BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories

Started by BlackDragonSlayer, June 24, 2013, 01:57:33 AM

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Have YOU purchased YOUR copy of THE DREAD SOMBER yet?!?

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Halloween Horror Special 2013 part 3
The Tale of Dr. Goode

     Anthony Goode was born and raised an Englishman; he grew up in a small village on the coast of England. Goode always had high aspirations, and because of his wild dreams, he was teased and tormented by all of the other children of the village; one of the "silly" nicknames they gave him was "Knott" Goode, a name which, despire its unsatisfactory implications, stuck with Goode throughout his entire life, and a name he even frequently called himself, perhaps to spite those who once mocked him (or perhaps even out of habit).

     Orphaned by plague, Goode was taken in by an aristocratic couple who had lost their own child to the same plague. He quickly flourished and recieved a marvelous education for the time period; however, despite his adoptive parents' suggestions, he aspired to become a doctor.

     When the Black Plague swept across the land, Goode saw an opportunity to put his education and dreams to good use. He traveled to France and quickly became employed as a plague doctor; given his education, he was, of course, paid highly, but this mattered not to him. For six months, he traveled across the country, visiting small villages and large cities alike. Patients who had miraculously recovered from their illness touted him as the "golden doctor," able to cure any patient he visited... although these patients were but a very small minority of the patients he visited, Goode's reputation spread; every settlement affected by the plague, even the small hamlets, clamored for him to pay a visit to their homes.

     But all was not well even for Doctor Goode; in the midst of his travels, even the "golden doctor" refused to visit places completely swarmed by the plague, developing an irrational fear of death from disease, despite his already risky profession. Once, he opted to completely pass by a town where it was rumored that every inhabitant had contracted the plague, and where lepers roamed the streets. On the road leading to the town, he was accosted by a woman who begged him to heal her husband and two children: he merely drove her off with a stick, continuing on his way. Not too long after, Goode was stopped in his tracks before he could return to Paris, afflicted by gangrene. His foot was amputated, and after finding a suitable wooden replacement, he eventually retired and ventured back to England with the money he had amassed.

     Many years later, Goode received a letter informing him to travel to a location somewhere near the outskirts of London; the only purpose for the visit given was that there was somebody who wanted to thank him (although he had a general idea of what they wanted to thank him for, he could not guess who wanted to thank him, as the letter was left unsigned). With time to kill, and a suitable purpose (as well as the intent to visit an acquaintance while in London), Goode embarked immediately; upon arriving at the described location, he found a quaint cottage which reminded him of his family's house when he was growing up. Going up to the door, he knocked several times, then waited. It wasn't long before a young woman, perhaps ten-or-so years his junior, answered the door. She greeted him, asking if he was Dr. Goode, and when he replied in the positive, let him inside. She told him that her dying sister wanted to thank him for saving her and her family many years before in France. The woman guided him upstairs to a bedroom; in the bed, Goode saw somebody lying down, covered by sheets. He walked over slowly and began talking to the person. Not hearing a response, he went up to the side of the bed took a good look at who was in there: it was nothing but mounds of hay!

     Goode quickly turned to face the young woman, but, unexpectedly, she was right beside him; as he was turning, she slashed him across the chest, causing him to back up against the wall in pain. Then, she stabbed at him repeatedly, until she was satisfied with the result.

     "You're nothing but a greedy murderer..." she said, as Goode's life faded from him, "making a profit off of death!"

     Unbeknownst to the unfortunate doctor, the woman who had taken revenge on him was the sister of the woman he had turned away during the time of the Black Plague- one of the many inhabitants of the villages he left for dead, not even offering a glimmer of hope for, to save his own life and reputation.

     The date was October thirtieth.


     October twenty-ninth, 2013 started out as an ordinary day for Henrietta Brown; she went to school, complained about her classes to her friends, and moped about the hallways. This was her last year of high school, and that was the one thing she was enthusiastic about on this day. After she got back from lunch break, she was approached by one of her friends who was eagerly holding a strange, faded book in her hands.

     "Hey Henrietta!" she called, "I found that book I was talking about!"

     "What book?" Henrietta responded.

     "That one I was telling you about last week!"

     "You were talking about a lot of books last week..."

     "That one I was worried the library might not have."

     "I don't think that narrows it down much."

     "Just take it!"

     Her friend threw the book at her, and Henrietta caught it, a perplexed look coming across her face as she read the title: "TALES OF HORROR FROM THE MIDDLE AGES." Her friend had apparently put a stick note on the cover that merely read "page 183." When she flipped to the page quickly, she saw a story titled "The Tale of Dr. Goode"; Henrietta was curious about the book, but decided to look at it some more later when she heard the bell ring, and put the book in her backpack...

     After a long school day, she returned home, and emptied her backpack onto her bed. She immediately noticed that something was missing, but dismissed her suspicion, for she had forgotten about the book.


     It was October thirtieth- what began as yet another boring day for Henrietta... until, of course, her parents told her that they would be away until the next day. Then a brilliant idea hit her: she would invite her boyfriend over for a pre-Halloween party, just the two of them. She immediately called him and told him to be over a 6:00... then she waited; a brilliant plot hatched in her head: she would leave the front door ajar, and when Roger came in, she would jump out and scare him! She laughed to herself at petty intelligence of her planned trick...

     ...and she waited... and waited... she called Roger several times, but he didn't answer; eventually, the time neared 11 o'clock, and she doubted that he would ever show up. She sulked on the bed and started to fall asleep, but heard a scratch at the window. She opened the curtains slightly and peeked out; predictably, it was too dark to see outside. She could have sworn that she had turned the outside light on... there was a sudden, loud knock on the door. She went to the foyer, looked out the front window, and opened the door.

     "Hey there! I thought you'd never show up!"

     The figure that stood at the door remained silent. He was dressed as a plague doctor.

     "What's with that silly costume, Roger? I thought you said you were going to bring something SCARY!"

     Again, the figure remained silent.

     "Well come on in, oh silent bird-man!" she laughed as she led the figure inside. After a moment, she spoke again, "All right Roger, I think that's enough... quit the act already!"

     The two were in Henrietta's bedroom, and she closed the door. She approached the figure and took off his mask, cringing a bit when she saw the rotting face stained with small splatters of blood.

     "Wow, you... uh... really went the whole nine yards..."

     She leaned forward to kiss his face; she backed away when she felt how cold his face was... he moved closer, and closer, holding up a rusty meat cleaver...


     "C'mon Roger, you know you'll need to do better than that to trick me! You tried the same thing last year!"

     The two walked out of the bedroom cheerily. Roger's phone rang abruptly.

     "Oh, sorry; I need to take a phone call! I'll be out back!" he told her, then added, "Oh, and I should give this to you as well; it has to be returned to the school library soon!" He tossed the book to her, still with the sticky note on the front page.

     As Roger was talking on the phone outside, Henrietta looked up at the clock: 11:59 PM. She absentmindedly flipped to page 183 in the book and started reading the story... she had almost finished when she heard another knock on the door. She set the book down on a side table, and, again looking out the front window, she opened the door.

     "Lock yourself out Roger?" she said to the figure standing there in moldy plague doctor attire. He stood there, breathing heavily, but otherwise silent. "And take that silly mask off, won't you? It's starting to genuinely give me the creeps! ...and where'd you get that sword from?"

     "Outside. Come."


     And now, we come to the end of the The Tale of Dr. Goode... readers beware, for the Golden Doctor of Death always strikes on Halloween, the day after his death, for the doctor is smart, and knows when to find ignorant victims...

...until next year...
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


I'm very impressed with your work, BDS! A lot of it is extremely well done!
Quote from: NocturneOfShadow on April 28, 2015, 06:48:06 PM
what are you doing stop making nsm a better place by spreading happiness


Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 1

     "Where can I find a job," was the thought that entered young Annie's head. She was only sixteen years old when I met her, but she was far from young on the inside. In this rough world, everybody had to fight to survive- except those rich fools in Coral City- and Annie was no exception. She has never told me why she needed such a large sum of money so desperately, but she has told me of the man who gave her the job, and quite an odd fellow he is.

     Annie was wandering through the dark alleyways in order to cover more ground. Unlike most people would have expected from her, though, she wasn't looking for an ordinary job: her father was an elite soldier in the Desperation Wars, one of the many who were snubbed by their employers and given the short end of the stick- he and his family were left in poverty. Unable to afford much food or medical care, he and his wife eventually wasted away, leaving Annie and her brother, Rick, orphaned, with no family around for a few hundred miles. Before his death, her father had taught her many of his survival and combat skills, in order to give her a literally fighting chance in the world. It was thus in that expertise that she was searching for a job in, which left her a wide selection of rather brutal options: fighting sports, assassinations, personal bodyguard, bouncer, soldier...

     By means unknown to me, she came upon the strange employer whom I have previously mentioned. He seemed equally desperate, and was willing to pay nearly anything in order to retrieve a stolen treasure of his from a band of northern sea pirates. They settled on a sum of 60,000 crystal credits, which was actually more than Annie was hoping for (or so she has said). Then, she quickly prepared for her mission and set out.


     Log 6/18:

     As of today, I am partaking in a job for a man named Isaac Newton II. While I'm not quite certain of his sanity, I am sure that he is willing to pay me a generous amount of money in order to bring him back an item of his that was apparently stolen in transit by some pirates. He seems to be already familiar with the pirates, and fortunately, he says that the band is a rather small one, consisting of no more than eight men, their leader, and their... err... wenches.

     From the time he began speaking to me, our conversation went something like this:

"Excuse me, miss, but did you say you're looking for a job and have considerable combat skills?"

"Yes, I did."

"Well, I was wondering if you would be willing to take a job from me in such a field- although we can negotiate your payment, I must tell you that I am willing to pay a handsome fee, for it will be quite dangerous."

"Of course I would be."

     At this point, we sat down at a table at the tavern we were in. He described to me the job, and then began trailing off into his personal story.

"I've never really been a person of much wealth, although I do have a fair amount- thought not enough to live with the bigwigs- but this treasure is worth more to me than money. It's a family heirloom, and I love my family, the kooks they all are (he chuckled to himself)! My mother and father always told me that they named me Isaac because we were related to Sir Isaac Newton, although I think they were just pulling my leg. I've always wanted to change my name, but I'm afraid it would cause quite a fair bit of controversy if I did so... don't ask why."

     Bored to death by his monologues, I reminded him of the need for negotiations about my payment, and he cried out, loud enough to echo through the tavern: "Oh yes, oh yes! About that..."

     He really meant that his treasure was worth more to him than money: he went above my preferred price because he was afraid I wouldn't have enough incentive to complete the job. 60,000 credits will leave me with about 20,000 left over...


     Shortly after leaving the city, she plotted out a course for her voyage: she would travel mainland much of the time, but drift towards the coast as she reached the northern seas, passing through a few towns at strategic points to resupply. The first such town was Alm, a small market community which was, in fact, an offshoot of a larger city not too far away. This is where she and I met, as Alm was the place I had grown up in for much of my life. As it so happened, I was going to the farmers' market to buy some vegetables, as I was planning to make a stew that night- the same market where Annie was picking up some of her supplies. In fact, we actually bumped into each other! I could not see where I was going, for I had in my hands a large mound of vegetables (I am quite a vegetable and herb fanatic whenever I can find fresh ones), and she was just plain not looking where she was going, and that resulting in me dropping most of my vegetables. She offered to help me take the vegetables back to my house, and I gratefully accepted. When we arrived, she asked if she could stay for the night (for I had told her along the way all about the different kinds of vegetables I had bought, why I needed them, and a few minor details about my situation in life at the time- I was living alone in a small house in the center of town), and afterwards, we had a bit of a conversation, recorded in most of its length below:

"What brings you to our town?" I asked.

"I was hired by a man to retrieve a precious item of his from some pirates on the northern sea. I'm on my way there now."

"Fighting pirates? You look a bit young." Although I don't think I used the right tone when I spoke, she seemed to take particular offense when I said this.

"I'm only sixteen, but don't judge me by my age! You don't look much older than me either!"

"I'm twenty-one, mind you. A whole five years older."

"What are you doing in a town like this?"

"I've lived here for a while. I used to live with my adoptive parents, but things happened, and now I'm here."

     By that time, the stew was ready, and I prepared the rest of the vegetables. We sat down at my small table for dinner, and there was barely enough room for both of our plates. She seemed to enjoy the meal, but was appalled at how I "assaulted the eggplant with my teeth." After we had eaten, I spoke to her again.

"I don't believe we've introduced ourselves yet. My name is Zed. Zed Leppelin."

"My name is Annie Karina."

"Now, earlier, Annie, you mentioned the north seas? I've always wanted to go there, at least once in my life."

"I wouldn't mind if you tagged along, as long as you aren't a burden."

"I think it would be a good adventure for me. I'm a writer by trade, so I can chronicle the quest. I'm not too sure how I'll do against pirates, but I'm resourceful and can usually hold my own in a fight."

Then after she described more of the upcoming mission to me, I drifted off to sleep, and she likely did so shortly after I did. I had offered to let her have the bed for the night, but she was content- and quite happy- to sleep on a pile of pillows on the floor. She was just waking up when I was, for I had to go out to the market to get some ingredients for breakfast.

"I'll be back," I told her, "I'm just going back to the market to buy some more food."

     She snapped up off her pillow pile and almost leapt towards me.

"Sorry if I'm disrupting your schedule, but we don't have time for that. I have a strict plan for the voyage, and if we don't set out now, we won't arrive at our next stop in time! We can grab something quick as we're leaving, like some more of those eggplants, but I don't think you'll have time to actually cook a meal."

     As she said, she got ready quickly (and made me do so), and we left town posthaste. She warned me that we would have a bit of walking to do before she could arrange some other means of transportation, and it was thus that we set out, together, to the northern seas.

     I don't know for how long we traveled, but it was for several days and nights. We passed through a handful of towns, and I kept asking her when we would finally be able to find another way to travel, as she had mentioned to me before. She assured me that it would only be a few more hours, and although it felt like days (I'm not used to walking long distances, as I spend most of my days at a desk), we eventually arrived at a bustling port town, it's multistoried city hall towering above all other buildings, with its crystal-tiled roof shimmering in the sunlight. The sight of it almost made me want to puke.

     Annie guided me along through the crowded streets until we reached a shabby tavern, which she said belonged to her great-uncle Barney. Around the back of the building, there seemed to be a narrow passageway connecting it to another building. Inside, the tavern was fairly empty, bar a few patrons sitting- or, rather, slumping- in the seats along the walls, as the center floor consisted mostly of a raised stage.

"EH BARN-EH! I'm back!" she called into a door behind the bar, which seemed to lead into the kitchen. Not but a few moments later, a burly man walked through. He had auburn hair very similar to Annie's, but otherwise, looked nothing alike: his face was mostly hidden by a graying beard, but his strong, bright eyes shone down on me.

"Well eh there Annie! 'ow are you?" he spoke with a bit of a Scottish accent, muffled slightly by his beard, "An' 'ow's your brother doin'!?"

"We're both doing fine," she replied, "but I need to borrow a horse and cart."

     It was just then that he seemed to notice me standing next to her, as he turned and started intently at me. I would have been disturbed had it not been for his wide and welcoming smile.

"Well 'en, ou's this young chap? A friend o' yours?"

"That's why I need the cart. He's accompanying me to the northern seas, where I found a job. I figured it wouldn't hurt to bring him along."

"The north sea..." he paused for a bit, "Wait a minute! You're goin' up 'ere to fight 'om northern pirates, aren't ye! That crazy pa of yours, teaching ya...!!!"

"Not fight... hopefully... just, er... pay them a little visit. If all goes well, I shouldn't even have to cross paths with them! Just take something from them that isn't theirs', and be on my merry way! I need a cart so I can get through the forest fast enough. And don't be calling my father crazy! Remember what he did for you!"

"Oooh, all right," he relented, "but promise me ye'll be reeeally careful. 'n stay 'ere the night: ya won't make it throu' the forest in time."

     Since there were only a few unoccupied rooms upstairs, I was forced to sleep in with Barney. Or, rather, I would have slept, had he not taken up the whole bed and continually forced me off at odd intervals. At the very least, he could have let me taken in an extra mattress from Annie's room...


     Log 6/21:

     Tomorrow, we set off for the Everspread Forest. I don't doubt that we'll make it through it time, but just in case, I brought a revolver along. It's quite unreliable, but I'd rather try it than tussle with any of the Forest Folk. And if that librarian boy causes me any more trouble, I could always threaten him with it. Speaking of him, he seems like a bit of a creep. He told me that he'd keep a record of our journey, but all he's written down are a description of me and a poem about Alm and homesickness. I'll give him one thing, though: he's quite an artist. He's drawn several landscape pictures, and one of myself, all of which seem to be drawn from memory (unless he's been staring at me the whole time, in which case he is a creep). Fortunately, he hasn't mentioned vegetables again- I think he's preoccupied with other things, which may or may not necessarily be a good thing.

     Sometimes I wonder if taking Zed along was a good thing, but unless he does something stupid or threatening, I feel that all will go well...

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


The name's Zed.
Zed Leppelin.
I laughed.


Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 2

     At last, I decided to try and sleep in the hall outside, for sleeping in the room was pointless, since Barney's sudden outbursts during the night would likely wake me as well. It seemed like I had just sat down when the sun's early rays shone through the window. I heard Annie stirring, so I began to walk towards the stairs, but when I reached them, I heard her door opening.

"Up so early, and already ready?" her voice was but a whisper.

"Ah, yes, of course. I figured you would want me to wake early."

"Great; you'll actually have some time to eat today!"

     It wasn't long before we set out; as it turned out, the forest wasn't too far away from the city, and so, we began our trip into the depths of the dark forest. Posted in front of the forest was a sign that said "STAY ON THE ROAD." Needless to say, I was a little more than slightly disturbed by the sign.

"Annie, what are the Forest Folk?" I asked, "I've heard some tales about them, but not what they actually are."

"They're mostly just legends," she reassured me, "all there is in this forest are a bunch of bandits and some bears. And maybe an occasional coyote."

     They day dragged on, the forest showed no sign of ending, and I began to lapse into a half-awake state. To keep myself fully awake, I began talking. I don't remember what I started talking about, but eventually I came back to talking about myself.

"My mother died when I was young; my father let his life take a turn for the worse, and he abandoned me shortly after," I said, "just on the streets. I found a home at a church, and the priests there educated me for some time, but they never really cared for me. I was just wandering over town, living any way I could, until Mr. and Mrs. Leppelin took me in."

     I paused, and looked at Annie. Without turning her head, she nodded.

"Mr. Leppelin was a scholar: he was very interested in literature, and, as I have told you before, was a writer and publisher, and owned a library- in fact, the only one in Alm and the area around it. He taught me his trade and treated me like a son." I paused for a brief time. "But, after returning from a trip as an ambassador to Coral City, he became very ill, and died: that was only two years ago. Mrs. Leppelin was never the same. She closed the library and sold many of the books; she greatly encouraged me to find my own house and employment, and gave me a small sum of money from Mr. Leppelin's estate so I could do so."

"It seems like today, death is more prevalent than life." Annie spoke, her quiet words almost drowned out by the sound of the horse's hooves against the path.

"I've always been bitter towards my father for abandoning me like that. He never cared for me..." I paused to pull out a long-bladed knife and hold it in front of me, "One of the priests at the church gave me this knife. He told me that he had gotten it from a poor sinner who wanted to kill himself at the altar for his misdeeds... he says he barely talked him out of it. I always used it for whittling wood, but I've thought, that if ever I find my father again..."

"Don't say that!" Annie chided, "He cared for you enough not to leave you with the miserable life he could've given you!"

"He left me in one that wasn't much better."

"I'm sure he had good intentions."

     I looked towards the sun, and saw something that sent a chill through my tired bones: It was setting. When I pointed it out to Annie, she had a look of surprise- and worry- on her face.

"Oh well; looks like we're almost out anyway."

     We rode on in silence for longer and longer. At this point, I finally began to succumb to my tiredness, and closed my eyes, for what I told myself would just be a short rest... I don't know how long I slept, but I was awoken by a sharp shove from Annie which nearly sent me over the edge of the cart.

"HEY! Don't touch me like that!"

"Oh, oh, uh... I'm sorry. I must've been sleeping: I actually didn't get that much sleep last night."

     She rolled her eyes and went back to staring at the looming path still in front of us.

"Are we almost out yet?" I asked, "The sun must've set hours ago."

"Almost there, I'm sure."

     I looked to my right, into the trees that spread forever far into the great beyond at the edge of the path. I saw several pairs of light green eyes, crawling along at roughly the same speed we were going. A quick look to the left resulted in the same thing.

"Uh... Annie...?" I pointed out the eyes amongst the trees. "I don't think that those are bandits, bears, or coyotes. None of those have bright green eyes."

She cursed under her breath, and then spoke to me in a whisper. "As long as we don't make much noise, they won't come any closer." She pulled out a revolver from her pack behind her. "I have this just in case."

     Every few minutes, I kept looking left and right nervously: the eyes seemed to be coming closer and closer, until I swore I saw a strange-looking claw reach towards the path. At that point, there was a noise: it sounded as if something was grating against the path from behind us. I quickly looked behind me. I had to do a double-take when I saw what it was.

"And now we have another problem," I whispered, "There's somebody following us on a horse. He's within throwing distance, and he's approaching us fast."

     Despite what I said, the man in the black cloak on the black horse stayed at a fairly constant distance from us. Every time the green eyes of the Forest Folk came closer, he would charge forward a bit, grating his horse's hooves into the path, making the noise I had previously heard. Finally, we reached the end of the forest, at which point Annie sent our cart reeling forward at top speed, getting as far away from the forest and that mysterious man as possible.

     The terrain of this part of the continent look quite different than that of the south. There was a thin layer of snow coating the ground, although it was not snowing at that time, and there were mountains on two sides of us. Overall, the vegetation was sparse, and one could even see a few small animals running across the fields of snow. It wasn't long before we made it to the next stop, a small villages with quite a few greenhouses along its western border.

"Well," Annie told me, "there's probably only a few hours 'til sunrise, but we'd best get a bit of sleep before that time. I had hoped we'd be here earlier, but it seems I made a little miscalculation."


     Log 6/22:

     While Zed was sleeping, I asked some of the villagers about pirate attacks in the area; they readily gave me the information I wanted: there was just an attack a few days ago a few miles north of here, in the same general area as the place where Newton's treasure was stolen. It seems the band I'm looking for is one known as the "Rainbow Red" pirates because of their bizarre clothes and a taste for blood. They're based in a region slightly northwest of here, which means we'll be able to cut down on traveling across the whole coast.

     The incident in the forest brings about a few questions to my mind. First of all, who was that strange man following us? Why didn't he follow us out of the forest? What was he doing there in the first place? Was he intentionally protecting us?

     Addendum to log, 6/22:

     I have three plans to enter the pirates' stronghold: Sneak in and get out before they notice me, dress as a servant and get out before they notice me, and/or stealthily kill off the pirates one by one until it's safe to enter. All of those are in increasing order of desperation.


"We're getting closer," Annie said, "their little den must be somewhere around here!"

     We had already passed through another village after the greenhouse village (I don't recall hearing its name), and it seemed as if we were ahead of schedule on the mission, as Annie had apparently found a shortcut. The land we traveled over was much the same as when we first reached the north, except a bit more mountainous: although the path stayed fairly flat, steep hills lined the path, and stretched into the distance until the eventually sprouted into tall mountains, their caps coated in snow. The longer we traveled, the more I could see the faraway sea coming closer.

I observed the scenery for some time until Annie called out "Alright; I think we've traveled far enough. From here on, we'll go on foot- it's probably safer that way."

     She tied to horse to a poor excuse of a tree, and we got off and began walking.

"How will we know when we've found the pirates' lair?" I asked.

"It's a fairly large building, or so I'm told. As long as we know what we're looking for, we should be able to find it." she paused slightly, "Getting in is the hard part."

     Not much longer after, some trees began to pop out along the mountainside. We traveled among them, thinking that, even though they were few and far between, they would give us some form of cover if we needed them.

     Just then, we heard a crunch of fallen leaves. Annie pushed me behind a tree, and looked around to see what had caused the disturbance.

"Pirates," she muttered, "three of them... let's see if we can go around that way (she pointed to the right) without being seen."

     We slowly made our way from tree to tree, going along completely undetected, until a small pile of snow from on top of one of the trees fell down and hit us on the head.

"MMUMPH!" I cried out, surprised by the snow.

"What was that?" I could hear in the distance.

"Run," Annie whispered to me, so I did. I ran until I couldn't run any more, and that was when I ran into the side of a building (there was rather thick brush around it, so in my haste, I didn't see it until it was too late). The structure was made of a bluish-green stone, and it looked fairly clean until I saw that there was moss in the cracks between the bricks.

     I turned around to see where Annie was, but just then, she ran into me, sending us both toppling to the ground.

"Get up!" she yelled at me, "get off of me! Run!"

     But her statement was for naught: we heard the pirates coming around. When they came into view, I was surprised most of all by what their were wearing: each had clothing of a specific color, interrupted only by occasional bands of black. One was wearing blue, another orange, and the third purple.

"You're the pirates?" I asked, not thinking what I said, "aren't your clothes a bit too garish to be pirates?"

"Get up an' face te wall!" we followed their instructions, "now turn around! Who ah ye?"

"I am a representative of Isaac Newton II," Annie calmly told them, "I'm here to negotiate the terms for reclaiming an old family heirloom of his. It's not worth much, but it means a lot to him."

"An 'ou's 'e?" the orange pirate said, his sharp voice piercing my ears.

     Looking around quickly, Annie spotted that the blue pirate was wearing a crude wooden cross. Simultaneously, she shifted her foot, covering her dropped revolver in a thin coating of snow.

"He's a priest. Mr. Newton wished for me to take him along as an ambassador of goodwill, in hopes that you would not think we were hostile."

     The three pirates conversed amongst themselves.

"I say we take the both of 'em," the orange pirate strongly asserted.

"But the boy's a priest. We can't harm a priest; I saw we let 'im be and take the girl," the blue pirate stated.

"Yeah George, he's a priest," the purple pirate chuckled, "after all, what harm can 'e do?"

"Arrrrr... a'right. But it te' boss complains, I won't be takin' no blame fer it!"

     Thus, having reached an agreement, the three pirates stated their decision to us (although we had already overheard most of their conversation), and told me to "not go into meddlin' with anything'." They took Annie away, and walked until they were all out of view. I looked up at the wall, judging its height as best I could; it looked inconsistent in many places so, after grabbing the revolver which had fallen in the snow, I reached towards the wall and started climbing... Many of the cracks were wide enough to stick much of my hand in, but others were very thin and had to be grabbed with caution. The wall wasn't too tall, and I eventually made it up. I saw that there was quite a distance between the outer wall and the main compound, and I could see the group of pirates entering the stronghold from its front gate. Climbing down the wall, I ran straight ahead until I reached the wall.

     Although this building was the same color as the outer wall, it looked to be better built, and had less moss on it. Spaced every ten feet or so on the bottom of the building were groups of iron bars that I presumed served as basement windows (this seemed to be true because all the rooms I looked into were below me); I searched in and out of rooms until I found what I was looking for- a meeting room of sorts for the pirates. All of them were gathered there: the orange, blue, and purple ones, a yellow one, a green one, an indigo one, and even a white one- they seemed to be waiting for something. I could see Annie: she was kneeling, facing the wall directly opposite of me.

     The door slammed opened flamboyantly, and a pirate dressed in red came through. I could tell he was the leader because of both his antics and the unique hat he was wearing... and the way he commanded the other pirates.

"Where's the prisoner?" he shouted to the room, apparently unaware that he was standing right next to her.

"She's right o'er 'ere, sir," said the orange pirate, "she says that she's 'ere on account o' some Fig Newton feller. Says we raided one o' 'is ships an' stole an heirloom o' 'is."

"Aaah, yes. That blasted chest. I can't seem ta gettit open. But I will someday!" he heartily laughed a generic pirate laugh. "Ah... well... let's send Mr. Figgy a message: that we pirates won't give up so easily... an' I think that the best way to do this would be to send a corpse his way, dontcha? Mr. Wythers, do ye have the Balrog's Fury ready?"

"Ay; yes sir," the orange pirate (who, I assume, was named George Wythers) smiled sadistically. I have a feeling that he was high up in the chain of command, if not the second-in-command.

"I... I promise not to mess with you again if you let me go," Annie said.

"Ahh, don't try and evoke sympathy from me, missy. Ye shoulda thought about that before ye thought to mess with us."

"Are you going to kill me?"

"Yea, but not before you suffer. There's a reason they call me the Rouge Rogue... Mr. Wythers?"

     The pirate leader was handed a nightmarish scourge that was lined with long whip ends and long, thin, sharp chains. I instantly became lightheaded. Blood-curdling screams soon blasted into my ears, and a wave of nausea overcame me as I witnessed the effects of the evil weapon. I crawled a little bit away from the window to avoid throwing up into it. In a way, I felt bad about not being able to do anything, but in another way, I felt glad that I was not the recipient.

     After some time, the noise faded, but my head was still spinning. I went over to the window again, and saw that the captain and most of the pirates were gone- only the orange and white ones remained. Annie was slumped over on the ground, motionless.

"Cap'n said we could play around with 'er a bit, as long as we leave 'er conscious," the orange pirate said to the other.

"She's already barely that," said another voice in the room that came from neither of the pirates, "I say we take her directly to the holding area. Then the captain can do whatever he wants."

     The man walked forward: although his back was turned to me, I could see that he was a tall, imposing man. He was dressed in all black, and actually looked quite menacing.

"But cap'n said..." the white pirate chimed in, his voice a bit squeaky compared to the other two.

"I'm in charge when the captain isn't around; remember that!" the black pirate yelled at him.

     The black pirate walked over to a table and grabbed a cudgel; he walked over to Annie, and, to my horror, hit her with it over her head.

"There. Now she's unconscious. Won't you two mindless brutes take her to the cell now? And don't do anything other than that; you're going to kill her before the captain has a chance to."

     I felt a strange chill around me, and I looked up at the sky. I stood up, but immediately fell back down...


     Log 6/24:

     As I am writing this, I am in a cell inside the pirates' lair. My head aches, my body aches, and my soul aches. I don't know what else they did to me while I was unconscious, but whatever they did, they will pay for it. While many would wish for death in a time like this, I wish for revenge, if ever I am able to get out...

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 3

     I lay shaking in the cold; I didn't know how long it had been since Annie had been captured, but I hoped it wasn't too late- she had given me a chance to carry the mission to completion, and I intended to infiltrate the pirate base and save her. In order to do so, I looked around the iron bars of the windows, going back and forth between them and searching for a loose bar, a gap that was a little bit too wide- anything I could find to get in. My frantic search was finally over when I found one bar completely missing on a room's window on the other side of the main gate. Barely fitting in, I managed to slip through, and landed on the ground with a thud; the drop was a bit larger than I had expected, but I just hoped that nobody heard me.

     I opened the door, and looked out and around. Fortunately, nobody was there, so I went out. I thought to myself, wondering whether the cells were upstairs or downstairs. I walked along the hall quietly, peaking up and down staircase after staircase, but found nothing of interest: a kitchen (filled with meat), what looked like a powder room, and a guard tower with no guards in it.

     I went back to the room I had come from, and went in the opposite direction this time: surely I would be able to cover much of the compound without alerting the pirates. More staircases I searched, until I finally heard an interesting noise: the sound of light snoring. I quickly found the door it was coming from, and carefully opened it. At last I had found the dungeon! The pirate on guard (the white one) was lying partially on a table on which the keys laid on the edge of; I considered killing the man then and there, but instead, I carefully snatched up the keys and walked towards the cell at the end. Inside, Annie lay, scarred, bruised, and beaten, scrawling on a wrinkled piece of paper with some charcoal. In addition to her other injuries, she also had some of her hair torn out and a cut on her face.

     I unlocked the door, opened it, and motioned Annie outside; I tossed her my coat, for her shirt had been torn off prior.

"Let's get out of here, now!" I said quietly.

"I still have to find the heirloom," she said.

"We can come back for that later; now, we just have to get out!"

     I turned around and came face to face with the white pirate, who was wide awake.

"Well looky-looky here: it's 'at priest boy. Georgie told me ah-bot you. Said 'e was gonna find you an' kill ya when 'e got the chance, just to sprite Arnold. Now, boy, get innat cell, afore I..."

     Annie had stepped around me and clocked him in the eye, sending him stumbling into the ground; she rushed forward and threw her knee straight into his chest, sending him all the way to the ground.

"One down, eight more to go."

     We scoured the compound until we found the captain's quarters; the yellow pirate was standing guard, but he was disposed of in the same way as the white one, except by a surprise attack from behind.

"Now you'll have to show me whether you can really hold your own," Annie told me as she pushed the door open.

     Inside were several pirates: the orange, green, and indigo ones were there, with the captain behind them, but the blue, black, and purple ones were not to be seen anywhere. They all looked rather surprised to see us.

"Well then!" the captain cried out, "looks like the mouse got out of the cage. But now yer into the trap! Get 'em, boys!"

     The captain just stood there as his men charged at us. Annie and I switched back and forth between fighting them; at first, Wythers and the indigo pirate focused on Annie, while the green one, a strong but short man, tackled me. We wrestled on the ground for a bit until I managed to push him off and into the man wearing indigo. This brawling continued for some time, until the blue, black, and purple pirates finally showed up to the party, a bit late. Now completely outnumbered, we fought even more fiercely. Arnold the blue pirate came ramming at me, screaming "YOU AIN'T NO SHEPHERD!" I felt bad about it, but I whacked him out of the way and to the ground.

     Annie was being attacked by the black, green, and indigo pirates, so I rushed over to help her, getting out the revolver, but Wythers grabbed me by my shoulders, throwing me towards the wall; I raised the gun and shot him. With him being no trouble to us anymore, I went back over to help Annie, and shot at the black pirate. The gun went "click" and nothing happened- a misfire. I expected for him to immediately attack me, but to my surprise, he merely looked up at me- he had a haunting face, not only horribly scarred, but also giving an expression of a troubled past (in a way, his face had a solemnity about it like mine). Stunned, I backed away, and he ran from the room and out the door. By the time these events were finished, Annie had already knocked out the indigo pirate, and was in the process of beating the green pirate to a pulp.

     I turned around suddenly, and saw the captain, sword raised; I put my arm up just in time to avoid him slashing into my face, but my arm was still hurt. I fell backwards, but as he came at me to strike again, I kicked him the stomach; with my good arm, I fired the gun again. "Click." I scrambled to get up, and twisted around to see Annie fighting the purple pirate, who also had a sword.

"Use it as a club!" I called out as I threw it at her.

     I misjudged where I threw it, however, and it hit the pirate on his head, temporarily stunning him. Annie reached out to punch him, and sent him rocketing back into and over the captain's desk, his sword dropped in front of it. She picked it up and threw it to me, just in time to block another slash from the captain. We dueled for a bit, until I finally called out to Annie for help. She ran over, holding a small wooden box in her hands, and raised it to whack him with. From the corner of his eye, the captain saw her, and turned to slash at her; his sword hit the box, cracking the box, but causing the sword to become stuck. With that distraction, I punched the captain twice, knocking him out cold.

"Perhaps you were right, deciding to go for the treasure," I said, "you recovered quicker than I expected."

"You know, I'm a bit curious to see what's inside here..." she broke open the crumbling chest and laid its contents on the desk.

     Inside the chest were a few bamboo rods, a piece that looked like the end of a shovel, and a faded booklet. I picked the booklet up and scanned it.

"It's... it's..." I stammered, "...a thing that goes doink. With a small golden apple keychain, that's not even here."

     She broke into an intense rant about how her employer had more money than brains.


     Log 6/25:

     Zed and I are on our way back home; he insisted on accompanying me all the way back, but I told him I would be fine, and that he could stay in Alm when we get there. Perhaps I misjudged him; he's not a normal person, but he's certainly not a creep.

     We intended to capture the Rouge Rogue and bring him back to Newton as an extra gift of sorts, but he must have hightailed it out of there while we were gawking at Newton's "heirloom." I was originally mad at Newton for being willing to put somebody's life on the line for such a silly little thing, but then again, if he didn't, I don't know how I would've been able to get the money so quickly. Perhaps if he ever offers me a job again, I'll exploit him more. Definitely a consideration.


     The rest of the journey was uneventful, which, after all that happened, was a great thing. Annie went back home to reclaim her money, but before that, we celebrated over a bowl of squash soup at my house... and she actually enjoyed it!

     That being said, it's been six months since the journey, and ever since then, I've been writing feverishly so I don't forget all the details (since I captured most of it with pictures and short sentences). Oddly enough, I haven't heard from Annie at all except for a single letter sent a month after we got back. In it was enclosed 10,000 crystal credits and a note expressing her immense thanks, and a mention that she's found employment as a private courier. I looked on the front of the letter to see where it was sent from, but I only saw a barcode address, which I found interesting, because barcode addresses are only used in Coral City.

     Upon researching further, I found that that particular barcode was used for Ridgemont Hospital... odd. What was Annie doing at a hospital in Coral City?

...for now...
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 1

     It was a grand total of eight months after the end of our first adventure before I saw Annie again. But when the time came, I knew she would come even before she sent the letter announcing her intent to go on another quest. Ever since she left, I was plagued by strange nightmares- usually nothing more vivid than a quick flash of something horrible, a mysterious thing I knew not what, but that I innately knew to fear. Every month that passed, the nightmares became longer and longer, until I could finally make out a scene: a burning house in Alm. My house.

     These nightmares continued on as such for the near entirety of the time period of eight months: I never thought they would end. Then, these horrid visions of the night ended in an abrupt climax of terror; finally, I was able to make out the dream in its entirety, to ponder its message, but still never understand it. In the dream, I was standing in my house, which was on fire, but was merely a spark among the entire community, all of it burning in a brilliantly bright fire. I didn't know what I was doing there, or why I was merely standing there, ever motionless, but I felt complete, as if the mission- the final goal- of my life had been accomplished, as if I were a fulfilled being. Then, Annie approached from the doorway, and called to me.

"Zed!" she said, "Zed! Come with me; it doesn't have to end this way! ZED!"

     All else of what she said was muffled, but I believed that this singular sentence was all that was necessary for me to hear. Then, finally, the whole setting faded to black, and I heard a chilling voice. It sounded like my own voice, but only if I were a demonic monster.

"Where do you see yourself in three years, Zed? What will you become?"

     From this final nightmare, I awoke, startled, and dripping sweat, despite it being rather cold in the room. As soon as I got my bearings, I grabbed a writing instrument and the nearest paper and wrote madly on it, not knowing or caring what I wrote, but sensing that I was, in fact, writing something coherent (and hoping that I wasn't truly going mad). At the end of this frenzied scribbling, I was once more afflicted with tiredness, and collapsed back on my bed.

     In the morning, not long after the sun had risen, I awoke, nearly forgetting about this earlier incident. It was only when I noticed the paper falling off of me that I remembered what had occurred- thus, I reached over to pick up the paper and see what I had written. "ANNIE WILL BE HERE BY THE END OF THE WEEK," was written, in sloppy handwriting, but distinctively my handwriting nonetheless. An odd thing to write, I thought, but the week was only beginning, so that gave her a few days to get here. Not that I believed what I had written at first, though. Really, I didn't... at first... until I went outside and checked my mailbox. In my mail, I found another letter with a barcode address; upon close inspection, the barcode was different from the previous letter I had gotten from Annie, but it was still clear that they came from the same place: Coral City, where the elite of the world reside. I recalled what she had said in that letter, and wondered how she was doing; that did not distract me long, however, as I was eager to open the letter. Inside was an oddly expected message:

"Dear Zed:

     I am writing you to inform you that I will be dropping by your house by the end of the week; I have some unfinished business to attend to, but I should be on time. Be prepared to embark on another journey, and expect to leave at night."

     An odd smile overtook my face. At the time, I never understood how I predicted her arrival, and now, it still perplexes me, as nothing similar has happened since. A weird incident, I dismissed it as... besides, at the time, I could not be bothered to trouble myself with such worrisome thoughts. After all, I was going on another adventure!


     A few days later, Annie arrived. At the time, I was just sitting around reading a book- it was a few hours after sunset, so I didn't have too many errands during that time. A sudden tap on the door broke my concentration. As if to assure me that I had not merely heard an ordinary noise, there was another tap not long after that. I opened the door and was greeted by the sight of Annie standing there; she look almost exactly as I remembered her, although somehow, she looked older (perhaps it was the makeup slathered on her face?), and her clothes- a pastel blue skirt with a pastel pink vest over a white shirt, the unmistakable uniform of a courier- were neater and cleaner than the clothes I had last seen her in; her hair, too, was spotless, and was in an organized French braid. In a way, it made me slightly uneasy to look at her, a practical replica of the people who lived in the lavish Coral City.

"Well hello there," I said, "and come on in. You'll be stoned if anybody saw you like that out here."

"They still do that here?" she asked, somewhat taken aback.

"Let's just say that the people around here aren't too happy with... people like you... uh, from the crystal city, I mean."

     As she walked in, I noticed she was holding a package under her arm; upon setting it down, she began to tell me about it, and why she had come here in the first place.

"It's from my employer to her brother-in-law; her husband is a world-traveling merchant, and he mailed her some sort of object that he wanted her to send to his brother in the northwest mountains. It is very valuable, I can assure you."

     We both smiled a bit after recalling the outcome of the last adventure.

"Since the northwest mountains extend off of the recorded maps of the continent, I was wondering if you'd come along to act as both a chronicler and a cartographer... as well as helping me as you did last time. I don't know what lies up there, but I'd prefer to have you along for a number of reasons," she paused a bit, "First of all, after a bit of walking, we'll leave on the midnight river barge and sail up the river until we get close enough to finished the journey on foot. I've already prepared for two horses to be left at the barge depot, but I'm not sure how they'll fare as we get closer to the mountains. We can leave either tonight, if you're ready, or tomorrow night."

"I'd be fine with leaving tonight," I said, "I already have most of my things prepared, and I just need to pack a few more things if you want me to be making maps. And some food."

"I already have enough food to take, unless..."

"Vegetables, yes."

     Her face mockingly contorted.

"So, uh, tonight," she said, "I'll be back in a few minutes; I just need to walk around for a bit..."

"Don't get stoned while you're out... stoned to death."


     Log 2/26:

     Meeting Zed again felt weird... it was strange, really. He seemed uncomfortable, and kept rubbing his arm nervously. His face looked worn and tired, but as far as I can tell, he's got plenty of sleep. Perhaps he's troubled by something? I hope my presence isn't irritating or disturbing him- I'd hate to be a burden to him, or, even worse, put him in danger on this trip. He's a very wonderful and invaluable ally.

     On another note, I think going into uncharted regions will be one of the greatest undertakings we will accomplish; I can't imagine anything that would be more exciting than venturing into the unknown! Perhaps going out to sea would take the adventure a step further, but after my last encounter with pirates, I wouldn't want to take such a risk- I've heard that pirates and strange monsters flourish unchecked in the far areas of the world's oceans.


      We left at about 10 o'clock so we would have time to reach the barge, but fortunately (for once), she overcalculated the distance, so we got there more than an hour early. We went to the depot, and she showed me the horses, both of them fine, strong beasts, as well as the crate that contained all the things we would need. However, she kept the package with herself the entire time.

     When it was time to leave, we went to the barge and got on. The captain greeted each passenger after they were on, but stopped us when he saw that Annie was carrying a package.

"No, no mizz," he shook his hands as he spoke, "you gotta put de peck-ege in de hold. I canna let you take it on de deck and in you cabin."

"This is a very important package," she said, as calmly as she could (it was apparent she didn't want to have to deal with such frivolous things), "I must take it with me."

"No," the captain said bluntly, in his strange accent, "you sign the agreement, you listen to de rulesez. Else I not let you on de ship."

"Fine!" she replied, stamping her foot on the wooden deck, "But make sure nothing happens to it! It's very very very valuable and, I assume, delicate!"

"Good mizzy," the way he spoke disturbed me, especially the inflection he took with this sentence, "my men good. They take your box down carefweee."

     We went to the cabin, which was just spacious enough to not be claustrophobic; there was a single bunk bed, and the bathroom area was connected directly to the entrance and sleeping area, separated only by a small wall (but, alas, no door) with peeling wallpaper.

"Hopefully we won't be here too long," I mumbled, but what I said must have gone unheard.

"This is a very... conservative room. Much like the rest of the ship. The bed is fine, but I can't sleep easily while I'm still thinking of the package: I'd hate to have it get damaged," Annie said. Then, she seemed to be speaking to herself, "Maybe I'll go and see if I can get in the hold to check on it every so often."

     She hopped up onto the top bunk and lay back, crossing her arms over her stomach. I didn't feel too tired, so I walked around the room for a bit, as long as I could bear. I finally decided to go over to the sink with my notebook and start writing.

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 2

     After I had wrote a bit about the events of the day (after much frustration due to leaning and writing on the abnormally small counter), I finally began to feel tired, and went to the bed to sleep. As Annie had observed beforehand, the bed was fine, and it troubled me not, but what I worried about was having another nightmare; although I suspected the one I had previously would haunt me no more, earlier, I had felt a little provoked by Annie's appearance, despite my happiness in seeing her again, and was afraid that it would affect me- seeing how much she had changed (this may seem odd given the short time we were together for, but during that time, we really came to know more about one another, as if we had met and known each other long before then) had unnerved me; in a way which I cannot fully describe, it felt strange to see her adopt and embrace the greedy society we despise.

     My own personal troubles and opinions aside, the night passed quickly once I fell asleep; fortunately, unlike I had feared, I had no nightmares. All was going fine until a sudden and quite noisy jolt awakened me during the night- I knew not at what time it was, however- that seemed to come from outside the cabin.

"Hey," I said, in a voice I thought to be loud enough to wake Annie, "did you hear that?"

     I waited for a response, but heard none, and decided to get out and investigate myself; I bumped my head in the process, causing me to look up at the top bunk. It was then that I saw that Annie was not there. I put two and two together and ran outside, throwing the door open with a clang. There, Annie was duking it out with two men who I could instantly see were very thug-like, and were likely thugs (not to draw premature conclusions or anything). I observed that the boat had stopped, a gangplank had been lain down, and in the distance, a group of people were mounted on horses.

     Annie dodged a punch from one man, but was tripped by another, being kicked into the wall. The two ruffians took this opportunity to escape over the gangplank, push it into the water, mount their horses, and flee.

"They took the package, Zed!" she yelled at me, exasperated, "They set us up! That 'captain,' is nothing but a common crook!" She paused to catch her breath. "We have to go after them... wait a minute! The horses; they're still in the hold- they couldn't take them."

     Together, we ran to the hold; when there, she pointed to a crate for me to open while she readied the horses- inside were two guns: a revolver (as far as I could tell, it was the one I had used during our last adventure, but greatly refurbished), and a semi-automatic pistol. I grabbed them and a few boxes of ammo next to them, and went over to Annie, who already got both horses out. We mounted and pounded up to the deck; the ship was still motionless in the water. At high speed, we jumped over the edge of the ship and onto the land. From what we remembered of where the thieves went, we made a quick decision and rushed to the left of the ship. I hoped that we could follow them without getting lost.

     We rode on for a bit longer and were rewarded with definitive tracks- we were on the right trail. We kept following these tracks in the mud until we reached a small side stream branching off of the main- at some places, it wasn't very wide across, but in other places, it was nearly as wide as the river. We rode alongside the stream until the tracks disappeared. That meant that they either went away from the stream, or jumped across it.

"This way Zed; we can't lose them!"

"I think they went across the stream- look: sometimes it's just narrow enough to be able to jump across, although the distance would discourage us from trying. If we could make it, then I'm sure they could, and I'm certain that's the path they would've taken!"

"But if they didn't, all we're doing is losing valuable time! And besides, what if we don't make it?"

     I circled around my horse until I was a fair ways away, and then I turned toward the river and urged the horse forward- as we approached the the riverbank, we leapt over, landing on the other side with a few inches to spare.

"It's safe," I announced, "and I think I see some more tracks over here. Stop your worrying and come over already!"

     After she had jumped over in the same manner as I, we continued following the path. Eventually, we got farther away from the river and came upon some hills. Over their tops, I could see a thin wisp of smoke rising- perhaps a campfire?

"If I'm not mistaken," I said, "then that's likely them up ahead. They seem to have stopped to set up camp; I bet they think they've lost us! We should go carefully up ahead."

     The brush that lay in front of us started to get thicker, until the point where we decided that it would be better to walk the rest of the way. Besides, we said, it wasn't too much father, and it would give us a better element of surprise. Shortly after, we came into view of five jovial men standing around the campfire, flaunting their stolen goods up in the air for nobody but themselves to see. I looked over to my right a bit and saw their horses grazing nearby. They must have, like us, preferred not to take them through the bushes, all the better for us. Without their horses so close to them, they wouldn't be able to escape as quickly.

     We were just about ready to make our way over when we noticed that there was absolutely nothing for cover between us and them but a few patches of grass- they had cleared out everything around their little camp. Slightly hindered, but still determined, we crawled across the field, very slowly, our guns prepared to fire. Despite all of our careful planning, however, we were spotted.

"Ay! Who goes there? Be it an animal o a person?" It was the 'captain' who spoke- I could tell from his voice. His accent was different, for the most part, but some of the ways he pronounced his words seemed similar.

"Look at those two shadows," I could hear somebody else whispering.

"Yes, it's definit'ly a person," someone else said, "or two."

"We can see yew!" the 'captain' yelled again. "Get up, now!"

     We slowly rose until we were somewhat-crouching.

"All right, we give up!" Annie said, "We're coming over!"

"Another victory for the Ballsy Bandits!" a drunken cheer came from the men.

     Annie started snickering, then broke down laughing.

"What kind of a..." she laughed, "what kind of a dumb name is that!" We were now close enough so we could avoid yelling.

"It's our name..." said one of them, dejected.

"I thought it was a good name," said another one.

"You two aren't helping!" their leader said, "Just ignore her!"

"Does every dull-brained all-male outlaw group need to have some sort of silly alliteration in its name? I mean, that's even worse than the 'Rainbow Red' pirates... at least their name makes sense when you think about it!"

"Well our name makes sense too!" they jeered.

"STOP IT ALREADY!" the leader turned his back to us and faced the other four. "Stop paying attention to her! She's just tryin' to make us feel bad- all of yous are great men! And remember who thought of our name, eh? Your great leade..."

     This distraction provided a great opportunity for Annie. She quickly pulled out her pistol and shot him from behind: the others recoiled from the sound. By the time he hit the ground, they had already unholstered their own weapons, and some had started firing. We scurried away to where the brush was more plentiful and provided more places to hide. As we were doing so, we could see that they were moving to their horses, their stolen objects strapped to their backs.

"Aim for their heads," Annie told me, "we don't want to risk damaging anything."

     We had a distinctive advantage from our place amongst the bushes. They were merely firing blindly at us, but we had clear shots at them. Although it was dark outside, we could see them fairly well. We managed to pick off two of them during the time they were walking over, and another one after he had mounted. The final one escaped, however.

"You go over and get the horses," she said, "and I'll check to see if any one them had the package."

     As chance would have it, none of them had the package she was looking for. Now we were forced to pursue the last man. She loaded the pieces of the cargo we had collected onto our horses and mounted. Then, we galloped off after him.


     The man rode further away from the river and in the direction of a clump of trees that could barely be considered anything more than a backyard garden. They weren't much to look at, but they would give him an edge if he reached them before us.

"Faster Zed! We need to catch up!"

     I got out my revolver and shot at him. It would have hit, had he not jumped off and landed in the bushes around the trees. My not-so-carefully aimed bullet hit the horse somewhere around its head, and it crumbled to the ground. As he ran behind a tree, it was our turn to jump off our horses and use them for cover. We exchanged a few shots but inevitably got nowhere. We were at a complete standstill. We tried slowly walking our horses over, but that was tedious and diverted our attention from finding him- if he had more foresight, he probably would have caught on to our tactics and used that opportunity to escape... but he was determined to die valiantly. Or in a ballsy way, one could say.

     After a while, however, his blind shooting payed off, and he hit my horse in its hoof. It reared, nearly knocking me back, and ran off, holding its bad foot in the air all the way. I stumbled to my right and towards Annie. Seeing my predicament, she yelled out to the bandit to distract him. It seems these bandits were of the easily-distracted variety.

"Well, look like we got a genuine horse-hitter on our hands... now tell me... what kind of bandit joins a group called the 'Ballsy Bandits'?" She paused a bit, as if seriously expecting a response.

"I'll tell you! AN-"

     A clumsily-fired shot whizzed by us.

"Over there!" Annie whispered to me, pointing to a shiny gun barrel sticking through the bushes.

     I fired directly at it, and hit the man in his hand. He cried out and dropped the gun. We ran up and tackled him together, beating him repeatedly with our fists and guns. When we had enough of practically bashing his skull in, we searched around for the box. It was lying, undamaged, underneath him.

     We went back over to Annie's horse. Mine had ran off, and left a trail of stuff behind. We didn't bother chasing after it, and just went back to the bandits' camp to get a few of theirs.

"I can only wonder what's so valuable in this box that it couldn't have just been sent by standard shipping," I said, half to myself.

     Annie was clinging onto the box like it was some sort of prized jewel. I had only gotten one clear look at the things that were written on it- one side held a label that read "To: Diggory; From: Elizabeth and Joseph."

     The trip back to the barge was otherwise quiet. Because we didn't want to try and jump the river with our horses having cargo strapped onto their backs, we had to take the long way around, passing by the lake where the stream ended. The sound of the horses' hooves and nighttime animals filled the air. The near-silence was relaxing in a way.

"Y'know... those bandits," Annie said, "they were real intelligent, the lot of them. I'm surprised they even managed to form a plan to rob the ship."

     We got back to the barge shortly after; some of the genuine crew members had gone to a nearby city and recruited a retired captain to finish the trip up the river. Aside from the few that were on the boat, there weren't many capable hands aboard, and thus, after we had sorted through everything below deck, we were asked to help around. Most of the time, though, we just sat around- overall, I felt it was a waste of time given how little we had slept so far, but I couldn't object to the crew's request.

     It was a little past sunset when we reached our stop: from this point on, the river circled around a bit and went farther away from the mountains. This was as close as we were going to get. I was glad that we had the horses with us, so we wouldn't have to walk the entire distance- although we would have to as we climbed the mountain, riding on horseback all of the way up until that point allowed us to conserve energy. Annie got everything ready for our departure from the boat.

"All ready then?" she asked. "Good! Let's go! There's not too much left, and everything so far has gone swimmingly... except for a few interruptions. But that's why we're together, right?"

     I stepped off the boat and let out a deep sigh; I noticed that I could see my breath. Were we already that far north? At this point, I stopped to jot down a few notes while Annie was finishing preparing things. I'm a neat person, but I could never be that organized- she's really worried about doing well on this job.


     Log 2/27:

     Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I'm concerned about the delivery; I'm genuinely considering taking whatever it is we have to deliver out of its package and using the empty box as a decoy: it certainly wouldn't be the strangest thing to do. I'm worried that something will go wrong and we'll be unable to get the package back- that I'll disappoint on my first major delivery.

     I've only slept for about five hours since I left Coral City, and when I have slept, I haven't done so comfortably, but I still feel really energetic and alert. I'll probably collapse eventually if I keep this routine, but as long as I can keep it up, I'll do it.

     We're headed up the mountain soon. I think there's supposed to be a village near here- one of the last inhabited place as you get to the edge of the map. Speaking of which, I wonder what extends beyond this mountain range, and how long it goes on for. We're going to take a little trip to try and map the terrain after the job is done, though, after seeing what's out here, I'm not too sure that we'll be ready to face what's further out. Are there more creatures like those in the forest? I remember those vividly, from what little we saw of them, and I know that it wouldn't be pleasant to get up close and personal with them. We got past those narrowly.

     At least I know what's up ahead on the mountain. There should be no other people on there to stop us, which means that it's only us versus the weather.


     After what seemed like hours, we set up towards the mountain, fully prepared- Annie made that a complete certainty. As she predicted, there was a small village not too far along. We passed through without stopping, except to ask its inhabitants for advice for getting to the top, and where that "Diggory" man is, safely. They directed us to a man known as the Mountain Shaman, a wise old hermit residing close to the village in his own hut- they go to him for advice on the little matters of their lives, and think he sustains himself on the magical energy coming from his staff. A bit of a weird belief, but if he is truly knowledgeable about the mountain, we'll want to at least go and meet with him.

     The Shaman's hut was well-constructed, but still looked as if it could fit in amongst the villagers' own houses. Although a bit cautious about leaving our horses out in the open, we had to do so in order to enter the hut. The inside was meager, but cozy in a way. The man who I presume was the Shaman sat in a chair with its side facing the door. There was a small fire pit in front of him, with a little flame in it. He turned around as if he knew we were coming and spoke to us.

"Ah," he spoke with a grumbly voice with an air of wiseness- or what I perceived as wiseness- "you are different from the others who come here. I can tell you're not from here."

     His face had a distinct quality and echoed with a presence of strength, as if he had been here for a long time, and could easily survive on his own in the wilderness. Immediately, I could sense that he was the real deal.

"Yes, sir," Annie said, quietly- she had the same impression of him as I, "we need to get to the top of the mountain."

"Not many people come here for recreational hiking."

     She was about to interrupt him, but he spoke again.

"You'll have to leave your horses outside. The villagers and I will take good care of them. You can only take what you must up the mountain. The way itself should be easy; just keep climbing straight. There's a little forest as you go up, and there, it starts to get steep. If you find the right path, though, you will not encounter much struggle.

     He got up out of his chair and went to grab firewood from a pile in the corner; he wore a tan parka with a bright white fur lining. In his hand, he held a long wooden staff- at the top of the staff was a dull red gemstone. The stone was large, about the size of my stretched-out hand, and looked as if it had once been cut flawlessly, but somehow worn away at and bent out of shape. Annie took notice of it as well.

"Sir... what's that? On your walking stick?"

"Aaahhhh..." he drew this out for a long time, as if many others had asked this question in the past. "It is a rare type of gemstone from the far, far south of the world. It is a powerful thing, very durable and brilliantly colored... but over the years, it becomes worn out. The people here call it the Heart of Mt. Coldclaw, for when it is new, it radiates an energy that feels as if it comes from the earth itself. Most of those people only know this place as their home- they haven't traveled all across the continent like I have."

     Annie and I stood there, silently, expecting him to elaborate. He, too remained silent.

"Well," he grumbled after some time, "you better get a move on- it isn't getting any earlier while you're just standing here!"

     We went outside and scoured the supplies, taking what was essential and leaving everything else behind... which meant that we ended up leaving most of the things we had taken behind. After this was finished, we began our long trek up the mountain. The walking was tedious, but definitely not as much so as that of our previous adventure; despite the slight incline, I was doing fairly well, as over the past few months, I had resolved to get more physical exercise in the form of walking and jogging.

     Eventually, we got to the forest described by the Shaman. The sun was low in the sky by that time, so I suppose we must have been walking for several hours- the time passed quickly, as Annie and I talked about what each of us had been doing in the previous months. Nonetheless, I was a bit exhausted after the long trip up, so I asked if we could rest at the edge of the forest for a little time. The forest itself wasn't too magnificent- just some evergreens here and there, and maybe a group of them together ever once in a while- but it was a change from the white snow and grey rocks we had seen on the mountain so far.

     Thus, after resting, we started through the little forest. Glancing around, I took in the view- on one side, the sun setting, and on the other side, the moon, already high up in the sky. I breathed in and out, and listened to the noises of nature to help me relax...

     I heard a howl- definitely a wolf. Not too close, though, so that was good. Another howl. That's a little bit closer, I thought. A third howl...

"That's..." I spoke out loud, although I intended to just speak to myself.

     I looked over to my left again. There were two wolves standing a short distance away from us.

"Right... next to us..." I hesitated in my walk, then grabbed Annie by her shoulder. "Stop," I said to her, "there are wolves to our left. We need to proceed quietly if we don't want to alert them."

"I think it's too late," she whispered, handing me the revolver, "look around us."

     She was right. In all directions except in front of and behind us, there were wolves- about eight of them total. There was an extremely small chance that they hadn't noticed us, but if they had, we would have a tough time getting through unscathed, if at all. We seemed to have a terrible experience with forests- there were always some sort of wild creatures attacking us.

"On three, we run," Annie announced... "one... two..."

     We heard a loud yodeling coming from somewhere below; I turned around just in time to see a figure standing on a ledge, waving his arms- in one arm, he had some sort of long stick or weapon of some sort; from this distance, I couldn't really tell.

"Uh... three!" she said.

     Both of us ran away as fast as our legs could take us as the wolves were attracted to the yodeling man; a single wolf decided to stick with us as a target, but I shot two rounds at him (or her?), and it fell back, wounded.

"I think we lost them!" Annie yelled to me.

"Better to keep runnin... oof!" I bumped into something and fell over.

     Annie skidded to a halt and slipped on the snow a bit. I looked up at what- or who, rather- was standing over me; it was a tall, intimidating man. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. He opened his mouth, took a deep breath, and spoke...

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 3

"Well," the man spoke in a rough accent, "a boy 'n a girl up on Mount Inhospitable. I dinnen't expect to see another human soul up 'ere."

     I backed up a bit and leaned up on my elbows.

"I don't bite! Stand up boy!"

     I stood up; Annie walked over, and we both faced him.

"Who... who are you and what are you doing here?" I asked.

"That's better boy- some friendly speech. As for your question, I'm a hunter, and by my name, I'm 'ere to hunt some of them animals- the bears, the coons down the mount n the foxes- just about anything."

"Your name?" Annie asked.

"Ah... now the girl speaks too. My name is Rodgert. Want to know anything else about me?"

"Do you know the way up the mountain?"

"It's my first time this far up the mountain as well. I dun knowwit, but I guess we could figure it out together. Except I'm not intending to head much farther up: I'm just huntin a beast my papi died huntin- somethin the natives know about a'well. A giant fire salamander, they describe it as- say its skin glows brightly against the snow but doesn't melt it, and breathes fire."

"That's certainly an interesting beast," I thought for a moment. "Can we help you in any way?"

     Annie stepped on my foot as if to tell me, "NO! What are you doing!?!?" I nudged her away with my elbow.

"Y'know... that wouldn't be half bad. I could always use another two good hands, and then we could work up the mount toget'a."

"Agreed," I said.

     We set out, following Rodgert- he went slightly ahead, following some tracks that he said were left by the creature.

"Why'd you do that Zed?" Annie chided me, "It's going to take us longer to get up the mountain now!"

"I get a feeling about this man... a somewhat mixed one. We need to be friendly with him; I think he can help us if we do something for him first. And besides, as we saw with the wolves, it's always better to travel with more people in the group."

"Alright then..." she sulked.

     Annie had the package in the pack she was carrying on her back, along with some emergency food. I looked at her, then down at the ground: a thin trail of blood streaked across the snow. Rodgert wasn't just following tracks- he was following blood. He must have already seen this creature we were following- or something like it.

"Rodgert..." I called ahead, "have you actually seen this salamander? Or have you only heard about it?"

"You're right," he said. "I haven't actually seen it... but my papi did. He told me all about it, and he followed it until his death. I know whatever we're followin is something big. Earlier, I'd set out traps for big critters, and this thing was big enough to trigger one of 'em. Either it's a bear or... something else entirely."

"Fair enough."

     We trudged on through the snow. At this point, the mountain curved at an odd incline, and we had to work to keep our footing. I wondered how determined the hunter really was, and how far he'd go to get what he wanted.


     Across the mountain we followed Rodgert, over ledges, both up and down, and through tunnels. We weren't too sure how far we had gone from where we met him, but overall, the terrain stayed very similar. This was a snowy mountain, after all. After a while, the trail of blood thinned out into nothingness, but the tracks stated. After a while, we had traveled far enough to the point where we could see the ocean- the edge of the recorded map. I looked to the right, and saw that the land continued on for some time in that distance. Not endless, I assumed, but very, very far.

"This is about the place," Rodgert said to us. "See them there caves? Those bigguns? There's likely something big in there! Might not be what I'm looking, but big is good. Definitely a start of a fine huntin trip."

     Together, we made our way over to the caves. Annie and I slipped a few times on the rocks on the way down, much to the annoyance of Rodgert, who shook his head. When we got to the cave, we could see a stream of smoke coming from deep within it. Rodgert was practically jumping up and down.

"Any-a you got another gun?" he questioned.

"Sure... Annie, give him your pistol."

     She practically froze in place.

"Well, go on Annie."


"All right then... take this revolver. It's a fairly good gun."

     I handed him the revolver, and he grinned.

"I'll be back, ladies and gents. I hope this in'nt just a campfire or something," he muttered.

     We watched as he crouched and made his way inside.

"What are you doing Zed!" Annie pushed me lightly, catching me unprepared, and nearly making me lose my balance. "You're trusting him too much! He could be an uncivilized brute out to kill us an steal all of our stuff!"

"He appears fine. I'm not sure of his moral fiber, but he seems loyal, given the right circumstances. You're too quick to judge him."

"Too quick? That's some thing to say about me! Isn't that just what you're doing?"

"Well, if I am judging him too quickly, at least I'm not being unfair to him."

"Unfair? It's our lives at stake, Zed!"

"Has being with the rich people made you a snob!?" I said this a bit louder than I intended. Annie was visibly taken aback.

"Is... is that what you think of me? I'm... I'm sorry. I snapped at you too quickly. You're right."

"It's okay; I got a bit too angry as well. I just... don't know. Something's changed since I last met you. I don't know whether it's because you're different from when I knew you last, or because I found out more about you, and you're different than I expected."

"I don't know either Zed," she said somberly.

     She paced around for a bit, reaching down and picking up bits of snow occasionally. I walked in front of the cave, and heard noises inside, like wrestling. So much for those two guns; he must've been a man who liked to brawl.

"Uh, need any help in there!?" I called out into the mouth of the cave."

"NO!" a shout came back. "I. GOT. THIS. ONE... MY! IT'S A FRIKKEN BIG THING!"

     Despite his response, I motioned Annie over, and walked inside. We saw Rodgert wrestling with a large, bright-skinned lizard with radiant scales, and hard spikes protruding from its back, one of which he was grabbing tightly onto. The beast kept trying to shake him off, but one of its feet looked as if it had been caught in a bear trap (then, I remembered, it probably was), and another had been shot several times, giving it only two usable legs to work with. If it hadn't had such giant fangs, I almost would have felt bad for it.

     At last, when he had gotten it tired enough to stop struggling so viciously, he drove a knife into the side of its head. He pulled out the knife and sawed at its head, and then its tail, lifting his bloody trophies up high. He broke into crazed laughter.

"Ah hah ha! That was it alright, and quite a fun fight it put up. Truly a legendary beast; I think there are more of them here- if only..."

"You know," Annie groaned impatiently, "I'd love to go wipe out an entire species in a day, but remember, we have a mountain to climb. We went along with you, and now it's only fair that you come with us."

"True, true. Now, we'll have to make our way back to Mount Coldclaw- I say we've strayed a little from it."

     Thus, we set out back across the path we had traveled. I must say, he was quite a skilled tracker- we were able to get back to the general area around the mountain without any more trouble we had going to the caves. By that time, it was nighttime, and Rodgert insisted on making a camp for the night. We all deserved a rest, he said. I had a positive outlook on the rest of the trip. Why not?


     Log 3/1:

     Zed was right earlier; I was too quick to judge Rodgert. He's not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the most sane, but he's somewhat loyal, as Zed described him as; I guess that's most of the people we encounter, though. The delay on climbing up the mountain was at first unwelcome, but now it's nothing more than an entertaining little diversion. And I've had plenty of experience with those...

     I'm still thinking about what else Zed said earlier- that I'm becoming too much of a snob; that I've spent too much time around the people of Coral City. On one hand, I'm concerned that he's right, but on the other hand, I know that there can be really nice people there. I think all of our perceptions are clouded by what we know about the people or things we are judging: the people of Coral City see everyone on the outside as savages, and they see the people of the upper class as careless and greedy. I wonder if they can't just all make peace and work together as a functioning society.

     The three of us, Zed, Rodgert, and I, have made a camp right now- hopefully a time where I can finally get some good sleep! Just to be careful, I'm going to check on the package again- why not. It never hurts to be too paranoid in a place like this...


     Before we went to sleep, Rodgert offered me some meat he had collected from the salamander; it had a spicy tang to it, fittingly enough. I could tell he was proud of his accomplishment, completing the work of his father. Sure, it wasn't exactly as it had been described- it didn't breathe fire, for one thing- but it was still some monster.

     I looked over to Annie, who was fidgeting with her pack- of course, she pulled out the package, and kept inspecting it, making sure there were no cracks, breaks in the box, or any holes, etcetera. Rodgert caught an eye of it too.

"Hey... what that you got there?" he edged closer.

"It's nothing," she said, "just something we have to deliver."

"That's a very interesting box; can I see it?"

"No. It's very valuable, and it might be delicate."

     Despite Annie's protests, he put his hand out and looked at the box.

"You're from the crystal city, aren't you?"

"Yes, I work there; why were you wondering?"

"It's... not often you see someone from there comin up here. Just not usual."

     He got a strange facial expression and became quiet afterwards. When I thought he had fallen asleep, I began talking to Annie.

"Let me have the box," I stated, "I can take care of it for once: you don't have to put such strain on yourself."

"No, Zed, I'm fine. I've already gotten this far with it, I might as well keep it until the end."

"I thought it would be best to offer. Well, goodnight then."

     She hugged the box tightly and then closed her eyes, something which, to me, looked very uncomfortable. She was stubborn enough to keep the package with her at all times. I looked up at the stars and sighed. It was cold here, but we were close enough to the fire to be fairly warm; we'd have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, I thought to myself...

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 4

     When I awoke, it was still night- or, at least I thought it was at first. Clouds blocked the sky, and snow fell all around us. Wonderful: a snowstorm.

"Rodgert!" as I spoke, I walked over to where I had seen him last, "wake up!"

     I got no response.

"Annie! Wake up!"

     No response either. I walked back over to her; she was still sleeping. I crouched and yelled a bit louder.

"Hey Annie! There's a snowstorm; it's best if we're all awake so we can make a better shelter!"

     She begun to stir.

"What? Snowstorm?" she shook some snow out of her hair.

"Yes. We need to wake Rodgert up so we can formulate a plan of action. It's not exactly good to be climbing up a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm, so I think we should find some materials and make a better shelter. Y'know, so we can wait the storm out."

     She leaped up off the ground, and walked over to Rodgert's sleeping bag.

"Rodgert! I don't know how heavy of a sleeper you are, but you need to wake up, like now! We're in the middle of a snowstorm and we have nothing to defend ourselves from the elements! You need to..." she paused, and turned to face me.

"What is it?" I asked, tensing up.

"Did you notice what I wasn't holding when you woke me up."


"Yeah. So much for Rodgert."

     Annie looked around for any tracks, but anything there was had been already obscured by the falling snow.

"Which way did you think he went, Zed?"

"Annie, it's not good to be going any further in the middle of a snowstorm; we're on a mountain, remember, and in this kind of weather, it's hard to see where we're going!"

"It's better than freezing to death just standing here, isn't it?"

"I'll tell you again, it's better to wait until the storm calms a bit!"

"Fine; I guess I'll just go alone, if that's what you think!"

"It's not a matter of what I think!" I yelled off in the distance as she walked away, up the mountain, "It's a matter of what's best!... hey, wait up!"

     Seeing as there was no way to change her mind, I followed after her.

"You're going to get us killed one of these days! If I even decide to follow you on another risky adventure ever again!"


     I ran through the torrent of snow. It pounded down on my face and nearly blinded me; I stumbled about, but could see Annie just ahead. Then I heard a gunshot.

"Don't come any closer!" it was Rodgert who spoke. "I don't wanna hafta hurt you, but I will! Just just me have what's in the pretty ol' box, and I won't bother you again!"

"What's in there is important! It's not for you!"

     I caught up to Annie; I could see Rodgert's outline through the snowstorm.

"You're walking on thin ice Rodgert!"

"It's just gonna hafta be this way, then?"

     Annie shot at him, but hit the ground. That's uncharacteristic of her.

"All right then!" Rodgert aimed directly at her...


"I meant it literally when you were walking on thin ice."

     The ground shattered beneath Rodgert, and he fell through the opening in the ice. The box was flung up into the air; Annie jumped forward to catch it in time, but missed it. It landed right on the edge of the fissure. She crawled towards it very carefully... and finally grabbed it.

"What a relief!" Annie said, "I almost thought... AAGH!"

"What's wrong!?"

"He grabbed me!"

     I ran over, sliding on the ice. Rodgert was hanging onto the ice with one hand, and holding tight onto Annie's leg with the other.

"Let her go Rodgert! Don't be so spiteful!" I realized that was such a silly thing to say, but I couldn't think of anything else at the time.

     He growled and lowered his hand that was on the ice, and pulled out his gun from its holster.

"No!" I shouted, and charged ahead.

     I felt a pain in my leg, and crumbled onto the ground.

"What a fool I am!" I thought, "He was aiming for me!"

     Seeing me temporarily incapacitated, he precariously reloaded his gun. Annie kicked him, distracting him even more; she kicked him once again, making him lose grip on his gun. There was my chance- I sprung to him, and wrenched his hand away. It was too late, however: our momentum caused the three of us to be dragged down and into the crevasse. Rodgert fell away from us in the air and landed against another, deeper crack. Before he could grab anything else, he dropped down, and into it. We landed on the hard stone directly beneath the fissure. I writhed in pain until I was lying on my back.

"So... ungh... are you alright?" I asked Annie.

"Aside from the fact that we're trapped down here, yes, I'd say I'm alright. And you? It sounded like Rodgert shot you."

"That's exactly what he did- in my leg." I tried to sit up and lean against the wall. "What now?"

"I honestly don't know. The surface is too high up to reach, especially with your hurt leg, and I don't see any other place we can go to from this cave."

"We're just going to starve to death then... or freeze before then. That's wonderful."

     I looked upward; we could reach the ledge...

"Is anything troubling you?" I asked, "Aside from the fact that we're down here?"

"Yes. It's... my birthday tomorrow. I thought we were going to be back by then, so I didn't tell you."

"Urgh..." I shook my head, "I knew we shouldn't have gone out."

     Once more, I glanced at the ledge.

"We're going to get out of here! It doesn't hurt to try; I'll stand underneath the ledge as best as I can, and you can try to jump off my shoulders. You can go get help for me."

     I stood up, cringing as I moved my leg; hobbling over to the wall, I ended up putting my back against it.

"Alright... I'm ready."

     She walked over; right before she climbed on my shoulders, she nodded her head- after she did, I realized that this wasn't going to work: I could barely hold her weight, and was already struggling from the pain.

"I'm going to jump!"

"Please... do that..."

     I heard her gasp, and she tumbled off, pushing me to the ground as well.

"What happened?" I questioned.

     A voice came from above before she could say anything.

"Hello down there- what chance I should find you two here!" It was the Mountain Shaman. "I was on my way up the mountain, and I heard a scuffle. Now, normally, I don't go wandering off in the middle of such a wild storm, but it thought it was important- and it was!"

"You have some way to get us out of here?" I asked.

"By coincidence, I have a rope with me; I'll put it down, and you can climb up."

     Annie insisted that I went first. I struggled up the rope, but managed to get all the way to the top. The Shaman helped me up onto safe ground; Annie was next.

"If you two are still headed up the mountain... you might as well come with me. I'm going there as well."

"Yes, thank you sir," Annie said, "but Zed is injured."

"Come over here then, boy."

     I leaned on him, and he helped me along as I walked.

"I never asked you what you two were here for. It seems rather odd that two young people would just decide to climb up Mt. Coldclaw. Everybody I've known who doesn't live here wants to get as far away as possible."

"We came to delivery this package, sir." She held up the box in her hands.

"Let me see that." Annie hesitated. "Well, just hold it up so I can see it."

     Annie came closer and held the box towards us.

"Turn it over; I want to see the other side."

     He looked over the label.

"I know where this is headed. You better keep it safe until then."

     We suddenly stopped after going a bit further.

"Why did we stop here?" Annie wondered.

"You'll see in just a minute. Help Zed while you're waiting."

     I leaned on Annie as he walked over to a square indentation in the side of the mountain. He fiddled around with something I couldn't see, and there was a hissing noise- a door opened up, surprising both Annie and I.

"In here- I'll explain everything when we're inside."

     We went into the doorway and were awed; inside, we saw a huge column, surrounded by a circular walkway all the way around the hollow cavern. At various points along the walkway were alcoves where technicians worked on strange machines.

"Wow... what it this place...?" Annie stammered.

"To answer your question, this is a climate control facility- the only one on the planet. Aside from the one in Coral City, of course, but that one is on a much smaller scale, and nowhere as impressive as this one. However, I think proper introductions are in order: I am Diggory Jayne, and I believe that package is for me. You must be Annabelle?"

"Why... yes sir. But everybody calls me Annie."

"Very well then. Betty and Joe told me a lot about you, Annie. But what about your friend Zed?"

"I met him a while back; he's a very nice person," she seemed to forget that I was right next to her. "He was shot in the leg by a hunter we met. That's the scuffle you heard.

"Mmrm. Come over here, you two." He brought me over to some sort of flat table. "Get up on this, if you can."

     They both helped me up onto the table. Diggory pressed a button, and some sort of light passed over me.

"It's your lucky day: it missed your bones, but the wound is bleeding a lot. We'll have to get it bandaged." He pressed another button on the control panel. "If I had known what you two were here for, I would've just told you to wait until I was ready to go. I guess it's my fault for not asking: I expected a courier to be here, but I didn't know when."

     A nurse came out of a nearby door; soon, the wound was properly cared for.

"You should be able to walk without too much pain, but I'd let it rest whenever possible. Now, Miss Annie, for the package?" She handed it to him. "The lid's come loose... not much, though."

     He pried the lid off completely, and reached in; out of it, he pulled a bright red gem- the Heart of Mt. Coldclaw.

"Are you ready to see this in action?"

     He took the old gem off of his staff and placed it off to the side- a useless husk- and put the new one in. He walked over to a platform connecting the walkway to the column; when there, he opened a panel, revealing some type of energy core. He poked the gem inside, and tapped the core as if he were stoking a fire; the column came to life with a surge of energy. Below us and all around us was the whirring of machinery, and I could sense that something magnificent was going on. Diggory walked back over to us.

"Come over here now."

     Together, we walked across the circle and to a giant screen that apparently showed the outside- before us, a vast peninsula stretched out. I couldn't see where it ended.

"Before we set up shop on this mountain, that whole place was green. We couldn't have that- we had a vast shipment of polar animals that needed a home here, and the previous climate wasn't cold enough. We don't know what power that gem has, but we're glad for it- we've already gone through four of them, including the one I just tossed. Joe's been all over the world searching for the perfect ones. My job here is to make sure everything runs smoothly, and that involves interfacing with the locals- they think I'm literally a wizard. Ah... but enough about me; after all you two have gone through, I certainly have to ensure you get back in one piece!"


     Log 3/2:

     Despite all that went wrong, in the end, everything turned out fine- we made the delivery and got out alive.

     Mr. Diggory Jayne took us on a hot air balloon ride away from the mountain, and we got to see the rest of the continent. I have yet to see the final results of Zed's writing capacity, but he does marvelous drawings; he decided to make a quick sketch of the land, and his attention to detail is quite literally visible on it- there are islands he drew that I never noticed!

     This time, we decided to bypass the river completely, opting to take a horse cart the rest of the way. Minus a broken wheel axle, the trip back home was completely free from danger. How come we always get in perilous situations while we're the in the middle of a job, and not after it!?!? It's nice that we get a little bit of a break, I suppose...


     Annie departed at the somewhat-halfway point between our homes- Coral City and Alm. I still don't see how she can consider that place her home and be happy about it: just seeing the tips of the city's spires in the distance sends chills down my spine- what they represent, and how they have affected us all, bright smirks gazing down upon us.

     I made Annie promise to keep in touch on a regular basis, and she even suggested meeting next month if she has time off... although I said that we needed to visit a more peaceful place for once, I bet that she already has another daring adventure in mind. Oh well! The more thrills the merrier! It's a rather entertaining concept, living life on the edge for once.

     I'd best get back to writing; I think my potato soup is ready, though, so I must attend to that first. Oh my- now I'm just getting off on a tangent about unimportant things. I'll have to remind myself not to include this last paragraph when I get around to publishing the account of our adventure as a book, whenever that time comes.

...for now...
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


The Retriever part 1

     He could hear himself breathing heavily. His vision of the world around him was getting foggy as his breath clouded the visor of his helmet. It wasn't long before he felt a strange sensation in his chest, as if he were laying down and an elephant were sitting on his chest... or if Petunia were sitting on his chest; that ol' dog was probably still at home with his relatives, hungrily accepting and munching down any little scrap from the table, then proceeding to get sick... the thought made him chuckle to himself, or rather, in his own head- yet, he could barely hear himself think with all the noise: his own breath, the fire of the assault rifle in his hands, and the screaming all around him. So much screaming.

     Despite many thoughts swirling in his head all at once, one statement rose to the top, ultimately pushing everything else down despite how he tried to avoid it: he had failed. It wouldn't be long before he was dead, either.

     He reloaded the rifle, but found no more ammo left. It was time for one last heroic stand, or, more importantly, time for the shotgun. He tossed the empty rifle aside and quickly replaced it; with his free hand, he tore off his helmet- at this point, it was only interfering with him. He was ready to fight, having a fair vantage point at the end of the room, and all his equipment prepared.

     Then, he saw it.


     Footsteps reverberated through the hallway as metal boots made contact with the cold metal walkways that lined this part of the ship; although the floors in the passenger and recreational quarters used some sort of cheap plastic-like material that nobody could pronounce the name of correctly, the designers of this particular ship must have thought it necessary to have fancy metal walkways in the crew sections- for ambiance, possibly, however that mattered. To the man walking through there, the metal walkways worked both for and against him: he could hear whatever was coming, but they could hear him as well, and because he was in a metal exosuit, he assumed his footsteps could be heard throughout all of the hallways, and even through the doors.

     In his hands, he held a hybrid of a wrench and an abnormally large fork- both on the same end. He was using it as a blunt weapon, although usually it had a different purpose than that, of course- a much more important purpose- but occasionally, he still had to use it for what it had been designed.

     The hallway came to an end at a door- one leading to the cargo bay. Since that area had been completely sealed off, and its wall had likely not been penetrated, it would be a good place to search around; perhaps there would even be access to more of the ship from there. The man tried the control panel, but it didn't work... just his luck. He turned the business end of the tool (a very busy thing indeed) toward a notch in the door and fumbled around trying to insert it just right; he preferred using it as a weapon more than a tool, as it was very temperamental when performing its function and left him especially vulnerable to attacks from behind: it took him just a few minutes after his first usage of it to discover that fact.

     Finally, he remembered that he needed to put the key in at a certain odd angle, and eventually wedged it into the hole. Now came the difficult part. Under normal circumstances, whatever electronic devices had been put in the door would instantly recognize the device and initiate an automatic override of whatever security measures had been put into place on the door (and in addition, open the door), but because the power had shut off for all but the most essential tasks and machines on the ship, he had to activate the sensor manually, which involved wriggling the key around with both hands. A majority of the doors he had come across were of the ordinary variety, and could be swung open and closed on hinges (or pushed in the case of sliding doors), but heavier doors such as the one separating him from the cargo bay had to be opened from their respective control panels. In an earlier tour of the ship, he remembered hearing that doors could also be opened by an extensive process carried out on the bridge, or by way of the special technicians' keys, one of which he had in his possession right now.
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


The Retriever part 2

Reserved until after the Halloween Horror Special 2014.
And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Halloween Horror Special 2014 part 1

     Dear friend, I urge you to read the entirety of this letter, and swiftly follow through. I beg you to believe what I am about to say: I am suffering a fate worse than death, and I need you to help me. There are others whom I have contacted, but have done nothing to ease my pain. I NEED YOU TO HELP ME.


     The man's eyes opened abruptly. He knew today was the day. Long ago- he couldn't quite remember if it had been months, or years- he had been known as X-Arm, resident hero of New Chicago City. So long ago, he had retired because- his memory was foggy, maybe because he was tired, or maybe because he chose not to remember- crime in the city had almost entirely vanished after he killed his longtime arch-enemy. He still felt guilty about killing him, but he kept reassuring himself that it was a necessary evil. Since then, however, crime inevitably returned, as the police force fell into disrepair from corrupt politics and careless officers. His innate sense of responsibility had been constantly eating away at him, especially since the string of murders over the past month, and he knew that it was time to make his glorious return.

     He half-rolled out of bed, stretching his legs as he stood up. He looked around the room- his shabby little apartment, or "humble" as he always preferred to call it- and finally made his way to the armoire. Just like to old days, he opened the right door, reached towards the back, turned the dial, and heard the click. He pulled open the secret door and brought out his suit. His suit... painstakingly woven from the finest materials; the armor crafted by hand at the forge... it was as beautiful as he remembered. It was finally time to put it on, once more.


     X-Arm's return was documented on all the biggest newspapers throughout the country. Despite wanting to bask in all the glory, though, by nightfall, he was back to what he did best- beating up criminals on the street. On the news recently, he had heard about a new crime boss with a taste for arson; it was urgent, he decided, that he look into this. It wasn't too long before he came upon a gang of thugs roaming the streets in the "dark parts" of town; after defeating them, he interrogated them individually- only one said anything. They did, indeed, work for this new boss. Their boss's name was Mr. Hyde: the criminal didn't know too much about him, except that he was large and very intimidating (the man who described this, however, was rather short).

     Through the night, X-Arm fervently searched for more clues on this Hyde fellow, but was forced to retire for the night as the sun started rising- despite his super arm-extension powers, he still needed rest!

     X-Arm woke up a little later than usual; there was still enough time to catch the morning news, something he often watched- aside from keeping himself informed on current happenings, he got a sense of reassurance whenever he felt something positive. Most of the stories today, of course, were about him... but the final story grabbed his attention. The headline read: "INDUSTRIAL FIRE AT HERMAN PLANT. TWENTY-FOUR DEAD. SUSPECTED ARSON." He knew it was Hyde's work...


     Many night of scrounging through the city did not yield much information- nothing more than a physical description (or, more accurately, a description of what he wore, as his face was supposedly covered) and the alleged number of followers he had. One night, after long hours weaving in and out of alleyways, X-Arm sat on a roof, pondering all that had happened since his return. His thoughts were interrupted by a smashing noise as a hulking figure came into view, landing on the roof. X-Arm studied it for a brief second, before coming to a realization: it was Hyde! He leapt towards Hyde, tackling him with the ferocity of a wild beast. He extended his arm to grab a brick lying nearby, and raised it to attack, when Hyde spoke:

"Friend, stop!"

     X-Arm was caught off guard, uncertainly holding the brick aloft.

"I believe you have me confused for somebody else," the man's voice sounded somewhat jovial, despite the situation he was currently in. "If I am not mistaken, you are looking for Mr. Hyde?" To this question, X-Arm nodded. "I, too, am looking for him. You see, he is my evil twin. If you'll let me up, I will properly introduce myself!"

     X-Arm got off of him and stood apprehensively.

"My name... is Dr. Jekyll," he said, while bowing gracefully. Long have I been searching to stop Hyde, and, I, knowing of your return, decided to seek you out to aid me, for I am almost entirely certain that you too are searching for Hyde... or am I mistaken?"

"Yes... I want to stop Hyde."

"Excellent! I happen to know where Hyde is stationed. If you are ready, I will lead the way to his headquarters!"

     The two made their way to Hyde's base- an abandoned warehouse, somewhere that, despite being a fairly common choice for a villainous lair, had not yet been searched by X-Arm- and made their plans of how to break in. Eventually, they just decided to storm in from above. They did so, gallantly breaking the windows, gallantly defeating the thugs present, and gallantly confronting Hyde. The evil man looked quite similar to Jekyll, although his clothes were tattered, and his mask twisted in a sinister half-grin. As Hyde called more thugs to the room, Jekyll moved to attack. As their battle raged on, X-Arm found himself, for once, overwhelmed, as minions grabbed and swatted at him from all angles. Just then, he saw Jekyll leap over to his aid, punching the criminals away with his powerful fists.

"You defeated Hyde already?" X-Arm asked, somewhat surprised. He turned, and, unexpectedly, saw Hyde, merely standing smugly at his throne. "B...but...?"

     X-Arm reached out to attack Hyde, but the villain grabbed him by his fists and pounded him against the arm. The hero fell to the ground with a cry of pain.

"Jekyll... do... something!"

     The two men stared at him. After a while, they walked toward each other. When they reached each other, instead of resuming their fight, they began taking off their costumes, dropping their capes, masks, etc. until they wore identical jumpsuits. Then, they swapped clothes, each donning the other's attire- the man who was once Jekyll was now wearing the demented costume of Hyde, and Hyde was indistinguishable from what Jekyll had once been.

"I think it's time we explain something to you... you see, we're what you'd call... visionaries. We aren't really twins- we're more like... clones. Nobody could ever appreciate our genius, so we decided to play a little high-stakes game- have a little fun with our brains. This city is our playground."

"But what does any of this have to do with me?"

"In no uncertain terms, you are a robot. We found you lying broken, forgotten, where you fell twenty years after your legendary battle. We just decided to... fix you up. Having a third party helps keep things... interesting, to say the least. One who conforms to certain standards, but still acts independently- and we can change you however we like, shall the situation require."

"Dear lord! You're crazy! Throwing away thousands of lives for your twisted entertainment! How can you do this?"

"We said it was high-stakes, didn't we?"

"You can't make me do this! I have an o... obligation to the city! I'll kill both of you!"

"I'm afraid you can't do that. We've programmed you to only kill who we allow you to. And before you mention it, you can't destroy yourself either." X-Arm could tell that their grins were widening under their masks.

"Dear lord!" He struggled for words in his disbelief.

"Now, friend... you should go on back to your apartment. You've already had a long day's work, and you need rest for tomorrow. After all, we have lots. Of. Games. To. Play."

"Lots of games... to play," X-Arm nodded, as if suddenly in a trance. "Games."


     Dear friend, I urge you to find me, and destroy me, completely, before I am forced to undertake any more of the madness inflicted to me by these two mad men. You have only read a glimpse of what they have done- the beginnings of a long chain of my living hell. They have made me kill people, do countless terrible things to undermine the city's trust- all things I do not want to do, but cannot not do, because I am programmed to. They have no limit to their sadism- they care not for anything but their own "pleasure." PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME. OH DEAR LORD WHY.

     The rest of the note degrades into incomprehensible scribbling.

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber


Halloween Horror Special 2014 part 2
The Man Who Treads With Death

     Henry Arthur Mathis walked aimlessly through the forest. In his hand, he held a handgun; in his pocket were several bullets- in his other pocket was a switchblade knife. "David," as he preferred to call himself, had had enough with his life. Through his twenty-six years on earth, he had become disillusioned with the world. Just now, he had decided that, if he couldn't kill everybody else, he would kill himself.

     When he was younger, David was constantly tormented by his peers for his unfortunate name. Despite the fact that he was extremely slender- and was anorexic, perhaps as a result of the bullying- he was always insulted by names such as "Hammy," or "Piggy." David was never a very nice child to begin with, and these provocations only gave him more reason to lash out at the other children- at times, he became extremely violent, harming even those who did not bully him.

     David looked at the trees all around him; boredly, he pulled out the knife and hurled it at one of the trees. The knife struck the tree and sent splinters of bark all over the ground. He walked over to pull the knife out. Although it was stuck deep in the tree, with a bit of force, he pulled it out. Suddenly, a mass of branches and leaves, as if from nowhere, was hurled towards him, causing him to thrust his arms up to shield his face. After recovering, he quickly circled around, looking for something that could have thrown the branches at him. In the distance, he heard a loud noise that sounded like a heavy object smashing against a tree. He ran around, trying to pinpoint the direction it came from. Behind one of the trees, he found a thick trail of blood. He looked up, and saw that the tree was damaged and broken, as if something huge had run into it.


     The blood went on for some distance; it followed a fairly straight path except where it could be seen that whatever was bleeding had run into more trees. Whatever it was... it was pretty big. It appeared as if it could fly- or at least jump- but not very well. The sun had set, but David barely noticed- or cared.

     In the distance, David heard a raspy noise that sounded like... a broken organ? The blood went over a hill, and he begun climbing. It was steep, but he was determined to find out what was going on. When he finally reached the top, he saw it: the creature was lying, curled in pain, at the base of a tree just over the hill- it was strange-looking, slightly birdlike, yet appearing to lack wings. It continually cried out, its raspy pipe organ voice emanating softly from it. David felt sorry for it, for a moment. Still, he was cautious, approaching it with his handgun raised. As he got closer, it opened its eyes and looked toward him. Its eyes had a simultaneous look of fear and intimidation. Uncertainly, David reached out one of his hands. Just before he touched it, it swept out with one of its claws, knocking him off his feet. He hit the ground forcefully, but was still conscious. Frantically, he aimed his gun and fired.

     He remembered, too late, that he had forgotten to load the gun. No more than a second later, the creature was on top of him; it raised its claw once more, and struck...


     When he awoke, it was morning once again. His eyes opened slowly, with great effort. David felt a great aching pain through his body- especially in his legs. He groaned as he tried to sit up- he noticed the blood all around him. In his hand, he held a bloody knife; quickly inspecting himself, he found several gashes on his body. He looked behind himself at the trail of blood, seamlessly melding with the blood beneath him. What had happened last night...? Putting aside his original intentions for visiting the forest, David was now more determined than ever to find out what he saw last night- or, what he thought he saw. Had he really seen that strange creature and been attacked by it, or had he merely imagined it as he lay on the ground unconscious?

     Standing up, he looked all around. He was alone- there was no sign that there was anything else here, or that there had ever been. He closed his eyes once more, and took a deep breath... listened to the sounds of the forest... tried clearing his mind...

     He felt drawn in a certain direction; he knew not why, but he felt it was better than nothing. He limped through the forest, slowly meandering to... wherever. This continued for about twenty minutes, when he finally gave up- he was hungry, tired, and just felt like falling over on the ground again. This was all pointless, he thought once more: he was better just lying down and waiting to bleed to death. He sat down, or, more accurately, slumped down on the ground.

     Sitting there for a minute, he felt a chill sweep through him. It wasn't particularly cold here... he just felt... uncomfortable, as if something were nearby, watching him. No, he thought- he couldn't let himself think that. It was already over.

     He looked to his right, somewhat glancing over his shoulder; it was then that he saw the eyes. He scrambled forward with a start, and struggled to turn himself onto his back. It was the same creature as before! He saw it clearly with his eyes! It made a sharp chirping noise, and slinked towards him. Opening its mouth, it released another roar, this time, with near-deafening noise. It slowly raised it claw to attack...

"Wait!" David shouted. He threw his knife aside.

     The creature paused. It put its claw back down on the ground. It gained a look of curiosity in its eyes, as if it understood him.

"You're injured. I can help you."

     It made a gesture like a nod.

"I think... you're a lot like me. You're lost. You're afraid. You're angry."

     It nodded once more.

"Come with me."


     Concealing such a giant creature would not be easy, but David knew a few places where it would fit- one such was near his house. He lived near an old industrial zone- mostly abandoned now- and there were several giant factories and warehouses that would make ideal housing for it. One warehouse in particular stood out for him: nobody ever went there, except a few homeless people every so often- and David felt they would make good meals for the creature. Getting it there wouldn't be too much trouble: not many people went out at night- or even during the day, given how relatively few people lived in the area to begin with.

     After going home to take care of his own injuries, David gathered what few medical supplies he had and prepared to take the creature over to the warehouse. The pair moved swiftly, reaching the warehouse faster than David had expected. Even when injured, the creature could move quickly.

     David sat for a bit in the warehouse, tending to the creature's wounds and speaking to it. It definitely understood him, and even sympathized with him. The more time he spent with it, the more he felt himself bonding with it, both emotionally and... mentally, as if it were speaking to him through his mind. His violent impulses were amplified- now, more than ever, he felt compelled to do something about... the problem. He knew not where the creature came from, or even what it was, but he didn't care. It was time to act. Now, he could do something. They could.

"I think I'll call you... Angel."

And the moral of the story: Quit while you're a head.

Fakemon Dex
NSM Sprite Thread
Story Thread
The Dread Somber