LNH: Another LNH Title? Really? #9: "War For the Oak Moss"

Drew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Sun Jul 2 11:07:58 PDT 2017

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                            <FAIRY PRINCESS LAD>
                            <CYNICAL QUEER TEEN>
                         #9: "War For the Oak Moss"
                               by Drew Perron
                     Part of High Concept Challenge 59!
                   Or maybe High Concept Challenge v2 #1!


Fairy Princess Lad stood in front of the smoothie bar, way at the back wall of 
the natural foods store, behind the aisles of canned goods and bulk foods, the 
automatic sliding doors a rectangle of light in the distance. FPL bopped gently 
to the music, hips bouncing to the beat.

The smoothtender - smootherista? - smoothmellier - the *person working the bar* 
handed him the delicious orange-pomegranate-nutmeg monstrosity he'd ordered. 
Fairy Princess Lad took it and curtsied. "Thank you, sir!" he said.

"Aw, you're precious." The smoothulator patted him on the head and then went off 
to clean out the bits of nutmeg shell.

Fairy Princess Lad bounced over to the cafe area, sucking on the straw. He 
looked around for a seat and-- wait a minute. There, in the corner, at the line 
of stools by the window - wearing a "Lagneto Was Right" T-shirt, with home-dyed 
bright blue hair, slouching with a plate of macaroni and cheese and the 
burningest ginger beer they had - Fairy Princess Lad's rival... Cynical Queer Teen!

CQT was a freelance net.hero who kicked bad people in the face. Which was great 
and all, but Fairy Princess Lad had tried multiple times to get them to loosen 
up and enjoy the sunniness of life and being gender-nonconforming - TO NO AVAIL! 
But he would keep trying, or his name wasn't Fairy Princess Lad! (Actually, it 
wasn't, but it was very bad for fairies to reveal their true names. That was 
probably also true for half-fairies like him.)

FPL walked up to CQT and sat down next to them. "Hi~i!"

Cynical Queer Teen glanced over at the perky figure. Their lip twisted in an 
ambiguous downturn. They took a deep breath... siiiiiiighed. "Hi." They occupied 
their mouth with a bite of mac'n'cheese and a swallow of ginger beer, nostrils 
flaring as the burn hit.

"How are you?" FPL gave them his sunniest smile.

They shrugged, performatively careless. "Meh. You?"

He wiggled his head a bit. "Pretty good, pretty good! Just got out of the LNH's 

"...oh?" The response was a layer of offhand casualness pasted over unease.

"Yeah, I was practicing first aid with some civilians who got scraped up by 
debris when the Liminals were fighting the All-New All-Different Fountain Pen Four."

Cynical Queer Teen exhaled, the unease dissipating. "That's good. Wouldn't want 
your tutu getting ripped."

Fairy Princess Lad heard the relief in their tone. "Hey, wait--" And his eyes 
got huge, the reflections in them turning heart-shaped. "I didn't think you 
*cared* about me!"

"Ah, ert--" CQT hesitated, then chuckled softly, looking to the side. "Well, I 
mean, I don't know if I'd go *that* far. But you're a cinnamon roll. Even *I* 
can't *not* like you."

"Awww, gee..." FPL blushed around a big grin. "But then why do you always, like, 
say something cool and drift off instead of jumping in and doing a team-up?"

CQT took a deep breath and sighed again. "Look, like..." They ran a hand through 
their hair, mussing it up further. "Like... how'd you get started in net.heroing?"

"Ah!" Fairy Princess Lad jumped out of his seat-- "whoop, excuse me--" pulled 
his stool out-- "just, there we go--" and stood atop it. "Ahem!"

"On the Day of First Becoming, when each inchoate fairy chooses what existence 
they will have in this cycle of their lives, I, being of human and of fae 
together, chose the Winding Way - to straddle the two worlds, to bring the 
iridescent glamour of the fae to Earth, and to bring the earthy joy of humanity 
to the Lands Beyond!" FPL threw his hands in the air, and his wings fluttered, 
pixie dust sparkling down from them.

"See, that's nice." CQT took a slug of ginger beer. "It's cute." They wiped 
their mouth. "I did it cos I couldn't take the abuse anymore."

"...oh." FPL sat back down. "What, um, which... what happened?"

"Just... Fuckin' kids, man." They shook their head. "Really just a few, but that 
was enough, y'know? They'd make fun of me, they'd spit on me, they'd take my 

"Oh, jeez." FPL put his face on his hand, looking up at CQT. "And nobody helped?"

They shook their head. "I tried to tell people. Sometimes, the teachers just 
told me to ignore them, or they just waved it off. One of them told me I 
wouldn't get teased if I didn't act so weird." They pfft'd. "Some of them tried 
to help, but the people above them wouldn't let them do much. Not enough, 
anyway. And like..."

CQT swallowed, and looked to the side. "I never really told my parents. I 
should've, but they're... they've always been really nice, and supportive, and I 
just..." They shook their head again, a quick jerk. "I just wanted home to be a 
place where I didn't have to deal with this, didn't have to think about that."

FPL nodded, slowly, mind afire with painful empathy. "And then?"

"And then... one morning, I was being shoved into a wall, and then, another kid 
was shoved up right next to me. And I looked in their face, and saw the bruises, 
the tears, the pain in their eyes, and I thought... fuck, man, that's me."

"And I just kind of... gave them everything that had built up in me, all of that 
time, and they used it - just knocked all of the bullies over with one blow. 
Because, it turns out, that's my power. I can charge someone up, make 'em a 
stronger version of themselves."

FPL sniffed, holding back the waterworks. "That's... that's good..."

"Yeah. And when someone actually bothered to check in, I told them I started the 
fight. I got expelled, but I told my parents everything, and they... well, they 
weren't happy, but they got it, I think. And things were... better? But... it's 
not like the shitty people weren't there at the new school. It's just... they 
see me coming, now, and they know I'm gonna fight, so they don't start shit." 
CQT ran a hand through their hair. "That's why I go around and stir shit up. If 
they're not doing it to me, they're doing it to someone else, so I gotta make 
sure I'm there so they can try to do it to me and get smacked down."

"Uh--" FPL's head was dizzy with the logic. "Jeez, that's... that's... wait, 
that kinda sounds like you're not using your powers and just taking everything 
on yourself because you don't want other people to get hurt."

"Yep. That's how it is." CQT crossed their arms and sat back. "That's how it's 
gotta be."

"But... aren't your powers way more useful in a team-up? You could--"

"No I can't!" They slammed their hands on the counter. "I can't sit back while 
someone else jumps in! I've been through this shit - I don't want anyone else to 
have to!"

"..." FPL's hands were in loose fists, his thumbs rubbing against his fingers. "I--"

There was a crash, and a high-pitched squeal came from the canned goods section. 
Fairy Princess Lad and Cynical Queer Teen looked at each other and leapt to 
their feet, running over.

In the middle of the canned goods aisle, next to the bulk spices, he stood, 
holding a scared man by the buttons of his shirt in one hand and a pikestaff in 
the other. A sturdy old man with red eyes, taloned hands and large teeth. A 
figure from the dark crannies of the folklore along the Scottish border, wearing 
a blue suit with red power tie and a "Make America Great Again" hat - the sign 
of - The Redcap!

CQT cracked their knuckles. "Get outta here, kid. It's time to rumble."

"No way!" said FPL, wings flapping, the iridescent shimmer of magick on their 
edges. "This guy's an old foe of the Midsummer Court, I know how to beat him! We 

But CQT was already off, running down the aisle with one fist in the air. 

The Redcap turned his head and smirked. With a nasal cackle, he tossed the man 
at CQT. They skidded, trying to reverse their momentum, letting their body relax 
before the man plowed into them and knocked both of them onto the floor.

Fairy Princess Lad leapt over them, gliding on an ethereal wind. He floated 
above the Redcap's head, up among the mahogany rafters and track lighting, pixie 
dust raining on his head. "Redcap, the imprints of thine steps in the loam of 
this world betray thee! Return to thine stones and thine circle and thine place 
of power, or be banished!"

The Redcap laughed. "Etiolated words!" he said, in a screeching, Chris Latta-ish 
voice. "Mine power flows beneath this place and through its arteries! I drink 
deep of the bittered indulgence, the helplessness that curdles into gnawing hate!"

"Whatever!" A bottle of oak moss essential oil smashed into pieces on the 
Redcap's face, and he hissed in pain. Cynical Queer Teen did a flying elbow slam 
into the Redcap's body, knocking him back into a display of organic jellies.

"Pssssst!" whispershouted FPL at CQT, fluttering down to the floor next to them. 
"There's too many people! We've gotta pull his aggro out of here!"

CQT hesitated, then nodded. They grabbed a neti pot and ran down the aisle 
toward the exit. "Hey, ugly!" they shouted, standing between the sliding doors 
and lifting the pot to toss.

The Redcap bounced up out of the jam. The end of his pikestaff cracked the 
linoleum and he vaulted over the aisle, over the checkout lines and registers 
and the frightened cashiers crouching beneath them, through the air, the deadly 
point of his pike arcing right at CQT.

They squawked and rolled, narrowly dodging the cruel metal stabber, dropping the 
pot and heading out the door.

"Oh *pease porridge*!" Fairy Princess Lad fluttered at top speed towards the 
door. "Buttercream, puppies, towels just out of the dryer..." he whispered, 
stretching out his hands.

The Redcap stepped out onto the sidewalk, leering around. He spotted Cynical 
Queer Teen by the shopping carts, getting to their feet. He grinned maliciously, 
raising the pikestaff for a killer blow.

FPL's hands pressed into the Redcap's back, and the dark fae shouted in pain as 
the concentrated energy of pure appreciation of domestic things surged through 
his body. He swung his staff around, catching FPL in the side with it; FPL 
gasped in pain and descended to the ground, clutching his ribs.

The Redcap leered. "Vanquished! Poor fairy. To the plucking!"

"Dammit!" CQT was back on their feet, kicking the Redcap in the wrist. "Stay 
*back*, kid!"

The Redcap screeched in pain. "Gaddastard!" The pikestaff dropped, and he lashed 
out with his other hand, but CQT was already hopping back into a combat 
position, hopping back and forth like a pugilist.

Fairy Princess Lad winced. "Ow ow ow goshdarnit ow..." He lifted himself on one 
hand-- "Ow!" --and looked over to where Cynical Queer Teen was sidestepping the 
Redcap's attacks. "Cynical Queer Teen, don't-- *nng*." He adjusted himself 
gingerly. "Call for help or something - he's not a human bully, you 
can't--*nng*! You can't *take* him by yourself!"

"The hell--" The Redcap charged forward with a swipe of his talons. "I--" CQT 
danced out of the way in the nick of time. "Can't!" CQT slammed an elbow into 
the Redcap's kidneys, a disabling blow... or, indeed, what should have been such 
a blow, had its target had kidneys.

Unaffected, the Redcap spun to face them, and they leapt out of the way - a hair 
too late, the Redcap's elbow catching them in the side, knocking the breath out 
of them and whirling them into the wall of the store. Stars swirled before their 
eyes, and they blinked them away - and twisted their body violently to the 
right. A fist slammed into the wall just where their head had been, cracking a 
decorative ceramic panel of fruit into pieces.

Fairy Princess Lad grabbed a street pole and pulled himself to his feet. 
"Cynical... Cyn... You don't... you don't want anyone else to have to get 
hurt... you want to be the only one in harm's way... but we all feel that way... 
that's what a hero is!"

Cynical Queer Teen swallowed, painfully. The Redcap grinned at them, lip curling 
cruelly, and shook the shards of ceramic off his hand.

FPL took a deep breath. "I don't... I don't want you to have to get hurt either! 
You're good, and that compassion in your heart that drives you so strongly... 
it's why you're alive! I want to protect it!"

CQT closed their eyes, and let out their breath. "...GODDAMNIT!" They thrust 
their hand out at Fairy Princess Lad and it burned with bright energy.

All at once FPL felt it - a spark of anger in his head that lead to an ignition 
of righteous fury that slammed into his gut and his muscles and his spine, 
lifting him up on an expanding ball of blazing plasma. He straightened up and he 
couldn't even feel his injury, the rage a light in his head illuminating the 
sharp corners and punchable surfaces all around him. He could see the Redcap 
pitiful and awful before him.

He rose on wings whose luminance burned. "REDCAP!" He pointed at the leathery 
figure, and it cowered.

"Hiss..." The Redcap drew in on himself. "Slaying is not allowed, the treaties, 
the codices..."

Fairy Princess Lad wanted to tear the coward apart, burn him, blast him, beat 
the stuffing out of him, let loose all his special attacks and return him to the 
ashen dust. But he opened a door in his head and let the rage flow into his 
concern and passion and love. "Death would drop thine crimes in the shade. Let 
them instead be raised to the sun!" He pointed a finger at the Redcap, and 
inscribed a mystic sigil into the air, a broken lemniscate held tightly within a 
septagon. "Thou art banished from this realm! Return and face thine peers! 
Return! Thou art banished!"

"No, no! Is not meet, is not right!" But the Redcap's voice was fading, his form 
curling in on itself like paper.

"Thou art banished! For the full turning of a year and a day, thou art banished! 
To the rock of guilt, thou art banished! In the name of my mother the King--" 
Fairy Princess Lad thrust his hand through the symbol and it shattered with a 
thunderclap. "THOU ART BANISHED!"

The Redcap's shrill wail was swallowed up as his body collapsed to a point. 
There was a THUMP! and an explosion of fairy dust, and he was gone.

The crackling flame in Fairy Princess Lad's brain smoldered down, the 
all-consuming rage losing its focus, guttering, smoking, and going out. He put 
his hands on his knees, and let out a breath. "...WHEW!" He shook his head. 
"What a slobberknocker!"

Cynical Queer Teen made his way over, leaning on the street pole. "Whew... not 
what I expected you to do, but, good job, man." They gave him a smirk.

FPL giggled, then winced, clutching at his side. "Ah! Thanks. Couldn't have done 
it without you."

CQT nodded. "Yep, yep. ...sooooo... you said something about an infirmary?"

"Right... ah, jeez... right this way... *oh* that stings." And they hobbled off 
down the street, arms over each other's backs in mutual support.

"...didn't even get to finish my mac'n'cheese..."


Drew "I'm fairy happy with how this turned out" Perron

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