Story2

2.12: Reversal

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART TWELVE: Reversal

“Splitting the party has to be one of the stupidest ideas you’ve ever had.”

“Glad you’re, you know, feeling better.”

Chartreuse sounded tired. Azure frowned. She didn’t sit up again though – that had hurt. Instead, the blue haired girl decided to stop ragging on her sister and actually take stock of what had been happening around them lately. This was surprisingly harder to do than she’d initially anticipated, so she decided to return to her first really solid memories.

She had survived her first year of high school. Yay. It was now – or had been – summer vacation. The Vermilion family hadn’t been called upon to do any summer missions, and to her delight, her parents hadn’t insisted on doing any family bonding exercises in July either. Well, they hadn’t yet.

Then, that afternoon, Chartreuse had phoned for advice about seeing the past. Then, someone named Alice had phoned, saying that Chartreuse was in trouble. Although she’d wondered if it was a prank call, Azure had answered truthfully – she would help her sister, if she was seriously the only one who could.

She’d then found herself in a cylindrical room, feeling dizzy.

“You’ll need to break her out of a spell,” came a woman’s voice. Azure recognized the sound as being ‘Alice’ from the phone, and tracked the noise to a pair of legs sticking out from an open computer panel against the side wall. Alice was wearing jeans and running shoes.

“Who?” Azure wondered, dazedly. She took a step, but nearly fell over, so decided to just stand there and regain her equilibrium.

“Chartreuse. And Simon,” the legs explained. “I’m modifying this up to ‘port you in next to them. I think. Yeah, this should work. But! It means I won’t have the power to do much afterwards. So don’t expect any more backup for a while.”

“Backup?”

“Can’t back up, only moving forwards,” Alice countered, finally shoving herself out from underneath the bank of computers. She was a brunette. She stood and hit enter on a keyboard. There was a rumble, the room began to vibrate somehow, and moments later a chevron lit up on the floor. There was a huge ring device there, which Azure hadn’t noticed.

“Wait, what spell?”

“Beats me,” Alice said. “Tenuous mental connection. But breaking it should be obvious. Just be FAST, I don’t know how much time you’ll have.” She walked over and held out some sort of watch device.

A second chevron lit up, then a third. Azure narrowed her eyes. “Did our mom put you up to this?”

Alice’s smile was quirky. “No, Luke. I am not your mother.”

Things got much more jumbled after that. Azure remembered going through the portal, seeing a surprised elf girl, saving her sister and some older guy, seeing a magical pony, learning about a dangerous witch, activating her magic, and nearly throwing up in a corridor. Her stomach gurgled a bit at that last memory.

Except she wasn’t in a corridor now, she was in a bed.

A bed in what had looked like a kitchen. Though Azure granted that she might have misinterpreted the scene when she’d decided to sit up. In fact the only thing about the room that she’d been sure of, is that Chartreuse had been the only other person there. Yet when she’d asked about the other guy, Simon, her sister had said they’d left him behind in the castle.

Seriously, when you’re up against a hostile witch, why would you split the party?

Having decided that this was as much as she’d get from her memories, Azure spoke up again. “How long have I NOT been feeling better?”

“Three days.”

Azure sat bolt upright at that, ignoring the pangs in her temples. “Three DAYS?”

“It’s my fault,” Chartreuse said quietly. “I’m sorry.”

Azure squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them again. Okay, they weren’t quite in a kitchen, it was more like an all purpose room of some sort. In, seemingly, a basement. “Don’t be sorry, be… explainy,” Azure requested.

Chartreuse02

CHARTREUSE

Chartreuse let out a breath, standing up from her chair. “When I first came to this world, it, like, took me a full day to align my aura to… you know, wherever this is. I didn’t try major crystal divinations in that time.” She began to pace, not meeting her sister’s gaze. “Yet within moments of arriving, you had to, like, disrupt powerful magic, then create an image to allow us to hide from Wanda. Your body couldn’t take it.” She sniffled. “I should have realized. I’m–”

“If you say sorry, I WILL slap you,” Azure cut in. She hated when Chartreuse got upset. Not only was it out of character for the older girl, it meant that Azure couldn’t simply snipe at her without feeling guilty. “You’re not psychic, only semi-clairvoyant.”

“Which wasn’t good enough. It’s, you know, why you had to be brought here.”

Azure grabbed her pillow and heaved it at her sister. She smiled as it scored a direct hit on the back of Chartreuse’s head, forcing the other girl to look at her. “Stop it! Explainy. Here is where?”

“I don’t really know. Like, an alternate Earth?”

Azure rolled her eyes. She’d presumed as much. “Here this ROOM is where?”

“Oh. Pelinelneth’s place in town. Didn’t seem like she’d be, you know, using it.”

“P-line-L-nith?”

“Elf girl. Wanda’s imaginary friend, made real by a wish. Shot at Simon with an arrow.”

“Right.” Azure thought back over the last few remarks. It helped that her headache was disappearing. “You said you were on this Earth for a full day to align your aura? But I saw you this morning. That is, the same morning you and Alice phoned me.”

Chartreuse picked up the pillow from the floor and came back to sit in the chair. “Possibly time passes here at a different, you know, rate? All I know is Alice initially told me that I could be back home in time for, like, supper.”

Azure mused again. She decided to be blunt. “If Alice knew you’d need time to adjust, she’d have known it for me. In fact, she told me I’d have to be fast, and in retrospect, I don’t think she said it because of Peleline– Pelnino– the elf’s immobilization field.” She crossed her arms. “I don’t trust this Alice. How long have you known her?”

“Not long. Only since I was, you know, first brought here.”

“THAT’S reassuring.”

“She needed help! Our family provides help! Besides, Alice’s, you know, aura seemed a lot better than some of the guys from the Canadian government we’ve dealt with in the past.” She sighed. “Anyway, moot point. We’re here now, and we need Alice’s help to communicate back with Simon.”

“Oh yeah. Remind me why leaving him behind was a good idea?”

“You needed to be cared for. I didn’t, like, think that would be possible in the castle. But we, you know, needed to keep someone on the inside, since we’ll have to get back in. To get the evil artifact away from Wanda.”

“Evil artifact. Check. Did we get an artifact too? Is this like high stakes ‘Capture the Flag’?”

To Azure’s relief, Chartreuse half smiled. “No.”

“Too bad.” The younger Vermilion swung her legs over the edge of the bed. “So what’s happened the last three days?”

“I’ve, like, read through Wanda’s journal.”

“And?”

“Been very, um, unsettled.”

“You’ve done nothing else??”

“I’ve cared for you. I’ve cooked badly.”

Azure made a dismissive gesture. “No news there. What about from this Simon, what have you heard?”

Chartreuse hesitated. “That’s where things get a bit more, you know, interesting.”

***

In fleeing from the Wizard’s Sanctuary, Simon recalled that, in the dungeon, three cell doors had been closed – and he’d only investigated the cell with Chartreuse. Whatever the other two cells were being used for, they’d probably make for a good hiding place. After all, he still had the keys to get into them, and it was probably the last place Wanda would look.

Once he’d found his way to the dungeon through conventional corridors, he’d discovered that the first locked room was a storage area of some sort. There were some sacks of flour and other foods – as well as a few bladed weapons. He wondered whether it was smart keeping a small armoury so close to actual prisoners. Then he remembered that Wanda had been removing weapons from the town, so maybe some guards were concealing the items down here. It made him feel better about his choice of hiding places.

The second room contained a person.

It caught Simon by surprise, as with all the noise they’d made in their earlier jailbreak, he’d have thought any other prisoners would have spoken up. But when he swung open the door, there she was, curled up in the corner. Her head rested against the wall, knees drawn in to her chest. Her long, dirty blonde hair was tangled about her shoulders, and she was wearing a faded dress. She seemed to be about his age, maybe older.

She looked up at him with blue eyes. For some reason, she seemed vaguely familiar. “You’re not the usual guard,” she murmured.

“I’m… not a guard,” was all Simon could think to say.

“You look like a guard.”

Simon looked down at his outfit, which definitely did not look like an official uniform – allowing him to spot the card that Azure had pinned onto his chest. The one that had the word ‘Guard’ scribbled onto it.

“Wait, no you don’t. Who are you?” She slightly uncurled. Simon made a mental note to not allow anyone to get more than a brief look at him.

“I’m the nephew of a guard,” Simon hedged, trying to figure out why she seemed familiar. “Who are you?”

She blinked back at him. “Iklius,” she answered. She curled back up. “Or call me Ikky, like the others. I don’t care any more.”

Simon felt like a hand was simultaneously squeezing at his heart while punching him in the gut. For a moment, he couldn’t move. Because her features were JUST similar enough for it to be true. For this to be the same boy who had tried to tear at his clothing, and later punch him in the face. When he’d been in Wanda’s spell. When he’d been a girl. Now Iklius was the girl – woman – while he was the man. Simon frowned. Gender was confusing.

“I… I’ve heard of you,” Simon managed. “Wanda turned you into a woman?”

“I turned MYSELF into one,” Ikky said bitterly. “A few months ago, when I wished I could understand Wanda better. It was supposed to show me how I could come after her, to avenge my friends! Not turn me into this!”

“Oh,” Simon said. His lips pursed. He couldn’t resist asking, “Do you at least understand Wanda better?”

“I’m just glad I can’t be put in the same cell as that Qifarihm any more! And if you’re here asking about his escape, I don’t know anything!”

“I’m not here about his escape. He’s a statue now anyway.”

“Oh. Well good,” Ikky said. There was a pause. “So why ARE you here? You do sound kind of familiar.”

“Just checking on you,” Simon said. And he’d closed the cell door again.

***

“He left her in JAIL?” Azure said, aghast. “Okay, I don’t think I trust your Simon either.”

“First, he’s not my Simon,” Chartreuse said in mild irritation. “Second, it’s not that simple. You don’t, like, know what this woman did when she was a man – I do. I’ve read the journal. And we promised Pelinelneth that we’d minimize Wanda’s suffering, so, like, releasing someone who’s got a vendetta against her didn’t seem wise.” She paused. “Particularly given how badly that went the first time.”

Well, Azure thought, the final remark saved her from bringing up whatever had happened with Qifarihm. So she decided to drop it. For now. “Has Simon passed on any other info through Alice?”

“He’s mapped out the castle a little better,” Chartreuse said. “And he has a sense of when Wanda’s got, you know, duties and stuff. We think our next step is–”

She didn’t get a chance to complete her thought, because there was the sound of a door being smashed open. Almost immediately there were footsteps, and a boy came into view, running down the stairs. He was a dark haired teenager, and as he saw Azure and her sister, he levelled a crossbow across the room at them. “All right!” he shouted. “You’re going to tell me what you’ve done to Pelinelneth, or my name’s not Joey Frankson!”
WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL IDEALLY CLOSE TUESDAY MAR 3 EST

Next ->

Advertisements

2.11: Hard Truths

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART ELEVEN: Hard Truths

“Azure?!” Chartreuse gasped.

“No duh!” the blue haired girl fired back at her sister.

Simon registered what they were saying, but he was rather more preoccupied with patting himself down to verify that yes, he was again back in his more familiar male body. As opposed to the female one he’d inhabited for the duration of Wanda’s spell. Unfortunately, this meant he only registered the presence of the fourth person in the room after the immobilization field hit.

It then took a moment for Simon to realize it wasn’t complete immobilization. While it felt like he couldn’t move in the wash of deep pink (even more pink than the room had been previously), it was possible to counter the effect. But it was slow, and hurt. A lot. Still, he grit his teeth and turned his head to get a better sense of what they were up against.

He was kneeling less than an arm’s length away from Chartreuse, her sister Azure crouched in front of them. Azure was holding two index cards in her hands. All of them were closer to Qifarihm’s statue than Simon remembered – allowing him to realize that the wash of pink came from the magic circle that they were currently inside, the circumference glowing red. Peering out, he recognized the fourth individual. And he realized they had a chance.

“Pelinelneth,” he rasped. “Help us.”

“Help?! She’s doing this!” Azure countered, grimacing with the effort of speaking. “If you two weren’t so slow…”

“How are you here?” Chartreuse demanded.

“Double duh. Your friend Alice,” Azure stated.

“But this circle, it isn’t elf magic,” Simon protested.

“You’re right,” came a voice from somewhere behind him. It took a moment for Simon to place the speaker as Snowball, Qifarihm’s former cat – who had been turned into a small pink unicorn. “But Wanda left Pel with the ability to switch the field on, should anything happen,” the female voice continued. “Which it has. In the form of a young girl appearing out of a blue whirlpool. That was new.”

“Meaning Wanda was right,” Pelinelneth remarked. “Other world people are coming to take the artifact away from her.”

“So maybe they should.”

Simon saw Pelinelneth turn an accusing gaze towards the unicorn’s position. “So you ARE a traitor!”

“This from the elf who left us for town.”

AzureCF

AZURE VERMILION
New cast member

“Azure! You’ve, like, gotta get out of here!” Chartreuse said, aghast.

“Gee, I would, but I’m kind of immobile after SAVING YOUR LIFE,” Azure shot back.

“WHOA!” Simon shouted out, realizing from the cacophony of voices that he was now the only male in the room. An odd reversal. “Let’s all talk for a moment. Maybe without this pain field?”

“I have nothing to say to you,” Pelinelneth shot back.

“Not even about being Wanda’s imaginary friend?” he countered. The elf flinched at the reference, but pursed her lips closed.

“Who is Wanda anyway?” Azure asked.

“Alice didn’t even, you know, EXPLAIN her?!” Chartreuse shrieked.

“Explanations actually sound like a good plan,” Snowball stated. Abruptly Simon felt the ability to move without pain once again – but the blood red circle still surrounded them, glowing menacingly. He cautiously rose to his feet, as Snowball continued with, “So I’m lessening the field. Meaning I get to dictate the rules.”

“Who IS saying th– O. M. G, UNICORN,” Azure gasped, as she also stood up and apparently got her first good look at Snowball.

Chartreuse reached for Azure’s arm, where Simon noticed a communicator watch. “No! It’s not safe! Call Alice back, you’re, like, leaving!”

“Since when has life been SAFE?” Azure retorted. “Also, Alice doesn’t have the power! Also, how dare you run off to Equestria without telling me! I’m the reason you know about the show in the first place!” Chartreuse face palmed.

Pelinelneth crossed her arms, her eyes practically shooting daggers at Snowball. “If they escape, it’s on your head.”

Escape didn’t seem that likely – when Simon edged further from the centre of the circle, he was met with both a force of active resistance, and a burning sensation on his skin. He edged back.

“Here’s the rules,” Snowball continued doggedly, ignoring the outbursts. “Any one of us can ask a question of any of the others. That person then gets to ask something of someone else, which continues in a chain. The chain will break as soon as someone lies, or refuses to answer, meaning they don’t get to ask anything. I’m gambling that we’re all reasonably honourable individuals – with questions. Satisfactory?”

It sounded quite sensible, actually. Simon nodded back towards the small animal. After a momentary hesitation, the Vermilion sisters also nodded. Pelinelneth merely flicked at the bangs of her hair, which Snowball seemed to take as an assent. The unicorn turned to look at Azure. “You, in the weird clothes,” she began, causing Simon to realize that the blue haired girl’s orange T-shirt and pants were rather out of place, “Are people from your world going to keep coming here, no matter what, until you retrieve the artifact?”

Azure glanced sidelong at her sister before raising her shoulders in a shrug. “Probably not?” she answered. “I mean, I wouldn’t have come, except for my sister Clueless being in trouble. Also, the person running the station out there is having power issues, and told me not to expect further backup for a while.”

“Oh, great!” Chartreuse sighed. “THAT knowledge will intimidate our enemies.”

“The unicorn said not to lie!” Azure shot back. “And if there was a cover story, someone shoulda told me!”

“Interesting. I appreciate the candour,” Snowball acknowledged. “Your question next.”

Azure frowned, Simon noticing how her eyes flickered around to everyone else in the room. In the end, they alighted on Chartreuse, and when Azure spoke, her tone was less brash, and more muted. “Why do you say it’s not safe for me here?”

“Because there’s a Royal Wizard out there named Wanda, who, you know, has an evil artifact that can rewrite reality by granting wishes,” Chartreuse explained, now also sounding more subdued. “She’s fighting for women’s rights, which is good, but in her past she killed and injured people, which is not so good. Plus, even without wishing, she, you know, put me and Simon under a spell. After turning the former Royal Wizard into, like, that.” She jerked her thumb over towards the Qifarihm statue.

Azure’s eyes widened. “Holy…” She didn’t complete the statement. She did start to look uncomfortable as she stared at the statue.

Chartreuse looked away from her sister, and back to Simon. He inclined his head slightly towards Pelinelneth, hoping that she would speak to the elf – he doubted that he would have much luck asking the woman a question himself. Chartreuse took the hint.

“Pelinelneth,” she began. “I must say, you’re looking as pretty as I remember. Which makes some sense, if you were originally wished up or transformed by Wanda in some way. And that stands to reason, since then the wish, you know, could turn against her in the form of your desire to go off on your own. To, like, explore the world, learn about romance, and technology, and all that. Leaving her alone.” Chartreuse nodded slowly, as if piecing it all together in her mind. “Then, to twist the knife, as a condition of going, the artifact took away your own past. Which served to bring you back. But not quite as the same person who left. Still, you’re now trapped here once again with Wanda, the only person you inherently trust, even though you’re afraid that–”

“Is there a question in all this?” Pelinelneth snapped.

Chartreuse nodded. “Same question I asked you last night. In the end, do you want Wanda’s artifact to undo everything, or to lock your existence in place?”

Pelinelneth visibly flinched, and turned away from the group, staring towards the bookshelves. Simon slumped at that, figuring they’d lost their chance to learn anything. Until he saw Chartreuse raise her index finger, shaking her head slightly and giving him an expectant look. Simon turned back towards the elf.

When she spoke, her voice was shaky. “I don’t know any more,” the silver haired woman admitted. “My sense of self preservation is now at war with my… my love for Wanda. Seeing her again… this has all been so hard on the poor woman! I want her to finally be at peace, whatever the cost…” She spun back towards them, tears glistening in the corners of her eyes. Her gaze went right to Simon. “Can you guarantee Wanda’s safety, after removing the artifact from her possession??”

Simon felt a lump grow in his throat. He wanted to give her the answer she desired. But he had his own question to consider, and Snowball had called for the truth. “No,” he responded. “In fact, the wishing might be like an addiction, and as such we have no idea how removing the artifact will affect… your friend. But,” he put in, “we WILL do our best to minimize any suffering. I’ll guarantee that much.”

LiBingbing_4

Pelinelneth (approx)
SOURCE SITE

Pelinelneth held his gaze for another moment before turning away again. “Damn,” she whispered. “You should have lied.”

“Okay then. I’m guessing you’re asking me next,” Snowball concluded, flicking her tail back and forth.

Simon nodded. And frowned. It was tempting to ask why the unicorn had thought that people from another world would eventually be coming here. It held the implication that the ‘artifact’, whatever it was, wasn’t native to this place. There was also the fact that Snowball had claimed to be isolated from any changes by wishes, and thus might have some insight into how things could be reset. But none of that knowledge would necessarily help them now.

He cleared his throat. “How can we get out of here, and to someplace that Wanda can’t immediately find us?”

The pony nickered, and Simon had the impression that Snowball was laughing. “I could refuse to answer that,” she said after a moment. “Thus ending the chain. But I won’t. In part because the only way for you to get out, short of us allowing it, is for you to invoke card magic. The thing that trapped you in there originally. It’s also the only way you could remain undetected, since Wanda would be looking for foreign magic, not something of her own type.”

“Oh,” Simon said. Recalling Chartreuse’s efforts in the dungeon, he turned to look at her. Her gaze went to Azure. Azure’s gaze went down to the card stock she was holding in her hands. The same two cards that Wanda had placed on his and Chartreuse’s foreheads, to trap them in the history spell.

Dispellere!” Azure shouted, whipping one card, edge first, towards the edge of the circle. It embedded itself into empty space, the magical symbols around the circumference briefly flared red – and then the magic light shut off, and the card floated down to the ground. Simon quickly stepped towards where the circle’s glow had been. This time, he felt no resistance or burning sensation… and then he was out.

The unicorn let out a noise that Simon couldn’t identify. “I revise my earlier opinion,” Snowball said. “Maybe you do have a chance of winning.”

“I totes did not think that would work!” Azure gasped, so dumbfounded that Chartreuse had to practically drag her sister out of the danger zone, lest the field re-establish itself.

“Stop!” Pelinelneth shouted. She ran for the weapons chest, pulling out the bow and arrow on top before Simon could move to stop her. With practiced ease, she nocked an arrow, and Simon froze, his arm outstretched towards her.

“Pelinelneth,” Chartreuse murmured. “We might be Wanda’s best chance.”

The bow and arrow shook slightly, making Simon uncomfortable. “Wanda put me in charge of monitoring you,” the elf said, her voice catching. “While she’s off explaining about Qifarihm’s escape. I cannot simply let you walk out.”

The bow string was released, and the arrow flew through the air. Simon felt his breath catch as the weapon whistled past his side, and as he turned his head, he saw the arrow had embedded itself deeply into the pink-purple couch behind him. “I have to at least put up token resistance,” she finished.

“Yeah, well, giving me a heart attack would serve to keep me here,” Simon wheezed.

Another arrow was nocked. “I rarely miss twice.”

“We’re out,” Chartreuse assured, heading for the door. Azure shook free from her sister’s grip to travel under her own power.

Simon grabbed their gear and hurried to catch up. “One last question,” Snowball called out. “What exactly is your motivation for doing this?”

Simon looked back over his shoulder. It occurred to him that there were two answers for that question, so he gave both. “On the small scale, because we’re good people,” he stated. “On a larger scale, you’d have to ask our boss, Alice.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE THURSDAY FEB 26 EST

(Delayed because…. two isn’t enough this time… no? really? no one else?)

Next ->

Paths Not Taken 1

In my last serial story (“Numbers Game”) I did a couple of “Behind the Scenes” posts for how I managed to write 2,000 words every week for 12 weeks. In this story, I’ve decided to do something different.

I’m going to have a quick look at the choices NOT taken by you, the audience.

This after seeing how a few other “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories have gone, notably:
The Pen and Cape Society (vote for the next power and an author)
Drew Hayes’ Halloween Adventure (a part every day for 13 days)
Terence Eden’s Twitter Story (accounts are the entries)

LynPlot2In particular, the idea that “Dead Ends” are possible is interesting (and prevalent in Terence’s), much like in the original stories. While such a conclusion is unlikely for me (though technically no character has immunity), I do have a possible arc in my head for every choice I offer up. Meaning some paths are better, and the story could have been different in a few places. So let’s take a look back, shall we?

SPOILERS follow, in case you haven’t read, and want to be surprised by previous parts.

PRE-CASTLE

When I started, I really didn’t know any more than what the selected plot said – there’s an evil artifact granting wishes. I felt like it would be something travelling from house to house, but controlled by a person. Probably controlled by someone in the central castle, but not necessarily. Hence, the plan of getting to the castle. The polls went thusly:

1: LOCATION. Negligible influence. If they’d gone to the inn, or blended in, they would have overheard a conversation instead of being directly involved, probably leading to a choice of talking to an NPC or not. The next poll would have been similar.

2: TALES. Marginal influence. If they’d gone to the library, I would have taken time to flesh out the history of the town pre-wishes. If they’d gone to the underground, I would have created more NPCs. As the focus was for Pelinelneth, we got more on her, and through her, I realized the misogyny issue. While the next poll might have been similar, the world had taken a particular shape.

3: GUARDS. Big influence. Chartreuse would have been successful. Joey’s idea would have been either a tunnel, or a catapult, which might have worked. Simon was the “poor” choice (he said it could go badly!) so I decided the consequence of his “failure” would be splitting the party. The part was running long; Chartreuse being incarcerated was moved to Part 4.

4: INSIDE. Big influence. If Simon had lost track of Pelinelneth, he would have run into Wanda (though she hadn’t been named at that point). I don’t know how that would have played out. If they had investigated instead, I would have worked out more about the royalty, perhaps had someone pose as a servant. As they went after Chartreuse, to keep the plot from stalling, I introduced Qifarihm.

POST-CASTLE

As they were now inside, I decided that Pelinelneth had a history with Wanda. Also that Wanda would be the antagonist… either willingly or unwillingly. Which meant Qifarihm had to be a bit shady – did he drive Wanda to her fate? Also, for the first time, I determined what the evil artifact was.

5: IMPRESSION. Marginal influence. If Chartreuse had seen someone’s future, it would have been Pelinelneth, related to her uncertain allegiances. If she had seen the artifact, you’d now know what it was. As the vote was for her to see Qifarihm’s past, backstory was done with spontaneous Azure cameo. But all paths led out of the dungeon.

6: PLAN. Marginal influence. Trying to recruit more help would have put them in the servants’ quarters. Releasing Qifarihm’s powers would have attracted Wanda’s attention early, but with a chance for Simon to escape. As it was, tracking Pelinelneth put them in the Wizard’s Sanctuary. Snowball had not been planned until their arrival.

BWishesC

New story, new graphic.
Drawn on Family Day

7: SANCTUARY. Big influence. Trying to recruit more help would have routed back to the servants (as in 6). Learning what the artifact was would have led to a fruitless search, maybe to Pelinelneth. Learning only the location was again the “poor” choice, in that only Wanda knew it – so she arrived, and took out Qifarihm. So yeah. Good job, readers! 😉

8: CONSEQUENCE. Big influence. Becoming Pelinelneth’s servants would have brought her back into the picture, and they’d have been monitoring Wanda. Alternatively, Wanda wasn’t bluffing – she would have used a wish to catapult them back to Alice on The Hub, leading to secondary character recruitment (like in 10, below). But to get Wanda’s story, we saw her use her own magic.

SPELL CHECK

The characters were now trapped in a spell. If I were filling in the prior choices, some of the history here is probably the information that would have been found in the library from back at Choice 2. Which isn’t to say they’d have had all the backstory so soon, but they would have known more about how the magic worked, only first revealed here (and only pondered by me back at Choice 6).

9: BACKSTORY. Marginal influence. Sticking to Wanda’s story would have been the “poor” choice, sending them down a darker path, though they might have learned to manipulate real magic. Deviating would have meant using their own brand of magic, seen a bit by Simon at the end of part 10. But the vote was for trying to escape, which is why there was a connection back to Alice and a secondary character.

10: SECONDARY. Big influence. Given that Keith was a technology expert, Carrie was a temporal expert, and Azure has knowledge of card magic, I realized this had to be setting up the end game. Do we meet Wanda with something wholly unfamiliar? With some tricks up our sleeves? Or on her own terms?

Which is where we are now. I was wondering if this story would go longer than 12 parts, as that’s where I ended the previous story, and suspect it might. But time will tell.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment on anything about that which was unexpected, or that jumps out at you!

2.10: Magical Girl

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART TEN: Magical Girl

“Okay, this is not, like, an encyclopedia,” Chartreuse said, shaking the journal at Simone. “I can’t simply look up ‘escape from spells’.” She paused. “Though that would be handy.”

Simone turned away from the wall. The wizard crossed her arms over her chest – though in making the movement, she ended up looking down, apparently still adjusting to her new female form. “We have to get out somehow. Do you really think we have the capability to play out Wanda’s history?”

“Maybe?” Chartreuse offered. Simone glared. The teenage elf-girl slumped a little. “Maybe not. It did look like Wanda was gaining control over fire. No clue how we’d, you know, fake that.” She opened the journal up again, running her finger down the handwritten pages.

“See if Wanda had to break a spell herself at some point,” Simone suggested. “Then we can duplicate it.” She began to pace a few steps, forward and back, at the T-junction of the castle corridor. Chartreuse turned a little to keep from getting distracted by the movement. She quickly confirmed that the start of the journal was only basic magical information which Wanda had recorded, and flipped further ahead. In doing so, she realized that the book had a tendency to want to open towards a certain area of pages about three quarters of the way through.

Which is where she’d first started reading, upon picking the journal up. And she remembered having seen Qifarihm’s name. On a hunch, she checked the corners of the pages there, and saw that one of them was dog eared. More, there was a star after one of the paragraphs. She began to read in earnest.

“You seem excited,” Simone observed. “What have you got?”

ChartElfLt

CHARTREUSE

“It’s BELIEF,” Chartreuse stated. She began to read aloud. “Today, Qifarihm told me that a large part of why magic works is the belief that it can. Actual truth must be more than that, since not everyone can perform magic, while it can work on non-believers. Yet I think this is why wizardry is a male dominated profession – they don’t believe women can do it as well, which helps that belief to become reality. Meaning all I need to do is change their wizardly beliefs. The same way I changed the beliefs of those boys I burned when they –”

Chartreuse stopped reading aloud. Her stomach wrenched a little, and she snapped the spine of the journal shut. Simone raised a questioning eyebrow. “Dare I ask?”

“No,” Chartreuse said, drawing a quick breath. “You don’t. Suffice to say, I’m not sure if I’m on side with Wanda any more. I, like, REALLY hope she already had the evil artifact by then.”

“Oh kay,” Simone said slowly. “So, do we simply need to ‘believe’ we’re not under a spell? Because I’m now believing I’m a man again, but I’m not feeling it.”

“There must be, you know, limits.” Chartreuse bit down on her lower lip. Then she reached out to shove Simone, her hand merely passing through her companion’s shoulder. So she lifted her foot, preparing to give the other girl a kick.

Simone back-pedalled. “Okay, whoa, what?”

“I, like, didn’t think my hands could affect anyone,” she explained. “But when I believed my feet could, I got to go Wizard kicking.” She hopped forwards and tapped at Simone with the sole of her boot. Successfully.

“Huh. Interesting.” Simone frowned, as she stared at Chartreuse’s foot. “So to what extent is this reality defined by Wanda, and to what extent are we defining it?”

“Dunno. Might explain why I kept the journal coming in. I believed I could, and nothing, you know, prevented that belief. Maybe you should have believed that you still had all our gear.” She nearly lost her balance then, so returned both feet to the ground.

“Okay, let’s extrapolate,” Simone mused. “Anything Wanda can’t account for COULD be used to get us out. Like the journal. Or, um, technology.” She made a face. “Too bad my friend Keith didn’t come along with us.”

“Why? Is he some crazy techno mad scientist?” Chartreuse wondered.

Simone shook her head. “Not as such, but he doesn’t share my opinions, and would probably have an app for this.” Her eyes brightened, and she pointed at Chartreuse’s wrist. “Oh! We don’t need him, you’re still wearing your watch! We can talk to Alice!”

Chartreuse blinked in surprise, and pulled back the sleeve of her top. “You’re right! How did you know?”

“I believed,” Simone said, with a smirk.

Chartreuse paused, briefly wondering if she’d really had the watch all along – but she quickly decided such thoughts would only get them in trouble. She punched in the necessary code to activate it. “Alice! Chartreuse to Alice!” she called out.

Seconds ticked by. When she’d used the device last time, to contact her sister Azure, it had taken close to a minute before Alice had responded. So this time, she waited patiently rather than immediately trying twice more. But she only had so much patience. “Hellooo? Alice? Alison?”

“The device may not work in the spell,” Simone yielded. She began to pace again. “I’ll try to think of something else. Take another look back at Wanda’s earlier stuff.”

Chartreuse reopened the book closer to the middle, and began scanning anew. This section seemed closer in time frame to where they were now – Wanda was talking about having been chosen as the new Apprentice. How she was going to have to work even harder now, in order to counter the prejudices of those around her. Of people like…

“What the hell did you do to the Wizard panel?!”

***

Simone turned, spotting the boy who had been scheduled after her. The one who had pinched her bottom. He was striding purposefully down the corridor. Simone raised her hands defensively. “I did magic?”

Upon reaching her, he shoved her back into the wall, resting his hands on her shoulders to keep her there. “They sounded almost BORED by my act,” he accused. “Me! Iklius, wizard extraordinaire! So I ask again. What. Did. You. Do?”

“Get. Your. Hands. Off,” Simone countered.

“The delusional elf talk, was that all an act? I bet you’d already paid off the Wizards, so this whole trial didn’t matter! That’s why you ran off, so as to not betray yourself to us afterwards, huh?”

“That’s crazy.”

“You’re not going to get away with this.” Iklius paused, then shifted his gaze down from Simone’s face. “Unless you make it worth my while not to stir up trouble.”

Simone frowned. “That’s crazy AND disgusting.”

With a snarl, Iklius reached up to tear at Simone’s blouse. Yet with his hand having moved off her shoulder, she managed to block him with her arm, while lashing out a kick at his legs. Iklius jumped back, she twisted to duck under his arm, and she ran. He shoved her from behind, and she went sprawling. “Chartreuse!” Simone gasped out, spinning her body so that she was face up.

Iklius cracked his knuckles, then took a step closer – then jerked to the side, off Chartreuse’s kick at his hip. “The hell?” he said, turning to look at the empty space. The pink haired elf girl took the opportunity to move around to the front and plant her boot into his midsection. He stumbled back with a wheeze. Simone scrambled to her feet.

“We’re running,” Chartreuse said, turning to look at Simone. For some reason, she looked scared.

“He can’t hurt you,” Simone reminded.

Chartreuse held up the journal, as if it was enough explanation. “Run,” she said, like it was the most important thing ever.

Simone ran. But as soon as she turned the nearest corner, she suddenly found herself out in a courtyard. She blinked at the sunlight, though the sun almost immediately retreated behind a cloud. Turning around, Simone saw no passage – she was in town. The nearby fountain looked familiar, though here it didn’t contain the statue of a naiad. The castle wall loomed behind a number of buildings.

“Oh no,” Chartreuse breathed. “Her spell brought us here anyway.”

“Where?” Simone said in frustration. She realized belatedly that she was wearing a different outfit now, still in a dark shirt, but now with a pair of trousers.

“Wanda’s, like, major life event,” Chartreuse said. “I read it while you were fighting. The earlier stuff was only context. We need to get out of here!”

“Why?”

“Because…” Chartreuse stopped, as a group of six boys stepped out of a nearby building. “Them.”

Simone recognized one of them as Iklius, and another two as wizard hopefuls who had been in the waiting room. “So you came,” one of them said, his face carefully neutral. The boys began to fan out. “Well, we’re not letting you get away with this.”

Simone spread her arms out to the sides. “Guys! I didn’t rig the Wizard trial!” She glanced sidelong at Chartreuse, muttering out of the corner of her mouth, “…did Wanda?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Chartreuse said quietly. “Wanda’s going to attack them here. With fire. It won’t end well.”

“I don’t have fire!” Simone hissed.

“Oh, right!” Chartreuse frowned. “I’m not sure if that, like, makes it better or worse.”

The boys had now encircled the two of them, Simone in the middle. They stood a little ways beyond arm’s reach. “So what do we do?” Simone murmured.

“We finish this,” Iklius answered.

“I don’t know,” Chartreuse said at the same time. “I only know…” She stopped, snapping her head to the side. “Yes, I hear you!!”

***

Can you hear me now?

It was Alice’s voice. Wonderful, magical Alice. Chartreuse snapped her head to the side. “Yes, I hear you!!”

“Hear who?” Simone asked, looking around.

“Alice,” Chartreuse explained, even as Iklius stated, “Acting insane won’t save you, girlie.”

olga-kolesnik-5sm

ALICE (approx)
Source Site

“Good!” came Alice’s voice again. The bright and cheery sound was totally at odds with the atmosphere around them. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try… try try try try again.”

“We, like, need to break out of a spell! Pronto!” Chartreuse shouted at the sky.

“Ah! That would explain why you’re unconscious,” Alice mused. “As it is, I’ve had to attune myself to your alpha waves – say, have you ever seen that movie Frequency? Where the guy in the future can talk to the guy in the past using the same ham radio? Because this isn’t really like that, but it was a pretty cool movie…”

“I can’t hear her!” Simone said. “What should I do?”

“Don’t fight back,” one boy advised, as he thrust both his hands out.

“Believe in… something!” Chartreuse suggested. She looked back at the sky. If only Carrie were here with them, her girlfriend might have been able to stop time. “Alice! Alice, we need you to come down to the Wizard’s Sanctuary and, like, physically pull some cards off our heads!”

“I can’t leave the station,” Alice countered. “You MAY recall this is why I recruited the both of you? What is even going on??”

“If we fight, they’re dead, if we don’t, we’re dead, we, you know, need an abort option! PLEASE!”

She heard Alice sigh. “Fine. Please hold, your call is important to us.”

“Hold? Hold what??”

“It didn’t have to be this way,” another of the boys remarked. Chartreuse looked back at Simone. She realized that the guy with his arms out had to be using some sort of holding magic, as Simone couldn’t seem to move her feet. She HAD managed to pull a card out of her pouch, but she didn’t seem to be sure what to do with it.

“You could have left town. Instead you came here,“ agreed the guy with outstretched arms.

“Where else was I supposed to go?” Simone challenged.

“Away,” Iklius said. “Because I hate the fact that I’m going to have to punch a girl. Kinda.” He pulled his fist back. Chartreuse lifted her foot to kick. Simone reached back into her pouch and pulled out a small key.

“This key, which hides powers of the dark, show your true form before me! I, Simone, command you! Release!” A glowing pink circle exploded into view on the ground around her, and as the boys looked on with a mixture of shock and confusion, the key expanded out into the form of a staff. Simone grabbed it with one hand, tossing her card up into the air with the other. “Fly card! Release and dispel!”

Twirling her staff, Simone brought it down onto the card. Wind swirled around, the card vanished, wings sprouted off the end of the staff… and the female wizard was pulled airborne. The gazes of the males tracked up, and it occurred to Chartreuse that not wearing a skirt here had been a good plan.

WHAT just happened?!” one of the boys demanded.

“Oh, I’ve seen this one!” Chartreuse breathed. “It’s… um…”

“Magical girl anime,” Simone admitted, as she floated in the air, out of reach. “I do believe in the characters. And it occurs to me that Wanda’s spell could not have anticipated this.”

“Whatever, girlie,” Iklius snorted. “You have to come down eventually, and when you do…”

Simone disappeared. Chartreuse barely had time to register the event, before she felt the scene around her snap out of existence. She gasped at the person she was now staring at.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE TUESDAY FEB 17 EST

BONUS CONTENT COMING ON WEDNESDAY!

Next ->

2.09: Trial and Error

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART NINE: Trial and Error

Chartreuse sensed that Simon was looking at her, probably trying to get a vibe as to which of Wanda’s choices they should select: servitude or banishment. But she didn’t meet his gaze. She couldn’t look away from Wanda. For even as a part of her knew the pain of being denigrated for her gender, another part knew that here, she didn’t really know. “We DO want to help you,” she insisted to the Royal Wizard. “Don’t shut us out.”

Wanda’s lips thinned. “Interesting choice. Lesson time.”

“Whoa! Wait! We pick the servant thing!” Simon broke in. Wanda flicked her wrists, two more cards appearing in each of her hands. “Bring in Pelinelneth! We’ll do whatever she wants!” Symbols began to form on the cards. “We’re not from here! Whatever you’re doing is not a good idea!!”

“Simon,” Chartreuse said quietly, dropping her frying pan in order to discretely slide the book she had taken off the bookshelf under her opposite arm. “Let’s, you know, KNOW.” She finally turned to look at him, reaching to touch his arm.

He turned to look back at her. She saw the card smack him in the forehead a split second before her own gaze went dark, and she felt her body slump down onto the ground. There was a momentary sense of panic, as her spirit no longer seemed to be tethered to anything. Then there was the sound of a great wind rushing by.

Then everything changed.

***

“Wha- What just happened?” Simone gasped. She then blinked, and raised her hands to her throat, then brought them to her chest, then thrust her arms out to the sides as she looked down at herself. “WHAT?! Why am I a woman??”

“Don’t know,” Chartreuse mused, after taking a second to catch her breath. She decided to take stock of herself first. “I don’t seem to be a man. Though I, like, feel rather… etherial.” She glanced around the torchlit corridor they were in, then experimentally reached out to touch the wall. Her hand passed right through the stone. Worse, for a second it felt like her hand didn’t exist at all, until she yanked her arm back. “Okay, that’s not good.”

Simone reached out to touch the same spot, and successfully leaned into it. She then reached out to touch Chartreuse – and her hand passed right through the teenager’s shoulder. “You’re not really here,” Simone deduced. She then reached up to touch her own throat again. “Can I not really be here too? Why do YOU get to keep your clothes and… everything else?!”

Indeed, Chartreuse realized she was still wearing the same white shirt, pink bodice, and skirt as before, though her shoes had graduated to ankle boots. Her hair also flowed long, rather than being done up in bows. Finally shifting attention to her companion, Chartreuse noticed that he – she – was now wearing some sort of dark blouse and skirt ensemble. She also looked younger than Simon had, early twenties at best.

Chartreuse wondered fleetingly whether her own mixup at the very start of the adventure had been due to some tangential future premonition of Simon – Simone? – while attuning her senses to this world. At least Simone wasn’t a blonde, so there was no immediate romantic consideration. As Chartreuse wondered how she might best respond, a boy about her age came around the corner, offering, “You wanna take your clothes off, girlie, be my guest.” He grinned.

Simone turned and attempted a glare.

“Aw, how cute. What are you doing hanging back here anyway, Simone? Talking with that invisible elf girlfriend of yours again?”

Chartreuse blinked, reaching up to touch her ears. She felt them rising to a point. Interesting. In the process, she also realized that she was somehow still holding the book she’d taken off Wanda’s bookshelf. Thank goodness.

“None of your business,” Simone shot back.

The youth made a face. “Hmph. I’ve half a mind not to tell you you’re up next. But seeing as I’m after you, and I’m SURE to look good after whatever YOU do…” He jerked his thumb down the passage. “You’re up next.”

Simone offered another glare, then headed past the boy to see what it was he’d been indicating. Trailing along after, Chartreuse saw the guy reach out and pinch Simone’s bottom. Simone whirled, raising a hand as if to slap back. “Don’t!” Chartreuse blurted. “I have a theory! Do that, we could be, like, screwed!”

Even as the boy flinched away, Simone used her raised hand to rake her fingers through her hair. “Better be a hell of a theory,” she muttered. She turned away again, rounding the corner.

Following after, Chartreuse saw the passage almost immediately widened out into a larger room – a waiting area of sorts, as there were benches out, and five other boys were sitting upon them. Two looked up with interest at Simone’s presence, one looked with disinterest, and the other two boys didn’t look up. One of them seemed to be practicing hand gestures. Chartreuse nodded.

“Theory,” she began. “To learn what Wanda went through, we’ve been put in her past, or, like, a variant thereof. You got her role, I’m likely Pelinelneth. Meaning, we play this right, you become a Wizard’s apprentice, like Wanda did, and maybe we even, you know, learn how she got the artifact.” She cleared her throat. “But we play this wrong, you could end up thrown in a dungeon and/or… or…” She stopped, unable to verbalize the image that had just surfaced.

“Or?” Simone said out of the corner of her mouth.

Chartreuse swallowed. “Hurt and stuff.” Did Simone even realize how attractive she might be?

Chartreuse watched as Simone eyed the closed door across the room from the passage they’d just used. It presumably led to some testing chamber. The boy had said Simone was next, but then was someone else still inside? Simone crossed her arms, electing to wait. “So, you think the real Pelinelneth was some imaginary ghost too?” she mumbled.

“Dunno,” Chartreuse answered. “I’ll see if I can, you know, find out!”

The dark haired girl turned her head. “How?”

Chartreuse held up her book. “Wanda’s diary.”

Simone’s eyes widened. “Her DIARY?”

Six sets of eyes turned towards Simone at the loud exclamation. “Uh, is the girl sane?” one of the guys on the bench said, leaning towards his neighbour.

“‘Course not,” retorted the boy leaning against the wall near the passageway. The one who had pinched her. “She’s trying out to be a Wizard’s Apprentice, she’s gotta be a bit nuts. It’s a hot kinda nuts though, don’t you think?”

Sitting guy seemed about to respond, so Simone interjected, “The WOMAN can hear you, I’m standing right here!” She placed her hands on her hips.

“Oooh, oh no,” the boy on the bench said mockingly, lifting his hands and waving them briefly in the air. Though he then shifted his gaze to the ground rather than verbalizing the earlier remark, and two of the other boys also resumed their own internal thoughts.

“Yeah, Simone, you might not want to talk to me,” Chartreuse observed. “Except by, you know, expressions or hand signals or something. Since they can’t, like, see or hear me.”

“Well, THANK you,” Simone said, nominally to the guys, but she then turned her gaze upon her elf companion. It was an expectant look. Which Chartreuse realized was probably something more than an attempt by Simone to avoid seeing the two guys still leering at her. What had they been talking about? Oh right.

ChartElfLt

CHARTREUSE

“Well, Wanda’s journal at least. The book on the shelf that looked out of place with it’s surroundings. I, like, barely got a chance to start leafing through it, but with further study, I’m sure we can figure out what sort of Wizard trial this is!”

The door at far end of the room opened, another boy slinking through it with his head down. Then an older gentleman poked his head out. “Simone?”

Simone’s look somehow became even more expectant.

“Further FAST study,” Chartreuse realized, quickly flipping through the front of the book.

Simone approached the door. “I’ve got cards,” she realized, as she discovered a pouch on her belt, and pulled it open. She glanced sidelong at Chartreuse as she headed into the testing chamber. “So I can buy some time. But HURRY.”

“Her handwriting is not the neatest,” Chartreuse protested. She didn’t add that she wasn’t the best at speed reading either, tracing her finger down the pages as she walked right through the doorframe. The room with all the Wizards in it was darker too, that didn’t help – they seemed to be trying to cloak themselves in mystery, though you could still see their outlines at a table on a raised dais.

The door closed behind them, as if by magic. “Begin,” came a voice that sounded very much like Qifarihm.

Simone cleared her throat uncertainly. “Right, ah… behold, standard deck of cards…” She attempted to riffle them from one hand to another, but it was card stock, not playing cards, and she spilled some of them. Face flushed, she bent down to retrieve them.

“Okay, looks like Wanda’s recording some early efforts at magic,” Chartreuse said. “Apparently, females need focus objects to control their spells – oh! Hence the cards! Wanda used them, we, you know, saw that.”

“Now, control IS important,” Simone said pointedly, attempting to perform some slight of hand as she readjusted her deck.

“Actually, I wonder why this book, and your cards, are paper. Parchment was, you know, made from animal skins. Wasn’t it?”

“SO important.”

“I’m still looking!” Chartreuse insisted, off the glare. “Seems like Wanda was, um, gunning for an Elemental Power. But I don’t know to, you know, manifest it. Can you, like, identify a symbol for fire on your cards?”

“I said BEGIN,” came the voice from the raised table once again, a bit irritated.

Simone rolled her eyes heavenwards. “And by control, I mean I am going to temporarily control YOU,” she continued, fanning out the cards. “Almost as if I had an invisible assistant. Heading over NOW to manipulate you five.”

Chartreuse frowned. “Euh, no, we’ve seen I can’t, you know, affect any–”

“Try!” Simone hissed. Then, louder, “Pick a card, any card?” The cards were all emblazoned with symbols of some sort, which she kept turned away from herself. She then carefully nudged one of them higher. “You have chosen this!” She pulled it out, and tried to make it vanish up her sleeve, while waving the deck in her other hand.

For her part, Chartreuse closed the book and walked over to the table of Wizards. She waved her hand in front of the nearest, to see if maybe they were more in tune to her presence than the guys in the hall had been. There was no reaction. She tried to tap him on the shoulder. Her hand passed right through him, and he didn’t even flinch.

“Okay, ah, I’m a bit intimidated, that’s all,” Simone said quickly. “But I’m done warming up. So, here WE go.”

Chartreuse looked down at her feet. Which were connected to the floor, not sinking through it. So she lifted her leg, and attempted to plant the sole of her boot against the side of that same Wizard.

And she connected. Quite solidly.

***

Simone hurried out of the room, face red. She didn’t look at the boys still waiting, hurrying back into the far passage, and only stopping at the nearest T-junction to rest her forehead against the wall, pressing her hand to her mouth. She remained that way until she heard Chartreuse remark, “Well, they said we’d hear back tomorrow. So maybe we got in.”

“ALL of them? Did you have to kick ALL of them?”

“Eh, they seemed so, you know, full of themselves and disbelieving of each other. Anyway, you laughed!”

“I know! Then I cried! Then I ran! I’m pretty sure we’re not on script with Wanda’s history any more!”

Chartreuse pursed her lips. “You don’t know that. And now that we have some time, I can cross reference, try to get us back on track.”

“To what end?” Simone protested, turning back to her companion. “I am NOT going to be a successful magical girl here. I’m not even really a girl!! We’ve seen enough. You should look for something in that book to give us a way to break out of this – wherever we are. Before something terrible happens.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL NOW CLOSE FRIDAY FEB 13 EST

BECAUSE ALMOST NO ONE WANTS TO VOTE?

Next ->

2.08: Evil Wins

Previous INDEX Next

WISH FULFILMENT, PART EIGHT: Evil Wins

“We can’t leave now, we just got here,” Qifarihm grumbled in response to the small unicorn’s comment. The wizard then went to peek at the shelves behind the pink curtains in his former sanctuary. A couple of days ago, Simon would have thought this to be a rather nonsensical sequence of events, but that was before he’d been brought to this fantasy world along with Chartreuse.

“So, Snowball, can you, like, direct us to a crystal ball?” Chartreuse asked, clasping her hands together pleadingly.

“No,” the pink unicorn retorted. “If you can’t find it yourself, you’re not worthy of me shifting my allegiances.”

Simon walked over to a large purple trunk. “Hey, Qifarihm, is this safe to open?” he asked.

The wizard glanced back over his shoulder. “Probably.”

Simon frowned. But rather than ask for clarification, as Qifarihm seemed to be busy with his own investigation, Simon simply took care to only manipulate the catch on the trunk with his foot. He was pleased when it proved to be unlocked, and the lid flipped up without setting off an alarm or releasing poisonous gas. He became less pleased once he noticed what was inside. “Okay, Wanda has… a lot of weapons,” he observed.

Some were bladed, others were more for blunt force, like mallets, and there was even a bow with a quiver of arrows sitting on the top. The pink motif continued for all of them. “Should we arm ourselves with some of these?” he wondered aloud. “For protection?”

“Risky,” Chartreuse countered. Simon noticed that she’d gone to the bookshelves, pulling down a book to leaf through. “I mean, there’s probably some moral code against fighting an unarmed person, right? Whereas if you, you know, hold an axe, you become fair game.”

“It’s strange though,” Qifarihm remarked, approaching to have a look himself. “As wizards, we use magic. Not military items such as these.”

“Wanda’s been trying to clean up the town,” Snowball observed, trotting back towards the nearby platform housing the bed. “She’s encouraging a more pacifist way of life.”

Qifarihm threw his hands up into the air, or did as best as he could given the magical shackles he still wore. “This is why women aren’t allowed to be Royal Wizards!”

Chartreuse extended the arm that was not holding her book – the one that still held her frying pan. She waggled it at Qifarihm. “Okay, that’s, like, the second time you’ve belittled my gender. Don’t make me regret rescuing you.”

“Indeed, you have to admit Chartreuse’s unconventional approach has worked out so far,” Simon noted. “And she’s a woman.”

The wizard let out a grunt. “Well then, does she have an unconventional way of figuring out the location of this artifact granting wishes?”

Chartreuse opened her mouth as if to reply, but the teenager didn’t speak. Instead, her jaw fully dropped and her eyes got wider. Simon almost asked what the problem was, when a feminine voice behind him said, “If THAT’S why you’re here, you’d have to ask me.”

Simon froze. The remark hadn’t come from Snowball. Chartreuse’s nod confirmed there was someone new in the room. As such, when Simon turned, he made a point of stepping forwards, to slightly block Qifarihm – and he took the key to the wizard’s shackles from his pocket. Palming it, he extended both his hands nonchalantly out behind him.

NenenePinked

WANDA (approx)
(apologies to R.O.D.)

“What is the location of the… artifact… granting… wishes…” Simon asked, despite his breath getting slightly caught in his throat as he saw her. Wanda was actually quite pretty. Perhaps a few years younger than he was, the Royal Wizard (Wizardess?) had light brown hair extending down past her shoulders, piercing green eyes which were staring out from behind a pair of spectacles, and, well, a nice body by most people’s standards. Including his.

Weirdly enough, despite the decor of the room in which they found themselves, Simon had been expecting their adversary to be a witch cloaked all in black with a pointed hat, but her outfit was anything but that. For some reason, Simon found himself making a mental link to “pink power ranger”. Granted, the clothes were not as form fitting, and she wore no helmet. There was also the fact that, unlike a power ranger, she was evil, and the way her arms were crossed implied that all of them were in serious trouble.

On the bright side, it looked like Wanda had walked in through the room’s only door, so it wasn’t a case of her arriving by teleport due to something stupid that they’d done.

“The artifact,” Wanda retorted. “Is on my person. Always. Also, fun fact, since I’m one of the only people who even KNOW about it, I’m guessing you’ve come to take it back. I CANNOT allow that.” Then she smiled. “But if you tell me how to get more like it, I won’t hurt you. Okay?”

Simon felt Qifarihm take the key for the shackles out of his hand. “Wanda,” the wizard remarked, presumably hoping that speaking would divert her attention from him trying to free himself, “you’ve de-aged yourself a bit, haven’t you? Should vanity really be your primary concern these days? What about advising the monarchy?”

Wanda’s hands slid to her hips. “Oooh, Qifarihm. You sanctimonious ass. I can’t believe I was nicer to you after the reality rewrite than you EVER were to me! Even kept you on as my apprentice, much longer than I should have!”

“Yet part of me knew something was wrong. That’s why you had to throw me in the dungeon.”

“Hah!” she countered. “I threw you in the dungeon because even as an apprentice you couldn’t stop talking down to me! If I’d had a magical means of dealing with you then, I would have!” She adjusted her glasses, causing them to flash in the light of the room. “Which, by the way, I now DO have. So please. Turn that key.”

Simon heard the click behind him, Wanda threw a card into the air (where had that come from?) and abruptly the room went pitch black. In retrospect, it had to have been lit by magical origin, owing to the lack of any windows. Though rather than stand there pondering the original source of the light, Simon decided it was better to flatten himself down onto the ground. Which was fortunate.

Red electricity crackled through the air around him, which seemed to be coming from Wanda’s position. For a moment, the bolts hit a shield, sparks rebounding crazily about the room, and then the initial barrage became countered with a whiter lightning from where Qifarihm stood. Simon crawled desperately away from the two wizards, heading back towards Chartreuse and the secret escape passage, wondering if the best plan might be a quick exit.

“Give up, Wanda,” Qifarihm shouted. “You know no mere female can best my wizardly powers!”

“Keep talking, Qi,” Wanda shot back. “Your misogyny gives me strength!!” She seemed to be circling to the side, the red and white sparkler show rotating with her, each side of the battle briefly flaring up, then down in strength.

“You know,” Chartreuse muttered, her voice close enough in the dark to make Simon gasp in surprise, “kinda seeing why Pelinelneth wanted that guy kept locked up. You know?”

“What??”

Chartreuse interpreted his befuddlement at her choice of topic to be an invitation to expand on her reasoning. “Qifarihm. He’s a real charmer at first, but I think that’s, like, to draw women in. In the end, putting him in a position of power. So while he doesn’t mean any personal harm, his personality could be why the, you know, palace guards liked throwing women into his cell.” She let out a sigh. “You know, you shouldn’t have, like, let us out after all. I don’t think I’m rooting for him any more.”

A fireball suddenly lit up the area, and Simon jerked his gaze over to see it balanced on the tip of another piece of card stock which Wanda held in her left hand. Her right still creating the electrical sparks. She flicked the card, tossing the fire towards the elder wizard, Qifarihm stumbling back. He was barely able to extinguish it with a gout of water before it could strike him. As he did so, the red lightning nearly won out, before the set of sparks between the two combatants re-stabilized.

“Are you rooting for Wanda then?” Simon sniped at Chartreuse.

“Yeah.”

She’d said it without hesitation. Simon gave her a look, but owing to the darkness, added the reminder, “Women’s rights or not, Wanda’s EVIL.”

“Nope. The artifact is. The one that’s, you know, always on her person.”

Simon almost countered that it was still Wanda’s fault then, for picking up the thing or getting duped by it in the first place, but he held his tongue. Because firstly, assigning blame was really pointless at this stage, and secondly – Chartreuse’s remark had pointed out a serious flaw in this battle.

Wanda wasn’t wishing.

“Meaning,” Simon said, dropping his voice even more, “she has it now. But she isn’t wishing for Qifarihm or us to be incapacitated or anything. Why not?”

A pause. “Huh,” Chartreuse remarked. “Maybe so she can play fair?”

“Or she can’t use wishes directly.”

“Or her artifact’s, like, out of magical batteries or something.”

“Either way, this means we have a chance of taking it away from her!” And if his addiction-withdrawal theory was correct, her magical powers wouldn’t be as potent against them afterwards.

“You know, maybe once we explain what’s been happening in town, she’ll, like, hand it over nicely?”

There was a flare of white from the continuing battle, causing Simon to look back towards it. The male wizard seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the red electricity on Wanda’s side was fading. “Or maybe Qifarihm will win, saving us the trouble.”

“Hmph. I wouldn’t put that to a vote,” Snowball nickered, having approached the two of them. “She’s toying with him. Positioning him.”

“Oh? Positioning him for what?” Chartreuse asked.

The unicorn didn’t answer. Simon squinted at the two wizards in the flickering electrical light… and he could see what Snowball meant. Despite the fact that Qifarihm was starting to overwhelm the female wizard with his sheer power, by having alternately pressed her attack on the left or the right, Wanda had been able to steer Qifarihm back towards the middle of the room. Keeping herself out on the periphery. But what was the point of herding him to the centre of the–

Qifarihm took a step forwards, to press his advantage, and a blood red circle blazed into view, magical symbols running around the circumference. He was standing dead centre. Red cards rained down from the ceiling. In an instant, it grew so bright that Simon was forced to blink and look away. When he looked back, there were spots on his vision, and all was darkness. Even the lightning had ceased. The ensuing silence was incredibly eerie.

A pair of fingers snapped. Light was restored. Meaning Simon could now see how Qifarihm had been turned into a statue – pink, naturally – in the middle of the room. A card fell from off his face, revealing a rather surprised look. Other pieces of red paper littered the ground. Simon shifted his gaze over towards Wanda. She was breathing heavily, face flushed, glasses slightly askew, droplets of sweat trickling down her face… yet her look was determined, and despite her obvious fatigue, she kept her arm raised, snapped fingers held high.

Simon’s gaze automatically tracked back to the trunk containing the weapons. “Oh, PLEASE,” Wanda rasped. “Be my guest!”

Simon didn’t move. He stayed on the ground as Wanda slowly approached them, the heels of her pink boots clicking rather deliberately on the floor.

“Okay, so, the wishes you’ve been granting, they–”

“Shut up,” Wanda snapped at Chartreuse, eyes blazing. “You have no idea, NO idea what I’ve been through to get here!”

Simon cleared his throat. “Be that as it may–” He didn’t get any further before Wanda’s look and hand motion told him not to say any more.

“Now, Pelinelneth said you were instrumental in getting her back here,” the brunette stated. “You’ve also helped me deal with Qifarihm. So I’m willing to give you some latitude. You can either stay, and become Pelinelneth’s personal servants. Or you can be wished away, never to return – unless you bring another wishing device.” She cracked her knuckles. “Or, you can continue to babble, meaning you WILL see what it is I went through!!”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Options:

VOTING WILL CLOSE TUESDAY FEB 3 EST

Next ->