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Something Wicked 2.0 - STORY THREAD


Nina
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"You pointed your hand at a creature that shouldn't exist and its head exploded Roach."    Hank said quietly.   

"That's certainly not something you could do a year ago, or I think there'd be alot fewer idiots at school."  he teased lightly.   

"Seriously though.  I know I'm the cautious one, and I'll be that guy again here.   Let's take Mister Clairburn up on his teaching."   He held up his hands.  "We don't know either of them, or which if either, sent those creatures on us.  I know, but I just get the feeling we can trust him, even if he did just vanish on us in a literal flash."

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Roach shook her head. "No no, I'm not saying that magic is bullshit. I mean...provisionally I'm not. Like, it's not impossible that this is some kind of elaborate prank or hoax, but for the moment I can...ugh!"

 

"I'm talking about this Yorush versus Clairburn thing! That's bullshit. This 'long dog' thing could just as easily been Clairburne, even MORE easily actually. And it's pretty fucking convenient that when I described Yorush to him, he didn't bat an eye...and NOW he knows all about him?"

 

She snorted.

 

"This is either a 'both sides are bad' situation, or a two man con," Rochelle opined. "I don't think we need either of them. Either it's all fake, and there's nothing to learn, or I blew off a dogman's head without even MEANING to, and we don't need THEM to learn."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jo kicked a clump of dirt towards where Mr. Clairburn had been standing but it sailed through the air without hitting anything. The big girl grunted. Looked like magic enough to her. Magic was real. And it wasn't the only thing real.

"Told ya Mistah Yorushh was a real life elf," Jo boasted. Though, now that she thought about it, she wasn't sure she'd actually told either of them that or had just thought it when she'd first met the fellow. "And yeah, Roach, ya might've done there a magic spell this once. Ain't mean ya can do it again, do it when ya want without anybody showin' ya the way."

Privately, she agreed with Hank, and was more inclined to trust Mr. Clairburn than the... elf? Faerie? On the other hand, Mr. Clairburn had claimed Mr. Yorushh would demand a price for his lessons. Mr. Clairburn hadn't mentioned the price for his. Jo had had enough coaches and trainers in her young life already to know they never worked for free.

"Well, Mistah Clairburn had his say. Only fair we let Mistah Yorushh the elf have his, even if we don't trust 'im a mite," Jo countered. She rolled her broad shoulders then bent over to pick up the Skrill thing. She strode over and claimed the big axe of the long-dog whose head Roach had blown up. She gave it a few swings, testing its weight and balance. "We've already come this far. Ah ain't ready to turn back just yet. 'Specially after them long-dog things tried to chase us off. After we hear what Mistah Yorushh has to say, then we can decide which way we wanna go, even if that way is our own."

Edited by Asarasa
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  • 2 weeks later...

The Kids traipse on down the path they had been heading, Hank looked back in the direction of Clairburns House and didn’t move until Ben tapped him on the arm. MC stayed close to Roach, and Jordan led the way Banner at her side with the cat on the dogs back, forepaws on his head like a Captain helming a sailing ship.

 

They walked about 20 yards when the path began to climb, they trudge through thick foliage which began to thin after about another 25 yards until they found themselves on the top of the hill with the Stone.

 

There was no one there. The hill top was empty they all walked around all except Jordan who was looking beyond the hill at what was around them. It wasn’t the same.

Ben and Hank had approached the stone and were looking with curiosity Roach turned around several time and then called out, “Mr Yorushh?”

 

The strange tall man stepped from behind the stone startling Hank and Ben. There had been nothing and no one there a moment ago!

 

“You called?”  He said with his lilting voice.

 

Spoiler

Sorry for the delay I hadn't realized y'all had posted.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jo glared at the trees surrounding the hill. Either they, or the hill - she wasn't sure which - weren't where they were supposed to be. After the encounter with the Long-dogs, and then with Mr. Clairburn and what he'd said, the huge girl was suspicious of everything, and far from certain. Magic and monsters were real, and now, even places didn't seem to be staying put.

At the man's - elf's? - lilting query, Jo whirled around and trained her dark-blue eyed glare on Mr. Yorushh standing indolently by the rune-scarred stone at the crest of the hill. Jo stalked up the hill, pointing at Mr. Yorushh with the axe she'd claimed from the big gnoll or Long-dog or Oogie-Boogie or whatever it was, the Skrill dangling from a fist. Her long, pale blond, disheveled braid, lightly stained from blood she couldn't wash free, practically bristled and her powerful muscles were hard and taut with tension.

Jo could have passed for one of the warriors or barbarians she played in Ben's game... if she'd been wearing a fur-trimmed chainmail bikini instead of yoga pants, sportsbra, and sleeveless hoodie.

"Yeah, we called," Jo replied with bold brusqueness. She wasn't clever or sneaky like Roach, and wasn't in the mood for games after what they'd - she'd - endured. "What ya know 'bout magic and monsters hereabouts? We got attacked by... by some dog-faced fuckers, comin' here to see yah like yah asked." The big blonde shook the axe and eldritch jewelry for emphasis and proof of the encounter. "Yah know 'bout that lot?"

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Jo could handle the talking for the moment. Roach was fine with that. Her vote had been to just head somewhere disposable, like a junkyard or scrap heap, and start doing some magic the hard way. And while she hated to admit it, Jo had kind of gotten her head turning though. Suppose they sort of...played Yorush and Clairburn against each other? The old man did not like or trust Yorush at all, that was clear enough. And while he made a big noise about washing his hands of them if they didn't want to train with him, Roach suspected that was at least somewhat for show. He wouldn't have offered to teach them if he didn't have an angle. A string he wanted to tie on them was a string they could yank back on. Right?

 

She hoped so. In the back of her head, it was starting to sink in that Roach and the others were in over their heads. They didn't need a teacher just for spells. They needed someone to give them the ABCs of this weird world they were stepping into.  And maybe on instinct, she agreed with Jo that Clairburn was a better bet than Yorush. He was almost certainly no saint, but he was a human being. He operated by rules of engagement that even kids like they would understand. He saw the world more or less as they did, and he had a stake in at least appearing to be a normal member of society sometimes.

 

Yorush was a wild card. An alien playing by alien rules, written in a language they couldn't read, so they'd just have to take his word for it if they broke a rule or he wanted to call or bluff.

 

For a moment she studied his face, looking for a reaction...but then she realized she had no idea if he even had involuntary expressions like a human did. She didn't even know if that was his FACE. It might just be...some kind of magic hat he wore, and his face was in his belly. Magic was real, literally ANYTHING was possible.

 

So instead she looked down at the ground, scanning the hilltop for signs that those dogmen had been up here before. Tracks, sure, but also flattened grass, torn shrubs... Those dogmen had been big and armored. They weren't sneaking around up here, if here they'd been.

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Hank hadn't met Yorush before, and maintained his calm and quiet demeanor through force of will.  He was certainly curious, but decidedly on guard after their last encounter with a nonhuman lifeform.   He'd have rathered they learn from Warren, but he'd come along in a show of solidarity with their friends.  It was good to cultivate options, which he saw this as, but he'd want any costs spelled out clearly, something he didn't think would really happen.

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Dog-faced fucker. Hmm, I believe that is the first time I have heard that particular name for them, but yes of course I know of them, we spoke of that earlier." Yorushh walked around a bit his head always turning to keep one or more of the Kids in sight. "But no, I know not of their attacking you." He stops by Jo and looks with distaste at the axe, "But that they hunt you is no surprise”

 

“What do you mean,” asked MC with urgency?

 

The tall …elf… tilts his head, “As said I, five and two, the magic number. Here with you, teach I can.”

 

“Why here?”

 

Yorushh spins to face Ben, Yorushh spreads his hands apart palms upward, “?” his look at the boy a question.

 

Ben sets his face grimly, “And you didn't answer MC's question. But I mean why up here on this hill? Wouldn't be safer in a building or cabin, heck even a cave.”

 

Yorushh seems unsure his eyes dart around like he is looking for an easy answer. “This place is…special, it is… Umm…no…umm…ahh yes, a ….

 

 

“…a Nexus, in time and space.”  Warren Clairburn poked the poker into the flames one last time before turning back to his audience. “There that should warm the place up a bit. It’s so damn hard to heat this old place.”

 

The Kids all looked at each other and around. They were not on a hilltop outside with a standing stone and an elf, but were back in Clairburn’s living room sitting in the same chairs they had occupied hours ago, all except Jo who was on the floor Banner stretched out at her side. The cat was there too and it walked in and out between legs making a circle from person to person.

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"So, I guess that means we were always supposed to come with you then."   Hank said, his tone mostly flat, his mind already about pegged out with all the weirdness of the day.   What was instant teleportation into a conversation they'd been having, simply replacing one mentor with another.   "That, or something crazier."   

He looked to Warren, then to the others, and then down to the cat, reaching down to pet it gently as it weaved between his legs.   When it looked up at him, he picked it up, which it allowed, and set it on his lap, petting it.     It began to purr almost immediately, which Hank found somewhat soothing.  "Today has certainly not been boring, at the very least."   It wasn't as if he was nonplussed by everything, in truth he was probably closer to a mind down, or burnout,  They'd just seen and heard too much today.   

 

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Roach looked around, startled. Details suddenly loomed large. She was warm, inside and out. Cozy. Like she'd always been in this room. No cold layer of air trapped under her jacket, in her lungs. Not teleportation. Nexus of time and space, eh?

 

"Okay okay, so wait," she said. "Is this a fork or a branch? Are we leaving alternate versions of ourselves talking with Yoruush? Is this like...some kind of quantum thing, where we were doing both things at once, but now we've always just been doing this?"

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Jo jerked up to a sitting position, staring around in shock at where she found herself. Banner gave a yawp, then chuffed, when he was dislodged from resting his head on one of his mistress' massive thighs. Jo looked around, one hand behind her back to brace her. They were back at the Clairburn place. No axe or thingawhatsit. A pair of empty Moxie bottles she gave a suspicious glance.

Did Clairburn drug the stuff? Did Ah only imagine we'd gone to see Mr. Yorushh, and fought the monsters? She could remember the pain, but she didn't hurt now.

Jo didn't have the slightest clue what Roach was talking about with forks and branches and what all. The huge girl climbed to her feet and rolled her shoulders. Her dog didn't seem to find anything amiss and just settled down, chin resting on his paws. The big blonde tossed her French braid over her shoulder and shifted over to glance out a window as she fished out her phone to check the time, wondering how much time they had lost, rather than struggling to figure out how they even ended up here.

"Mistah Clairburn, Ah mean, Warren, anything special 'bout the numbah Five and Two? Seven Ah mean, Ah guess," Jo asked as she peered out the window.

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"Heh, I have to wonder Miss McKendrick, are you really that clever or just good at faking it," Warren said with a chuckle.

 

He faces Hank , "No, free choice is a must but I felt it was prudent to give you as much information to make an educated guess as you could under the circumstances. " Then to Jo, "Seven is a mystical number, it means a lot of things to a lot of different cultures and creeds. you will find that in most cases the thing has less to do with things than the meaning we impart on them."

 

Clairburn walks across from the fire and takes his seat. "Back to the original question or when and where. I left you in the woods because you needed to see and to do that I needed to prepare. there are no alternates or branches, at least not the way you think of such things Miss McKendrick. 

 

You are all here in reality and you are all still there talking to the Mr Yorushh fellow. its just that the there part has been... shall we say paused. Our here is between a moment of time and the next there."

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"The answer is Both."  Hank said dryly.

His eyes narrowed.  "I sorta understand what you're saying, but why exactly is this conversation between moments taking place?   Is this a sort of last moment before we make an irrevocable choice?   Some sort of focal point in reality and such?  Mr. Yorushh seemed to be having to think quickly on how to answer us, was that because of your magic, or something else?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

Warren smiled at Hank's keen observation. He nodded, "I wanted you to be able to make an informed choice. This Yourushh fellow, he is a fae of some sort, powerful magical beings of another world, thus alien. Its motivations are unfathomable. It can give you whatever you want, whatever it promises. But there is always a catch.

 

Any deal you enter into with it will be bound to the letter, and it will try to make you break the contract. That is what these things do and they almost always win.

 

It isn't going to give you any thing for free there is a cost sometimes unspoken."

 

"You keep saying it..." MC interrupted.

 

"Yes I do. This thing is not human. It isn't a man or a woman. It is a thing, an alien being which has a purpose and drive we can't begin to fathom.

 

You five are unusual, very seldom do potential mages get pulled together at such an early age and in such a way. There are forces at work here. I want to give you the best chance you can of weathering them."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jo folded her muscular arms below her taut breasts, and looked down, trying to hide the faint blush on her cheeks. Faerie or Elf or whatever they were, man or woman - Both? Neither? - Mr. Yorushh, and the other one she'd met before were sure pretty. Handsome. Attractive. Whatever. Even if they were weird.

"Ain't nothing free," Jo added. She blew out a frustrated breath, hoped the colour in her cheeks had returned to normal, then looked up to catch Warren's eye.

Even if he really wanted to help them, there had to be something he was getting out of it. She'd had plenty of coaches and trainers over the years, even before her massive growth spurt. They all got paid, one way or another, even if it was only credit for her success.

"Ya want to teach us. That Mistah Yorushh wants to teach us too. Ah've had more than one trainer and coach at the same time. And yeah, learned some on mah own, too." She gave Roach a nod, though the huge girl had no idea how to go about learning about MAGIC on her own. She didn't think she'd find much on YouTube, nothing real, anyway. "Do we all hafta pick just you or t'other? Can't we learn from you both?"

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Clairborn's face takes on a stony visage of seriousness as he addresses Jo. "You are misunderstanding me Ms. Johanson. This isn't about what or how you learn, or even if you want to not pursue it at all. This is about how you get used.

 

The fae is going to try to trap you. When i say there is a cost he will extract I'm not talking about money. it will be something irretrievable.

Time.

 

How your life unfolds.

 

Your Soul.

 

If you can't outsmart him, he will at best destroy you, at worst own you."

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Hank looked at Warren, and nodded.   "This is going to sound impertinent, and ungrateful, but at this point, I think it's on  all our minds.  What would you ask of us, if we chose to learn from you?   Your time, like ours, doesn't come for Free, and I admit, I lean more towards learning from you than a fae, but I'd rather hear the costs up front."

There were probably better ways to ask that, but it was in Hank's nature to be open and honest, and he didn't see another way to ask that.  It was his hope that Warren wouldn't be offended by the question, which he did feel was reasonable.

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Warren Clairborn chuckled and his grin, if possible, grew wider. "Actually, my time is free, like I said i write historical novels, requires a lot of research. Me, being old fashioned I like to do my research in person, so , to that end, I became a master of time and space magic. It's what you are experiencing right now.

 

As for your question. I suppose what I get out of it is satisfaction in knowing that I will have given a promising group of young mages the knowledge and hopefully the reasoning as to why they should take one path over another. And showing them those paths." 

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Hank smiled.   There was of course a part of him that was suspicious, but, he was far more inclined to trust Mr.Clairborn, than a Fae they met in the woods.  Of course, he knew the others might think differently.   Roach almost certainly did, and he expected her to say she didn't trust either of them.   Still.

"Sounds pretty great to me.  Still, that's only my take."   he looked to his friends, waiting to hear what they said.

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