The next morning I awoke feeling quite excited about seeing my first patients. My housekeeper Mrs Stewart brought up some breakfast and I got quickly dressed and ready to face the day. That first morning I saw only two patients. A woman had a sprained wrist, and a man in his sixties had a bad cough. I suspected he had had that cough for quite a while. As soon as he left my surgery, I saw through the window he immediately lit up a cigarette and walked off. I had told him to cut down on smoking. I also recommended he go to the mainland for some further tests. He shrugged that idea off. I was then about to have lunch when a man burst through my door. He smelt strongly of fish, so I reckoned he was a fisherman, but many of the men that lived here were.
“Doctor, you’re needed on the beach!” he exclaimed. I grabbed my bag and followed him out to the beach. A fishing boat was there with a large group of people assembling in front of it. I ran up to them and they parted to let me through. There on the ground lay a man. He was very pale and completely wet. I kneeled in front of him and found there were no life signs.
“He fell off the boat into the sea. He suddenly thrashed about. When we brought him back onboard he seemed to be dead.” One of the fisherman told me. I nodded at his words. When I moved his head, I was rather taken aback: the left side of his face had deep claw marks down it. It was something I had never seen before.
“Was there something in the water? Was he attacked?” I asked hurriedly.
“No, the claw marks were there when we brought back onboard. We didn’t see anything else in the sea.”
“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” All the fishermen shook their heads.
“No. I have no idea what caused that.” Another fisherman said. I stood up.
“Can anyone help me take his body back to my surgery?” I asked. Thankfully plenty of them volunteered to help, and we quickly got his body back to my rooms. I had them lay the body on a table.
“Is he dead Doctor?” One of them asked. I nodded gravely.
“What’s his name?” I asked.
“Was he married?” They all nodded. “Can someone fetch his wife, so she identify him?” Not much later Catriona, the man’s wife, was brought in. She looked down at his body rather sadly, but did not say a word. When I asked if it was her husband, she nodded silently. After that she left without saying a word, which struck me as odd, but I was new to all this.
The rest of the afternoon I examined Leslie Scott’s body. The claw marks went down the left side of his face and down his neck. As ghastly as they were, I knew these claw marks hadn’t killed him. When he had been brought ashore there was water in his lungs. He had drowned, but whatever creature had clawed him could have possibly held him down in the water long enough to drown him. It was hard to know.
It was getting towards the evening when I had a visitor. It was a tall thin man wearing a long black gown. He had short dark hair and wore glasses. He smiled at me.
“Forgive me, I was going to introduce myself a wee bit later, but since we’ve had a tragedy I thought I should come around to see you now. My name is the Reverend Ewan Cameron. I’m the minister here.” He held out his hand. I shook it, but found his hand was cold and clammy.
“I am Doctor James MacMann.” I replied.
“Aye I know.” He replied smiling. “So how soon will you release Leslie Scott’s body to his family?” I was rather taken aback by the suddenness of the question.
“Well, I want to have the marks on his body looked at. There are deep claw marks on the left side of his face. I would like to have his body sent to the mainland to be examined.” I told him. He frowned at me.
“Surely there’s no need for that Doctor. The marks were probably from his face being dragged across the side of the boat.” Revered Cameron assured me. I shook my head.
“To me they look like claw marks.” I insisted.
“And what could make marks like that?” He asked.
“I have no idea.”
“Then you don’t know what they are. I have been here for a while now, and sometimes things aren’t what they seem.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Just what I said.” He replied. I noticed a flicker of anger in his voice. “Are these claw marks what killed him?”
“No he drowned.” I admitted. His eyes looked heavenwards.
“Then if those marks had no bearing on his death, surely they don’t really matter.” He pointed out.
“But something may have held him down.”
“I see. You think some sea monster clawed him and dragged him down to this death?” He asked sarcastically.
“That’s not what I said.”
“Do I have to get the Laird to force you to release the body?” He threatened.
“You can try, but he’s away at the moment.” Just as I said that, another tall man walked into the surgery. He had greying short hair and a beard. He was wearing a tweed jacket and a kilt. He held out his hand.
“Hello Doctor, I am Alasdair Ferguson. The Laird of this island.” He had a deep voice.
“Your son, Jamie, told me you were away.” I replied feeling rather surprised. I shook his hand.
“I just got back today. Sorry I wasn’t here to greet you when you arrived.” The Laird told me. I knew of no boat arriving today. I felt mystified.
“Perhaps you can help me. The Doctor will not release the body of Leslie Scott.” Reverend Cameron stated to the Laird. The Laird smiled and looked at me.
“There are strange claw marks on his body. I want the body sent to the mainland to be examined.” I told the Laird.
“Are these claw marks the reason he was killed?” The Laird asked.
“No he drowned.” The Reverend shot in. The Laird looked at me.
“That’s not certain. Whatever made the claw marks could also be responsible for his death.” I explained.
“Yes some sea monster killed him apparently, or so the Doctor thinks.” The Reverend responded.
“I never said that.” I replied.
“Surely if he drowned, it would be better to release the body now to his family, so they can bury him.” The Laird suggested.
“I would rather not until I can be sure of what killed him.” I replied. The Laird looked displeased at my reply.
“You have only just started here Doctor. Do you really want to start off on the wrong foot with both myself and the Reverend here? On your first day? You may end up having a shorter stay on this island than you expected.” The Laird threatened.
“Fine. I will release the body.” I relented. The Laird smiled.
“Be sure to put drowning as the cause of death on the Death Certificate. Please don’t mention the claw marks.” The Laird advised. “You must come for dinner sometime Doctor.” With that he left.
I wasn’t happy about giving in, but I’d rather not have gone against the Laird the first time we met. As he advised I put drowning as the cause of death on the Death Certificate and nothing else. The body was taken away and the Reverend looked at me with a smug look. I would certainly never forget that look, nor would I ever forgive it.
My name is Doctor James MacMann . I received my education and training at the University of Glasgow School of Medicine. Not long after I had received my qualifications, a position for a doctor became available in the island of Roake in the Hebrides. Roake is a small island yet with a large enough population to warrant the need for a doctor. As I was young and keen to carve out a place for myself in the world, I decided to take the position. I initially only planned to be there for a year or so, as I was used to city life and thought I would find being on an island far away from anywhere else too dull and quiet for my tastes, but I could always decide to stay there longer if I so desired.
So it was in the late summer of 1930, that I found myself traveling by boat to Roake. It was an unpleasant journey for me. I was not used to being on boats and that journey was made while a storm passed over us. I found myself heaving over the side of the boat frequently due to the savage pitching the boat made in the swirling seawater. Maybe I should have taken that journey as a warning. Maybe I should I have realised this post was not for me and should have immediately got the boat to turn back to the mainland. However, I failed to heed this warning and instead endured the jeers from the sailors who laughed at my inconvenience. “Do you need something to settle your stomach Doc?” one of the sailors asked before he broke into uncontrollable laughter.
By the time we arrived at Roake, the wind and the sea had died down, and I had regained my composure. When I set foot on the wharf at Roake, I was so pleased to be back on the terra firma I found renewed joy and excitement in my new post. The township we had come to was small. There were a couple of stores, a church, a few old houses and other buildings. I assumed my new surgery was in one of the these buildings. At the end of the wharf was a young man in his early twenties I guessed. He was wearing a tweed jacket and a kilt and had dark brown hair and pale skin. I walked up to him carrying some of my bags.
“Are you Doctor MacMann?” he asked as I got nearer.
“Aye.” I replied. He smiled and held out his hand.
“My name is Jamie Ferguson. I am the son of the Laird. My father sends his apologies, but he is away at the moment and is sorry he cannot meet your arrival. He sent me in his place.” He informed me. I shook hands with him. “You’re younger than I was expecting.”
“Aye, I’m only just starting out as a doctor, but I can assure you I am fully trained to deal with any ailment that may arise here.” I assured him. He nodded and smiled.
“I’ll show you to your surgery and your accommodation.” Jamie offered.
“Please lead the way.” I told him. He led me through the town until we came to an old stone house. On the way various locals took a long look at me, as if they were already making judgements about my abilities from the way I looked. My lodgings were above my offices. Though it was still summer, inside the building felt cold. I wondered what it would be like in winter. “So what happened to the previous doctor?”
“He retired and headed back to Edinburgh, I think. He was here for many years. It was a great relief to all the islanders that the vacant position was filled so quickly. We were all worried it might be sometime before we got a new doctor.” Jamie told me. For better or worse I was here now. It was after 9pm and the sun was finally setting. I decided to retire early as I was tired and feeling drained from my travels. I intended set up the practice tomorrow morning and see if there were any patients needing my assistance. For now, I collapsed onto my bed and slept the rest of the night away wondering what the morning would bring.
A month had passed since Sadeya had agreed to work for Will Letgar. Everyday she helped with loading and unloading stock, as well as accompanying him on supply runs occasionally. She also made friends with his daughter Losa, who often worked alongside her. It felt strange to have a regular place to sleep and eat without having to constantly to keep an eye on others around her. Gradually she let down her guard.
One afternoon, after loading Will’s light freighter, Losa and her climbed up to a roof to sit in the sunlight and have some food. Losa was around the same age as Sadeya, and had long brown hair and rather pale skin. She sat cross-legged while she ate and watched Sadeya.
“So how old were you when you became a Jedi?’ Losa asked.
“Well I was very young when I was taken to the Jedi Temple. I don’t exactly remember when. That’s when my training began. Technically I never became a Jedi. At least not a knight. I was still a padawan when the Purge happened.” Sadeya answered.
“So what happened in the Purge?”
“My master and I were with some clone troopers on the planet Ivol. There were Separatists there. We were in the middle of a battle when our troopers suddenly turned on us with no warning. They shot Master Ordol in the back. Terrified, I just ran away as fast as I could while our own troops shot at me. I was lucky to escape. I was so confused. I didn’t know why they had suddenly turned on us. Later on I found it had happened to all the Jedi.” Sadeya explained.
“The Emperor says the Jedi tried to kill him and take over the galaxy.” Losa stated. Sadeya gave her a brief uncertain look.
“I find that hard to believe.”
“My father doesn’t particularly like the Empire and he always told me to be wary of what anyone from the Empire says.”
“Wise words.” Sadeya remarked.
“Do you have a laser sword?”
“Yes I have a lightsaber, but I try not to use it.”
“Can I see it sometime?” Losa asked.
“What else can you do?” Losa asked. Sadeya smiled. Using the Force, she picked up the metal food container that sat by Losa and moved it over to her own side. Losa smiled. Without warning, an Imperial Shuttle passed directly overhead. Sadeya’s feeling of calm suddenly gave way to panic. She quickly stood up looking terrified. Losa saw her swift change of mood.
‘What’s the matter?” Losa asked.
“An Imperial shuttle!” Sadeya shouted out.
“They come to this spaceport sometimes. Don’t worry about it.” Losa replied. Sadeya quickly packed up her things and jumped down.from the roof. Losa quickly followed her looking confused. “You really don’t need to worry about this.” But her words were unheeded. Sadeya ran to their house. Once inside, she went to her room and started packing her things up. She had stayed here too long, and now they had found her. She could feel the Sith presence aboard that shuttle.
“What are you doing?” Will asked her, when he found her packing up.
“I need to run. The Empire is here.” she replied.
“Relax. It’s all in your head.” Will told her. Sadeya turned around with her bag packed. Both Will and Losa stood before her in the doorway.
“I really need to go now. I’m putting you both in danger by being here.” she informed them.
“Please stay.” Losa pleaded. There was a sudden loud banging on the front door.
The three Star Destroyers dropped out of hyperspace. Before the small fleet was the medium-sized green planet, known as Kangen. Taran looked out at the planet from the bridge of the Resolve, the command ship of the fleet. It was a beautiful looking world reminding her of her own homeworld that lay on the other side of the galaxy. She thought about the test she was about to face. This was her first assignment as an Imperial Inquisitor. The Emperor had great faith in her, but this mission was to test her and she didn’t want to disappoint him. She wanted to be a good and faithful servant to him. His teachings had filled the gaping black hole in her.
“According to our sources the Jedi you are hunting was last seen on this planet.” Captain Renlar informed her. She nodded.
“Thank you Captain.” She acknowledged. “What else do we know about this planet?”
“Well according to the intercepted transmissions, there seems to be a small rebel base operating from here. The base is probably giving refuge to the fugitive Jedi.” The Captain informed her. She noticed when he said the word “Jedi” there was a slight sound of disgust in his voice. She had been trained to notice these things.
“What else is on this planet?” She asked looking out into the black void through the bridge windows.
“There are a few cities, though this planet has only grudgingly helped the Empire. Their sympathies might be more with the Rebellion, which is probably why they’ve allowed a Rebel Base to operate there.” Taran nodded again at his words.
“And for that they will pay dearly. Tell the Captain’s of the other Star Destroyers to start orbital bombardment immediately.” She ordered.
“Even the cities?” Renlar asked with a look of distaste.
“Yes, even the cities. They have allowed both the Jedi and the Rebels to be on their planet. They are all guilty of treason.” Taran confirmed. The Captain briefly bowed his head and resumed his duties. “And ready my shuttle!” Taran looked out at Cangen as the two Star Destroyers began to position themselves above the planet’s atmosphere. Without warning the turbolasers opened fire falling onto the surface below in a continuous stream. Violent explosions covered the surface of the planet. It was glorious.
Taran reached out with the Force. She could feel the waves of terror coming from the planet’s terrified inhabitants, but that wasn’t what she was searching for. She continued reaching out in her mind, searching… until she found it. There was another force user on the planet and she felt them. She now knew exactly where they were. She spun round.
“I have found the Jedi. I require a squad of stormtroopers to come with me.” She informed the Captain.
“Shall we cease bombardment?” He asked. She looked at him like he was a fool.
“No. Continue with it until I give the order.” She then left the bridge with her black cloak billowing behind her. Renlar nodded and watched her leave. He was glad she was leaving the Resolve. Though he hated the Jedi, he hated the Sith and their followers even more.
Taran was a young child when the Clone Wars began. She grew up on the small planet Cuxhil which lay near the Outer Rim. For most of the war the planet was left untouched having little strategic value to either side. However towards the end of the war, the planet was unexpectedly invaded by the Separatists for a quick grab of resources desperately needed for their battles against the Republic.
Taran’s home village was in the direct path of the invasion and was virtually wiped of the map. Taran survived by hiding in the ruins and wondering what had happened to her parents. The Republic took some time to respond to this attack as their forces had been tied up in many other conflicts. When the Jedi and Clone Troopers finally arrived, the Separatist forces were quickly defeated and driven off the planet. The Republic helped rebuild and repair what they could. Taran came out of hiding to find her parents, and virtually everyone else she knew, were dead. The Jedi there discovered she was Force-sensitive and arranged to have her sent to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant for training, however by the time she got there the Jedi had been destroyed and The Republic had now become The Empire.
The Emperor had the remaining Force-sensitive children taken to another planet near the Galaxy’s Inner Core and trained in the Dark Side. Taran quickly emerged as a talented Force-user.
The Lambda-class Imperial Shuttle sped towards the planet. Taran focused on the presence of the Jedi. They were in the northern hemisphere. Possibly hiding out in some natural caves in a mountainous area of the planet, maybe even the Rebels were there with them.
The shuttle landed near some rocky outcrops. The ramp slowly dropped and Taran and a squad of stormtroopers walked down onto the planet’s surface. Not far from them were a group of hills that consisted of mostly bare rock. Taran’s black cloak swayed in the hot breeze. She looked to the south and saw the entire horizon engulfed in fire from the turbolasers launched from the Star Destroyers. Seeing the complete devastation at ground level was frightening, even to her.
Turning to the hills she saw no evidence of a Rebel base, but she could still feel the presence of the Jedi. They were very close. Leaving the stormtroopers to guard the Shuttle, she walked forward into the hot wind focusing on the Jedi. She walked up a hill and followed a path that seemed to wind around it which led to a series of caves. Reaching out she could feel the Jedi was in the left one. She cautiously walked into it and soon found herself striding down a smooth tunnel. Inside there were a number of rooms that were obviously a living space for someone. When she came to the last one, there in the middle of the floor was a women in brown robes sitting cross-legged on the floor. She seemed to be meditating. She had long brown hair that was turning grey and was probably slightly taller than Taran. She looked to be in her mid-forties.
“Olen Layfar?” Taran asked with a commanding tone. The woman opened her eyes and looked directly at her.
“I could feel you coming. As soon as you arrived in this system, I knew you were here. I didn’t see the point in running.” The Jedi said. Taran looked down at her with hate.
“You will regret that!” Taran answered. Olen looked at her with a bemused expression.
“I’m surprised they sent one so young as you to find me.” She said sizing up Taran. “Is all that devastation out there for me?”
“For you and the Rebels.” Taran answered while gripping her lightsaber.
“Rebels? There are no Rebels here. They’ve never been on this planet as far as I’m aware.” Olen informed her.
“Our intelligence said there is Rebel activity on this planet.” Taran replied.
“Maybe your intelligence was giving you false information to manipulate you in committing the atrocity you’ve now done. All those people killed for what? To punish them for something that wasn’t their fault?” Taran felt nothing but hatred and contempt for her.
“More Jedi lies!” Taran answered her. Olen just shook her head sadly.
“I see there’s no point in using reason with you.” Olen stated. Taran ignited her lightsaber. The red blade hummed above the seated figure of Olen.
“Either you surrender to me now or meet your destruction.” Taran told her.
“I will not surrender to you, and you will have to destroy me.” Olen said defiantly.
“If that is your destiny.” Taran replied. Taran quickly swung the lightsaber down onto the Jedi, but she dodged it with surprising grace and then ignited her own lightsaber while standing up. It had a bright green blade.
So it would be a fight to the death, then.
The lightsabers clashed. Taran tried to strike down her opponent, but Olen was too good at deflecting her blows. Olen narrowed her eyes.
“You are full of hate and anger. How can one so young be so full of hate?” Olen asked as she withstood more attacks from Taran’s lightsaber. Taran didn’t respond, but instead redoubled her efforts to overcome Olen’s defences. Olen began to apply more power to her blocking, forcing Taran back into the corridor. As Olen followed her, she began to counter Taran’s attacks with her own. Whenever Taran tried to stand her ground, she was forced back by the strength of Olen’s attacks.
“You are outclassed here, but I don’t want to kill you. Maybe you should consider leaving.” Olen advised her.
“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.” Taran responded trying to hold her ground.
“Are all you followers of the Dark Side programmed to say that?” Olen asked her. Taran just grunted back. One more thrust from Olen led them both outside of the cave. In the distance Olen could see the Star Destroyers in the upper atmosphere raining down destruction onto the planet’s surface only a few miles away. The hot wind was rising.
“You brought all this destruction here just to find me?” She asked critically.
“It allowed me to locate you.” Taran admitted as the lightsaber hummed in her hands.
“Whatever the cost?” Olen asked pointedly.
“All methods to locate and destroy the last remaining Jedi will be used.” Taran informed her. Olen just shook her head sadly and then made another attack at Taran.
“You know what’s unfortunate? Underneath all that hate in you, there is still a good person in there. I can feel it.” Olen said after Taran parried her blow.
“I must obey my master!” Taran stated.
“If you let go of all that hate. I could train you.” Taran spat at Olen when she suggested this.
“A Jedi train me?” Taran looked at her incredulously while striking her lightsaber in anger. “You Jedi are the reason why I serve the Emperor! He has shown strength, while all the Jedi have only shown weakness!”
“Your mind has been poisoned by him.” Olen replied as she parried a thrust from Taran.
“If it wasn’t for the Jedi, my parents would be alive!” Taran screamed at her. Olen frowned.
“What do you mean?” she asked her.
“The Jedi couldn’t stop my planet from being invaded by the Separatists. The Jedi did nothing. It was days before they showed up, and by then my parents and everyone I knew were dead. So you and your Order are to blame!” Taran informed her as she struck angrily and Olen deflected her blows.
“It was a galaxy-wide war. We never had enough resources to protect everyone. We couldn’t be everywhere. I’m sorry your planet got invaded by the Separatists, but there were many tragedies like this through the war, and you can’t blame the Jedi for this.” Olen explained. As they got further away from the caves, Olen noticed the fire and destruction from the Star Destroyers was getting closer.
“Then who is to blame Jedi?” Taran taunted her.
“If you’re looking for someone to blame, you should blame your master, the Emperor. He was playing both sides to gain more power. The Clone Wars wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for his machinations. Those Separatists that invaded your world were ultimately taking orders from him.” Olen informed her. Taran looked enraged at her. She launched a violent flurry of blows onto Olen with such force that it caught Olen by surprise, and she found herself backing away.
“You lie!” Taran cried vehemently. “The Emperor ended the conflict and brought peace to the galaxy!”
“Yes he brought “peace, once the galaxy was his to control after destroying the Jedi and all serious opposition to him.” Olen said while backing away from Taran’s relentless blows. “It was his fault, and he has turned you into his own instrument of evil doing acts of destruction in his name, when it was his own hunger for power that resulted in the death of your parents, and many others on both sides.” Olen was able to strike back. She saw a moment of hesitation and indecision in Taran’s movements and tried to force her back again, but then Taran renewed her attack.
“No I don’t believe you!” Taran cried. Olen saw the Star Destroyers getting even closer. The heat from the blasts was rising. Taran’s long dark hair was blown around her head like a dark halo.
“Are you aware your forces are getting closer? Are they coming for you too? Has your master betrayed even you?” Olen asked her. Taran looked to her side. Olen suddenly saw the concern in Taran’s eyes.
“They weren’t meant to come this far north!” She turned to face Olen. “I should kill you quickly then.” She launched another violent onslaught at Olen that she parried. Taran held out one hand and Olen found herself abruptly pushed back towards the caves. Taran advanced on her.
“You know my words are true. Your master is not on your side. He has manipulated into becoming this monster and he will dispense with you when you’re no longer needed.” Olen warned her. Again she saw the indecision on Taran’s face. “Come away with me! I will train you. I will help you get rid of all that hate you carry in your heart. It is eating away at you.” Taran looked at her and then with a look of resolve, she renewed her attacks. The Jedi was stripping away the layers inside her. She could feel the old hurts, and the gaping black emptiness inside her. It was making her feel naked. She had to make it stop.
“There is no saving me.” she said as spun around catching Olen by surprise. Taran’s red blade plunged straight into Olen’s chest. Olen dropped to the ground with a look of surprise on her face. Her lightsaber fell to the ground. Taran then dropped to her knees beside the dead figure seeing the gaping hole left in her chest. For the first time since she was that small frightened child living in the ruins of her home tears ran down her face. She started to cry as the world around her exploded. She cried for her lost childhood, her dead parents, and the evil she had done in their name. Taran continued crying out as the turbolaser blasts got ever closer.
She had followed her orders: the Jedi was dead, but she hadn’t passed the test.
I originally wrote and published this story on my blog in three parts in late 2018. I’ve damaged my lower back again, so I thought I would re-edit this story rather than write anything new at the moment, as the pain is making it hard to think.
I love Star Destroyers by the way…
Please support this blog (you know you want to) – Ko-fi 🙂
Bronwyn and her group of fellow adventurers had come to this small town to find employment. Their funds were running low and they needed supplies. Unfortunately for them, there seemed to be few well-stocked dungeons around these parts for them to explore, or more precisely, plunder. When they first arrived, a town official had employed them to take care of the town’s “rat problem”, which seemed like overkill for them until they found out that the “rat problem” turned out to be large bipedal intelligent rats that lived in some tunnels under the town. It turned out the problem the town official had with these rats was that were very good thieves, rather than the spreaders of pathogens everyone had assumed they would be. In the end Bronwyn’s party begrudgingly slaughtered them all, but it was one of those jobs that raised more questions than answers and which left a bad taste in all their mouths. Still a job is a job, and they got well paid for it.
Upon receiving payment, the first thing Bronwyn did was to find some new armour. She went to the town’s only blacksmith only to find him trying to sell her the skimpiest set of chain-mail she had ever seen. It came in two pieces. The top part just barely covered her breasts, while the lower part also revealed far too much for her liking. Even her underwear provided better coverage than this mail. The blacksmith insisted it provided the same armour bonus as any other suit of armour he had, but Bronwyn was still unimpressed. Dungeons on the whole tended to be damp, cold, and draughty and wearing armour like this seemed terribly unsuitable for it. The blacksmith also insisted, as he leered at her, she could show off her “attributes” as well get full protection from the armour. The last place Bronwyn wanted to show her “attributes” was a cold draughty dungeon full of monsters, thank you very much. To his lasting disappointment, Bronwyn instead opted for a set of full plate-mail, and also got an even larger sword.
Now it was the evening and they were all in a bar looking for some more employment, and wondering how long it would be until the nightly bar room brawl would break out. Bronwyn sat there in her new gleaming armour watching out for dark hooded strangers lurking in the corners of the room. Across from her was Fingers the Halfling. He had bought a set of new knives and was busily cutting up the table in front of him. No one was sure how he had acquired his name. Beside Bronwyn was Rachel with her long dark hair and dressed in black leather armour. She was the youngest in the party and was originally Bronwyn’s ward. Bronwyn did her best to keep her on the right path, but Rachel just couldn’t stop pilfering things, usually things she didn’t need. Bronwyn didn’t even notice her doing it most of the time. On the other side of her was Aalen, an elven ranger. Aalen considered all other races to be “sub-elven”, and all her senses were incredibly sharp. There wasn’t anything she couldn’t see or hear in her general vicinity. The last member of the party was over at the bar chatting up some random stranger. Her name was Zana, and she was a dark elf wizard. Though on the face of it she seemed nice, Bronwyn reckoned she was at least as evil as Fingers, maybe even a lot more. Bronwyn sighed. How did she end up being with these people?
“Ahem.” Said a voice beside her. “Perchance are you looking for some employment?” Bronwyn looked around to see a tall man wearing robes and a long pointed hat. Obviously a wizard. Bronwyn sighed again.
“Yes we are.” She confirmed.
“Do you mind if I sit with you?” He asked.
“Yes, but I’m sure that won’t stop you.” Bronwyn replied. The man sat down beside Rachel. A little too close to Bronwyn’s liking. If that wizard wasn’t careful, Rachel would pilfer everything he had.
“I have a job for you.” He stated. Fingers grinned at him with his yellowed teeth.
“We cuts them up. We cuts them alls up.” Fingers said in his menacing soft voice. He then padded off to the bar. The wizard grimaced.
“What an odious little man. I take it he’s your thief?” The wizard asked. Bronwyn sighed again.
“No.” She replied. “He’s our cleric.” The wizard’s mouth sprung open in surprise. Yes Fingers was their cleric. She didn’t know what dark gods he actually worshiped, but at least he helped patch up the rest of the party when it was needed, along with her, and his turning of undead seemed more like making friends with them and convincing them not to attack the rest of the party, but it all seemed to work at some level, and at least he hadn’t killed the rest of them in their sleep yet.
“And I guess you’re a fighter of some sort?” The wizard asked her.
“No, I’m a paladin.” She informed him.
“I see. Well my name is Morgon the Only, and I require a group of adventurers to go to a local dungeon not far from here to acquire an artifact for me.” He stated. The three others left at the table nodded amongst themselves.
“Why can’t you do it? You look like a powerful wizard.” Rachel asked him. Morgon began clearing his throat.
“I can’t actually. The dangers I would face there might be too powerful for me to handle on my own.” He explained. Rachel pouted her lips.
“And yet you want a group of less powerful adventurers to go in there?” She asked pointedly.
“For you it will be different. If you go in there you will face creatures at your own power level. At most you might face a beholder maybe? But if I go in, there will be more powerful creatures there that I will encounter on my own.” He explained to her. Rachel sat up looking interested.
“You mean to say that depending on who goes in there they will have different encounters?”
“Yes.” Morgon confirmed.
“How does that work?”
“It’s just the way it is.” Morgon told her in a resigned way.
“But is there some weird god stocking dungeons full of monsters just before you go in?” Rachel asked disbelievingly.
“In a way, yes.” Morgon replied. Bronwyn sighed again. She would have to join in. There were obviously things Rachel didn’t understand.
“Imagine all your skills and attributes are numbers.” Bronwyn said. Morgon nodded, while Rachel screwed up her nose in incomprehension.
“Imagine beyond this world there is a sheet of paper with your name on it. On it is listed all your skills and how intelligent or strong you are, for example. All of these will have a numerical value with them. As you adventure more, some of these numerical values will increase, and you will get more of them. Now along with all these pieces of paper there is something that decides what we will encounter, depending on how powerful we all are and where we go. And that is how it all works.” Bronwyn informed her. Rachel just shook her head in disbelief.
“That’s just crazy.” Rachel replied. “Next you’ll say we’re all holograms.” The rest of them all laughed.
“Now that would be crazy.” Bronwyn agreed.
“I’ll see you again shortly.” Morgon said enigmatically as he handed Bronwyn a map with a set of instructions. He then wandered off and disappeared amongst the throng.
“Goodbye human.” the usually silent Aalen said. Bronwyn turned to Rachel only to see a large purse brimming full of gold coins in her hands.
“Where did you get that?” Bronwyn asked her in an authoritative tone.
“I found it.” Rachel lied.
“I really find that unlikely.” Bronwyn replied. She was about to say more when someone across the room smashed a tankard of ale over the head of another and then fighting ensued. The nightly bar room brawl had begun. Already Zana and Fingers were running into the melee. Bronwyn sighed again and picked up something to use as a weapon before she too ran towards the fight.
Tomorrow they would be leaving, so tonight they could have some fun.
I originally wrote and published this story here around four years ago. I thought it would be good to repost and update it. I had written it for a short story competition, but didn’t complete it in time due to technology issues I was having. Most of the names were from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I was in at the time.
“Jedi? I’m not a Jedi.” Sadeya lied. Will raised his eyebrows at her words.
“You were using the Force to lift those containers into the ship. I saw you doing it. There is no way you could have lifted them by yourself. The stormtroopers were looking for a Jedi, just after you appeared seeking passage to escape the authorities. You’re going to tell me that was all a coincidence?” Will asked her. Sadeya looked down on the ground.
“Maybe it was.” she replied. Will laughed.
“You’re safe here. I’m not going to turn you in to the Empire. I just want to talk. Is that okay?”
“Fine.” Sadeya answered.
“Is Frifac your real name?” Will asked.
“No, my name is Sadeya Tatvea. I’m sorry for the deception. I don’t know who to trust.” Sadeya told him.
“That’s okay. You’re a particularly bad liar, if that helps. I’m guessing you would have been a padawan when the purge happened.” Sadeya looked up at him when he said this.
“Yes, my master was killed when our clone troopers suddenly attacked us. It happened with no warning. I ran as fast as I could and manged to evade their shots. They spent days searching for me. I hid in a small cave until I reckoned it was safe. I then stowed away in a transport and managed to blend into the crowds after landing at a spaceport.”
“Have you killed many others since you ran?”
“No only the one I killed recently. They attacked me and tried to steal what things I had left. I just suddenly felt angry and cut them down with my lightsaber. It’s never happened before.”
“So you’ve been on the run since the Republic became the Empire?”
“Yes I’ve been in hiding since then, waiting for the remaining Jedi to regroup and restore the Republic.” Sadeya replied. Will gasped.
“It’s been six years since the Purge. You’ve been on the run all that time? I would guess you’d be one of the last remaining Jedi, but maybe there are others out there. I think if they were going to restore the Republic, they probably would have done so by now.” Will informed her. Sadeya’s head was swimming. Had it really been that long?
“I guess I’ve lost track of time.” she admitted.
“I have a home at the next spaceport and a daughter who is around the same age as you. You’re welcome to stay there as long as you need. There will be a soft bed, food and shelter. You can even help me with my trade runs if you want. You could be useful. You’re still young, maybe you should think about creating a new life for yourself, rather than staying on the run forever, because eventually they will find you.” Will offered.
“Thanks.” Sadeya replied. Will nodded his head and headed back to the ship’s cockpit. At least she now had somewhere to stay for a while. That was the best prospects she had had for such a long time…
Sadeya walked though the crowded streets that seemed to get busier the closer she got to the docking bays. At one point the crowds parted as a patrol of stormtroopers marched through. Sadeya hid behind a partition once she saw them. When they were gone, she continued on her way. She came to a docking bay and saw that a light freighter was being loaded with supplies. She stood in the entrance way watching. The older male who was loading up the ship noticed her.
“Can I help you?” he asked.
“I’m wanting to get off this planet and was wondering if you take passengers?” she replied.
“No, I just want to get away from here.” she told him. He grunted.
“Trying to avoid the authorities?” he asked pointedly.
“In a manner of speaking.” He stood there for a moment and regarded her.
“Are you able to pay for passage?”
“I don’t have a lot of credits, but I can work it off. I can help you load those supplies.” Sadeya offered. He looked at her small frame and thin arms doubtfully. Sadeya looked up at him hopefully as he looked deep in thought.
“Okay you can help me, but I’ll only take you as far as the next star system I’m heading to. After that, you’re on your own.” he informed her. “What’s your name?”
“My name is Frifac.” she said.
“Okay Frifac, I’m Will Letgar. You hear they’re looking for a Jedi? They found a dead body that has lightsaber cuts on them, apparently.”
“No I hadn’t heard that.” Sadeya replied. She spent the next couple of hours helping to load the freighter, using the Force surreptitiously to help lift the heavy containers onboard. Once they were done, Will began getting the ship ready for take off.
“That went quicker than expected. Get on board we’re about to go.” Will told her. Just then a squad of stormtroopers entered the docking bay.
“We have orders to search every ship for a Jedi fugitive.” the lead stormtrooper announced.
“Okay, search away. All you’ll find is containers of Yoseon grain though.” Will told them.
“And who is this?” the stormtrooper asked pointing directly at Sadeya.
“That’s my daughter. She helps with my supply runs.” Will told them.
“And where’s your wife?”
“She died many years ago.”
“Do you have identification?”
“Sure, I have both mine and my daughters with me.” He handed over a couple of datapads to the stormtrooper who checked them over. Once the stormtrooper appeared satisfied, the other stormtroopers searched the ship. After a few minutes of searching they left.
“Thanks for that.” Sadeya said, still wide-eyed with surprise.
“Luckily for you I do have a daughter that helps me, sometimes. She’ll be at the next port. Now we better go, before we attract anymore attention.” Will suggested. Shortly afterwards they took off. Sadeya watched the planet recede from view. Aside from the usual Imperial Customs Frigates, there was also a Star Destroyer now in orbit around the planet. Once the ship went into hyperspace, Will joined her in crew quarters. He sat down in front of her and looked at her.
“Is there a problem?” Sadeya asked. Will shook his head.
“Now we’re away from that planet, we need to talk, Jedi.”
Sadeya looked down at the dead body before her. She retracted the lightsaber blade and kneeled down by them already regretting her actions. In anger, she had struck them down. It wasn’t the Jedi way, she knew that. She was better than this. Knowing she had strayed from the path, she would have to atone for this transgression. Not for the first time she wished Master Logoth was still alive. What had they told her? Hate and anger were paths to the Dark Side of the Force. Using such emotions to guide you would eventually end in your own destruction.
Sadeya hid her lightsaber away and left the alleyway she had been hiding in. If anyone saw her weapon, she would be in big trouble. Right now, all she wanted was a way off this planet. She had lingered here too long, and she knew to stay in one place too long was to invite trouble. The Empire would track her down and kill or imprison her, as they had done to many others of her lost Order. She had to get a ride on some freighter out of here as soon as possible.
As she left she glanced at the body in the alleyway. She had tried to hide them as best she could, but you could still see them if you looked hard enough. She didn’t know who they were, but they had tried to steal what meagre possessions she still had. All that was left of her former life, before the dark times, before The Empire. Without barely a thought she had struck them down. It would only be a matter of time until the body was discovered, and the telltale wounds from a lightsaber seen. That would at least bring in an Inquisitor, the hunters of the few remaining Jedi. They would use the Dark Side to track her down, and that would be it. She hurried away.
Above she heard the boom of a spacecraft entering the atmosphere. Sadeya looked up to see an Imperial Shuttle coming into land at the spaceport. She stopped in her tracks. Had she left it too long to move on?
to be continued….
Just wrote this on a whim while watching The Empire Strikes Back. I’m not sure where it’s going to go at this stage.
Cindy was walking back from the mailbox. The only piece of mail she had received today was a letter from Melissa apologising for past events. Cindy followed the path until she came to some old steps. She remembered Grandma saying that beyond the steps was a gateway to Faerie. Cindy had always thought Grandma was slightly crazy, but now she wasn’t so sure…
She went up them and saw a haze in the air. Walking through it, she came to a place she had never seen before. Everything there seemed more green and vibrant.
“You look like Rose, but you’re not her.” said a voice.
Cindy looked down to see a small squat figure with a long white beard smoking a pipe.
“Rose was my grandma. She died a while ago now.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that. I really enjoyed talking with her.” He said.
“Hi, I’m Cindy.”
“Hello, my name in Babradon.” He said standing up and bowing. He was half Cindy’s height.
Just wait till Jess sees this, Cindy thought. She looked down at the small figure of Babradon.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but what are you?” She asked him. He looked at her surprised.
“I keep forgetting in your world humans are mostly the only sentient race there. You’re probably not used to seeing other races like me. I’m what you would call a gnome.” He informed her.
” I see. What do you mean we’re mostly the only sentient race?” Cindy asked curiously.
“It’s not important. There are others like us still living in the fringes of your world, if you know where to look. And being near a gateway means you get a few peoples going back and forth.”
“So what other races live here in Faerie?”
“Well aside from gnomes, there are also elves, dwarves, trolls, goblins, pixies, boggarts, to name a few.” Babradon said.
“There are all manner of strange creatures here, possibly countless numbers of them.” He revealed. Cindy gazed in wonder at the vibrant green landscape before her.
“How far does it go on?” She asked.
“Probably forever.” He told her. “This is your first time here isn’t it?”
“Yes.” Cindy admitted.
“There are some basic rules to Faerie you will need to know. Firstly don’t be so trusting with anyone you meet here and don’t accept everything you see at face value. Always look deeper. And be careful who you give your name out to. Give everyone your nickname or something similar.”
“Why?” Cindy asked him.
“Because if you give out your true name to someone, you give them power over you.”
“Okay.” Cindy replied. “What do you mean by true name?”
“What’s the name you give yourself?” He asked.
“Me.” Cindy replied. Babradon looked away for a moment.
“I mean what name do you think defines you? What name do you think is you?” He asked carefully.
“Well everyone calls me Cindy, and that’s the name I think of myself as.” She answered.
“Then don’t give that name to people here. Are there any other names people call you?”
“I was christened Cynthia, and a lot of people call me Cinders, and when I was at school some people used to call me Cinderella, but that was to annoy me.”
“Maybe use the name Cinders?” Babradon suggested.
“Okay.” Cindy replied. “So I guess Babradon isn’t your true name then?”
“No it’s my use name. My true name I keep to myself.” Babradon revealed.
“So do you live out here?” Cindy asked.
“I have a small house nearby. I help keep an eye on the gateway you came through.”
“It’s so lovely here.” Cindy said as she sat down on the ground with the sun on her.
“You’re very much like your grandmother. Did you know that?” Babradon told her. Cindy gave out a short laugh.
“Yeah some people have said that to me before. I think we have a similar temperament.”
“I’m sorry to hear she has died. I’ll miss her.”
“I miss her too. Me and Jess now have her farm.” Cindy revealed.
“Who is Jess? Tell me more Cindy” He asked.
“My girlfriend.” Cindy answered. “Does it bother you I’m in a same-sex relationship?”
“Following your heart and being with your True Love is what’s important, no matter who they are.” Babradon responded.
“We had to clear all the farmland as everything had become overgrown, and we also had to fix the farmstead, but now we are living there together and I’m very happy.” Cindy told him.
“That’s good to hear.”
“I’ve recently found out that Jess slept with a mutual friend when I was still living in the city. We weren’t together again at that point, but for some reason it’s made me feel very jealous. I just want Jess all to myself and I get very possessive over her, which I know isn’t a good thing. I worry she might have feelings for our friend.” Cindy told him.
“I’m not an expert when it comes to love, but if you fixed the farm together and now live there with each other, surely you’re the one she wants to be with.” Babradon advised her. Cindy sighed loudly.
“I know. It’s not like we both didn’t have affairs when we were apart, but for some reason I feel really threatened by this other person. I was really horrid to her at a friend’s funeral recently.”
“Jealousy is not an attractive trait in anyone. If you continue to be jealous your partner may always feel under pressure when socialising with others and that may end up pushing her away. Always remember if she is with you, she wants to be there. Trust in that.”
“Thanks for the advice.” Cindy replied. “Sorry about unloading my problems on you. I’m not sure why I told you all this.” Babradon shrugged his shoulders.
“When you’re the Warden of a gateway, people tell you all sorts of things.” he said.
Cindy looked at the path that led away and went beyond the trees.
“So where does that path go?” She asked.
“It goes on through the forest and eventually leads to towns and great cities. Just beyond those trees there I think there is a marketplace at the moment. That could be well worth a look, though I would advise you to be careful with everything you say or do there .” Babradon informed her.
“Ooh a marketplace! I would love to check that out! Maybe I’ll have a quick look at it.” Cindy enthused.
“Yes you’ll find it rather eye-opening I’m sure. Just be careful there! Faerie can be quite perilous. And remember what I told you about names.” Babradon warned.
“I will.” Cindy told him.
Cindy stood up and wandered down the path. As she looked behind her she saw Babradon had sat down again and was relighting his pipe. She turned around again and faced the trees. She took a deep breath and walked into the forest.
Cindy didn’t want to admit it, but she was lost. She had followed the path as Babradon had suggested, but then she had seen some beautiful flowers and left the path to have a closer look at them. When she went back, the pathway seemed to have disappeared. She walked for ages, but there was no sign of it.
“You’re lost!” said a voice. Cindy beheld a small figure sitting on a branch.
“I am.” She admitted. “I’ve lost the pathway.”
“Well you’re going the wrong way! For a small fee, I’ll take you back to it.” they volunteered.
“I’m not sure I have anything.” Cindy said searching her pockets. All she had was a letter from Melissa, and a quarter. She handed the coin to the figure.
“Ooh I’ve never seen one of these before! Okay follow me!” the figure sped off in a completely different direction. Cindy followed.
Cindy wasn’t sure where the pixie was leading her. If only she hadn’t walked off the path…
“Just pretend you’re an intrepid explorer,” she told herself.
“We’re here!” the pixie exclaimed.
Before Cindy was a marketplace with strange creatures looking at tables of wondrous items. She had never seen anything like this before.
On the path to the Faerie Market, Cindy came across a small stone well with a stone serpent running along the lip. The pixie alighted on her shoulder.
“It’s a true wishing well.” the pixie told her.
“What does it do?” Cindy asked.
“You cast something personal into the water and make a wish.” the pixie replied.
“Cast something valuable in, you mean?”
“Maybe, or something deeply personal, or even a stone you’ve been carrying in your hand as you walked through the forest.” Cindy smiled at his words.
“Does it work?”
“Verily it does. You wish for something, but here’s the catch: you can never tell anyone what you wished for, even if it comes to pass, or the wish will become undone.” the pixie warned.
Cindy stood there wishing for something deep in the confines of her heart. Then she cast the stone into the water.
Cindy then walked towards the Faerie Market. There were all manner of different creatures wandering around the market place or minding the stalls. She could see elves, dwarves, gnomes, a tree-ish woman Cindy presumed to be a dryad, and many others that she had no name for, while above fairies and pixies flittered around them all.
The market stalls had many wondrous-looking items on display. There were gems, jewels in the shape of flowers that blossomed before your eyes as though they were alive, potions, weapons, small chests full of ointments or perfumes, and many more such things. Cindy stopped at a stall that had various trinkets. An old woman with long silver hair wearing a long black cloak regarded her. Cindy picked up a small silver bell that had intricate patterns etched into the metal. When she rang the bell it made a clear note that drove away her feeling of tiredness.
“You like the bell? Would you like to exchange something for it?” The old woman asked.
“I don’t have anything to buy it with.” Cindy told her.
“You have nothing at all?” The woman clarified looking at her keenly. Cindy dug into the pockets of her jeans. She produced the letter from Melissa, which was the only thing she had left.
“I’ve got a letter from a friend and that’s all.” Cindy said.
“Hand the letter over to me child and let me have a look at it.” The old woman requested holding out her shaking hand with long fingers and dagger-like fingernails. Cindy reluctantly gave it to her. The old woman looked it over and opened it up to read. “Ah a letter of apology from a sorceress. This has much value. Feel free to take any item.” A sorceress? Cindy thought, it’s just plain old Melissa. Cindy picked up the silver bell.
“Okay I’ll take this silver bell. It’ll make a nice gift for Jess, my partner. It will help prove to her I was actually here.” Cindy informed her. The old woman nodded.
“It’s a fair exchange.” She declared. She spat on her hand and held it out to Cindy, who then reluctantly shook hands with her. “It is sealed.”
As Cindy walked away she looked behind her to see the woman hide the letter away amongst her belongings. Cindy began to consider it was time to move on. She should really get home as she was unaware how long she had been lost in Faerie, and time seemed to move differently here. Jess would be worrying about her. And it wasn’t like she anything else to exchange with aside from the clothes she was wearing, and she would rather not part with those.
Once finding the path she assumed would lead her back to the portal, she followed it to see where she would end up this time. The path led her through the forest and then upwards through bush until she came across Babradon who was sitting there smoking his pipe.
“I saw you approaching. You were away for some time. Did you get lost?” He asked.
“Yes. I left the path and couldn’t find it again.” Cindy told him.
“I did warn you not to leave the path. Then count yourself lucky you found your way back to here. You could have been lost in Faerie until you were silver haired.” Babradon informed her.
“I know. Luckily a pixie helped by leading me to the Faerie market. I’m really glad I saw it.”
“All’s well that ends well then.” Babradon replied.
“I better be going home. Jess will probably be wondering where I am.” She looked towards the portal.
“I suspect I’ll be seeing you again. So until next time!” Babradon said. Cindy nodded.
“Yes until next time.” Cindy replied as she walked up to the portal. She was looking forward to getting home.
Cindy jumped through the portal. To her surprise, it wasn’t the familiar buildings of her own farm that she saw when she returned, but someone else’s. She had no idea where she was. For all she knew she could be on the other side of the world. Nor did she have any idea how long she had been in Faerie. She knew Jess would be worried and she imagined Jess standing in the kitchen watching through the windows wondering where she had got to. One thing Cindy was certain of: she had never seen these buildings before anywhere near her own farm.
“Hello!” she called out. “Is there anyone here?” The buildings remained silent. She seriously considered going back through the portal. The feeling that things had gone terribly wrong was growing in her. Just then, she heard a door creak slowly open…. Around the corner an old woman with long grey hair and wearing an old black dress hobbled into sight. She walked with great difficulty.
“Hello my lovely! What are you doing here?” the old woman asked as she approached Cindy.
“I’m lost.” Cindy replied. “I don’t know where I am, or even what part of the world I’m in.”
“Oh dear, that doesn’t sound so good. You’re in my farm, if you need to know. Why don’t you come to my farmhouse and have a sit down? I’ll give you a nice hot cup of tea and something to eat and we can work this out together.” the old woman offered. It sounded good to Cindy, though there was a feeling of misgiving in her heart, as though maybe things weren’t as they seemed. She followed the old woman to her house. The woman opened the door and there was a loud creak, exactly like the one Cindy had heard before. “Now go in my lovely and have a sit down.” the woman suggested.
“Thanks.” Cindy answered. She went inside to what was a musty old kitchen and sat down on a chair by the table. Instantly she felt stuck. She pressed her hands on the table to give herself leverage so she could escape the chair, but then found her hands were also stuck. The old woman laughed.
“You have fallen for my trap my lovely!” The room melted away and Cindy found she was stuck to a huge web. She turned to look at the old woman and saw that she had transformed to the largest spider she had ever seen. “I put this web in-between worlds and catch the occasional portal jumper! So glad I’m back in my true form. I hate wearing that human skin. It’s so hard to walk in!” the spider said as she moved closer to Cindy now showing no impediment in her movement. Cindy struggled, but found the more she struggled, the more stuck to the web she became. The spider approached. Cindy was now almost fully stuck to the web. The spider stopped and towered above her. It’s large eyes looked down on Cindy while it’s fangs dripped with venom.
“I’m going to bite you and turn your insides to jelly which I will then suck out.” the spider declared. “You look so tasty!”
Cindy shook her head. How did she get into this mess? She thought about Jess who would be wondering where she was. She would never know what became of her. What would happen when she never turned up? How long would Jess wait for her? What would happen when Jess finally realised she was gone for ever? She felt overcome with sadness.
“I’m sorry Jess!” she called out into the void, hoping her words might get to her love as tears began to fall down her cheeks. Maybe Jess would be alright. Maybe she would hook up with Melissa again… Melissa? Suddenly a light went on in her brain. What had they said at the Faerie Market about Melissa, of all people? It had been rather surprising…
“Aw you’re crying! Don’t worry, it will all be over soon!’ the spider said as it’s fangs began to bear down on her.
“Melissa!” Cindy called out into the dark hoping her voice and thoughts could reach their target. “Melissa, I’m sorry for what I said when we last met. I was jealous, but I need your help. I’m trapped between worlds by a giant spider. If you can hear this, please help me!”
“I’m trapped too.” a voice abruptly said in Cindy’s mind. “But I’ll do what I can. I can see you in my mind’s eye. When it hits, get ready to run as fast as you can, no matter what condition you’re in.”
“Okay.” Cindy replied. Beyond the web, floating in the dark she saw a light in front of her in the shape of her friend.
“Now!” said the voice and suddenly the entire web was hit by lightning. The spider screamed and recoiled, while Cindy was thrown from the web and landed on solid ground.
Without a thought Cindy stood up and ran for the portal. She heard the spider behind her and knew she was being chased down. She didn’t dare look back as she ran straight for the glowing portal in front of her. She could hear the spider catching her up and suddenly felt the spider’s legs try to grab hold of her. Cindy managed to dodge them as she jumped through the portal. The last thing she heard was the spider scream with frustration and anger.
Cindy landed on some soft earth. When she opened her eyes, she saw she was in Faerie again. That was close, she thought. In front of her was Babradon smoking his pipe, as always.
“You weren’t gone for long.”
“I tried to leave, but there was spider in-between the worlds that caught me. I only just managed to escape.”
“Ah yes, Her. You were lucky. Few ever escape her dark web.” Babradon replied.
“I had some help.” Cindy said. “But how do I get home? The way through that portal is trapped now.”
“I understand. Follow me.” He led her to a large tree that leaned. “There is a portal in this tree. Go through the opening in the trunk and you will get back to your world.”
“But I won’t fit in there.”
“You will.” He replied. Cindy looked at him doubtfully, but to her surprise the opening was now large enough and she suddenly found herself sliding down into the darkness…
Cindy landed on the ground with a thud. She sat up rubbing the back of her head. Babradon hadn’t warned her about the rough landing. She wondered where she was this time and spotted a middle-aged woman walking a fox terrier. Cindy walked up to her.
“Excuse me, where am I?” Cindy asked. The woman looked at her as though she was crazy.
“You’re just outside the town of Lawrence.” the woman told her before hurrying off and occasionally looking behind her. She was home! Finally! Now all she had to do was walk back to the farm…
Within half an hour she was at the front gate. She walked down the driveway to the homestead. As she approached Jess ran out the door and grabbed Cindy in her arms.
“Where have you been? You’ve been missing for days! People are out searching for you. I’ve been so worried.” Jess blurted out quickly as she hugged Cindy tightly.
“I can’t breathe!” Cindy got out. Jess relaxed her hold, and looked into Cindy’s eyes.
“Oh sorry! I’m just so relieved to see you. I really feared the worst. Let’s get you inside.” The two of them walked into their home with Jess leading the way. Cindy sat down on the couch in the living room while Jess kneeled in front of her. “Where have you been? Were you attacked? Are you hurt?”
“I got stuck.” Cindy replied.
“You got stuck?” Jess frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I got stuck in Faerie.” Cindy clarified. Jess sighed deeply and shook her head.
“Not this again.”
“I knew you wouldn’t believe me so I brought you back something from the Faerie market.” Cindy dug into the pocket of her jeans and produced a delicate silver bell and handed it to Jess. She looked at it moving it around in her fingers.
“And what did you use to trade for this? Magic beans?” Jess asked.
“I had a letter from Melissa. They were quite happy to exchange it for that.”
“You exchanged a personal letter from a friend for this in some market stall? Why did Melissa write to you?”
“She wanted to apologise for sleeping with you.” Cindy replied.
“Melissa had no need to apologise to you. When we had sex, you and I weren’t back together. You were still in the city.”
“So why all this jealousy with Melissa? Surely when you were in the city you dated other woman?”
“Yes.” Cindy answered.
“And I did likewise when I was here on my own. Who I slept with then is not really your business. I don’t ask who you slept with in the city do I?” Jess asked while searching Cindy’s face.
“So why all this jealousy regarding Melissa? Are you afraid we’re going to hook up again?”
“I do worry about that.” Cindy admitted.
“She has her own girlfriend now, that tall pale blonde, and I’m sure they’re quite happy together. You have nothing to worry about.” Jess reassured her. “I think you should be more worried about your delusions.”
“Speaking to fairies and visiting fairyland.”
“My grandmother could see the fairies and speak to them. I’ve inherited her gift.” Cindy told her.
“Yes your grandmother told everyone that she spoke to the fairies, and she was nuts. Everyone knew that. I don’t want to see you go the same way.”
“I wish you’d believe me.” Cindy implored her, but Jess looked at her concerned.
“Your delusions are getting worse. Now you’re disappearing for days. What’s next? One day you don’t come back at all? You’re covered in dirt, your clothes are all ragged, and you really smell. It looks like you’ve been sleeping in a ditch for several days. For all I know that’s what you’ve been doing.” Jess informed her. “I want you to get help.” Cindy rolled her eyes.
“Okay.” Cindy replied, hoping this would appease her.
“We’ll talk more about it tomorrow. Right now you need to get out of those clothes and have a wash. And then get something to eat or maybe some rest?” Jess told her softly. “I have some phone calls to make.” Jess gave her another long tight hug and left, Cindy slowly got up from the couch and walked to the bathroom. Maybe it would be better if she just kept quiet about Faerie from now on. If only Jess would believe her.
This is a collection of eleven Jess and Cindy stories that followed a continuing narrative.
“Yes a giant.” the teapot confirmed. “She is sleeping nearby.”
“She?” asked Jack. “Funny, I thought it would be a he.”
“Well I think the author likes to flip the genders in traditional stories. Total lesbo. You never know, maybe you’re actually meant to be a boy.” the teapot told her. Jack briefly wondered what it would be like to be a boy. There was a sudden honking noise.
“What’s that?” Jack asked.
“That’s just the giant’s pet goose. It lays golden eggs you know.”
“Lays golden eggs? How does that work?” Jack asked. The teapot shrugged a little, which was surprising given it was a teapot.
“Everyday it lays an egg of pure gold. Don’t ask me why this happens, it just does.”
“Eggs of gold? Wouldn’t that destabilise the gold market?”
“What do you mean?”
“The price of gold is driven by it’s scarcity. So suddenly having a supply of it that is inexhaustible would surely make the value of gold crash.” Jack told the teapot.
“You’re thinking too deeply about it.” the teapot answered. Jack looked around and spied the goose. It also had golden feathers. If I grab that goose then our money problems will be at an end, Jack thought. She crept up to the goose and suddenly grabbed it. The goose suddenly let out a loud honking noise. The giant awoke to see Jack running off with his golden goose.
“Thief! Bring back my precious! We hates you! We hates you forever!” the giant shouted as she stood up. A man in a suit suddenly appeared.
“Hello I’m a lawyer and I’m serving you with a cease and desist order from the Tolkien Estate for using dialogue that mimics a well known Tolkien character. If you persist with this then I’ll be forced to shut this story down.” the lawyer warned.
“Oh. Okay.” the giant responded. The giant stomped after Jack. “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a les-bi-an.” Jack was already running back to the beanstalk. She could feel the giant striding behind her as though there was an earthquake, or more like a cloudquake. She got to the beanstalk and slid down it with the goose under her left arm. She could see the giant approaching.
When Jack got to the bottom she could see the giant already beginning to slide down. Jack’s mother was still standing there with her mouth wide open. Jack thrust the goose into her mother’s arms.
“What’s this?” her mother asked.
“It’s a golden goose that lays golden eggs. We’re going to be rich!” Jack told her.
“But wouldn’t that destabilise the gold price?”
“No time to explain.” Jack shot back as she ran into the shed. Moments later she came back with an axe and then started chopping at the beanstalk.
“What are you doing?”
“There’s a really angry giant coming down the beanstalk. I’m trying to stop her.” Jack informed her.
‘The giant’s a female?”
“Yes I’ve already been through that.” Jack replied as she chopped through the stalk. All of a sudden the stalk collapsed and the giant fell to the earth landing on a nearby house and demolishing it. “Oops.” Jack’s mother shook her head.
“What am I going to do with you? That was the Petersons that just got squashed by that giant.” They both looked as the giant lay there lifeless.
The next morning Jack looked out the window. The giant’s body was still there, but various emergency crews were now scratching their heads about what to do. Jack then saw a cloud appear moving across the sky quite quickly towards their house. It seemed to flash with blue and red. Once it got to their house, it abruptly stopped, and then began to sink down to ground level revealing the largest police car Jack had ever seen. Two giants got out dressed like cops.
“We’re looking for Jacqueline, also known as Jack.” one boomed out.
“That’s my daughter.” Jack’s mother told them.
“She’s been charged with home invasion, theft, and murder. We need to take her in for questioning.” One of them picked up Jack with one hand. “You’ll probably be going away for a long time missy.”
“And we need to take this.” said the other giant as it picked up the golden goose.
“Aw! I hoped we might be able to keep it.” Jack’s mother replied.
“Are you crazy? You’ll destablise the gold price.” the giant told her. They got back into the car and then the cloud floated back up into the sky and sped off. Jack’s mother watched it go. She was going to miss her daughter, despite everything. She looked at the ground. At least the goose had laid one golden egg before it was taken away. She picked up the large solid golden egg.
“My precious!” she said as she held it in her hands. The lawyer reappeared.