StarFall: Spellbinder #2: "Astral Weeks"
indomitable.william at gmail.com
Tue Dec 28 23:05:22 PST 2010
The Spectacular Magical Pan-Dimensional Adventures of Chelsea, Also
Known As Spellbinder, Mystic Defender of the Earth Dimension!
( Now with 50% more title bloat!)
By Robin Strickland
Issue 2: Astral Weeks
Cover: A dark-haired, freckled woman engaged in a clash of spears
against a hulking figure with antlers on its head. In her jammies.
There's a funny thing about the Fey. Sometimes they do the opposite of
what they wanted. Just as the Seelie will sometimes hurt someone when
they're trying to be helpful, the Unseelie will sometimes help someone
when they're trying to be hurtful. Naturally, the Unseelie will mess
up less often; it's easier to break something than to help someone.
But it still happens.
It's somewhat important to note that in neither instance will the fey
understand what happened, why their attempt backfired.
Funny indeed, from the right perspective, but that's not why I was
One of the odd faerie-creatures in the court pointed at me and asked,
"Why is she happy?"
Why indeed? I'd just been told that the duty I'd taken upon myself -
the job I'd invested myself in so heavily, tried so hard to make good
on, and felt so utterly miserable about - was a sham. It was a trick
played on humanity to get them to think that they could let magic
exist among them without worrying about it, and without having to
police it. Because I, Spellbinder, Mystic Defender of the Earth Realm
(Or Dimension - either works, and which one I use depends on who the
audience is), would police it for them. I would make everything right,
and there'd be no consequences. 'Scept maybe for me.
Oh, and the ancient and powerful Lord of the Hunt was going to hunt
and kill me. That was bad too.
So why was I happy? Simple; in being told my job was a sham, I'd been
set free. It basically informed me that the old job of Mystic Defender
was almost exactly the wrong thing to do. Had to be, right? It was
kind of like laboring for a year in a job you hate under a boss you'd
love to punch, just once... and then finding out that it's a criminal
front organization, and that the bounty for information leading to
your boss' arrest is enough for you to retire on and live comfortably
for the rest of your life.
It was *liberating*. And that's why I was laughing.
Although that still didn't help me with the whole Wild Hunt thing.
"DIE, MORTAL!", cried one of the smaller Huntsmen (there were three by
my counting, plus the Lord of the Hunt himself) as he took a shot at
me with his spear. I tried to stop laughing, almost succeeding while
putting up a defensive ward to stop the spear. A disk of energy
appeared, halting the weapon's progress; as it did so, the sensation
in my knuckles told me that it probably wouldn't stop it again, but I
left it up just in case they didn't know that.
I began chanting under my breath, knowing what was next. Most attack
spells, along with basic defense spells, I could do with just an
exercise of will, but anything more intricate than shooting gobs of
energy at someone and I needed a defined spell. So when another of the
Huntsmen took a swipe with his own spear from another direction, I was
ready; a chain of light sprang from nowhere and wrapped itself around
the the weapon's haft, pulling it to the side. Grabbing the spear with
both hands and hauling back and up on it, I (and the chains) yanked
the Huntsman off his feet, pulling him over me and slamming him into
the ground. He let go of his spear, which I took when I ran like mad
through the opening this created, taking off into the woods.
"Hares," said the Lord of the Hunt. "Pursue her."
A cackling, mad mess of magical creatures poured into the woods to
flush me out.
Elsewhere, in the storied halls of Olympus, Hera was grousing as she
awaited the approach of two others.
"I found Athena," offered Hermes. Athena arrived before Hera and
offered a bow; while Hera wasn't her actual mother (technically,
nobody was), she'd been a better parent to the younger goddess than
Zeus had. Hermes, for his part, simply leaned on a column. "Zeus still
in there with his new computer?" It'd taken the better part of a year
to get connectivity in the palace of the Olympians, but ever since
it'd been achieved, Zeus had been in one spot, nearly unmoving.
"Bah!" Bah'd Hera. "I can't believe him. Even after all these
centuries, he STILL amazes me with his vulgarity! Of course he's
'still in there'! He's been 'in there' for weeks, watching mortal
women debauching each other and venting his seed upon--"
"LALALALALACAN'THEARYOU," interrupted Athena, the loss of her normally
famous composure proving that immaculate birth notwithstanding, no
child can stand the thought of their parent engaged in certain
activities. Hera sighed. "Right. Anyway, we need someone else to stand
in on the next maintenance conference with the Mystic Defender. I've
heard she's been becoming resigned about her job; we'll need to do
something about that. Athena, dear, since you are wise, I believe
you'd be the best choice to stand in for my erstwhile husband."
Athena had already regained her composure, and considered the matter.
"No, I think we should send Hermes instead. He's thought of by mortals
mainly as our messenger, so the Defender will likely expect him to
come if Zeus can't make it. And since the main duty involved here is
lying to her..."
"Gosh, Athena," drolled Hermes, "Lying to a well-meaning mortal woman?
That sounds *hard*. I dunno if I can manage that."
"Yes, exactly," Athena replied, managing not to roll her eyes via
godly willpower. "I'm confident you can handle this, Hermes." Hera
nodded her agreement.
"Not half as confident as I am," said the messenger of the gods with a
There's one thing I hate about the realm of Faerie to this day, and
that's that you can't fly there. Not even the oldest and most powerful
fey can manage it safely - even if they managed to get airborne, they
would say, the jealous spirits of air there would tear them apart for
it. This was one of the reasons they like visiting other realms, no
doubt. Flying's a joy, after all, and the fey exist for the pursuit of
enjoyment over all things.
It's also a handy way to escape from packs of Unseelie hunters and
their hounds, which is why I was really wishing I could fly as I ran
from them, looking for a road. Despite pouring magic into my legs to
boost my speed, they were managing to keep up with me. The forest was
collaborating with them, after all, lending them speed and, I'm pretty
sure, even shortening the absolute distance they were traveling. It
was the way the Hunt worked; Faerie helps the Fey cheat. When the Hunt
was called, the prey and the hunters were renovated into a single
entity until it's conclusion one way or another, and they couldn't be
separated. What's the point in hunting if your prey gets away?
It kinda tells you a lot about the way creatures of magic tend to view
life; the only thing worth doing is a sure bet. If you have to rig
things to make the bet a sure thing, then that's the way you play the
For my part, I had no intention of becoming a sure thing. I had no
idea where I was going, I was badly outnumbered and the Lord of the
Hunt could doubtless take me on his own anyway (probably one or two of
the Huntsmen could as well), and worst off, I had no idea where I was,
or what direction I was headed in. I remember thinking "I need a plan,
and I need it now", which is good because I've learned over the years
that those words are powerful magic. As soon as I'd said them, I had a
The first step in my brilliant plan was to stop running, because I
wasn't good enough with incantations to chant while running full tilt.
Gathering power and pointing my open palms towards the ground, I
invoked a shield much stronger than the ones I normally used for
combat. I mainly didn't use it for combat because the incantation is
*long*; really the only reason my brilliant plan didn't get me
promptly killed was that it took a little bit for the hounds of the
hunt to converge on where I was - they'd been fanning out to make sure
I didn't split off from the path I'd been on - and that they knew
enough about magic that when you see a mage chanting, it means they're
doing something big.
Fortunately, they weren't smart enough to just attack me anyway.
I finished my incantation just as one of the Huntsmen came crashing
into the scene, antlers lowered in a charge; apparently this was the
one I'd stolen the spear from. I was going to keep that, I knew.
Deploying the shield under my hands, I kicked my feet into the air and
released the power I'd been gathering in a large-area blast of fire
and force. This had two effects.
First, it blasted most of the hares into smithereens (if you're ever
wondering what a smithereen is, yes, it is in fact a small bit of
burnt fey), as well as injuring the Huntsman, frying the poor guy's
antlers right off, sending him crashing through the trunk of a tree,
and probably putting him out of the fight. Lucky.
Second, and more importantly, it rocketed me into the sky. You can't
fly in Faerie, but uncontrolled forms of aerial movement, I was
hoping, wouldn't count. By using the shield to give something for the
explosion to push against and bracing myself against it, I'd been
launched pretty effectively. Being up in the air (careening like a
catapulted rock) gave me breathing space away from the Hunt, and also
let me look around for--
There, in a small clearing of the trees, I saw a path of zig-zagging
flagstones. This was my real lucky break, I knew - roads are the only
surefire way to leave Faerie unless you know dimension travel spells
specific to the realm. I'd never thought to learn those. I mean, I'm
never gonna go to *Faerie*, right? Why would I want to go there?
As it was, I was so overjoyed by my good fortune that I almost didn't
notice the air stirring. Soon enough the spirits of the air were
beginning to wail menacingly and circle me like sharks - I could see
them thanks to a number of magical senses I'd cultivated over the
years (usually in very painful ways), and I could tell they were angry
because anyone with the awareness of a garden snail would've felt that
they were angry. They were /that pissed/. Jealous spirits, indeed.
"Great," I said aloud. I'd been dangerously close to my situation
improving, so this was a relief. Changing the focus of the shield (it
had survived the blast handily) to encircle me, I fired another,
smaller blast off to the side, which passed through one of the
spirits, accomplishing nothing by it. It did, however, propel me
towards the road, which is where I wanted to go. As I fell towards the
road, my mind raced furiously to figure out how to avoid death at the
hands of creatures that even the Lord of the Hunt would fear.
Wait. The Lord of the Hunt *did* fear them. That was something. Good,
now I had something. Could I make it work for me? I decided to give it
The barrier I'd erected would've been enough to handily protect me
from a blockbuster bomb, but stabbing pains up and down my forearms
told me that it was already starting to give way before the enraged
Spirits. I began chanting to erect another one, this time augmenting
it with runes traced in the air. (I could incant just fine while
falling, because unlike running it took no effort on my part.) It took
hold right as a headache informed me that the first had given way,
thereby saving my life. I did this again seconds later when I crashed
into the ground within sight of the road - and of the Lord of the Hunt
and his two remaining Huntsmen.
"You've been clever prey this far, mortal," said the Lord of the Hunt
as he slammed his spear into my shield and it quivered from the blow;
gritting my teeth, I managed to keep incanting without breaking my
concentration. "You've come close to evading us. Were it not for the
ritual that binds hunter to hare, you would have--"
"About that," I said as I erected the third shield; I was really
starting to hurt now, and my vision was starting to get fuzzy, but I
had to keep working. Maybe a little banter would buy me a few seconds.
"You know how we're ritually one entity right now? Well, I'm sorry,
but I got the Spirits of Air pissed at us."
The Huntsman hesitated for a second, trying to figure out if I was
lying. I wasn't. He had no visible expression, his face being red eyes
against inky darkness beneath a mop of tangled hair and antlers, but
I'd bet he would've had a priceless expression. To my knowledge,
nobody had ever made the ritual of the hunt backfire on the hunter
before. Although in fairness, if such a thing had happened before they
might have kept it secret enough that I wouldn't have heard of it
anyway. Regardless, he had two choices now. Continue the hunt and it
would be a gamble to see if he could kill me before the Spirits of Air
killed him. Or he could forfeit, which would save his life, since the
entity the Spirits wanted to kill would no longer exist, and let me go
on my way. The Lord of the Hunt was a creature of ritual; if he
forfeited, he'd let me go.
Unfortunately, the Lord of the Hunt was also angry, and since he was a
Fey he wasn't well known for rationality anyway. He took his spear in
both hands and began hammering against my shield, trying to get it to
break. I could feel blood vessels bursting under my arms with each hit
- If I survived this, it was going to be close.
And then the wailing caught up to us. The Spirits of Air converged on
the Huntsmen and their Lord as well as myself, and we were all subject
to a savaging. I was furiously chanting another incantation for the
same barrier and wondering when I'd regain feeling in my fingers by
the time I noticed the sound had stopped. Slowly, I opened my eyes.
My vision swam, but the Lord of the Hunt was there, covered in gore.
The two Huntsmen lay at his feet; one of them was still breathing,
using his breath to sob painfully, but I couldn't be sure about the
other. The Spirits were dissipating, thinking themselves deprived of
their prey. Later on I would be thrilled that that had worked; right
then I was just exhausted, and thankful to even be alive.
"You've won, Hare," said the Lord of the Hunt. "Now begone." He turned
and limped away, and so did I. Releasing the shield spell, my vision
swam sickeningly, and I regretted not being able to cast such powerful
shields without resorting to path-working magic, which doesn't get
along with me very well. Hence the pain and bleeding.
Staggering onto the road, I made my way out of Faerie. It was either a
short walk, or some of my memory of it is missing; either way it
amounts to the same thing. I hope.
I stumbled out of Faerie in the middle of what turned out to be
Pennsylvania. The Faerie road turned onto U.S. Highway 6, leading me
out of the northern reaches of Allegheny National Forest and into the
town of Warren. Walking along the highway, I got a few looks, no doubt
from people thinking 'my, what an impressively attired indigent' until
I hit a gas station with a food store. I staggered in and plunked down
what precious little money I had on me in exchange for some beef jerky
and a Chuckles bar, which I took outside and ate in the parking lot.
My wounds were already starting to heal, but I hadn't eaten anything
in almost half a day now, and there wasn't much in the way of material
to make the repairs with. My body was to the point where it was trying
to cannibalize muscle tissue to build muscle tissue - which works
about as well as you would think, and hurts even more than you'd
imagine. That's the downside to rapid healing, actually, and as hard
as it was to pay for food in my new job, running on empty was
sometimes a problem.
But it was a problem I decided I wasn't going to put up with anymore.
The protein from the jerky and the peanuts in the candy bar, as well
as the carbs, had me back up to par after a few minutes. The pain in
my arms was subsiding and I could feel my fingertips again. Pulling my
watch out of my dimensional space to see how much time had passed, I
noted the date; in four days it would be time for my meeting with
Zeus. I'd want to have a nasty surprise ready for him, and that would
require some preparation.
I was starting to remember things, now that I'd been awakened to the
reality of my situation. Things about the office that I'd learned but
been commanded to forget. There was a gate preventing me from
exercising my new freedom, and I figured taking that out of play would
solve all my problems, plus serving as a sufficient 'screw you' to the
people who set it all up.
I went and got to work immediately. I would need some things to pull
Pulling a phone out, I dialed. "Hi, Maddy? It's Chel. Hey, this is
gonna sound weird, but I need a favor."
A feeling of intense sanctity, of importance, permeated the place.
This was by design.
The marble columns seemed to stretch into infinity in both directions,
although the ceiling and floor were still visible. This was a side-
effect of the location; the Chapel of the Mystic Defender was located
on the Shallow Astral Realm around the Earth Realms. The Shallow
Astral was a realm of ideation and memory, a place shaped by the minds
of those in the contingent dimensions, and existing only because of
their capacity for sentience. Unlike the Deep Astral, where nothing
but concepts could survive, the Shallow Astral, which could only exist
in proximity to sentient life, had a stranger relationship with
The Chapel was largely bare; it had a pit for a fire in the center,
and a flame of purple and gold lit the place from it. It had an
archway for entry at one end, although walking through it wouldn't
lead you to the space outside. At the opposite end, there was a large,
resplendent throne; it was here that Zeus, father of the Olympian
And directly over his head was the Oath of the Mystic Defender,
written in silver flame and very much alive in this place of thought.
Zeus spoke words of placation to the mortal before him. This Mystic
Defender had proven quite good at the job; sufficient in combat to
deal with real threats, careful of word enough to placate the mortals
around her. However, she would always come to the meetings with
Of course, this had been expected. The Oath wasn't here as a reminder;
it was enforcement. The oath contained within it the core of the
office, and it was the pattern and enforcer of what that office truly
was. So long as it existed, the Mystic Defender could not defy its
And so long as the Mystic Defender saw it every few months, they
wouldn't even think to. Not without interference.
The mortal bowed and turned, walking out the door. Zeus leered at her
retreating figure a moment before she vanished, as was his way. His
gaze turned to the flame as she left; regarding the fires of royal
color, he perceived her still. This was as it should be; the Mystic
Defender was tied to the flame, and so long as it burned she was
within the Chapel, and therefore before the Oath.
He smiled. She could never rebel, he knew. And she had power enough
that she probably wouldn't die on the job, at least not soon. If she
could just avoid going mad, she would be the best Mystic Defender
since the old days.
Standing and striding the dimensions back to Olympus, Zeus chuckled to
himself. Chelsea had been the perfect choice for the role. With her on
the job he could simply do whatever he liked back home; any duties the
thunderbringer had once had were well enough served by the mortal.
Which was just as well. He had plenty to keep him busy these days. Oh,
When I entered the Chapel of the Mystic Defender, I found Hermes
splayed across the arms of the throne where Zeus would normally sit,
playing with a portable gaming system. Glancing at the fire, I saw
something that I'd suspected would be there, but that still chilled
me; the image of myself, curled up in the flame, a container for my
loyalty and spirit. I either couldn't see it before, or was made to
I steeled myself. One more reason to make my little stand here.
"Where is Zeus," I demanded. Hermes looked up.
"Oh, he's indisposed," said the messenger lazily. "Godly business, you
"THIS IS THE GREATEST SERIES OF TUBES EVER DEVISED!", thundered the
Zeus roared in laughter as his opponent exploded in a spray of gore,
his avatar in that virtual world commanding them to cry some more. Oh,
the joys he had discovered on the book-tubes of the mortals!
"Anyway," continued Hermes, "He just couldn't make it, so I'm here
I sighed, no doubt seeming disappointed. Well, I was. I'd wanted to
see the look on Zeus' face when I made my move. "Ah well. I guess
you'll be sure to get the message back to him anyway."
Hermes suddenly looked interested, tossing his game pad over his
shoulder and sitting up straight in the throne for a change. "Message?
Oh, I /love/ messages. What is it?"
"'You can take this job and shove it'," I said. "I am no longer
laboring in your service."
"Oh?" Hermes' pace quickened, and it was all he could do to keep a
smile from his lips. A mortal challenging the gods? A Mystic Defender
bucking their office? This was impossible, and he loved it when
impossible things happened. "Please, dear mortal, do go on. Tell me
why you are quitting the office of Mystic Defender."
"Because the whole thing is a hoax. I've been 'empowered' to clean up
the messes of magic creatures and shield them from responsibility,
allowing them to live in the real world without facing the
consequences of their own actions. I'm babysitting a bunch of spoiled
brats who act like it's still the fifth century BC and they're still
I could see the wheels turning; Hermes was no idiot, and on the Astral
his thoughts were strong enough to be nearly visible to those with
training. He knew he should really do something about this. He would
probably be punished if he didn't correct her, or obliterate her on
the spot and put another in her place. But it was a trickster's heart
that beat in Hermes' chest, and he couldn't deny it long. He wondered
how Zeus would handle his little janitor knowing the truth. "Well,
you're absolutely right, you know. It /is/ a sham. In fact, most of
the work's actually done by the cloak you bear as symbol of office."
I motioned for him to go on. "You see, it doesn't just look nice. It
radiates a sense of authority, majesty, and trustworthiness. It makes
people trust you, and trust that you've got this whole 'magic' thing
I nodded; I'd always thought that was a bit suspicious. Police
officers trusted what was essentially a vigilante to keep track of a
whole sector of the world's public. I didn't think about it then, tho,
just like I hadn't thought about it before. Before, I assumed that it
was because I was viewed as a super-hero of the sort that was starting
to turn up all over the place. Most of them were good people, and the
police generally felt it safe to trust them.
Then, I didn't think about it because I assumed Hermes, of all people,
was telling the truth. Ha.
"Of course, it doesn't really matter," he continued. "The Oath
prevents you from deviating from the path we've set before you. Of
course, if you wanted help--"
"Thank you," I interrupted, "But I've already planned for this. Just
prior to the meeting, in fact, I took steps to remove this particular
Blood of a gorgon, ancient enemy of the gods. Mercury, slippery and
vexing. Ashes of my hairs, burnt in incense, added to give a
connection to myself (I'd have used my own blood, but mixing bloods in
magic can be problematic). Mixed, boiled, reduced to a paste roughly
the consistency of oil paint.
The Shallow Astral was a dizzying realm. I had to keep my thoughts
guarded to ensure that they wouldn't be overrun, and this isn't as
easy as it sounds. In fact, it's not something I'm particularly good
at; my thoughts have a habit of getting out of hand. I mostly got by
using the primitive method of singing obnoxious, catchy songs in my
The Cathedral was a massive structure, being constructed as it was of
the thoughts and desires of a multitude of gods. Traveling to the top
and bottom was no brief task, but I went anyway. Daubing my finger in
the paste, I inscribed complex, multi-layered rune circles onto the
pinnacle of the chapter, and then the foundation, and then the four
cardinal directions of the building - which were essentially what I
decided they'd be, for the purposes of what I was doing.
I had some paste left over. After a moment of thought, I used it to
write a rude limerick on the entryway.
I spent two days chanting and working magic upon the sigils (but not
the limerick), setting up a spell of depth and might. This, now, would
allow me to alter the dimensions of the Cathedral, and to move it, as
though it were a smaller, simpler thing, and not a mighty edifice
representing the decree of gods.
Hermes, Lord of Contests, finally allowed his smile to be seen. "Oh?
Do tell. Or better yet, little mortal, show me. Show me how you will
contest the will of gods." He probably thought I was about to make a
pathetic, futile gesture. Something he could laugh at, maybe something
that would get me killed.
"My pleasure," I said, because it was. Spreading my arms wide, I
clutched the air with my hands; the Cathedral shivered.
"What?", questioned Hermes the Schemer.
The Cathedral gave a lurch, and suddenly it was smaller. *Much*
smaller. I pulled and twisted with my hands, and it began to move
towards me, and towards the starry void that was opening in front of
my heart, visible thanks to the low-cut shirt I was wearing. I dragged
the Cathedral of the Mystic Defender, which sighed and crackled as it
flowed around Hermes, leaving him seatless, into the hole in my chest,
which closed after its passing.
"...*WHAT?*", shouted Hermes, now visibly shocked.
"That was my personal dimensional portal," I said. "It leads to the
little realm of me. I don't fully understand it, since it's apparently
not a phenomenon that's been studied, but I know that what's inside,
aside from being handy for storage, is the core of my being. And now
the Cathedral is there. It's a part of me, now, Hermes, rather than
the other way around. I just /ATE/ the office of the Mystic Defender
of the Earth Realm, Hermes. It's what /I/ say it is. I'm going to be
making my own path, now, and the oath I swore is now an oath only to
myself - and I think I'm going to interpret it a little differently
than the skyfathers did. I never said I was quitting being Mystic
Defender; I just said I wasn't working for *you* anymore." I waved.
And then I cast a spell to get me the hell out of there, in case the
god in the room took my joke poorly.
Hermes had been laughing for a minute straight. The audacity of the
girl! To not just think she could get away with such an act, but to
*make it happen*? Unthinkable! Laudable! Magnificent! And all this
from a little mortal...
No, not mortal. Hermes calmed down, but continued smiling; this one,
however, was a less jocular thing. Hermes the Thrice-Great was not
just a god, but a scholar and sorcerer as well, and he got out and
studied phenomena that the other gods never bothered to consider might
exist. The girl didn't know what she was, but he did, and oh, to have
such a one running around again! And as the Mystic Defender, no less!
"Ha!", he laughed again. "Maybe THAT'll get father off his ass."
He wouldn't tell the others, of course. That wouldn't do. Might spoil
the fun. He would have to do something to prevent Athena from paying
too much attention, as well; she was the only other Olympian who might
figure it out.
Hermes was wise enough to know which way the wind was blowing once he
took the trouble to look for it. He knew things would change soon. He
would love every minute of it, no doubt.
"Thirty-six wins," said the dealer at the roulette table. I cheered,
had some more free beer, and pulled my winnings to me.
I was in Vegas. Along with the blood, I'd begged a hundred bucks off
of Maddy the other day; after the confrontation with Hermes, I'd spent
the past two days making the money grow. Through intense magical
cheating, I was up to over three hundred thousand dollars now.
You may be asking how I had kept the bouncers from noticing that I was
cheating, and being a general problem for the casino. The answer is
that I hadn't. In addition to making money here, I was also testing
the limits of what the cloak could and would do for me. I'd been
kicked out of three casinos so far, but I'd been able to keep my
winnings and I was getting a good idea for what I could get away with.
It wasn't actually nearly as much as I had initially thought--
"I'm cheating!", I cheered in response to the bouncer's question. He
grabbed me by the wrist and began dragging me towards the door.
--but if I was trying to get someone to feel a certain way, the cloak
would help me out. I just couldn't do anything stupid; that was
actually kind of a relief.
This was my first step in getting my new life in order. The money
would pay for food, a new home, and some precious metals and other
spell components to allow me to set up some things that would help me
out in my new life â and my new job. I was still going to be the
Mystic Defender of the Earth Dimension, I'd decided, but it was going
to mean what *I* decided, and I was going to play by *my* rules.
I was pretty high on my success - I didn't even notice that I wasn't
getting a beer buzz - so I didn't stop to think about what those rules
would be, or what they would get me.
The Queen of Loud Sorrows groaned as she came back to consciousness.
"Mortal... I am not going to forget this." Standing shakily to her
feet, she swore under her breath. "I will hound you for eternity,
never stopping, until I-- oo, butterfly!"
And then she chased a butterfly.
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