LNH/LUNA/ACRA: The Liminals #6: Bondage and Determination, part 2 [part 2]
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 14 14:40:32 PST 2020
"So," said Maria as they walked back into the swank mafia apartment,
"how long will it take for you to carry out your rite?"
"It's drama-based," said Masterplan Lad, "so it will start working at
the exact moment that it seems like everything is going to fall apart."
"Cool, cool," said Maria. "So I'll create a distraction while you carry
out the rite. I'm good at that."
She strutted into the apartment, followed by the ostrich, while
Masterplan Lad retreated into the background as he so often did. Inside
was that same puffed-up suit-wearing man he'd seen earlier.
As soon as he saw them walk in, he got up out of the chair, livid with
rage. "What the fuck is that thing doing in here, Maria? You know the
deal. You keep that fucking ostrich out of here!" said Luigi Virgilio.
His gesticulations came very close to knocking over the taxidermied
crocodile that was hanging from the ceiling. "That was the deal, Maria.
The ostrich leaned in on him and started booming at him with their
throat, vibrating it in and out.
"Hey! Stop booming at me, you fucking ostrich!" said Luigi Viriglio.
"I'll blow your brains out with this wand if you don't shut up, see if I
don't!" He started waving his wand around. The ostrich did not seem
intimidated in the least. They opened their mouth and roared like a
lion, which was apparently a thing that ostriches could do.
"Hey now," said Maria. She patted the ostrich on the head and they
petulantly backed down. "Look, Luigi, the cops are onto me. Which means
they'll be onto you soon. That's why I brought the ostrich--there might
be a shootout any second, and I need my familiar. We need to get the
money and get out of here as soon as we can."
Masterplan Lad, ignoring them as best he can, stretched out his umbrella
and started reaching out into the plot threads. "Shit. "It's that
fucking plumber agian," said Luigi Vergilio. "The one with the umbrella.
What's he doing here?"
"With an umbrella?"
"He's dowsing. For leaks."
"Dowsing? He's a wizard plumber? Is that--is that a fucking *wand*?"
Maria shook her head. "Look, he's just a hedge mage. Not a real wizard
like you." She put her hands on his shoulders and he de-tensed a little.
"That's obviously not a combat wand, right?"
"I still do not like having someone with a fucking wand around."
"He's completely trustworthy. Won't breathe a word to the cops. I
already paid him off already. Look, let's just get the money and get out
"God damn it. All right," said Mario. He moved a portrait off the wall
(of himself, of course), opened the safe behind it, and started hauling
out a sack of money that were too large to fit in it. Magic, one
supposed. Masterplan Lad, feeling the attention slip from him, shifted
to the edge of the narrative so he wouldn't be noticed. He felt the
strings of Drama and plucked them.
"Should I call your brother?" said Maria. Luigi shook his head. "It's
our money, not his. That's the deal, remember?"
"*What* was the deal?" said another mafiosi, this one greyer-templed and
"Mario!" Luigi Vergilio made a wild conciliatory gesture. Masterplan Lad
raised his eyebrow at the name choice. "Look, it's all a misunderstanding--"
"A misunderstanding. Ha. Wand-explodus!" He shot a spark out of his wand
and Luigi's fell out of his hand. "You've been lying to me, you and that
two-bit trenchcoater snake, you've been--"
Masterplan Lad plucked another plot-string. Twang.
"Shit, I just remembered!" said Mario. "Put that wand away! Our father's
A steely man with swept-back gray hair walked into the room. He appeared
to more or less literally be Marlon Brando from the Godfather.
Masterplan Lad wondered why he kept running into Marlon Brandos so
often. [see WikiLull Pre-Final Epilogue/President Evil #6]
"It's him!" he said. "Jumpman Vergilio!"
Masterplan Lad's eyebrows raised up so high they almost jumped off his face.
"Pasta fazool!" he shouted, gesticulating wildly. "Vento Aureo! Chad
Imbrogno!" Masterplan Lad felt faintly uncomfortable even though he knew
his writer's mother's family was Italian. They argued for a while in
what the author seemed to think was Italian, Mario pointing his wand at
Maria all the while.
Then Jumpman looked right at Masterplan Lad and said something to the
others. "Shit!" said Luigi. "That man's a wizard! He's cursing us!"
Mario grabbed his wand off the floor and they all prepared to shoot at
at him at once.
The ostrich prepared to bum-rush the three mobsters. "Freezus
forcefieldus!" said Jumpman, freezing Maria and the ostrich in their
tracks. Meanwhile, the other two shot at Masterplan Lad.
Masterplan Lad did not think of magic in the same literalistic way as
the Wizard Mafia, who essentially treated wands as guns, but that put
him at a bit of a disadvantage in a wandfight. He couldn't shoot energy
from his wand; he wasn't a magical girl, after all. He could only
manipulate the trajectory of the other spells.
The spellbolts veered away from him, knocking the crocodile off the
ceiling. "Ouch!" it tried to say, but being a dead crocodile it really
couldn't. A few of them moved backward and singed Mario in the shoulder.
But it was exhausting trying to keep track of all the shots zooming
around the room, and one of them knocked Masterplan Lad off his feet.
"Gratuitus Bondagus!" shouted Luigi Vergilio. Before Masterplan Lad
could bet up, he was suddenly wrapped up in ropes and a gag. He wanted
to protest that this wasn't' actual Latin, but couldn't say anything.
"All right," said Jumpman, in heavily accented English, since the writer
was tired of that joke. "We'll sort everything out now--"
"What about the fucking wizard?" said Luigi.
"Stuff him in the closet, we'll whack him later," said Jumpman.
They grabbed him roughly and shoved him into a too-tight closet, and
that was that.
Masterplan Lad was tied up bound and gagged in the closet, as the
narrative had reiterated several times now. At least he was caught up
with where he'd been at the beginning. That gave him very little
guidance about how to get out, though. He couldn't untie himself, he
couldn't reach his Plot Device, he couldn't move or do anything except
think. So he did that.
He thought about the ceiling crocodile and how strange it was that he
hadn't noticed it earlier. That was of course, because the Writer had
only thought it up after posting that issue after seeing a tweet that
made them think of the classic apothecary alligator trope which was
lampooned several times by Pratchett. One of the many story threads that
flowed into being, which the writer may not have even consciously known
when starting the story.
But why did Masterplan Lad have to just passively let the story fall
into place around him? Was there a way to work with the narrative?
He couldn't move, he couldn't reach his plot device, but the one thing
he knew he could do was flash back.
What if he could use that? In the tabletop game Blades in the Dark,
players could make a flashback move and perform actions that could
plausibly fit into the past to set up their actions in the present, a
convention of heist narratives. What if he could make that move?
Even now, he was afraid to twist the narrative that way for his own
sake. But he reminded himself: he was doing this for Maria.
He did not have his Plot Device, but though he was still tied up here in
this closet after most of two issues, and Maria was in the other room,
she was narratively linked to him. He could take the flow of drama that
was around her and ride the wave back into the narrative, reshaping it
and changing it.
He'd come here searching for a flow of interdimensional energy and found
it, even though it couldn't quite reach the Library. The obvious thing
to do was use the interdimensional energy to create a crosspost to
another newsgroup. But which one?
He thought about the italians. The fact he was playing the role of a
plumber. The terrible joke about the names. The graffiti he'd seen
earlier, which was clearly a reference to the urban legend about the
Super Mario Galaxy box logo. Hmm.
So, flashing back to his entrance into the apartment at the beginning of
the previous issue, he made himself create a link to alt.nature.mushrooms.
He went back to when he was fighting the Mafia and made the crocodile
fall on to just the right point where someone could trip over it later.
He inserted a scene where he wrote up graffiti on the wall, shortly
before he met Maria, to send a message to his future self. He knew his
head was going to hurt if he thought about the implications of this, so
And finally, with just a small twinge of guilt, he added a bit back into
his meeting with Sharon and Alys where he got their numbers.
"And now, that's enough of you," said Mario, aiming his wand at Maria.
As he closed in on her, he did not notice the crocodile tail beneath his
feet until he'd tripped over it and hit the floor. The spellbolt knocked
right into Maria and the ostrich, breaking their forcefield.
"Get her! Now!" shouted Jumpman, but just as the wizard mafiosi were
about to shoot Maria, they heard a rumbling noise from behind them.
"The hell's that?" said Luigi, but before he could do anything a pale
tide of little red-capped mushroom people crashed into the room. They
looked hungrily at the mafiosi with their little beady eyes and clicked
their claws and their sharp, jagged teeth.
"Someone opened a portal to a goddamn mushroom kingdom in the basement!"
The mafiosi shot at the mushrooms with their wand, but the more they
shot, the more they rushed in. In the chaos, Maria stumbled past them,
her ostrich kicking a path through the fungal folk, and grabbed the
money, then extricated Masterplan Lad from his bonds. The two of them
then clambered out the hole the ostrich had kicked in the back window.
And that was that.
Back at the apartment, they sat around the table and watched the
thousand dollar bill burn in the candle flame..
"The rest of that's mine," said Maria, grabbing the sack of money and
hugging it like a stuffed toy.
"If you wish," said Masterplan Lad. "So, now that that's over with,
I'll... how should I contact you?"
"Well, that's easy. There's already a narrative connection. I'll just
seal it. Like so." Masterplan Lad instinctively reached for his Plot
Device, and she touched it and ran her fingers along it. A strange
energy passed between them, and a feeling Masterplan Lad didn't know how
to describe. "See? Now you can call on me whenever you need me--and I
can do the same for you." She smiled and Masterplan Lad felt a not
unpleasant little shiver up his spine.
They spent the rest of the night talking about magickal narrative theory
and terrible movies. After he left, he didn't call Maria back, not for a
while. But he did think about her often. And he also thought about
painting his nails.
Next: Back to the storyline. An awkward middle chapter. Some problems
are solved and others are caused.
The Wizard Mafia is the lastl free-for-use element I thought up which
can help serve as an unifying factor in Classic Lunaverse stories.
I also want to thank Drew and Tom whose work helped me feel more
comfortable writing about this sort of thing.
Lagneto: Jef Kolodziej
Everyone else is mine
More information about the racc