doesn’t explain the nightgown and robe.”

“Hmm, true. You got me there.” I could almost see her brain working, the cogs slowly turning as she tried to comprehend my words. “Okay,” she continued. “Say you are telling the truth. What happened after that?”

Tentatively, I told her the whole story in chronological order. She listened, transfixed as I described the strange bird of fire.

“A phoenix,” she interrupted. “You’re talking about a phoenix.”

Phoenix. At the sound of that word, my body shuddered and my head began to spin. I felt drunk with immense power, caught in its grasp like a fly trapped in a spider’s web. “Oh no! No no no! Not again!”

As before, a bright, powerful light wrapped itself around me, flickering like flames. Angie almost fell flat as she leapt up in shock or fright – probably both – and bounded several paces away from me, exhaling in a barrage of expletives. Angie never swore. Any other time, I would have found it funny. Now, as I watched, feathers sprouted from my skin and a wonderful sensation gripped me with a warm, gentle caress. This can’t be happening! Straining with effort, I tried to force it to stop, willed it with all my might. Just when I thought I had lost the battle, the light faded and I was completely human again. Angie was huddled in the corner of my kitchen. Her face had lost all colour and she was trembling from head to toes.

“Angie…” I whispered. I was still shaking and I felt completely exhausted. Everything became hazy and I reached for Angie one last time before my head crashed to the table and my world was plunged into darkness.

************

I awoke in my own bed. I could hear two people having a quiet discussion outside my door. I recognized one voice as Angie’s.

“No, she doesn’t take drugs,” Angie was saying.

“What about any medications?” The other voice was male and not one I could put a face to.

“You would have to ask her. She did say she had not started taking anything new but I don’t know if she was already taking something else,” answered Angie.

My door swung open, revealing the owner of the male voice to be Doctor Norton, better known as Doc. “Ah, I see our patient is awake.” He smiled at me and his blue eyes sparkled. 

Doc was great. Everyone loved him. Despite being in his sixties, hardly any lines marked his cheery face and he still moved about with ease, making mobile visits to patients and running his clinic. Only the grey in his hair hinted at his mature years. 

“How are we feeling?” He sat on the edge of my bed to check my pulse as he spoke.

“I feel alright, actually.” I couldn’t believe Angie had called him after what she had witnessed. Should I be angry? No. What would be the point in that? She had done what she thought best under the given circumstances and to be honest, I probably would have done the same.

After a thorough examination and Doc’s assurance that I would be fine, he left, leaving behind strict instructions for plenty of rest and fluids. Angie saw him out and returned to my room, taking Doc’s place on the edge of my bed heaving a great sigh. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, concentrating on her hands folded on her lap. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“It’s alright,” I assured her. After that, I didn’t know what to say. What had just transpired was not supposed to happen in real, everyday life. It was the stuff of fantasy and make-believe.

“So…” Angie started, glancing at me dubiously. “You’re, what? A shape shifter?”

Anxiety bloomed in my chest. Hearing her confirm what had transpired made the reality of it hit home. I couldn’t deny it anymore. “I don’t know what I am. Whatever this is, it started a while ago I think.”

“What do you mean?”

It was pointless to hide now. I told her everything; all about my life in Miami, how I had started to change and how it had all led to me moving here. The longer it went on, the crazier I sounded. I had to give Angie credit for listening so calmly.

“I don’t really know much about the phoenix myths and legends,” Angie admitted.

“So, are you saying that you actually believe me?” I asked incredulously.

“Not exactly, but, I can’t deny what I just witnessed. Maybe you have some foreign disease or something, who knows.”

“I don’t feel sick,” I informed her. “I actually feel pretty good, the best I have felt in a long time. In fact, I think I could even go to the party tonight. It would do us good to let our hair down and have some fun.”

Angie looked doubtful. “You heard what Doc said; plenty of rest and fluids. A party isn’t exactly restful. Besides, what if… um, what if it happens again?”

It was not hard to guess that she was referring to my shape shifting display. “It won’t.” I felt certain that it didn’t just happen spontaneously. There had to be a trigger of some kind. “Plus, we still have ages before we have to leave. I’ll rest until then.”

“Okay, well, I’ll stay here and we will see how you feel by this afternoon. In the meantime, why don’t we do some research? It might give us a bit of an idea about what’s happening to you?”

I had never been so grateful for a person in my life. “Sounds like a plan.”

So, for the rest of the morning we researched everything we could find on obscure diseases and illnesses. When that revealed nothing helpful, we moved onto the more far-fetched theories about phoenixes and shape shifters, though it was hard to take such research seriously. In the end, we didn’t really come up with much of a conclusion. 

“This is getting us nowhere,” Angie sighed in frustration. “If only there was someone else we could talk to.”

“Technically, there is,” I reminded her.

“Oh right, the recondite Kaido.” She cocked her head, considering the options. “Here is what I think we should do. Tomorrow, we will head into the forest together and see if we can find this castle of yours. How long do you think it took for you to make it back home when you left yesterday?”

“A few hours? I’m not sure. I just wanted to get home. But it couldn’t have been more than a few hours.” Had I really been able to run for that long though? I wasn’t as fit as I had once been.

“So, we should make it there by afternoon if we get an early start. Right, that’s what we will do. Now, how about we forget all this weirdness until then and watch a movie? I don’t know about you but I feel like my brain is going to implode.”

“Angie,” I called as she got up to put a movie in the DVD player. “Thank you. Really. You’re the best.”

“I know,” Angie acknowledged dramatically. “Make sure you don’t forget it.”

We both chuckled then settled back in my bed to watch the movie.

That afternoon, it started to rain and the party was rescheduled to the following weekend. Admittedly, I was quite relieved. Instead, Angie and I watched a couple more movies then went to bed so we could start out bright and early in the morning. My stomach flip-flopped around like a fish out of water, full of nerves. What would we find? Would we find anything at all? I buried myself deeper into my blankets and closed my eyes but sleep was a long time coming.

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Chapter 4 of DANCE OF THE PHOENIX
Written by ChanelleJoy
QUESTIONS
I flung myself through the door of my home. By this time, my body had calmed down and the shifting had stopped which was fortunate given the fact that my house was not empty.

“Eirwin!” Angie rushed towards me and grabbed me fiercely in her arms. “Thank goodness you’re alright!”

I fought for breath and leaned heavily on Angie to stop my legs from caving under me.

“You’re exhausted! Sit down, here.” She guided me to a chair at my small kitchen table and raced to get me a glass of water. I drank it down in a single gulp.

“Where were you?” Angie squealed. She was near to having a fit. “You didn’t show up for your shift. I tried to call you and when there was no answer I decided to just come on over to see if you were alright only, you weren’t here! I checked all over town but no one had seen you since you left the café yesterday afternoon and…” She stopped as she finally realised my state of dress. “What are you wearing?” I glanced down at myself. The robe that was now riddled with rips and tears hung open, revealing the skimpy nightgown.

I shrugged. “My pajamas?” I offered weakly.

Angie sat down opposite me and took my hands in hers. “Eirwin, what happened?”

Without warning, a laugh escaped my lips and I couldn’t stop. I laughed until tears poured down my cheeks and my ribs ached. Angie stared at me as though I had gone mad. For what seemed like the one-millionth time, I wondered if maybe I had. I could rock a straight-jacket… The visual image made me laugh even harder. The laughter died as Angie continued to stare at me, clearly perturbed and unsure what to do.

“I’m sorry, Ang. You wouldn’t believe my story even if I told you.” I shook my head with a wry smile. I wasn’t even sure I fully believed it. Maybe I had been drugged somehow and it had all been a hallucination. The only way I would ever know would be to go back there again, retrace my steps. It would be easy enough to do. The map was not only still seared onto my brain but I could now sense Kaido as though he were a part of me. I knew that no matter where he was, I would be able to find him. It should have felt invasive given that I knew he could also sense me. Instead, it made me feel safe.

“You’re not going to tell me?” Angie cried. “Do you have any idea how worried I have been? How worried everyone has been?” She took a deep breath. “Eirwin, you have to tell us. The police will be back here soon. They and half the town are out searching for you. I opted to stay here in case you showed up.”

I sighed. “I went for a walk in the forest yesterday after work and got lost. That’s all.”

Angie clearly didn’t believe me and eyed me skeptically. “You went for a walk in your nightgown?”

“Would you believe me if I said yes?”

“No," she answered bluntly.

“Of course you wouldn’t. Who would?” I mumbled quietly. “Angie…” I began.

“Go and get changed. It will only raise more suspicions if the police arrive to find you in that state. Quickly!” She pulled me to my feet and ushered me to my room. “They will be here in ten minutes and there are obviously things you don’t want anyone to know.” 

Before closing my door, she jabbed a finger in my face. “But don’t think for one moment that I am going to let it go easily. You have your secrets and I respect that however, there is only so much I am willing to ignore.” The door banged shut after her. She wasn’t angry with me. I knew Angie well enough by now to tell that her mood was a side effect of her concern.

The robe was a mess. I almost felt sorry that something so pretty had been ruined. I kicked it under the bed, and the nightgown with it – I would throw them away later – then grabbed a pair of shorts and a shirt. A quick braid tidied my hair and I went to rejoin Angie in the kitchen with minutes to spare. As the police walked in, Angie ran her hands through her wavy, chocolate brown locks, smoothed her clothes and flashed Officer Brandon Jakes a gorgeous smile. Angie had had a crush on him for longer than I had known her and I was convinced he felt the same yet, they continued to do this little dance with neither of them wanting to make the first move. He was handsome with his short dark hair and coffee coloured eyes, and his uniform shirt straining over broad shoulders and well defined arms. Despite his clean-cut, dreamy good looks, I couldn’t help but recall an even more ravishingly pulchritudinous and dazzling gentleman. Squashing the thought before I could blush, I focused on Officer Jakes.

“You gave us quite the scare, Eirwin,” he remarked once they had established I was unharmed. “Maybe just remember to let someone know where you’re going next time, ay?”

I nodded sheepishly. Thankfully, they had bought my story about simply getting lost in the forest. I hadn’t really been in Franklin all that long so it was perfectly plausible. 

“Sorry, Jakes,” I replied with just the right hint of bashfulness.

“Alright then, we’ll go let everyone know that you have been found and that you’re okay. Do you need anything?”

“No, thank you. I’ll be fine.” I stood to see them out the door.

Officer Jakes turned back. “Angie? You’ll be sticking around for a while, right?”

“Yeh, I’ll keep an eye on her,” Angie promised.

“Good.” Jakes grinned at her, his gaze lingering a moment then, with a wave he hopped into the patrol car with his partner, Officer Landen. Angie sighed dreamily as we watched them pull away and I went back inside to make some tea.

“Want some?” I asked Angie, indicating the kettle.

“Sure.” She watched me silently as I prepared the tea, an air of expectation about her. Should I tell her? I knew she wouldn’t push me to talk but Angie was a patient woman. She would simply wait me out until I caved.

“So, when are you going to ask Jakes out already?” I implored, feigning exasperation. 

Usually, the subject of Brandon Jakes was enough to distract her for hours. Now, she just looked at me cynically.

“That isn’t going to work this time, sweet heart.”

I sighed and dropped my head into my hands. We sat in silence, sipping our tea while I mulled over what to say.

“How far have you ventured into the forest?” I finally asked her.

“Um, I don’t know exactly. Pretty far, I guess.”

Taking a chance, I stepped out on a limb and asked another question. “Have you ever come across a castle?”

Angie blinked at me over her teacup. “I can’t say I have, no. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I… I, um, sort of found one.” I held my breath as I waited for that to sink in.

Her expression was nothing short of pessimistic. “You found a castle? In the Nantahala Forest?”

I nodded. “That’s where I was last night. I did get lost,” I professed adamantly, “and a man found me.” My cheeks immediately blossomed into a bright shade of crimson.

“Must have been some man,” Angie smirked, raising her eye brows. I don’t think she believed a thing I was saying.

“It’s true. You wanted to know what happened and I’m telling you. This man found me and I passed out. He must have carried me back to that castle because when I came to, I was lying in a luxurious bed in a room I’d never seen before.”

Angie studied me closely, a slight frown creasing her forehead as she chewed on her bottom lip. “I think I should take you to see Doc,” she repeated her suggestion from the day before. “Dizzy spells and now this… Maybe you were hallucinating. Have you started any new medications? Or, ah… Not that I would judge you if you did but…”

“I don’t take drugs,” I interjected. “And I haven’t started any new meds. I considered hallucinations as a possibility but, that doesn’t explain the nightgown and robe.”

“Hmm, true. You got me there.” I could almost see her brain working, the cogs slowly turning as she tried to comprehend my words. “Okay,” she continued. “Say you are telling the truth. What happened after that?”

Tentatively, I told her the whole story in chronological order. She listened, transfixed as I described the strange bird of fire.

“A phoenix,” she interrupted. “You’re talking about a phoenix.”

Phoenix. At the sound of that word, my body shuddered and my head began to spin. I felt drunk with immense power, caught in its grasp like a fly trapped in a spider’s web. “Oh no! No no no! Not again!”

As before, a bright, powerful light wrapped itself around me, flickering like flames. Angie almost fell flat as she leapt up in shock or fright – probably both – and bounded several paces away from me, exhaling in a barrage of expletives. Angie never swore. Any other time, I would have found it funny. Now, as I watched, feathers sprouted from my skin and a wonderful sensation gripped me with a warm, gentle caress. This can’t be happening! Straining with effort, I tried to force it to stop, willed it with all my might. Just when I thought I had lost the battle, the light faded and I was completely human again. Angie was huddled in the corner of my kitchen. Her face had lost all colour and she was trembling from head to toes.

“Angie…” I whispered. I was still shaking and I felt completely exhausted. Everything became hazy and I reached for Angie one last time before my head crashed to the table and my world was plunged into darkness.

************

I awoke in my own bed. I could hear two people having a quiet discussion outside my door. I recognized one voice as Angie’s.

“No, she doesn’t take drugs,” Angie was saying.

“What about any medications?” The other voice was male and not one I could put a face to.

“You would have to ask her. She did say she had not started taking anything new but I don’t know if she was already taking something else,” answered Angie.

My door swung open, revealing the owner of the male voice to be Doctor Norton, better known as Doc. “Ah, I see our patient is awake.” He smiled at me and his blue eyes sparkled. 

Doc was great. Everyone loved him. Despite being in his sixties, hardly any lines marked his cheery face and he still moved about with ease, making mobile visits to patients and running his clinic. Only the grey in his hair hinted at his mature years. 

“How are we feeling?” He sat on the edge of my bed to check my pulse as he spoke.

“I feel alright, actually.” I couldn’t believe Angie had called him after what she had witnessed. Should I be angry? No. What would be the point in that? She had done what she thought best under the given circumstances and to be honest, I probably would have done the same.

After a thorough examination and Doc’s assurance that I would be fine, he left, leaving behind strict instructions for plenty of rest and fluids. Angie saw him out and returned to my room, taking Doc’s place on the edge of my bed heaving a great sigh. “I’m sorry,” she said quietly, concentrating on her hands folded on her lap. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“It’s alright,” I assured her. After that, I didn’t know what to say. What had just transpired was not supposed to happen in real, everyday life. It was the stuff of fantasy and make-believe.

“So…” Angie started, glancing at me dubiously. “You’re, what? A shape shifter?”

Anxiety bloomed in my chest. Hearing her confirm what had transpired made the reality of it hit home. I couldn’t deny it anymore. “I don’t know what I am. Whatever this is, it started a while ago I think.”

“What do you mean?”

It was pointless to hide now. I told her everything; all about my life in Miami, how I had started to change and how it had all led to me moving here. The longer it went on, the crazier I sounded. I had to give Angie credit for listening so calmly.

“I don’t really know much about the phoenix myths and legends,” Angie admitted.

“So, are you saying that you actually believe me?” I asked incredulously.

“Not exactly, but, I can’t deny what I just witnessed. Maybe you have some foreign disease or something, who knows.”

“I don’t feel sick,” I informed her. “I actually feel pretty good, the best I have felt in a long time. In fact, I think I could even go to the party tonight. It would do us good to let our hair down and have some fun.”

Angie looked doubtful. “You heard what Doc said; plenty of rest and fluids. A party isn’t exactly restful. Besides, what if… um, what if it happens again?”

It was not hard to guess that she was referring to my shape shifting display. “It won’t.” I felt certain that it didn’t just happen spontaneously. There had to be a trigger of some kind. “Plus, we still have ages before we have to leave. I’ll rest until then.”

“Okay, well, I’ll stay here and we will see how you feel by this afternoon. In the meantime, why don’t we do some research? It might give us a bit of an idea about what’s happening to you?”

I had never been so grateful for a person in my life. “Sounds like a plan.”

So, for the rest of the morning we researched everything we could find on obscure diseases and illnesses. When that revealed nothing helpful, we moved onto the more far-fetched theories about phoenixes and shape shifters, though it was hard to take such research seriously. In the end, we didn’t really come up with much of a conclusion. 

“This is getting us nowhere,” Angie sighed in frustration. “If only there was someone else we could talk to.”

“Technically, there is,” I reminded her.

“Oh right, the recondite Kaido.” She cocked her head, considering the options. “Here is what I think we should do. Tomorrow, we will head into the forest together and see if we can find this castle of yours. How long do you think it took for you to make it back home when you left yesterday?”

“A few hours? I’m not sure. I just wanted to get home. But it couldn’t have been more than a few hours.” Had I really been able to run for that long though? I wasn’t as fit as I had once been.

“So, we should make it there by afternoon if we get an early start. Right, that’s what we will do. Now, how about we forget all this weirdness until then and watch a movie? I don’t know about you but I feel like my brain is going to implode.”

“Angie,” I called as she got up to put a movie in the DVD player. “Thank you. Really. You’re the best.”

“I know,” Angie acknowledged dramatically. “Make sure you don’t forget it.”

We both chuckled then settled back in my bed to watch the movie.

That afternoon, it started to rain and the party was rescheduled to the following weekend. Admittedly, I was quite relieved. Instead, Angie and I watched a couple more movies then went to bed so we could start out bright and early in the morning. My stomach flip-flopped around like a fish out of water, full of nerves. What would we find? Would we find anything at all? I buried myself deeper into my blankets and closed my eyes but sleep was a long time coming.

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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Reviews

Harry Situation Reviews: The Dark Tower

I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.

I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.

I shoot with my mind.

I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.

I kill with my heart.

Stephen King's masterpiece series finally gets the big screen adaptation with The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba as the Gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the elusive and sinister sorcerer Man in Black. 

A boy named Jake Chambers from New York seems to be having dreams about another world. They turn out to be clues to another dimension called Mid-World. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to Mid-World where he encounters a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, who is on a quest to reach the "Dark Tower" that resides in End-World. Yet a vicious sorcerer called the Man in Black hot on their trail, and the unlikely duo will find that their quest may be difficult to complete. I've spent my whole summer reading up the series to this moment. I've only gotten through the first three in the series but I feel that I'm prepared. I unfortunately wasn't prepared for this at all. This movie was awful.

Let's get the big issue out of the way. While I haven't read all the Dark Tower books I at least had a good idea what they were about what the general story was, based on the first three. I didn't have a fucking clue what the story for this one was. The bigger problem was that I didn't care because I wasn't invested in the story at all. 

Now I know what you're all wondering: is it a decent adaptation of the books? I'm gonna say no. They've seemed to take elements from all of the novels and try to mesh them into some Frankenstein freak of nature. Nothing seemed like it was out of the novels. Even the characters themselves, while the actors do a fine performance, are in no way identical to their book counterparts.

Don't get me wrong, I like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. But their characters pale in comparison to the books.

What's worse is that the fact that the movie is just boring. I was sitting in the theater just bored out of my mind. Hell I was so bored I actually had to check my phone only to find out that there was still twenty minutes of the movie left. I rarely do that!

The action was so boring. For a film with his much action I should be thrilled, but all the action sequences lacked any excitement. 

I will say one positive thing that got me smiling were the number of easter eggs from other works by Stephen King. There was a brief moment where a mom and son were walking their St. Bernard, a reference to Cujo. There was the remains of a carnival called Pennywise, a reference to Pennywise the Clown from IT. Seeing those did get a chuckle out of me.

Yet that's not enough to save the film. I don't think anything is. This movie has been in production for a decade, and this is the fucking end result we the audience gets. I may be new to this series but I feel like I too have been spat in the face by this fucking movie. Don't waste your time with this. Hell, I couldn't even finish it. The moment the good guy kills the bad guy and saves the kid - oops! Spoilers! Ah who fucking cares?!? Not like there was a surprise ending. If there was I surely didn't stick around for the credits. I was out the door while there was 5 minutes left. 

This is seriously one of the most disappointing movies I've seen all year. I mean it don't waste a fucking dollar or minute on this shit!

Go then, there are better movies than these.

                        Positives:                                  Negatives:

                       -Fine performances                   -Incoherent story

                       -Stephen King easter eggs         -Characters unrecognizable

                                                                       -Lame action

                                                                       -Incoherent writing

                                                                       -Disregards the books

                                                                       -Boring

                                                                       -10 years wasted

Final Grade: F

Can you believe they want to make a TV series off this too? God, Sony would just turn anything into a profit. It didn't work for them last time with The Emoji Movie!

So there's my review of The Dark Tower. Have you read the books? What were your thoughts on those? I know you haven't seen the movie so I won't bother asking. Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check back for more reviews in the future.

Best Quote:

Woman's voice: "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."

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Written by Harry_Situation in portal Reviews
Harry Situation Reviews: The Dark Tower
I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I aim with my eye.

I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father.
I shoot with my mind.

I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father.
I kill with my heart.

Stephen King's masterpiece series finally gets the big screen adaptation with The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba as the Gunslinger Roland Deschain and Matthew McConaughey as the elusive and sinister sorcerer Man in Black. 

A boy named Jake Chambers from New York seems to be having dreams about another world. They turn out to be clues to another dimension called Mid-World. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to Mid-World where he encounters a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, who is on a quest to reach the "Dark Tower" that resides in End-World. Yet a vicious sorcerer called the Man in Black hot on their trail, and the unlikely duo will find that their quest may be difficult to complete. I've spent my whole summer reading up the series to this moment. I've only gotten through the first three in the series but I feel that I'm prepared. I unfortunately wasn't prepared for this at all. This movie was awful.

Let's get the big issue out of the way. While I haven't read all the Dark Tower books I at least had a good idea what they were about what the general story was, based on the first three. I didn't have a fucking clue what the story for this one was. The bigger problem was that I didn't care because I wasn't invested in the story at all. 

Now I know what you're all wondering: is it a decent adaptation of the books? I'm gonna say no. They've seemed to take elements from all of the novels and try to mesh them into some Frankenstein freak of nature. Nothing seemed like it was out of the novels. Even the characters themselves, while the actors do a fine performance, are in no way identical to their book counterparts.

Don't get me wrong, I like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey. But their characters pale in comparison to the books.

What's worse is that the fact that the movie is just boring. I was sitting in the theater just bored out of my mind. Hell I was so bored I actually had to check my phone only to find out that there was still twenty minutes of the movie left. I rarely do that!

The action was so boring. For a film with his much action I should be thrilled, but all the action sequences lacked any excitement. 

I will say one positive thing that got me smiling were the number of easter eggs from other works by Stephen King. There was a brief moment where a mom and son were walking their St. Bernard, a reference to Cujo. There was the remains of a carnival called Pennywise, a reference to Pennywise the Clown from IT. Seeing those did get a chuckle out of me.

Yet that's not enough to save the film. I don't think anything is. This movie has been in production for a decade, and this is the fucking end result we the audience gets. I may be new to this series but I feel like I too have been spat in the face by this fucking movie. Don't waste your time with this. Hell, I couldn't even finish it. The moment the good guy kills the bad guy and saves the kid - oops! Spoilers! Ah who fucking cares?!? Not like there was a surprise ending. If there was I surely didn't stick around for the credits. I was out the door while there was 5 minutes left. 

This is seriously one of the most disappointing movies I've seen all year. I mean it don't waste a fucking dollar or minute on this shit!

Go then, there are better movies than these.

                        Positives:                                  Negatives:
                       -Fine performances                   -Incoherent story
                       -Stephen King easter eggs         -Characters unrecognizable
                                                                       -Lame action
                                                                       -Incoherent writing
                                                                       -Disregards the books
                                                                       -Boring
                                                                       -10 years wasted

Final Grade: F

Can you believe they want to make a TV series off this too? God, Sony would just turn anything into a profit. It didn't work for them last time with The Emoji Movie!

So there's my review of The Dark Tower. Have you read the books? What were your thoughts on those? I know you haven't seen the movie so I won't bother asking. Please be kind, leave a like and comment, and check back for more reviews in the future.

Best Quote:
Woman's voice: "The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed."
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