Authors Note: I would like to first and foremost credit this story to Moongrim that co-wrote this with me. With his invaluable input, I feel that one of my favorite characters, Arawn was properly represented in this fantastic cross over.
March 13th (cont…)
What the hell?
”And Arawn, allow me to introduce to you, Donnie. He’s the husband to one of my granddaughters and interestingly enough also a dimensional Traveler such as yourself. He’s from a place called Earth, have you heard of it before in your travels?” The Maou asked.
With a blank, neutral expression on his face, Arawn raised an eyebrow and looked from her over to me curiously and said,
“Indeed Great Maou, I have encountered the Shadow known as: ‘Earth’ in its many variations during my extensive perambulations through the Multiverse. I look forward to discovering how he managed to find his way to this world.”
A ‘boys night out’ with this guy? Seriously, what was the Maou smoking and could I possibly get some of it, because that had to be some good shit.
I didn’t know him. But what they both just said did make me incredibly curious. Homeboy over there wasn’t from around these parts either. The scientific side of me was very eager to chat it up with him for some info. Exactly how many planets and dimensions were out there that could support life? What the shit was the Multiverse? Was it possible to travel to other worlds? As tired as I was in dealing with other dimensions bullshit, it was always my childhood dream to be a space explorer. In fact it was the whole reason I got into engineering
“A gesture of good will.” Said the Maou, interrupting my thoughts, as she opened a drawer of her desk and withdrew a familiar belt and holster. Tossing it to me, she added mysteriously,
”Just in case.”
Buckling the belt around my waist, I was instantly comforted by Winona’s weight on my hip. Still, all in all this was a little strange…
”Not exactly best practices to arm your prisoners.” I said suspiciously as I pulled out Winona and checked the chamber to see if she was empty. Oddly enough, she was full up with Silver rounds. I reholstered her as the Maou looked on with amusement and Arawn with interest.
“Everything in order?” She asked pleasantly.
I nodded with a frown, not quite trusting Maou ma’s generosity.
”And to answer your remark, you were never a prisoner, Donnie.”
”Really?” Raising an eyebrow of my own, I sarcastically said, “Well, you could have fooled the hell out of me. You know with the jail and the bars and all.”
“You could have left anytime you wanted to. At no time did I ever say you were a permanent captive, did I?” She said with a hint of a laugh.
“But I… But you said… With the keeping locked up…”
The Maou stared at me as I struggled to form a complete sentence. Finally I blurted out,
“…So I didn’t have to sleep in the dungeon all night on that hard ass cot, while your Ogre guard was rubbing like twenty out, peeping on me as my wife decided to have her way?”
“I did think it was rather strange you did, but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of insulting you.” She replied with a shit-eating grin, “By the way, Amaya does send her thanks to both of you. She said it was the best shift she ever had down there.”
Oh. My. Fucking. Lord.
I kept in my screams of frustration, choosing to go the adult route and take many deep, calming breaths. Finally, with as much maturity as I could muster, I said,
”You know what… I deserved that.”
The Maou simply smiled and tossed both Arawn and myself each a small, heavy sack. Looking inside I saw it was filled with gold coins, more than enough to hit the town up and get shitfaced. It seemed Tenchi also had around the same idea as he stared at the coin sack longer then I did. Maybe the guy was a real party animal?
“What about Romie? I need to let her know where I’m going.”
I didn’t want her to worry, or worse yet, her switching to Red Romie to do a search and rescue. Pretty sure this place didn’t have a Demon Realm FEMA to handle the aftermath.
“While you’re having your night out, my granddaughter and I will have our night in. Both of us have much to catch up on and I’ve been craving a little girl talk as of late. Now you two boys have fun and don’t get into too much trouble. Remember Donnie, you now count as royalty here so do behave,”
The Maou warned, then turning her attention to Arawn, “And you, Yokai Arawn, you are still bound by our original agreement as well.”
Arawn nodded and said, “Of course Great Maou, I was fully aware of what it entailed when I offered you my sword after you freed me from my Covenant. I do not now, nor do I ever take oath-breaking lightly.”
He glanced at me for a second before turning his attention back over to the Maou,
“So, do you have any recommendations upon what city sights I should avoid so as to preserve what is left of his virtue?” Arawn asked the Great Maou cheekily, with just a hint of a smile upon his face.
The Maou gave Arawn a cold stare for a moment and blew out a breath of exasperation.
“Since his wife, Romie, will not be with him,” she answered dryly. “I suggest you both avoid the Royal Art Museum, at the very least.”
What the hell was in the Art Museum? Just art, right?
“I will comply.” Arawn replied. “What condition do you require him to be in upon his return?”
“Drunk is fine if it comes to it, but remember that he’s capable of getting a hangover. So no Satyros Wine for either of you!”
I rolled my eyes at them both. Jesus it’s like they were negotiating the fucking Geneva convention.
“Yeah, yeah, fine. Be good, don’t set your Demon Realm on fire, wipe our feet before we come back in, whatever. Let’s go.”
”Don’t suppose this place has a Dave and Busters?” I asked as we walked outside.
He looked sideways to me, questioningly.
“I assume that is the name of an establishment? If so, I am not familiar with it.”
“Yeah, I guess that was too much to hope for. So what’s fun to do around here other than avoiding horny Mamono?”
“To answer you in the reverse order, I assume that what the Great Maou has undoubtedly bequeathed us with is…” Arawn began as he opened up the bag containing his share of the ‘Night-out’ fund. When he did he saw something that made him smile.
“Ah! Just as I surmised.” He stated as he reached inside and pulled out an odd-looking object, and then held it up for me to see. “This is a Periapt of Concealment. It will generally mask you and your Spirit Energy emanations from any hungry or ‘horny’ Mamono. You probably have one within your bag as well.”
Frowning, I checked my own bag, digging through the coins to see it had the same thing inside. Holding it up, I turned it from side to side.
”So this thing acts as kinda cloaking device keeping the ladies out there from getting too frisky? Nice.”
“You assume correctly Donnie, I would not be the least surprised if they were not also ‘tracking-devices’.” Arawn said as he examined his own.
Well nothin like being LoJacked by Maou ma to give a guy that warm, fuzzy feeling.
“As far as general entertainment goes. You will find that Royal Makai is similar to any other city in that it sports Theaters, Museums of every variety, sporting events that include Martial Arts competitions and the like. Though ever since my first experience as Ship’s Captain and my crew’s needs, I would imagine that those venues are probably not what you are desirous of.” He described as we made our way through the streets of the city. The buildings around us were well made with brick or wood and the road below our feet was upkept without potholes. If I pretended hard enough I could almost imagine myself back home.
Various Mamono passed by but where normally two guys like us would be getting stares and catcalls like a couple hot blondes walking by some construction workers, we were largely ignored. I guess the… parapa whatever doohickey was working.
Museums didn’t exactly sound like a fun time, don’t get me wrong, I do like a bit of culture every now and then but not for a boys night out. Theaters might be something but maybe as a Plan B. I doubted they had the newest Hollywood hit playing but hey, who knows. Martial Arts sounded kinda cool, something like UFC maybe?”
“Martial Arts? They got MMA here?”
“The sporting events such as the Martial Arts institute- also have active participation. Though as a male, I would caution against doing so. As the winners reserve the right to claim the losers for the night.”
…Then again being in a room full of horny, buff, muscled Mamono that weren’t too concerned about trivial things like consent might not be such a good idea after all.
“Ehhh… What else?” I asked as we passed by a couple little shops showcasing clothes that would make a stripper bashful and gawdy jewelry meant to be placed on particularly naughty parts of the body.
“There are also bordellos and taverns on practically every corner. Or, we could just simply walk around and choose our way at random.”
“The second option sounds good, it’s my first time here and with the parpawhatever keeping us on the DL, it’ll be fun to explore around.” Arawn raised an eyebrow at my slaughtering of the little devices name but he nodded in agreement and said,
“There is one thing I am desirous of locating is an ‘Adventurer Supply Shop’. The reason being; is undoubtedly we could find useful items located within. Magical book shops also include a number of artifacts.”
“Sure, I’m always up for finding new gear and toys, lead the way.” I said with some pep. I had to admit it was kinda fun, being able to walk around like this without being bothered. As much as I hated to admit as well… I guess it was nice having some male company around. For most of my time on this rock, I would travel alone or most recently with Romie. A little testosterone was a refreshing change.
Arawn abruptly paused as if thinking something, his eyes rapidly shifting slightly from side to side.
“Heya… You okay?” I asked, concerned. Shit, I didn’t need this guy passing out or dying on me. I had it bad enough dealing with the Maou on the issue with Big Boy, I really didn’t want to explain how her BFF here dropped dead on me.
Suddenly turning to me he said, “My apologies. I have a request to make; there is someone I care to visit. She is sorely injured and is recuperating at the Makai Medical Institute.”
“Yeah, no problem, not like we had any kind of solid plan for tonight or anything. Do you wanna go grab some flowers or somethin on our way there?” I said with a shrug.
“That won’t be necessary, as it should be brief.” He said with a bit of apprehension, walking ahead of me. Frowning, I followed. Well this evenings not exactly going the way I thought it would go but at least no ones trying to kill me, so that’s always a plus in my book.
“If I may direct your attention to yon rickshaw being pulled by a Minotauros, it will hasten our journey.”
I’d seen rickshaws on some old NatGeo videos that the substitute would put on when my High School History teacher went on maternity leave. I told myself that I wouldn’t be caught dead on one of those things, now look me. Ah, the joys of youthful ignorance, I thought as I boarded the cart pulled by a chestnut colored bull girl.
“Where to?” She grunted like an old New York cabbie as we sat down.
”The Maki Medical Institute, please.” Requested Arawn. Immediately the cart shot off, throwing both our heads back. We zoomed in and out of traffic at a disturbing speed and at one point, the damn cart careened on one wheel as she took a breakneck turn. I glanced to Arawn out of the corner of my eye and got slightly… no let me say vastly worried as he did the same to me.
“Madam, do you not think our acceleration is too excessive?” He called to the Minotaur.
“I don’t tell you how to walk, you don’t tell me how to drive.” She responded back gruffly. I saw him blink in surprise at that one.
Heh, exactly what a cabbie would say.
Somehow I didn’t think this thing was equipped with airbags, let alone the lack of seatbelts. I hoped my boy Tenchi’s life insurance was paid up because with the way things were going, our death was gonna be on the 5 o’clock news real quick.
That would be right after Tammy the weather Ryu’s weekly forecast…
Another sharp turn and Arawn slammed into my side, interrupting my Maki News fantasy. Without warning, the cart screeched to a halt, throwing us forward, as we found ourselves in front of a large white, phallic looking building. We fell out of the Rickshaw of Death on each side, Arawn breathing heavily and me kissing the pavement multiple times.
Oh sweet sweet, heavenly ground, how I’ve missed you! Don’t worry, daddy won’t ever leave you again!
”That’ll be 4 silver.” She said to us.
While still on my knees, I dug a gold coin out of my bag and tossed it to her groaning, “Leave, NOW!”
At seeing the gross overpayment, the Minotaur smiled and winked at me before taking off.
”We are NOT doing that again!” I yelled, pointing a finger over to Arawn as I forced myself to stand.
“Agreed,” He panted as he stood as well.
”Although I should say that is not a typical experience with such a method of transportation.”
“And I should say I nearly pissed myself on that last turn, but I’m not. Is this the place?”
“Indeed,” He said tensely.
“If you don’t mind me asking, who are we going to go see?” I said quietly.
“My beloved. Her name is Takana. She is a Shoggoth.”
Shoggoth…. The name was familiar, damn familiar but I just couldn’t match the name to a face in my head. The weird thing was, I remember hearing that name back on Earth, but from where?
I guess my confusion showed on my face as Arawn said,
“A Shoggoth is a sort of homogenization between a Kikkimora and a Slime Girl.”
“Lovecraft.” I interrupted aloud, suddenly remembering. He was an author that wrote about them. Something about monsters from another world or something like that.
”I beg your pardon?”
“Sorry, go on.” I said, embarrassed.
“This one is in the care of the medical institute due to the injuries that I unintentionally inflicted upon her.”
“I see,” I replied, I was a little curious to ask for details on what happened but it seemed rude so instead I remarked, “So, uh yeah, kinda an interesting choice for a girlfriend?”
“Why would I be in a relationship with a Shoggoth? Because she and I had previously encountered each other. We had met several million years ago.”
Well, that certainly puts a new spin on the term ‘old flame.’
“Million years ago? Exactly how old are you?” I asked suspiciously as we made our way to the front door. My bullshit alarm was starting to sound, Tenchi here didn’t look a day over 30.
“I am uncertain of my precise age as the world of my birth was destroyed when it’s parent star expanded into a red giant and evaporated it. That star is now in the white dwarf stage.”
Glancing over at him, he had a straight face as he said it. I wanted to call him out on that but something stopped me. In the past few years I’d encountered some weird, off the wall shit that I would have said was impossible back on Earth. Magic, girls with animal parts, Demon Lords and the like. Was what this guy was saying really too much of a stretch from that?
”Ah… that sucks.” I said diplomatically then throwing caution to the wind I asked, “Mind if I asked what happened with you and her?”
“What injuries? I was unaware of the damaging effect that I had upon her. We were lovers, intending to make the union permanent. Her condition was, that she suddenly lost all ability to maintain her elasticity. Essentially- she became a puddle upon the floor. It has been a couple of months since I’ve last seen or heard any news from her, or her status from her caretakers.” He said sadly as he opened the door for us to go through.
“Mamono are pretty hard to “damage,” guy. What kind of effect did you have to do that?”
“Are you aware of such things as energies?”
“Yeah, for the most part.” I answered as we traveled down a hallway. The floors were smooth almost like polished concrete, and the walls themselves were also painted white. The place had a sterile smell to it, giving me the impression that this was as close to an actual hospital that I would ever see here.
“As a being of Chaos her energy was incompatible with my own as I was created as servitor of Law. Thus with the time we spent together, I had been unknowingly poisoning her.”
I could see the pain, guilt and grief on his face. He really did care for her and knowing that he did that was killing him. But then my spidey sense started tingling hard…
“I dunno man, like I get the fact that your… Law and Order: SVU energy doesn’t vibe well with hers but… something seems shady. Call it a hunch or intuition or whatever but I don’t buy it.”
“Donnie, these findings were confirmed by professionals in their field.”
“Professionals can be wrong, Arawn. Mistakes can be made, tests misread, findings misinterpreted. All I’m saying is don’t believe everything people tell you. Especially on this planet, people here have the annoying habit of getting idea’s in their head and running with them before even considering if they are right.” I retorted, thinking back to past events.
Arawn said nothing back as we continued to walk. Maybe he was thinking it over or maybe he just didn’t believe me and was convinced that he was the problem. For some reason, deep down, it just felt wrong.
Getting directions from a Manticore nurse dressed in a revealing white outfit that exposed a ridiculous amount of cleavage, we found ourselves outside a lone door.
“If I may ask a boon?” He requested quietly.
I looked to him questioningly as he continued,
”I am… unsure if my presence would be appreciated or wanted. If you could relay a message from me?”
I nodded, internally unsure if I really wanted to get involved in this.
“Tell her… Tell her that I am sorry, that no matter what, I will always love her and that I hope she could one day forgive me.” He said, his voice choking with emotion.
“Sure,” I whispered.
Licking my lips, I knocked on the door before entering. God damn it, this was awkward as hell, but looking into his eyes, I saw real, honest pain. It was the same pain as mine whenever I thought of Victoria. I might be a bastard, a killer or whatever anyone wanted to say about me but, I couldn’t say no to him. Not for this.
Walking in, I saw a lone bed but on it was a trough that ran its span. In it I saw purplish black ooze. A yellow eye appeared in it suddenly and trained itself on me. Was this Takana? I didn’t know too terribly much about Shoggoths – just what Arawn described. I was never a big H.P Lovecraft fan, but I was pretty sure it was her.
”Uh, I’m really sorry to disturb you…Miss Takana? But I’m a…friend of someone you know. Arawn?”
The ooze slowly gathered and formed into a semi sold, dripping mass of a dark purple skinned woman. The whole process reminded me of the shapeshifter, Odo, from Deep Space 9. Guess the writers got that one right…
”You know Arawn?” She asked, her eyes shining brightly. Yellow with black pupils… Star Beasts wasn’t that what they were called. Did she count as an alien? Could I honestly peg this as a First Contact? Well not one I could really claim with the circumstances. Oh well, next time…
”Um, kinda. We have some… mutual acquaintances. He asked me to give a message to you…”
“Arawn?! Arawn? Where are you!?” She frantically yelled aloud suddenly.
At the sound of her voice, Arawn barged in, appearing by my side.
“Takana, my love.” He breathed.
A brunette Succubus wearing a white lab coat and an Incubus… nurse(?) rushed through the door to see what the commotion was.
“You!” The Succubus Doctor shouted, glaring angrily at Arawn, “You know you can’t be near here, you’re undoing all the therapy we have been performing to get her better!”
“Noooo, Arawn!!!!” Takana wailed, small tendrils of her body flailing about in the tub, reaching for him. She seemed to be in a hallucinatory state as she saw him. Her eyes large and full of pain at seeing her lost lover. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments I had ever seen…
Looking over to me, the Doc commanded, “Get him out of here or I’ll have you both thrown out!”
“Come on,” I said softy as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, pulling him away. He didn’t resist, I had the feeling that if he did, I would be in real trouble.
“Takana, I will always love you!” He called back to her as we left. We could hear her shouts of his name and of the doctors and nurses trying to calm her, echoing from the walls.
His grief and pain was on display for all to see and my heart bled to see him like that as we traveled back. Even though I had just met this man, I understood his suffering. Leading him down the hallways through the corridors to the exit, I comforted him as best as I could.
Once outside, Arawn escaped my grasp and walked a few steps away, breathing heavily, trying to compose himself. I gave him his space, opting to look around my surroundings.
I didn’t notice but looking up, I saw a red full moon surrounded by clouds. That struck me as odd seeing as how it was lighter out then if it were actually night. It was still muggy as hell, the air seemed to stick all over my body and reminded me of those nights in Florida when I was on vacation with my folks. An image of a certain blonde in a sun dress appeared in my head.
Fuck, no thank you!
I did NOT need her ass after me with all the shit I had going on. Jesus, next thing you know I’ll be on Jerry Springer with the lot of them. “Help, I’m trapped in a love square with a Cheshire that has a split personality and a psycho stalker Goddess!”
In retrospect that would his greatest show to date though, definitely Emmy award-winning.
“My… My apologies. I should not have done this. I should not have requested we go here. I fear I have ruined our evening.” He said with his back to me.
“Hey man, I get it,” I said with my arms spread, “Shit happens, life happens, we all got issues. Love and life, they’re both bitches, trust me I know. I got a girl out there that’s pregnant with my kid and she doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
”Someone that is not your wife?” He asked, turning to me.
“Okay, I know how that sounds and makes me look but there’s a good explanation!” I said hurriedly, holding up a finger to him, “How about we go grab a drink and swap some stories, huh?”
I saw his eyes doing that weird shifting thing again before he answered,
”Agreed, perhaps this night may yet be salvaged.”
“That’s the spirit!” I exclaimed with as much gusto as I could manage. Walking over, I threw an arm around his shoulder and said, “Come on, buddy. You, me, some booze, everything will be alright. But let’s walk this time because I swear, if I see that rickshaw driver again I’m gonna shoot her and call it self-defense.
As we walked down an empty street on our way to the nearest bar, I had the strangest sensation. It felt almost as if we were being watched. The sound of a child’s laugh echoed creepily on a brief gust of wind. Glancing to my left, I saw what looked like a little girl with goat horns on her head, holding an insane looking scythe. She grinned maliciously at us from a side alleyway as we walked by.
What the hell?
”Hey,” I said, looking over to Arawn and pointing a finger back at the girl, “Did you just see a goa…”
Looking behind, she was gone save for a piece of trash paper flying in the wind on the sidewalk.
He glanced at me questioningly.
“I see nothing. Are you well, Donnie? Perhaps we should cancel our engagement.”
“Nah, nevermind.” I said wiping my face with a hand, “I’m fine, maybe it’s just the humidity playing tricks on me.”
“I doubt it is the evaporation you are feeling. It is more likely the excessive Demonic Ener…” He trailed off as he looked to his right. I followed where he was looking to see three massive green Ogres blocking our way. Each held a large wooden club in their hands and somehow I doubted they were friends of my old prison guard buddy, Amaya.
“They’re not here to sell us magazine subscriptions, are they?” I asked Arawn quietly.
“It is doubtful that they are here in that capacity. More likely they are here to engage us in an altercation.”
“Ladies!” I called out with what was hopefully a charming smile, “Maybe my friend and I can buy all three of your lovely selves a few drinks and we could talk this over in a civilized manner?”
The Ogre on the left wordlessly ripped out a street sign from the ground and threw it at me. I managed to sidestep just in time as it flew by my face, landing on the road behind us in a wreck.
“Okay, yeah you’re right. They are definitely here to kick our asses.”
Arawn took a fighters stance as his fist began to glow.
”How apt are you in combat?” He asked me.
Looking down at Winona on my hip, I responded,
”You know, I’m alright. Not exactly Bruce Lee, more like Wyatt Earp, but I can hold my own.”
”Good. I will endeavor to engage the middle and the right, if you will take the remaining one?”
Pulling Winona from my holster I cocked a grin at him as they began their approach to us. He noticed my other significant other finally, and looked at me sternly.
”You do realize we must not kill them. Despite being the aggressors, each of our statuses demand that we use nonlethal force.” He said as his fist glowed brighter.
“Yeah, yeah, I remember what Maou ma said to us.” I grumbled as I separated from him. True enough, two of the green She-Hulks concentrated on Arawn while the third made her way over to me with her club swinging. Looking into her eyes, I seen they were milky and glazed over. I might not have gotten my online Ogre medical school degree but I was pretty sure that wasn’t normal.
“Yo Arawn, I think there’s something wrong with them! Look at their eyes!” I called as I crouched low, avoiding a heavy swing that would have taken off my head.
“I concur!” He called back as he dodged and weaved between them. Jumping up, he landed a devastating right hook with his glowing fist to one of the Ogres chin. The blow threw off her feet to land nearby me as I tangoed with my own green gal.
“They are under control of another, mere puppets.”
Well time to cut the strings of this one. I got far enough back to aim and fire a shot straight into her chest. The Ogre paused for a moment, looking down to where the bullet phased through her.
“I told you, we could not use lethal force!” He yelled at me as he fought with the remaining one.
”Fucking chill! It’s not a metal slug! I’m using Demon Realm Silver!” I yelled back.
Now in theory, Olga the Ogre here in front of me should have dropped to the ground, helpless. Theories though sometimes tend to flip you off and tell you to go screw yourself as the Ogress snapped out of her daze and swung her club down at me.
I barely managed to get out-of-the-way, throwing myself to the right as her weapon made a crater the size of a basketball in the road.
Fuck it, quantity over quality then!
Still laying on my side, I shot 3 more rounds in her chest then 1 in her head as I nearly emptied Winona out. That seemed to do the job as she finally collapsed.
Pulling myself up, I aimed Winona over and fired her last round into the other Ogres head that was fighting Arawn. That seemed to distract her enough for him to land a nicely executed uppercut, finishing her off.
We both were breathing heavily afterwards.
“I would not have thought to use Demon Realm Silver as a miniature high-speed projectile.” He said admiringly, crouching on the ground, quickly catching his breath.
“Yeah well, they don’t have phasers around these here parts and the one that made Winona was a hell of a lot smarter and more noble than I am.”
”She would be same that now carries your child?” He asked, still breathing hard.
”Yep,” I gasped, trying to keep the pain out of my voice from thinking about Victoria.
There was a silence after that as we recovered.
”You equipped yourself quite admirably.”
“You weren’t too shabby yourself with that… glowy Fist of the North Star thing you got going on.”
Arawn paused at that for a moment then he actually chuckled and replied, “It is called a Blast Punch.”
“Blast Punch, huh? Yeah… that’s a good name… good name,” I said getting my heart rate back under control.
“So, what do you think all that was about?”
“I would venture to surmise that it was a-“
Alarms suddenly sounded throughout the city, interrupting him.
“What the hell is that?” I shouted over the noise.
“Incursion,” He shouted back, staring up at the sky, He then closed his eyes for a moment as if concentrating, opening them back up he looked to me as I yelled,
”I’m sorry, say again?”
”The Order is attacking! They are teleporting in troops in hopes of sowing chaos as well as killing as many as they can.”
“Are you serious? Attacking the Royal Maki, that’s suicide!”
“It has happened on previous occasions,” Arawn said grimly as the alarms suddenly stopped.
He gripped my shoulder, “I must get you to safety. While those Ogres we fought were formidable, those sent here from The Order will be in greater number and more dangerous. I have just only recently recovered from a grave injury and my powers are still subpar. I would not be able to properly protect you in the field of battle.”
Opening Winonas chamber, I refilled her from the small ammo pouch on my belt. I normally carry about 24 bullets in there, enough for 4 more full go arounds before I’m screwed. It would have to be enough.
“I’ve fought The Order before, Arawn. The only place I’m going is with you to take care of those pricks.” I replied looking at him while flipping close the chamber.
“If you were to be injured or killed, both the Maou and your wife would be most vexed with me.” He said with a frown.
“Same thing for me, pal. If you bite the dust, Maou ma would get even more pissy at me then she already is, so whaddya say we watch each other’s backs?”
There was back and forth with his eyes for a second before he finally said, “Agreed, but we must hurry the longer we hesitate, the more lives that could be lost.”
“Yippee aye ki-yay” I replied dryly as we made a run for it to the center of the city.
With both hands gripping Winona, I held her out in front of me as I combed the place. Ironically enough, Arawn and I got separated as soon as we arrived. Order soldiers were running around everywhere, like ants at a picnic. Except these ants wanted to kill you, not steal your roast beef sandwich.
At every squeeze of her trigger, another Order soldier fell to the ground, incapacitated. I’m pretty damn sure Arawn could tell where I was at with how loud my girl was. I wasn’t alone either, there would be the occasional, random Mamono guard runnin along side that would beat me to the punch and attack first. I think the official term for it was “aggressive foreplay.” When that happened, I went somewhere else as usually the ending got a little… lewd.
It was strange how I was never targeted by any ‘friendly fire’ so to speak. Maybe word got out that the random Human guy running around with a gun, shooting his own, was on their side. But none of the defending Mamono would hit me. Dark Mages, Familiars and Witches would sling their spells over my head, Centaur’s would shoot their arrows around me and so on. Now the Order pricks on the other hand, they didn’t like me too much. I guess the fact that a ‘fellow Human’ was helping the enemy got their panties in a twist, as they tended to come at me en masse. Winona showed them the error of their ways.
Anyway, the whole area was filled with the sounds of battle punctuated with moans here and there and of course the occasional boom of Winona. Definitely one of the most fucked up, dysfunctional invasions I had ever been in. Well… it was the only invasion I had ever been in, but still a little professionalism would be nice.
Peeking around from the side of a building, I saw my boy taking on 7 Order troopers by himself. He was a whirlwind of kicks and punches as they rushed to surround him. Looking further away, I saw 2 more running to join the fight.
Now that’s just plain rude, him having a party and not inviting me. Think I’ll crash it.
Swinging around the corner, I aimed and fired at the two tryin to join in on the fun. The sound of Winona made about half of the Order soldiers engaging Arawn turn around, giving him enough leeway to perform a spinning kick to their heads, knocking them out.
“That was fun,” I remarked as I approached. I then noticed something was odd… he had changed clothes into a white karate outfit.
”The fuck Arawn, you had to do a wardrobe change just to take on these assholes?”
Arawn regarded me with a stern expression that then softened as he bowed at the waist to me. “I am not Arawn precisely, call me instead: Tertius. I am one of his not-brothers. It is an honor to finally meet you face to face.”
“Seriously Arawn, nows not the time to grow a sense of humor,” I said glancing around at our surroundings, “There’s more Order fuckers runnin around then trolls on a message board.”
“I am not jesting, Donnie I am not Arawn precisely.” He said simply as he crossed his arms. Although I had to admit that his voice did sound a little different, I still called him out on it.
”So what, you just happen to be another Tenchi Muyo look-alike that coincidently just happened to drop on by while we’re up to our armpits in Order retards?”
”I am an offshoot of Arawn. I specialize in hand to hand combat.”
“Fine,” I sighed as I refilled Winona, I was down to 12 Silver bullets, I loaded 6 up in her chamber. Hopefully this would end soon.
“Whatever floats your boat, buddy, but good job.”
I raised my fist to him. Puzzled, he looked down at it and said, “I am unsure of this gesture.”
“It’s a fist bump, like a sign of friendship and victory. You bring your own fist up and bump it to mine.” I explained.
Still looking at mine, he raised a clenched hand and gingerly touched it to my own.
“We gotta work on that later but where do you think we should head to next?”
Turning his gaze up, he did that eye shifting thing, causing me think that Arawns whole family really needed to go to an optometrist.
“Quartus and Quintus are engaging several Order soldiers by the Bazaar, Primus is currently defending the Medical Institute…” He droned as if reading from a report, “Secundus requests assistance, there are multiple Order mages attacking the Makai Children’s School he is defending”
Fuck, how many brothers did Arawn have out there?
“Which direction?” I asked.
Tet..Teta… Tetris or whatever the hell his name was paused again, did that eye thing again, then said, “Travel down the street in front of us, take the fourth left then the eighth right.”
“Got it but what about you, aren’t you coming?”
A war cry of 3 more Order soldiers interrupted our conversation. Arawns brother or whatever simply smiled as he turned to face them.
Guess this was a solo road trip. I took off running, praying the guy was better at giving directions then Romie was. Romie… I hoped to hell she was safe inside the Maou’s castle…
Left, left, left, turn! 1, 2,3,4,5,6,7 turn! I found myself coming up on a large brown building that kinda looked like my old elementary school, minus the kiddie sized phallic shaped statues all around. All the running and the air here was killing me. Maybe it was just me but, it was sticky and clingy, almost suffocating. Taking a moment to catch my breath, I saw 7 Order mages all shooting magic bolts at an Arawn look-alike crouched behind some rubble in front of the school.
Sucking in a lung full of wonderful Maki ozone, I made a mad dash towards him while firing off a few shots. 4 misses and 2 hits, I counted as I dived down next to him.
Fuck Donnie, you’re better then that.
“Secundus?” I asked as he looked at me in shock. The Arawn look alike was wearing a purplish black robe as he crouched behind the rubble wall.
“Donnie!” He exclaimed with a smile, “It is very good to see and meet you at last! I admire your jests the most out of all our not-brothers, including Primus.”
“Always nice to meet a fan,” I mumbled while reloading Winona with the last of my bullets.
”What’s the plan?” I asked, peeking out from our cover only to have a fireball nearly burn off my face.
“Fuck you, you Hogwarts rejects!” I yelled out in pain as I shot at them in blind anger. As my vision cleared, I saw the depressing results. All misses and now I’m out!
God damn it!
Ducking back down, Secundus answered, “The school is occupied by those taking refuge from the battle. They are attempting to collapse the building upon them.”
“How nice. Alright, do you think you can take these assholes out if I distract them? I asked as I holstered Winona.
“I could but they would need to be fully distracted. How are you planning on drawing the attention of them all?”
I smiled evilly at him and said, “I’m gonna do what I do best.”
Walking out, I held my hands up in surrender.
“Wait!” I yelled, “You guys win.”
The wizards… mages, whatever all looked to me then at each other in suspicion. Slowly, I walked away from the pile of rubble that Secundus and I were using as cover. Every single one of them was watching me like a hawk.
”I gotta say, you guys are pretty bad ass with your fireballs, magic bolts and other crap but I gotta ask if what a Paladin once told me was true. Do all you guys have twigs for dicks and jack off to a spell book?”
Their faces hardened at my question. The youngest looking one said aloud, “Soleil.”
The others looked to him, shocked as their leader smiled and nodded in approval saying, “A rather excessive spell, Jonah, but one fitting for this traitor to humanity.”
I kept my eyes trained on them and my hands up as each raised their wands and started to chant. An immerse orb of pure white light appeared above me. Huh, guess I really pissed them off for this kinda light show. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Secundus sneak up behind them and start his own spell. The look of fear in his eyes was obvious as he hurried in his casting… maybe I shoulda told him about my little advantage?
The orb dropped just as he finished his spell, the five mages in front of me glowed green then dropped face first to the ground. I could hear Secundus shout as I closed my eyes. A wave of goosebumps flowed over me as it landed. An almost deafening roar followed soon after as it swallowed everything around where I was standing.
Opening my eyes I saw little sparkles in the air dancing around, along with my fan boy, Secundus staring at me with his jaw hanging open. Looking down I found myself standing at the apex of a dipped crater.
“Wow! They really didn’t like me huh?” I exclaimed.
“H-How?” He stuttered, “You should have been vaporized!”
”Did I forget to mention I’m immune to magic?” I asked while crawling my way back up.
“That is impossible! No one is immune to magic.” He stated as he grabbed a hold of my arm and hoisted me up from the hole.
”Yeah, just like it’s impossible to have 5 of you guys runnin around but hey, my happy ass had to accept that one.”
We walked back to the school and sat on its stairs as another alarm rang through the city.
”That is the all clear. The Order invasion has been neutralized.” He said to me.
“Hip hip horay.” I sighed then held my palm up to him.
”Hey good job taking out those Harry Potter wannabes.”
Secundus looked to my hand then back to me with an unsure smile.
“…Slap my hand, guy. It’s called a high-five.”
This one did it with more gusto then Tetra… whoever did.
“I am afraid my time out is coming to an end. I had wished to talk to you more but I am glad to have met and fought by your side.” He said with a large smile.
“Same here,” I said, returning his smile. Out of all the incarnations of Arawn I met, for some reason this guy was my favorite.
“Farewell, Donnie.” He said as he faded away.
”Happy trails, partner.” I whispered to the wind that gusted though.
I stayed sitting on the stairs as various Mamono and families exited the school. Some ignored me, others put it together that I was one of the city’s defenders and hugged me tight. Had a few kisses on the cheek, a couple invites for a special ‘thank you’ in private. Guess the parapawhatever had its limits.
Eventually I was left alone again for a time then, from the horizon, came a lone figure. He stared at me for a moment, satisfied that I was unharmed, Arawn sat next to me.
“So… that just happened. Didn’t know you had bros on demand.”
“It appears that we both have unusual abilities, I was unaware that you were immune to the magics of this world.” He smiled. “Yet mine ability is somewhat more byzantine than that.” He replied mysteriously.
“Yeah, I bet it is.” I sighed.
“I fear that this evening, despite its rather violent course, has to come to an end, Donnie. It is late and we should return to the Maou’s castle.” He said softly.
“No, fuck that, Arawn!” I said standing angrily, “We dealt with those Thug-Life Ogres and a whole god damn army of Order assholes, all trying to stop us from getting our drink on. Fate herself is cock-blocking us on this one and I say we give her the middle finger!”
He glanced down for a moment, shifting his eyes again. If I had to guess, he was probably talking to his clone not brother- brothers or whatever. Finally, he smiled up at me saying, “I do believe that you are correct. Let us defy destiny and celebrate this night in victory.”
We walked through the doors of the nearest bar liked we owned the damn place. Arawn grabbed us a table while I ordered 2 large beers and an appetizer from the Satyros bartender. I wasn’t quite sure what the hell I ordered for food because the writing was more flamboyant than usual but being as starved as I was, I really didn’t care. I just pointed at a random thing in the appetizers section of the menu She gave me a wink and smile as I overpaid and took the mugs and a plate of something deep-fried from her
“I have a confession to make to you.” He declared as I sat a mug in front of him. Taking my seat at the other side of the table, I cracked a smile.
“Well I’m sure as hell no priest, Arawn, but a couple Hail Mary’s and an Our Father will forgive most sins… or so I’ve been told.”
“… As a side admission, I must say out of the billions I have met throughout my time the Multiverse, you are the most heteroclite.”
“Anyone ever tell you, you’re a real sweet talker?” I asked before popping some food in my mouth and washing it down with good ol’ Maki piss beer.
“I have yet to receive that compliment.” He answered with a straight race before taking a trial taste of his own drink and a bite from the plate. He made a duck face as the taste hit him.
“That doesn’t surprise me.”
He gave me an annoyed look as he chewed. Then continued on,
”I was given specific orders for this evening to coerce you into giving up the key to the thermonuclear device in the Maous possession.”
Well it was more like in MY possession that her happy ass took from me but I wasn’t going to argue semantics with him.
“Et tu, Brute?” I said to him with a small smile, then I followed quickly as he got a confused look on his face, “I don’t need to be a nuclear physicist to figure that one out, buddy. Ol’ Maou ma wants that nuke key more than the Detroit Lions want an actual win on the board. It was pretty obvious when she “generously” decided to treat us out that she was up to her little spade tail in ulterior motives.”
“Very astute and yes, I agree that her intentions were quite discernible. However after recent events and actions, I feel a certain amount of guilt for my intended conduct.”
I shrugged, “Eh, don’t worry about it, I’m not mad. It’s not like I can call myself a saint or anything. Hell, I can’t even say I’m a good guy anymore. I’m just some numbnut that tries to do the right thing and ends up fucking that up.”
I snorted a laugh in thought and made a face at him, “Guess you can just call me a bad guy that hates the other bad guys… But what the Maou wants to do… the plans she has for Earth… That scares the shit out of me.”
”May I inquire as to which of her proposals that has you concerned?”
“Her showin up on Earth and declaring “open season” for one. I’m pretty sure my government wouldn’t exactly like that and with my luck her ass would start god damn World War 3.” I said taking a larger gulp of the beer before continuing, “The other is that she would do the same as she’s done here, forcing change on the Human race. Very soon there won’t be such a thing as a Human on this world. I don’t want the same to happen on Earth. I have to protect them… I… I have to protect everyone.” I said quietly, looking into my drink and seeing my own dark reflection staring back at me.
“Fate has a way of forcing even the least of us, into burdensome choices that have ramifications for millions, sometimes billions of lives. Often those choices will either advance or delay the continuation of entire civilizations.”
“I have had several millions of years of experience in Multiverse travels; it involved both high-tech and magical worlds, Donnie. One thing that stands out to me right now, is the fact that I was actually on Earth at a time when a particularly intelligent creature dared to step out from the woodlands into the Savannah in the search for food and it became the ancestor of humanity. The need for survival is paramount, and the only way to survive is to change. Evolution is change. Change from what one is now to what one will become from now.” Arawn confided.
I badly wanted to ask him how he managed to find his way to the cradle of life on Earth so long ago but there were more pressing matters to discuss.
“Yes and that was natural change, a natural evolution, Arawn. You didn’t have some Succubus banging a caveman into making the wheel.” I retorted back.
Taking a moment, he seemed to gather his thoughts or maybe even was hashing out a reply with his not brothers. In a way I kinda thought it was bullshit that I had to debate this with like 5 people instead of 1. Finally he spoke,
“You said it yourself to the Maou, Humans do not share too well. But, they’re incredibly motivated to do so if they can see an advantage for them.”
“True, there was not a Succubus ‘banging’ a caveman to get them to change. What I am saying, is that by doing something out of the ordinary, by trying something new, humanity was born. What I did not mention, is that those proto-humans who chose to remain behind in the trees, went extinct. “
“Let me ask you this: why exactly is doing something different…bad? How precisely, is allowing the Chief God to return to the past depredations supposed to be ‘protecting everyone?”
“For you see In the past on this world, it has been not so much a ‘balance’ between the forces of the Chief God, or the Order as it otherwise is known, and the forces of the Great Maou, or the Mamono. Instead, it has been a near annihilation of one or the other. The Order would grow powerful enough to nearly destroy the Mamono, who then would go into hiding and gain strength. During that time, the Order would grow lax and fight each other until such time, as they have become decadent enough to become easy targets.”
“Then, the Mamono would attack the Order and nearly drive them into near extinction, and then humans would go into hiding. After that, the forces of the Mamono would become decadent to become easy targets.”
“Do you see where this is going? This Donnie, has been the cycle between Humans and Mamono for hundreds of thousands of years in this world.”
“And it is completely natural. That is what the original Maker of this world allowed for to occur. One side hitting the other into near extinction. Untold millions of lives snuffed out time and again on both sides, over hundreds of thousands of years.”
“So is what if what the Great Maou currently doing, artificial? If it is, then fine. She seeks an end to the unending cycle of unnecessary bloodshed. Instead of millions of people on both sides dying, they get to live their lives free of the pain of war and suffering.”
“Let me ask you something else Donnie, I have had some limited exposure to your world, answer me this- why is it that your people would rather see two men holding guns pointed at each other, than see those same two men holding each other’s hands?”
I blew out some air between my lips as he finished.
“God damn dude, you debate like my fucking Poly-Sci teacher in college.” I muttered, overwhelmed by the argument of a man billons of years older than myself.
He opened his mouth to say something but I stopped him with a hand.
“Okay yeah, I get it, I get it… But…” I took a moment to think for myself what I was really afraid of.
”I’m scared Arawn. I’m scared that my people will lose the best part of them. Yeah, I’ll be the first to say Humanity needs a damn good overhaul but deep down, we have the potential to be better, to act better, to be a noble, shining light in the universe…”
I thought to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of humanity in the future. We could be a better, kinder people. An example for others out there in the vastness of space.
”Donnie, who do you think will act as a brake upon the Maou entering your world, your universe and infecting it, changing the spirit of your people? My answer is this- You. Or, to be more precise, what you represent.”
“I have been to many, many, worlds, and planes of existence during my manifold years. What I have encountered amongst them all is this: It does not matter if I travel to these strange new worlds, or new civilizations via powerful magics such as Gateways, or traveling by high technological Spaceships: Each world has its own set of laws, and rules. Take Wonderland for example. It is a sort of limited world, but with its own set of rules”.
“By what I mean when I say: You. You are a sort of involuntary ambassador of your world. I would be willing to bet a century’s worth of lifetime that Magic does not work in your world. You are a representative of what your world’s limitations hold and value.”
“Why do I say this? One thing I have learned when I captained ships of sea or space. There is no such thing as coincidence. What we perceive as coincidence, is often predestination. Not fate. No Predetermination. Opportunities presented, and if avoided, presented again to us endlessly until such times as we accept them.”
“Furthermore, there is the Chief God of our world who is fighting the Great Maou. Keep in mind, that there just as easily could be a Chief God, or equivalent, ‘pulling the strings’ from your world. What kind of personality is your world’s Chief-God like?”
I laughed at his question. How exactly was I supposed to answer that. How many “Chief Gods” were on Earth? Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Gaia… so many more.
I’ll probably get flack for saying this but I always hated whenever someone said “God goes by many names but in the end he’s all the same.”
I impolitely disagree. Everyone has their own image of God and how he/she works. That’s why there’s like 50 different offshoots of every religion out there and what God likes and dislikes. God hates Jews, God hates Blacks, God hates Gays, God hates Immigrants, God seems to hate everyone now a days and to be honest I don’t blame him… or her. Gotta keep my bases covered, ya know? He or she doesn’t seem to get much say in their own celestial lifestyle.
Finally, after my own little internal musings, I answered, “Thats a bit of a complicated question. But I promise you my Humans will use their “Chief Gods” words to discriminate against the Mamono.”
Arawn spread his palms on the table as he replied, “It is expected that there will be strife, Donnie. Without it a civilization does not grow nor appreciates its own self-worth.”
Looking down at his hands, I chewed on my lower lip,
”You’ve given me a lot to think about.”
“In the end, it is your decision. I only wish to present to you views that perhaps you have not considered.” He said softly.
I absently nodded to Arawn, deep in thought. This night had been one hell of a roller coaster ride after another but thanks to him, I think I was in a slightly better position than I was to make an educated choice.
Afterwards, I told him my story. How I got to this world, how I ended up with Big Boy, my dealings with Colonel Faith as well as what happened with Victoria. I had to fight back my tears as I told him that side. Arawn understood all too well my pain. He told me not to lose hope, perhaps there was a chance that her and I could still have something of a friendship. I was doubtful.
By that time we were good and liquored up. The bartender had brought us a complimentary serving of her own house brand wine. Guess being a couple of hot guys here was the equivalent to being a couple hot chicks back on Earth. Ya get free drinks.
In the spirit of our “fuck the man, er… woman,” attitude, we downed the shit outta them and ordered more. It was then that Arawn told me a small part of his own vast history. How he was created by some jerkoffs that thought of themselves as the supreme Law of everything. The story of his not-brothers. How he had also traveled the vast dimensional realities known as the Multiverse. Even if I had a thousand days to talk to him, I don’t think I would even scratch the surface of his experiences.
Towards the end he confided in me his greatest desire; he wanted to end his infinitely long existence. He had enough of seeing birth and death, of wives and lovers fading away to the ravages of time, watching the endless cycle of events that all civilizations, planets and universes went though. I guess you could say he was just tired of watching the hamster run in its wheel. My words, not his. In a weird way I could understand, I’m damn sure I couldn’t last as long as he did, living that kind of life.
I don’t know how or when we made it back that night/ morning to the Maou’s castle because we were destroyed. I’m pretty damn sure we didn’t wipe our feet though.
”Hey, time to wake up sunshine.” Came a soft whisper in my ear.
As I drifted closer to consciousness, a Mack truck decided to run me over.
“Fuck kill me.” I groaned as I woke up to the worst hangover in my life. Burying myself under my pillow, I prayed that Big Boy would somehow spontaneously go off, ending my agony. I didn’t know where I was but the bed and its covers that I was laying on were incredibly soft on my naked skin.
Naked… Shit, I really hope Romie undressed me and not Arawn… that would be kinda awkward…
“Come on my love, I have breakfast for you.” Romie said as she pulled off the blankets and the pillows protecting me from the outside world.
Instantly, light stabbed at my eyes as I cried, “If you really do love me, you’ll put me out of my misery!”
“Grandmother was right, you do love dramatics.” She said in a sickeningly cheery tone.
I did NOT want to hear about that woman while I was dying…
“Here drink this, it will make you feel better.” Romie said as she held out a frosty cold glass of juice in front of me.
It was then that I realized how parched and dehydrated I was. Sitting up, I grabbed the drink and chugged half of it almost instantly. It was sweet with a bitter bite of an aftertaste. True enough, after a few moments I actually started feeling much better.
“Hey, what is this?” I asked marveling at her hangover cure.
”Prisoner Fruit juice with Manticore, Oomukade and Girtablilu venoms.” She said matter of factly.
Pausing in mid sip, I slowly pulled the glass away from my lips as I looked to it then her.
”Are you seriously telling me, you made the mother of all roofie cocktails and you’re serving it up to me as a breakfast drink?”
“Maybe?” She said with an uncertain grin, then asked hopefully, “Is it working?”
”You know that I know that you know that it won’t work on me.” I answered, putting the glass down on the breakfast tray.
“Hey, a girl can try, right?” She pouted.
Sighing, I grabbed a piece of toast off the tray that was slathered with probably Alraune nectar and took a bite out of it. I regarded her while chewing and then after swallowing said,
“Sure ya can champ… Sure ya can…”
Later I found out Arawn was to receive several awards and accommodations for bravery but he turned them down, as he considered his and my actions as equally worthy. If I didn’t get any, he would refuse them too. I, on the other hand, got a slap on the ass and a ‘good job’ blowjob from Romie. I guess Maou ma didn’t want word getting out to everyone that I wasn’t an entire asshole.
Whatever. I’ll take Romie’s reward any day over the Maou’s bullshit medals and pins.
I slammed the key in my hand down on the table in front of her. The Maou was writing in her book again but stopped as her eyes traveled from it up to meet my own.
”I wanna get a few things straight before I give you this. I don’t like you. I don’t like that you’re as shady as a used car salesmen, that you have scheme upon scheme like some kind of comic book super villain and that you do backroom deals like a Wall Street executive. I just really don’t like you, Maou. But your… My boy Arawn made a lot of good points. Ones that even though I don’t necessarily agree with, they are ones that I can’t argue against.”
She looked at me without saying anything. I’m pretty sure Queen B wasn’t used to being talk to like this, but I didn’t give a fuck.
”I sure as hell hope you know what the fuck you’re doing, because if you don’t, I promise you this. When shit goes south, I’ll be right there to tell you I told you so.”
I turned to leave but then remembered a promise I made.
”One more thing, when that doorway does open up. Romie and I are to be the first ones through it to Earth.”
As I walked to the door, the Maou finally spoke.
“Oh Donnie? I was wondering if you have seen a small glowing, yellow stone shard of mine lying around? It seems that I have misplaced it.”
Turning my head back, I replied, “Sorry Maou. Maybe check the lost and found in the lobby.”
I stepped out of the room, leaving the key to Big Boy on the table in front of her. At that time, I thought I made the best decision possible. I mean, I was just a college kid that had to make an unthinkable choice that would change the world, I did the best I could. It wasn’t until later that I found out how wrong I really was, when I found out the kind of sin I really leveled upon the Earth.
That was the day that it all started… The beginning of the end…