Chapter 3.27 Rescuing Beauty

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I ran into Mira’s home calling her name, desperately hoping that she would be there, but all I got in return was silence. I searched, carefully going from room to room, with the feeble hope that maybe there might be a clue as to where Alcander might have taken her. Unfortunately, whoever had been here before me had left everything in such disarray that any feeble hope of finding anything still intact was gone in an instant.

Each room looked like it had been demolished by a tornado.  Everything was a disheveled mess. Books were torn apart with their ripped out pages scattered about. Broken elixir bottles littered the floor. So much so that I had to take special precaution where I walked to ensure that I would not to step on any broken glass. Then I saw the piano. It looked like someone took a sledgehammer to it.

I stepped back outside to plan my next move. Not sure of what else to do I started to call Camilla. Maybe she could talk to Thera and try to get more information. But as I was reaching for my phone something caught my ear.

It was a faint cry. Too soft for the average person to hear, but my beastly supersonic hearing could tell that it was coming from Euclid’s workshop in the basement. At first I thought that it might be one of Mira’s cats, but the cry sounded too human.

When I got down to the basement I saw Renatta huddled in the corner, hiding behind some boxes, crying softly.

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“Are you hurt?” I gently asked as I approached the poor girl. I spoke calmly and moved very slowly as to not startle her. She didn’t look physically beaten up, just swollen from crying.

Before I could ask her what had happened Renatta told me, “At first I was not really surprised when Mira didn’t come over.  I just assumed that she was running late because she was busy taking care of her dad. But after an hour with no word I started to get nervous. Called but no answer. This is how I found Mira’s home. I didn’t know what to do, so I sat down here and cried.  Don’t know for how long.  And just a few minutes ago I was sent this,”

Renatta handed me her phone and continued her sobbing. The text from Mira read:

By the time you read this I will have decided to give in and submit to Alcander’s demands. Don’t attempt to stop me or seek to find me.  It is already too late.

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“This is so unbelievably unexpected, and completely out of nowhere.  I don’t understand why, now after all this time, she would just give in to that Neanderthal!”  Renatta asked. “And then why would they be so cruel and still destroy her home if Mira went so willingly?”

There was no time to lose, so I quickly explained the gist of all that was going on, “Alcander has Euclid, and he is most likely holding him with the vampires.  But don’t worry. Ryker and a bunch of other werewolf packs know where the vampire nest is and plan on attacking at dawn. The fairies are helping. But right now what we need to do is find where Alcander has taken Mira.”

“Flint has been working on that, but with no success. Alcander must have her under some sort of spell, because nothing Flint has tried could locate her.”

So, Alcander knew to cast a spell that blocks fairy magic, because he knew that Flint would try to find her.  But would his spell still block gypsy magic? It was worth a try.

“Come with me,” I said as I carefully helped Renatta to her feet, “I have a plan!”

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“I don’t understand what is going on here?” Renatta wondered as I brought her to speak with Bert (although at this moment he was just an ordinary mirror). “We need to stop wasting time, and start trying to find Mira.”

“That is why we are here.” I explained. “This is a Magic Mirror. It can find almost anyone, and it might be able to find Mira. All you have to do is say ‘Bert, find Mira’”.

But before Renatta could say anything, Bert’s mirror started to fog. It took some time, but eventually Mira’s face appeared.

“At least we know that she is still alive,” Renatta breathed a sigh of relief, “but where exactly is she?”

“I believe that she is at the summit of Mt Pulchritudo.” Bert explained as he replaced Mira’s reflection with a map showing her exact location.

“I will go after Mira.” I spoke with a sense of urgency. “Renatta, you need to find Flint.”

“You can’t go alone.” Renatta was a ball of panic and anxiety. “I’ll get Flint and we can all go together.”

“No, there’s not enough time. It will be dawn soon. You need to find Flint then get to the safe location. Mira and I will meet you there.”

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The sun had been up for a few hours, meaning that the attack on the vampires was well underway. Yet, I was still no where close to reaching the summit. For a brief moment I let my mind wander to Ryker and the rest of the pack. I had hoped that the fairy dust was proving to be useful and that the wolf packs were winning the fight. I said a prayer to the powers above, my first prayer in a very very long time, that they keep the packs safe during the battle.

Then I put the rest of my energy into to climbing the mountain to rescue Mira.

I knew when I was getting close to the summit, because I started to feel a change. It wasn’t the high altitude or the lack of oxygen in the air. This was a supernatural feeling of intense energy.  And the further I climbed the stronger the energy became.  As a result, the further that I climbed up the mountain I could feel myself starting to change.  I was getting stronger. It was the exact same way that I feel during a full moon. Except it was daylight. It was the first time that I transformed when it wasn’t a full moon. After transforming I was able to run, jump, and climb faster.  I quickly reached the summit in no time.

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At the summit I noticed that there were bright lights coming from behind a wall of bushes and trees.  Fireworks of red and yellow shot out into the air.  As I cautiously made my way through the wall of tress and large shrubs, I could hear Alcander talking, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I guess the ceremony must still going on.

I was going to crash this wedding like Benjamin Braddock had done in The Graduate.

Without waiting for the minister to ask, I leapt through the trees screaming, “I object!!!”

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Chapter 3.26 Operation Take Back the Town

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I was intrigued when, seemingly out of nowhere, Ryker called an emergency meeting with the pack. This had never happened while I was a member of the pack, and I was dying for some information.  Camilla picked me up at my home and as much as I pressed, she wouldn’t tell me anything. Therefore, I knew that it had to be serious.

Even though it was the middle of the night, when Camilla parked the car I noticed that this was not our usual full moon meeting place.  It was much deeper in the woods than I had ever dared to go. I also noticed that we were not the only pack in attendance. I lost Camilla in the crowd as she moved quickly to where Ryker was standing, and so I joined Astrid and a few other people from our pack that I knew. Astrid too would not, or could not, talk about what the meeting was all about. Or who are these other werewolves and what were they doing here. All I could do was wait for Ryker to tell us something. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long.

Ryker took his spot on the large rocks, surrounded by the Alphas of the other packs.

He began, “With every passing day the vampires grow stronger and stronger.  And we have sat back and watched it happen, feeling helpless. Well, no longer! No longer will we roll over and watch our hunting grounds be stripped away. No longer will we watch as families are torn apart!”

“So, what do you suppose we should do about it?” a raspy male voice from the back called out in question.

Ryker, not phased by this interruption, had a response. “These Alphas and I agree that there is only one course of action; we fight back.”

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This was met with various reactions from the crowd. Some were cheering, some were silent in disbelief, but most were loudly voicing their disapproval.

It took more than 10 minutes for the Alphas to quite down the crowd just enough for Ryker to continue, “I understand the apprehension that some of you may have. I admit that I am not the Alpha that my father was, and I don’t have a grand empowering speech. All I can do is ask that you to consider what kind of a world would we be leaving for the next generation if we did nothing? Could you look at your children or your grandchildren and tell them that you stood by and did nothing while the vampires robbed us of our basic supernatural rights?”

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After Ryker’s speech the packs broke off with each Alpha relaying their specific part of the attack plan with any pack members left willing to fight the vampires.

I was motivated by the speech, and pumped to fight those horrible vampires.  As Ryker was speaking I thought about Bert.  He finally broke down and told me all about the family that had lived in the house before me and how Alcander and the vampires killed them.  This final stand would give me a chance to give Bert the revenge that he couldn’t do.  Yet, Ryker had ordered that I talk with him personally away from the rest of the pack; just Ryker, Camilla, Astrid, and myself.

“The Fairy Alchemists have created a dust that will make one immune to a vampire bite.” Ryker explained.  “This magical fairy dust will act like an impenetrable shield protecting us from even the strongest vampire.  It will give us a huge advantage.”

However, Camilla pointed out that, “there is a rather unique down side.  The dust is extremely harsh, and will burn the skin of a fairy.  The reason the fairies turned to us werewolves is that our naturally thick skin, plus the extra layers of fur, will be just enough to where it won’t have a negative affect on us.”

Next, Astrid spoke with her motherly tone of voice to ensure to soften the bad news, “but you Linc, not being able to fully transform into a werewolf, won’t have the same thick fur as protection.  That means that we can’t have you fighting the vampires with us.”

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The realization that I won’t be able to fight with the rest of my pack hit me like a ton of bricks.  I begged, “But that’s not fair!  I want to fight with the rest of the pack.  What about Rule #1?  No pack member left behind, remember?!  Plus, Camilla has been training me, and I know that I’m not prefect, but I…”

“Linc, that has nothing to do with it.” Camilla interrupted me and stopped me from pleading my case.

“This is for your own safety.” Ryker said in a tone that implied that this was no longer up for discussion.

When Astrid spoke she took my paw in her hand, and for once I didn’t pull away, “I am going to take the children and the elders to a safe location in the woods.  Anyone who is too young or too old to fight will be there.  If this is to go wrong then I am going to need help protecting them.  I will need you to help me protect us.”

I knew that Astrid didn’t need my help.  She is strongest Den Mother that I know and she is more than capable of protecting the entire pack all on her own.  And that she only said that to try and make me feel better.  Nonetheless, I appreciated her sentiment.  I was about to accept the offer but just then Ryker put his hand up to signal for us to stop talking and remain very still.  In a quiet voice that only we could hear he whispered, “we are not alone.”

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I slowly examined my surroundings, but with it being the middle of the night, I wasn’t able to see anything clearly.  Yet, I didn’t need my super intensified hearing to notice that everything was quiet.  I didn’t even hear crickets chirping or the rustling of the leaves.  Nothing but dead silence.  Not a good sign.

I could feel the others tense up around me.  Obviously their keen werewolf sense were picking up on something that I was missing.

Before I could see anyone I heard an unfamiliar voice say, “don’t be alarmed, it’s just me.  I thought that I should use the invisibility cloak to get to you as quickly as possible without being seen.  I didn’t want my presence here to raise any unnecessary questions”.

Then from out of nowhere the voice revealed itself to be Thera Saavedra!

Oh no, I gasped to myself.  Thera is Alcander’s sister.  What is she doing here?  She must be a spy!

I was expecting to follow Ryker in an attack.  Capture the spy before she could tell her brother of our plan.  Camilla ran over to her, but instead of striking down the spy Camilla embraced Thera.

Now I’m really confused!

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Camilla, sensing my confusion, clarified, “Linc, everything is okay.  Thera is on our side.”

“We can have formal introductions later.” Thera spoke with a sense of urgency.  “There have been new developments that I need to tell you about.  They have him!”

“Who has who?” we all asked almost in unison.

“Alcander and Reina have Euclid.  Alcander must have found a way to break the warding around the house in order to have one of their vampire lackeys capture Euclid before he could understand what was going on!”

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“This can only mean one thing,” Thera continued, “Alcander must have figured out the Sunlight Spell, or at least he must be incredibly close.  That’s the only reason why they would have made a move this big.”

I was obviously out of the loop, because I had no idea what Thera was talking about.  And frankly, I didn’t care.  None of that mattered to me.  I didn’t give a damn about some ridiculous spell.  Mira’s safety was my number one concern.

“What about Mira?” I worried for the security of my best friend.  “Do they have her too?”

“I don’t think so.” Thera said, but didn’t sound so sure.  “I didn’t overhear anything about them taking Mira as well.  But I can’t imagine that will be the case for long.”

“Okay, this is what we are going to do,” Ryker was formulating a plan as he spoke.  He was like a military general strategizing to stay ten steps ahead of the enemy.  “Thera, notify your fairy contact.  I will confer with the other Alphas.  If we are a go, and I can’t see why we wouldn’t be, then we will attack the vampire nest at first light.  Astrid, gather everybody together and get them to the safe location.  Camilla can help while I am meeting with the Alphas.  Make sure that you are quick, but discreet at the same time.  We don’t want to alert anyone to our plans.  Linc, go find Mira then bring her to Astrid’s hiding place.”

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Camilla dropped me off at Renatta’s home before she went off on her mission to help Astrid. I needed to get Mira to the safe location and I knew that right about now she would most likely be having a “slumber party” with Renatta (the poor girl had been having terrible nightmares recently and Mira had been sleeping over to help her feel safe).

I was confident I could quickly and easily get them both to Astrid’s safe location, but when I got to the house I could tell that there was nobody home. Well, if they aren’t at Renatta’s, then the only other place that they could be is at Mira’s house.

I as I ran I tried calling her cell phone one more time, but once again it went straight to voicemail. I was starting to panic, but I didn’t want to lose hope.

Then as I reached Mira’s house my heart dropped to the ground. I noticed that someone had already been here, because the door had been kicked open.

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OC Photo Challenge Part 6

Photo Challenge Pt5

 

#15 Clothes Swap with Another Character

Here it is, the very last post of this OC Photo Challenge.  This has been so much fun,  and I have to give a big SHOUT OUT to the amazingly talented Louise for creating such an inspiring and creative challenge.

 

For this last challenge I am having Willow swap with the previous legacy heirs.  Starting with her grandmother Cindy Rella Charming.  This was Cindy’s everyday look from when she was still under her even stepmother’s control.

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Next, this is Cinderella’s Disney Princess dress.

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Here is Willow wearing Stella’s work uniform.

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And the Disney Princess Dress for Sleeping Beauty.

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Lastly, we have Cindy and Stella wearing some Willow inspired wear (which can be best described as formal and floral).

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P.S.:

This is just a tiny life update.  After more than three months on furlough, I am now back at work.  They called me on a Friday to let me know that I would be back on the following Monday.  While I am super happy to be back, we are at less than half of the staff.  Needless to say, it has been a giant ball of stress.  When I come home, and on my days off, all I want to do is sleep.  That is why I have been absent, and not posting as much as I would like.

Hopefully soon we will be able to bring more and more of our employees back and that will take at least some of this stress away.

And of course, I hope you have a great day or night depending on when you are reading this.

Chapter 3.25 A New Point of View

SIDE NOTE WARNING:
This chapter deals with different characters as we see things from their point of view. Therefore there are a lot of swear words. A lot! There are also some very derogatory comments towards women. Please take note that the views expressed by my antagonists do not reflect the views of the writer.

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Alcander raged as he stood in his lavishly large bedroom.  His house sat on top of the hill, looming over the town like a foreboding shadow.  The house was stolen from an Immundus family that Alcander was more than willing to exterminate so he could take the extravagant mansion for himself.  Yet tonight he cursed the long distance between his house and the Fall Festival.  Alcander, not willing to get the leather seats in his car ruined, had to walk the whole way home while he was still soaking from pond water and stank of mold and algae.  With every step Alcander’s anger grew and his hate for the Immundus Bitch Mira swelled like a giant balloon ready to explode.

“The nerve of that fucking ungrateful cunt!  How dare she try to humiliate me.  Me!  Doesn’t she fucking realize that I am the only thing keeping her fucking ass safe?!  If it weren’t for me that Immundus bitch and her crackpot of a father would be dead!  And this is how that worthless piece of shit bitch repays me!”

Alcander recalled this most recent, and unfortunate, altercation which resulted in Alcander being spectacularly humiliated by Mira. Being out matched by a woman was bad enough, add on top of that the fact that Mira is an Immundus which automatically makes her inferior to Alcander in every way possible. This show of powerful magic, who really has it and who doesn’t, was monumental. And everyone in town knew it.

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Yes, this was a big boost for Mira and her gaining confidence. However for Alcander, any sign of weakness is unacceptable. And the last thing he wanted to do was have his magical powers, or his masculinity, be in question.

“When I make that Immundus bitch my wife I will fucking make her pay!  She will be my slave!  I will make her watch as I burn those useless shitty books of hers.  I will take so much fucking pleasure in killing her father and her stupid friends.  I will make sure they die a slow and painful death.  Starting with that fleabag lap dog of hers!”

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“There is nothing in this world more pathetic than a man with a bruised ego.” Reina remarked under her breathe as she sat on Alcander’s bed listening to his nonstop rant.

He had been acting this way for over an hour now, and Reina was struggling to maintain her composure.  Reina would never have listed “patience” as one of her virtues, yet this was on a whole new level of tiresome.  Listening to a grown man throw a tantrum like a spoiled toddler was almost too much for the vampire to handle.

Reina had not witnessed the match first hand, however it did not take long for the news to spread around all of Moonlight Falls and beyond. Everyone was talking about how the great and “all powerful” warlock was bested by an Immundus.  Truthfully, she couldn’t understand Alcander’s obsession with that Immundus wretch in the first place.

Don’t misunderstand: Reina was not jealous. Her relationship with Alcander has nothing to do with the physical. What she couldn’t understand is why he wasted so much time and energy dealing with someone that was so far beneath him. Mira served no purpose to the grand plan, yet Alcander was obsessed with the frivolous notion of making her his wife. Reina, and really anyone for that matter, could see that he only wanted her because she didn’t want him.  Yet, he was relentless in pursuit of his “prize”.  Mira was Alcander’s white whale. And just like Captain Ahab she would lead to his undoing.

“All men are the same, supernatural or not. The gods gave them two heads, but only enough blood to work one at a time. And right now, Alcander is thinking with the wrong one.”  Reina made another comment under her breath as she thanked the gods above that she was born a woman, and therefore not burdened with such a pathetic thing as “Male Pride”.

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Reina was, in fact, born long, long, long ago during a time when a woman’s only purpose in life was to marry and have babies (preferably male babies). If the woman’s family was fortunate enough to be able to give a sizable dowry, then she might be able to lead a good and pampered life. Reina was not so lucky. In fact, in order to be able to pay their taxes, Reina’s family sold her off to the highest bidder, which happen to be owner of the town’s brothel.

Even so, Reina knew she was destined for greatness; she just needed the right opportunity to come along. And that opportunity came in the form of Osiris Petrov.

Reina was immediately drawn to the dark, handsome, mysterious stranger. She knew there was something different, no something extraordinary, about Osiris. And it wasn’t his pale cold skin. Or his unusually sharp teeth. Or the fact that she only saw him at night.

Reina took Osiris’ gift of immortality without hesitation. And from that moment on the two vampires were inseparable.  Reina and Osiris knew that they were meant to find each other.  It had taken him centuries, but in Reina, Osiris has finally found his equal.  They were two beings sharing the same thoughts and desires. For Reina it was as if she was born to be dead. Reina was not the name that she was given at birth; it was the name she took when she became immortal.

As a vampire Reina was no longer constrained by a human society that wanted to keep her down based on her sex or socioeconomic class. As a vampire Reina felt the power that she had always known that she had deserved.

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Really, it is no surprise that vampires are fickle creatures. Once a vampire is turned, they might stay with their creator for a couple of decades. Maybe a century at most. It was never anything personal, and no hard feelings were hurt. It was a natural thing for a vampire to want to move on. But this was not the case with Osiris and Reina.

In the supernatural world you couldn’t mention the one without the other. Osiris and Reina were two bodies sharing one mind and one goal; ultimate power. And any human lucky enough to be chosen to be turned into a vampire immediately pledged unwavering loyalty to Osiris and Reina. And as their nest grew, so did their power. But the vampires’ rise to ultimate power has taken a turn (no pun intended).

Both Osiris and Reina were becoming increasingly displeased with their current situation.  The werewolves were starting to become a nuisance once more.  Reina and Osiris were assured that the werewolves would have been exterminated by now, much like an annoying invasion of bugs. After all, that was part of their agreement with Grendel. He would exterminate the Immundus and the werewolves, in exchange for unrestricted access to Osiris and Reina’s nest. However, Grendel’s current unwillingness to take any action was unacceptable.

Reina has worked too hard to let her power be taken away by creatures so inferior to herself. So, when Alcander approached her, and her alone, with an offer that she couldn’t refuse, she was intrigued.

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Vampires are powerful, and stealthy, and invincible. Except during the day.  During daylight the most powerful of all the supernaturals are reduced to pathetic creatures weaker than even the most pitiful human. Yet Alcander claimed to have an ancient spell that could reverse that. A spell that could make a vampire just as powerful during the day as they are at night. And he was willing to share this spell with Reina; all she had to do in return was give him immortality.

Sounds simple enough, but it was turning out to be anything but. Alcander had attempted to replicate this spell numerous times, and each time was more disastrous than the last. The spell was in an ancient language (dating back to the beginning of magic type of ancient). Alcander was having a harder time translating the spell than he had originally thought. The vampires that they had used as test subjects were of no concern. Reina could easily make more. However, the growing number of fairies that needed to be sacrificed in order to get the last ingredient were starting to raise concerns from the fairy council.

More than a few times Reina had reconsidered her arrangement. After all, this was the first time in her vampire life that she had ever gone against Osiris. Yet, the idea of ultimate power during the day was too tempting to give up. She concluded that she was too far down the rabbit hole to turn back now.  Nonetheless, here we are again with yet another set back.

Stupid men and their fucking egos.

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Alcander’s recent humiliation at the hands of that Immundus bitch would be yet one more distraction. And Reina needed Alcander focused. He had one goal: complete the Sunlight Spell successfully. Reina was beyond annoyed at the fact that Alcander was not wholly focused on the mission.  He had let his pathetic male pride get in the way, and look what happened as a result.  Reina knew that there was only one thing for her to do.

“Oh my wise and powerful one”, she seductively purred in Alcander’s ear. “You are so cleaver. Conceding that way. Letting that wretch win. Boosting her confidence before you destroy her will make your victory over her all the more sweeter.”

“Yeah you’re right,” Alcander said as he began to feel better.  He easily convinced himself that that’s what really had happened. Mira didn’t actually beat Alcander; subconsciously he let Mira win. How else could you explain it?

“Why don’t we try the spell again tonight?” Reina suggested. “That is, after we celebrate your victory over the pathetic Immundus.”

Alcander eagerly nodded in agreement. He was putty in Reina’s hands; it was almost too easy.  Reina smiled and praised herself for being smarter than a man.

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Although Reina’s influence didn’t last as long as she had hoped.  It was only a matter of time before Alcander’s focus was back on his degradation at the hands of that stupid Immundus whore.

“No more waiting around!” Alcander exclaimed. “I want to set my plan into action now!”

“What about my spell?  We had a deal!” Reina’s patience was growing thinner by the second. How much longer would she have to put up with this idiot?

“No, my plan first! Then I will complete your spell. Then, my immortality!”

Once more Reina found herself considering abandoning Alcander and his feeble attempts at the Sunlight Spell.  After all, she had no real intention with going though with her side of the bargain anyway. She never had. She only agreed to offer immortality so she could get Alcander to go along with whatever she wanted. Immortality was the dangling carrot just out of reach, and Alcander was the ignorant jackass.  Yet Reina conceded, “very well. Your plan first, but only part of it.”

After Reina left Alcander’s bed she instructed one of her vampire minions on a very secret mission.

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Another Side Note:

I always really enjoy reading about various authors and their writing process. So, for anyone who might be interested, here is a little bit about my writing process for this chapter.

The original idea for this chapter was to see things from only Alcander’s point if view. And the original idea was based on a scene from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. If you are familiar with the movie, either the animated or the live action version, you may know what scene that I am referring to. In the scene Gaston had just been rejected and humiliated by Belle once again. At the end Gaston formulates the plan to have Belle’s father institutionalized in order to get her to agree to marry him.

However, the highlight of the scene is its musical number. LeFou sings, and soon gets the entire tavern to join in, about how great Gaston is and how everyone in town wants to either be him or be with him. The song has been posted below.

Yet as I sat down to write the chapter, things started to slowly move away from Alcander and gravitated towards Reina. I tried over and over again to move the narrative back to Alcander, but it didn’t sound right. Looking back I can see that there are a few reasons why that is.

First off, Reina isn’t LeFou. She isn’t a bumbling sidekick who’s only around to boost Gaston/Alcander’s ego. Reina has her own agenda, and she only tried to make Alcander feel better about losing to Mira in order to get him get back on track to helping her with the Sunlight Spell.

Secondly, Alcander isn’t a complex multidimensional character. And I planned him that way. He is a simple, narcissistic, ego maniac. That’s about it. He doesn’t have complex thoughts, or feeling, or motivations.  Reina, on the other hand, is taking a big risk by going behind Osiris’ back and making this side deal with Alcander. And I needed to show that by explaining the process that brought her to this point which included a pretty detailed back story.

Thirdly, I always enjoy writing for strong, complex, interesting female characters (just look at Maleficent from Gen 2). So when I talked to the hubby about why I was having a hard time with this chapter he basically asked, “if Reina is so much more interesting why would you not want to write from her point of view?”

So, there you have it.  I hope you enjoyed this little peek behind the curtain. Or if you just skipped to the song below I wouldn’t blame you. Either way, have a great day or night depending on when you are reading this.

 

 

OC Photo Challenge Part 5

Photo Challenge Pt4

 

#13 In a Historical Outfit

Here it is; my second to last post of the OC Photo Challenge.  I couldn’t decide which period in history I wanted to focus on, so I did several different ones.

Prehistoric:

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Ancient Egypt

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15th Century Eastern Europe

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18th Century France

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The Wild West

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1960’s Flower Child

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3.24 The Wheels of Change

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Life, as we knew it, in Moonlight Falls was about to change forever.  The dominos were beginning to take shape and two star-crossed lovers, forced to meet deep within the woods at night, were about to set them all off.

A witch and a werewolf, key players from opposite sides of the battle, are forced to hide their love.  They are both fully aware of the consequences of what would happen if they were ever discovered, but a love as powerful as this is too strong to quit.

“Rest assured,” Camilla informed her lover as she transitioned back to her human form. “I took every precaution imaginable to ensure that I was not followed.”

“You know,” Thera teased, “There is no hurry to put your clothes back on.”

Any other night Camilla would be all too happy to fall for Thera’s flirty banter, but not tonight. Tonight Camilla has other things on her mind.  She quickly got dressed, and then got to talking.

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“We need to plan our escape,” Camilla said with all seriousness “I can talk to Ryker, he will understand but what about…”

“No,” Thera interrupted. “We have been over this before. I am not running away.”

“You know what would happen if your father or brother found out about us?  Your father is Grendel Saavendra, the Supreme Commander of Moonlight Falls.  And you are in love with a werewolf.  A female werewolf.  If it had to come down to it, Ryker would try and protect us but…”

“I have told you this before, Father doesn’t care about me. I am not the heir to his ‘throne’. And Alcander is too busy with his vampire whore to pay me any attention.”

“Thera, you are my love. My everything. I can’t imagine a world without you. I never thought that I could ever feel this way. After Mira’s spell I thought that I was destined for a life alone. But now that I have found you I won’t let you go!”

Thera kissed Camilla with all the love and passion she felt her heart to reassure her that everything was going to be okay. Even though Thera didn’t quite believe it herself.

“I love you more than the moon loves the stars. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Thera said after their embrace. “But I am glad that you mentioned Mira, because I have to tell you something about her.”

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“What about Mira?” Camilla questioned.

“You know that it is no secret that my brother is dead set in making her his wife. And, well, I overheard Alcander talking to his vampire paramour about his plan to finally get Mira to agree to marry him. Camilla, it’s bad. It’s really really really bad.”

Camilla’s hot blood ran cold at the severity of Thera’s warning. “What is his plan? No, tell me later. Right now all I want to know is how can we stop it?”

Thera knew that there was only one thing to do, “Rally the werewolves.”

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“That has been tried before, and failed.  And too many people died as a result.” Camilla was skeptical as she reminded Thera while, at the same time, remembering her own terrible history regarding the failed werewolf revolt.

Thera didn’t need to be reminded of what happened during the revolt. Everyone in town knows about the revolt and how the werewolves tried to fight against the Saavedra/Petrov Alliance, and failed. Many people on both sides if the battle died, including Ryker’s father (executed by Grendel himself).  And because of that, Alcander and Osiris are even more powerful than before. However, Thera has come up with a plan to stop her brother and the rest of the vampires from taking over the whole town.

She has analyzed this plan from every angle, studying every possible scenario the same way Bobby Fischer studies a chess board. And while this plan wasn’t foolproof; it was their best, and therefore only, option. Plus, Thera had a few hidden pieces up her sleeve.

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“This time we have two things going for us that we didn’t before.” Thera laid out her plan. “First, we know where the vampire nest is. Second, we can get the fairies to come to our side.”

“How and how??”

“I borrowed Mother’s invisibility cloak. The one that Alcander thinks was lost centuries ago. Well, I followed Reina after she left Alcander’s house and she lead me straight to where the vampires rest during the day.”

“But I thought that the whole ‘vampires sleep during the day’ was a myth.”

“It is. But during the day vampires are weak. Weaker then the average human. Which is why they go into hiding. And that is where and when the werewolves will need to strike.”

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“And what about the fairies?” Camilla was curious to hear the second part of Thera’s plan. “It was my understanding that the faerie folk where totally aligned with your father and the vampires.”

“Once again I was able to use the invisibility cloak to over hear people talking. Father was having a meeting with a few members of the royal faerie families. It turns out that more than a few fairies have gone missing. And they are understandably upset that father has turned a blind eye to this fact.”

“Do they suspect the vampires?”

“Well, it is no secret that fairy blood is sweeter than human blood. Which can be very tempting to a bunch of vampires who feel invincible with total power.”

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Camilla pondered all of the information that Thera had just laid out for her. It was a lot to take in, and Camilla needed a moment to process it all.

Thera’s plan was crazy. And reckless, and relied too heavily on heresy and not on indisputable facts.

But on the other hand, this plan might just be crazy enough to actually work.

“So, the first thing that we are going have to do is talk to Ryker.” Camilla said once she fully committed herself to Thera’s plan. “Tell him everything you have just told me, then he can call a meeting of the Alphas.”

“What if he doesn’t believe me? I’m the daughter and sister of the enemy.  I wouldn’t blame for not trusting me.”

“Ryker has a 6th Sense Ability for reading people. He can smell your intentions. So if you were to lie to him, he would know in an instant. But more than that, he will see that I love you and that will be good enough for him.”

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So, it was final. The plan to bring down Alcander and the vampires was set. And if everything went according to the plan, the turmoil for everyone, not just the Immundus, will finally come to an end.

“But if we fail,” Camilla thought out loud as she held Thera close, “there will be no place for us, any of us, to hide.”

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3.23 Something There That Wasn’t There Before Part 3

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I thought about what Camilla had said in the car, and what brought about my change in behavior. The root cause of my new attitude can be traced back to one source: Mira.

It was when I went over to Mira’s house to apologize, and I saw her in tears, that I started to care (even if it was just a tiny bit, and it didn’t last very long). Then it takes me getting beaten almost to death for me to fully realize how shitty I have been acting. Since then I have been trying to be better. And it all has to do with Mira.

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I genuinely enjoyed Mira reading Sense and Sensibility to me. Plus, I have no doubt that it aided in my quick recovery.  I was ready to hear more of Mira’s favorite stories. And since the weather has been so nice recently, we took the reading outside. Mira would lay out a blanket, pack a few snacks, and I would listen to her as she read To Kill a Mockingbird.

The story was good, of course. But that wasn’t the reason why I was enjoying myself so much. I enjoyed watching Mira as she read out loud. She would change her voice to fit the different characters. She would read faster or slower, depending upon the pace of the plot. Best of all, her rainbow eyes would shimmer in the fall sun as she read about Atticus and Scout facing down an angry mob.

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In turn she encouraged me to share my passion for music with her. I would play various pieces for Mira on her piano. On the last Snowflake Day she surprised me with a hand-made guitar that her father had created for me. It didn’t look like much, but it sounded great.  I still didn’t like playing at the café, or on front of anyone else. Just for Mira and sometimes her cats.

Honestly, it didn’t really matter to me what we did. I genuinely enjoyed Mira’s company. I was captivated when she would talk about her dreams of adventures in the great wide somewhere. I enjoyed Mira’s laugh, and I enjoyed being the one to make her laugh. I would do almost anything to hear that laugh, and to see those rainbow eyes sparkle.

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The warmer weather also meant that fall was upon us. Ryker had told the pack that the first full moon of the harvest season was a special one. (I’m pretty sure that he had told us this before in the years past, however I hadn’t really been paying attention until now.)  Ryker said that our “powers” would be at the highest level. I wasn’t sure what that meant for me, but at least this time I knew that I wouldn’t be puppy chow.  On top of all of all that, instead of our usual “Full Moon Party” in our usual spot deep in the woods, this year the pack is going to be mingling with the other supernaturals of Moonlight Falls in the town’s Annual Harvest Jubilee.

Now that I mention it, I am positive that Ryker has talked about it in the years past. I remember hearing about this before, and in the past I made it a point to avoid this supernatural social gathering like the plague. I want to think that is was because I felt as if I was above it all, but if I am being honest; the thought of mingling with the rest of the town scared the living daylights out of me.

But remember, this is a new Linc.

Imagine the surprised look on their faces when I told Ryker and Camilla that they would see me there this year. Riley and Owen were over the moon excited (no pun intended). I had even made plans to meet up with Mira at some point in the night.  I found myself growing more and more excited as the evening approached closer and closer. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was excited to find out.

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I had always enjoyed the Fall Festival in Twinbrook. My parents always said that it was their favorite of the seasonal activities, and I always had fun with my family. But that was so different than compared to this gathering of Moonlight Falls’ supernaturals.

All of Moonlight Falls was packed into every inch of the festival grounds, literally. Each type of supernatural was there doing whatever it is that they usually do during a full moon. Although everyone was there, they all stayed with their own type. The fairies stayed with the fairies on the east side of the grounds. The witches and warlocks took up the most space, while the were-animals were at the far end from where I came.
This reminded me of another difference.

Back in Twinbrook my parents acted like a couple of school kids as they bobbed for apples and made a mess of themselves at the pie eating contest. We would meet up with our cousins, and dare each other to brave the haunted house while the adults would get together and talk about whatever adults talked about.  I enjoyed picking out pumpkins with Autumn and Willow. Then taking them home to carve them as we talked about what we were going to be dressing up as. It was a fun family bonding time.

Yet here in Moonlight Falls the tension was super thick, thicker than the fog that hung in the air. It was almost as if there were invisible barriers around each supernatural grouping. And I didn’t want to see what would happen if someone from the wrong side crossed the boarder.

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I wandered the festival grounds making my way to where I was told to meet the pack, all the while remaining very cautious of the boarders (and making a special note to stay as far away from the vampires as possible). I was crossing the main courtyard when something caught my eyes. Well, to be more accurate, it was something that caught my ear.

It was Mira laughing as she maneuvered her flying broomstick along the obstacle course.

I stood there watching her for longer than I probably should have, when out of the blue I was tackled by two very rambunctious wolves.

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Even though they were in wolf form, I could easily recognize Riley and Owen. And even though I can’t communicate without talking the way Ryker is able to, I don’t need to. It doesn’t take ESP to see that these werewolf pups are excited to see me. They were jumping around, tails wagging so fast you would think that they would take off. I was really happy that I had decided to come out this year.

But just like a tiny balloon, my excitement burst in an instant.

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Without warning a bolt of energy pushed Owen back 50 feet, sending him sliding and yelping into the bushes. Then in another instant, the same thing happened to Riley. I looked around to see what was causing this, and it wasn’t hard to find where the negative energy had come from.

“That’ll teach those mangy mutts to stay with their own kind.” Alcander chuckled at the pain he had caused.

“Hey, Jackass” I growled in response.  “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size.”

“I would, if I could find someone as big and as bad ass as me. Right now all I see is a pathetic, flea ridden, douchebag.”

It was then that I heard Ryker and Astrid charging through the grounds. It wouldn’t be too long before they were upon us. Between the two, I wasn’t sure who could do the most damage. Astrid isn’t as big as Ryker, but she is the biggest protector of our pack you will ever meet.

In the meantime, while they charged towards us, I still had an opportunity to get a few attacks in. I crouched down ready to pounce, and Alcander readied himself. But before I attacked, a gentle hand on my shoulder stopped me.

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“Please, allow me,” Mira said soft enough for only me to hear, then motioned to Alcander, “you want to pick on someone your own size, well bring it on you over-sized Neanderthal!”

“Oh Mira,” Alcander spoke down to her like he was talking to a toddler “I don’t want to have to hurt you. Instead, why don’t you run along a fetch me a piece of apple pie. Let the real men handle things. Or, at least one man and a whatever beastly thing that is,”

Mira didn’t say another word, she let her magic do the talking as she sent a baseball sized fireball hurling towards Alcander.

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Alcander showed his boredom with an over exaggerated yawn, as he made Mira’s ball of fire dissolve in front of him. Acting as if it were no effort on his part, he sent a bright firework at her. Mira was able to jump out of the way, and at the same time send another fire ball (a bigger one than last time).

This went on for several rounds; back and forth. One fireball then one lightning firework, one after the other. I noticed that a crowd had quickly gathered around us. A large crowd, like the whole town had gathered, all rooting for Alcander except for me and the were-animals.

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I could tell that this fight was starting to take a toll on Alcander.  His overly acted boredom changed to real frustration and anger. And because of that his attacks weren’t coming as fast. On the other hand, Mira’s pace was only getting quicker.

Finally, she gave him the TKO Punch; one fireball, then another fireball, then a giant burst of light and energy that knocked Alcander on his ass.  With a loud splash, Alcander fell backwards into the reflecting pool, sending the lilies and algae flying all over.

“Remember this night Alcander Saavedra“ Mira said as she stood triumphantly over Alcander as he sat helpless covered in soggy moss and slime, “for tonight you have been out maneuvered, and out matched, by a girl!”

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Mira and I started walking back home as the sun was rising over the mountains. Not for her protection, but for my own. For the most part we walked in silence until I couldn’t take it any longer. There was something that had been bothering me for a very long time.

I had to know, “why do you put up with this? All of this? The nasty looks? Being treated like a second class citizen? Alcander’s never relenting pressure? Why even bother with this stupid town?”

In the dawn’s light Mira’s eyes shined even brighter, but I could see the tired sorrow behind them. Mira took a few moments to choose her words carefully then replied. “Moonlight Falls is my home. I can’t just leave my home.”

“But what about your dreams? You told me about wanting to have an adventure? What about that?”

“I have an amazing adventure every time that I read my favorite book.”

“That sounds fine and all, but it’s not the same and you know it.”

There was another pause as once again Mira thought about what to say next. “I can’t leave. Too many people count on me. People depend on me, and I won’t let them down. If I were to leave, then Alcander and Osiris win. And I will be damned if I let that arrogant Neanderthal win!”

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“Have a good rest of your day, Linc” Mira turned around to waved good bye to me before she went inside.

I had a strange feeling; it was almost like Deja vu. Like the first time Mira and I walked home together. She was even wearing the same yellow dress. And she smiled and that overly cheery smile. Yet something felt different.

There is something there that wasn’t there before.

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“Hell yeah, there’s something there that wasn’t there before,” Bert cheered after I told him about the Full Moon Festivities. “So, what is your next move Casanova? How about a picnic in the park? Oh, sweet l’amour.  I know, you should make her a romantic candlelight dinner, with romantic music. Leading to professions of love!”

“What?!?!? No, no, no, no, and no!!” I quickly corrected Bert’s very wrong assumptions. “There will be no romance, professions of love, l’amour, or anything else of the sort. What I meant is that there is friendship. Friendship is the something there that wasn’t there before. Nothing but plutonic friendship. That is all, nothing more!”

“Oh sure,” Bert was not understanding my message. “Nothing romantic there. Wink, wink.”

“Just stop.”

“Remember what you said about your curse?  The clause that the witch added?  About finding love?”

I was done with this foolish conversation. “I am not in love.  And even if I were, which I am not, love is not in the cards for a beast like me. That’s just how it is, and that will never change. This is Moonlight Falls, and things don’t change here. You, of all people, should know that better than anyone. The way things are now is the way that they will always be.”

Yet, little did I know how wrong I was.  For as Bert and I were talking the wheels of change were already in motion. And two star-crossed lovers, secretly meeting in the woods, would be the ones to set the whole thing off.

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3.23 Something There That Wasn’t There Before Part 2

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There is something very strange going on in Moonlight Falls. Something that I never would have expected, not in a million years. Something even more bizarre than Mira putting her head on my beastly shoulder. What could be so unfathomable you may ask? Well, here it is: I am actually starting to care about people!

I know; crazy right?!?! Notice how I didn’t even call them a bunch of stupid townies!

It started at Mira’s home, while she was helping me recover from my near death beating. She was in the middle of reading Sense and Sensibility to me, when Flint came by to check up to see how things were going.

“I’m glad to hear that the ointment that I made seems to be working.” Flint said to Mira. He was blatantly ignoring me, but after the way that I have been treating him, I don’t blame him at all. “if only there was a mixture that I could make to get Renatta fall in love with me.”

“Flint, you know that magic doesn’t work that way. You can’t make someone fall in love with you,” Mira was reassuring her best friend with a friendly smile. “not that you need it anyway. You know that Renatta is deeply in love with you. She just feels unworthy of you.”

Wait… Flint and Renatta are a thing? When did that happen? Where was I? Oh yeah, I was spaced out in my own world. I wonder what else I may have missed?!

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“If only there was some way that I could convince Renatta that to me she is perfect.” Flint seemed hopeless. Luckily, I had a plan.

I had an idea. After all, I was a bit of a ladies’ man in my former pre-beast life. “Anytime I wanted to get into a girl’s panti… I mean heart, I would serenade them with a song.” I suggested. “Some over the top romantic gesture works every time.”

“Isn’t that a bit cliché?” Flint asked skeptically. “Besides, I am not a singer.”

“No, I think that Linc is right,” Mira made her opinion heard, “Some things are cliché for a reason. A big romantic gesture is exactly what Renatta needs to help her see that she is not broken.”

“Besides,” I added, “You don’t have to be a good singer. Haven’t you seen the movie Say Anything? All you need is an extra large radio and the prefect romantic song that tells Renatta exactly how you feel about her.”

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But it wasn’t just Flint & Renatta’s love life that had me invested. Now that I am actually making an effort, I am starting to feel like a real member of Ryker’s werewolf pack. Ryker’s two sons have really taken to me, for some strange reason. I really have no idea why. Maybe it is because they are twins just like Autumn and I. Maybe they see me as the rescue pet dog that they have always wanted. Whatever the reason may be, every time that they see me, Riley & Owen run up to me and try and tackle me. During the full moon, they never leave my side. Even Ryker’s wife Astrid, and their new baby Everley, have taken a shine to me. I guess that is why Ryker insisted that I be invited to her aging up party.

I was so nervous about attending the party. The entire pack would be there, not to mention other members from other packs, plus Mira was invited as well.

“What do I even get a werewolf puppy, I mean toddler?” I asked Bert for his advise. “A new ball, or a squeaky toy? A rawhide chew stick?”

“You are over thinking this. Just get something from the heart,” Bert said as if it were that easy. “Besides, I took the liberty of highlighting a few things off of Astrid’s Simazon Wish List.”

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I arrived at the party super early, the only other guest that was at the Silas’ home was Camilla, who was busy blowing up the last of the party balloons.

“Linc, it is so good to see you.” Astrid said as she greeted me with a hug.

Despite my intense need to shy away from any physical contact, Astrid has insisted on greeting me with a warm hug every time that I see her. She is the only adult person, besides the occasional few times that Mira’s hand has accidentally touched mine, that I have let get close to me.

“Linc! Yay, you’re here!” Ryker’s sons shouted in unison as they came running up to me. Riley hung on my arm, while Owen showed off doing a handstand.

Seeing their excitement helped calm my nerves, and helped me relax. And they didn’t leave my side for the entire party. They kept telling me about school, their after school scouts club, and both were taking turns trying to show off for me. More than once I saw Astrid, Ryker, Camilla, and even Mira glance in my direction. All had the same look on their faces; a combination of surprise and admiration.

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The party was more fun than I had expected.  I enjoyed opening up to everybody and getting to know more about the my pack.  Riley and Owen were rambunctious, and remind me of George and I at that age.  Plus, Everley seemed to really like the gift I got her.  Not that it was any sort of competition  or anything like that.  I was happy that I had got with Bert’s suggestion and picked out a thoughtful gift from the heart.

“Thank you so very much for the toy piano.” Astrid gave me another hug as I was leaving the party. “Everley will love it.”

“My baby sister Willow had one that she seemed to have enjoyed.” I replied, not sure how to handle all of these hugs. So I asked, remembering my manners, “Are you sure I can’t stay and help clean up?”

“No, no, no,” Astrid insisted. “It is getting late, and I don’t want you out at night alone. It is not safe. Camilla is driving Mira home, and you can join them.”

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“Linc, I have to tell you something.” Camilla said as she drove up to my house after dropping Mira off. “When I first met you I thought that you were an obnoxious, arrogant, egotistical, little punk incapable of thinking about anyone but yourself. And for a long time, you were proving me right.”

Camilla wasn’t wrong. And I knew there was more that she wanted to say, so I just sat silently as she continued.

“But recently, something has changed in you.” Camilla said as her glowing eyes smiled at me. “I didn’t think someone so egotistical could ever be better. And I never thought that I would ever say this, yet here we are. Linc, I am proud of you. I am not sure what brought about this transformation, but I am glad that you have improved yourself.”

I too was amazed at myself for how I had opened myself up to these new friends. Yet, the biggest change came from Mira.

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OC Photo Challenge Part 4

 

Photo Challenge Pt3

Here we are once again with more of the OC Photo Challenge created by the super talented Louise.  The last set of photos were highly edited.  The cut out a sim and paste on a background type of edits.  These photos, on the other hand, are 100% in game shots with very little editing.

 

2.  Gender Swap:

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7.  In a Bathing Suit: (I went with a SciFi theme)

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12.  In a Fantasy Inspired Outfit: (here I went with an Amazon Huntress look)

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3.  With Glasses:

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That is all that I have for this round.  The ones with glasses are my favorite, so that is why I saved them for last.

Anyway, on a more serious note.  I know that the world is kind of a crazy place right now.  All over the world thousands of people are getting sick and dying.  The governor of Nevada has shut down all “non essential” business for 30 days which has put me in furlough with my job.  This pandemic is serious.  Take care of yourselves, and of each other.

 

3.23 Something There That Wasn’t There Before Part 1

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I attempted to blink my eyes open, then instantly regretted it. The bright light was blinding as the pounding migraine in my head intensified with every beat of my increasing heart rate. However, the intense pain that I was feeling didn’t compare with my worry.

What happened? How did I get here? Where am I? Where is Mira? Is she okay?

I tried to sit up, but the bandages around my chest made it hard to move. Plus, my arms were too weak and I violently shook as I tried to properly support myself. It was of no use, and I helplessly crashed back down on to the bed.

At least my worry subsided when I heard Mira’s voice coming from the other room, “I think that he is up now. I’ll call you back later.”

I was laying in the fetal position with my back to the door, but I knew that it was Mira entering the room when I smelled her perfume; a strange combination of flowers and old book.

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“How are you feeling, Linc?” Mira asked as she gently sat beside me.

I had so many questions running through my head. So many puzzle pieces that I needed help with. Yet, “Wha…how…whe…?” was all that I could muster.

Mira helped me sit up before she reached over to the nightstand to give me a sip of water. Then as she checked my bandages Mira explained everything. “I must confess that this has been my very first successful attempt of the Transportation Spell. The Transportation Spell has been alluding me for a long time, and a part of me thought that I never would be efficacious. Normally, I would not have tempted such a volatile spell with such uncertain results, but I feared that if I did not do something drastic they most certainly would have killed you.”

Mira offered me another sip of water then continued, “once I knew that we had made it back home, transported safely and successfully, I called Flint. He helped me get you to the bed, and he made an ointment to aide in your healing.”

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So, that explains how I got here, and where here actually is. It still doesn’t explain why; why, or what, was Mira doing in the middle of the woods all by herself? After checking and redressing my bandages Mira began to explain further, as if she were reading my mind.

Wait…can witches read minds?! Ohmygawd, I certainly hope not!

“As I am sure you already know, Grendel has made life a nightmare for any humans, or anyone with a human parent. One of the many new laws, enforced by Alcander, is that it is expressively forbidden to talk about any of the humans that have been excommunicated from Moonlight Falls. Grendel went so far as to have Osiris and his vampire goons exhume any humans that have been buried in the town graveyard. Furthermore, anyone, supernatural or not, who has died since has not been allowed to be buried there.”

I watched Mira as she spoke. I could tell that those rainbow eyes have seen so much pain. I found myself hanging on each and every word. Which for me is a brand new experience. I sat captivated as Mira continued.

“Momma passed away long ago, I was only a small toddler. And she was not buried in the Crumplebottom Mausoleum. Momma’s last wish was to have her ashes sprinkled under the tree where she first met Papa. And ever since then, that tree has been growing more than any other tree in that area.

That is why I was there today. I visit that tree almost every week, at least twice a week. And I always feel the need to go alone. In fact, I have never told anyone about this, not even Flint or Renatta. If Alcander or Grendel ever found out that a human’s ashes have intertwined with a part of the forest, they wouldn’t hesitate to burn it all to the ground.”

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I had no idea of any of this. And the fact that Mira felt comfortable enough to share with me something that she didn’t even tell her best friends; this was huge. But in some way I know exactly how she feels.

“I remember when my grandpa died.” I wanted to let Mira know that she s not alone in her suffering. After all, I once heard that if you share your pain, it hurts half as much. “I have never told anyone this before, but I would visit his grave everyday. I would talk to him, and I know that this sounds strange, but I could feel his presence there.”

“That isn’t strange at all.” Mira put her hand on mine, and for a split second I let it sit there. But then I remembered myself, and pulled my hand back. Either way, Mira continued un-phased, “Some of my first memories are of Momma reading to me. I remember sitting on her lap as she read to me in the rocking chair. So, more often than not, I like to take a book with me and read out loud. And I too can feel Momma’s presence there with me, listening to me read to her.”

“Wow, there is no way that I could do that. Grandpa Ryan and I would never miss a Twinbrook Gnome’s game, but I haven’t watched a game since he passed. It is just too hard. Not to mention, that is how he died; during a game while I was too focused on the game and not on my dying grandpa.”

Mira started to put her hand on mine once more, but stopped before she made contact. Instead she asked, “Twinbrook gnomes? I didn’t know that the gnomes migrated all the way to Twinbrook. Appaloosa Plains, maybe, but not all the way to Twinbrook.”

Although it hurt, I couldn’t help but chuckle at Mira’s misunderstanding. “No, the Twinbrook Gnomes is a football team. Grandpa Ryan’s favorite football team.”

Mira still looked confused, so I explained further, “football is a very popular sport. This is American football, which is different than what the rest of the world calls football. Ya know, it is also funny that Americans call it football, since most players don’t use their foot to move the ball. But anyway, the Twinbrook Gnomes were Grandpa Ryan’s favorite team and we had been watching games together since before I could remember.”

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Mira brought me some food, and even though I said that I wasn’t hungry, she insisted that I try and eat something.

“I never knew you were so close to your grandpa.” Mira was changing the subject, but left the food on the nightstand just in case I changed my mind.

“My twin sister and I were practically raised by our grandparents, “ I said. “Not that my parents are bad people, far from it. My sisters and I have never been left wanting anything. But as my sister and I were growing up, Mom and Dad were very focused on their careers. My mom is a doctor, which kept her busy all hours of the day. And even though my dad is a national hero, he has always acted like he has something to prove to everyone. That left Autumn and I in the care of Grandpa Ryan and Grandma Cindy.”

It’s funny. I used to love to talk about myself. I could talk all day about how phenomenally awesome I am. Yet, this feels different. Not superficial fluff. This is real; things that I have never told anyone before. For some unexplainable reason, I found it easy to talk to Mira.

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When Mira left to get me some more water, I took the opportunity to look around her room. Plumbob, this girl has a lot of books. There was also a small desk and a big black dresser standing next to it. On the corner of the bed sat a fat fluffy cat eyeballing me suspiciously. There were a few posters on the wall, nothing that I recognized. On her nightstand was a framed photo. I don’t even remember when the photo was taken, but I did recognize the wood and green carpeting from Mira’s living room. Flint and Renatta were posing and looking like they were having a good time.

Plumbob, I look miserable in that photo. Is that how I have been presenting myself to everyone?   I’ve been acting like a real tool, haven’t I?

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“You know,” I said to Mira once she returned with my water, “I am willing to give piano lessons another try. That is if you want to. And this time I promise to be a more patient teacher.”

Mira smiled a humoring smile and said, “I don’t know if that is a good idea.” but then added, as to not hurt my feelings, “but I really liked seeing how passionate you are about music. It is a new side of you that you never showed before. I wish I had something that I was just as passionate about.”

“Umm… look around Mira. I would say you are pretty passionate, no obsessed, with books. Have you really read all of these?”

“Yes, I have.” Mira said proudly as she looked around the room at all of the books. “Some more than once.”

“Do you have any favorites?”

“It depends on the kind of mood I am in. Sometimes I feel like a mystery, other times a sci-fi, or a biography. Or maybe a good romance.”

“You know, I listen to music the exact same way. Sometimes I feel like rock, and sometimes I feel like classical. There are even times when I feel like listening to jazz. What are you reading now?”

“Right now I am rereading Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin. Have you heard of it?”

I do remember having to read the book in high school. Although, I didn’t actually read the book. Truth is, I bribed some nerd to write the report for me while I couldn’t be bothered to even try and read the synopsis on Simpedia.

“No,” I replied, “I’ve never read the book before. Would you like to read it to me?”

At my request to read one of her books with me Mira’s rainbow eyes lit up. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how much I truly missed seeing those eyes sparkle.

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