LNH/LUNA/ACRA: The Liminals #6: Bondage and Determination, part 2 [part 2]

Jeanne Morningstar 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. 
No ostrich."

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 
of here..."

"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 
he didn't.

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!" 
said Mario.

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

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