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Something Wicked 2.0 - STORY THREAD


Something Wicked ST
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Rochelle stopped in her tracks on seeing the...guy? The first thing in her head was 'albino Edward Scissorhands but with normal hands,' and that wasn't helpful in identifying them at all. Civil war re-enactment? Victorian spooooooky mystery mansion murder event? Cosplay enthusiast?

 

The dissonance of this newcomer set her teeth on edge. She couldn't place why exactly, but it felt scarier than a bear. None of that showed on her face though as she stopped and brushed some bangs out of her eyes.

 

"That depends on what we're here for," Roach replied. "Three's a good number to find a thing. Four or more and we'd step on each other's feet. Two, and we're too few."

 

She paused, then added, "Who're you?"

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Startled at the... person's sudden appearance, Jo took a long step forward, club half raised, interposing herself between them and Roach and MC. Her tanned cheeks flushed with anger and... something else. They were certainly pretty, like the other one she'd met. But they were by no means the same one. They might have spoken like the other, but they had a different accent, and this one, they had an aspect all sinister like.

And she didn't like how they counted them. To Jo, it felt like they were expecting more, and all she could think of was Ben and Hank, what with Ben being weird of late and the other strangeness. It suggested that they knew them, but she'd never met them before, that was for sure. Maybe the other was kin?

"Not enough of us fer what?" the huge girl growled demandingly, trying to hide her growing worry. The situation was more than uncanny, and now, she wished she'd stopped to pick up Banner.

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Hank slowly opened the books cover, the front page was yellowed with age and held no writing only an image a flattened circle with a triangle above and another below. The one above had radiating lines coming off of it while the one below was shaded in. It looked hand drawn and the ink was a weird flat black.

 

He turned to the next page and here was the writing. The page itself was bordered with intricate scrollwork like he had seen in history books about the middle and dark ages when monks wrote books on scrolls. The writing appeared to be by hand and seemed to be in cursive. At first Hank couldn’t make sense of it at all, the letters were very small and didn’t seem right and the words were all jumbled. His eyes watered but after wiping them and drinking more of his coke he began to make out what it was saying…

 

What Hank read...

 

 

once upon a time which is how stories begin

but this one is true except for the end

when all lands were one with the oceans around

time had begun but the clock had not yet struck one

 

in these days an empire ruled

 beings not men but cold and aloof

a Queen and a King

sister and brother

the moon and the sun

winter and summer

these two were not Evil for Evil did not exist

nor were they Good for this too was not

though they were cruel and often indifferent

sometimes they showed kindness gentleness and attention

 

the empire was vast and powerful indeed

all of the world knelt at their knee

and wondrous in glory was this world that they ruled

with carriages that flew and ships that crossed the sky

cities gleamed in the night while towers reached for the stars

all of this by magic mathematics and scars

 

man in this time was simple and crude

 his understanding limited misconstrued

under the yoke did this breed lay

subjects of the empire

the Queen and the King

sister and brother

the moon and the sun

winter and summer

 

one of this kind a man of some stature

he boldly served the empire

the Queen and the King

sister and brother

the moon and the sun

winter and summer

 he to them become one of the favored

Chill was he named

 

At that moment the sounds of Hank Jr’s ‘Country Boy Can Survive’ blared into the room, Hank jumped so absorbed was he in making out the weird text, his phone vibrating on the bed next to him.

 

He looked at his phone and saw the call was from Ben.  He picked it up and answered

 

“Ben?”

 

“Yeah man, you called?” Ben sounded tired but like himself at least.

 

 

 

On the Hilltop

 

The man(?) tilted their head like a puppy it’s gaze going back and forth between Roach and Jo before he settled on MC.

 

“You are most confused and full of fear, but I mean no harm and as long as I am here with you no Evil will find you on this hill the stone protects.” He smiles broudly showing even square teeth of the whitest white.

 

MC moved closer to Roach and as she did his gaze followed her then focused on Roach himself.

 

He addresses Roach with a  courtly bow, “I am Mister Yorushh, at your service.”  He pronounces mister weirdly, it seems because of the accent, the word coming out as may-ster. His head twitches to focus on Jo.

 

“To teach you many things young madam, things you want to know, things you need to know and maybe things you should not know. But all must be taught or none.”

 

He steps away and walks around the stone, stopping every so often to make a gesture outward and mumbles senseless words. When he makes a complete circle he ends where he began with arms held out at his sides, he smiles at the girls again.

 

“There it is done, me ye have met and others to come. The way is open to you, come when you may, but never stray once you enter the way. Bring the others when you are ready. Five and two, none are true blue.”

 

 

 

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Hank read the book's words, and it was as if he could feel them resonate in his mind.   The words were old, older than they could have thought.  He didn't know why, but he knew they were "Important" with a capital "I."
 

Still he jumped when his phone rang, and it was Ben, of all people.   'Uh hey Ben, are you okay?  I had a pretty crazy thing happen today and I was trying to get ahold of everyone to discuss it, and see if you all were ok, and maybe had your own strange happenings today.  Nobody answered, so I just came home and to my surprise, the book we found was unlocked, so I started reading it. It's pretty amazing, though the words are kinda hard to make out."
 

The words just kinda flowed out, and Hank couldn't stop until he'd said the last, finally giving his friend a chance to answer him.

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A slow 'you're shitting me' smile started to spread over Roach's lips as she took this whole, ultra weird situation in and turned it around in her head.

 

"Right...okay. Thanks."

 

When MC came up next to her, she looked at her and nodded, just to acknowledge her presence there.

 

"So...mister Yorushh, just so we didn't totally waste our time coming out here, I've got a couple of questions for you. First question...do you know what happens to the people who disappear from the town near here?"

 

After just a brief pause, she added, "Second question, would you say 'winter is coming?' Only, like, in a really depressed sounding tone."

 

Roach looked at MC again, and at her expression she said, "What? It's the accent. He sounds just like the guy."

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Jo let the tree branch fall from her hand, pale brows furrowing in confusion. She barely understood what that Mister Yorushh - she supposed as a Mister, he was a guy - was saying, and the same with Roach, half the time. Winter came every year, and it was barely Autumn now, besides. She was clever 'bout asking about the missing people, Jo hadn't even considered that. Whatever Mister Yorushh was saying, what he had to teach, Jo sure hope it was no book learning.

Jo blinked her big, dark blue eyes, mouth dropping slightly open, realizing, no matter how strange and weird stuff was, she'd just had the intention to come back. She shook her head at the thought. She glanced at the rock then out and around the hilltop in the direction Mister Yorushh had made those funny gestures. It didn't look any different, no matter what he said.

"We ain't five and two, it's just the three of us," Jo said, giving the strange figure as tall as her with hair even more pale than her own an uncertain look. "And ain't none of us any sort of blue." At the Crossfit games, lots of the other girls had dyed hair, or streaks, some of them blue. And tattoos were popular, including full sleeves. One girl had so many, she almost did look blue. Since then, Jo had been considering getting a tattoo. "But we can find this Rock, and get back, without gettin' lost now?"

Mister Yorushh gave Jo a nod that seemed both aristocratic and coy.

"What's so special 'bout this here Rock? 'Sides all the funny writin' all over it. And why us? Fer all that there stuff we need to know or want to know or not know and such?" She pursed her lips, hands bunching into firsts, the thick muscles in her arms flexing, then looked over at Roach and MC. "All this, and we ain't seen no sign nor hair of any bear."

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Mister Yorushh cocked his head as he glanced around at the speaking girls one by one then, with an aristocratic gesture toward Roach , he answered.

 

“Yes, the fate I know, of those taken from surrounding villages. As for Winter, she is already here, my dear, but it is Summer you should fear, and yes, he is coming too.”

 

Yorushh faces Jo by turning his whole body and tilting his head the other way, “Five you are warrior girl, ye three and the two not here, the boy who changes and the boy who acts. The last neither are True Blue, one is known to You, dear girl, and close you hold them. The other I’m not sure has made their presence known. But time we have.”

 

Ben was quiet for several seconds after Hank told his story. “We need to find the girls, both of them not answering their phone isn’t normal.”

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"Okay okay okay!" Roach says sharply, making a cutting motion with her hand to try to get people's attention. "So you know what happens to them." She pauses for a second, and when he doesn't volunteer the information she prods, "...well? What happens?"

 

Meanwhile in the back of her head she noted something a little odd. Hank was clearly 'the boy who acts,' but how was Ben 'the boy who changes'? Especially since he was missing. One thing at a time though.

 

Yorushh smiles at Roach then puts his hands together fingers steepled. "They are taken to serve. The better question is how do you know of them? once they are gone from the other side, the memory of them fades. you are special aren't you?"

 

Roach squints a little. "Taken to serve? Like slaves? Jesus..." She rubs her eyes and shakes her head. "Emails from beyond, that's how I know. Information superhighway...sum total of human knowledge, you know. All that."

 

Then she refocuses on Yorushh. "Okay. One last thing." She holds up the hair from Ben's locker. "Who's is this? We followed it out here, thought it was a bear's."

 

Yorushh straightens up his eyes narrow, "You wish me to discern the origin of this hair? That is not my function, but if you will agree to perform a service for me I shall do this thing for you."

 

"Ohhh...sorry, I thought you knew all the things here," Roach replies with a satisfied smile. "Nahh, it's okay. You were coming in here like you had all the answers, but it's cool. We'll figure it out, but... What IS your 'function' then, Mister Yorushh?"

 

He frowns, and his demeanor grows a little cold. "As I told you, I am to instruct you."

 

"But first we have to drag everyone out here." Roach looks around at the strange landscape, but her instinct for mischief tells her that Yorushh has been pushed as far as he can be without burning the bridge. So she finally looks back at him and nodded. "Alright...sorry if I was being a little rude...this is all just super weird."

 

"It is quite alright, you do not know and not knowing this is all, how did you say, a little weird. go now, return to this side when you are five. the other two can wait."

"Right."

 

Roach shrugs and looks at Jo and MC. "C'mon everyone...lets get the others."

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"Um. Okay." Jo rolled her broad shoulders, then gave Roach and MC a nod. She still was by no means sure what was going on, but it was better to do something than nothing. Belatedly, she had the strange Mister Yorushh a nod as well. "Mister Yorushh, sir. Later, 'til we all come back with the others, Ah'm guessin'."

The big girl lead the way again, randomly picking a direction down the hill from The Rock. She wasn't even sure which way they'd come before, but if Mister Yorushh wasn't fibbing, it shouldn't make a difference, right? They could find their way to and from this place, now, so he claimed.

 

"Ah swear," Jo said over her shoulder towards the two smaller girls. "If Ben don't answer his door, Ah'm bustin' it down and draggin' him out, this time." She fished out her phone and peered at it, idly wondering how a selfie with Mister Yorushh would go over on Instagram. "Ah ain't got no bars. Anyone else?" A pause, silence save for the murmuring wind and the crackle of them moving through dry brush. "Ah might one other of them folks before. Y'all think they're elves or fairies, like in one of Ben's there games?"

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Hank nodded, and sighed.  "I have no idea where they are Ben, neither of them is answering their phone.    Maybe you try calling them, that might get a response."  His tone didn't suggest anything, he didn't think they were avoiding him, and if being called by Ben was shocking enough to get through to them, then it did.   He had a feeling they were together though.   "I can run by their homes, but i don't want to arouse any suspicions from their families."

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"I'm gonna go with some kinda freaky hermit weirdo until I get some serious empiric results on that," Roach replies as they head back through the misty path the way they came. "But he seems like he's either involved with the missing people, or best case scenario is aware of the missing people but isn't trying to help them. Or...OR...he's just a pretty good cold-reader."

 

"Either way, we shouldn't take anything he says at face value, you know?"

 

She checks her phone as well, but isn't surprised or dismayed by the lack of service.

 

"Once we get back closer to where we parked we'll be back in range."

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With Jo leading them they soon found themselves out of the misty fog and on a trail Jo recognized and in short order found their way back to the car. Once their phones found a signal they realized that they had been in the woods much longer than they had realized it was well after dinner time and all of them had calls from parents worried and angry. The girls also found that both Ben and Hank had been trying to reach them and were now apparently together in Hanks truck looking for them.

 

After making excuses and apologies to their parents and promising to be home by ten, they arranged to meet Hank and Ben at Wendy's in town. They could get some food, all three were famished, and talk in relative peace out on the patio since no one ever used those tables.

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Hank and Ben got to the Wendy's first, and were quick to stake out a table on the patio after ordering some drinks.   Hank went to pick them up and returned, his backpack there in his seat, the unlocked book within it, and he sighed.  The Girls would have a story to tell, he was sure, much as he did.  Even that said he still didn't know why Ben hadn't answered initially either.   It was something they'd all discuss together.

He took a sip of his drink, and sighed.  "Just what is going on."  he spoke softly, though Ben could easily hear him.

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  • 2 weeks later...

"Let's wait until we are all together, that way we won't have to repeat ourselves." He nods with his head toward the road, "There are the girls, there."

 

Hank looks and sees a pair of headlights belonging to an unfamiliar SUV turning onto the road and heading toward the parking lot and them. Way too far away and way too dark to see who it is from this distance. 

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"Ben, how can you tell?  I can't make out anything but the lights themselves this far away.  Hell I barely can make out that's it's an suv and not a car.  Neither one of them has a vehicle, or a license."   He asked evenly, though he was slightly unnerved by this.  "When did your vision get so good?"

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No sooner did the SUV park than the passenger side door opened and Roach popped out. She immediately hopped up and down a few times, then leaned to one side...and then to the other, stretching her legs.

 

"GARCON!" she yelled at the Wendy's sign glaring redly down from on high, "ONE OF YOUR FINEST GREASEBURGERS PLEASE! And one of the milkshakes that bring all the boys to my yard!"

 

Then she went to the other door on that side and opened it up, extending a hand within and saying with a fairly bad English accent attempt, "My lady, if I may?"

 

Should MC allow it, in this way Roach ceremoniously helps her out of the car, her face pulled into a parody of disapproving fastidiousness.

 

"Shall I bring a napkin for the lady to sit upon?" she asked, still using the voice.

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Roach's voice and shenanigans identified her to Hank through the dusk and distance. The height and physique of the figure who climbed out from the other side of the SUV was unmistakeable. Jo rolled her shoulders then shook her head at Roach's antics. Jo might have been a physical anomaly of a teenage girl - at least one doctor had told her that exactly - but Roach was so weird.

She was still disconcerted with the encounter on the hill, still disturbed from losing track of time. Jo, used to running, usually had a pretty good sense of how long she'd been moving. But not this time. And now she was starving. It was going to be a big cheat day. 

"Ah need food," the enormous girl announced. "Ah bring ya some napkins, if ya need some. If ya fork ovah the cash, Ah'll get yer order, too."

Collecting any offered orders and payment, Jo strode towards the front door of the Wendy's with long, brisk strides. Passing by the boys, she pointed emphatically at Ben. 

"We've got stuff to tell ya, you too, Hank, and ya got some 'splainin' to do, Ben. Ya bettah be here when Ah get back," she warned him.

Jo yanked open the door and ducked her head as she slipped inside. In remarkably short order, the big blonde was back, a laden plastic tray in either hand. She claimed a seat at the table with the boys and girls, at the end of the bench, so she could sit sideways and give her legs some extra room, setting the trays down gently so the drinks didn't tip over. Before anyone got a word out, Jo unwrapped one of her Double Deluxe burgers and scarfed down half of it.

 

She washed it down with a long gulp of lemonade, while gesturing at Roach. "Show Ben the thing, the hair." Jo leveled dark blue eyes on the slight boy a full head shorter than her. "Whaddaya know 'bout bears, Ben?"

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Ben waited for Jo, he was casually looking at MC, wondering when she had become one of them and why was she sitting so close to Roach. Jo's plopping the food and drink laden trays onto the table snapped him back to the here and now.

On 3/2/2022 at 7:42 AM, Jordan 'She-Hulk' Johansson said:

Before anyone got a word out, Jo unwrapped one of her Double Deluxe burgers and scarfed down half of it.

 

She washed it down with a long gulp of lemonade, while gesturing at Roach. "Show Ben the thing, the hair." Jo leveled dark blue eyes on the slight boy a full head shorter than her. "Whaddaya know 'bout bears, Ben?"

 

Ben took a deep breath puffing his cheeks out as Roach showed him the hair. Now he didn't know anything about hair in a clinical scientific sense but he knew that hair. He blew the air he had taken in out, "Yeah. that's not a bear hair but I know where it came from."

 

He let that statement hang, "Well" Hank prompted?

 

"Okay you guys aren't going to believe this but, i think it came off a Gnoll."

 

MC obviously had no clue what Ben was referring to and it showed on her face.  Roach pulled the hair back and looked at it closely, "You mean like the dog people from the d&d game," she asked? Jo and Hank looked at each other.

 

"Yeah, I mean that is what it looked like."

 

Everyone looked back at Ben.

 

"The first night I was sick, something tried to get in the house it woke me up. It was late about 2:30 or so, I got up and peeked out the window curtain and saw it, it came right up to my window and tried to open it. I don't think it saw me but it might have."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hank sat there, having eaten half his burger and some of his fries as he listened, and sighed.  It wasn't that he didn't believe Ben, I mean there was alot of strangeness going on.

"You should have called me, you know we've got pretty much everything you could want to kill one if that's what it was Ben."   Coming from a family like his, Hank had ready access to guns and other things one would use to hunt game.  "Hell we probably have some traps and what not we could use in the shed."

Hank shrugged,  "For my part in all this strangeness, I got the book open today, and even got to read abit of it.  Seemed like some sort of old fairy tale, but not one i've ever heard before, and maybe a warning."

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Rochelle's eyes flicked between Ben and Hank, then she waved her hands quickly, like she was flagging down a car.

 

"Okay, wait...wait wait wait... I know there's some weird shit going down, but dude...you did not see a fucking D&D monster outside your window. I mean, think about it. What's a gnoll? Basically, like a big hyena on its hind legs. What's a bear? Basically like a huge dog-type thing that can stand on its hind legs. You woke up, you were groggy, saw a big dog-like thing poking your window with a snout, and your brain filled in the gaps. It could have thought there was food inside or something. I was reading a thing where some bear keeps breaking into houses in Canada."

 

She reached over and tapped the hair. "But here's the thing. Why your locker? Even if you saw something weirder than a bear, what the hell would a monster want with your locker?"

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Ben takes the hair and studies it, It is at that moment that Jo realizes that Ben isn't wearing his glasses. Ben always wears his glasses.

 

"Yeah. It could have been a dog, Roach, except dogs don't walk on two legs wear medieval leather tunics with metal studs, or carry spears." He hands the hair back looking Roach in the eye, she now notices the missing glasses, "I don't know what it would want in my locker, but i think thats the same color as the gnoll. And yes, maybe it isn't a gnoll from DnD, but that is the closest I could explain it as."

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"Okay.  Other question.  Why is MC here?  Did y'all rope her into going on your little nature hike?"   

It wasn't that he didn't like her, but she wasn't really one of them.  Or at least, she hadn't been.   "Don't take that the wrong way.   I mean it's just all this strangeness is going on, and I don't think any of us really want to get anyone else involved in it.   For me, getting the book open and reading it is only part of the strangeness."

He looked back over to Ben.  "Okay, so Gnolls are a thing.  There's no way it got into the school and got your backpack from your locker.  We still need to explain that."

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Rochelle made an annoyed grunt and said, "She was helping me and Jo find the bear hair that would match THIS hair, because she SAW a bear a little bit ago. We didn't find any hair, but we DID find a weird, like, Civil War re-enacter who...oh shit, that's right!"

 

She rapped her knuckles on the table. "He actually said he wanted to meet us all, and sort of implied there'd be some kind of gift involved...and while normally I'd say creepy guys that hang out in the middle of the woods offering gifts to high schoolers should probably be prosecuted...I kinda got the sense he knows something about all the weird shit that's been going on lately."

 

Roach gave Ben a smirk. "Maybe he knows your gnoll."

 

"Anyway, Hank, to answer your question...MC's on the team now. Deal with it." She pantomimed putting glasses on.

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Jordan shared a glance with Hank, rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders, silently admitting she didn't exactly know how MC had gotten involved but resigned to the fact that she was. As for gnolls or not-gnolls, or whatever dang thing it was, well, those folk she, they'd, met in the woods weren't exactly normal either. Jo finished her first burger and unwrapped the second and nodded over at Roach.

 

"Gnolls or whatever, and that guy we met, Mister Yorushh, and the one Ah saw the day before when runnin', Ah think they might be elves or the like." Roach looked over at her oversized, over-muscled friend, making a scoffing sound. "What?" Jo said defensively. "They were both tall, weird, pretty in a queer way. Kinda, Ah dunno, witchy and woodsy like. Makes 'em seem as much as what Ben saw bein' a gnoll. Ah mean, that Mister Yorushh guy, he made it so we can find that boulder with all the fancy carvings on it now."

The big blonde looked back towards the boys over the remnants of her second burger. "Either of ya ever hear tell of a rock like that? Ah never have, and Ah've run all over the trails and hills hereabouts. It looked like something we'd find in one of yer games, Ben."

Her dark blue eyes narrowed on Ben, smooth brow furrowing, as she took a sip of lemonade. "Why ain'tcha wearin' yer glasses, Ben?"

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Ben shrugged, "I don't know just since I got sick I can see better without them."

 

MC for her part looked sullen but remained silent although she gave Jo and Hank undisguised murderous glances.

 

Ben continued, "Look aside from what we have seen or thought we have seen, it all seems to start with that book. How did you get it open Hank?"

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