Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 15

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Timmy and Petrina are able to hold off being eaten, meanwhile, Sundance had to make a tough choice between staying with Astralyn or leaving her behind to save Timmy.


Episode 15: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part VII- The Clash at Bullshead

The light raced down the hallways of the maze with Sundance trailing behind it. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was growing tired. Each time his feet hit the ground it was a miracle that they pushed him onto the next step. Maybe the thoughts of Timmy propelled him forward, fighting against the thoughts of Astralyn that would make him turn around. He thought that if he saved one maybe he could save the other at the same time.

The light flickered and Sundance suddenly knew that the center of the maze wasn’t too far. He looked at the column of bright yellow light emanating from the center and saw that it was indeed close. A sudden roar from the minotaur reminded him that it, too, was close.

He heard the minotaur sniffing the air and then the quick stomping of feet. It was onto them. The light sped up and darted through the maze. Sundance ran after it, never taking his eyes off of it. A few minutes later, Sundance found himself standing in the center of the maze. The yellow column of light spewed up from the floor like a geyser, covering him. The little yellow light floated above him and then zipped behind the light column. Sundance followed it and saw Petrina and Timmy hanging from the wall above him.

“Timmy!”

Timmy lifted his head and opened his eyes. They widened with joy when he saw Sundance standing below him. “Captain! Is it really you?”

“Of course it is!” Sundance saw that their hands were tied. He pulled out his laser pistol and prepared to shoot them down. Timmy and Petrina winced in fear for their hands. Sundance aimed the pistol at the thick ropes when a loud roar sounded. Sundance spun around and saw that the minotaur was standing behind him.

“Uh oh, who ordered the steak?” Sundance turned his pistol to the minotaur instead and shot it in the shoulder. The minotaur roared, but the shot didn’t seem to faze it. It kept coming towards him, axe in hand. Sundance walked backwards around the room; the minotaur matched him step for step. They circled the room twice, Sundance occasionally firing upon the creature. No effect each time.

“A little help,” Sundance said to no one in particular.

The small yellow light buzzed around his head. Sundance waved it away. The light pulsed brightly and Sundance, sensing its urgency, stopped swatting at it. He held out his right hand as the light instructed. When the light landed on it, it grew brighter, and heavier. When the light faded, it turned into a golden sword. Sundance was surprised.

The minotaur did not like this. It raised its axe above its head and brought it down upon Sundance. The captain raised the sword and blocked the attack. Sundance was once again surprised at how strong the minotaur was and how  well he was fending off the attack.

The minotaur retrieved his axe and tried again. With each attack, Sundance was able to block it. This frustrated the bull to no end. When it swung the axe low enough, Sundance jumped over it.

Sundance thought while deflecting each attack was good, he wanted to inflict some damage. The minotaur may be strong, but it was slow. After he deflected another attack, Sundance ran between its legs and cut its left hoof. The minotaur roared in pain. Sundance made quick work of the right hoof as well. The minotaur tried its best to step on him, but Sundance quickly zipped out from underneath it. He had hoped to do more damage than that, but he wasn’t exactly sure how one went about felling a twenty foot man-beast.

The minotaur hunched down and let out a mighty yell. It clutched its axe and prepared for another attack. Sundance dared it to give it a shot. The minotaur ran towards him, emitting a battle cry of desperation. Sundance ran between its legs and emerged on the other side. The minotaur looked irritated. It turned around and roared again, voicing its displeasure. Sundance thought it was going to attack again, but instead it looked behind him.

Sundance looked back and saw four tiny minotaurs emerge with Astralyn in tow. She was unconscious and being dragged by her feet. He looked back at the minotaur and glared. “Wrong move, beefcake!” He gripped the sword with both hands and growled as he raced towards the giant bull.

The minotaur raised its axe and swung downward. Sundance hoped that it would do that. He jumped to the left and the blade landed where he had been. As the minotaur tried to pull the axe up, Sundance jumped onto its arm. By the time it realized what was happening, Sundance was already on its shoulder. The minotaur abandoned the axe and tried to pull Sundance off. It couldn’t because he was in the middle of the large human-looking shoulder blades.

The sword started to flash and Sundance knew what he needed to do. He pointed the sword blade down and plunged it deep into the back of the minotaur’s neck. With a quick golf swing, the blade separated the head from its neck, sending it onto the floor below. It collected in a puddle of dark red blood. Sundance rode the body to the floor as it sank onto its knees and then finally flat on the ground.

“That’s what I call a job well done,” Sundance said, climbing off the body.

“Great job, Captain!” Timmy shouted jubilantly. “I’d clap, but I’m a little tied up!”

The floor shook as the walls suddenly started to shrink. Timmy and Petrina were safely lowered to the floor. Sundance swiftly cut their ropes off. Timmy immediately gave Sundance a big hug.

With their master gone, the tiny minotaurs flung themselves into the bright column of light, disintegrating on impact.

Astralyn woke up and rubbed her head. “What in the world happened?”

Before anyone could answer, there was a bright yellow light and then they were gone.

——————————————–

Sundance rubbed his eyes. As the light faded, he was able to see that he was back on the StarTango. He stood up and saw Astralyn, Timmy, and Petrina had made it back as well. The Minos Cube sat on the floor, right where they left it. Sundance bent down to pick it up. Chucking the thing into space was a mighty good idea. Right as he was about to touch it, it suddenly turned into a pile of dust.

“What the…” Sundance uttered. This woke up Timmy and Astralyn.

Astralyn looked at the dust and then Sundance’s face of shock. “What happened?”

“It just turned to dust,” Sundance replied. “The cube, I was going to throw out the airlock and then POOF.”

From the ashes rose a small yellow light. Sundance recognized it at once. He offered it his hand. It floated to it and then the light transformed into a radiant woman with long flowing blonde hair in a white dress. She floated over to Sundance and kissed him full on the lips. She smiled at him as she floated away. The light faded away, taking the image of the woman with it. Timmy and Astralyn just stared at the space where the woman had been.

“Umm, who was that?” Sundance asked, rubbing his lips.

“That was… Princess Ariadne,” Astralyn replied, amazed.

“Right.” Sundance stood dazed. After about a minute of awkward silence, Timmy tapped Sundance on the shoulder.

“Should we get back to New Earth?”

“Right after we drop Petrina off at Destin.” Sundance slowly turned toward the cockpit. He sat down in the pilot’s seat and turned off the autopilot. “So much for gas money and breakfast, huh?” He chuckled to himself. With the Minos Cube gone, the idea of selling it went out the window. As he flew the ship back to Destin, he was unaware of the dark presence watching him.

End of Story 2

Onward to Episode 16

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Heroes of Lunde, Episode 6

You, Me, and the Demon, Part 3

Quil awoke when he heard a familiar voice. He found himself in a black space with no light. He strained to hear something, anything, but other than the voice that had woken him, there were no sounds. His eyes were itchy. He went to rub them, but found that his hands were restrained. His legs were also restrained. Just where in the world was he? Where was Jaco? Was it his voice he heard? How he wished that he could hear it again. It would be nice to hear someone familiar in this dark place. He didn’t know what to do. He bet that the Heroes were trying to find him. It was only a matter of time before they came for him. He just had to hang on until then. Until then… 

*** 

Mistress L was in her kitchen baking cinnamon raisin muffins when she heard something crash in her dark chamber. She wanted to run in there right away, but she needed to take the muffins out in less than a minute or else her oven would burn them. She hoped everything would be alright in there until after the muffins were done. 

The timer dinged. The muffins were done. She opened the oven and pulled out two trays of deliciousness. She set them on the stove and turned on the overhead fan to cool. She took off her oven mitts and set them next to the trays. Now it was time to see what was going on. 

She hummed a jaunty tune as she traversed the hallway to the chamber. She entered and turned on the light. She gasped as she found the prince of Lunde and a naked pale man standing in her summoning circle. She was prepared to blast the prince, but at the last second, she remembered that the prince was currently possessed by Kendryl. She relaxed and approached them. 

“Kendryl, have you done it?” she asked, looked at the smooth looking man. “Is this him?” 

“It is indeed,” Kendryl said, beaming with pride.  

The man turned to Mistress L and grinned. “I must thank you for bringing me topside, Mistress. I’m glad that you have such competent people to assist you.” He made a subtle gesture to Kendryl. 

“Only the best for you, my lord.” Mistress L bowed in reverence. 

“You suck up well.” Darkness gave a small laugh. “I appear to have lost my clothes during the summoning process. Do you have anything I can wear?” 

“I have a few spare robes.” Mistress L left the room for a few minutes and returned with a black tunic. “It’s a woman’s cut, but I’m sure you’ll make it look good.” 

“I’ll take it. Anything to get my wang covered,” Darkness said as he put on the tunic. 

“And what a magnificent wang it is, my lord,” Kendryl added. Mistress L covered her face in embarrassment. 

Darkness grinned at Kendryl. “You need to brush up on your sucking up skills, my friend.” He patted him on the shoulder. “Mistress, are you ready to get started?” 

“Yes, of course.” Mistress L was so quick to please that she realized that she didn’t actually know what he had in mind. She wasn’t sure if she should ask for fear that she would appear clueless, thus him losing faith in her. She couldn’t risk that. So, she just nodded her head and smiled. 

Darkness sniffed the air and smiled like a child. “Is that cinnamon raisin I smell?” 

“Yes. I was baking muffins,” Mistress L replied. “They’re cooling right now. You’re more than welcome to have one.” 

“I definitely will.” Darkness rubbed his hands in anticipation.  

The three of them stood in the chamber for a few moments. None of them sure what was supposed to happen next. They all looked from one to the other wondering who was going to make the first move. Mistress L wondered if she should go get Darkness a muffin right away or should she get business rolling, whatever that was. She still didn’t want to ask. 

Finally, Darkness cleared his throat and said, “I think I shall have a muffin now.” 

“Oh good! Right this way.” Mistress L was relieved. She led them into the kitchen where she promptly served them muffins. They were quite good. Evil would have to wait until after the enjoyment of the muffins.  

*** 

The Heroes and Chrys’ fleet of troops returned to Lunde with their tails between their legs. They immediately went to report the bad news to King Oleander. The king had been eating dinner when they arrived, so they had to wait until he was finished. They all took a collective deep breath when the king arrived in the throne room, he was still wearing his barbecue stained bib. 

Oleander sat down on his throne and burped. “What news do you have?” 

Commander Pendrell stepped forward and bowed. “My liege, I am afraid to report that we have failed to apprehend Prince Jonquil. He killed most of our soldiers and destroyed two villages and their people.” 

Jaco started to interrupt on Quil’s behalf, but he himself was interrupted. 

“And furthermore, we have not been able to locate Prince Chrysanthemum after the scrimmage  with Prince Jonquil. They are both missing in action.” 

Oleander frowned. He was not happy with these turn of events. How could his two sons fight each other like this? More importantly, why would Quil suddenly turn against the crown and its people? He loved Quil a lot, but he knew that there would have to be severe consequences for his actions. No amount of sweet talking will appease the people who will most definitely want blood. Even he would have issue the harshest punishment, which was death. 

“What do the Heroes have to say?” Oleander turned to them and did not look happy at all. 

Andrada stepped forward and bowed. “In the process of defeating a demon from the underworld, Prince Jonquil was possessed by a demon. That is the reason why things have gone awry. Using Quil’s body, he has committed atrocious acts that Quil should not be blamed for. And in so doing, the demon has also released the Lord of Darkness.” 

King Oleander’s face lightened a few shades of brown from hearing this. “His plans are most sinister indeed. Have you a plan to thwart them?” 

“We are working on it now, sire,” Andrada replied. She didn’t know what to do, but she had faith that they would find something to fix the situation.  

“And we will continue to attempt to locate Prince Chrysanthemum,” the second in command added. 

“Keep me informed of everything.” 

“Yes, sire!” Andrada and Pendrell said. They both bowed and exited the throne room. 

Once the doors were closed, Everett let out a sigh. “That could have gone worse.” 

“For real,” Jaco added. “I thought he was going to have us hanged!” 

“Oh, that wouldn’t have happened.” Andrada patted Jaco on the back. “He still needs us to find Quil and turn him back to normal.” 

“Just how do we plan on doing that?” Everett asked. “As I recall, none of us are experts on exorcisms.” 

“There are such things as libraries, Everett.” Andrada had the idea to go study up on how to perform exorcisms. This was met with a lot of incredulity and skepticism. “I think we could do it! We just have to believe. That’s the key point of magic, isn’t it, Reese?” 

Reese shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose. I just trust in the spirits that they will come to my aid when I need them. I guess that’s belief. But this is inherent to magic users. The rest of you are not magic users. How do you expect magic to bend to your will if it does not flow within you?” 

Jaco, Andrada, and Everett just blinked at her for a few moments before Andrada said, “Through the power of positive thinking, Reese! That’s how! Come on, let’s get to the library before it closes.” 

“Or something else terrible happens,” Everett added. 

Reese wasn’t sold on this plan, but it was the best they had. She sighed and followed the others out of the castle. She hoped that Quil was doing alright wherever he was. “Hang on, we’re coming,” she said under her breath. 

*** 

Night had finally fallen. The moon was out in full force. Fortunately, it was not a full moon or that would have caused some trouble for a certain hero. It was the harvest moon, whatever that meant. Kendryl and Darkness stood on the balcony of the fortress Mistress L lived in. The fortress was built into a black mountain which resided deep within the Dark Continent. The cool night air was refreshing on their skin. The fortress had gotten warm since the mistress was baking more muffins that their request.  

Darkness closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of cinnamon riding on the breeze. It was much better than the fire and brimstone he had been smelling for ages. He had been cast away centuries by The Powers That Be for trying to create his own version of Hell on the surface. He spent many years plotting his revenge. He thought of different sorts of ideas to punish the surface world, but he ultimately went back to his original plan of recreating Hell topside. It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. He knew The Powers That Be had weakened over the centuries to almost nothing. It would be much easier to carry out his plan now. There didn’t appear to be anyone who could stop him. The time was now. 

“Whatcha thinkin’ about?” Kendryl asked, tired of the silence. 

“I was thinking of where a good place to resurrect the underworld,” Darkness said. He looked up at the moon and took a deep breath. It was beautiful. He looked forward to seeing the moon every night now that he was free. “The above world is so big. It’s hard to choose where to begin.” 

“Oh, I know a good place!” Kendryl placed his hand on Darkness’ shoulder again. When Darkness looked at his hand, Kendryl withdrew it right away. “Sorry.” 

“Tell me of this place.” 

“You’re going to love it.” Kendryl’s devilish grin went from ear to ear. 

*** 

The Heroes sat at a large wooden table that was covered in ancient books in the Lunde Municipal library. Everett and Reese were mostly the ones doing the reading. Andrada and Jaco merely watched them, hoping one of them would find something useful. 

The sun had set hours ago, and they were no closer to understanding the art of exorcisms than they were when they started. Most of the text was written in a language that they didn’t understand. Even Reese had a hard time parsing some of the material. She set her current book down on the table hard, causing a loud clap. Some librarians shushed her from somewhere off in the distance. 

“This is turning up nothing,” Reese said. “We should be focusing on finding Quil.” She softly closed the book and tapped it to make sure it had shut all of the way. “Quil is out there somewhere scared and alone. He needs us.” 

“That’s why we’re here,” Andrada said. “When we find him, we’ll perform the exorcism spell on him. Remember?” 

Reese nodded her head, withholding her judgment on the validity of the plan. 

“I agree with Reese, though. He’s out there. We should be looking for him.” Jaco stood up and pondered using his nose to find his beloved again. He knew that it would be a long shot because Quil could be God knows where, but he needed to do something productive. 

“You don’t have to worry about Quil,” Everett said, uncharacteristically cheerful. “I have a feeling that he’ll come to us. And when he does, we’ll hit him with this.” He set the book he was reading on the table in front of Andrada and Jaco. Everyone leaned in to see what Everett was highlighting. It was a stunning spell, meant to render someone immobile for a matter of minutes. “It’s not exactly an exorcism spell, but it’s something that should keep him from killing us long enough to get close to him.” 

“Everett, that’s brilliant!” Andrada cheered. The librarians shushed her. “This is great!” she whispered.  

“Okay, we stun him, but then what?” Jaco was unsure how this was going to work. 

Everett looked Jaco in the eyes and blinked them in a flirtatious way. “Then you work your magic to reach him and pull him out of whatever trance he’s in.” 

Jaco scrunched his face. “But I don’t have magic.” 

Everett rolled his eyes and sighed. “Your love magic!” He saw the light come on in Jaco’s eyes. “You will have to sweet talk to your sweetheart, but you’ll have to work fast. The spell only works for about three minutes.” 

Jaco wasn’t sure if he could accomplish the task in under three minutes. It usually took Jaco thirty minutes to wake Quil up in the mornings. How was this going to work?  

Unfortunately, Jaco didn’t have a lot of time to ponder that question. He felt the floor beneath him tremble ever so slightly. It was so slight that he doubted that he even felt anything. He looked to the others to see if they had felt it too. From their faces full of concern, he gathered that his mind wasn’t just playing tricks on him. Before he could ask what the hell that was, the floor trembled again, stronger this time. 

“That was unsettling,” Everett said. “I think that’s our cue.” 

Jaco sniffed the air and it hit him, Quil’s scent. He was close! “He’s here!” He took off running outside to find him. Everett and the others joined him.  

A librarian stopped Everett and cleared her throat. “You’re going to need to check that out if you plan on leaving with it.”  

Everett looked at her incredulously. “Are you fucking kidding me? The ground is shaking, probably a sign of the impending Apocalypse, and you’re worried about checking a book out?” The librarian’s lips became a thin slit and her brow furrowed. The dwarf rolled his eyes and he reached for his wallet. He produced his library card and handed it and the book to the librarian. She examined the card closely before writing down the information on it. She stamped the first page of the book and handed it and his card back to him. 

“You have a good night,” she said. 

“Yeah, whatever.” Everett huffed and left the library. The others were still outside waiting for him. They were all looking at the people running in the streets panicking. It wasn’t a pretty sight. 

The ground hadn’t let up with the quaking. In fact, it was getting more intense by the minute. Pretty soon, buildings would start to collapse if the quaking got bad enough. What was happening? The Heroes were sure that Quil was at the center of it. 

“Where is he?” Andrada asked Jaco. He nodded his head and knew what to do. 

He transformed his nose into a wolf’s and sniffed the air. It quickly picked up Quil’s scent and led the way toward the royal castle. The closer he got, the more worried he became. Could he have gone home? Was he already better? He hoped the answer was yes, but he knew there was a slim chance of this. 

The trail stopped at the royal castle. The Heroes looked upward at the highest tower and saw Darkness and Quil. It appeared that Darkness was casting a spell of some kind. 

“Ten guesses what’s causing the quakes, and the first nine don’t count,” Everett said. 

“We have to get up there,” Andrada said, stating the obvious. 

Jaco knew the way. He and Quil had spent many nights up there stargazing. He led the team through the front gates and into the main foyer. There they met by Queen Jasmine. She was sending the staff to their safehouses. She acknowledged them and nodded. 

“Quil is doing this, isn’t he?” Jasmine asked. 

“I think so,” Jaco said. “But we’re going to get him back right now. Do not worry.” He hugged her tightly, hoping to instill some of his faith into her. She looked into his eyes and felt his strength and confidence. “Now get to a safe place. Things might get bad before they get better.”  

“Bring him back to me, Jaco.” Jasmine wished the Heroes the best of luck before she ran away. 

Jaco turned to his teammates and said, “You heard her, let’s bring him back!” The others cheered. They continued their journey to the high tower.   

*** 

Darkness and Kendryl were having a grand ole time on the tower. Kendryl was launching fireballs down at the king’s army while Darkness concentrated on his spell. It was only a matter of minutes before the underworld would rise to meet the surface world. He ignored Kendryl’s hooting and hollering while he chanted the ancient words. He raised his hands to help aid in his quest. It wasn’t necessary, but it assisted him with the image of his goal. He could feel it coming closer. The ground was becoming more unstable with each passing second. Soon pieces of it broke away creating chasms that led directly below. People who were unfortunate enough to be near the rifts were pulled down into them. This brought a smile to Darkness’ face. He couldn’t give into his glee too much or he’d lose his concentration. Tonight, for sure, was the best night of his life so far. 

It was all fun and games until The Heroes showed up. They came out of the staircase and stood before their enemies with their weapons drawn. Darkness called to Kendryl to deal with them. His minion was too busy killing the king’s men to hear him. Darkness risked a nudge in Kendryl’s ribs to get his attention. The demon spun around and saw the Heroes.  

“Oh, you’re here. I wasn’t expecting you so soon,” Kendryl said. “I suppose you’re here for this?” He rubbed Quil’s body sensually. “Is that right, lover boy?” 

Jaco gritted his teeth. “You will release him or…” 

“Or you’ll tear me apart?” Kendryl chuckled. “You can’t touch me without harming him. I’m untouchable!” 

It was then that he received a sharp pain in his shoulder. He cried out as he stared down at the arrow implanted in it. “What the fuck, man?” He looked at Everett, who had an amused smirk on his face. 

“Not so untouchable now, are ya?” Everett readied his crossbow for another shot. Andrada pushed it down.  

“We don’t need to shoot him full of holes to get our point across,” Andrada said.  

“Aww…” Everett pretended to sound disappointed. “But he’d look so pretty full of holes.” 

Kendryl growled as he pulled the arrow from his shoulder. He snapped it in half and glared menacingly at the Heroes. “That’s it! You’re all toast!” He summoned most of his energy to create a large fireball. “I hope you like barbecue!” He launched the ball at them. 

Reese stepped in front of the team and summoned the winds to aid her. A blast of wind set up a shield between them and the fireball. The ball enlarged for a bit as it collided with the shield. Reese waved her right hand to the left and the shield matched the size of the fireball. There was a struggle for supremacy as both she and Kendryl tried to overpower the other. 

Andrada turned to Everett and said, “Read the spell now!” 

Everett took out the library book out of his satchel and turned to the page he dog eared. He cleared his throat and in his deepest voice, he read the words aloud. He looked up every once in a while to check to see if it was working. It didn’t appear to be doing anything at all. He surmised it was because he didn’t have any magical properties, but he kept trying. 

“Louder, Everett,” Jaco commanded. 

Everett wanted to reply that he was practically shouting, but he couldn’t interrupt the flow of the words or else something bad would happen. He just continued reading. 

The power struggle continued until Reese finally issued on last push of power. The shield expanded wide enough to knock Kendryl over and have the fireball explode in his face. The winds dissipated and went their separate ways, leaving Reese standing triumphantly.  

Kendryl sat up and wiped the sweat off his face. He gave Reese and evil glare for a moment, and then looked to Darkness. He was still doing his thing. As long as he could keep the Heroes occupied, then Darkness could complete his task. He slowly stood up and pondered what other things he could do to distract them. 

Andrada caught on to Kendryl’s plan and made a move for Darkness. Kendryl reached out with a force wave and knocked her over before she could approach him. Andrada stood up and shouted a few expletives before she tried again. Kendryl prepared another launch, but he saw that Jaco was making his move. He had to pick a target. He didn’t want Andrada to reach Darkness, but he really didn’t want to get tackled by the wolf boy either. He closed his eyes and force waved Jaco. In his mind, he apologized to Darkness. 

Jaco fell backward into Reese and Everett. Reese helped him up and brushed off any dirt. Jaco turned to Everett, who was reading his poor little heart out, and took the book from him. “It’s not working.” He handed the book to Reese. “You try it.” Reese started to object, but Jaco shoved the book into her chest. “You have magic, he doesn’t. Just do it.” 

Reese felt that she didn’t have much of a choice, so she began to read. The results were instant. Kendryl was of the mind to go for Andrada himself, but he found it difficult to move. Jaco grinned as he saw this. It was working! He had a resurgence of hope. Just a little bit more and Kendryl would be completely immobile. 

Meanwhile, Andrada made her move against Darkness. She went to tackle him, but Darkness caught her movement out of the corner of his eye and blocked her with a spell. She stumbled backward a few steps, but she got right back up. She was tired of being stopped by magic forces. Why couldn’t anyone just have a normal fist fight anymore? 

Darkness attempted to keep his magic going despite the small distraction, but he found that he would not be left alone as long as Andrada remained focused on him. He sighed and ceased the spell he was casting. He turned his full undivided attention to the warrior princess. He planned on making sure that she would regret bothering him for the rest of her life, however short that would be. 

He gave her a head nod, a signal that he was ready to begin the fight. She returned the gesture. Then they both rushed at each other, she with her sword at the ready, he with a rod he materialized out of the aether. Their weapons clashed in the center and they glared at each other as they joined together. 

“You can’t possibly hope to defeat me, girl,” Darkness said, thick with condescension. 

“Could we not do the talking thing? That’d be great!” Andrada jutted her leg out and kicked Darkness’ legs out from underneath him. “And don’t call me ‘girl’.” She took her sword and stabbed him in the chest. Instead of a shrill cry like she was expecting, Darkness let out a crazy, maniacal laugh. She gave him a quizzical look as Darkness melted away in a black, viscous goo puddle. She pulled her sword out and watched the goo drip down her blade. “Gross!” 

The goo spilled away from her and then reformed back into a corporeal body. Darkness’s face was the last thing to form. It was twisted and evil with its dark black eyes blinking into existence. It had an evil smirk stretched across its lips. It made Andrada felt queasy. Maybe he was right about not being able to defeat him. She suddenly had second thoughts about continuing to engage him in battle. She knew that she needed to keep him busy, but was it worth the possibility of losing her lunch? 

The decision to continue to fight was answered as Darkness snapped his fingers and trapped her in a bubble surrounded by lightning bolts.

“Goddammit,” she said. The bubble was large enough for her to stand tall, until the bubble began to shrink, the lightning bolts growing closer to her. She ducked down as far as she could without being zapped. 

“I wish I had fucking magic powers,” she admitted. There wasn’t anything she could do but hope that something intervened. 

Reese continued to read the spell over and over until Kendryl was finally frozen in place. He fell backward and landed hard on the floor. Jaco raced to him and picked him up in his lap. 

“Come on, Quil. You’ve got to be in there. Snap out of it!” Jaco pleaded. 

“He can’t hear you,” Kendryl said through his teeth. 

Jaco ignored him. “Quil, you’ve got to wake the fuck up, man! Come back to me! Please!” He waited for a sign that Quil heard him. Kendryl’s snickering was the only response. He looked to Everett for help; the dwarf only shrugged his shoulders. Jaco felt helpless as he held his beloved in his arms. Was that demon going to stay in Quil forever? Would they have to kill Quil in order to kill the demon? 

*** 

Quil had drifted off to sleep again. He felt very tired for some reason. It didn’t feel like a natural kind of fatigue. It was oppressive, heavy, and seemed deliberate. He wanted to fight it, but he wasn’t sure that he had the strength. He was alone in a dark place and had no visual landmarks to indicate where he was. Maybe he should just continue to sleep. He pondered this for a while before he heard the voice again. It was familiar to him and warm. He wanted to find out where it was coming from. He tried to move, but he was still restrained. He sighed and resigned himself to immobility. 

“Quil…” said the voice. “You’ve got to wake the fuck up, man!” 

“I’m trying. I’m so tired,” Quil replied.  

“Come back to me.” 

“I want to…” He really wanted to. If only he wasn’t tied up. It was so heavy. He was so tired.  

“You have to fight it.” 

He didn’t have the energy. 

“You have the power. Only you can do it,” the voice pleaded. “I love you!” 

Quil felt the importance of these words. The voice was full of sorrow and pain. It was distressed about something. He wanted to help the voice; it needed his assistance. He dug deep and found the energy he needed to wriggle against his restraints. He felt a warm feeling emerge from his hands and feet and in an instant, they were free of their bonds.  

“Ha!” he celebrated. He stood up and flexed his fingers and toes. It felt great to have them back. Now it was time to find out where the voice was coming from.  

He walked, or at least he thought he was walking through the dark space until he found a small wooden chest underneath a golden light. He approached it and knelt before it. There was a lock on the lid. He merely touched it and the lock melted away. The lid opened and a bright golden light shone in his face, blinding him. When the light died down, he looked inside the chest and found a small doll. It was dressed like him down to the blue and silver uniform. There was a red cloth covering the doll’s head. He attempted to take it off, but an electric shock kept him from doing so. He dropped the doll back into the chest.   

From the chest rose the demon he had fought the night before. It floated above him and stared him down with his glowing red and orange eyes. “Your friends are trying so hard to save you. It’s almost heartwarming. It’s also very pathetic.” 

His friends? They were coming for him. This filled him with hope and elation. They hadn’t abandoned him to this place. Maybe it was their voices he heard; it had to be. He felt his powers welling up from his belly. He harnessed it and prepared to do battle. 

“You can’t keep me here anymore! I will be free!” Quil shouted. 

“You’re too weak to fight me,” Kendryl said. “I’ve seen to it. I’m going to be you for the rest of your unnatural life!” 

Quil gave a short laugh and said, “That’s where you’re wrong!” He activated his powers and his hands lit up with pink light. He uttered a word and a pink blast shot out and enveloped Kendryl. The demon released an ear splitting scream as his image burned away. When Quil thought he was good and toasty, he stopped the attack. The demon spun in the air, slowly dwindling away. 

“How could you do this?” Kendryl whispered. “How could you defeat me?” 

“That’s the power of love, honey!” Quil created a pink energy bow and launched a pink arrow straight at Kendryl’s heart. When it struck him, Kendryl shattered into many crispy pieces that floated upward toward a tiny white light Quil didn’t notice before. That appeared to be the way out. He felt his body float upward. He was finally free! 

*** 

Jaco held Quil in his arms feeling hopeless. He wasn’t sure what else to do. The spell was due to wear off any moment. He just closed his eyes and prayed to the Gods that Quil would wake up. He opened them when he heard Quil exhale. He saw black wisps of smoke escape his mouth and float up into the night sky. The winds came and swept it up and away.  

Quil opened his eyes and the first thing he saw was Jaco. He smiled and reached for him. “I knew it was you!” He sat up and kissed Jaco right on the lips. They embraced as their tongues met in the middle. The kiss tasted sweet. It might have to go down in the book for one of the best kisses they’ve ever had. 

Reese clapped in celebration. She handed the book back to Everett, who promptly stashed it away. “I love happy endings.” 

“Uh, a little help!” Andrada shouted to their right. This got everyone’s attention. There were still things happening! Andrada was on her hands and knees, bent forward trying to avoid being shocked. 

“Princess!” Reese summoned her earthen war hammer in her left hand and instantly threw it at Darkness. The Dark Lord dodged it as it flew by his head. He gave her a withering look that said that he would deal with her when he was done with Andrada. Reese only returned the look with a smile. She watched as the war hammer curved its path and swung back around. It successfully smacked Darkness in the back of the head. He lost his concentration and the spell on Andrada disappeared, allowing her to stand up again. 

“Thanks, Reese!” Andrada gripped her sword tightly and rushed Darkness while he was still reeling from the assault. “And off with your head!” She swung her sword with all of her might and struck Darkness’ head, cutting it clean off. The head fell to the floor and rolled around a bit before Andrada stepped on it. She quickly regretted this as the head melted into a puddle of black goo. “Oh man! I should have seen that coming.”  

The goo tried to slither away, but it was suddenly frozen. Andrada looked up to see that Jaco and Quil had stopped making out. Quil had his right hand out emanating his power. The goo was lifted up from underneath Andrada’s foot and collected in a black ball in mid air. He pointed at Darkness’ body and it liquefied into the same black goo. It joined the smaller ball and formed a bigger one.  

“You’ve caused enough trouble for today!” Quil closed his eyes and uttered a banishing spell using his power and the combined strength of his fellow wizards. In a small flash of red light, the dark ball was no more. 

The ground below immediately stopped shaking and sealed up the cracks. Hell was no longer on its way up. Lunde was safe now. The Heroes relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. It had been a rough twenty four hours. Everyone was ready for bed. 

“I knew that you would beat that stupid demon,” Jaco said, hugging Quil. “I never had a doubt in my mind.” 

Andrada gave him an incredulous look complete with a raised eyebrow. “Oh, yeah. He kept the faith the whole time.” Jaco stuck his tongue out at her.  

“Let’s go home,” Everett said. Everyone agreed and headed down the stairs.  

On the way down, Quil had the nagging feeling that they were forgetting something. He thought hard about what it could be. The thought was just beyond his reach. He decided not to stress out about it too much. He’d remember what it was in the morning. Right now, it was time to rest. He followed his friends down the stairs, looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep. 

***

After hours of traveling through the rocky landscape, Chrys sat down on a rotting log and wiped the sweat off his brow. He didn’t know where he was, but it was hotter than hell. This place had two suns that didn’t seem to set. He grumbled something about stupid magic users under his breath. He just hoped that when everything was said and done someone would remember him and come get him. He hoped that it would be soon. 

*** 

It had been three hours since Kendryl and Darkness left the fortress. Mistress L hadn’t heard from them in a long time. She feared that something inevitably went wrong. She hadn’t anticipated anything messing up because the Lord of Darkness was a professional and very powerful. There was no way that he could have fallen to the Heroes. 

She grabbed her talkie and called the number Kendryl had called from. The line rang for a minute before it connected.  

“Hello?” said a groggy voice on the other end. 

“Kendryl, is that you?” she asked. 

“Ken who?” 

“Kendryl.” 

“I… there’s no Ken here. I think you have the wrong number.” Then the line disconnected. 

Mistress L hung up and sighed. It appeared that the prince was back to normal. Then Kendryl and most likely Darkness were dead. Another fool proof plan had bitten the proverbial dust. She sighed and set the talkie down. She was not looking forward to reporting to the rest of the members of the Dark Circle what happened. They were not going to like her track record as of late.  

There had to be something she could do before she had to report to them. Maybe she could whip up some kind of plan that will rid her of the Heroes once and for all. She thought long and hard about it before an idea popped into brain. She knew of three sisters who owed her a favor. Yes, she could get them to do her dirty work for her. She got out her talkie and proceeded to make the call. She hoped that they were still up at this hour. She also hoped that they could be bribed with the promise of cinnamon raisin muffins. 

Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 14

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Astralyn and Sundance received a clew, which guided them through the maze, giving them insight. Meanwhile Timmy and Petrina watched in horror as Daniel fell prey to the minotaur’s hunger, and Timmy is next.


Episode 14: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part VI- Running of the Bull

The minotaur looked Timmy up and down, trying to decide whether it wanted to eat him or Petrina. It took a deep breath and breathed in Timmy’s scent, it was pleasing. Then it moved over to Petrina and sniffed her. Yes, this one would do nicely for now.

Petrina slowly opened her eyes and when she saw the minotaur in her face she screamed. It jumped back for a moment and then it reached out to grab her.

“Hey! No, over here!” Timmy shouted.

The minotaur brought its eyes to Timmy. Its cold, steely gaze sent chills down Timmy’s body.

“You don’t want to eat her,” Timmy continued. “She’s not very tasty and she’s high in fat.”

“Excuse me?” Petrina said, taking time out of screaming.

The minotaur moved towards Timmy as if it understood what he was saying. “Oh, yeah. I’m high in fiber and two full servings of vegetables.”

It looked like the minotaur was going to go for Timmy when it suddenly stopped. It lifted its head up and sniffed the air. It growled and quickly turned away from both of them. The minotaur grabbed the axe off the wall and marched out of the room, its footsteps stomping off into the distance.

Timmy and Petrina let out a sigh of relief.

“Fat?” Petrina asked.

Timmy blushed embarrassed. “Sorry.”

————————————–

Sundance and Astralyn heard the minotaur’s roar from across the maze. They knew it was coming for them. They didn’t know how to express their sense of urgency to the light they followed, but it seemed to get the idea. The light sped up and it winded through the many twists and turns of the maze. Sundance was impressed by the fact that they hadn’t hit any dead ends. The light seemed to know exactly where to go. He just hoped that it would lead him to Timmy soon.

“Is it just me or does it sound like the minotaur is getting closer?” Astralyn asked.

“I was hoping that it was a figment of my imagination,” Sundance replied.

The light seemed to know the danger they were in and continued to fly ahead. It stopped as the walls lowered and rose again. Sundance looked behind them and saw that the minotaur was nearby. It homed in on them and made its way towards them, dodging the establishing walls as they rose.

“Must go faster,” Sundance said to the light. “Must go faster!”

The light waited until all of the walls had stopped before it zipped away. Unfortunately, the minotaur had gotten close enough to follow. Astralyn kept looking back to see just how close it was, causing her to slow down. Sundance looked back and grabbed her hand, pulling her along.

The light took a sharp right turn. Sundance missed it and turned left. Astralyn looked to her right and pulled Sundance in that direction. This wasted precious seconds and allowed the minotaur to get closer.

The light sped on, but Astralyn and Sundance were beginning to slow down.

“I can’t go on,” Astralyn cried.

“You have to!”

“I can’t. I need to rest.”

“We don’t have time for that!” Sundance looked behind them and saw that the minotaur was getting closer. At the rate they were running, it would be upon them in mere moments. He looked at the light and saw it flicker. “We just have to hold on a little while longer. The walls are going to change soon.”

“Not soon enough,” Astralyn huffed. She tried her best to run faster, but she couldn’t catch her breath. Her sides burned with each step. The walls started to change but she didn’t care. She needed to rest. She slowly pulled her hand out of Sundance’s and slowed down.

“Astralyn, no!” he called out. The minotaur stomped towards them. “Get up! You can do it.”

Astralyn got on her knees and took shallow breaths. She shook her head and waved for Sundance to continue on. “Go! Go and save Timmy.”

Sundance walked over to Astralyn and grabbed her right arm. “You’re coming with me whether you like it or not.” He lifted her over his shoulders and ran as fast as he could. The minotaur picked up the pace and ran instead of dramatically stomping.

The light waited patiently for them amongst the chaos of lowering and rising walls. Sundance ran towards it, never taking his eyes off of it, never blinking. He saw that a wall was beginning to rise where he needed to be. No, I can’t lose the light, he thought. He ran faster. “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” he shouted as he neared the wall. As soon as he reached it, he stopped and tossed Astralyn over the side. As the wall rose, he pulled himself up and flipped over the wall just as the minotaur arrived. The wall was in place and the minotaur could no longer reach them. It begrudgingly stomped away to find another route.

Astralyn rolled over onto her back and looked up at the lit ceiling. “Sundance, was it necessary to heft me over like a sack of potatoes?”

“Potatoes are lighter,” Sundance said, stretching his back.

“Excuse me?” Astralyn sat up and looked at him.

“I’m just saying that I can normally bench press 250 pounds, but I must be getting soft,” Sundance replied.

Astralyn just rolled her eyes. There was no use getting upset; he didn’t know what he was saying.

Sundance looked at the yellow light and saw that it was frantically flashing. “Come on. We’ve got to go while the walls are still in this configuration.”

“I can’t go on like this,” Astralyn said, still panting. “You should just go on without me.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Sundance huffed. “We need to stick together. Come on!”

“Go! Find Timmy while you still can! I’m only going to slow you down.”

“I don’t buy that!” Sundance reached down to pick her up, but she resisted. The light flickered urgently. He knew he needed to go soon. He growled under his breath as he realized that he had no choice. Astralyn saw this in his eyes.

         “I’ll be fine,” Astralyn said. “Go find Timmy, then come back and find me. I’m sure the light will guide you back.” Sundance reluctantly agreed. He followed the light around the corner, leaving Astralyn on her own.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 15

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Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 13

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Astralyn, Sundance, and Daniel attempted to rejoin Timmy and Petrina, but had to fight off a horde of mini minotaurs, which succeeded in capturing Daniel. Sundance and Astralyn soon discover the walls are beginning to close in on them, literally.


Episode 13: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part V- Ball of String

The walls continued to push in on Astralyn and Sundance. They pushed against them with all their might, but the walls were persistent. The space they occupied was the size of a small bathroom, but it was slowly becoming a broom closet.

“This is not how I expected to go out,” Astralyn moaned.

“Yeah, this is a lousy date,” Sundance joked.

“How can you think of dating at a moment like this?” Astralyn heard Sundance give a breathy chuckle. He was trying to distract her from the moment. For this, she was grateful. “I guess it is a lousy date.”

“I didn’t even get to buy you dinner,” Sundance said. “Next lifetime maybe?”

“Sure, I’ll look you up.” Astralyn smiled.

They continued to push against the walls. It took them a minute to realize the walls had stopped moving. They were in the equivalent of a small elevator sized space. The relief on their faces was priceless.

“So, we’re not going to become maze paste?” Sundance asked. “I guess we just wait until the walls decide to change and hope they don’t crush us then.”

Astralyn slid to the floor and sighed. “I don’t remember there being moving walls in the Old Earth Legend. This is all new.”

“What legend?” Sundance asked.

“Oh, now you want to listen?” Astralyn raised an eyebrow and smirked. Sundance nodded his head, apparently calmer despite almost being squished. “The old legend told a tale of a half man, half bull creature that was born from King Minos’ wife. It became too large to care for in his house so the king had someone build a labyrinth to contain it. An enemy killed King Minos’ son and as payment, every nine years seven young boys and girls were sent to the labyrinth as a sacrifice to the minotaur. A young boy was chosen and he swore to slay the beast. With the help of Princess Ariadne and a ball of string, the young boy was able to navigate the maze, kill the minotaur, and rescue the remaining sacrifices.”

“Sounds like a cinch,” Sundance said. “Nice story, but how does that help us?”

“I was just hoping if this maze was similar to the tale, we could get out of here!” Astralyn said, placing her head in her hands.

“Well, I don’t see a princess nor do I see a ball of string.” Sundance was going to say something else when something caught his eye. It was a little yellow light that floated just above their prison. “Astralyn, do you see that?”

Astralyn looked up and saw the light slowly lower towards them. “What is it?”

“It’s a light,” Sundance replied. The light flew around Sundance’s head and then floated in front of his face. He reached out to touch it. The light flew over to Astralyn and rested on her outstretched hand. “What do you think it does?” The light flew away from Astralyn and floated in front of Sundance again. It flickered as if it was going off. Then it flew to the wall behind Sundance.

“The walls are about to change,” Sundance said.

“How do you know that?”

“The light just told me.”

Sure enough, the walls began to recede. The light floated above them as the walls began to situate themselves. Sundance and Astralyn stayed where they were until the maze was done changing. After a minute, the walls were still. The light flickered for a moment before moving away.

“It wants us to follow it,” Sundance said.

“Sure, why not?”

Astralyn was the first to follow the light. Sundance was still surprised by what was happening that he needed a moment to process it. Astralyn and the light stopped and waited. Sundance promptly followed the light as it navigated through the maze.

“I think this just might be the ball of string you were looking for,” Astralyn commented

“Good.” Sundance was glad of it, but if the minotaur was similar to the one in the legend, he needed to get to Timmy right away.

————————————–

Timmy awoke to the sound of screaming. He opened his eyes and tried to locate the origin. It was then he took notice of his condition and where he was. He was suspended high on a wall with his hands tied above his head. He looked to his left and saw Petrina was in the same predicament. The room they were in was wide and circular. In the center a bright yellow light emanated from the floor. It created a large column light that was sure to be seen from anywhere in the maze. He scanned the room for any sign of the minotaur, but he couldn’t see it. That quickly changed.

Daniel was dragged into the room by his feet by what looked to be miniature minotaurs. The larger one followed right behind them. Daniel screamed and tried to grab onto something, but there was nothing to grasp. They laid the poor man next to the light and scattered away. The large minotaur bent down and picked him up. Daniel squirmed and screamed.

“Put me down! No! NO!”

The minotaur dangled Daniel in front of its cavernous nostrils and sniffed him. The intake of breath almost sucked him in. When it exhaled, smatterings of mucus flew out and hit him. The minotaur grunted and stuck out his tongue.

Timmy gasped. The minotaur immediately stopped what it was doing and looked up at him. Timmy’s first impression was to play dead. He quickly closed his eyes, but kept them open a sliver. The minotaur glared at Timmy for a few moments before returning his attention to Daniel.

The minotaur tossed Daniel into the air and watched as he flailed his arms and legs. It opened its mouth wide and waited for his meal. Timmy held his breath and closed his eyes. He heard Daniel scream all the way back down until it stopped. Timmy slowly let the air out through his nostrils and tried to contain his shaking. He could hear the combination of crunching and squishing with each bite. The sound made Timmy quiver with fear.

When the loud smacking ended, the minotaur grunted. Timmy could hear it coming toward him. He could smell the minotaur’s acrid breath as it sniffed him. Timmy had hoped that Sundance would have come by now, but it appeared to be too late. Daniel was just an appetizer and Timmy was next on the menu.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 14

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Heroes of Lunde, Episode 5

You, Me, and the Demon, Part 2

Jaco and Quil traveled to the village of Bilocki, which was the village furthest south of the royal castle. The people were happy to see Jaco and Quil grace their humble home. They waved at them cheerfully and the Heroes returned the gesture in kind. Children ran up to Quil and offered him flowers. Quil smiled and graciously accepted them.  

On the outside, Quil appeared to be gleeful and in good spirits, but on the inside, Quil was battling feelings of rage and violence. Images of hurting everyone he saw flooded his mind. He fought against being drawn into those feelings and thoughts he suspected were not his. He didn’t know why this was happening, but Jaco promised he would get answers. 

Jaco led Quil to the end of the village where a large black hut sat. The yard was full of brown, dead grass, an extreme contrast to the rest of the huts in the village. There was a scarecrow resting on the ground, limbs akimbo, face etched in dark charcoal which gave it a haunting appearance. Quil tried his best not to look at it as they passed into the yard. 

“This is Mama Kaina’s place,” Jaco said, approaching the front door, which was painted black with a red X in the middle. “She uses strange magic that I’m not really familiar with; you might be surprised by her powers.” Quil just shrugged his shoulders.  

Before Jaco could knock on the door, he heard the call, “Come in, dear ones. The door’s unlocked.” 

Jaco gripped the handle and pushed the door open. In the center of the living room sat a large black woman wearing a red, gold, and green dress. She had her black and white hair up being held by what looked to be a bone. Quil saw this and gave Jaco a concerned look. Jaco gave him a reassuring smile that begged Quil to trust him. 

The two of them entered and closed the door behind them. Mama Kaina invited them to sit on the black mat on the floor in front of her. As they did so, she tossed some dust at them, which settled nicely in their hair. Quil wanted to say something about it, but Jaco touched his hand and quelled any desire to complain. 

“So, you come to me on the day of the harvest moon. Something serious must be going on,” she said, giving the two of them a once over. She looked at Quil and instantly homed in on him. “Hmm, yes. I see. Something wrong with this one here.” She leaned in close to examine his eyes. “You’ve been touched by the darkness.” 

“Darkness?” Quil repeated. He didn’t like the way she said ‘darkness’. It was deep and full of warning. “What kind of darkness?” 

Mama Kaina blinked a few times before she answered. “The demonic kind.” She sat back and grabbed a fistful of dust from a pottery bowl. She promptly tossed it in Quil’s face. “You need to be relieved of the demon spirit inside of you.” 

“How are we going to do that?” Jaco asked. He knew the answer and hoped she would say what she said. 

“We need to exorcise it.” 

“Boom! I told you!” Jaco punched Quil on the arm. “Sorry.” He watched Quil rub his now sore arm. 

“I will need you to lie down on the bed that I have in the back room.” Mama Kaina grunted as she stood up from her mat. She bade Jaco and Quil to rise as well. She led them through a beaded curtain to a room that was dark, lit only by dozens of candles. “You will remove your clothes.” 

“I most certainly will not!” Quil clutched his uniform and shook his head. “What kind of witch doctor are you? You’re all spooky and have a bone in your hair. How can anyone take you seriously?” 

Mama Kaina reached up and took the bone out of her hair, allowing it to flow down to her waist. “People love the kitsch of witch doctors. They only know what they’ve read in stories. It really sells. But as you wish.” She motioned Quil toward the bed. “I’m not joking about the clothes though. They create a barrier and locks in the evil spirit. They will have to be removed.” 

Jaco winked at Quil. Quil resented how much Jaco was enjoying this.  

The prince reluctantly agreed to undress in front of the stranger. He ignored the smile on Mama Kaina’s face as she gazed upon his manhood. He supposed he should be happy she was impressed.  

He laid down on the bed, which was covered in white silk linens. The pillow was really fluffy and invited him to rest and relax. Once again, he felt the sudden urge to sleep. His eyelids were droopy. He fought to keep his eyes open. He didn’t know what Mama Kaina intended to do and he wanted to be conscious for it. His eyes had different plans. He closed them and drifted off to sleep. 

“Is that supposed to happen?” Jaco asked. 

“Yes. The pillow has a sleeping spell on it.” She took out a feathered fan and some oils and set them on the table next to the bed. “It’s best that the possessed not be awake for the exorcism. It causes some mental scarring. Now stand back.” 

Jaco did as he was commanded. He watched as Mama Kaina spilled a sweet smelling oil on Quil and rubbed it all over his body. A breeze from out of nowhere drifted in and caused the flames to flicker. The scent of coconut filled the room. Mama Kaina began mumbling ancient words from times past. Quil began to stir. Mama Kaina placed her hands on Quil’s forehead and urged his spirit to rest for now. 

She continued to speak the words, only louder now. Her timbre resonated in the air as the magic swirled around her. She crescendoed and then finally became silent. She stepped back from the table and dried her hands on her dress. “We will have to wait a moment to see if it worked.” 

Jaco took a step forward to further inspect Quil. “Quil, honey, are you in there?” There was no response. “How deep a sleep does that pillow cause?” 

Mama Kaina turned to Jaco with a dramatically grave look on her face. “Deep.” 

Quil moaned suddenly. Jaco rushed to his side and grabbed his hand. “Quil! I’m right here. Come on.” 

Quil slowly opened his eyes. They were the same lovely brown Jaco had grown to love. He breathed a sigh of relief. He turned to Mama Kaina and smiled. “You did it.” 

At first, she was smiling, but that smile quickly turned into a frown. “Get back!” she shouted, but it was too late. A warm gust of wind extinguished all of the candles and then there was a dim darkness. 

Jaco whipped around to look at Quil and saw that his eyes were now red with glowing orange pupils. A devilish grin appeared on Quil’s face as he tightened his grip on Jaco’s hand.  

“Hello, lover!” The demon said, flicking his tongue at Jaco. He twisted Jaco’s arm and tossed him across the room. Jaco landed against a shelf full of candles. The shelf collapsed on top of him.  

Mama Kaina stepped back toward the beaded doorway. “Stay back, you foul thing!” She clasped her hands together and began to utter the words to a banishing spell. She thought she would start with a medium strength spell for the exorcism, but it appeared to be too weak against the likes of this demon. She hoped it wasn’t too late to try the harder spell. 

Kendryl, now in control of Quil, raised his left hand and uttered a spell, which sent a force wave at the witch doctor. This sent her flying through the beaded curtain into the living room. He listened for any further movement and chanting, but all was silent. Perfect.  

He examined the prince’s body and smiled. While it wasn’t the most fit and a little chubby, it was bounds better than his old body. He looked around for Quil’s clothes. He didn’t plan on walking out of here naked. He wanted to at least look dignified and afford the prince a little privacy. The world was not ready for what Quil was packing. 

He got dressed once he found the ridiculous looking silver and blue costume and started to stride out of the room. He heard Jaco call out Quil’s name from underneath the heavy wooden shelf. He laughed and sent a force wave at Jaco, successfully knocking him out. He flexed his fingers and chuckled. The extra power provided by Quil was amazing. He was going to do so many bad things before he commenced with his mission. Taking down the prince’s reputation along with destroying the Heroes from within would be more fun than kicking small dogs! 

He stepped into the living and saw Mama Kaina laying on the floor, out like a light. Who did she think she was trying to banish him? He made sure that she wouldn’t bother him again. After he charred her body from the inside, he left the hut. He was greeted with loving cheers from the people; they were greeted with fire. 

*** 

Chrys sat in his study looking over some tax forms that needed to be approved by the end of the day. His father had just given them to him and told him that they needed to be done right away. When Chrys asked how long his father had been in possession of these forms. The answer was somewhere around a week. Chrys sighed and agreed to sign off on them.  

He spent the rest of the afternoon signing tax forms since the incident with Quil. The whole encounter upset him greatly. Every time he thought about it, his body shook uncontrollably. He attempted to avert his thoughts by focusing on the forms, but his mind continued to drift to the confrontation. The image of Quil’s burning eyes would probably haunt him for several years from this point. He wondered if he would need to seek therapy for this. 

Was it true what Quil said about Chrys being jealous? Chrys didn’t think so. He was going to be king, that was enough for him. He didn’t need to add having magical powers to the mix. While society deemed magic to be normal and perfectly natural, Chrys did not agree. He quietly regarded the magical community as a bunch of freaks, but no one cared about his opinions anyway, so he kept this to himself. 

What he actively worried about was how magic was going to affect his brother. He was always on the lookout for the magic to cause Quil to go mad. Was today’s incident the tip of the iceberg? Was it beginning to happen? What was he supposed to do when it happened? 

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a knock on the door. He set the form he was holding on the desk and turned toward the door. He called for the person to enter. The door creaked open to reveal a red faced messenger. It was evident that he had ran from somewhere in a hurry. Chrys instinctively grabbed the pitcher on his desk and poured a glass of water. He stood up and gave it to the messenger, who took it happily. He gulped it down in seconds. He held out the cup, requesting a refill. Chrys obliged. Once the glass was empty again, he took the glass from the messenger and set it back on the desk. 

“What appears to be the trouble?” 

“Terrible trouble in the Bilocki village,” the messenger replied in between gasps. He wiped his mouth clean of water that hadn’t made it into his mouth. His red shirt was spotted from the renegade water. “There was an attack.” 

Chrys’ throat suddenly went dry. Was it another enemy kingdom coming to cause trouble? He should tell his father… then he second guessed that thought. His father would only call for the Heroes. He did not want to do that. He decided that he will deal with this on his own. 

“I will dispatch my soldiers. Send the call to action,” Chrys commanded. The messenger eyed the pitcher of water one last time before he bowed and turned to leave. Chrys stopped him and asked, “Who is attacking Bilocki?” 

The messenger stared Chrys right in the eyes and said, “It’s your brother, Your Grace.” With that, he spun around and zipped out the door before he could be called for questioning again. 

Chrys clenched his fists as he thought, the time has finally come; the magic has driven Quil into madness. It wasn’t like him to harm people. The magic had finally warped his mind to the dark side. He knew that it was up to him to save his brother and whatever was left of Bilocki. 

He poured himself a glass of water to soothe his dry throat and drank it down. He set the glass on top of one of the numerous forms. They would have to wait.

 He put his game face on and strode down the halls to his room to get his battle armor. The Heroes would certainly be finished after this. This brought a smile to his face. 

*** 

Jaco woke up to the smell of smoke. He coughed as he took account of where he was. He remembered that he was in Mama Kaina’s bedroom. He was still pinned down by the wooden shelf. He pushed himself up using his upper body strength, the shelf followed. Tapping into his wolf strength, he was able to get out from underneath it. He cracked his sore back as he stood up. It was not the good kind of sore. 

He looked around for any sign of fire. Nothing was actively on fire in the bedroom. He stepped into the living room and found Mama Kaina’s crispy remains lying in the middle of the room. His felt his heart skip a beat and his stomach drop. He thought he was going to be sick. He knelt by her side and said a prayer. The smell of smoke reminded him of his quest. 

He stood up and walked outside to find that most of the huts were on fire. People were standing in the streets watching their homes burn. The fire department was surely on their way, but just hadn’t arrived yet.  

Jaco didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, but it looked like the demon wasted no time in causing trouble. It was no doubt tapping into Quil’s powers to become more powerful. This needed to be stopped. How could Quil be exorcised when the only person he knew of to do it was dead? He knew that he had to find Quil soon. He also knew that he couldn’t do it alone.  

He reached into his pocket and pulled out his talkie. He pressed a button on speed dial and called all of the other Heroes. Twenty minutes later, Reese, Andrada, and Everett arrived at what was left of Bilocki. They were shocked and dismayed by the sight of the destroyed buildings. They found Jaco and approached him. 

“Quil did all of this?” Andrada asked. She couldn’t imagine Quil going off on an entire village like this. He just wasn’t capable of this type of malice. He didn’t have a malicious bone in his body. How could he have done this?  

“Yeah. That demon we were chasing possessed him and now he’s running amok.” Jaco folded his arms and sighed. “We have to find him and soon!” 

“How can we even begin looking?” Everett asked. He wrung his hands nervously. “I fear by the time we find him, it’ll be too late.” 

Reese cleared her throat. “I may have a way.” She closed her eyes and summoned the winds to her. A breeze swirled around her. She did not want to fly this time; she just wanted to see what the wind knew about her friend. The winds whispered in her ears everything they had observed in their travels across the land. When they had relayed their information, they drifted away. She opened her eyes and turned to her team. “Quil is back in Pantano. He is causing quite a stir.” 

Andrada snapped her fingers. “Of course he would go back there. He has to finish what he started.” She slapped her forehead as punishment for not thinking of that earlier. “We must hurry. He can’t be allowed to summon the Lord of Darkness.” 

Everett looked at the sky and determined the time. “The next bus isn’t coming for another twenty minutes. Quil could be summoning him as we speak, and we’ll be too late to stop him.” 

Jaco rolled his eyes at Everett. “Don’t you ever have anything positive to say?” 

“Sure, sometimes, and then I worry that I might be coming down with something.” Everett took out a silver flask and took a swig of its contents. When he was done, he replaced it into his pants pocket. “I just like to keep things real.” 

“Sometimes it’s a little too real,” Andrada commented. “We should really invest in one of those new steam vehicles. They were fun to drive.” 

“As long as you’re not driving.” Everett remembered what happened the last time Andrada got behind the wheel of a steam vehicle and shuddered. He counted himself lucky to be alive. 

After the Heroes decided they had seen enough, they left for the bus stop. They hoped that it would come early. 

*** 

Kendryl had his fun destroying the fuck out of people, places, and things. He hadn’t been on a wild rager in a long time. It felt good to release some of that pent up energy. It also helped that the wizard had ample amounts of magical energy at his disposal to give his own a boost. He wondered why he had never possessed anyone before. Yeah, it sucked that he had to kill himself before he decided to do it, but he was glad it worked out. 

The village of Pantano was in utter shambles. Bodies littered the streets. Houses and shops alike were on fire. Kendryl stood on top of the abandoned hospital and took in the sight. He loved the smell of carnage in the afternoon. He went to look to his right and discovered the kink in the neck. He wondered if he had already killed the chiropractor.  

Kendryl decided it was time to get back to his original purpose. He was sure his employers heard of last night’s failure and wanted a report. Maybe they heard that he had died in the line of duty. It would be a kick in the pants for him to call them up and report in alive and well. 

He searched Quil’s costume for pockets. He was dismayed to find none, but there was a convenient place in the underwear for a talkie. That was where he found Quil’s. He dialed the number he knew to reach Mistress L and waited for her to pick up. He hoped that she would answer an unrecognizable number. Sure enough she did. 

“Hello? Is this Prince Jonquil?” Mistress L asked. 

“Kinda,” Kendryl said, chuckling. “It’s Kendryl, the guy you hired to summon the Lord of Darkness.” 

Mistress L was heard saying,”Oooh! That explains everything. You’ve possessed him!” 

“Yeah. The Heroes caught me, and I had to think fast.” Kendryl kicked a pebble off the roof of the hospital. “I’m about to try again. Anything you’d like me to tell The Dark Lord when he comes through?” 

“Yes, that he owes me about 100 gold pieces.” Mistress L and Kendryl had a short laugh. “Beware, the other Heroes are on your tail. They are currently taking a bus from Bilocki to you right now.” 

“It was only a matter of time,” Kendryl said. “I’ll end them for sure this time around.” He created a fireball in his right hand and then quickly crushed it. “I’ll make sure of it.” 

“Be sure that you do.” She let out little giggle. “Oh, by the way, nice work with Bilocki.” 

Kendryl felt his chest fill with pride and excitement. “Thank you, ma’am!”  

With that, the call ended. Kendryl felt a tear come to his left eye. It was an honor to receive a compliment from the illustrious Mistress L. He had always been under the impression that she was hard to impress, but he had managed to do it. This was a proud day to be a demon. 

Kendryl was about to leave when he saw a crowd of people approaching the hospital. He looked closely and saw that there were all on horseback and dressed in silver and black military uniforms. Their spears and artillery were all focused on him. He was honored to have drawn such a crowd. 

The leader of the army grabbed a megaphone and shouted up to him. “Quil, by order of the king, please give yourself up! You’re under arrest!” Chrys didn’t think he would ever have to say those words to his own brother, but it felt strangely good. While it was awkward to have to arrest Quil, he knew it was the right thing to do. He was now a wanted criminal, guilty of the deaths of people in two villages. There was no way that he was going to get out of this one. Consequences would be had. 

Kendryl gazed down at the army and likened them to ants. They were beneath him, figuratively and literally. He could crush them like the bugs they were. He created a large fire ball comparable to the size of a man sized beach ball and threw it at them.  

“Take cover!” Chrys commanded to his troops. The troops all took out their shields and placed them above their heads. The fireball hit them and knocked them all over. Some of them did not survive the blast. Their bodies were cooked from inside their armor. Horses were not spared either. The smell of their flesh permeated the air. 

Chrys come out from underneath his shield and surveyed the damage. “Troops report!” Slowly, people began to check in, letting him know that they were still alive. He lamented the fact that he had lost about twenty-five percent of his crew. “Damn you, Quil,” he said under his breath. 

“Would you like some more?” Kendryl shouted from above. “I’ve got more where that came from!” He let out a deep and maniacal laugh. “Please, ask for more! I want to give it to you so badly.” 

“Troops advance!” Chrys and his remaining troops prepared their weapons and marched toward the hospital. “Fire!” On his command, the troops aimed and launched their spears at Kendryl.  

The demon watched as the shiny, pointy sticks flew at him. They appeared to be augmented with magic so that they would hit their intended target. The magic was weak in comparison to his own. He simply held up his right hand and waved it to his right. The spears followed and clattered on the roof beside him.  

“You puny fools are no match for me, Prince Jon of Lunde!” Kendryl gave another little laugh before he issued another fireball.  

Chrys gave the order for everyone to scatter. They all made it out of the way just as the fireball hit where they had just been standing.  

He looked up at the roof of the hospital to see that his brother was no longer there. There was something about the last thing he said that wasn’t right. He said Prince Jon. Quil never addressed himself as Jon, in fact, he hated that part of his name. Why would he suddenly refer to himself as Jon? Had the magic warped his sense of self? There had to be a reasonable explanation for how he was acting. 

When he thought about this whole day, Quil hadn’t been acting like himself. It was as if he was somebody else. It was as if he had been… possessed. He slapped his forehead as the realization struck him. Quil is not himself because he’s not himself.  

“Troops, stand down,” Chrys said. “I’m going to go after him myself.” 

“But sir, we are required to protect you,” his second in command, Commander Pendrell said. 

“I am your sovereign and you will do as I say.” Chrys slid off his horse and took off his helmet. “I will deal with my brother on my own.” He approached the gate to the hospital and then turned around to say, “If you encounter the Heroes, do not let them interfere.” Pendrell saluted him. Chrys continued his journey into the dark hospital. 

*** 

Kendryl ran down the stairs as fast as he could. He thought that he should have wiped out the entire army, but time was running out. The sun was beginning to set, and night prepared to fall. This was the perfect time to summon the Dark Lord. The hard part was finding a new spot to cast the summoning circle. He couldn’t use the basement because that ground had already been sullied. He needed fresh ground. 

He arrived on the first floor and was about to run across the lobby when he saw Chrys enter. It was too late to hide because Chrys spotted him immediately. Kendryl smirked as he lit up his hands. The soldier drew his sword. 

“Release my brother, you foul thing!” Chrys demanded. 

“Oh, so you figured it out, eh? Too bad,” Kendryl said. “It’s not a big deal. You’ll be dead in a few moments anyway.” He launched his fireballs at Chrys. The prince dove to his right to avoid them. The balls struck the front desk and caught it on fire. “Quit being so nimble and accept your death!” 

Chrys stood up and took a battle ready stance, his sword ready to pierce skin. “You should fight me without your fancy magic.” 

“But what fun would that be?” Kendryl searched through the card catalog of spells in Quil’s mind until he found the one he wanted. His eyes glowed bright red with orange pupils as he muttered the words of the spell under his breath. 

Chrys didn’t like what was happening. He couldn’t hear what Kendryl was saying, but he didn’t want him to finish whatever it was he was doing. He raced forward, his blade pointed directly at Kendryl’s heart, but he stopped short when he remembered that it was his brother’s body he would be injuring. He dropped his sword at the last minute.  

Kendryl’s eyes flashed as he finished the spell. Chrys’ body suddenly felt heavy. His legs were weighted to the floor and unmovable. He felt something appear behind him. He turned to see a giant black hole stood before him. “What the devil is this?” 

“Your new home!” Kendryl gave Chrys a force push and watched as the prince flew into the dark void. The hole shrank until it popped out of existence. “There, all done.” He clapped his hands in celebration of a job well done. 

He waited to see if anyone else planned on coming in. No one arrived after a minute, so he assumed that he was in the clear. 

He ran through the lobby and ended up in the pediatric ward around the corner. He searched for rooms that had adequate space for his needs. He grinned when he finally found the play room. Despite there being toys littered everywhere, the room was big enough to create the summoning circle. He had to act fast because he anticipated the Heroes to arrive at any moment. 

*** 

The Heroes sat on the bus, which is a fancy word for a really long horse drawn buggy, anxiously wishing that the driver would get the horses to actually run instead of calmly clip clopping along. Jaco had the idea of hijacking the buggy and do what needed to be done, but Andrada forced him to sit down and wait like the rest of them.  

“This is terrible!” Jaco commented. “We should already be there! Who knows what that demon is making Quil do!” 

“We will just have to be patient,” Reese said calmly. “We will be able to do what we can once we get there and nothing more.” 

“How can you say that?” Jaco knew that she was right, but he didn’t want to accept it. There had to be something that could be done to get this bus moving faster.  

Reese looked at Jaco and saw the determined look on his face. She knew that he was scheming something. She didn’t like this at all. She shook her head to dissuade whatever he was planning. He returned the gesture with a wink. Oh, this is going to be bad, she thought. Should she warn the others? 

Before Reese could do anything, Jaco stood up and approached the driver. He sat down next to him and whispered something in his ear. The driver shook his head in disagreement with what he heard.

 It was then that Jaco’s arms began to bulge. A low growl was uttered by him as fangs began to emerge from his gums. The driver saw and heard this and gave a slight yelp. He nodded his head frantically and grabbed the whip that sat next to him.

 In an instant, he whipped the horses into submission. The sound of the crack startled the horses enough to go from a slow clip clop to full on running. All Reese heard was, “Thank you,” before Jaco returned to his seat. He gave her another wink. She merely rolled her eyes. 

“Now we’re moving!” Andrada said cheerfully. “We should get there in no time now.” 

Everett was tempted to say something about them being too late, but he didn’t want to sound like a broken record and saved it for another time. 

Fifteen minutes sooner than they should have arrived, the bus pulled up to the Pantano spot. The driver stopped the horses and whistled sadly when he saw the damage to the village. The Heroes stood up from their seats and leaned into the windows to get a good look. There were buildings that were burnt to a crisp, their black exterior showing all of the signs of a fire. They were sure that the rest of the village had suffered the same fate. Was there anyone left alive? 

The Heroes exited the bus and waved as the driver drove away from the sad sight. Andrada suggested that they get through the village as quickly as possible. They tried to do that much, but they couldn’t ignore the damage. The bodies hadn’t been cleared away by the medical teams yet. The images of the charred bodies of children brought them despair and hopelessness. They felt guilt for not getting here sooner. They could have saved so many lives. 

Jaco’s heart beat faster as he traveled through the village. He knew that Quil was still here somewhere. He just wished that he had the power to locate anyone. Then he remembered that he was part wolf. If he could pick up Quil’s scent, he could lead the others right to him. He didn’t feel like transforming all the way, so he only transformed his nose. His olfactory senses went into overdrive. He could smell the ash in the air, the burnt flesh of the bodies, the destroyed buildings, everything.  

“He’s this way,” Jaco said. His voice was a mix of human and guttural growl. The others pretended not to be unnerved by it. 

Jaco led them back to the hospital where they were met by Chrys’ troops. The troops all turned to face them and prepared for a fight. Jaco put his hands up as he transformed his nose back. “Whoa! It’s okay! It’s just us, the Heroes of Lunde.” He saw that this did not make them feel any better. “What’s going on?” 

“We’ve been commanded to keep you away from the scene,” Commander Pendrell said. “We will not let you pass.” 

Everett sighed and said, “Well, we tried.” He turned to walk away, but Reese grabbed him by his collar. “I was afraid you’d do that.” 

Jaco felt heat come to his face. He didn’t have to ask who gave the troops the order to keep them away. “Chrys put you up to this. That bastard!” 

“The prince’s orders will be obeyed,” Pendrell informed. “You will leave now, or we will be forced to engage you in battle.” 

“That’s not really necessary, is it?” Andrada asked. “We have a mission from the king. The king’s orders supercede the prince’s. So, if you really want to explain to the king why his orders were not followed through, then, fine, fight us.” She placed her hands on her hips and watched as the soldier contemplated her words. “I’m waiting.” She saw the frustration on his face as he tried to come to a decision. 

Pendrell sighed and lowered his head. “Fine. You may pass. But if anything goes wrong, the prince is going to hold you all personally responsible.” He stepped out of the way, which prompted the others to do the same.  

“Thank you,” Andrada said. She led the Heroes through the divide. As she approached the abandoned hospital, she realized that Chrys wasn’t among them. She turned around and asked, “Just where is the darling prince?” 

“After the second prince attacked us, he followed him into the building. He hasn’t come out since. It’s been twenty minutes.” Pendrell looked ashamed. If he was asked why he hadn’t issued the order to go look for his commanding officer, his answer would have been that Chrys’ word was absolute and was not to be argued with.  

“He’s probably dead,” Everett said drolly. 

“Don’t get my hopes up like that,” Jaco joked. 

“Come on, let’s go.” Andrada and the others made their way into the hospital. 

The Heroes felt the chill of the darkness when they entered the lobby. It was strange to think that they had just been there last night. It was weird how things could change in less than twenty four hours.  

“Jaco,” Andrada called. Jaco already knew what she wanted. 

Jaco transformed his nose into his wolf nose. He loudly sniffed the air and walked in a circle to get a clear scent. He could smell that Chrys had been there, but couldn’t tell where he went. It was as if he had disappeared into thin air. He would have to worry about him later. He homed in on Quil’s scent. He could pick up the demon’s presence mixed in with Quil’s. He turned in the direction to the right of the lobby and pointed to the double doors leading to the pediatric ward. 

Andrada and Reese took lead as they approached the doors. Everett and Jaco brought up the rear. They all stepped cautiously into the ward prepared for an ambush. When there was no one behind the door, they continued down the hallway. They listened intently for any sounds of anyone present. There was only silence. This did not make them feel better. 

The further down the hall they went, the more anxious they became. They knew the demon was around here somewhere, but where. The answer came when they hit a wall of negative energy, the same kind they had encountered last night just before they found the demon in the basement. They knew that they were in the right place. Andrada signaled to the others to prepare their weapons. Everett prepared his crossbow. Reese materialized her earthen hammer. Andrada drew her sword. 

They turned the corner and found the childrens’ play room. In the center was Kendryl creating the summoning circle. It appeared that he was putting the finishing touches on it when they came in. He looked up at them and smirked. 

“You’re too late, Heroes! The new Age of Darkness is just about to begin,” Kendryl gloated. He stepped into the center of the circle. The purple light lit up his face as it pulsed in rhythm with the power surges. 

Andrada knew that she needed to get him out of that circle. She ran toward the circle in an attempt to tackle him like she did last night. She found this to be difficult because she ran into a wall. She stumbled backward and rubbed her sore right shoulder. She placed her hand up at the light of the summoning circle and felt a solid surface. She kicked it in frustration. “He put up a barrier!” 

Everett took a chance and shot an arrow from his crossbow. It was a special arrow that was supposed to dispel magic. The arrow hit the wall and stuck there in mid air. He sighed and said, “Son of a bitch! That wasn’t supposed to happen.” 

“That shit’s weak, Ev,” Jaco joked. Everett ignored him. 

Reese swung her massive hammer at the wall only to have it repelled. She stumbled backward and had to be caught by Jaco to keep from falling to the floor. She was tempted to give it another swing, but her hands were still tingling from the vibrations of hitting the wall. 

Jaco knew that there wasn’t anything he could do against the wall. He could use his wolf strength all he wanted, but there didn’t appear to be anything that could penetrate it. Well, there was one thing that could break through. He just hoped that it would work. 

“Quil! I know you’re in there!” Jaco called out. “You have to fight the demon! You can do it, baby!” He placed a hand on the wall and prayed that Quil could see him. All he could see was the demon’s face staring back at him. “Quil! Snap out of it!” 

Kendryl chuckled. “Your boyfriend is gone. He is in the abyss, too weak to fight me.” 

“I don’t believe it!” Jaco knew that Quil could fight anything and wouldn’t be satisfied to be beaten by a low level demon. “He’s in there! I can feel it!” The connection that he and Quil had was strong, but he felt it weakening at this moment. “Jonquil Marie Theophilous, you better kick his ass!” The others looked at him strangely, but Jaco ignored it. 

The light from the summoning circle began to pulse more quickly. Time was running out. There had to be something they could do. It was apparent that the demon was using Quil’s powers to place the shield up. Unfortunately, the only one who could bring it down was Quil. They couldn’t just stand there and let Kendryl summon evil into their world, but what else could they do? 

“God, we suck,” Everett said. He lowered his crossbow and ran his fingers through his red hair. “I told you we would be too late.” 

“Shut up, Everett. You’re not helping!” Andrada said. “Unless you’ve got a plan, nothing should be coming out of your mouth.” Everett puffed out his cheeks. 

“It is done,” Kendryl said. He raised his hands to the ceiling and let out a loud cry. The light brightened to the point it was almost blinding. The Heroes shielded their eyes until it finally died down.  

The light of the summoning circle had burned a hole in the floor with purple embers still burning in it. Inside the circle was a black void. In the center stood Kendryl, his hands still stretched upward. He was speaking magical words in a language time forgot. A moment later, something black rose from the void. As it emerged, the black figure took the shape of a person. They stood to be about seven feet tall. They were covered in black muck. Smoke rose from their body as if they had risen from the depths of Hell. 

The Heroes watched in horror as the person materialized before them. Andrada placed her hand out in front of her to see if the shield was still there. Alas, it was. She growled as she watched the personification of evil become real. There was nothing she could do. 

The last of the muck dripped free from the Lord of Darkness’s body to reveal a thin, lithe man with pale translucent skin and dark soulless eyes that he used to gaze at the Heroes. He exhaled, and smoke escaped his mouth. He inhaled deeply and let out a loud yell. When he had expended his air, he laughed. “I have been made flesh!” 

Kendryl hesitated for a moment before he finally reached out and touched the Lord’s right shoulder. “That shield won’t last for long. We should probably go.” 

The Lord of Darkness looked at his shoulder and Kendryl quickly withdrew his hand. “Agreed.” He waved his hand in front of him and a black portal appeared. He and Kendryl walked into it and everything disappeared; the shield, the summoning circle, and the portal. 

“Shit!” Jaco shouted. “We let them get away!” 

“Like I said, we suck at this!” Everett took a swing from his flask. “Now what?” 

The others didn’t have an answer to the question. They stood in the empty play room staring at where Quil has just been. It would take a miracle to remedy this situation now.

To be continued…

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Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 12


Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Sundance, Timmy, and Astralyn meet two others trapped in the maze, Daniel and Petrina. In an attempt to get to the center of the maze quicker, Timmy guides them from above, but as the maze changes, Timmy and Petrina get separated.

Episode 12: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part IV- Mini-Taurs

“Timmy! Timmy!” Sundance shouted.

“Petrina!” Daniel called out. They hit their fists on the wall in vain, let out a sigh, and spun around to put their backs on the wall.

Astralyn’s heart broke as she watched. “Calling out their names isn’t going to bring them back. We just have to make it to the center. I have a feeling they’ll be there.”

“Alive?” Daniel asked.

Astralyn didn’t answer. She knew how the legend of the minotaur ended. She didn’t want to give them false hope. But then again, maybe silence was just as bad.

“We have to keep moving,” Astralyn said. Daniel and Sundance agreed. They stepped away from the wall and began to walk along the long hallways.

Daniel led the way as they navigated the ever changing maze. He concentrated on where the walls were leading them and when they were going to change. After three changes, Sundance was beginning to feel the pattern as well. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a clue where they were in relation to the center. He suspected the maze was pushing them further from it.

Daniel stopped walking. Sundance and Astralyn immediately looked up and listened for any sign of the minotaur. All was silent. “Something is following us,” Daniel whispered.

Astralyn looked down the hallway to see if she could anyone behind them. “I don’t see anyone.”

“Doesn’t mean they’re not there,” Sundance added. He took out his pistol and set it to ‘stun’. “How do you know we’re being followed?”

“The light told me,” Daniel replied.

“Come on out, we know that you’re there!” Sundance shouted.

“Perhaps that’s not such a good idea.” Astralyn shook her head.

“Don’t be a coward! Face us!”

Suddenly there was the sound of scurrying feet and whispers from all around them. The three of them put their backs together and prepared for anything.

“Sundance, I swear to God, if you get us killed…” Astralyn whispered through her teeth.

Small shadows appeared from the end of the hallway where they had come from. Three mini minotaurs cautiously stepped out of the shadows. They examined the three humans and sniffed at them.

“Awww, they’re almost cute,” Astralyn said.

“I think I would have preferred the bunnies.” Sundance aimed his gun at them. Two more mini minotaurs peeked around the corner and joined their friends. “I suggest we slowly move away.”

They took a step back and the herd of mini minotaurs took two. Sundance could see where this was going.

“On my signal, run,” Sundance said.

“What are you going to do?” Daniel asked.

Sundance suddenly shot one of minotaurs in the head. It squealed as it fell to the floor. Astralyn, Daniel, and Sundance ran down the hallway and took a right turn. They heard the roars of the remaining tiny bulls and knew nothing good came of it. They all thought of the possibility that they were calling their daddy. They kept running.

Daniel risked a glance backward and saw that the group of mini minotaurs had grown to nine. They were catching up fast. “INCOMING!”

Sundance looked up on the wall’s edge and saw other tiny bulls standing there, waiting for them. They leapt out and landed on Sundance causing him to fall to the floor. Astralyn stood up against the wall and kicked to keep them from overtaking her. The mini minotaurs grabbed Daniel by his feet and tripped him. The bulls swarmed all over him.

“No!” Daniel screamed.

Sundance tossed minotaurs left and right as they attacked him. He punched one in the face as it tried to bite him. “I have no problem punching short people!” Another one took a flying leap off the wall at him. He took his pistol and shot it. It fell to the floor with a thud. “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” Sundance set his pistol to ‘kill’ and blasted the minotaurs off of Astralyn.

He was able to stand up and saw that the mini minotaurs were coming from everywhere. Astralyn promptly punted any new arrivals. Sundance simply blasted the new wave into so much space dust. He tried to make his way over to Daniel, but each new wave prevented him from doing so.

As quickly as they appeared, the tiny bulls retreated. Sundance and Astralyn sighed in relief, but Daniel screamed in terror. The little things were carrying him away. Sundance and Astralyn ran and grabbed his hands.

“Don’t let go!” Daniel cried.

The floor slanted downward to reveal an underground burrow. The bulls promptly pulled Daniel towards it. Sundance pulled with all of his might, but his hands were slipping. Astralyn was dealing with the same thing. Finally, their hands slipped free and Daniel was lost. They could hear his screams as the hole sealed itself.

Sundance cursed out loud. “I can’t believe this!” He walked over to a wall and kicked it. “Dammit!”

“He’s probably headed to the center,” Astralyn reminded.

“Yeah, great,” Sundance mumbled. “Our only guide was swallowed up by a giant hole in the floor, and we’re no closer to finding the center!” He angrily walked past Astralyn to the end of the hallway.

“We just came from there… or was it from there?” Astralyn couldn’t remember.

Sundance didn’t care; he turned to the left and marched until he reached another hallway that required a choice. Astralyn followed him as quickly as she could. Sundance took a right and then another right. It was a dead end. He turned around and passed Astralyn again. They walked back the way they came and returned to where they started.

“Sundance! Sundance!” Astralyn called out. Sundance ignored her and continued to wander the maze. Another dead end. “Sundance…” As he passed her again, she reached out and grabbed him. He stopped and looked at her for a moment. His eyes were full of pain and rage. He shrugged her off and continued walking.

Another dead end. Sundance soon discovered what Astralyn was trying to tell him. The walls had closed in around them, moving inward with no sign of stopping.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 13

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Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 11

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Sundance, Astralyn, and Timmy discover the Minos Cube isn’t just a mere trinket. It has teleported them inside the cube where they come face to face with the minotaur living inside.


Episode 11: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part III- Inside the Box

The minotaur glared down at Sundance and the others and roared. Rivulets of droll dripped onto the floor. It gripped its axe tightly and prepared to swing. Astralyn cringed while Sundance waited to see where the axe would land. In the middle of the minotaur’s downswing, a red laser beam shot the bull’s right shoulder. Timmy stood defiantly with his pistol aimed at the large intruder.

“Great shot, Timmy,” Sundance said.

“Running would be a good idea right now.” Astralyn pulled Sundance toward her as the axe landed nearby. The two of them looked into each other’s eyes for a brief moment before the running began. Timmy continued to take shots at the minotaur as he ran. The minotaur pulled its axe out of the floor and chased them.

“It’s running, too!” Sundance said. “I thought it was going to slowly stomp after us!”

“Less talking, more running!” Astralyn replied.

The hallway turned to the left and the space adventurers followed it. Unfortunately, so did the minotaur.

The trio ran until they reached a wall. They had the option of turning left or right. Sundance stood still and tried to decide which way to go. Astralyn and Timmy looked back at the minotaur and saw that it was quickly gaining on them.

“Sundance?” Astralyn asked.

“Captain?” Timmy asked.

Sundance couldn’t decide which way to go. He always preferred right over left, but what if was a dead end?

“Over here!” shouted someone to their left.

The three of them wasted no time and turned left. As they did so, a wall rose where they had been standing, separating them from the giant bull. It banged at the new wall with its axe, but it didn’t budge. It grew frustrated and stomped away, no doubt trying to find a new way to get to them.

“That was close,” Sundance said, bending over to catch his breath.

“Too close,” said a man’s voice. They looked up to see a young man wearing a dark green uniform and a young woman wearing a gold uniform of the same cut. “The maze’s walls change about once every five minutes. You got lucky.”

“We’ve been hiding from the minotaur for days,” the woman said.

“Who are you?” Sundance asked, standing up.

“My name is Daniel and this is Petrina,” the man said.

“We’re interns at the museum,” Petrina replied. “Or rather we were.”

“So, where are we?” Timmy asked.

“I think we’re inside the Cube.” Daniel looked up at the lights above them. “We’re in the Maze of the Minotaur.”

“Meaning you handled the Cube as well as we did.” Petrina added.

Timmy folded his arms. “I wondered why Doctor Hartnell wore gloves. Sneaky bastard.” He jumped at the sound of the minotaur roaring. “Can we please get out of here?”

“I think the only way to do that is to get to the center of the maze,” said Daniel. “We’ve tried getting there, but with the minotaur out there and the walls ever changing…”

“You just need a bird’s eye view.” Astralyn said. “If we could somehow get on top of one of these walls, we could see the best possible path.”

“And avoid the big nasty,” Sundance chimed in.

“Question?” Timmy held up his hand. “So, once we get to the center, what do we do there?”

“I think someone needs to defeat the minotaur,” Astralyn replied. “If the Old Earth legend is right.”

Timmy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Another question: Who’s going up on the wall?”

———————————–

Timmy hated ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. As far as he was concerned, it was a very infantile way to make decisions, especially in matters of life and death. With the thanks of Daniel and Sundance, Timmy now stood on top of the wall, seeing all that could be seen. The maze spanned for miles in each direction. He could see a column of yellow light in the far off distance. He assumed that it was the center. “I can see it, Captain!” he shouted down. Sundance gave him the thumbs up.

Timmy stuck his arms out to his sides as he cautiously walked along the edge of the wall. He guided the others throughout the maze, avoiding dead ends. He also tried to keep his eye out for the minotaur. He couldn’t see it. There’s no way he could miss it, it was huge. Could it simply be hiding around the next corner?

Back on the ground, Daniel had stopped walking. He raised his hand and everyone halted. “The walls are about to change.”

As if on cue, the floor shook violently. Some walls lowered while others rose where none had been before. Timmy was slowly lowered to the floor. Everyone kept their eyes open for the center of the maze and the minotaur.

Sundance got an idea. “Everyone follow me as best you can.” As the walls formed their new shape, he took off running between them. The others followed, desperately trying not to become separated. Sundance saw the center of the maze and didn’t want to stop, but a wall went up in front of him. The walls jetted to the left, so Sundance followed them.

“We should stop and let the walls form,” Petrina suggested. “We could be getting further without knowing it.”

“But we’re almost there,” Sundance argued. The walls were beginning to slow down.

“I think she’s…” Timmy started to say when a wall suddenly went up right in front of his face. “Captain?” He and Petrina were now separated from the rest of the group.

“Timmy!” Sundance shouted over the wall. “Stay right there! We’re coming!”

“There’s no way of knowing if we’d ever get there,” Astralyn warned.

The sound of stomping hooves echoed throughout the maze. Everyone’s blood ran cold. A flash of red light appeared behind Timmy and Petrina. They slowly turned around and saw that the minotaur had materialized at the end of the hallway.

“RUN!” Timmy shouted!

On the other side of the wall, Sundance and the others could hear the minotaur chase them down the hallway. Sundance pounded on the wall as he heard the terrifying screams. There was nothing he could do to save them. The screams stopped and then the minotaur was gone.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 12

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Heroes of Lunde, Episode 4

You, Me, and the Demon, Part 1

PART 1

The demon agent, Kendryl, ran down a dark and empty downtown alley. The ground was wet from the summer rain earlier that day. The downtown district of the village Pantano, just outside the royal castle wall, was buzzing with activity. There was a monthly celebration going on. Every second Saturday, the village people pulled out all the stops and sold their wares, played loud music, and ate all the vendor foods. 

Kendryl was using all of this to his advantage. The streets were crowded, which provided the perfect cover, or rather it should have, but he was being followed. He could sense his pursuers’ energies. They weren’t too far behind him. He had to find somewhere to hide. He didn’t want to lead them to his final destination. His employers would not like that.

He ducked behind a dumpster for a few moments to see if he could get a glimpse of his pursuers. After five minutes of waiting, there was no sign of them. Did he lose them? He hoped he had. He poked his head out from behind the dumpster and scanned the area. He must be alone now. There didn’t seem to be anyone around.

He stepped out into the open and continued his journey to his destination. He still felt his pursuers energies, but they were further away now. He thought he had successfully lost them. Maybe they were sampling some food carts and forgot about him. He giggled at the thought of them eating on the job. It was then that his stomach growled. He remembered he hadn’t eaten yet. He supposed he could grab a bite to eat once his objective was complete.

He wished he had the power of invisibility so that creeping through the streets would be easier. Unfortunately, he was not blessed with that gift. So, sneaking visibly through the streets it was. 

He wore the quintessential long trench coat with the collar turned up so that it would be difficult to ID him from behind. That didn’t really matter because he was seven feet tall and had red skin. He knew he stuck out like a sore thumb, but wearing the trenchcoat made him feel better. It made him feel slick and sleek. He didn’t care if it was true or not.

Kendryl reached the end of the alley and back into the crowd of people enjoying themselves. He shoved his way through the crowd in a rough manner, causing people to cry out their frustration of being touched. He ignored their cries for soon they would all be dead if everything went as planned.

He made his way to Graber Avenue and took a right. The street was mostly empty. Just a few drunk men looking for a place to pee without being noticed by constables. Kendryl rushed by them and tried not to take a peek as he passed. 

At the end of Graber Avenue was an old abandoned building that had been condemned for what looked like ten years by the dilapidated state it was in. There was usually a security guard patrolling the place to make sure that no kids snuck in to do their devil worshipping and or vandalism. He was sure the security guard was not there tonight due to the celebration. The reason why he was sure about this was because he bribed the security guard not to show up to work tonight. He was sad that he had to spend his last fifty gold coins, but if he did his job right, then he’d get those fifty gold coins back and more.

Kendryl reached the abandoned building. It used to be a hospital. It looked like a pale green mansion smack dab in the middle of downtown Pantano. The moonlight made it look haunted. He chuckled because if it wasn’t already haunted by evil spirits, it definitely would be tonight.

He climbed over the fence that surrounded the hospital and landed square on his butt when he slipped. He wasn’t the most athletic demon in the underworld, but at least he had his looks. He stood up and brushed the dead grass off of him. He patted his butt in an effort to get feeling back into his buns. The landing had numbed them.

He checked behind him to see if anyone had noticed him, but no one was paying him any attention. Good. He snuck over to the entrance of the hospital and pulled off the wooden planks that had been nailed to the doors. He let them fall to the concrete ground and they clattered loudly. He looked behind him again, no one was watching. He cursed under his breath and told himself he didn’t need to draw any unwanted attention to himself. Once the planks were gone, he opened the door and slipped inside.

He carefully closed the door behind him. He let his eyes adjust to the darkness. His eyes had great dark vision. He could see everything there was to see: the front desk, the lobby, the waiting room with the white cloths covering the chairs. He could smell the dust hanging in the air. Dust was one of his favorite smells, right up there with old books.

Kendryl stood in the lobby for a minute and sniffed the air. He remembered that he wasn’t getting paid to suck air. He snapped out of it and made his way to the basement.

The sound of his heavy footsteps echoed up and down the stairway. There were two more floors before he finally reached the basement. The door was covered with plastic. When he tore that away, he found that the door was covered in wooden planks. He ripped those away in no time. Nothing could stop him now. 

Kendryl opened the door which led to a dark empty room. It used to be an overflow emergency operation room; this explained why the room was so expanse. He imagined how the room had been once littered with all kinds of medical equipment beeping and flashing their pretty little lights while people in scrubs raced around cutting into other people to remove or implant things in their bodies. None of that was here now. Only dirty white walls, or at least he assumed they were white, in the darkness it was hard to tell.  

He walked to the center of the room and got down on his knees. He placed his right hand on the floor and closed his eyes. He let his powers seep down into the floor and stretch far into the ground beneath the concrete. He could feel the heat of the underworld race up to meet him. When he was connected to the underworld’s power, he drew it up within himself. He felt the warmth of that power mixing with his. It was quite a rush because this power was more raw than his own, which had been muddled through the generations.  

Once he had drawn enough power, he withdrew his hand from the floor. It was time to work his magic. He summoned the power to collect in his right hand, which he used to draw sigils in the concrete in a circular pattern. The signs of the demon language shown in bright purple as he drew them. When he drew the seventh sign, a red circle appeared and connected all of them. He stepped out of the way and watched the light show. 

The gate was almost complete. It just needed to hear the ancient incantation that would usher the Lord of Darkness from the underworld to this world. He didn’t memorize the incantation like he was supposed to, but he wrote it down. He figured that he could wing whatever he didn’t know and everything would work out just fine. 

He pulled a piece of paper out of his coat pocket and unfolded it. He noticed that he had gotten barbecue sauce on the upper right-hand corner of the paper. He remembered the bacon double cheeseburger that he had enjoyed at lunch today. 

The bacon wasn’t exactly crispy enough. He didn’t like wimpy bacon. Wimpy bacon angered his stomach and his dignity. He was a warrior! He demanded a warrior’s bacon, which is crispy, dammit! He made a mental note to burn that restaurant to the ground later for the insult.

He examined the rest of the paper and saw there was a small drop that conveniently landed on a letter of a big word that was probably crucial to the incantation. He tried to scrape the hardened sauce off and only succeeded in smudging it. He winced and hoped that the word was not too important. 

Kendryl parsed the rest of the words and got the gist of it. This was a Level 10 incantation and he was proficient with Level 9s. He had slacked in his studies and had not passed the Level 10 test. He lied to his employer to get this job because he had gotten some unexpected expenses and really needed the money. This job paid a lot, so he did what he had to do.  

He concentrated his powers into his vocal cords so that he could cast the summoning incantation. He opened his mouth and took a deep breath to utter the first syllable when suddenly he heard the door slam open. Instantly, he received a sharp pain in his back. He grunted as he felt the tip of the arrow break his skin. He spun around to find a dwarf standing in the entrance with his bow in hand. Apparently, he hadn’t lost his pursuers. 

“You’re too late, Hero,” Kendryl sneered. “The gate is just about open. The Lord of Darkness is coming!” 

“I could have lived the rest of my life without hearing that,” Everett said. 

Kendryl puffed up as he grew frustrated by the pun. “Gross!” He raised his left hand and produced a fireball. He launched it at the dwarf and laughed as he envisioned him bursting into flame.  

The fire ball flew at Everett at a great speed, but it did not connect, which confused Kendryl. The fireball floated in midair, mere inches from Everett’s face. The demon wondered what devil magic this was. The answer soon emerged from the hallway.  

A dashingly handsome man wearing a silver and blue uniform complete with matching cape appeared. He had his right hand extended, exerting magical energy to keep the fireball from reaching its target. He closed his fist and the fireball was extinguished. “Is it me or was it getting a little hot in here?” he said. He chuckled at his own joke, if one could call it that. This caused Kendryl to sneer at the man’s arrogance.  

A moment later, a tall woman dressed in battle armor, an elven woman, and a giant wolf man arrived in the doorway behind the wizard. It seemed like there were too many people invited to this party. Kendryl didn’t know if he could fight all of them. He was not looking forward to going toe to toe with the werewolf. He looked bitey. He had to get the gate open. The Lord of Darkness was waiting to cross over. He wouldn’t be too happy with Kendryl if he failed. Now he wished that he had memorized the incantation. 

“I think you had better pack up and go home,” the warrior princess, Andrada said. She pulled out her sword and raised it above her head so as not to hit her comrades who had not vacated the doorway. 

Kendryl created another fireball, larger this time, and bounced it in his left hand. “Look. I really don’t have time for this. I’m just going to incinerate you and go about my business, okay? You all okay with that?” He surveyed their faces and saw that they weren’t exactly thrilled with the plan. He shrugged his shoulders and smirked. “Too bad.” He threw the ball at them anyway. 

The team braced for impact needlessly. Quil reached out his hands and caught the fireball inches from their faces. They felt the heat emanating from it. Quil tried his best to crush the ball, but it was a bit more powerful than he thought. So he did the next best thing, he pushed the ball back at Kendryl. 

Kendryl caught the ball and was impressed by Quil’s prowess, and also angered that this was taking longer than he expected. The magic in the sigils weren’t going to last much longer. He needed to wrap this up with the quickness. He pushed the fireball back at Quil. 

Quil stood in front of the team and caught the ball with his powers. He didn’t hesitate to toss it back to Kendryl. 

The team watched as Kendryl and Quil played volleyball with this fireball. Andrada thought it was time to try another tactic. She slipped past Quil and tackled Kendryl to the ground, landing in the middle of the ring of magic. They rolled around, each one struggling for the top position. Kendryl was strong, but Andrada was stronger. She wrestled him to the ground and proceeded to deal out the punches. 

Kendryl wasn’t used to being mounted and assaulted in such a way. He was momentarily confused by what was happening before he finally started to fight back. He pushed Andrada’s heavy armor off of his chest, allowing him to take a deep breath. He used some of the magic from the circle to bolster his strength. With the added boost, he shoved the princess off him and launched her across the room. He stood up and roared.  

This cued Jaco, the werewolf, to roar as well. Kendryl gulped as he realized what was coming next. He ducked as the werewolf dove for him. The wolf landed on the wall and rebounded, succeeding in knocking the demon to the ground. Jaco raised his razor sharp claws and prepared to tear into him. 

“Jaco, stop!” Quil called out. Jaco stopped in mid swing and looked up at Quil, his leader, his lover. “Sit.” Jaco immediately huffed and promptly sat his werewolf butt down on top of Kendryl’s back. “Good boy!” Jaco’s tongue lolled out and dripped on Kendryl’s expensive jacket. 

The light from the magic circle was dying out. Kendryl tried to wiggle his way out from underneath the werewolf, but the thing was heavy. This guy needed to be on a diet. He mentally cursed himself for allowing himself to be caught. This was not going to look good on his resume. He finally ceased struggling and just let whatever was going to happen happen. He was at the Heroes’ mercy. Or was he?  

Quil and the elven woman, Amareese, approached Kendryl and knelt down to face him. Kendryl wished that his throat wasn’t so dry so that he could spit on their really nice, expensive looking shoes. 

“Who put you up to this?” Quil asked. 

Kendryl snorted. “You think I’m going to tell you? You’re naïve! That or you’re really stupid.” 

Quil slapped Kendryl in the face. He withdrew his hand and shook it. The demon’s face was harder than it looked. “You will tell me, or I’ll have Reese here turn your insides into mulch for maggots.” He tapped Reese on the shoulder. She produced a flower at the tip of her index finger. “Imagine that crawling out of your skin from inside your gut. You’d be a pretty garden.” 

“You suck at scare tactics,” Kendryl said. “I mean, I’m no expert on interrogations, but you’re doing pretty badly.” 

Quil took a deep breath and allowed the critique to flow off his back. It was true that he hadn’t conducted many interrogations in the past, but that was mostly due to the fact that he hadn’t trained Jaco not to tear the suspects to shreds before the questioning. He seemed to have succeeded tonight. 

“Never mind my tactics,” Quil said, waving his hand dismissively. “I will make you talk or I will let the puppy tear you apart.” He caught Kendryl trying to put the incantation into his pocket and wrestled it from his hand. “What’s this? A spell?” He examined it and nodded his head. “Yep. I can take care of this.” He went to put the paper in his pocket when he remembered that he didn’t make this uniform with pockets. He would have to fix that. He was content to hold it. He looked at the summoning circle and frowned. That needed to be dealt with quickly. “Reese?”  

The elven nodded her head, knowing what he wanted. She materialized her giant earthen Warhammer and struck the floor with it, right in the middle of the circle.  

The summoning circle surged with power for a brief moment before it finally faded away. Kendryl let out a sigh of frustration. He had run out of options. Either he went with the Heroes and endured whatever torture they had planned for him, or he had to die in the service of the Dark Lord. He was pretty sure that he wouldn’t last long while being tortured, no matter how bad it was, and he’d talk, so that left the other option. Damn, he had enjoyed living so far. He supposed the jig was up. The Dark Circle would probably kill him for failing to release the Lord of Darkness, so it was better that he went out on his own terms. 

Quil stood up and patted Jaco on the head. The werewolf panted enthusiastically. “Okay, let’s pick him up and get him out of here.”  

Jaco stood up, relieving Kendryl and picked him up off the ground. 

Kendryl knew that it was either now or never. He reached deep within his mind and initiated the self destruct spell. His skin began to heat up and sizzle. This made it difficult for Jaco to hold on to him for very long. He eventually had to let go. 

“What are you doing?” Quil asked. He watched as Kendryl’s skin cracked to reveal bright burning red embers. “Stop that!” 

“Make me, wizard!” Kendryl stuck his tongue out at him. A second later, he burst into a million fiery pieces. The team shielded their faces to protect themselves from being burned. 

“What the actual fuck!” Quil shouted. Jaco whimpered sadly. 

“He blew up,” Everett said, sounding impressed. “Cool trick.” 

The ash rained down upon them. Jaco tried to catch it with his tongue. When he did, he was quite disappointed with the flavor. Quil made a futile effort to wave some of the ash out of his face. 

“So now what?” Andrada asked. “We don’t know any more than we did when we started.” Her frustration showed on her face; while she appreciated that the enemy died, she wanted his death to be by their hand for a truly flawless victory. 

“Well, we did manage to stop him from summoning the Lord of Darkness into our reality, so I call that a win.” Quil placed his hands on his hips and posed triumphantly. “Now let’s get the hell out of here.” 

“Agreed,” Reese said. “It is quite dreary in here. I feel that there might be some lingering spirits residing here.” She gave the room a scan in the hope and fear that she might see one of the spirits, but she saw none. 

Quil led the team out of the basement. As he climbed up the stairs, he felt something cold enter his body. He shivered for a few seconds before the chill left him. He had stopped walking as this happened, causing a back up. 

“Quil, are you alright?” Everett asked. “You seem to have stopped.” 

Quil didn’t know what had just happened, but he was sure that it was nothing. It might have been a bit chilly in the basement and it was just now affecting him. “I’m fine,” he replied. He continued his journey up the stairs, not noticing the concerned look on Everett’s face. He felt tired and the desire to be asleep overcame him. Fortunately, it wasn’t a long ride back to the castle. He mustered the strength to make home.  

The minute he got out of the buggy that stopped in front of the castle, he made his way to bed. He didn’t bother taking off his uniform before he crawled in bed. He didn’t understand why he was so tired all of a sudden, but it didn’t matter now. He was in bed. He was asleep within seconds of his head hitting the pillow. He didn’t dream. 

*** 

Quil woke up with a kink in his neck. He sat up and tried to pop his neck bones back into place, but they refused to be aligned. He sighed and resigned to having Jaco give him a neck rub; he had nice, strong hands. 

He got out of bed and did his usual waking up routine: potty; shower; brush his teeth, and getting dressed. He was unaware of what time it was, so he expected breakfast to be ready. He was surprised when he got to the dining hall to find that there was no breakfast spread waiting for him. He wondered what had gone wrong. He looked at the giant clock hung just above the door to the dining hall and gasped when he saw that it was 3:00 in the afternoon. He stood there shocked and amazed at how he could have slept for thirteen hours. 

“So, he awakes,” said his brother, Chrys, from behind him. “Did you stay up all night partying with your loser friends?”  

Quil resented the condescending tone in Chrys’ voice. “No, I wasn’t partying. Me and my loser friends were just stopping the Lord of Darkness from emerging from the underworld. What were you doing?” 

“I was patrolling the eastern borders if you must know,” Chrys replied. “You know, something useful.” 

“How is stopping the Lord of Darkness not useful?” Quil didn’t feel like getting into an argument with him right then, but he couldn’t stop himself. He was sick of Chrys’ self-righteous attitude. “You should come on a mission with us sometime and then you’ll see how useful we are. But I suppose that’s beneath you.” He gave his brother a hard glare. 

Chrys smirked for a brief second, but then his face changed from one of amused to concerned, and then to frightened. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” 

“I’m not doing anything,” Quil said, confused. 

“Your eyes…” Chrys took a step back. 

“What about them?”  

“They’re red.” 

“I’m tired. Nothing to be afraid of.” Quil rubbed his eyes to demonstrate how tired he was. The problem was that he wasn’t feeling tired. In fact, he felt pretty rested with the exception of the kink in his neck. He must have slept like a rock and didn’t move a muscle. That didn’t answer the question of why his brother was freaking out. 

Quil walked over to one of the mirrors on the wall and saw what Chrys was talking about. It wasn’t the whites of his eyes that were red, but the iris. He took a step back and touched his face. He had seen those eyes before. Didn’t that demon have similar eyes last night, he thought. What was happening? 

“Did you try to use magic on me?” Chrys accused. 

“No! Of course not!” Quil suddenly wished that he had. The image of Chrys being lifted off the ground, clutching at his throat as it was squeezed inward to the point of almost collapsing entered his mind. He felt amused by this. Before he got too deep into the fantasy, he caught his thoughts getting darker. He was frightened by this and shook the thought out of his head. “No… I wouldn’t think of it.” 

Chrys sighed and placed his hands at his side. “You better not.” 

An anger hit Quil out of nowhere. He spun around and shot a hard glance at his brother. “And what if I did, what would you do about it?” he shouted. “You would probably run sniveling to Father and cower in a corner in fear and shame.” As he approached his brother, he could feel his eyes growing warm. They were glowing orange now. He enjoyed the look of horror on Chrys’s face. “Why can’t you just admit that you’re jealous of my power? You weren’t smart enough to go to Wizarding School and now you look down your nose at me. Maybe I should do you a favor and put you out of your misery.” He felt his right hand twitch as energy flowed to it. He was running through the card catalog of spells in his mind as he powered up. 

“Quil, you’re starting to scare me,” Chrys admitted. “What’s wrong with you?” 

“I’ve finally had enough of your pompous bullshit,” Quil said. He took a few more steps toward Chrys with a menacing smile on his face. He extended his hand and a fireball appeared in it. Chrys pleaded for him to put it away, but Quil was not listening. With each step, the fireball grew larger. He was going to pay for insulting his team. 

“I will enjoy watching you burn, brother.” Quil prepared to launch the fireball at him when he suddenly heard a familiar voice behind him. 

“Quil, don’t!” It was Jaco. He was in his human form, dressed only in red spandex pants. He had just come from Quil’s room to find that he wasn’t there. He searched most of the castle for him and finally guessed that he might be in the dining hall. He arrived just in time to catch Quil in the act.  

Quil turned around and saw Jaco standing there, sweat glistening off his body. This immediately calmed him and he lowered his hand. The fireball was snuffed out. His thoughts were returning to him. For a moment his thoughts became cloudy and he was disconnected from himself. He didn’t know where he went, but he was glad to be back. He heard Chrys whimper something and he returned his attention back to him. He saw how terrified he was and instantly felt awful. 

“Chrys, I’m so sorry!” He reached out to comfort his brother, but he pulled away. This made him feel even worse. “I don’t know what came over me. I didn’t mean those things I said.” 

“Yeah, whatever, just stay away from me,” Chrys said as he straightened himself up. He didn’t dare to express any displeasure at what had just transpired out of fear. He just found somewhere else to be. Quil and Jaco watched Chrys leave the room. The door slammed loudly, displaying Chrys’ true feelings. 

Jaco went to Quil and hugged him. “What the hell was that about? Did he do something to piss you off?” 

“When doesn’t he?” Quil joked. When he and Jaco separated, he saw the concern in Jaco’s eyes. “Are my eyes still red?” Jaco shook his head. “Something is happening to me. I don’t know what it is. I just remembered thinking that I wanted Chrys to pay for insulting the Heroes.” He clenched his right hand into a fist and brought it up to examine. “I almost toasted him. I couldn’t control myself, Jaco. It was like someone else was controlling me.” 

Jaco furrowed his fuzzy brows. “That doesn’t sound normal. You need to see someone.” 

Quil scoffed. “I’m not seeing a head shrinker. I’m not crazy.” 

“You just said that you felt like someone was controlling you. I think you might be possessed.” Jaco placed a hand on Quil’s right shoulder. “You need to be exorcised.” 

Quil couldn’t help but laugh. “Possessed? That’s a little woo-woo, even for you.” 

“Come with me and we’ll see someone,” Jaco took Quil’s hand and pulled him toward the door. He felt Quil’s resistance. He looked back at him and raised an eyebrow paired with his award winning smile. “Trust me?” Quil nodded his head. “Then let’s go.” 

Quil’s stomach gurgled. “Can we get something to eat on the way. I’m famished.” Jaco agreed and the two of them left the dining hall. 

*** 

In a dark lair in some secret far away place, Mistress L entered her favorite chamber where her viewing globe sat on a purple crushed velvet cushion. She sat before it and waved her hands over it. It glowed with an eerie white light. She needed to find Kendryl. She noticed that the Dark Lord had not risen as per the plan. She wanted a report. She focused her power in finding him across the great lands. She searched the souls of the people in her path until she finally landed on her target… only it wasn’t her target. She leaned closer just in case her eyes deceived her. She thought about getting her glasses, but she hated wearing them because she thought that they made her look like a grandmother, and not one of those young grandmothers, but the really old kind.  

She examined the face in the globe and found she was staring at the face of the leader of the Heroes of Lunde. What did this mean? She conducted the search repeatedly and the results were the same. Quil’s face stared back at her with an irritating smile on his face.  

Mistress L sat back and pondered why this was. She assumed that something had gone wrong while he attempted to summon the Dark Lord. How Kendryl’s energy signature ended up on Quil didn’t make sense to her. What could have happened for this to be the result?

 She would have to consult the other members of the Dark Circle. Maybe there was still a chance to turn things around in their favor. She made up her mind that she was going to watch Quil to see if anything interesting happened. The thought of making popcorn also occurred to her. Food was making this much more interesting. Once she decided on popcorn, she left the chamber to prepare some, hoping that she wouldn’t miss too much. 

To be continued…

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Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 10

Previously on Perils of S.P.A.C.E.: Astralyn and the boys head to Planet Destin to meet with Dr. Hartnell about a certain artifact, unaware of his possible sinister ulterior motives for giving it to them.


Episode 10: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part II- Ticking Box of Doom

“Doesn’t anyone else think that guy was a little creepy?” Timmy asked as they reached the parking lot. There were multiple rows of rocket ships waiting in the two suns for their owners to return. Sundance unlocked the StarTango and the three of them climbed inside through the back door. “I mean, anyone? Just me? Hello?”

“We heard you the first time,” Sundance said. He waited until Timmy and Astralyn had exited the airlock before he shut the door and locked it. “He did strike me as a little odd, but he’s an old man- old men are creepy.” He headed to the cockpit and prepared for take off.

Timmy reluctantly sat down in his seat and sighed. “My stomach is getting that feeling again.”

“Maybe you should have had more than a scone for breakfast,” Sundance said, switching on the ignition. “There were plenty of waffles and pancakes.”

Timmy patted his stomach and sighed again. “I didn’t care much for waffles and pancakes, sir.”

Astralyn couldn’t take her eyes off the Minos Cube. She played with it in her hands. She thought about asking Doctor Hartnell for a bag, but then she wouldn’t have been able to look at it. The little box was so cool to the touch and smooth, she never wanted to let it go.

“Are you enjoying your new shiny thing, Astralyn?” Sundance asked.

“Very much so,” she replied. “To think it came from Old Earth.”

“Imagine that.” Sundance smirked. “If you sell it, we could get more than enough money to pay for the gas it took to pick it up, and maybe some breakfast.” Astralyn did not appreciate the humor.

The StarTango lifted off and zoomed out into space.

Astralyn continued to examine the cube. She had seen every inch of it, but she couldn’t help herself. She gingerly caressed the cube with her thumbs. It suddenly shook almost causing her to drop it.

“What happened?” Timmy asked when Astralyn gasped.

“The cube… it vibrated.”

Timmy sunk down in his chair.

“Are you sure it wasn’t just the ship hitting some turbulence?” Sundance asked.

“Shh.” Astralyn slowly raised the cube to her ear. Timmy and Sundance held their breath as a faint ticking sound was heard. “I think it’s ticking.”

Timmy shot out of his chair and rushed over to Astralyn. He snatched the cube out of her hands. “It’s a bomb!”

“It’s not a bomb!” Astralyn said, standing up to retrieve her artifact.

“Then why is it ticking?” Timmy marched over to the airlock door and started to punch in the code to open it.

“TIMMY! WHAT HELL ARE YOU DOING?” Sundance quickly placed the ship on autopilot and jumped up to stop Timmy. He pulled him away from the airlock and sat him down on Astralyn’s chair. The box slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor. “What is it with you? You’re acting completely nuts.”

“It’s a ticking box of doom, sir!”

“Explosives haven’t ticked in ages,” Sundance said. “Snap out of it, man!”

“It stopped,” Astralyn said quietly.

All eyes were on the little black cube. They weren’t exactly sure what they expected it to do. Sundance slowly stepped over to it. He cautiously picked it up and tapped it three times. Nothing happened.

“So, I think it’s safe to say it’s not a bomb,” he said.

In a flash of red light, the cube shook and fell to the floor. It was the only passenger on the ship.

———————————————–

“I swear to God, Timmy, if you don’t stop complaining about your stomach,” Sundance mumbled as he slowly sat up. His head was pounding. He rubbed his forehead in the hopes of massaging the pain away. When his vision cleared, he realized that he was no longer on the StarTango. Thanks to a light somewhere above him, Sundance saw that he sat on a gray floor with the spectacularly gray walls that had to be fifteen feet high on either side of him. He looked behind him and saw that Astralyn and Timmy were lying unconscious on the floor. He crawled over to Timmy and shook him.

“Timmy. Timmy!”

“I don’t want any,” Timmy mumbled.

Sundance gave Timmy a little slap and he woke up immediately. “Captain?”

“Good.” He helped Timmy sit up.

“Where are we, sir?”

“I don’t know, Timmy.” Sundance crawled over to Astralyn and gently shook her awake.

A loud roar was heard in the not too far off distance of wherever they were and it echoed. All three of them stood up with their eyes searching for the source of the noise.

“Astralyn, I think we might have a problem.” A cacophonous snort backed up Sundance’s claim.

“I’m all for getting the hell out of here, wherever here is,” Timmy said. He saw an illuminated hallway that seemed to be the way out. As soon as he and Astralyn headed towards it, a wall slid up and closed them in. “That can’t be a good thing.”

Sundance and Timmy pulled out their laser guns and tried to make themselves an exit; the walls seemed impervious to their trifling laser beams. When they got the hint that it wasn’t going to work, they put their laser guns away.

The ground started to shake. They braced themselves against the walls as the shaking continued. They looked around in panic to see where they were and what could be making the racket. Timmy looked above him and saw a large creature that had enormous horns on a head that was similar to a bull.

“A minotaur?” Astralyn stared in amazement.

“A mino what?” Sundance asked.

The wall that Sundance and Astralyn were leaning on slowly lowered to reveal the full might of the twenty foot minotaur, complete with swing action axe. They stepped back as the minotaur stomped into the new opening. Its steely black eyes homed in on them.

To be continued…

Onward to Episode 11

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Perils of S.P.A.C.E. Episode 9

Episode 9: The Curse of the Minotaur, Part I- Gift Box

Sundance sat in the pilot’s seat as the StarTango lifted off the S.P.A.C.E. headquarters’ tarmac. Timmy sat dutifully in the co-pilot seat. He looked behind him to address Astralyn, she was sitting in the third seat.

“It was really nice of Admiral Graves to let you come with us on this mission,” Timmy said, smiling at her.

“Didn’t the Admiral tell you?” Astralyn almost looked amused. “It’s my fault you’re going on this mission in the first place.”

“Oh?”

Sundance mumbled something under his breath as he aimed the ship towards the sky. Astralyn and Timmy turned to hear what he was saying. “You were saying, Captain?” Timmy asked.

“While I’m sure Miss Winner undoubtedly enjoys our company, I don’t think we should be out mimicking Federal Express,” Sundance said. “We shouldn’t be out picking up packages of shiny things.”

“Not all space adventures can be about rescuing the damsel in distress, Captain.” Astralyn gave a short laugh. “Sometimes they’re about escorting said damsel to pick up an artifact.”

“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Sundance said with a smile. Timmy and Astralyn chuckled uncomfortably.

“What exactly are we going to get?” Timmy asked.

Very glad that he asked, Astralyn leaned forward and replied, “It’s called the Minos Cube. It’s a very old artifact stemming from the Ancient Era on Old Earth about a billion years ago.” Timmy looked intrigued so she kept going. “Some have said that the artifact is cursed.”

“Cursed?” Timmy gulped. “Captain?”

“Oh, please,” Sundance said. “It’s as real as the Easter Bunny.”

“Bunnies are flat out evil, sir,” Timmy replied. He ignored Astralyn’s snickers as he pouted. “It’s true! They’re devious minions of the devil!”

The StarTango’s main rocket boosters kicked into high gear as it punched through the atmosphere. It sped off into the stars towards Astralyn’s destination.

————————————–

On the planet Destin, an old man peered out of his office window and watched as two men and a woman approached the front door. Damn, they’re early, he thought. He closed the window and made sure his office was nice and tidy. If all went well, his visitors won’t need to be in there. He clustered some errant papers together and placed all of his pens in a cup anyway. He stepped through the black curtains to the lobby of the museum. There were various displays of fossils and minerals placed throughout the area. People placed their hands on the glass even though the signs specifically said not to. He took a deep breath and ignored this as he greeted his visitors.

“Oh, you must be Astralyn Winner,” he said. “I’m Doctor Hartnell.” He shook the young woman’s hand. She smiled at him. “And these must be your handsome escorts: Captain Starmont and Lieutenant Falken.”

“We’re not escorts,” Sundance said, not wanting the professor to get the wrong idea.

“You have a charming museum, Doctor,” Astralyn said, looking around. “I would truly love a tour. Maybe when our business is done?”

“Quite,” Doctor Hartnell replied. “This way.”

The doctor led them away from his office and towards a room that was cordoned off by a green velvet rope. He unhooked the rope from one of the stanchions and allowed them to enter. Timmy gave him a peculiar look, though he dismissed it.

The walls were painted dark green, so dark they might as well have been black. There was only one display in this room. It stood on a pedestal with a single white light shining down on it. Underneath the glass case sat a small black cube; just looking at it sent shivers down Timmy’s back. Goosebumps were to be had by all.

Doctor Hartnell pulled some gloves out of his tweed jacket and put them on. He pulled the glass case off and carefully set it on the floor. Astralyn and Sundance approached the pedestal and watched as Doctor Hartnell lifted the cube from its velvet red cushion. “I present to you the Minos Cube. Hold out your hand.” Astralyn held out her hands and the doctor placed the cube in them. The box was made of steel and chilled her hands, like holding onto an ice cube.

“It’s so well preserved. Your clean up crew did a marvelous job.” Astralyn examined it in awe. “I really appreciate…” She caught herself and took a deep breath to try again. “The New Earth Museum of Artifacts thanks you very much for your donation.”

“Think nothing of it, my dear, Astralyn.”

Doctor Hartnell placed the glass case back onto the pedestal. He led them back to his office (much to his chagrin) to discuss the legal matters and small talk. When that was done, he walked Astralyn and her escorts outside. He waved goodbye as they walked into the city streets. When they turned the corner, his face went from light to dark.

He walked back into his office and as soon as he closed the black curtains, he let out a pained sigh.

“Has the deposit been made?” whispered a sinister voice in his left ear.

“Yes, master,” Doctor Hartnell replied. His eyes shot open and his skin chilled, clearly surprised. “They came, just like you said.”

“Do they suspect anything?” The voice was light and smooth, but there was something dark about it.

Doctor Hartnell scanned the office, looking for the body the voice belonged to, but could see no one. “No, Master.”

“Then you have done well.” The voice trailed off and the room got warmer. The doctor took a chance and spun around to face the voice, but there was no one there.

Hartnell’s heartbeat slowed as he sat back down at his desk. He tried to go about business as usual, but he couldn’t stop thinking about the fate those young people will soon face. He soon replaced this thought with one of cleaning his office, but the chill never left him.

To be continued…

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