Dawn in San Francisco

People are heavy

Wendy yanked as hard as she could at the little piece of cloth. A small part of her winced the entire time it unravelled, watching all that hard work be undone. It was a nocker thing.

And then the statue (which she had totally guessed was Lily anyway) suddenly wasn’t rock anymore, it was human and the girl was crumpling towards the floor. Wendy lunged forward to catch her, staggering under the weight. For a skinny teenager, Lily sure seemed to weigh a lot.

“Got her guys, go, get out!” Wendy yelled it as loudly as she could, struggling to hold Lily up. She opened the portal so fast that it was more of a tear than the usual neat hole. The other girl groaned weakly. Shit, this was no use. Wendy clung tightly to Lily and flung herself forward through the gap. She hoped that the others had heard her. They couldn’t exactly win in a fight against these guys after all.

The portal closed behind them. Wendy lay panting on the floor, still holding onto Lily. The other girl seemed dazed and was crying a little, although she didn’t seem aware of it. It took a moment for Wendy to realise that they were alone. Of course the others wouldn’t arrive here, they’d turn up where their portals took them. Which meant, since she had Lily and thus the mantle, that Aurora would probably burst through with her minions at any second and Wendy wouldn’t have any backup.

“Shit, shit shit…” Wendy hauled herself up and began to drag the heavy and somewhat useless Lily out of the attic and down the stairs. They had to get outside, away from the room, away from where Wendy had portaled. A powerful magic user would surely be able to follow such things and end up right here. If Aurora smashed any of her stuff, Wendy would hit her with the iron pipe she had in her backpack.

Wendy really hoped her parents weren’t home. She began to scream.

“Titania! Mab! TITANIA!”

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Between Marco and a hard place

Marco just lay face down on the floor. He closed his eyes and concentrated on slowing his rapid uneven breaths. He was sure everyone had gotten out. They must have. It all happened so fast that he could hardly remember. “Okay, think” he thought. Wendy shouted that she’d got Lilly and we should leave so she presumably left. Then I saw Jay leave through her portal and when I ran back to get Hazel I didn’t see Kevin so he must have got out too because he was distracting Aurora and she had turned her attention to me. Yes they all got out. They had to have.

After these thoughts had finished swimming around his head and his breathing has returned to normal the pain hit Marco. The winter knight had taken one hell of a swing at him. He should have just left when Wendy had called but he was stupid and now he was paying for his stupidity. Well at least this pain covered up the pain caused by him hitting himself, another thing that would have been prevented if he’d thought instead of acting on instinct.

Thinking over the events Marco did feel quite bad about hitting the guy from school with the hammer. Sure he was trying to destroy the world and stuff but still, that must have hurt a hell of a lot. At least they were all safe for now. But the questions started to flash through his mind. What do we do now? Did everyone actually get out? What will Aurora do now? Are we safe here? Why am I a different colour?

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The Best Laid Plans of Fae and Men

It was supposed to be a simple mission. Go in, get the girl, get out. Unsuspected and undetected.
But, as they really should have realised, that would have been a direct violation of Murphy’s Law. So instead the would-be simple spy-infiltration-grab&run turned into a screamy, bloody mess.

If somebody had asked Kevin a week ago whether he had ever been stabbed, he would have answered that when he was younger and was just starting with metalwork, he had accidentally got a nail through the palm of his hand (and then proudly shown the scar, and jokingly referred to it as half a stigmata).
Now however, with an actual knife still sticking out of his shoulder, he had to admit that the nail incident really didn’t compare. This hurt like MAD.

Kevin carefully removed the knife, biting a towel to keep from screaming, and then proceeded to bandage the wound as best as he could with what he had available – so some cloth and duct tape.
It’s not pretty, and I really ought to let a doctor take a look at it at some point, but at least it’s not making a mess on the carpets. Would hate having to explain that to mom and dad.

They had managed to get the girl in the end – he was like… 95 percent sure of it. Wendy had said that she had her, and to get out, so unless something had happened before she managed to escape-
NO. She was fine. She has to be.
Kevin decided that he should head over to her just to make sure – and besides, if everyone did make it out ok it could be just a matter of time before Aurora counter-attacked.

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A hefty kick

Wendy stood in the glade as the wolf-Marco slowly gnawed his sister free. She tried fruitlessly to wipe away the mud on leaves, the grass, anything. It was just everywhere.

She hadn’t been panicking about the confined space for once. It didn’t really feel like a confined space after all, there were no visible walls. She’d been panicking about being slowly crushed to death by earth. That had been reasonable enough. She supposed it would have been a very ironic way to die if she had been a sculptor in clay. Clearly the bad guys didn’t have much thought about ironic deaths. She supposed she should be thankful for that.

Of course it was Lady Summer. That one had been obvious all along, she just hadn’t been able to figure out why. Thank goodness for evil monologues. And Lady autumn, seen that one coming too. Next time pick someone who is a good liar to help with your plans, Aurora. Or not, hopefully there wouldn’t be a next time. The others had been a little… random, but then she didn’t expect to recognise all of them. Villains needed henchmen, right? And the winter night had been a surprise. But it’s hard to see if someone is lying when it’s dark.

Wendy resolved that next time, the queens could solve their own problem. Or possibly pay her a shit-ton of real, human money and give her immediate access to all their resources, instead of handing things out in scraps. She bet that their reward if they actually won this would just be ‘our eternal gratitude’, or something crap.

She was really hungry right now. It felt like it had been days since their pizza party. She could go for a burger.

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Villains

That unicorn had not been a unicorn at all! Kevin couldn’t understand how he hadn’t noticed the first time, it was so blatantly obvious the second time around. His best guess was that Aurora’s now equally obvious case of the cray-crays might be causing her magics to waver a bit.

So now they knew who were behind it all. The Ladies of Summer and Autumn he had already deduced were at the centre of it all, and the centaur butler and the ward were to be expected, as they worked for lady summer. Kevin was, however, quite surprised to see that one guy from class with them. Granted, he had always seemed like a bit of a douche, but kidnapping and conspiring to end the world seemed a bit extreme. But then again, they weren’t very close – and if you were a psycho, Kevin figured, you’d probably only reveal that to your closest friends.
And if you were friends with a psycho you might get kidnapped and turned to stone – that’s why it was so important to choose your friends with care.

But that was neither here nor there at this moment. There were more pressing matters at hand currently. Like, for instance, the world being about to end. They should probably do something about that. But after they had finished taking care of that, Kevin wanted a cheeseburger. And 12 hours of sleep. And to not meet any royalty for at least a year.

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Cabin in the Woods

Kevin sat uncomfortably, doing his best to not shake. He was in a tiny cabin deep inside great forest populated with psychotic unicorns. So far, Kevin concluded as he attempted to calm down after narrowly escaping the unicorn, it seemed that near-death situations did not become less terrifying the more of them you had – but he hoped that he would not get the opportunity to do further research on that particular subject.

The pizza party had not gone as well as expected, although there was still a chance that Hazel would come around – especially as she seemed really fond of Marco. If she didn’t, though, then whatever information they could gain from the Mothers would be crucial. Because they were running out of time. Summer solstice was approaching, and with it, the end of the world as they knew it.

Kevin recalled how calm things have been, just a week ago. His life had mostly consisted of tinkering with his bots and hanging out with Gwen. Those had been good times. Then, suddenly, everything had changed because some of the most powerful fae in existence decided that maintaining appearances was more important than averting a war or saving the world. It had been exciting at first – it still was, from time to time, whenever he managed to momentarily forget how expendable they were – but the layers upon layers of lies and schemes were taking their toll on Kevin… as was the impending doom.

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Post pizza party part 2

Wendy sat in the Mothers’ house, clutching at her knees on the low chair. Her heart was still pounding from running from the Black Unicorn. They had been doing so well, but then Elliot had stepped on a twig or something. She didn’t blame him though. I could have been any of them, and he had much bigger feet than she did.

They were here to ask questions, to find out whatever they could and try to navigate the inevitable riddles of fey kind. And her mind was blank. She hadn’t expected this, hadn’t expected the offer Leah would make so suddenly and she couldn’t think of anything to ask them. It was so stupid.

She was feeling… lost. They had hoped that the pizza party would encourage Hazel to be a bit more forthcoming, that seeing the sadness on William would make her feel guilty and she would admit the truth or at least reveal something. True, it was nice to spend time with other people, to just relax and remind herself that they were still teenagers. But she felt somehow that things hadn’t really worked out. Well, except for Marco. Apparently Hazel dug the sensitive farmboy thing.

And then this Leah had shown up, out of the blue offering them guidance and access. Why didn’t the queens give them something like this from the start. It was so hard to judge them, to tell if they really want the group to find things out or if this was just another game. She didn’t like being a pawn. These things felt too adult. Wandering the city, seeing the back alleys and the undercity and the semi-naked women that inhabited it was getting a bit much. She wanted to know, but when she found out she wished she hadn’t followed the smoke. Curiosity killed the cat and all.

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The Pizza Party Extravaganza

Marco just knew that the pizza party was a great idea and massive success. Everyone seemed to have fun, even if he did lose his cool a bit and break down in front of Hazel. But Marco was sensitive and that really couldn’t be helped. Lilly’s disappearance had started to take its toll on that poor boy and it was hard for Marco to see. ‘She better have disappeared against her will.’ He was starting to think, because if she just left on her own accord without so much as proper explanation… Well if that was the case Marco had a thing of two to talk about with her.

Unfortunately, like every over day that he’d been on this task, Marco had met two more people he didn’t trust. The first was Leah. The winter Queen’s second in command. She had acted pleasant enough and been quite helpful, and there was no denying that she was beautiful but he knew that she must have another side to her. One that embodied winter more. A cold, sharp side that Marco would rather not see. The other person he hadn’t trusted even when he didn’t know her. The winter lady’s reputation proceeded her. Thinking back on it he knew that she was, although honest, cool and calculating. There was no doubt that she knew how to play everyone around her and you only have to walk into her hall and look around to see what she does to people that displease her. But the thing that made Marco most uneasy about Maeve was that while in her presence all of these thoughts alluded him. All he could think about was what she wanted him to do and how he could gain her favour, this scared him more than giant plant monsters and demon horses.

And now they were in a house with THE Mothers. The all-knowing Fae. This was Marcos chance to ask them anything and suddenly it wasn’t all fun and games. The pressure of what they had been tasked to do had finally reached him. This was their chance to find out the answers to anything they could think of. So why in the name of Queen Willow could he only think about pickles!?

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Depressing Thoughts

Even the peaceful park and Inkahhhh jumping around couldn’t cheer Marco up. The last couple of days had been fun but they’d started to take their toll on him. It wasn’t even the amount of running from person to person or fighting big ol’ plant monsters or the fact that they seemed to be an ever growing number of sprites coming over for pizza that put a damper on his moods. It was some of the smaller things that just seemed to quell his joy.

The first depressing thought was about Lilly. She’s still missing and although Marco had a pretty good guess that Lady Aurora had something to do with it, they weren’t really any closer to solving that one. Her ex-boyfriend, who luckily turned out to be a wizard, cast a spell to find her but apparently it told him nothing. And the worse part of all of this? He still loves her! And she’s missing and he might never see her again. Just thinking about it brought tears back to Marcos eyes.

The second thought filled Marco with a mixture of anger and sadness. It looked like death was not going to be a rare thing in this task they had been given. It had even started with a death. But the thought that a life could be taken so mercilessly and without reason. And to make matters worse this atrocity had been committed by one of their own! Someone they had trusted! She didn’t even seem bothered about what she had done. The way Wendy had stamped that poor plant to death. It was something Marco would never forget.

The final thing that plagued Marcos mind was Hazel. She was locked away in what was less of a home and more of a prison. The only people she was allowed to socialise with were the vindictive Ladies and her brute of a guard. How she must yearn for the freedom and peace of the outdoors. Even with the current problems in the world and her inexperience, Willow was being too protective or her daughter. The Queens treatment of Hazel was almost cruel.

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Summer Garden

Wendy sat on the bench in Lady Summer’s garden and used her pencil to dig the remains of the plant out of her boot sole. She had ground it down to paste, and if she could have ground it to dust she would have. In hindsight, that had been stupid – they should have kept the plant to see if they could get any more clues from it. But at the time she had been absolutely terrified.

In the year she had been part of the fey world, she had kept to herself. She went along when she was summoned, and she made pretty regular trips to the Autumn library. Unlike in the human world, these were texts she actually wanted to study. But fey politics hadn’t been something she was interested in. After all she was only 15. She would be sixteen in the last week of June, but still. She was far too young for this sort of thing.

Watching that… thing drag Marco into the alley, and punch Kevin so hard in the chest he bruised, it had made everything real. And seeing it burst into flames, hearing it scream… looking back it surely seemed heroic, but she had been screaming inside and out the whole time.

Before she had been curious, and it had been like a game. Wendy had always loved detective shows and stories, enjoyed the thrill of the mystery (even though she was too impatient to wait and always skipped to the end to find out who did it). But this wasn’t a game. People had died, and her friends had been hurt. And Lady Autumn, the lady of her court, was a liar. She knew that the fey queens and ladies always bent the truth to suit their needs, but it hurt to hear to her face. She was glad she wasn’t a fey queen.

She dug the last of the plant out of her boot and cleaned her pencil off on her trousers. Lady Summer’s garden was beautiful, and her work was technically impeccable. But there was something about her statues that seemed a little off to Wendy. She couldn’t help but be suspicious of the woman. Maybe the others had found something out. She stood up to leave just as Lady Summer came out the back door.

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