Chapter 2.12 A Call to Bravery

It has been way too long since I posted anything. There is no one thing I could use as an excuse. A bunch of little things just kept adding up and snowballing into something big.

But today is my birthday, which is my first full day off in a very long time. So, as a birthday present to all of you here is a new, long awaited, chapter.

As always, have a great day or night depending on when you are reading this!

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May was on the phone with the police, while April was on the phone with the bank, and June was on the phone with her boss. They were all trying to come up with the money to pay the ransom. They knew that Ryan and Cindy had the money, but the sisters made a pact not to call the Charmings unless they were all out of options. However, everything stopped as soon as they saw Brandon standing at the front door. The three sisters immediately cornered him each asking a thousand questions a second.

“What happened?” May asked.

“Where is she?” April questioned.

“We have to get her back!” June shouted.

“So, you know about Stella.” Brandon hung his head in shame.

The worried aunts listened to Brandon as he explained everything. He told them about Anastasis hiring his mother to find Stella. And about Maleficent’s plan. And about Stella’s death.

“I am so sorry.” Brandon concluded his confession. “I wish there was something I could have done. I wish I could have been brave, but I am just a stupid coward! I would give anything to go back in time.”

“Maybe there is something you could do after all.” April thought for a moment. She was remembering everything that Fay had originally told her about Stella and the curse. “Stella isn’t really dead.”

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“What are you talking about?” June questioned her sister.

“Don’t you remember?” April explained. “Fay altered the curse. Yes, Anastasis cursed Stella to death, but Fay changed it without Anastasis knowing. Stella isn’t dead, she is only sleeping. She is in a very deep sleep.”

Finally, there was a ray of hope. Brandon knew there was something that he could do after all.

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“Where are we?” Ivy asked. “What is this place?”

Maleficent was quickly growing tired of her daughter’s questioning. Maleficent had just completed the transportation spell, and she wanted to revel in her accomplishment. Maleficent had always had her hand in dark magic, and this was the perfect opportunity to show off what she could do. With a wave of her hand Maleficent transported herself, Ivy, and Stella to a secret location, which took a lot of evil power to pull off. Why couldn’t Ivy just let her mother enjoy this moment?!

“Where are we?” Ivy repeated, this time with more whine in her voice.

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“Where could she have taken Stella?” May thought out loud.

“They couldn’t have gone too far.” June added.

“I know where they are.” Brandon said. He knew his mother’s evil all too well. He knew exactly where they were, and what he had to do to get Stella back.

“There is an old castle not too far from here. It has been in my family for centuries.” Brandon began his explanation. “The reason we don’t live there is that it is riddled with traps. Once you go in, you don’t come out. Most likely my mother placed Stella in the bedroom of the tallest tower on the west end of the castle. You have to defeat every trap to get to it.”

“How did she get Stella there?” April asked skeptically. “And how did she get there so fast?”

“My mother is a witch.” Brandon said flatly. “She uses her dark magic very rarely, but she is very powerful. She is the one who gave Anastasis the original curse in the first place. Luckily, I know how to stop her.”

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Maleficent grabbed Stella’s shoulders, while Ivy took the legs, and hoisted Stella onto the bed.

“We can leave her here until we get our money.” Maleficent explained. Then with another wave of her hand, Maleficent transported Ivy and herself back to their house.

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In most fairy tales when the White Knight rides towards danger in order to save the princess he is usually carrying a sword and shield. He rides a noble steed and charges into battle for victory (and the love of a fair maiden). But this fairy tale is different.

Brandon stood at the front door of his family’s giant castle totally unarmed.   There was no time to gather a sword and shield. They would be useless against is mother’s magic anyway. All Brandon has is his car and his wits.

He looked at the massive castle before him. He could guess that his mother and sister took Stella to the tallest tower on the west side of the castle. All he had to do was battle magical traps of fire, black holes, poisonous darts, and whatever other evils that his mother could come up with. But none of that seemed to matter. Brandon is in love with Stella, and there isn’t anything that he wouldn’t do for her. Without hesitation, Brandon walked towards the giant castle door.

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Brandon took a deep breathe as he made his way towards the drawbridge. But before he stepped onto the bridge he felt the earth shake.  He almost lost his balance when the earth shook again.  He heard a high pitched shriek; he had to cover his ears it was so loud.  From behind the side of the castle emerged a giant purple dragon.

“Where did my mother get a dragon from?” Brandon asked out loud.  He could really use that sword and shield right about now.

The dragon roared again and Brandon could see the smoke coming from it’s nostrils.  He looked around for a shield, a sword, a spear, even a really big rock.  Anything to help him against this monster.  But he found nothing.  Maleficent had made sure that anyone who found this castle wouldn’t stand a chance against her dragon.  The dragon roared again, but for some strange reason Brandon didn’t feel so afraid this time.

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The beast tried to move closer to Brandon, but it couldn’t move very far.  Brandon looked around and noticed that the dragon had a large shackle on it’s back leg.  He followed the short chain to the far end of the courtyard. Brandon realized that this dragon is no real threat. In reality this dragon is just another pawn in Maleficent’s twisted game, just like Brandon was.

“It’s okay,” Brandon spoke softly and calmly to the giant dragon, “I am not going to hurt you.”

The dragon looked apprehensive but let Brandon approach.  Brandon slowly walked up, being careful not to make any sudden moves.  He put his hand out as an offering for the dragon to sniff him, like a dog.  A very very large dog that could squash Brandon with it’s giant paw.  If it didn’t incinerate him first.

“Don’t be afraid,” Brandon spoke when he was right under the beast.  “I am just going to try to remove the chain.”

Brandon examined the shackle around the dragon’s ankle and found that it was held on by a giant  lock that was larger than Brandon’s head.  He looked around for something to pick the lock with. The yard was full of burnt bushes and trees, and not much else.  He made his way back to his car, and in the trunk he found a crowbar and part of a carjack. They were in case of a flat tire, but Brandon may be able to use them to pick the lock. Once the dragon saw Brandon with the weapon it became nervous.  It screeched and blew fire into the air.

“I need to approach with caution,” Brandon realized, “or I may end up as barbecue.”

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he tried calming the beast.  “I want to help you.”

For whatever reason, his words seemed to soothe the animal.  Brandon was able to get at the lock with no protest from the dragon.  And after a few minutes, the lock finally broke off.

“You’re free!” he exclaimed.

For the first time since its capture, the dragon was able to move.  It stretched it’s out wings and Brandon was able to see how massive the animal truly was.  As a thank you it nuzzled it’s head up to Brandon.

“You aren’t a monster at all,” Brandon petted, “you are just a giant teddy bear.”

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Brandon bravely faced each and every obstacle in the castle that his evil mother put in front of him.  As soon as his right foot stepped over the threshold a giant axe flew at him. He only had a split second to jump out of the way. Next came the hallway with poisonous darts shooting from the ceiling. That was followed by a maze of mirrors, a hot lava pit, and several sets of fire traps. Finally he was at the base of the tallest tower.

“I’m almost there.” he thought to himself as he looked up to the top of the tower.

All he had left to do was climb the million steps to the top of the tower and rescue his love from the evil curse.  Without a moment to lose Brandon ran up the stairs of the tower two at a time.  He was almost out of breath by the time he reached Stella’s room.  He cautiously opened the door expecting another one of his mother’s traps, but there was nothing.  The room was windowless and empty save for some candles in the corner and a small bed made of stone which Stella was sleeping on.  She looked so peaceful, so beautiful, Brandon was taken back.

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“I am so sorry for everything,” Brandon knelt by her bedside.  “I am sorry that I deceived you.  I lied to you about my mother and my sister.  But I never lied to you about how I felt about you.”

Brandon took Stella’s hand, “I am sorry for the way I acted.  My feelings for you were tearing me up inside.  I wanted to distance myself from you to protect you.  But the coward in me was falling in love with you, and wanted you around.  The coward has won and look what it cost you.  And there is only one way to make it right.”

Brandon leaned in and gave Stella a soft kiss.  It was their first kiss, and he knew that it would be their last.

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Stella groggily opened her eyes as she woke from her deep sleep.  It was a few seconds later that she realized that she was not in her own room.  That the events of her birthday were not just a horrible nightmare.  And that she was not sleeping in her nice warm bed. Instead she was laying on a cold stone coffin with Brandon, of all people, looking down at her.

“wha…where…what happened?” she asked him, “and where are we?”

Brandon went to stroke her hand, but Stella pulled away.

“I will explain everything,” Brandon replied trying not to show how hurt he was from the rejection. “but right now we have to get out of here.”

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Stella’s legs felt like they were made of spaghetti yet she refused to let Brandon carry her.  It was only after she lost her balance and fell did she let him be used as a crutch.  As promised, Brandon explained everything as they slowly made their way down the steps.  He told her everything from the very beginning, starting with Anastasis coming to Maleficent for the evil curse.  He told her about Anastasis cursing Stella on her first birthday.  Then once Anastasis realized that Stella was gone she sent out spies all over the free world to find her and make sure the curse comes to fruition.

It was not a coincidence that Maleficent was the one to find Stella.  She tracked down Fay, watching and waiting for her to slip up. But Fay was too good and too careful.  It wasn’t until after Fay died that Maleficent began watching other people close to Fay.  She noticed April visit Cindy and Ryan a few times, so Maleficent had her followed to Twinbrook.  Maleficent moved her family there, and forced Ivy and Brandon to befriend the girl living without parents.  After meeting Stella at dinner, Maleficent knew that she was the one they had been looking for.

“And the rest you know.”  Brandon concluded just as they made their way to the bottom of the tower. By that time Stella was able to walk on her own.

“But how are we going to get out of here?” Stella still had a million questions running through her mind, but she would have to wait to ask her aunts.

“We can fly.” Brandon replied as he opened the door to reveal his new pet dragon.

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I just want to give a special thanks and shout out to a few creators. Without out these creations this chapter wouldn’t have been possible. Again, thank you so very much.

Maleficent’s castle was created by Flabaliki

Brandon’s dragon was created by Sil Fantasy

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Chapter 2.11 Too Little Too Late

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The celebration continued at the Season household. The three sisters broke out a bottle of champagne that they have been saving for 18 years.

“We did good ladies.” April said as she passed out the glasses.

“We did damn good.” June corrected.

“I propose a toast.” May raised her glass. “Here’s to us. The best darn aunts in the world.”

“And here is to Fay.” April added. “Who brought this family of ours together.”

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Maleficent and Ivy left Stella still laying on the floor, while they moved their celebration to the dining room. Norman set up a buffet of cakes, tarts, and other deserts for the Crowes to gorge themselves on. Of course no celebration would be complete without the most expensive bottle of champagne to toast with.

“I am going to buy a new car, and a whole new wardrobe for a trip to France.” Maleficent planned what she was going to do with the reward money.

“I think I want to try being a Style Superstar.” Ivy said sharing in her mother’s joy and adding to the shopping spree. “And I also want a trampoline, and I am going to celebrate Christmas like everyday.”

“What about you, Brandon?” Maleficent asked her son. “All this wouldn’t have happened without you?

“Don’t you mean in spite of Brandon?” Ivy added with a sarcastic tone.

Brandon didn’t say anything, although he really wanted to. He wanted more than anything to tell his mother and his sister that he thought they were pure evil. They just killed the sim that he loves, and they don’t care at all. In fact, they are celebrating! He was mustering up the courage to speak up against Ivy as she continued her wish list, but they were interrupted by Maleficent’s cell phone.

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“What do you mean the deal is off?!” Maleficent asked the voice on the other line.

“What is going on?” Ivy asked. She was about to ask another question when Maleficent shushed her.

“I did what you wanted us to do, and now you need to pay up.” Maleficent demanded.

She listened for a few minutes, then the sim on the other line hung up. Maleficent was red in the face. The veins were bulging out of her neck as she threw the phone at the wall in anger.

“What is going on?” Ivy repeated. Her voice was riddled with panic.

“Anastasis isn’t going to be paying us.” Maleficent responded.

“Why not?”

“Why should she? She didn’t want Stella dead yet. She wanted to torment her stupid stepsister first. And now she is mad and won’t be paying us.”

“That is a bunch of bull!” Ivy yelled. She was so angry that she felt compelled to pick up the bottle of champagne and throw it at the wall. The bottle crashed into a million tiny glass pieces right on top of the broken cell phone.

“I can’t believe that I became friends with that stuck up, obnoxious brat for nothing.”

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Brandon couldn’t take it anymore. He hated the way that Maleficent and Ivy were acting so much that it made him sick. First they were happy about killing the sim that he loved. Now all they care about is how they weren’t going to get paid for it. It was too much for him to handle. He grabbed his car keys and headed out the door. To the only place he could think of going.

Brandon drove to the park where he had his first date with Stella. He sat at the same fire pit and thought back to that first date. He was nervous that day because he really liked Stella.

It wasn’t suppose to be like this. The plan was for Ivy and Brandon to get to know a few of the kids at school to try to find who they were looking for. He wasn’t suppose to fall in love, but Brandon couldn’t help his feelings. He fell in love at first sight (before she even knew that he existed). Stella was kind, smart, ambitious. She was beautiful, both inside and out.

But the key word here is was. Thinking of Stella in the past tense made his heart hurt. There were so many times that Brandon wanted to tell Stella everything. He wanted to warn her of his mother’s evil plan. How she couldn’t trust Ivy. To promise to protect Stella if or when Anastasis came after her. More than that he wanted to tell how he truly felt, and to apologize or being a jerk earlier. Brandon yearned to tell Stella how much he admired her determination and passion to become a doctor.   And how much he loved it when her face lit up as she smiled. Then he cursed himself for being a coward. How many opportunities did he have where he could have warned Stella? All of this could have been avoided. Stella would still be alive if Brandon hadn’t been such a coward.

Brandon’s worse fears have come true: he has become just like his father. Brandon was no better than the coward that left him when he was still just a baby. It made him sick to his stomach to think about that.

No, Brandon wouldn’t accept that. He couldn’t, wouldn’t, be a coward forever. There has to be something that he could do, but sitting all alone in the park wasn’t going to change anything.

Brandon swore that, no matter what it took, he would make this right. It might be too late to save Stella, but there must be something he could for her aunts.

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“Don’t you think it is getting late?” April asked as she glanced at her watch.

“Don’t worry sis,” June said, a bit tipsy from the champagne. “Stella probably saw Brandon. They both realized that they are madly in love with each other, and are now making plans for a wedding.”

“I think we should call her.” May suggested. “Just to see where she is.”

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“What are we going to do? What are we going to do?” Ivy kept repeating.

The severity of what they had done was beginning to sink in. Anastasis has negated their deal, and now Maleficent and Ivy are stuck with the consequences.

“What are we going to do?” was all anyone could say.

Maleficent and Ivy went back up to her room to try to get a better handle on the situation at hand. It began felt like the walls of Ivy’s bedroom were closing in on them. Maleficent thought that she would be in France by now, sipping on champagne while a sexy Monsieur massages her feet. Instead she is looking at a dead body while her daughter slowly goes insane. Maleficent tried to come up with a plan when out of nowhere they heard a cell phone ring.

“Well, well, well,” Maleficent picked up the phone. “I think I may have found a way out of this mess.”

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“Who is this?” May demanded to the strange voice on the other end of the phone.

“You shouldn’t be so rude.” the voice reprimanded May. “We have something that you may want.”

“What is going on?” April asked.

May put her phone on speaker so her sisters could hear the conversation.

“Who is this?” June asked with more force.

“Where is Stella?” April questioned.

“I am going to make this short and sweet.” Maleficent demanded. “I have Stella. And if you ever want to see her again, you will follow my directions. You will put $10million of unmarked bills into a large duffle bag. You will put that bag under the giant rock by the sewer dam. Once I know that the money is secure, I will call you back with directions to where you can find Stella.”

“We don’t have that kind of money.” May pleaded. “Please, we just want our niece back.”

“You have 24 hours to get the money.” Maleficent ordered. “Or else you will never see Stella again.”

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Maleficent was proud of her new plan, but Ivy was not convinced.

“What are we going to do with Stella?” Ivy asked. “We can’t just leave her here?”

Maleficent wasn’t worried. She knew exactly what she was doing. “I know of the perfect place to take her”

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