[Artifice Comics] Ars Magna #3

utsukushuu.dreamer utsukushuu.dreamer at gmail.com
Tue May 20 07:06:20 PDT 2008

>From Artifice Comics:


Ars Magna #3
"Schoolyard Blues"
by Ashley Corgan

Act I

Sheila had heard her mother's over-dramatic screams in the past.
Spoilt, shrill,
nigh-inhuman screeches that were normally directed at the various
passengers of
Celia Torrance's carousel of romance. Dirtbag boyfriends or fuck
buddies who,
more often than not, would either embarrass her publicly or invariably
be caught
stealing from the Torrance household in some manner.

Paul being the latest and longest lasting rider was neither a deadbeat
or social
oaf thus Sheila could assume one of two things:

1. Her mother's legs have been spreading while Paul is gone at work


2. Celia was about to die.

Sheila assuming the latter, but almost hoping for the former, buried
her face
into her pillow and ventured back into sleep.


Three Apothecary Dragoons cornered the thirty-two year old at-home
service telephone representative. She screamed bloody murder at the
armored trio who had just walked through a space that had formed in
the the
living room wall of her home.

The center soldier straightened her posture and pointed a single
crimson finger
at their captive, "You - WHORE!"

"You never loved anyone but yourself," another solider intoned.

Celia's eyes deadened as the third dragoon removed the hood that
covered her

"Sheila", Celia exhaled.

"Some of us you told your secret, others you hid the truth forever.
Your words
serve as the motto of the Apothecary Dragoon: You can never truly hate
what you
have never loved."

The once cowering woman drew her legs under herself, almost kneeling
and then
spat in face of the young woman that wore her daughter's countenance.



She didn't have to shut her eyes this time, nor did she need to
envision the Pub
with all the faceless patrons, like the first time they met. No, this
time it
was real. He was real. She could feel the magician's eyes on her,
dancing over
her burgeoning features, and for once it felt good to be looked at
like this.

"Johann?" she ventured with an almost kitten lilt to her voice.

She didn't like to sleep under the covers, Cottered had an unusually
high level
of humidity and thus her only covering was a simple, white threadbare
she used every night. Now here he was, Johann Weisz, the man who
taught her all
she knew of magic, sorcery, and the mysteries of the Akashic records.

"Torrance," he offered back, business as usual.

Sheila couldn't make eye contact with her mentor. Emerald hopped off
bed, the little ancient serpent hissed at Weisz before opening its
wings and
flying out of the teen's open window.

"The lizard doesn't care for me much," he spoke as he sat down next to
her on
the bed. He leaned in close to her, his eyes searching hers.

"I d-", he cut her off by grabbing her roughly by the shoulders.

"Listen Torrance, I need something from you."

She was speechless, the rough texture of his palms, the sheer
desperate grip of
his fingers turning her already unnaturally pale skin even whiter as
pressure increased. He felt cold against her warming flesh.

"That night we met at the 'mystery pub', I gave you all of my
memories, all of
them, an entire copy of my sensory history. So I know you know what I
want, what
I'm after. I'll - I'll never be happy... complete without it."

Sheila dropped her head, her mind swam in their mixed pasts. At her
present age
of thirteen she already knew how it felt to have someone inside her
but with
Johann's memories she knew hot it felt to be inside a woman. The fond
of his Mother had been the catalyst for her own empowerment, she was
the role
model not found in her own biological receptacle, Sylvia Torrance.

Johann is the son of Albert Weisz, the original Magenta the Magician,
premiere majestic hero of the occult, more James Bond with an ornate
Sceptre than stage performer that his name conjures.

He removed his hands from her shoulders and began to place them on the
sides of
her head.

"No", she spoke softly, "that's not how I do that."

Sheila leaned forward and slowly married her lips to his. Sharing her
first kiss
with him, she bared her soul to him, every ounce of memory she
contained of her
own life: the many times she was forgotten at various shopping centers
parking lots, the two birthdays her mother remembered to celebrate,
the first
time she was left alone with a man, various nights spent babysitting
her cousin
Mikey while her mom and Aunt went out clubbing, her time with Emerald
and every
bit of knowledge about the Talismans.

This is what he was after.

Johann lingered a moment more than the 13 years of memories needed to
be passed,
before drawing his head back, eyes shut. He blinked back the tears
that stung
his weary eyes.

"Halcyon, you're after the Gold Scarab... Victoria's scarab," Sheila

"You think it's the one that finished Golem."

The young magician cleared his throat and absently licked his cracked,
dry lips.

"Ya, I figured it to be a Talisman that was in Mysteria's possession.
She is -
gifted, but the scenes where she battled the Winters, she's not that
without... help."

"You have to know Johann that scarabs are-"

"Dung Beetles worshipped by the Egyptians, an immortality symbol of
resurrection. Yes, I know what you know now, Torrance."

"No, it means it could be a Millennial Talisman. As even if it's
destroyed it'll
come back."

"You still think it has anything to do with Atlantis?"

"The Akashic records have snippets of memories of the people that were
they weren't human, Johann, and I feel it has everything to do with
the Imperial
Magistrate. Wherever she comes from - they created it and destroyed
it, and they
used Halcyon to do it."

"Well isn't our little Earth so special."

"You're leaving me... aren't you?"

He looked down, he couldn't look his apprentice in the eye any longer.

"Sheila," he offered.

And with that he vanished.

"Weisz," she murmured to the emptiness of her small room.

Sheila settled back into bed, not even his smell remained, only


Act II

The little green dragon shoved her tapered snout into an overturned
garbage can.
Stray cats always had the best kind of meat, the little panic and
fight in them
before the kill always gets their blood hot and flowing.

Emerald spent less and less time in her statuette form for Sheila
neither sang
the Song of Still Waters nor refused to let the tiny serpent go unfed.
spent over a year in constant vigilance due to this, watching over her
master's struggles at both home and school.

With no battles to expend the energies of her feedings Emerald spent
day after
day nestled in Golem's rocky remains producing minute amounts of
Materia. The Materia is the raw component in the forging and creation
of new
Talismans, each talisman can only be produced once every hundred years
with an
eleventh every thousand. The Millennial Talismans were the rarest of
their kind.
Century Talismans could be destroyed, such as the fate of her partner
Golem, but
Millennials were never ending wells of energy. They never had to hunt
for food,
didn't have to rest, and the Emerald Dragon of the Jade-Leaf Clan was
merely a
protector of wisdom, a defender of their faith in a dying line of

Out of all the dignity and peace that followed her creation, Emerald
was left
eating untended pets and comforting her partner through the slow
fading of his
existence. It was with his last spark that their offspring, their
materia took
shape: two smaller gems, and a single large stone.

Emerald snorted to herself, with all her and Golem's time together,
boundless strength and her wisdom, their progeny was little more than

She spotted the tail of her prey twitching rhythmically. The miniature
winged-beast lunged at the furry appendage...

Only to be caught by her own.

"Well, well, well what do I have here?"

He shifted the muscles in his hand, grinding the little tail's
vertebrae against
themselves. She let loose a pained hiss but didn't bother to struggle,
she was
hungry, weak and in no mood for a fight.

British Rule, the helmeted Lord of Shadows, brought the animated
Talisman to his

"Boo," he whispered to his captive.

"I'm on my way to Sheila's house, I'm going to kill everyone in my
way, and
you're not going to-"

Em snapped at his face, her teeth glancing off the nose guard of his
half helm.

"No bother."

Rule whispered to the little a dragon a song she hadn't heard for a

Her body stiffened and slowly her joints locked into place. Emerald's
once warm,
textured flesh turned to a cool, polished finish. She would rest once
again, but
for how long?

Rule hesitated for a moment, the urge to smash the little trinket
against the
alley's brickwall subsided, and he pocketed the little curio.

"Here comes the bride..."


A malignant beast leapt from roof to roof atop the homes that lined
Milne Road.
Its great maw salivating, awaiting the gore to come.

Snipe, the singularly named werewoman was eager to complete her
mission. As a
creation at the hands of one Dr. Gregor Christmas, she wished a life
free from
her lycanthropic state. As promised, she need only retrieve Sheila
Torrance from
her bedroom and bring her back to the Center of Advanced Nuances. No
more, no

And once that was done she would be completely transitioned to
humanoid form. no
fur, no teeth, no claws, although she secretly hoped to keep her
animal sex
drive. Having bedded all the male technicians able to overlook the fur
fangs, she provided the Center with litter upon litter of her shape-
offspring, more than enough to replace her in the event of her

With glee she landed on the target roof and broke through, landing
nimbly in the
master bedroom of the Torrance residence.

Man and woman, mid-coitus, the woman already screaming from pleasure.
The scene
would have inspired a fit of carnal desire for her partner British
Rule had not
blood-lust won over in her feral form.

Sylvia Torrance's cries turned into burbling death gasps as Snipe
buried a
massive set of claws into her mid-bounce. Paul's eyes shot open in
time for the
blood spray to blind him. It was over in seconds.



Lady tilted her head to the side quietly as she stared at one of her
Dragoons as she was being addressed.

"What is it 830224?"

Apothecary Dragoon Officer, Lady of Shadows, took the time to adjust
the simple
scarlet hood that was draped over her unit's head tenderly.

"Ahhh, Sheila Eleanor Torrance and Celia Torrance have been acquired."

"Have 'Eleanor' marked and placed with one of the Imperial Alchemists,

Dragoon 830224 was not one used regularly for combat. She was more of
assistant to Lady, 830224 being one of the far and few 'Sheila
instances without a history of abuse or torment, this was due in part
to the
childbirth-related death of her mother. Rescued from simple neglect at
the hands
of a state upbringing, 830224 was under the personal tutelage of Lady

"What of her... Mother?", Dragoon 830224 asked as if she'd have a
chance to meet
this maternal doppelganger. Lady knew the truth behind Mothers and
dismissed the inquiry with a command.

"Process her - remains into the Materia, like all the others."

Lady sat back in the command chair of the Interdictor Class Imperial
vessel as
it began the entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Yes, this Earth was different, special perhaps, an anomaly classified
by the
Imperial Magistrate herself. Lower-Earth 746387 was a place not to be
belied by
its primitive nature. Inside this blue-green bauble lay wonders and
horrors not
yet ripe enough to pick clean just yet. No, the plan as far as Lady
knew it was
to let it destroy itself. But they needed something very important
from it

With one last open seat of the Imperial Alchemists and none of her
willing to fill the void they were desperate. Every single dragoon
never had
close contact with the Talismans, no bonds formed, no mystical link to
protective little wretches. Lady of Shadows even took it upon her
young self to
face all hybrids alone in combat. Those abominations, the permanent
alliance of Master and Talisman. Oh yes, as ordered by the bitch of a
Lady laid waste to all who defy the natural law.

As the vessel descended past the cloud line, a spell was initiated,
and the
whole ship was enveloped by darkening clouds. Rain began to assault
the dry
Australian city below them.

Something clicked in her mind, an ever growing presence of her

Rule was here.


"Yes, Lady?"

"Prepare the Dragoon, have them battle-ready but do not allow them to
just yet."

"Why?", she asked innocently enough. 830224 was the only one who was
allowed to
get away with the occasional questioning of orders.

"Because, 830224, I want to see this one for myself."



The screaming and grunting ended earlier than usual for a Friday

Rain pattered on the floor beneath her open bedroom window. She
wondered where
Emerald was, Em was not one to stand for rain.

Sheila rolled off her bed, skirted the baby puddles, and shut the
window. Sucks
to be Em, she thought to herself as she opened her bedroom door and
ventured to
the kitchen for a late night snack to help her mull things over.

The night coupled with the rain storm pounding, unusually loud,
against the roof
made the house more a tomb than living quarters. She shuffled through
the house,
narrowly avoiding walls and furnishings, and made her way to the
specifically right in front of the icebox door. The small light inside
the ivory
colored device parted the darkness as she fished out a jar of pickled
mayonnaise, processed cheese slices, and some butcher paper wrapped
deli meat
that smelt of questionable levels of tolerable spoilage.

Upon shutting the door the darkness returned and a voice began to

"Sheila Torrance of Lower-Earth 746387, I hereby induct you into the
Order of
the Imperial Alchemists as decreed by the illustrious Imperial

Sheila immediately took a step back only to have backed into a wall
that wasn't
there but a second ago. She looked behind herself and saw nothing, but
implicitly felt an even, unmoving force pressed against her back.

"Resistance will be met with equal measure...," Lady let the envelope
of shadow
dissolve and what was once only an inky blackness there now stood an
scarlet figure of near equal height and build to the nightshirt clad

"Who are you?" Sheila mustered an assertive tone.

"I am your keeper, Apothecary Dragoon Officer, Lady of Shadows," Lady
for a second before continuing on.

"Cheryl Torrance of Lower-Earth 771284 and Wi-"

A throaty growl reported from the stop of the stairs.

"Wife of British Rule, Lord of Shadows. Yes, I know who you are you
witch," Snipe snarled at the helmeted figure as her monstrous form,
covered in
the carnage that took place only minutes before, sauntered down the
stairs on
all fours.

Sheila could feel a strong weight of dread on her chest, this
sensation of
impending doom reserved for lax grades on her end of quarter school
reports or
the introduction of an all new boyfriend of her mother's.

"What in the Imperial Presence are you, beast?", Lady spat back.

"Rule's new, improved lover, you little Loli-"

Sheila threw the jar of pickled beets at the armored girl and
mayonnaise jar at
the talking monster. She threw out an open palm to the living room and
parasol that once hung on a coat hook by the front door flew into her
hand. Lady
let a pocket of darkness open and swallow the jar before it hit her
and within
the same hand gesture produced a parasol of her own from out of thin
air. Snipe
on the other hand moaned as the jar smashed open on her snout and
vinegar and
salt solution assaulted her eyes and keen sense of smell.

"WHORE!" the beast-woman roared as she slashed about randomly into the

Sheila backed away and began driving the tip of the umbrella into the
down carpeting, etching arcane symbols into ill-cared for retro orange

Large, ornate blades erupted from the floor of the kitchen and impaled
the feral
hell-beast. Snipe gave a long, pained, pathetic cry as the blades held
her up
off the ground. Her own massive weight keeping her secured to each
thick edge.

"Impressive work... for an apprentice, but don't think for one moment
that will
have any effect on my intent 746387."

Lady prodded at one of Snipe's wounds with her combat parasol and
softly to herself.

"I'm not going anywhere with you... Cheryl," Sheila said, her
assertiveness gone
from her voice.

"Thats right, love. You're coming home to Daddy..." British Rule
appeared from
the same well of shadows the armored girl Sheila faced appeared from,
"and then
you're coming home with me."

"Listen you daft fool, I've already claim to her in the name-"

"Yes, yes my little wife, but I already have the highest claim to
Magistrate's little pet here. Remember I gave her you in trade for
this little
poppet here."

Rule motioned at Sheila and suddenly she became quite sleepy and her
thoughts was half a wonder what happened to Paul.


"Hello, Sheila!", a warm pleasant voice greeted her ears.

Sheila ventured her eyes open into a half squint, eyelids heavy she
stared up
and saw a canopy, the post ornately carved and polished. She could
hear the
crackle of a fireplace in the background.

The smell of jasmine wafted across her face. She turned to spy the
origin and
found a beautiful woman sitting at the bedside.

"Hello there," she cooed again, a genuine smile spread across her fine

"H-hi," Sheila managed to reply.

The woman ran her fingers through Sheila's hair briefly before taking
a gorgeous
ivory hair clip from her own golden locks.

"Here you go sweetie, this was given to me by your Father it should
belong with you."

She felt a brief discomfort on her scalp where the hair clip grazed
her head but
after a moment a wave of warmth spread from the top of her head to the
tips of
her toes.

"Father? I don't ha-"

"Oh but you do my child. You so very much do."

A tall, blonde, handsome gentleman walked into the room. Piercing blue
dazzled Sheila for a moment, her mind playing it up to a trick of the

"My name is Gregor Christmas, I had a tryst with your Mother many
years ago. You
must understand your Mother was so very much brighter and carefree
when I met
her, and my life was so dry and cold. I needed the levity she afforded
me, but
my family's fortune, your inheritance, hinged on a quiet dismissal."

He spoke all this not so much looking at Sheila but as if peering
directly into
his past, his eyes so cerulean and yet void.

"A few years after your birth your Mother returned to me demanding
supporting you. The compensation I provided for your care she quickly
on the luxuries she thought she deserved."

Gregor placed a hand, lightly, on the woman's shoulder.

"My Mother, your Grandmother discovered your existence and wanted you
a part of
the Family but by then Sylvia kept moving you around, wishing no
contact just
further funds."

The man's eyes were bordering on tears, his voice breaking as he spoke

"A few years later she sent me tapes... of- of you and-"

Sheila's eyes widened.

"No," she spoke to herself.

Sheila always lied to herself that Sylvia was never involved in or
knew about
the abuses she'd been suffering over the years from the men that would
come in
and out of Sylvia's love life. She'd try to chalk up the presence of a
blinking in the darkened rooms to just bad dreams or poor memory
addled by child-like fantasy.

"So when we discovered you were in Cottered attending the Jerrod
Academy we sent
someone to bring you home, my dear."


"Mary here," the beautiful blond woman that he stood behind tilted her
head and
seemed to beam.

"She is my wife, we were married not too long ago. And you've also yet
to meet
your Aunt Willa and your Grandmother, Richmond."

Sheila suddenly felt herself forced up into a reclined sitting
position. The
warmth of the room quickly turned into a sterile cold.

"Richmond?", the teen spoke aloud to herself, again.

The scene dissolved around her. Sheila no longer occupied a lavish
bedroom but found herself strapped to a padded examination table. She
tried to
move her head around but felt a tugging from the top of her head and
the sound
of clacking, hard objects colliding above her

She shifted her eyes about and spotted Gregor and Mary standing by her
they were each dressed in scrubs and wearing surgical masks. Gregor's
deep blue
eyes made him easily recognizable.

"Welcome home, Sheila. We've been waiting for you."

* * *


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