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GUILD OF HEROES MAGAZINE

# 11, February 1996

{The GOH Mag Springfest of 96}
Spring blooms eternal
WHERE IS ELLADAN?

When I entered Elladan's office to talk about the upcoming GoH Magazine issue, he was nowhere to be found! I knew the GoH Magazine still needed to be done, so off to work I went on the articles. Yet, the question of what happened to Elladan still remains a mystery, and one I shall investigate in the next few months.

But, onto less disturbing topics. Let us take a peek at some of the things in this issue:

-A myth of the Mirror Image spell is dispelled!

-Strahd takes an in depth look at the beholder.

-The trail of Aziza leads to Luskan Outpost.

-The Editor (??) speaks out!

And much more. So go ahead and dive into this issue as we "march" through the first issue of 1996!

-NW Strahd
Editor, GoH Magazine (for now? ;)


{NW Kel's Magical cafe and Mailroom}
Indepth answers to deep quetions
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Troglodyte Tarts with raisins - 3 silvers!

It was hard for me to sort through Elladan's things to find the mail that needed responding to.Yet, I did find some. While this issue is a bit short on mail, the ones I found were interesting. So, while munching on a blueberry muffin here in Kel's Cafe, this is what I discovered:
--------------------------------------------
Dear Elladan,
I have the 50 pearls I owe you, let me know when we can meet.
-Not in Debt

(Dear Not in Debt,
Elladan is not available at this time. However, if you give me those pearls, I'll make sure they're safely delivered ;>
You can trust me!
-Strahd )
--------------------------------------------
Dear Elladan,
Why is it every time I try to think of an article to submit to the GoH, I get writer's block?
-Depressed

(Dear Depressed,
I understand your feelings on this. This happens to the best of writers. A good cure is usually to pick up your writing instrument and stare it for several hours. This meditation will cause one of several things to happen:
1. You fall asleep. Don't have to think about writing.
2. You get sick of staring at it, break it, and then have nothing to write with. Don't have to worry about writing anymore.
3. You will slowly go insane. While this is not the recommended course of action, it does cure writer's block.
4.You start to write. Usually on the topic of why you spent so much time staring at your writing instrument in the first place.
Hope that helps!
-Strahd )
--------------------------------------------
Elladan,
I oftyun reed yourr magashine, and I finde it informmatife.
-a Phan

(Dear "Phan" [or is that fan?],
Umm, I'll pass that comment onto Elladan when I can.
Before I go, let me make a -small- suggestion:
Learn to spell
Thanks!
-Strahd )
--------------------------------------------
That's all the mail this time around. If you have something you wish to say to the Editor, send e-mail to NW STRAHD. Please state if you wish to remain anonymous.

-Strahd :)
{NW Strahd's Deck of many topics}
Dealing from the middle
LEARNING THE REALM

I was sitting in the Square the other day, a shift like any other shift, when a level 10/11 cleric/magic-user approached me.
"Hey, where can I find Floodblest?"
And he was serious. Now, don't get me wrong. I know this sort of thing seems common these days. And I know there are ample amounts of ways for someone to gain experience without seeing much of the lands. Yet, I do believe the current method of gaining maximum levels some folks take is depressing.

Essentially, they'll roll their character. They then ask what is the quickest way to get experience. Someone will say dracoliches. So, off they go to dracoliches to join a large draco-bashing group. Then fight, and fight, and fight. Eventually they get their maximum level, then perhaps decide to be a little adventurous for once and head for the Hills. Or perhaps a friend gives them a Sewer pass, and they spend their time PvPing between the Hills and the Sewers.

That's it. That's Neverwinter for them.

It is their right to spend their time as they wish, of course. However, they are missing out on much the lands have to offer. Not only would exploring the entire realm be fruitful, but make these NWNers more effective adventurers.

"I'm maxxed now, and have all the equipment I need. What next?"

This is another question I was asked. I replied, "have you solved the mystery of the well in Red Larch and Westbridge? Have you explored the depths of Luskan Outpost? Have you dared to track every inch of the Woods?"

"No", he said, "I guess there's more to see".

Of course there is! The lands are ripe with adventure, and it's not just in the form of PvP. There are quests to solve, areas to explore, towns to see. One should make exploring every inch of the realm a priority, not something to sit on the backburner as unimportant. Not only is it fun in its own right, but in Neverwinter, Knowledge of the realm IS power.

Think about it. Quests, whether sponsored by staff or players, are usually heavily dependent on one's ability to not only know the lands, but know how to get to certain places quickly. Contests such as Trivia are heavily dependent on knowledge of out of the way places in the lands. Even in day to day activities, knowing the lands can help: Imagine a friend is being attacked in the woods in a PvP; if you know the way, you're going to save the day that much quicker. It's pretty obvious to see, adventuring and exploring the lands have more benefits than one.

Be adventurous! Dare to go beyond simply fighting dracoliches or cloud giants until you gain your maximum level. Then when you are at your maximum level, don't just PvP! Dare to go out into the even farther reaches of the lands and explore. Take notes of important locations, get to KNOW the realm you call home. You are adventurers for a reason.

In any case, I know some of this seems pretty basic. However, after seeing several questions/comments made like the ones above, I felt I should say something about it.
{NW Snowie's Petting Zoo}
In the eye of the Beholder
MONSTER:BEHOLDER

AC:0
MOVE:3
HP:45-75
ATTACKS:1
SPECIAL ATTACKS:Magic
ALIGNMENT:Lawful Evil

One of the greatest horrors within the Sword Coast region, these "spheres of many eyes", otherwise known as beholders, are one of the most formidable opponents an adventurer can come across.

Also known as "eye tyrants", beholders appear as a large orb dominated by a central eye and a large toothy maw. Beholders also have ten small eyes, which sprout like stalks on top of the orb. Its "body" is covered with a tough, chitinous skin which gives a naturally low armor class. Movement is supported by a natural levitation, which allows beholders to float at will.

Beholders are a hateful race. They will aggressively attack other races, including subspecies of their own kind. They are xenophobic, and have absolutely no tolerance for those not like themselves: even among their own kind, something as trivial as a change in hide color or size of the central eye can make two groups of beholders enemies. Since every beholder believes their form to be the true ideal of beholderhood, one can see that conflicts between beholders do happen often.

The most distinguished feature of the beholder are its eyes. The large central eye emits an anti-magic ray with a 140 yard range, which covers a 90 degree arc before the creature. No magic will function in this zone, not even spells*.

Then there are the beholder's ten eye stalks, each with a different ability*:
1. charm person (as spell)
2. charm monster (as spell)
3. sleep (as spell, but only 1 target)
4. telekinesis (250 pound weight)
5. flesh to stone (as spell, 30 yard range)
6. disintegrate (20 yard range)
7. fear (as wand)
8. slow (as spell, but only 1 target)
9. cause serious wounds (50 yard range)
10. death ray (as death spell, single target, 40 yard range)

A beholder can use -all- of the above attacks in one action. This effectively makes the beholder truly devastating.

Adventurers who are effective at dispatching the beholder are rumored to find ways to avoid the eye attacks, since those attacks can make an encounter with a beholder a short one. Attacking from a distance is rumored to be effective as well.

*=In the Lands of Neverwinter, the beholders seemed to have developed an ability to be resistant to all magic (that being the function of the central eye); but the cost of this has been what appears to be a reduced ability of the number of eyes which can attack. (input beholdereye pic here)
{The Goddess Apothecary}
Jewlery for all occasions
RINGS OF THE REALMS

In the lands of Neverwinter, there are several types of rings available to the adventurer. We'll take a look at a couple that are available in the lands.

RING OF FIRE RESISTANCE:

The wearer of this ring is totally immune to the effects of normal fires, whether they are torches, flaming oil, bonfires, etc. Very large and hot fires, molten lava, hell-hound breath, or a wall of fire spell will cause 10 hit points of damage per round if the wearer is directly within the conflagration.

Exceptionally hot fires such as red-dragon breath, pyrohydra breath, fireballs, flame strike, etc., are saved with a +4 bonus to the die roll, and all damaged dice are calculated at a -2 per die, but each die is never less than 1. So, for example, a 5th level magic-user casts a fireball at you:

        roll   modified (-2)                 
        ----   -------------
die 1:   5           3
die 2:   2           1
die 3:   1           1
die 4:   6           4
die 5:   3           1

total:  17          10
If you happen to save versus that fireball with the additional +4 bonus , you take only 5 damage.

Note that in the lands of Neverwinter, the rings of fire resistance will have the +4 to save and -2 to damage rolls versus ALL fire attacks, except burning hands.
Pearl price:60

RINGS OF PROTECTION:

These come in +1, +2, and +3 kind. They protect the wearer versus all forms of attack. So, for example, a ring +2 betters AC by 2 (say from 6 to 4) and gives a bonus of +2 to saving throws. The magical properties of the ring are cumulative with all other magic items, with the following exceptions:

1. The ring does not improve AC if magical armor is worn, although it does add to saving throws.

2. Only one ring of protection will work on the wearer at any given time. In Neverwinter, this means you may only wear one ring of protection.

+1 and +2 rings are available in the lands, +3 rings are pearl only items. However, one can buy all three from the magic item store for the following prices:

+1=15 pearls
+2=24 pearls
+3=80 pearls

{NW Jareth's Mystical Grimoire}
Mirror Mirror on the wall
MIRROR IMAGE

RANGE: Caster
DURATION: 2 rounds / Level
AREA OF EFFECT: Caster

Upon casting this spell, 1-4 illusionary duplicates of the mage come into being around him/her. These images do exactly what the mage does. Since the spell creates a slight distortion and blurring when it's cast, it is impossible for opponents to know which are the mage, and which are the images.

When an image is struck by an attack, melee, missile, magic, or otherwise, it disappears, but other existing images stay intact until struck. Even if the mage is struck during one round, he/she cannot be picked out the next due to an apparent "shifting" of the images from round to round.

This spell is extremely effective in making one harder to hit, by making your opponent simply attack something which isn't you. Contrary to some myths abound, multiple castings of mirror image do not help.
{NW Aziza's Fantastic Tours}
Following the trail
In complete frustration at not being able to find Aziza, we scoured the lands north of Neverwinter. Covered with bits of crumblecakes (from her journey to Red Larch no doubt), we found yet another piece of a log entry...

LUSKAN OUTPOST
-----------------------------

This town, if it can even be called that, was originally just a simple outpost that would help warn Luskan of any attacks from the south and east. Eventually a small town formed around the original watch tower, creating what is today a place of nasty, rude, and outright grumpy folks!

And I do mean rude! Some fellow kicked me out of his home simply because I was not from Luskan. The North men here are very hostile to those of the south, such as Neverwinter, so be prepared for a cold welcome. Oh, and bring some extra blankets, Yeti hugs can squeeze all the warmth out of you.

Some sights to see:

The Princess Palace: The local inn. Cold, damp, and a rude innkeeper. On a good note, it is a safe place to rest.

Blut's arms and armor: He advertises as having good weapons and good armor, but gives no credit. Not surprising, I wouldn't give credit to a bunch of rude folks either!

I'd love to say there was more, but there isn't. This isn't a tourist attraction spot, that's for certain. However, it is a dangerous area. So if danger is what you're looking for, with rude folks too, then this is the place to be!

Rumors: There is a rumor of a "dark evil presence" that has taken residence somewhere in Luskan Outpost. I have not heard of any returning who went to investigate this "presence". This could be a story just to scare off non-North men. Then again, when dealing with anything to do with Luskan, one should take such rumors with an open mind.
{NW Baldor's Might makes Right Armory}
A Hunting we will go
There are a variety of missile weapons in Neverwinter Nights. They basically come in 2 categories, thrown and fired. Fired weapons require ammunition unlike the thrown weapons. When attacking with these weapons, a bonus may be added to the attack for those with an excellent dexterity. The following lists the weapons which fall under the fired weapon category.

Weapon               Rate of Fire  Range  Damage   Uses  
-------------------  ------------  -----  -------  ------
Bow, Composite Long       2         21    1-6/1-6  Arrows
Bow, Composite Short      2         18    1-6/1-6  Arrows
Bow, Fine Long+#          2         20    1-6/1-6  Arrows
Bow, Long                 2         21    1-6/1-6  Arrows
Bow, Short                2         15    1-6/1-6  Arrows
Crossbow, Light           1         18    1-4/1-4  Quarrels
Sling                     1         16    1-4/1-4  Stones*
Staff Sling               1          9    1-8/2-8  Stones*
And forgot this one from last time:
Weapon     Attacks/Rd  Range  Damage   S/M-L  Joinable  Melee
---------  ----------  -----  -------  -----  --------  ------
Axe, Hand      1         3    1-6/1-4    M       N        Y
Rate of Fire: Number of missile shot per round.

Range: Maximum distance at which the weapon can be used.

Damage: Amount of damage weapon does.

Uses: The ammunition a weapon uses. Arrows may be bought in the silver or magical variety.

* Stones are considered to be available at any time so does not need to be in one's inventory.

# Adds Strength bonus to hit and damage.

+ A fine long bow is arguably one of the deadliest weapons in the game. I know of a ranger who uses a +3 fine long bow, who also happens to wear boots of speed, girdle of cloud giant strength, and carries a quiver full of +3 arrows. His thac0 is around a -4 and he's capable of doing a whopping 96 points of damage per round. Yikes!
{NW Tempus Neverwinter Naratives}
Neverwinter Narratives Chapter 1,2,3

This is a new section to the GoH magazine, where everyday adventurers in NWN will appear in this continuing story. If you are interested in having a part in the story, please e-mail Aidynni stating your interest in becoming a character in the narrative :)

(1)
Chapter One

The air in Daglow's inn was thick with many voices, bouncing off even into the deepest corners of the well worn white walls of the place. A faint, greasy smell of roasting pig meandered from the large, roaring fireplace and flowed throughout the establishment, as well as a strong smell of sweet, fermented liquor from the large wooden kegs, stacked like mighty round pillars in the back of the bar. The well worn, round wooden tables were crowded with laughing, happy people as they talked and slammed their mugs against the table for added emphasis to their words and deeds.

In one of the tables near the corner, away from all the lively din of the place, sat a woman by herself, half hidden in the darkness. Her eyes, golden and round, shone in the darkness like tiny blazing suns, watching the patrons with a detached, aloof look as her long, delicate ears which curved slightly at the end, flickered each time there was a loud crash, followed by drunken, uncontrolled laughter from the patrons. And each time she did so, the tiny, circular earrings on her ears glistened and twinkled like golden halos as they shook from the movement.

Her skin appeared completely black and all consumingly smooth as the night sky. Yet it appeared to be soft, gentle brown where the light touched it. Her delicate features were framed by long tresses that seemed to chase away the darkness with their pale, golden light. A long, violet streak running down the length of her hair was matched by a silky strand of a neckband of the same color.

Her bare arms were encircled by golden leaves as she raised her gloved hand to pick up her glass, and brought it to her pale, pink lips. She sipped on her drink gently, and put the glass back down on the table. As she did so, a glint of chain links were seen under the table as she shifted her leg slightly. She then pulled on the cuffs of her knee high leather boots.

A dark haired man who sat two tables away from the woman took all this in with great interest and murmured, "What a beautiful creature." He then turned his head to his short, bearded companion and asked, "Drow?"

The short man grunted and shook his head. "Nay, lad. The ears are too long. And drows dinna come with gold hair, not to mention her skin's a bit too light."

The dark haired man turned his gaze back to the woman and licked his thin, chapped lips. "Then what is she?" He asked, his voice leeringly excited.

The short man ran his hand through his beard and scratched. "If I were you, lad. I'd soon forget about the likes of her. She'll carve you up lickity split with that toothpick blade of hers before you can even utter a charmin' word."

"Then you know who she is, dwarf? Tell me!" The man said excitedly, turning in his seat to face his companion.

The dwarf looked at the woman intently and muttered, "Yea. I know of that one."

The man waited patiently, and when no more words came out of the dwarf's lips, he slammed his hand on the table and said in a frustrated voice, "Damn it, Dwyvyrn! I hate it when you get all mysterious on me! Tell me who she is!"

Dwyvyrn smiled crookedly at his companion and said, "You 'umans can't just leave it well enough alone, can ye? Very well, I'll be tellin' ye this much. She is an elf alright, but not yer ordinary, city dwellin' kind."

"Eh?" the man asked, puzzled.

Dwyvyrn reached into his vest pocket to pull out a small, wooden pipe. "Them long ears, don't they look a bit animal like to ye?"

The man snuck a quick peek at the woman and muttered, "Now that you mention it, they do seem a bit too long."

Dwyvyrn pushed the tobacco into the pipe with his gnarled finger, and searched his pockets until he found a small stick, which started to glow as soon as he touched it to the tobacco in the pipe. "That's because she is a savage elf. They're called that 'cause they're just that. Savages. The other elves don't like 'um because they remind them of what they used to be before they became civilized. They're totally unpredictable. Like animals, really. Shore enough, they're nice to look at, but they just have too much of that wildness in them."

Dwyvyrn brought the pipe to his lips and drew it in. Blue, lazy smoke started to curl out of his nostrils as he added, "Twynil Tarkas in their language. It translates into dark elves."

The man turned his head to take another quick peek and turned back to Dwyvern uncomfortably. "How do you know so much about them?" He asked, fingering his mug of foaming beer.

Dwyvyrn leaned back into his chair, making it creak uncomfortably. "It was a long time ago, lad. Best not hatch it out, that story." He said as he took another puff of his pipe.

The man got up, taking a swill from his mug. He slammed the mug down on the table and said resolutely, "Well, I'm going to go talk to her."

Dwyvyrn sighed deeply. "It's a mistake." He replied in an agitated voice. "Ye'll lose yer fool head if ye do."

The man smirked, and smoothed his unruly hair. "Watch the master at work, Dwy. There wasn't a woman who could resist Taji's charm!" He said confidently, and added, "You'll back me up if I get in trouble, right?"

Dwyvyrn snorted, and laid a hand on a large, double headed axe leaned against his chair. "I'll bet ye ten gems she'll have ye spittin teeth after ye're through." He said with a twinkle in his eye.

Taji smiled wickedly, and answered, "You're on, knave! I'll enjoy spending your money."

Taji started to walk towards the table, and noticed that the elf's eyes were now firmly planted on his own, making him extremely uncomfortable because he found her golden gaze unsettlingly sharp. Unconsciously, his hand went over to the pommel of his short sword, and his heart skipped a beat as her hand moved quickly to her own, hanging lazily draped on her hip with a thin, golden belt.

Taji felt a cold drop of sweat trickle down the side of his face as he moved closer to her. He could see that the elf's lithe body was coiled and ready to lash out like a waiting serpent, and he swallowed and forced a smile, and panicked when his smile was not returned.

Taji forcefully removed his hand away from his sword as he stood in front of her table, and asked in a shake ladened voice, "Is this seat taken?"

The elf answered quickly, her hand still on her sword, "I wish to be alone. Please leave." Her voice was light, and the ends of her words wore a hint of a lilting accent.

Taji cleared his throat, and imagined Dwyvyrn's laughing eyes on the back of his head. He grimaced inwardly at the thought of returning to his table, looking like a fool, and desperately tried to think of a way to avoid that fate. Then suddenly, a thought came to him that caused him to smile and chase away the fears.

"Twynil Tarkas." Taji said smoothly and congratulated himself when the elf's eyes widened for an instant.

"Silani Garinas Tarkas?" The elf asked. The words sounded like some lyrical song to Taji's ears.

Taji shook his head. "I know only a little of your language, my lady." He answered. She looks even better up close, he thought as he let his eyes run over her.

The elf nodded and said, "Still, you must be a very wise human. Not many of your kind knows of us."

Taji smiled again and answered, "Well, it's a hobby of mine, really. May I?" He said, and pointed to an empty chair. When she nodded, he sat himself down triumphantly as he heard a dull thud of a fist slamming on a table from Dwyvyrn's direction.

"You see, I think your reputation is really undeserved. Someone as beautiful as you can't possibly be like a wild animal. Really, you're just too pretty to be anything but that." Taji said smoothly as he leaned closer to the elf, and bowed his head low, almost hitting the table. "I bow before your magnificent beauty, my lady. Of all the women I've seen around the realms, you are the most ravishing." When Taji raised his head slowly to look at the elf's face, he thought he saw that she was blushing and smiling shyly as her ears reflected her mood change by drooping slightly. He shouted yes inwardly and ventured to take her smooth hand into his own. When he felt her skin, which felt velvet smooth under his hand, he laughed out loud in his mind and whispered, "Still got it."

Taji was crestfallen when he noticed that she was wearing gloves, of which she dusted against her chain mailed leg when she withdrew it forcefully away from his hand. "No offense, wise man." She began, looking at him with complete disdain in her eyes, as if she was looking at a bug she was about to squash. "But I don't like humans touching me. I don't like their smell."

Taji forced a weak smile that threatened to crumble on his lips as he answered dryly, "Of course. No offense taken."

The elf then started to get up, when Taji put his hand on her shoulder and asked, "Please, won't you stay awhile longer?"

The elf flinched at his touch, and Taji could feel her body tense up under his hand. "Please remove your hand." She said firmly.

"At least tell me where you are going." Taji persisted as he removed his hand, feeling quite desperate.

The elf sighed and replied, "Fine. I am going to travel to Nightsedge. Your lord Nasher is offering a reward to dispatch a certain tribe of Orcs in that area."

Taji snapped his fingers and said quickly, "Why isn't that funny, that's just where I was headed. I'm going after those Orcs myself."

The elf looked over Taji slowly with a half smile, "Really. And how were you going to get there? Wave your books in front of the monsters that will show up on the way? The battle field is no place for a wise man of books."

Taji slapped his hand on his short sword and replied proudly, "I am also a master swordsman."

The elf looked at him with an amused twinkle in her golden eyes. "Is that so? Then tell me, wise man and master swordsman, what would you do if you met someone like me on the way to Nightsedge and I said that I wanted to end your life?" She asked, her eyes locking onto Taji's own.

Taji swallowed. He felt his heart beat faster as he saw how little the elf thought of him. He clenched his fist as his pride overruled his senses as he drew his sword, saying, "I'd do this!"

He meant to scare the elf by pointing his sword at her long, graceful neck, and also show how quickly he could draw his sword. Unfortunately, he now stood against the elf with no sword in his hand, for as soon as it left the scabbard, it was knocked out of his hand by a brilliant flash. Now he stood there with a long, thin blade against his neck, with the elf looking at him with that same disdainful smile on her lips he saw earlier.

"I want to end your life." She said to him softly as she pressed the blade closer to his neck, making him feel the cold, sharp edge of the metal.

Taji swallowed hard, and closed his eyes as he thought himself finished, when a voice boomed behind him saying, "You're not going to have him today, Ajsha."

When Taji opened his eyes, he saw that Dwyvyrn was standing behind him with his axe, his gaze locked with the elf. He sighed deeply as the elf's eye twitched and smoothly put her blade back in the scabbard.

"Krili jashil palati." The elf spat out at Dwyvyrn, and angrily turned to get her things, a simple lute and a long, gracefully curved bow.

Dwyvyrn lowered his axe and came closer to the elf. "Let's not start that fight again, lass." He began, and grabbed her arm. He then gently sat her down on the chair and sat down himself opposite to her. "I was the one who helped you escape, remember?" He stated as the elf glowered at him.

"The debt has been repaid, Dwyvyrn. I owe you nothing." The elf spat out with a hint of anger. "I am no longer your responsibility."

Dwyvyrn nodded slowly and answered, "Aye, lass. That is truth. However, I still care about you. All alone in the world of man.."

The elf cut in angrily, and said, "I am fine. I need no one to watch over me."

Taji, finally getting over the shock of almost being killed, gingerly sat next to Dwyvyrn and asked, "Do you two know each other?"

Dwyvyrn looked at the elf as he said, "We've met before."

The elf got up, and said simply, "I'm going."

"Take us with you, lass." Dwyvyrn said as the elf slung her lute over her back.

"No." The elf answered back, and reached for her bow.

Dwyvyrn got up slowly and said, "Ye kinna handle them all alone, Ajsha. Ye'll need help."

Ajsha turned to Dwyvyrn with a whirl of her hair and sneered, "From a dwarf and this clown? No thank you."

As Ajsha turned quickly to go out, she ran head first into a plate armored chest, and almost fell backwards into her chair. A strong hand grabbed her wrist and prevented her from falling, however.

"I apologize, my lady." A young man said, dressed in an old, worn plate armor. He bowed gracefully before Ajsha with a swirl of his crimson cape. "Have I hurt you?" He asked, his gray eyes full of worry.

Ajsha looked at the man, and the brown haired woman standing next to him. "I am fine, now if you all will excuse me.."

The young man cleared his throat, and bowed before Ajsha again, stopping her. "If I may. I couldn't help but overhear your plans to travel to Nightsedge. Me and my companion are also headed that way and we wondered if you would be willing to join us. An elf with a bow would be a most welcome addition to our quest."

The woman standing next to the man clearly was disgusted at the sight of Ajsha, and she made no effort to hide it. She whispered furiously to her companion, "She is a dark elf! By Tyr's blood, she can't be trusted. We clerics of Tyr know of her kind, Tarin. Do not be fooled by her!"

Ajsha looked at the woman, and then back at the man, who looked at her with respect and reverence. She checked the negative reply that was on her lips and instead replied, "Yes. I will travel with you." Ajsha smiled as the woman gave her a hard, hate filled look and started to pout.

Dwyvyrn cleared his throat. "If you don't mind, 'uman. We would also like to join yer party." He said, and dragged Taji to his feet like a rag doll.

The man smiled and bowed before the dwarf. "Of course. You are welcome to join us." He said, and then motioned to Ajsha towards the door. As the party left the inn and was greeted by the cold, clear afternoon air, the woman looked dour and downcast as the man walked next to Ajsha.

"That witch will be exposed for what she is soon enough, I'll see to it." She whispered angrily to herself, and gathered her snow white robes to her as she ran after the party.

(2)
Chapter Two

The sun was setting, throwing a bloody crimson blanket of colors to the cotton clouds of distant, snow capped mountains. Ajsha noted this and took a quick look to the sky, noticing the tiny stars that now started to twinkle like sparkling gems against the darkening cloak of the evening sky. She then turned her head, almost surprising herself as she found the knight walking so close to her. She cleared her throat and stopped, and turned around as the group stopped before her.

"I've no problems with going on in darkness, but you humans cannot. So I suggest we stop here and set up camp." Ajsha announced.

The woman narrowed her eyes to mere slits and spat out, "We have torches. Don't give yourself airs, dark elf."

"Finia!" The man exclaimed, "That is no way to talk to a lady!" He then turned around to bow before the elf and said apologetically, "Accept my apologies, my lady. The road has been harsh and my companion is a bit edgy. She meant no disrespect."

Taji sneered at this and whispered to Dwyvyrn, "Looks like golden boy there's makin' a play for our little elven darlin'."

Finia's cheeks grew crimson red with anger, for she caught Taji's words. Her displeasure was all the more noticeable since her skin was smooth pale like white marble. "Tarin, why are you being so nice to her?! She's nothing more than an elven hussy!" She spat out, then whirled around furiously. She then shoved Taji and Dwyvyrn out of the way and started walking back towards Neverwinter. "Good bye! I'm going back to Neverwinter!"

"Finia!" Tarin shouted, and ran to catch up with her. "This is no way for a priestess of Tyr to behave. Please, don't be upset." He soothed as he caught Finia. Tarin looked puzzled as Finia started to cry and buried herself into his arms. "There, there. No need to cry, dear. You just had a hard day, that's all."

Dwyvyrn gritted his teeth and slapped his forehead. "This is going to be a long trip." He muttered, and then caught Ajsha's gaze towards Tarin and Finia. He thought he caught a glimpse of amusement, but he was broken out of his thought as Taji grabbed his shoulder and squeezed.

"That golden boy's got all the wenches going after him! What's he got that I haven't?!" Taji whispered angrily, and let go of Dwyvyrn's shoulder with a sheepish grin when he gave him a sharp look.

"Class for one. Manners for second." Dwyvyrn answered back, and readjusted the grip on his axe. "And unlike you, he's taken a bath."

Taji sniffed his arm at Dwyvyrn's words, and then nodded, muttering "I knew it had to be something."

Tarin led Finia back, who was clutching at his arm as if her life depended on it. "She's agreeable to setting up camp, sirs." He said, and smoothed his long mustache with his free hand.

"Right." Dwyvyrn muttered, and started to walk off the path and into the woods, followed by the group.

The group found a clearing of sorts in the woods next to a gurgling stream as the night settled into the world quickly. Dwyvyrn quickly started a fire and the group sat down around it gingerly. Tarin, sitting down with clanking from his armor, then took his pack off his shoulder and opened it. He started to rummage through his belongings and took out a hunk of dried venison. He then took a dagger from his belt and started to carve up strips, offering it to the rest of the group.

Ajsha shook her head when Tarin offered her a piece, and carefully unslung her pack, taking care not to cause damage to the lute and her bow as they slipped off her shoulder. She then got up, and started for the stream.

Tarin's head followed her, and when she was no longer seen in the darkness, he turned back to the group and asked, "Who is she?"

Before Dwyvyrn could answer, Finia spoke up. "She is a dark elf."

"A dark elf?" Tarin asked.

Finia nodded, and said nonchalantly, "Don't get too close to her, Tarin. The dark elves are a very closed society and they never venture out of their homes in the forest. The mere fact that she's out here in Neverwinter means that she did something so horrible that they handed her the worst punishment possible, banishment."

Dwyvyrn's eyes twitched at this, and he asked, "How d'you know so much about them, lass?"

Finia shrugged, and answered, "I've been to their kingdom as an emissary of Tyr. Actually, to call it a kingdom would be a farce. It's more a collection of mud huts and caves that they live out of, like filthy animals. They're also a very rude and belligerent lot. They have no respect for Tyr." Finia wrinkled her nose and ran her fingers through her ebony hair. "I couldn't stand it. I left their 'kingdom' in a week, disgusting, those people."

A sly smile appeared on Dwyvyrn's lips at her remarks, but he made no comment. Instead, he rolled out his bedsheets and lay down on the ground. He yawned, then muttered, "When Ajsha comes back, tell the lass she has first watch." He then closed his eyes.

Finia looked at Dwyvyrn incredulously. "Are you kidding, dwarf? She'll slit all our throats whilest we sleep!"

Dwyvyrn sighed and with his eyes still closed, answered back in an agitated voice, "A far better fate then listening to yer babble, lass. You hurt my ears with yer prattle."

"What did you say? How dare you!" Finia exclaimed, and bolted up from the ground. Dwyvyrn merely yawned again and rolled over, facing away from the priestess.

Taji got up slowly, and with a winning smile, bowed before Finia, and said, "If it would please you, dear beautiful lady, I will stay up to guard you in your sleep. I will stand watch with the dark elf so no harm may fall before your magnificence."

Tarin got up also, and said, "No. Watching over her is my responsibility. I will take the first watch with Ajsha."

Finia, still looking outraged, opened her mouth to speak, but instead, her eyes widened in terror as she screamed.

Dwyvyrn bolted out of his sheets like as if he was on fire, with his axe already in his hand, as the others also grabbed for their weapons.

"What is it, Finia?" Tarin whispered harshly as he drew his sword and looked about with unease and caution.

Finia pointed towards the darkness. "A wild animal..." She said with trembling voice. Indeed, a pair of eyes that glowed golden like round, full moons was coming closer to them.

Dwyvyrn squinted, and then laid down his axe, shaking his head tiredly. "That's just Ajsha." He announced, and laid back down with a groan. "'uman, put a muzzle on that high falutin' priestess of yers. She's liable to wake up the dead!" He muttered as he closed his eyes.

"What is going on here?" Ajsha asked, looking around the camp fire with curiosity. She smoothed her long hair, which looked as if it was alive with fire as it reflected the crimson dancing flames.

Taji, staring at Ajsha with his jaw agape, closed it shut. "Nothing. Nothing at all. You have first watch, by the way."

Ajsha nodded, and answered, "Fine." She then started to button her leather vest when she saw that both Taji and Tarin were looking at her with absent minded blank stares.

"Uh...Finia. Don't worry. I'll be right here..." Tarin said without looking at Finia, who was glowering at both of the men, and he walked across the campfire to where Ajsha was picking up her bow and lute.

Taji caught Finia's expression from the corner of his eyes, and he tore his attention away from Ajsha and walked over to Finia. "Don't worry about a thing, high priestess. I'll be sleeping right next to you." He said, smiling.

"I'm not a high priestess..." Finia said as her eyes followed Ajsha and Tarin walking off into the darkness, and then gritted her teeth.

(3)
Chapter Three

Ajsha positioned herself under a large, gnarled tree, and laid her bow against the twisted trunk. She then sat down, leaning her back against the tree with her lute in her hand. From her position, she could still see the clearing where everyone was sleeping through the tall reeds that swayed against the cold, evening wind, hiding her from view. She looked up as Tarin came crashing down close to her, crushing a part of her cover. When he noticed what he had done, he grimaced and said, "I do apologize, my lady. I didn't mean to smash..."

"Please drop the polite act. It's starting to get on my nerves." Ajsha cut him off with the curt reply as she regarded him coldly.

Tarin looked at her with puzzlement in his gray eyes. "If I have offended you..." He began, looking worried.

"Yes, you offend me with your presence. Besides, why are you here? I thought you were going to be guarding your priestess." Ajsha again cut him off with an edge of disdain in her voice. Having dealt with smooth talking, false hearted men before, she found Tarin's over cordial words quite offensive.

Tarin bowed his head before her, his hay colored shoulder length hair rustling against his shoulder armor as he did so. "Since you have picked such a good spot, I thought I mind as well join you here. It has such a good vantage point. Besides, my eyesight is useless in this darkness, whereas your elfsight can see all. However, if you prefer that I move..."

Ajsha regarded him with a long look, kneeling before her on his knee, not daring to look up into her face. She couldn't deny that she found it flattering, being treated this way. She thought by treating him coldly that he would show his true nature like most men she encountered, but she was mildly surprised to find that his civility was no act. She caught a faint smell of freshly crushed cloves from him that tickled her nose, and found it hard to dismiss him coldly outright, so she ended up saying, "Do what you want, human."

Tarin raised his head, and looked at Ajsha, who was now looking into the woods, and smiled. "Thank you for allowing me to be in your presence, my lady." He said earnestly, and sat down in front of her.

As the minutes passed on, Ajsha's neck started to ache, for she had been pretending to look into the woods as to not look in Tarin's direction. Every passing minute was now a torture for her, with the ache becoming mind numbing. What's worse, she dared not move a muscle in front of him either, and every part of her body was going stir crazy. She finally couldn't stand it any longer and, clearing her throat, she turned her head back toward Tarin's direction, and noticed that he had taken out his sword and was sharpening the edges. It was a beautiful weapon, she had to admit. The pommel was of a simple design, just a piece of iron, really, wrapped with leather strips that was stained black with use. The hilt was what caught her eyes. It was of a single piece of golden material, smooth and almost liquidlike in its purity. Carved along it's length, however, was a coiled serpentine dragon, almost unnoticeable.

Tarin noticed that Ajsha was looking at his weapon and said, "It is the only thing that I have that is worth anything to me, my lady."

Ajsha, no longer wanting to be rude, said, "It looks to be alright. For a human design." She leaned closer to him, and pointed to the hilt. "What is that?"

Tarin smiled, almost becoming intoxicated with her closeness. He felt as if a piece of the hot noon day sun had dropped in front of him, threatening to wither him away with its overwhelming warmth. He marbled at how her skin looked obsidian black in the darkness, with only her pale golden hair and glowing eyes lending light to her, glowing like magical things made of moonlight.

"It is the symbol of my father's kingdom, my lady." He replied when he finally managed to gather his wits together. "Or what's left of it."

When Ajsha tilted her head in question, he looked down at the etched dragon and said in a voice that seemed touched with bitterness, "This is all I was left with after my father died."

Ajsha nodded, and replied, "I see. A prince without a kingdom."

Tarin smiled wanly, looking pale in the darkness. "There wasn't anything left for me when my brothers got through taking their share." He began. "You are right, my lady. I am a prince by birth only. I have nothing to return to."

"Except to the temple of Tyr." Ajsha said simply. "It must've been quite a blow to your ego, prince one day, and a bodyguard for the priests of Tyr the next."

Tarin shook his head slowly, still wearing that smile. "What ego I had left, I left it buried at my father's kingdom." He then sheathed his weapon with a smooth motion. "What about you? Have you someone, lady?" He asked.

Ajsha shook her head. "No one that I would care to mention."

"No parents, relatives.... no loves?" Tarin persisted, and was rewarded with a blush at the last word. He snorted and said, "Well then, we're much alike, you and I."

Ajsha flinched at his words, and clutched her lute closer to her.

Dwyvyrn, who was only half asleep, caught Tarin's last words and shook his head. "Much closer than you think, lad." He muttered under his breath, and then yawned.

Tarin then pointed to the lute and asked, "That lute, it doesn't look to be an elven design."

Ajsha nodded and glanced at Dwyvyrn's sleeping form. "It isn't. A very old friend of mine made it for me, to keep me from becoming homesick." She replied softly, making Tarin strain his ears to hear her words.

"I heard from Finia that you were banished from your kingdom..." Tarin began, but stopped when Ajsha looked to him as if she was completely lost and defenseless, staring aimlessly at the lute as his words hit home. "I'm sorry." He apologized, not knowing what else to say.

Ajsha's look vanished with an effort that wasn't unnoticed by Tarin. "Don't be sorry for the truth." She said, and ran her fingers along the strings. Soft music started to flow out of the instrument, delicate and light as falling feathers. And as Tarin felt himself lost in the strings of the lute, a soft, ethereal voice joined the notes, weaving and clasping the gentle melody in a slow, unending dance.

"Inita jilani riaana ti...Milina satari riaana ti..." Ajsha breathed, and as the words left her lips, they seem to disappear into the night like ghostly shadows, making Tarin's heart feel empty and forlorn when the words vanished from his ears. When she suddenly stopped, Tarin felt as if he was slapped awaken from a dream, and said, "Please, my lady. I beg you to go..."

Aja laid a gentle finger on Tarin's lips as her ears pricked up like a frightened deer. She gently put her lute down and picked up her bow. With her eyes, she motioned for Tarin to look towards the camp. As Tarin turned his head, he felt a sharp twang ring out from the bow many times, and winced as a pained roar rang out, breaking the silence of the night.
{NW Strider's Tavern Legends and Tale's}
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess by Bard Mistress Aidynni Chapters 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12
The Cyan Chapters 1,2

(1)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

The hot, steamy air was stifling and oppressive, yet Nicky felt somehow familiarly comfortable with her surroundings. She stretched out her legs and breathed a contented sigh as she leaned back against the warm, soft tiles that glowed in hues that reminded her of rainbows. She turned her head to see that another girl was sitting next to her, smiling uneasily. Nicky thought it strange that this other girl looked exactly like her, but she also thought it strange that she was lying naked in what appeared to be a hot tub too. But at this point, with the water being just so right and feeling every part of her body relax like molasses, she didn't care too much about whys and hows, so she returned her smile and just let the warm water soothe her and decided to worry about these minor details later.

"Sis, was father too upset that you let the rain fall a bit too hard?" the other girl asked in a worried voice, nudging close to Nicky.

Nicky raised her eyebrows questioningly at the girl, but instead heard herself say, "If he doesn't like the job I do, then he can find someone else to do it. I'm getting pretty sick of his demands! Do this, do that! Why.." It was as if she was watching herself from afar, like a hazy movie perhaps, and she began to wonder if she brought any popcorn.

The girl raised her hand frantically and stopped Nicky from going further. "Shh!! Please, sis. I don't want you to get into any more trouble! You know nothing escape his ears!" She said, looking around her nervously.

Nicky leaned back even further and closed her eyes. "Relax, willya? What else could he do to me? He's already stuck me with weatherwork. I mean, how much lower can he bust me down to?" She said lazily, while wondering why she was stuck with such a boring job and noticing that her "sister's hair was pitch black as the midnight sky.

"I don't know...But ever since you refused to marry Bonner, father's been in an extremely irritable mood. I wouldn't press your luck with him if I were you." the girl said, raising her hand in the air. Tiny points of light started to appear, glowing in different colors like small fire flies.

"Bonner! If father thinks that I'm going to marry a self centered, egotistical jerk like him, then, why, why, oh, that's pretty." Nicky heard herself say as the tiny sparkles danced around them. She caught one in her wet hands and held it close to her ear and smiled as it started to sing like a tiny harp.

"But to refuse one of the gods just like that. I can't help but wonder if there's going to be some kind of a punishment because of it." the young girl said, looking at Nicky with worry in her eyes.

Nicky turned to her sister and sighed. "You know, you're beginning to sound a lot like father."

"I'm just worried about you, that's all." the girl said. "Bonner always gets what he wants, no matter what. He's not going to worry about etiquette or propriety. He's threatened to take you by force."

Nicky yawned at this and said in a bored voice, "Oh spare me! If Bonner thinks he can do that, he would have done it a long time ago. He doesn't have the power to.."

"Oh do I not, fairest Llwyn?" A male voice asked gently from behind them, causing the girls to both flinch. The tiny lights all blinked out at once with a loud pop, and the young girl gasped and vanished along with them, leaving Nicky feeling cold and alone.

Rather than be stunned about this sudden turn, Nicky covered herself as best as she could and cried out angrily, "How dare you barge in here?! have you no decency in you, you jerk?"

Bonner smiled and kneeled before her. "I do apologize for my sudden appearance, my lady. But when I heard that your father had stripped you of your powers for your disobedience, I thought it my chance to spirit you away." He said, and offered his hand to her. "Methinks it is time for you to join me, yes?" He said, smiling at her.

Nicky's face blushed crimson and she slapped his hand away, accidentally showing more of herself than she wanted to and infuriating herself further when she saw Bonner clear his throat uncomfortably and turn his head away. And with her sister's speedy escape/abandonment fresh in her mind causing her to be filled with such anger that she started seeing the color red everywhere, she screamed at the top of her lungs, "Get out, you scum bucket!" and noticed much to her surprise that wasn't supposed to be her next line.

"I will not, until you say yes to me." Bonner said uneasily, trying to recover his composure and his hearing. He straightened out the collar of his shirt that looked as blue and wavy as the sea and said contritely, "Really, Llwyn. How long do you plan to stay such a child? You have your duty as a goddess to think about."

Nicky snorted at his words and replied acidly, "I don't recall getting married to you as being one of them, you fool."

Bonner's eyes twitched, but he cleared his throat and answered evenly, "No, but it's a step in the right direction. You need a husband to look after you. Even your father agrees with me. You being too `impulsive' and all. Let's face it, Llwyn. You are too generous with your powers. The way you're going, you'll make miracles an everyday occurrence."

Just as Nicky was about to reply with an angry retort, the door to the bath burst open and the mists were blown away by a cold whirlwind that had the both of them shivering and ducking for cover. In the clear stood the young girl, her ebony hair whipping away from her face like an angry flag, wearing a white dress that fluttered in the wind as if it was made out of clouds. In her hand, she held a glowing white ball that pulsated with power.

"You leave my sister alone, you big jerk!" the young girl exclaimed threateningly as she held the ball threateningly at Bonner.

Bonner's face drained of all color, and he started to back away from the girl when he realized what she was holding in her hand. "Now take it easy, Mist. I was just merely chatting with your sister." He stammered uneasily, almost slipping on the wet tiles. He turned to Nicky and whispered furiously, "Do something Llwyn! She's got a charged dragon ball!"

Nicky almost laughed out loud at him, but found that she no longer had any control of what was about to happen. Instead, she lazily watched as she heard herself say, "Why should I? Serves you right if you get fried to a crisp, you creep!"

"Right!" Mist chimed in after her proudly, and readjusted her grip on what appeared to be a crystal ball the size of a tennis ball. "Now, Mr. big shot wind god, why don't you make like one of your charges and blow on out of here?!" She commanded, and did a little curtsey when Nicky cheered and clapped loudly at her bravado.

Bonner held up his hand. "Now come on, you two. Quit joking around." He said nervously and gasped when Mist, intent on closing the gap between the two of them, slipped on the wet floor and dropped the ball.

The dragon's ball, glowing an angry, ugly red, did not shatter, but bounced into the air. And as the three stunned pair of eyes watched, fell like a falling star on Nicky's head, shattering into a million pieces. Nicky screamed as the red glow from the ball enveloped her, and swallow her in to a long, pitch black tunnel. As she started losing consciousness, she heard Bonner's pitiful voice scream out her name over and over...

"Hey! Wake up! What's the matter with you?!" She heard a voice shout in her ear, and Nicky reluctantly opened her eyes, blinking against the harsh yellow light of the morning sun shining into the room.

"Finally. I thought you were being killed or something." Wendy said sarcastically as she stopped shaking her. "Nightmare? No, don't tell me. You were being eaten by a bear. Yet again." She asked, adjusting her glasses. Nicky shook her head groggily, and rubbed her eyes. She sat up, propping herself up against her pillow. "You wouldn't believe me even if I told you." Nicky said wearily.

Wendy got up, and picked up her back pack. "Well believe this! You're going to be late for your class. Again!" She said as she started to rummage through a white desk, strewn with books and papers.

"It's in your pocket." Nicky said as she slowly got up and stretched out the kinks in her muscles.

Wendy reached into her pocket and felt the keys. Satisfied that they were there, she went over to the microwave and took out a burrito. "Here's breakfast, Ms. America!" She said as she tossed the burrito to Nicky, who caught it and bowed less than gracefully towards an imaginary audience. She then took a bite, walking half dazedly towards the closet.

"I wish I won the lottery so I don't have to put up with these morning classes anymore." Nicky droned in a sleep filled voice as she took out a pair of faded jeans.

Wendy snorted and hurried over to catch Nicky from falling backwards trying to put them on, and answered, "Don't we all?" She then looked at her watch and sighed. "Got a midterm in 10 minutes. I gotta go, sweety."

"I hope you get an A, Wen!" Nicky shouted as Wendy quicky left the room and slammed the door on her way out of the apartment.

Still chewing on the burrito, Nicky went over to the desk and got her homework together, and shoved them all in her backpack. After wincing at the clock that told her she was going to be 15 minutes late for her class, she made her way to the bathroom and started to brush her teeth when she heard a knock on the door.

Still brushing, she navigated the left over pizza cartons and dirty laundry to the door and asked, "Who is it?"

"State lottery office!" A male voice answered.

"What?" Nicky asked again in a sleepy voice, slowly brushing her teeth. "State lottery office! We'd like to talk to Miss Nicole Jones please!" the same male voice answered, followed by excited chatter and what sounded suspiciously like a whine of a camcorder.

When Nicky wearily opened the door, cameras started clicking and the flash bulbs went off like firecrackers all around her. Realizing that her hair was a mess and she had a toothbrush stuck in her mouth, she quickly reached for the door handle, but a man in a three piece suit and a cowboy hat stopped the door with his nice leather shoes and asked excitedly, "Are you Nicole Jones?!"

Nicky cowered before them and squeaked, "Yes."

"Well, well! Congratulations cutie, you won 70 million dollars!" the man exclaimed, giving her a bear hug.

Nicky's toothbrush fell out of her slack mouth, leaving a trail of toothpaste bubbles along the man's back. "I did what? How could I? I didn't even buy..."

The man let her go and stood next to her, smiling broadly. "Yessiree, missie! You're now a millionaire!" He said as the cameras once again started to click and a woman fought her way through the cameras and came up to ask excitedly, "Jimmy Bob, how much will this young woman receive in yearly payments?" Another man came up to them with a microphone, staring into one of the TV cameras and saying, "We're now live in location with Lottery spokesman and mascot/personality Jimmy Bob Swanson, where a young woman just claimed this state's biggest single jackpot in the State Lotto's history!"

"I figger she'll be receiving 5 million dollars a year for 14 years, Jenny!" Jimmy Bob said winsomely, smiling and flashing his tobacco stained teeth. "This lil' lady's not gonna have to worry about money ever again, I guarantee you that! Hyuk hyuk!" He said, slapping Nicky on her back and watching in shock as she pitched forward straight into the man holding the microphone.

(2)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

High above the city, two small bright lights that looked like stars blinked into existence. Out of those lights, which disappeared into nothingness, came out two figures, flying amongst the few clouds that littered the sky.

"You feel that?!" the girl said, brushing a charcoal black strand of hair out of her eyes. "She's used her powers!"

"I sure did. Let's hope she didn't wish for anything drastic." A man answered next to her, constantly looking over his shirt, which was looking as if it was about to tear off him.

The girl turned to him and angrily waved a piece of a cloud off her face. "It won't come true if it did. There's only two of us who believe in her here!" She answered, and waved a flight of ducks out of the way, who noisily obeyed, nodding their heads in respect.

The young man was about to wipe a tear from his eye, but the wind whisked it away briskly. "To think that we found her after all these years! Our love must.."

"Come off it, Bonner!" the girl interrupted angrily. "The only reason we found her was because of my daddy! If he hadn't suggested that we send out a dream to make her remember, we would have never found her!"

Bonner sniffed and said, "Whatever, Mist. I'm just glad she remembered me. I still don't know what scum bucket means, but it must be a term of endearment."

Mist laughed out loud when she saw Bonner's uneasy expression, the frigid winds of the high altitude taking the edge out of her harsh laughter, and looked downwards at the ground. She grimaced at the hazy smog that was hanging over the city and said, "To think that the dragon ball had the power to send her to this awful place. Oh, how she must hate me for it.."

"Now that's not my fault!" Bonner stated triumphantly, lying on his back as he flew through the air next to Mist. "I told you not to mess around with that thing, but no.."

"Oh, shut up!" Mist growled, diving down to the noisy city below like a preying hawk.

Bonner dove after her, saw that she landed gently in an alleyway, and landed next to her. He saw that she was studying a drunken bum sleeping next to a dumpster and said cautiously. "Is that how they dress in this place?"

Mist held her nose and wincing, replied, "What strange perfume they use! It is most repulsive!"

Bonner sniffed, and winced as well, gagging out, "That's not perfume, Mist. That's the smell of mortal excrement."

"How would you know?!"

"I'm a god of wind, I hang around mortals. I know them." Bonner answered evenly, and took Mist's hand and started to lead them out of the alley and into the busy morning streets.

"Wow..." Mist murmured as she gazed at the cars that roared by them on the road and the masses of people crossing the streets to a row of large buildings. She tightened her grip on Bonner's hand and moved closer. Bonner was busy examining the rows of people waiting impatiently in front of the ATM machines, not paying attention to the gawking looks that he got from them in return.

"They must be street performers." one man said as he looked the two of them over. "What a bunch of weirdoes." Another man observed, while another woman quipped, "You see all kinds of freaks here."

Mist's face turned crimson and she hid behind Bonner, who was trying to engage a man who was waiting in line and trying valiantly to avoid making eye contact with him, in a one sided conversation. She felt the hostile, threatened stares of the people, and then looked at her own clothing, which looked like a cross between a multicolored dress and a plaid bordered coat, complete with a long train, and began to feel embarrassed and stupid. She dragged Bonner, who was now starting to get mad at being completely ignored by the man, into a shop next door and stopped next to the candy display.

"We have to change our clothes." Mist mumbled, her face still a dark shade of red.

"The mortals here sure are rude!" Bonner observed angrily. "Why I have a mind to turn that.. What's wrong, Mist?" He finally said when he spied Mist's face.

Mist let out an exasperated scream, causing the customers in the shop to cringe in surprise. "What's wrong?! What's wrong?! Haven't you been reading what they were thinking?! They think we look like freaks! We stick out like an ugly sore thumb! We must change our clothes!" Mist exclaimed, grabbing Bonner's arms and shaking him.

"Really, this sort of behavior is very unbecoming a goddess, Mist." Bonner said through rattling teeth. "You are causing a scene." When Mist looked around her, smiling at the people looking at her, and stopped shaking him, Bonner cleared his throat and pointed past the shocked shop owner to shelves of magazines.

"Whilst you were having an ungoddesslike fit over our plight, I have used my powers to locate a collection of books on proper mortal attire." Bonner said calmly. "Satisfied?"

Without answering, Mist raised her hands to her lips and breathed, "By my powers, I commend thee, books, to give up thy knowledge to me. Give them up, so I may take on the guise of a mortal." As the words left her lips, a bright, blue light shot out of her hands and smashed into the magazine counter. Sounds akin to a thousand humming birds buzzing surrounded Mist as her clothes melted away like some glowing wax and reformed into a navy skirt, a blouse, and a matching jacket. Her sandals were also reformed into army boots, but with a few angry words, formed back into sandals. She then pointed to Bonner, whose clothes melted into and was forming a navy skirt, a blouse, and a matching jacket, but with a gasp and a few corrections on the words from Mist, changed them into a blazer, a pair of neatly pleated pants, a polo shirt and a pair of loafers.

"Now that that's settled," Mist began as the magazines started to smoke and catch fire, "We need some money. Hmm.." She walked over to the cash register, where the owner was busily talking to the 911 operator, and said innocently with a charming smile, "Can I have some money?"

The owner, looking pale and shaking all over, opened the cash register and scooped out all the bills, handing them over to Mist with an uneasy smile.

"Thank you, you are very kind." Mist answered, and stopping herself from turning around, said musingly, "How rude of me. I should reward you, shouldn't I." She then raised her hand and touched the register, whispering out words that sounded as silky as a spider's web, "Come to me, what is deemed most precious in this mortal's heart, and become this device." As the words left her lips, the whole register started to glow in a blue light, and turned into a solid piece of gold. Mist turned to the owner and asked, "I hope you are properly compensated for your troubles?"

The owner, looking at the cash register dumbfoundedly, hung up on the 911 operator and nodded vigorously, smiling widely until his lips hurt. Mist smiled back, and led Bonner, who was busily examining a box of condoms, past the few brave customers who were still cowering in the store, back out into the streets.

"Now we go get Llwyn and get out of here." Bonner said purposefully, and started to walk off, but Mist stopped him.

"No we don't." Mist said, leading him to a street corner, taking satisfaction in that no one in particular was paying much attention to her except for a few men here and there, who's interests in her she found flattering. "If we show up at her doorstep now, it could be dangerous."

Bonner scratched his head and replied, "I don't follow. Why can't we just grab her and leave?"

"Because," Mist answered with annoyance in her voice, "She has her powers back now because we're here. And her memory is not fully back yet. Which means..."

Bonner snapped his fingers and answered for her, "She might use her powers against us, viewing us as a threat!"

"She could still beat us both, even if her memory is sketchy." Mist stated, looking worried.

Bonner sighed, and said tersely, "Your father shouldn't have reinstated her powers, at least not until we were safely out of this place and married."

Mist winced and whispered under her breath, "That's exactly why he did, you jerk."

Bonner looked towards the sky, and seemed to be in deep thought while Mist heard sirens coming closer and closer towards them. "Wonderful!" Bonner exclaimed as Mist saw several police cars converging towards where they were.

Mist stared into Bonner's sly, coveting eyes and immediately turned red with anger. "You can't! How can you stoop that low?!" She exclaimed, while the police cars screeched to a halt next to them.

Bonner's smiled as police officers ran past them and into the store that they just came out of, and replied dreamily, "I have a golden opportunity here, Mist. I can reintroduce myself back into her life and make her love me."

"You mean to trick her, and I won't allow it, Bonner!" Mist exclaimed as she raised her hand. "Dragon ball, your goddess calls you!" Mist commanded fiercely, and with a brilliant flash of blue light that outshone the sun and whipped her ebony hair in a frenzy, a clear, crystal like ball the size of a tennis ball appeared in her hand while surprised people around her scattered and took cover.

Bonner covered his face against the light, but stood his ground. "Not this time, Mist. You're not going to interfere. I advise you to stay out of my way!" He shouted, and disappeared in a flash of yellow light that knocked the stunned people off their feet and sent them tumbling into Mist as if a tornado wind had blown them.

Mist, standing her ground amidst the flying bodies and screams, gritted her teeth in anger and commanded, "Disappear, ill gotten wind!" The dragon ball started to glow a dark hue of deep sea blue, and a piercing shriek emanated from it, cutting through the harsh wind and smashing it asunder. Dazed people fell to the ground gently and dead silence returned to the streets. Mist, wiping her brow, fell to her knees as if tired. She then gasped when she noticed a little boy who was moaning under a car, having been blown into the streets and run over. Mist quickly got up and went over to him, who saw her and was trying weakly to reach out to her with pain and fright in his eyes. "This is my fault." Mist said miserably to herself as she took his hand in hers gently, looking full of guilt.

Sounds started to return to the streets as stunned people picked themselves up and noticed what had happened. Few brave souls ventured out into the streets to where Mist was, and the cars that were in the vicinity quickly steered clear of the accident and went off about their business.

The driver of the car, an old lady, came up to Mist and the boy in a hysterical condition. "Oh, I didn't mean to run him over! He just appeared out of nowhere and I had no...Is he okay?"

Mist felt the boy's hand grow colder and colder with each passing second. Pinned under one of the tires, the boy was not breathing and turning pale. She then saw in the corner of her eye that the shop owner was excitedly pointing her out to the police officers. She held the boy's cold hand up to her cheek, ignoring the old woman who was screaming for help, and fought an unsuccessful battle to stop her eyes from brimming over with tears, for her heart started to break for what she had done. "If I save you, little boy, I will be caught...But I can feel you dying." She said, her voice weak and uncertain.

Three of the police officers came up to Mist, while the other called for an ambulance, and one of them laid a hand on Mist's shoulder. "Miss, we'd like to ask you a few questions." He said sternly, while his partner bent down to check the boy's pulse, looking up and shaking his head slowly afterwards, which renewed the old woman's nonsensical babble.

Mist ignored the policeman, and raised her head towards the sky. Her green eyes started to glow, and as if answering, the ball in her hand started to glow a deep shade of blue. The two police officers immediately backed off, dragging the old woman with them. One of them took out his taser gun and aimed it at Mist as she raised the glowing ball high. The car lifted effortlessly off the boy amidst gasps from the crowd, and his lifeless, broken body was lifted out, and was placed gently on Mist's lap. Mist then closed her eyes and intoned in a shaky voice, "I as a goddess bestow on you the greatest of gifts, that of life. I defy you, death. I have snatched him away from you, for he is mine and it was never meant for you to have him so soon." Her grip on the ball grew tighter, and she started to wince as she and the boy was both enveloped in a swirling light of deep blue. And as the ball shattered with a crack and the tiny shards fell to the boy's body like a sparkling rain, she felt tiny pinpricks on her back and a terrible shock go through her body. She crumpled forward weak and lifelessly like a broken flower as the boy's eyes slowly fluttered open with life.

(3)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Nicky stared blankly into the ceiling, looking spent and tired. She finally managed to finish signing the lottery papers and posing for pictures, and even got to see herself on television, looking ridiculously silly, she thought, with her mouth constantly agape and speaking in incoherent half sentences to the questions posed by reporters. The full effect of what had just happened to her hadn't actually hit her until the last of the reporters left, and the euphoria of winning all that money wore off rather quickly with it, leaving her dreadfully tired. All that remained on her buzzing mind was just what was she going to do with all that money. She slowly reached for the phone, but yanked her hand away, remembering that she had disconnected it because of the unwanted calls from people who just had to have her money for various purposes. She chewed on her nail nervously for awhile, and decided to call her parents immediately, feeling safe since she didn't see anything wrong with that decision. Just then, a knock came at the door.

"Who is it?" Nicky asked in a timid voice from the couch.

The door slowly opened, much to Nicky's surprise since she had bolted it tight, and a man walked in. Dressed in clothes that seemed ripped straight out of a magazine and smiling in a charming manner that somehow grated on Nicky's nerves, he fixed his grey eyes on Nicky and slowly walked towards her. "No, don't get up." He said as Nicky quickly bolted up from the couch. "We have a lot of things to talk about, you and I." He continued, coming closer.

"Who are you and how the hell did you get in?" Nicky said cautiously as she slowly backed away from him, her hand balling up into a fist to smash into the man's chin that looked as smooth and chiseled as marble.

The man came closer, his sharply defined nose making a definitely juicy target for Nicky's fist, which was cocked and ready. "My name is Bonner, my lady. And I came to brighten up your life. To take you away from all this mortal duldrom." He said, and gasped as Nicky's fist connected with his nose, sending him reeling into the television, knocking the said appliance to the ground with a loud smash. "It's nice to see that you still haven't lost your touch." Bonner mumbled as he held his nose, wincing in pain.

"Get out before I call the cops, you creep." Nicky said, and reached for the phone. She gasped as it was ripped from her grasp by an unseen force and smashed itself into a million pieces in midair.

The man slowly got up and dusted himself off. "I dislike using force on pretty girls like you. But if you do not cooperate, you will leave me in a very difficult spot." He said, his smile disappearing. Nicky noticed that his nose, which should have been broken, was perfectly all right, showing no signs of even being touched. She started to regret wasting her money on that stupid martial arts class for self defense, and wondered why Wendy, who taught the class from time to time, ever bothered dragging her to it so religiously. She wished Wendy would be here to actually practice what she preached, and noticed that a bright light was forming between the two of them immediately after her thoughts had pointed in that direction, and exclaimed as Wendy, still in a seated position with a pencil in her hand, was unceremoniously dumped into the middle of the living room.

"Ouch!" Wendy exclaimed as she landed with a thump. She then looked around her surroundings and started to grow pale. "What is going on here." She mumbled, then saw Nicky and the man looking at her.

"Wendy!" Nicky said as she pointed to the man. "Kick his butt!"

Wendy slowly got up, her eyes still registering shock. "What?!" She exclaimed.

"Beat him up! He's trying to kill me!" Nicky pleaded.

Wendy looked at the man over, and gritted her teeth as he shoved her aside. "Mortals have no business in this. Move aside before I turn you into a toad." he intoned imperiously.

Wendy needed no more goading. She tossed away her pencil, locked up his arm and smashed a fist into his belly, barely noticing that she was encircled in a strange, glowing light. As the man staggered backwards, she swiped his head to the side with a kick, and smashed her foot into him again with a flying kick.

"How did this happen.." the man panted as he lay on the ground. He then noticed the glowing light emanating from Wendy and winced, finally understanding. "Mist warned me about this..." he croaked, and slowly disappeared into thin air.

Both of the girls stood with gaping jaws, staring at the spot where the man used to be. Wendy shook her head, finally getting to her senses, and turned to Nicky. "Would you mind telling me what's going on here?" She said in a shaky voice.

"You won't believe me even if I told you." Nicky replied wearily.

Wendy came over to her and sat her down on the couch. "Try me." She said, standing over her with her arms folded across her chest.

Nicky opened her mouth and closed it. Then she started to laugh hysterically.

"Nicky!" Wendy shouted, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her.

"Well, Wen.." Nicky blurted out between guffaws. "It seems anything I wish for, it comes true!"

Wendy stopped shaking her and stared at her unbelievingly.

"Well it's true!" Nicky stated, staring back at her indignantly. "Why do you think you're here?!"

Wendy opened her mouth to protest, but stopped herself, her eyes going blank. "That's right...I was in the middle of my midterm." She murmured weakly.

Nicky reached over to the coffee table and got a piece of paper. "And that's not all, Wen. I won the lottery." She said, and handed her an official looking document.

Wendy took the paper with numb fingers and slowly sat down next to Nicky. After glancing over the document, she whispered to herself, "This is unbelievable."

"I don't know what to make of it myself." Nicky said weakly.

Wendy leaned back and closed her eyes. "This is all a bad dream. I'm going to wake up from this any minute now.. Ow!" She exclaimed as Nicky pinched her arm. "Okay, so maybe it's not a dream..But this doesn't make any sense." Wendy said as she nursed her bruised arm.

Nicky looked away from her friend, clutching at the arm of the sofa. Then she slammed her fist down and quickly turned to Wendy. "That's it!" She exclaimed, while Wendy, shocked out of her thought, leaned back away from her.

"What is?" Wendy asked cautiously, carefully looking at her friend for any sign of mental imbalance.

"Don't you see? No, of course not! I haven't told you yet!" Nicky exclaimed, getting excited. "That jerk you beat up. Bonner. He's from my dream!"

Wendy scratched her brow and asked, "Say what?"

Nicky quickly got up from the sofa and wheeled around to face Wendy. "That dream I had this morning! He's the same man from my dream!" She informed, looking hopefully at Wendy.

Wendy snorted at her words and whispered to herself, "Sort of your dream lover, wasn't he?"

Nicky picked up a sofa cushion and bashed her across the head, saying, "Get serious! That guy was a total loser! He got his butt whipped by you, of all people."

"Hey hey! Watch the hair!" Wendy exclaimed, and held up a hand while readjusting her glasses. "Alright, so that explains your new boyfriend." Wendy quipped, smirking when Nicky's expression grew outraged. "But that still doesn't explain the fact that I was in a middle of a test a few minutes ago and why you're now a millionaire."

Nicky feigned sadness as she sat next to Wendy and patted her head. "Ah, dear, naive Wendy. I knew it was just too much for your simple mind to completely grasp the situation." Nicky said in a gentle voice.

Wendy brought an elbow into Nicky's ribs and retorted, "Yeah, I know! You wished that you could win the lottery this morning...." Wendy growled, but stopped herself from going further. "It can't be a mere coincidence." She murmured finally after a few moments of thought.

"Precisely!" Nicky announced excitedly, rubbing her rib. "Ever since this morning, everything I've wished for has come true."

Wendy raised her brow and retorted, "That's preposterous! But then again, coming from a weirdo like you..."

Nicky ignored that last barb and persisted, grabbing a hold of Wendy's arm. "Why not test it out? Tell me what you wish for and I'll make it come true!"

"No! Forget it! This is ridiculous!" Wendy protested, trying to free herself from Nicky's grasp.

Nicky snapped her fingers, then smiled. "I know! You always hated those glasses!" She then pointed her fingers to Wendy's face and said, "Fix it!"

Immediately as the words left her lips, bluish light shot out like streaks of lightning, slamming themselves into Wendy's eyes. Wendy shouted in shock, trying to back away so fast that she slammed the back of her head into the wall, knocking her glasses off. She covered her eyes with her hands as the lights flickered away like flames blowing away into the wind. "What's happened to me.." Wendy mumbled as she cautiously removed her hands and gasped. She slowly got up, not paying attention to the fact that she broke her glasses into pieces by standing on them for she was just too busy looking around at her surroundings, her eyes wide with wonder.

"Nicky..." Wendy said, her voice trembling.

"It worked, didn't it?!" Nicky asked, excited.

Wendy turned slowly to her and mumbled in a stunned voice, "My head hurts."

"Want me to fix it?" Nicky asked, pointing her finger at her.

"No, no, no!" Wendy said, shaking her hands. "Just my fault. I banged it on the wall. I think I'll go lie down a bit. I'm hungry too. Oops, I should be going back to school." she chattered on, backing away from Nicky. She then slapped herself and winced. "Just let me get my senses in order 'cause I'm about to go berserk here." Wendy finally said, looking disheveled and tired.

Wendy slowly came over to Nicky and took her hand in hers, sitting down next to her. "Tell me why you have this power." She asked, looking gravely serious and making Nicky feel a bit uncomfortable.

"You're not going to believe this." Nicky began, squirming. "But I think I'm a goddess."

Wendy sighed and let her hands go. "You're right. I don't believe this."

"I can hardly believe it myself, but that's the only thing that makes sense to me right now. That man showing up here clinched it for me." Nicky started, leaning back into the cushion.

Wendy sighed again and said, "I think you'll have to tell me just what exactly happened in your dream this morning."

"Alright." Nicky said, hoping that what she was about to tell her friend would make some kind, any kind of sense to her as well as herself.

(4)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Mist sat in a wooden chair, blinking against the harsh fluorescent light that made her eyes water. She rubbed the circular marks on her wrists where the handcuffs had chafed her and started to cough delicately as the rancid smoke from the cigarettes burned her lungs.

Seated across from her were two men in dark business suits, wearing name tags that looked important. Before them, on the metal table were strange looking devices that blinked with weird colors that made Mist want to reach over and smash them against the wall. Next to Mist stood one of the police officers that arrested Mist, dressed sloppily and looking in need of a shave. He put out his cigarette when he noticed that Mist was glaring at him and said apologetically, "Still can't kick the habit, I'm afraid. Sorry."

One of the stern looking men cleared his throat and pointed a strange looking probe in Mist's direction. "Let me clarify what you said. Now, you say that you're a goddess from another planet, and you're here to reclaim your sister that you accidentally sent here?" He asked as his partner bit his lips to keep himself from bursting out laughing. The man with the probe noticed this and looked daggers at his young partner, who stammered out, "Sorry."

Mist pounded her fist on the table and exclaimed in an exasperated voice, "Are you stupid or what? How many times do I have to tell you the same story over and over again to get it through to your idiotic mortal skull?!"

The man ignored her outburst, and readjusted a dial on his console, raising his eyebrow as a bunch of gibberish was displayed across the screen. "Okay then. Could you tell us how you changed that cash register into solid gold?" He asked, totally engrossed with his equipment.

"I used my power. Such deeds are trivial to one such as I." Mist replied haughtily, and noticed the young man looking intently at her and came to the conclusion thatthought that he probably thought she was deranged. She felt frustrated that she could no longer read the thoughts of others and felt like breaking something apart to sate her anger.

The police man laid a gentle hand on Mist's shoulder when he noticed her tense form and said soothingly, "Take it easy, honey. The man's just doing his job. It'll be over soon."

The man with the machine looked up from the console and replied coolly, "Wrong, sergeant. We'll be here for quite awhile longer."

The young man saw Mist's face turn ashen and cleared his throat and got up. "Sir, may I see you outside for a moment?" He said to the man and opened the door that led out of the interrogation room.

The man put down his probe and sighed. "Alright. Watch her carefully, sergeant." He said to the old man as he followed the young man outside and closed the door. He reached for a pack of cigarettes as he stared around the crowded police station. "What is it?" He asked as he put a cigarette to his lips and lighted it.

"Sir, I think we're wasting our time." The young man said, looking cautiously at the older man.

The man shook his head and moved as an officer passed between them. "Agent Bartley. What I do with my time is my business. You're only here because these cops called the FBI before us. If I had my way, you wouldn't be here at all."

Agent Bartley cleared his throat. "With all due respect, sir. You don't have an alien in there. What you have is a young woman who has a healthy dose of imagination. Maybe she's mentally disturbed."

The man chuckled. "She's got you fooled. Just because she's got a pretty face, you think she's.."

"That's not it!" Bartley exclaimed, cutting him off. "I'm saying that what you're doing here is illegal. She hasn't committed any crime, and from what I heard from the arresting officers, she saved a little boy's life. We don't have any reason to hold her here any longer."

The man angrily took the cigarette out of his mouth and stamped on it. "You seem to conveniently forget the circumstances behind her arrest, Agent Bartley. Did you even see the security tape from that shop she wrecked?"

Inside the interrogation room, Mist got up and stretched her sore limbs. She then noticed the policeman looking at her and sighed. "Do you always try to destroy something you don't understand?" She said finally, surprising the policeman.

The policeman looked uncomfortable under Mist's gaze, but he answered, "I don't believe in existence of gods."

Mist tilted her head in curiosity and asked, "That's not the question I asked."

"I'm sorry." The policeman said, not looking at her. "If we hadn't arrested you, you wouldn't be here."

Mist sat back down slowly. "What's on your mind?" She asked, desperately missing her powers to read the minds of mortals.

The policeman pulled up a chair next to Mist and sat down gingerly, looking nervous. "I witnessed a miracle today, that's on my mind." He began. "That boy was dead, and you brought him back to life, just like that."

Mist twirled a strand of her raven black hair and replied, "I could do no less. I was partly to blame for his death, after all."

The two sat in silence for awhile, watching the blinking lights of the machine.

The policeman broke the silence with a question, his voice shaking, "Are you really who you say you are?"

Mist looked at the man, and saw that his question was not in jest, for his eyes looked troubled and serious. "Yes, I am." She replied, and felt shocked to be feeling the electrical tinge of power returning to her.

"Why did you allow yourself to be arrested then?" The policeman asked cautiously.

Mist, surprised that her power had returned at all, let alone so quickly, smiled most charmingly. Immediately, she was surrounded by an aura of bright blue light that made her looked to be aflame with it. Her clothes that she got from the magazine melted away as a long, white gown with a dark, filmy blue cape replaced it. A long scarf, transparent save for dots of glittering jewels along its length, coiled around Mist's hair, giving the policeman the impression that he was gazing into a summer's night sky, full of sparkling stars.

"Be at ease." Mist said soothingly when she saw that the terror in the policeman's eyes. "I will not harm you."

The policeman slowly nodded as he gazed into Mist's eyes. "You are real." He murmured in a voice filled with wonder.

"Being so far away from my believers, I didn't think I could recover my powers after saving that boy." Mist began, her eyes glittering like deep, liquid green pools. "But I have a believer in you. Thank you." She bowed gracefully before the policeman.

Just then, the door burst open and the two men burst in, seeing the glowing blue light spilling out of the room.

"Holy..." Agent Bartley murmured when he saw Mist, and felt his knees buckle and his heart beat furiously when he saw her smile his way.

Mist raised her hand aloft and closed her eyes. "Dragon ball, your goddess calls to you." She intoned softly, and immediately a loud clap of thunder was heard as a tiny ball appeared in her hand. The machinery on the desk started to beep furiously as agent Bartley was shoved aside by the man who quickly moved over to the console to read the screen. When Mist then raised her other hand, a loud humming sound started to shake the whole building as the room started to glow blindingly. The machinery, along with everything else, started to rise up from the floor and started to swirl around Mist in slow, lazy circles. Mist pointed to the policeman, and in his frantic hands appeared an old dog, who barked and licked the policeman's face gratefully. The policeman, who looked stunned, was slowly returned to the floor, hugging the dog tightly against his chest.

"That's what you wanted from me, was it not?" Mist asked gently, smiling.

The policeman blinked away his tears and stammered out, "I don't know how to thank you."

"You already have." Mist replied, then turned to the man, who was trying desperately to reach his machine. With a stern gaze from Mist, the machine broke apart as if it was being crushed by a trash compactor, reducing into little broken pieces. As the man looked on with utter terror in his eyes, Mist sent him flying out of the room and headfirst into a garbage can as stunned police officers watched, frozen in their place. She then turned to Bartley and cocked her head. "What should I do with you?" She wondered, with her eyes full of mischief. "Ah yes." She finally said as Bartley floated around her with wide, terror filled eyes, desperately holding onto a chair. "If you know what is good for you, then I trust that you will not meddle in my affairs." She finally said, returning him to the ground with a thud.

"Who are you?" Bartley asked, his voice filled with terror, yet feeling a calming peace spreading in his soul as he gaped at Mist.

Mist smiled and held the dragon ball to her chest. "I'm definitely not mentally disturbed, like you thought." She said as the light withdrew itself from the room slowly, coalescing around Mist as she faded away. "And no. I don't think a relationship between you and me is possible." She added with a smile as she disappeared into thin air.

Bartley felt his face turn red with embarrassment as the stunned police officers started to file into the room and helped him back up.

(5)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

With a loud buzz that sounded like thousands of extremely angry bees, a large circular light appeared in the middle of the sidewalk, glowing in a swirling blue color like a whirlpool and making people jump quickly out of the way for their lives. Mist slowly floated out of the hole as people watched in stunned silence, and planted her feet firmly on the pavement as the hole disappeared. She ran her hand through her long, black hair and yawned, covering her mouth. She then surveyed around her surroundings and saw the stunned people gaping at her with their mouths open and gasped.

"I really have to work on my entrance." Mist observed in an embarrassed voice and smiled at the people, who quickly dispersed away from her. She reached out to stop one of them and asked sweetly, "Pardon me, but where am I?"

The man stammered and blabbered, holding his brightly colored bags close to him. He finally pointed to a large sign on the side of a huge row of buildings and quickly made his getaway while Mist looked up at it and read out loud, "Oakmont Mall."

Mist then looked at the rows of cars in the parking lot, then turned to watch the large bustle of people walk in and out of the buildings. She crossed her arms to her chest uncomfortably and stood there, not knowing what to do next. She then spied a wooden bench under a shade of a tree next to the entrance to the mall, and decided to sit there and think up what to do next.

Mist gingerly sat down on the bench, making sure not to crinkle up her filmy gown. As she sat there, looking lost in thought, tiny birds flew over to her and landed on her shoulders, chattering their daily complaints into her ears. A small squirrel scurried over to her and sat on her knee, reverently offering a piece of chocolate that it had scrounged up from a trash can and joining in on the chat. people passing by her looked upon this scene and some laughed quietly, for the sight of a beautiful girl lost in thought amongst cute little animals warmed them up and made them feel at ease, while others sighed and thought the sight beguilingly innocent, touching something deep and soft in their souls that they thought lost and gone forever.

Mist, not paying attention to either the animals or the people, started to fidget with a violet colored tassel of her belt, and scooted over slightly when a young man sat next to her, dumping his backpack wearily next to him.

"That jerk! I can't believe she skipped classes again!" He cursed, leaning back on the bench and running a hand though his shortly cut blond hair. The birds looked at him and started to curse at him in their language for his impertinence at sitting so close to their goddess.

Mist noticed this and held her hand up to quiet them.

The young man suddenly raised his head as if catching something in the wind, quickly turned to Mist, his blue eyes widened. "A goddess!" He exclaimed, his eyes widening.

Mist gasped, and scooted away from him. "What did you say?" She asked in an uneasy voice.

"You. You are a goddess!" The young man persisted, grabbing her arms.

Mist batted his hand away from her. "Let go!" She exclaimed.

A pair of men who were watching Mist with longing in their eyes came over to the two and one of them asked, "Is this creep bothering you, miss?"

"He sure is!" Mist exclaimed as the young man's face drained of all color when the two grabbed him.

"Wait! I'm a god too!" The young man yelled as the two men dragged him away.

Mist heard this and bolted up from the bench. She took one of her thin bracelet off her and tossed it towards the men. The golden bracelet grew in size until it became as big as a manhole cover, smacking the two of them in the head in turn and making them drop the young man. It then bound them together and tossed them up to the roof of the building as they shouted in shock. Having done that, the ring came back to Mist's upraised hand and slipped back onto her wrist. She then gasped in realization and quickly looked around her to see if anyone had seen what she had just done, and sighed in relief when she saw no one.

The young man ran up to her and exclaimed, "You still have your powers! How?!"

Mist tilted her head questioningly and replied, "You don't?"

"Not like that!" The young man exclaimed. "I do have snippets of power, but not enough to do anything like that!"

Mist looked surprised at the young man and said in a suspicious voice, "Then what kind of a god are you?"

The young man looked apologetic and rubbed the back of his head. "Actually, I don't think we can be called gods anymore, technically."

The young man cautiously reached over to lead Mist back over to the bench and sat themselves down. "One of my ancestors was a god a long, long time ago." He began, looking embarrassed. "You see, people stopped believing in him and he turned mortal."

"How dreadful!" Mist exclaimed, looking at him with pity in her green eyes.

The young man smiled apologetically. "It isn't that bad, being human."

"If you say so." Mist said, unbelieving, and motioned the little birds to stop pecking away at the young man's head.

The young man laughed. "This world has grown too old for fantasies and mysteries, goddess. With technology and all, we were bound to become anachronisms and tossed away. There are many like me and we have this club at our school...."

Mist shrugged and replied, "Why bother? I mean, you guys are now more human then divine."

"But we do have a little immortality in our veins, even though we couldn't even toast bread with our powers." The young man informed her in an apologetic voice. "We have to keep our heritage from being forgotten, you know?"

Mist thought about it for awhile and finally replied, "Yes, I guess you are right about that."

The young man smiled. "Well, good. Now, I have a question for you."

"Okay." Mist said, returning his smile.

The young man cleared his throat, after being stunned by Mist's beguiling smile, and asked, "How come you still have your powers?"

Mist leaned back on the bench and replied breezily, "Because I'm not from this planet."

The young man sighed and leaned back on the bench also. "Well, that would explain things. And here I thought we were making a comeback."

"In my world, I am a goddess to the dragons." Mist continued, desperately trying to shut off the blue aura that threatened to leak out of her. "I'm relatively new at having this much power." She said apologetically as she managed to shut off the aura. "I'm only a thousand years old you know."

The young man whistled low. "Only? Geez. I'm only twenty. A thousand years is perty old in mortal terms."

"Pardon?" Mist asked.

"Uh, nothing. nothing!" The young man hurriedly replied, and said, "I'm Mike Swensen. You are?"

Mist still looked a bit puzzled, but she stated, "Mist."

"That's a pretty name, Mist." The young man complimented, and was awarded with another smile from Mist, warming him from head to toe.

Mist asked, "You like it? I thought about changing it since now I'm a dragon goddess. I used to be only a goddess of mist, you know."

Mike sighed inwardly, secretly worried that what he thought he felt for her wasn't grounds for being fried to a crisp, and said, "It suits you just fine, Mist."

"Thanks! And I wasn't going to kill you or anything. I'm not that kind of a goddess." Mist said, smiling.

Mike stammered, "You can read minds?"

Mist nodded.

Mike's face turned crimson and said, "How embarrassing. Then you know that I want to ask you out?"

Mist's smile faded as his words registered and she asked in a puzzled voice, "What?"

"Uh, nothing! Nothing! Say, are you hungry?" Mike stammered, getting up and grabbing his backpack, realizing that Mist's mind reading ability wasn't as thorough as he thought it was.

Mist put a hand to her tummy. "Well, I am kind of.." She said, and looked at the bits of potato chips and chocolate that a bunch of squirrels had busily offered in her lap.

"Good! My pop runs a Scandinavian restaurant at the mall. Viking food. You'll like it." Mike said, offering a hand to Mist.

Mist took his hand, sending a pleasant shock through Mike's arm, and said, "Okay."

Inside the mall was cool and fragrant. Being a weekday, there weren't that many people populating the mall, and the place looked empty and vast. Mike felt the envious eyes on the two of them as they passed by the men and felt a bit guilty and fake, for he knew that Mist and him were almost complete strangers. He sneaked a peek at Mist's face, watching her green, liquid eyes sparkling and full of wonder at all the different shops with their colorful display, and walked a bit closer to her, feeling that same pleasantly shocking feeling course through his body.

A sudden thought cringed up into his mind as he resigned himself to stare absentmindedly into her face, and he snapped his fingers, waking himself up in the process. "That's right! You look exactly like her!" He exclaimed, smacking right into a planter and grabbing his knee in pain.

"Pardon?" Mist said and looked down next to her feet as she felt her arm being tugged downward when Mike fell to his knees.

"Well, I know this girl in my Chem class. She's my lab partner. She looks exactly like you, except that she has blond hair." Mike said through his teeth as he winced in pain, feeling idiotic as passerby's laughed at what just happened to him.

"What?!" Mist exclaimed and kneeled next to Mike and brought her face close to his, her eyes eager.

Michael's head swam when he realized how close to her warm, red lips his own was. There was a hint of a smell of spring's wild flowers about her, and he could feel her cold, silky hair on his arm, sending tiny shivers through them as the ebony strands moved about as if alive. He stared dumbly into her clear, green eyes and felt his soul being drawn into them.

Mist grabbed Michael's shoulders and started to shake him back into the world of the living, and the effect was as if he had a bucket of cold water splashed on his face and smacked with it upside the head. He cleared his throat uncomfortably and said apologetically, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to compare you to a mortal. She's nothing like you. She's always late, she's childish, has a real bad temper..."

"Are you close to this girl?" Mist asked, her voice urgent.

Mike thought for a briefest of moments that maybe Mist felt jealous that he knew this girl, but kicked that notion out of his head when he saw that Mist's expression was that of urgency and not of jealousy, making himself feel idiotic. "She's just a friend." He said, for that's the answer he had prepared by the first, and false, assumption, and felt like crawling into a hole when he thought that Mist looked at him strangely.

"Wonderful. It's all falling into place." Mist then whispered to herself as Mike looked on with a miserable expression. She turned to him, noticing his expression and raised her eyebrow. "Does your knee hurt that much?" She asked in a worried voice.

Mike looked away from her and slowly got up, while squeaking, "No. I'm alright."

Mist got up also, and leaned close to him. "Listen, Mike." She began, ignoring the hooting calls of some teenagers who thought they were about to kiss each other. "I need you to arrange a little meeting between this girl and me. Can you manage it?"

Mike leaned away from her dejectedly, and replied, "Yeah, sure. She's going to come over to my pop's store to copy my notes today."

Mist noticed Mike's attitude and asked, "What's wrong? Is my request inappropriate?"

Mike sighed and remained silent, feeling foolish and stupid for lusting after Mist like some lovesick idiot.

She is a goddess, for god's sake! And I'm just a nobody. He thought miserably, feeling Mist's worried eyes on him and angry with himself for still caring if his hair was not too messed up for her taste.

Mike forced himself to reach over to Mist's hand and started to lead her to his father's restaurant. "Let's go." He said gruffly, drawing angry glances from the passerby's for the way he was treating Mist and not bothering to look back at her as he dragged her behind him, trying to fight off the calming effects of jingling chimes that Mist's bracelets and earrings made.

Mist looked at Mike's back with puzzlement in her eyes as she followed obediently, feeling uneasy for she found that she could no longer read his thoughts at all.

(6)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

"Hey look! My hair's grown!" Nicky exclaimed as she held her waist length hair that was fine as spun gold strands. "And the texture! My god! I can't get results like this with shampoo!"

Wendy looked depressed at Nicky. "I'm happy for you." She observed dryly. She sighed once again and started to play with the pizza carton with her toes.

Nicky came over to Wendy and sat down next to her on the couch. "What's the matter?" She asked in a worried voice, looking at Wendy's pensive face.

Wendy slowly turned to Nicky and opened her mouth to speak, but cleared her throat in stead. After a long sigh, she finally spoke. "It's you. You're changing right before my eyes. It's not just your hair, Nick. Your looks seem 'enhanced' somehow."

"What's that supposed to mean?!" Nicky exclaimed, outraged. "What?! I was ugly before or something?! You think I am using my powers to change my looks?!"

Wendy shook her head and replied calmly, "No. That's not what I meant. I mean that you don't look, how shall I say, human anymore. I mean, look at you! You're glowing with a white light for god's sake."

Nicky looked at her hands and saw that a faint glow the color of lightning enveloped her limbs and said in an awed voice, "Oh yeah..." Nicky smiled and quipped, "Hey, we won't need the lamps anymore. You realize we can cut our electric bills in half?"

"Oh, very funny!" Wendy exclaimed. "How are you going to go out to school looking like that?! Matter of fact, how are you going to go anywhere looking like you just got struck by lightning?!"

Now it was Nicky's turn to sigh. "Leave it to you to find something wrong with all this." She said, leaning back on the couch and staring at the broken television.

"I'm just being reasonable." Wendy replied. "And listen Nick, now that you have all this power, I think you should get serious and consider really acting like a goddess. I mean, you're acting like a kid with a new toy."

Both of them remained quiet for awhile, listening to the passing cars on the street and absorbed in their own thoughts. Nicky then turned to Wendy and gave her a hug. "Thanks for smacking some sense into me." She said, letting her go. "I was being really foolish with this whole thing. I gotta get serious about this."

"Just a little." Wendy observed, and smiled as Nicky shot her an angry look.

Nicky grabbed a bundle of her hair and started to twirl it with her fingers that glowed with an eerily soft light. "I could be a super heroine, fighting crime, putting evil doers behind bars." She wondered out loud.

Wendy rolled her eyes and advised, "You're a goddess now. You have to think in grander terms."

"This is complicated!" Nicky exclaimed, stretching out her limbs and yawning. She then turned to Wendy and asked, "What do you think I should do?"

Wendy thought quietly for awhile, then said, "Maybe you should start out by curing world hunger."

Nicky thought about this for awhile, and shook her head. As she did so, a pair of silver, circular earrings appeared on her ears, jingling pleasantly. "No. I can't. I don't have that kind of a power. It's funny, whenever I try to use it, I start to remember things about myself when I really was a goddess. And I remember this rule about exactly that. Even if I did have the power, I was forbidden to do it because it would upset the order of things."

"Who forbade you?" Wendy asked.

Nicky looked lost in thoughts as she replied, "My father. He said that if I were to do that, then I would have to cause natural disasters to kill the number of humans that would have died due to hunger. To avoid overpopulation." Nicky turned to Wendy with an uneasy expression and observed, "I was sickened to hear it. As if mortals were like cattle, managing them like that. That's the reason why I was busted down to managing weather."

"So that's basically the reason why you ended up here." Wendy observed. She then sighed and shook her head. "Boy, I'm really having trouble thinking of you as a goddess."

Nicky stared at her friend's uneasy expression and said, "Then don't. The more I remember about my past, the more I don't want to be a goddess. I just want to be Nicky."

Wendy gently took Nicky's hand in hers and looked her in the eyes. "Like it or not, Nick, you are now a goddess. Let's just try to make the best of this, huh?"

"Yeah." Nicky said weakly. "I know. Let's just think on this for a couple of days and take it from there. I don't think a decision like this can be made just like that."

Wendy smiled and replied, "Sounds good to me. And Nicky?"

"Uh huh?" Nicky answered.

"You think you can zap me back to my midterm?" Wendy asked with hope in her voice.

Nicky raised her hand, but stopped herself. "I can't." She announced.

"Why not?"

Nicky looked apologetic and cowered before Wendy as she murmured, "Because it's over."

"No..." Wendy groaned as she smacked her forehead.

(7)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Mike's father's restaurant was in a quiet corner of the mall, away from the loud and populated fast food court section. Maybe that explained why there weren't that many customers at the restaurant, or it could be the fact that Mike's father dressed up as a Viking, complete with a horned helmet and a furred vest and leggings, and served the few remaining customers as gruffly and rambunctiously as a Viking would. However, the smell that floated out of the kitchen was undeniably good, and it made Mist's tummy growl with hunger.

The customers did a double take when Mist was led in, giving her looks that Mist had gotten used to tolerating since she had to run a gauntlet of leering, lovesick eyes just getting here. Mist smiled pleasantly at them all, while holding onto Mike's hand tightly for comfort. Mike swallowed hard at this and cleared his throat.

"Hey, pop." Mike said, leading Mist to the back of the small restaurant.

Mike's father raised his head from the cash register and scowled at him. "It's about time you got here, Mike!" He growled, his long mustache twitching, while raising the helmet out of his eyes. "You know how short on help we are around here. Hurry up and get dressed!"

"You mean free help." Mike grumbled under his breath. "Pop, I'd like you to meet Mist." He said, clearing his throat.

Mike's father looked Mist over as if examining her for cracks and broken pieces, finally saying, "Fine. She's a looker. But where'd you drag her from? A costume party?"

Mike's face turned beet red and whispered, "Pop, please! She's a goddess!"

Mike's father harumphed as Mist bowed gracefully before him. "Good for her. You can play with your club friends after work, Mike. Dressing room, please?" He said impatiently, motioning him towards the kitchen.

As Mike opened his mouth to protest, he held up his and added, "Nicky called. She says she'll stop by tomorrow to pick up the notes because she's too busy with her life. Whatever the heck that means."

"Tomorrow!" Mist exclaimed dejectedly, looking crushed.

Mike looked at her and felt his heart growing heavier as he saw her troubled face, and blurted out the first thing that came to his mind, "If you haven't got a place to stay, you can stay over at my place for the night."

"What?!" Mike's father yelled, making not only Mike and Mist flinch, but half the customers as well. "Absolutely not! Out of the question! I'm not going to have a free loader living at my house!"

Mike's eyes glittered as he fumed, "But it's for just one night, pop! Have you no heart?! She has nowhere to go!"

"Actually, I do..but It's not.." Mist interrupted, but was drowned out by Mike's father.

"No way! Impossible!" He yelled, as all eyes watched him fume. He raised his burly arm and shook his finger at Mist. "I don't know where you drudged this hussy up, but she's going back out into the streets where she belongs!"

Mist's eyes flared up with green fire when she heard this, and she clenched her fist until her knuckles showed bone white against her smooth skin. Yet when she began to raise her hand to do something horrible to him, she checked herself, feeling a thread of sadness and frustration emanating from the burly man, so instead, she regained her composure and spoke so softly that he had to strain, therefore, shut up, to hear, "Let me help out at this restaurant for room and board, sir. I can do anything you want."

It took a few quiet moments for the male customers in the restaurant to yell out in unison, "Please, let her!"

"Mist..." Mike murmured as he gazed at Mist's calm, serene face, looking into his father's eyes.

Mike's father glowered at Mist, but he felt his anger suddenly melt away like ice on a hot sidewalk as he gazed into her delicate, gentle curves of her features and he ended up saying, "I need a waitress. You think you can do that?"

Mist nodded and said, "I can."

Mike's father looked away from Mist uneasily and grumbled, "You can't possibly be worse than my clumsy son. You got yourself a deal." as the customers cheered and clapped loudly.

As Mist walked into the tiny office to change, she noticed a framed picture of a young woman with a baby in her arms on a messy desk littered with a calculator, documents, and receipt papers. She slowly reached down to the picture and picked it up.

"That's my mother and me." Mike said in an uncomfortably shy voice. "She died when I was young."

Mist studied the woman's face and replied, "She was the one that descended from the line of the gods, wasn't she.." Mist noticed the long, double braids that Mike's mom had woven her hair into and thought for a moment with her eyes closed, then she started whispering words that sounded wispy and soft like spider webs. Immediately, her charcoal black hair started to work themselves like living black snakes into two long braids, tied with two large golden ribbons. "Like it?" She asked Mike, who stood there and watched her with stunned eyes.

"I'll...get you the costume.." Mike stammered.

"Don't bother." Mist said. "I can take care of it. I take it your father wants something like this..." She said as she began glowing with a soft, blue light. Her white, filmy gown melted away like wax and was replaced with a silky dress that defied color categorization, for it looked beige at one time, and wheat golden the next, with a low neckline that showed the snow white beginnings of her breasts, and cream soft sleeves decorated with long stemmed beige flowers that encircled their length. Her thin waist was bound with a purple rope like belt that ended with golden tassels, and on her ears appeared large golden earrings, dangling with Viking long boats.

Mike took a quick look at the drab, food stained dress hanging on the wall that his father had bought from a second hand costume store and the accompanying braided wig and then back at Mist, who made the costume look like ripped beggar's rags. He felt like a fool for even daring to mention the waitress outfit to her.

Mist played around with arranging the strands of hair that hung about her forehead and started to glow with a glowing light that seemed to outline her features like a ghostly shadow. As she started to walk towards the door that led back to the restaurant, Mike reached out a hand to stop her, surprised to feel how icy cold she seemed to feel under his fingers.

"You don't plan to go out like that, do you?" Mike said, his voice uneven.

Mist looked at him with question in her eyes and asked, "Why not?"

Mike cleared his throat uncomfortably and said, "Because you're glowing."

Mist gave him a smile that seemed to melt him from head to toe and asked, "You earth people have a saying, 'A moth to a flame', do you not?"

Mike nodded.

"Well, I'm going to bring a swarm of paying moths into your restaurant." Mist said and kissed Mike on the forehead, and making him almost lose his thoughts and reason, for he had not expected it from her. "Thanks for arranging this, and for everything, Mike. I appreciate it alot." She said, and left him standing there like a statue as she walked back into the dining area.

Long after the warm sting of Mist's kiss left Mike's forehead, he gathered his addled wits and went out of the office and into the kitchen. He noticed that they were cooking a larger volume of food then they ever used to and also noticed that the board that the order was tacked up to was completely overfilled. He exchanged hellos with the two suddenly very overworked chefs and ventured out into the dining area. He almost gasped when he realized that every table in the restaurant was completely filled with people, and the waiting area was also packed with men who looked absentmindedly at Mist, who walked amongst the tables like some beautiful, glowing faery, and was busy smiling and making small talk with the customers as his father sat behind the cash register, happily ringing up the profits.

"Pop.." Mike began, looking dumbfounded at his father.

"Mike, just look at that!" His father exclaimed excitedly as he pointed to the outside of the restaurant, where groups of men were gathered before the entrance, waiting impatiently for people to leave so they can get in. "That girlfriend of yours is a goldmine!"

"She's not my girl." Mike whispered weakly, and then noticed a bunch of notes next to the cash register along with wads of money. "What's that?" He asked, pointing to them.

"She's been stacking her tips there, along with phone numbers." His father said, scratching his cheek. "I daresay, she's got a day's profits with just tips alone. Not to mention dates that'll keep her busy well into next month."

Mike saw Mist smiling and serving drinks to a couple, where the boyfriend was too busy admiring her to notice that his girlfriend was angrily glowering at them both, and suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of jealousy. "A goddess shouldn't stoop herself to serving mortals like them. I don't know why you agreed to this, pop." He spat out, staring possessively at Mist.

Mike's father looked at his son's face, staring at Mist, and an understanding came across his face. "Your mother wasn't too proud enough to not work at the restaurant." He said gently.

"Yes, but she wasn't a true goddess with powers! Look at her, pop! She's the real thing! We can't let her do this!" Mike answered hotly, not taking his eyes off Mist and feeling like going out there and punching out every one of those leering jerk/customers.

Mike's father looked across the restaurant to gaze on Mist, and said, "For me, there isn't a shred of difference between your mother and her. She is so kind with the customers. Even the way she is dressed, everything she does reminds me of her..." He then looked at Mike squarely and said quietly, "You better grab a hold of this girl before she gets away from you, son."

Mike gritted his teeth as he stared at his father, and said, "You too, pop?! She must've put you under her spell!"

Mike's father then looked at him with a hint of pity and said, "Why can't you just accept her as she is? She's a gift from heaven."

"What? Just a couple of hours ago, you were ready to kick her out of here!" Mike retorted unbelievingly.

His father sighed and took off the horned helmet, running a hand through his grey shot blond hair. "Perhaps you don't understand because you do have that immortal blood in you. But mortals like us need a bit of fantasy in our lives. Whether it's miracles or impossibly beautiful girls, it makes us forget our troubles for just a little while. That's all any of us ask for. We shouldn't wonder why, because that'd spoil the magic."

"Pop..." Mike stammered, speechless before his father's sudden attitude adjustment.

"I knew what she was when you first brought her in here, son." His father said, gazing at Mist, who was carrying a couple of plates to a table, of which some customers actually got up and took it from her and served it for her. "I guess I didn't want her here because of your mother. I guess I was afraid of what she might do to me. I've been angry so long...but just watching her, I can remember the days when your mother was here. Those gentle, happy days..."

Mike looked on without saying anything.

"Is something wrong?" Mist asked, bringing with her a fresh air of spring, and handfuls of tips and little notes, of which she dutifully put next to the cash register.

Mike's father smiled at her and said, "Nothing, dear. Just teaching a thing or two about life to my son."

Mist smiled and said, "That's a very big topic, Mr.Swensen."

"Well, I try to keep it simple." Mr.Swensen replied good naturedly.

(8)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Bonner sighed into the night air, looking annoyed and displeased. The pain from the blows he received from Wendy was all but a memory by now, but the humiliation he suffered in front of his lady love colored his cheeks crimson. "That misbegotten mortal." Bonner muttered unhappily, "She has ruined everything!" He angrily swapped an annoying fly out of the air and crushed it in his hand, wishing that it was Wendy's neck. He looked back towards the now darkened apartment that he had made a hasty retreat from and thought of summoning a whirlwind to blast it apart to ease his anger, but dismissed that notion rather quickly because even though it seemed Nicky's memories of the past were sketchy, he witnessed firsthand that her powers were back in full and was rightly afraid of her probably quick and deadly reprisal. He then thought about going back to Mist and apologizing, but decided against that also for he had seen what had happened to her with his powers.

"She'd probably fry me to a crisp, that foul tempered, weak hearted child." Bonner muttered to himself morosely.

As he sat there on the bench next to the bus stop, filled with anger and frustration, he felt a slight tremor in the air behind him and turned around quickly in alarm. A man stood there, dressed in a white sport coat and silky, blood red shirt and trousers. His sharp, red eyes that glowed in the evening's darkness were looking Bonner over with an amused look as a slight, sharp breeze swirled around his long black hair.

The man, smelling faintly of brimstone and of dried up, coppery smell of blood, came closer to Bonner, who felt annoying fingers of heat emanating from him and washing over his face. The strange man bowed low before Bonner and said in a cordial voice with a hint of mischief, "I bid you welcome to our world, lord Bonner, ruler of the winds."

Bonner slowly got up from the wooden bench with his mouth agape. "How do you know who I am?" He asked, his voice full of suspicion.

The man straightened his jacket and answered, "I am the god of this world, lord Bonner. My name is Mephistophales."

Bonner cleared his throat. "Oh, I see. How do you do." He replied uneasily. "I hope you are not too displeased about our trespass. I assure you that as soon as I retrieve what rightfully belongs to me, we shall leave your world in peace."

Mephisto smiled slightly, his thin lips curling to reveal one of his sharp, white fang. "But it seems like you are having a bit of trouble in your quest, my lord." He said softly, moving closer to the bench and sitting down, motioning Bonner to sit as well. "I would like this matter resolved as quickly as possible. After all, I am a jealous god and I will not stand by while threats to my absolute dominance run amuck in my world, possibly subverting my believers away from me." He said, making Bonner squirm uncomfortably as he sat next to him.

"Oh..yes. I can see that." Bonner answered, shifting guiltily. "If there was a quick way to see this thing through, I would be more than willing to do it, lord Mephistophales. But as you can see, my bride is a bit strong headed and..."

Mephisto nodded, and seemed to be in thought. "I can see your dilemma, and I believe I have a solution to your problem." He said after a few minutes. He then reached into his pocket and took out a golden band, handed to Bonner and said, "Put this around the neck of either your lady or her sister."

Bonner turned the band around his hand. The metal, or so he thought, felt pleasantly warm to the touch, and emitted a visible aura of gold. "What is this, lord Mephistophales?" Bonner asked, well pleased with such a fine item.

Mephisto smiled and answered, "It is a neckband of domination. The person who puts this on another person has complete control over them."

Bonner's face lighted up as he reexamined the neckband. "Really...not that I would need this kind of help, mind you.." He said nonchalantly, his voice betraying the excitement he was trying to hide. He then got up and said, "I'll just go put this on Llwyn right now and..."

Mephisto cleared his throat, causing Bonner to turn around. "No?" Bonner asked.

"Do you really think it is a wise idea to do so right this minute?" Mephisto asked. "Your lady is probably still upset that you left so abruptly this afternoon without saying a proper farewell and will not be as receptive."

Bonner cleared his throat but did not correct Mephisto's skewed view of events. "Yes..I knew that...I was just..."

Mephisto smiled and with a wave of his hand, grew smaller in size until he was the size of an ant. He slowly floated upwards until he landed on Bonner's shoulder then said, "I will accompany you and advise you on this matter."

"You advise me?" Bonner intoned in an offended voice.

Mephisto answered, "On the use of the neckband of course, lord Bonner. Nothing more."

Bonner cleared his throat uncomfortably and said, "Oh, I see. Of course."

Mephisto returned his smile and replied, "Of course."

(9)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Michael turned on the ignition and smacked the dashboard with his fist when the Bug refused to start. After another try and another smack, the engine finally quit whining and caught, sounding as if afflicted with a terrible whooping cough. Mike smiled confidently at Mist, who sat next to him staring out through the dusty window and into the night sky, looking lost in thought.

When the car slipped into gear and started to move with a sudden jolt, Mist gasped in surprise and grabbed onto Mike's arm. Mike smiled reassuringly at her and Mist looked away embarrassed, and let him go. "I am sorry. This is my first time riding a strange beast such as this." Mist apologized, not able to keep the nervousness out of her voice, her ebony hair glowing softly as if surrounded by the night's endless stars.

"Oh this is not a beast. It's a machine built by humans." Michael answered, turning out of the mall's parking lot and into the busy streets filled with headlights of cars wheezing by. He spared a quick glimpse at Mist as he eased the car into traffic, and saw that her deep green eyes were looking fearful at the bright lights of the traffic that surrounded her, looking like a lost and frightened little girl. His heart melted at the sight and without thinking, he blurted out, "Don't worry, goddess. You're with me now. I'll protect you with my life." Mike smacked himself upside the head mentally as the words left his lips, for he thought it ridiculous that a goddess like her with all her powers would indeed need anything from him. He was ready for her rebuttal of his paltry words when she laid a warm, gentle hand on Michael's arm.

"You are a kind man, Michael. When my quest is finished, I would like to reward you for your kindness somehow." Mist said softly.

I am not doing this for some reward, Mike thought to himself as she removed her hand, taking the warmth of the dying sun away with her and leaving that part of himself cold and lonely.

It's only been a day that I've been with her and I can't even bear the thought that she would go away from me. Michael thought miserably as he stopped for a red light. He began to daydream about himself with Mist by his side and how perfectly happy his life would be if she would only remain with him. A cold thought suddenly thrust itself into his mind then as the cars behind him began to honk at him to move as the light changed. He cleared his throat and drove on, and cautiously voiced his fears. "Goddess? I have a question to ask you."

"Yes?" Mist answered, her soft voice nearly caving in his resolve to be so blunt as to ask what he was about to ask.

"I've been wondering..." Michael began, moving into a slower lane. "At the restaurant, of how you have managed to bring all those customers in, especially the guys." He shifted to a lower gear, perhaps to calm his furiously beating heart. "And about the way I've been feeling for you since I met you..."

Mist looked at him with puzzlement in her eyes, and Michael felt her stare rest on the side of his face and dared not turn his head to meet it. "I do not quite follow." Mist said, putting Michael in an agonizing position to continue and clarify it in an excruciating detail.

Michael cleared his throat, gritted his teeth to firm up himself for the question and asked in a shake filled voice, "Have you been using your powers to bewitch us into making us want you?"

Mist asked in a puzzled voice, "Pardon?"

"You said so yourself. About the moth thing." Michael stated, getting enough courage to get it past his mouth that refused to utter the words that made him feel frightened that he would dare ask such a question.

"Oh that..." Mist began. "Yes, I did use my powers to enhance the image of the restaurant to blaze it in the memories of those who saw it so they would remember it and come by."

"But what about those men..." Michael blurted out childishly, not quite ready to let up on the questions because he did not hear the answer that he wanted to hear.

Mist looked at Michael's nervous face and an understanding finally came over her eyes. She sighed gratefully, for she was uncomfortable that Michael looked troubled and thought that her answer would finally break him out of his seeming unease. "Now I understand." Mist said, smiling faintly. "Michael, this is not my planet. Why would I go out of my way to bewitch them when I plan to leave here as quickly as possible when my job is finished?" She laid a gentle hand on Michael's arm again and smiled reassuringly as she said, "You don't have to worry about me, Michael. I won't take away your followers. As soon as this is all over, I'll leave as quickly as possible so you can build up your godhood again. That's what you want, isn't it?"

Michael opened his mouth to speak, but left it agape. After a few uneasy minutes of total silence, he moved his unwilling mouth to move and blurted out, "I'm sorry, goddess. I thought you were using your powers to...you know...put people under your power.."

"Why would I want to do that?" Mist asked in a baffled voice.

"To use them to do your will." Michael said, but his voice had all but lost its determination and its questioning edge and now sounded mealy and weak.

"I do not quite understand you. I just told you I don't need any followers here." Mist stated, looking troubled and worried.

She is so innocent! Michael thought miserably. I'm the evil and twisted one, daring to even suggest that she would be dubious enough to do such a thing. Oh, what a sicko I am!

Michael then caught himself as another thought that came to his mind, this time making his heart ache with pain and misery. For if she had not bewitched him with her powers, and this was indeed the case, then what he felt for her was something he knew would not ever be consummated, for she had just stated that she was going to leave as soon as her business here was finished. He felt his world suddenly turn drab and colorless as he looked out into the busy streets that seemed completely pointless and disconnected to him.

"Michael, are you alright?" Mist asked in a worried voice, and the sound of her voice that was full of concern for him was so sweet and dear to his ears that he desperately reached out to it, to remember it in his mind forever. Even in this darkness of the evening, drably lighted by the orange lights of the city streets, she glowed and stood out in beautiful colors like some perfectly formed flower, ever young and fragrant as a warm, summer evening. A desperate thought came across his mind then. Since she is a goddess and her time is not as shortly defined as mortals, he reasoned desperately, maybe her job would require more than ten years, maybe hundreds!

"About this quest of yours, goddess." Michael began cautiously, his driving becoming slow and erratic for all his desperate hopes hinged on her answer. "May I ask what it is about?"

Mist, relieved that Michael seemed to be out of his doldrums, gladly answered, "Surely. I have come to take my sister back home."

"Your sister?"

Mist looked uncomfortable, but answered, "Yes. a hundred years ago, I accidentally sent her to this planet because I was foolish with my newly appointed powers. But I was lucky enough to find her so quickly."

"She's been here for a hundred years?" Michael asked.

Mist nodded and said, "That friend of yours who's coming over tomorrow. She's my sister."

Michael spared an incredulous look at Mist, who looked dead serious, and shook his head. "That can't be, goddess. She's old as I am."

Mist smiled and replied, "That may be, Michael. But she is my sister sure enough. I hope you don't mind but I got a very clear mental picture of her from you at the mall when you fell. There is no doubt about it. I can feel her power even now."

"Couldn't you then just contact her with your powers? Why wait 'till tomorrow?" Michael said dejectedly, for he felt all hope of keeping Mist to himself disappeared with her answers.

Mist shook her head, and something close to fear clouded over her eyes. "I cannot do that. When I blew her up, she lost everything. Her physical being, her memory, her true nature...If I were to go to her right now, there is a good chance that she might see me as a threat and then..." Mist stopped herself and looked out the dusty window, looking at the bright neon signs of the streets pass by her. "I cannot go to her. She must come to me. There is a certain way of doing all things, Michael. If she doesn't come to me, I cannot use my powers to restore her memory. I am bound by the laws of the gods."

Michael shook his head slowly and observed shyly, "I don't know how anyone can see you as a threat, goddess."

Mist turned her head towards Michael and smiled with a hint of mischief. "Your words could be taken in many ways, Michael."

Michael's face colored crimson under Mist's mischievous gaze and he started to stammer, "I mean that no one would see you doing anything harmful to anyone, since you look so gentle and pretty, that's all."

Mist's deep green eyes twinkled with mirth as she asked, "You mean, if I was ugly, you'd think me a cruel and evil goddess?"

Michael merely cleared his throat, his heartbeat becoming erratic. He felt a cold trickle of sweat flowing down the side of his face as he tried to think up a safe answer that wouldn't make him sound stupid.

Mist reached out and gently dabbed the sweat off his cheek with the sleeve of her dress. "Dannani, the goddess of mischief is a great beauty." She said, her soft voice having a calming effect on Michael, who sighed inwardly from having a reprieve from answering her question. "Yet she is cruel and mean. You see, outward appearances don't necessarily match what lies inside the heart. Especially for us immortals." She then leaned back into her seat and said, "You must understand, Michael. When we are cruel, we can be more cruel than mortals can possibly dream of. Just because I look a certain way outwardly, it doesn't necessarily mean that I can not be cruel also. Although, in my case, I don't mean to be."

Michael laughed uneasily and said as he passed a slow moving bus, "I hope I never see that side of you, goddess."

Mist smiled widely and said confidently, "You won't. Since I'll be leaving tomorrow. We'll not know each other long enough for that to happen!"

Michael's laughter slowly died when he heard this as he morosely thought that she didn't mean to wound him like that. Why would she? He thought, totally depressed. She doesn't even know how I feel about her.

"Is something wrong?" Mist asked, noticing that Michael looked as if he looked on aimlessly out the windshield.

Michael sighed and replied softly, "No. Everything's turning out as they should."

"Well then, why the gloomy face?" Mist asked cheerfully.

Michael did not answer. And they drove on in an uneasy silence that threatened to drive Michael crazy. He felt Mist's gaze, full of curiosity, bore a hole through his skull and began to be afraid of what she might find lurking inside.

She's bound to find out how I feel about her if this goes on, Michael thought. I should just fess up to how I feel about her before she does. What have I got to lose?

"Goddess?" Michael began cautiously.

Mist smiled, happy that Michael seemed to be back into a talkative mood, and answered, "Call me Mist, Michael."

Michael cleared his throat and continued, "Alright. Mist." He paused here a moment to calm his jagged nerves that threatened to blow up in his head and asked, "How do you feel about me?"

"I think you are a fine person, Michael." Mist answered happily.

Michael cleared his throat once again and said, "No. That's not what I meant. I mean..." Michael stopped, began to tap the steering wheel with his fingers, and turned to Mist. "Do you like me?"

"Yes. Of course. You're the nicest Earthman I've met so far." Mist replied.

Michael sighed at her answer, growing frustrated. "I didn't mean that kind of like, Mist. I meant, is it possible for you to have any kind of feelings for me?" He practically shouted, and gritted his teeth as his voice seemed to ring and echo in the small interior of the car.

Mist opened her mouth to speak, but closed it as the words registered. And Michael saw that, this time, his words were understood too clearly, for he saw her eyes lose a certain light in them, and replaced with something that he couldn't understand. The silence that followed was both extremely uncomfortable, for Michael thought that he could feel the air turn cold and frigid, and uneasy, because Mist quickly looked away, hiding her features from him.

Oh, Michael. Couldn't you just let it be? Mist thought miserably. Couldn't you have taken a hint from my ignorance and let it go at that? Why did you have to put me in this spot when you must know that I will say no to what you want so desperately?

Mist stole a quick look at Michael, who resigned himself completely to the road at hand, and saw a faint glimmer of hope in his eyes.

Oh, to crush that light, to extinguish it! It would hurt him so much! Mist cried to herself. It would hurt me too, to see him crushed by my words.

She began to wonder what Llwyn would do at a situation like this, and knew that she would probably tell the man to remove himself from her sight or face extinction. But that's only with Bonner! Mist thought miserably. What am I to do? This is so new to me! Sis, if only you were here...

"Michael." Mist began, her voice unsteady. "I...I.." Can't associate with mortal men! Mist desperately added mentally.

Michael slowed the car, driving up the sloping road and stopping in front of a large, dimly lit house, surrounded by small fruit trees and wild rose bushes of pale, darkened colors. He turned off the engine and faced Mist, smiling apologetically. "Listen, Mist. I'm sorry about putting you on the spot like that. It's alright if you don't answer me. I mean, what was I thinking, right? You are a goddess, and I'm just an ordinary man. There can't be anything between us. It's like heaven and Earth. 'Sides, you have an important mission to accomplish and I shouldn't have burdened you with my dumb stuff."

Michael got out of the car without waiting for an answer, went over to Mist's side and opened the door for her. Mist laid a her hand on Michael's own as she stepped out of the car and drank in the cool, night air that felt intoxicatingly fresh. She looked into Michael's eyes and saw that even though he was trying to act as if nothing had happened, he was keeping a lid on the emotions that threatened to rear out of his heart and engulf him in a state of perpetual despair.

Mist felt the fingers of gloom creep into her heart as well as she saw how hurt and disappointed he was. She knew that she had to say something, but what? She knew that if she said no, it would devastate him, and she didn't have the heart to do that especially after all he had done for her. But was that the real reason, she began to doubt herself.

Why should I even care what happens to him? Mist thought defiantly while both of them stood there in front of the car in the darkness. It's not as if he actually did anything significant for me, so I don't owe him anything!

But even as she told herself this frantically, there was a nagging thought, a thread of something she could not name, telling her that she could not bear to hurt him. And this feeling began to slowly creep over her uneasy heart until it completely engulfed it.

"Michael." Mist said, her voice barely above a whisper. "What do you want from me?"

Michael, who had been patiently looking at the full moon that was round as a shiny golden coin, turned his gaze towards Mist, who stood in the darkness, out dazzling the moon with her troubled beauty, glowing in soft, wispy colors that blended into the night. Michael sighed and laughed, which sounded empty and hollow. "Mist, is it possible for you to love me?" He finally said quietly, his voice empty of any hope.

Mist's heart skipped a beat, even though she knew and prepared herself for what he'd say. She fought a desperate battle with herself for she wanted to blurt out that it was out of the question, and instead found herself asking softly, "Why Michael?"

Michael tore his gaze away from her, for he thought, even though he knew it was too late, that he would get used seeing her by his side and would miss her terribly if she were to be gone from his life forever. "I think I'm in love with you, Mist." He whispered back, and laughed uneasily. "I know it sounds weird. I mean, we've only met this afternoon. Only a freak would fall in love with someone so quickly. But..." He turned and faced Mist, who saw a look in his eyes that seemed to echo that little voice of something in her heart. "I can't bear to see you leave me. If you were to go, my life would be so meaningless. Mist, please say you'll stay with me."

Michael couldn't believe how easy it was to just pour what was in his heart to her. He felt empty and drained after what he had said, yet felt somehow strangely peaceful for he had finally gotten it all out of his chest.

However, Mist felt like running away as far as possible and hide from his pleading gaze, for she really didn't know what to do. She was proud of Michael, who had the guts to come out and say what he had secreted in his heart, yet at the same time, wished that he would have just kept it bottled up inside him to spare her this agony.

What is this love that it would have the power to push him over the edge and ask me what he desires most in his heart? She asked herself, for she was a goddess of the mists before and now a newly appointed goddess of the dragons, and did not know too much in the ways of the mortals. She wondered if it was that thing called love that was making her hesitate in giving him an answer, and became more confused than ever. As she desperately tried to come up with something that would make any sense to her, a cold, yet an easy solution came up in her mind that would excuse her from his presence without any trouble at all.

"Michael, I don't know anything about love that you mention." Mist began, smiling weakly, not thinking of the consequences of her words because she simply refused to. "But I'll give it a try, if that's what you want me to do."

She had no intention to do so, of course. As soon as she found her sister, she was going to leave Michael without a word. But Michael didn't know this, and his downcast face suddenly brightened as he heard her words.

"Oh, Mist!" Michael exclaimed, and hugged her, feeling the soft fragrances of spring envelop him. "I don't know what to say!"

Mist weakly returned his embrace, slowly raising her arms and clasping the back of his shoulders. The magnitude of the lie that she just uttered refused to stay ignored, and the full force of it and the implications blew over her like a scorching wind. She felt Michael's arms around her waist and it felt as if his weight would crush her body into the ground. She could feel every part of his soul brighten, and that light withered her and threatened to wilt her wicked heart.

"Forgive me, Michael." Mist whispered to herself as she felt Michael's head against her cold cheek, desperately hoping that he wouldn't see the look of unease and guilt clouding her eyes.

(10)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

"Two Big Macs and a twenty piece McNuggets please. Oh, and, what? Oh yeah. One large diet Coke and one medium regular Coke." Nicky ordered, and absentmindedly started to tap her fingers on the counter. She then turned to Wendy and whispered, "You sure you don't want anything else? I mean, the sky's the limit. I have money to spare."

"Quite sure." Wendy replied somewhat dryly. She felt a bit chagrined by being dragged out to fast food for dinner, seeing how now her friend was rolling in more money than she probably knew what to do with and could have taken her to a nicer, and far more respectable place. She also was apprehensive and a bit nervous as well as she closely examined Nicky, whose hair has gone back to its original length and her form no longer glowed as if she hit a live electrical wire. That certain austere and wise air that she exuded that was so uncharacteristic of her was no longer there either. It all disappeared the next minute at the apartment, as if suddenly switched off like a light switch. The sudden disappearance of her powers was also unsettling at the least. This worried Wendy a great deal, since Nicky told her that she wasn't the cause of her sudden reversion to her old self, this meant that she might change to her "goddess" self at any time and without warning.

Wendy followed Nicky to an empty table, discouraged that the restaurant seemed to be pretty full. She just hoped that nothing crazy would happen that'd have them bolting out of the place as she sat down gingerly.

Nicky reached for a Big Mac, saying, "Boy, am I starved." She then looked at Wendy's face and asked, "Wassamatter? You look sick."

Wendy made a face and grabbed her Big Mac. "The thought of actually eating this junk..." She said, peering inside the carton.

"Really! Some people are spoiled beyond belief!" Nicky retorted, opening her carton. "You should take a cue from me, Wen. I mean, I'm now a millionaire. Sure, I can go to those fancy places and order things that's ridiculously expensive and have fancy french names. But no, I'm perfectly happy with just eating a good 'ol burger. No high class snobbery for me."

Wendy snorted and quipped dryly, "It's nice to know that you haven't lost that common touch."

"I'm a blue collar gal through and through..." Nicky began as she took out the burger, but as she tried to raise it, her arm refused to move. "What the..." She began, and tried to raise it again, but this time, as both of the girls looked on with stunned eyes, her arm, looking as if it had a mind of its own, tossed the burger across the restaurant, hitting the cashier, who was busily taking an order for Big Mac value meal, in the face.

"What the heck are you doing?!" Wendy exclaimed as she watched the patties and the special secret sauce start to smear their way down the cashier's stunned face.

"I am not going to eat such garbage!" A voice, much lighter and lyrical than Nicky's own emanated from Nicky's mouth, causing Nicky to hold her hand to her lips in shock as the patrons of the restaurant turned their heads to see what was going on.

Wendy quickly turned to face Nicky and gasped. Half of Nicky's face wore an angry expression, glowing with that strange light again, and on that side, her hair reached all the way down to the seat. The other half of her face wore the look of the utterly stunned, her hair reaching down to her shoulders as it should. Wendy fought a violent urge to start laughing hysterically, for Nicky's expression, or expressions, were just too absurdly hilarious. However, the rational part of her screamed at her that maybe it was time to get her friend out of here and back to the apartment before anything else happened.

"What's happening to me!" Nicky exclaimed as best she could with half her mouth as curious people gathered around her while the cashier ran to the back towards the grille, crying her eyes out for the sauce had gotten into her eyes.

"Only you could be such a cheapskate. Really, with all the money you've won using my powers, the best you could do was to come here?!" The other half of Nicky retorted, looking peeved. The patrons that milled around them started to murmur in amazement because the two different expressions of Nicky's face was nothing short of amazing.

Wendy bit her lip as people started to politely clap and bolted up from her seat, grabbing the Nicky side's hand. "Control yourself, will you?!" She whispered fiercely.

"Zer bowerz?! Foo are jou?" Nicky demanded, her words lispy because she only had half a lip to work with. People started to laugh as they heard her.

The other, glowing side of her answered haughtily, "I am Llwyn, goddess of destinies."

Wendy, upon hearing this, quickly bolted up from her chair, knocking down her diet coke and splashing it all over the floor. She succeeded in dragging Nicky past the group of customers who had encircled them, and out of the restaurant, dumped her into the car. She got in quickly herself as the people peered at them through the window.

"Fawt are jou doing zin by body?!" Nick retorted angrily, finally matching her expression to the other side of her face.

The Llwyn side harumphed. "Your body?! It was supposed to be mine until some bozo thought it'd be a swell idea to dump you in here with me! Oh, the years of torment, locked inside your brain, acting as your conscience!"

"I don't believe you!" Nicky exclaimed angrily, her voice finally becoming clear. "I was here first!"

"No, I was!" Llwyn exclaimed back.

"No, I was!" Nicky shouted.

Wendy smacked her head in frustration as Nicky carried out a complete, albeit an angry, conversation with herself and slipped the car out of the parking lot. When an errantly flailed hand smacked her on the nose, Wendy shouted, "That's enough! You two keep quiet until I get this thing sorted out!"

"Wendy, get me out of this!" Nicky pleaded.

"Oh, yes. You're definitely going out." Llwyn threatened ominously. "This is my body."

"It's mine!" Nicky retorted.

"Like heck it is. You don't look like this!" Llwyn countered, pointing to herself. "You're supposed to be fat, short and ugly, with a big wart on your nose! Didn't you ever wonder why you were the only one in your family that looked gorgeous?!"

"Why, how dare you?!" Nicky exclaimed and slapped herself hard, and exclaimed, "Ouch!!!", for her cheek stung.

"Both of you cut it out!" Wendy bellowed angrily, and the two of them shut their mouths. Wendy angrily slammed the car into 4th gear. "I don't know what's going on here, but until we get home, I want both of you to keep your traps shut!"

"But she's calling me and my family ugly!" Nicky whined angrily.

"Ugly isn't the word." Llwyn sneered.

"See?! She's doing it again!" Nicky exclaimed.

Wendy sighed as her face drooped. "Nicky, is this some sort of a game? 'Cause if it is, it's getting perty darn tiresome!" Wendy asked in a tired and angry voice.

Nicky tried to shake her head, but only managed to turn her head part way. "No. There's someone else in here with me." She replied, her voice full of annoyance.

"So you're not a goddess anymore? This other person in there is the goddess?" Wendy asked cautiously.

Llwyn managed to turn her head towards Wendy and spoke in a voice that was soft to begin with, but distorted somehow with annoyance that was all to mortal. "You were always the smart one, Wendy. Some times I wondered why you were friends at all with this dolt."

Wendy shrugged and answered, "Yeah, I know. But...Hey! You can't say that about my friend!" Wendy shouted, taking her eyes off the road. "What kind of a goddess are you anyway?! You sound like a total brat!"

"You're telling me!" Nicky's voice agreed, and then suddenly sighed deeply.

"You can't imagine what it's like to live inside her mind." the voice of Llwyn suddenly took over changing Nicky's expression accordingly. "I cannot exist in her head without being affected by her."

Wendy grimaced and said, "You make her sound like some kind of a disease."

Nicky smiled, but it was Llwyn's voice that said, "Quite an apt analogy, Wendy." As soon as the words left her lips, her expression changed to that of outrage. "You know, I'm getting sick of your attitude!" Nicky retorted angrily.

"Why don't you use your powers to get out of Nicky? It seems like the logical thing to do. Since you're a goddess, there shouldn't be any problem for you to create another body, shouldn't there?" Wendy asked, stopping at a red light.

Nicky shook her head and said, "It's not as easy as that. Until this morning, I had always assumed that I was Nicky's conscience. But when my sister restored my memory...." Llwyn's voice stopped and seemed to be in thought as Nicky's voice emanated from her mouth, saying, "I'd like nothing better than to just have everything back the way it was, except for the money, of course. I mean, don't call me greedy or nothing..."

"My sister is here!" Llwyn's voice cut in excitedly, stopping Nicky's voice in mid sentence. "I can feel her presence on this planet!" Nicky then turned to Wendy and grabbed her arm excitedly. "She will be able to split us apart! We must go to her at once!"

Wendy spared a quick glance at Nicky and asked, "Where is she?"

"She's at Michael's house." Llwyn said.

"How or why's she at Michael's?" Nicky asked incredulously.

Wendy made a wide U-turn, narrowly avoiding smashing into the side of an oncoming car, and stepped on the gas, saying, "Who cares?! Let's get this solved once and for all!"

"But..." Nicky started, looking worried.

"What now?" Llwyn asked in an annoyed voice.

"About what you said, Llwyn. About my true form being ugly. What's going to happen to me when you split..."

Wendy snorted and said, "This is hardly the time to be vain, Nick."

"No, she has a right to be concerned." Llwyn said, her voice becoming somewhat gentle. "When we do split, she will look as she ought to naturally look."

"I don't want an ugly wart on my nose!" Nicky cried out in anguish.

"It's better than having a running conversation with yourself for the rest of your life!" Wendy exclaimed as she aggressively passed a slow bus.

"Not only that, you'll not be using my looks to bedazzle people and take advantage of them." Llwyn said evenly.

Nicky gasped and asked angrily, "When did I ever do things like that?!"

"Oh, please! Don't act like you don't do it. After all, I was along for the ride throughout your life, wasn't I?!" Llwyn said crossly. "Using my looks on nerds in your classes so you can get notes from them while you skip classes...."

"Stop! Enough!" Nicky blurted out, cutting Llwyn off. "I admit, I do have my faults. But I don't need them shoved up against my face. You're a goddess, aren't you?! You're supposed to be understanding..."

"Oh please! You try being stuck in someone else's head for twenty years, putting up with your idiocy! My understanding, along with my patience, ran out a looong time ago with you!" Llwyn answered her crossly.

Wendy whistled low, saying under her breath, "Gee..Talk about being bitter..." Wendy cleared her throat as Nicky's eye and Llwyn's eye both trained on her and blurted out, "You know, Llwyn, I've been thinking. It wouldn't be terribly fair for Nicky to look like someone else when this split takes place. You'll probably destroy her life, you know."

"She's right!" Nicky chimed in hopefully, and shook her head slowly as Llwyn took her body over. "Try to look at it from my side, Wendy. I'll have a mortal who looks like me running around making a complete fool of herself, besmirching my good name...Although..Hmm..She won't look even half as pretty as I will be when I do break from her since it is a mortal body..."

Wendy breathed a sigh of relief and observed, "Well, then. There shouldn't be any problem with letting Nicky keep her old face, shouldn't there?"

Llwyn was about to answer, but Nicky took over, saying, "Wait...You mean to tell me that your true form looks like me but is even more prettier?"

"That's what I said, wasn't it? A mortal body's beauty can only go so far. Don't worry about it though, you're still going to look like a toad." Llwyn answered crossly.

"That's not fair!!" Nicky shouted angrily.

Wendy screamed in frustration and yelled, "Llwyn!!!"

Llwyn took over Nicky's body again and sneered. "You should be glad that I'm letting you live when we do split. What gives you the right to tell me what's fair and what's not?" she asked, her voice ominous.

"I can read your thoughts, Llwyn. You're still a part of me and you can't have any secrets from me. Basically, I saved your butt didn't I? Without attaching to my body, which is rightfully mine, you liar! You would have been stuck in limbo for god knows how much longer, not knowing who you are!" Nicky shouted out angrily, wiping the grin off her face.

Wendy twitched and asked, "Is this true?"

"More or less." Llwyn said crossly, looking as if she had been splatted over the head with a mallet.

Her expression changed to happiness as Nicky took over and said, "You owe me big time, goddess, and don't think I'm going to let you get off scot free after what you've done to me!"

"What I've done?! Okay, you unreasonable, ungrateful jerk! Let's go through what I've done for you. First of all, I let you win the lottery so you now have more money than what you can possibly do with! Second, because of me, you don't look like a toad like you're supposed to! And third, I acted as your conscience and dragged you away from some of the most stupid, idiotic things that you thought were going to be 'cool'!" Llwyn answered angrily, her eyes lighting up like blazing candles.

"Why can't you go that extra step and just let her keep her old face then?" Wendy asked reasonably, her voice tinted with frustration. "You've already done so much for her."

"It's because she wants to give me grief, that's why!" Nicky answered, her voice now happy. "I just read it from her mind. She wants to make me sweat because she thinks it'll teach me to behave!"

Llwyn took over and said through her gritted teeth, "Stay out of my side of the head, you jerk!"

"Nope! Sorry, it's my head too!" Nicky answered, unlocking her teeth and laughing. "And you don't have to worry about me, Llwyn. I'm not a kid anymore and I can do what I want!"

"You see the dilemma I'm in, Wendy?" Llwyn said, her voice brimming with frustration. "I can't have someone who looks like me continue to act like her! I can't stand it!"

Wendy sighed. "What else can you do, Llwyn? She can't help the way she is. She might be substandard compared to a goddess like you, but that's how humans act. Although in Nicky's case, she does tend to push things to their limits of patience." She answered. Then she smiled and added, "By the way, I wanna thank you for letting Nicky keep her face. I've gotten used to that one and it would have been quite a hassle to get used to a new one."

Nicky smiled too and said, "Yeah. Thanks alot, Llwyn. You're great!"

"It was the right thing to do. Don't read too much into it." Llwyn answered stiffly, sounding nonchalant, but failing, for there was a current of something that made both the mortal girls feel that she cared for them as a friend.

(11)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

Mist looked herself over, noting the strange lettering and symbols on the oversized shirt she was wearing and started to wonder what they meant. A twinkle of her powers told her that it concerned the school where Michael went to, and she thought it sweet that he would be generous enough to give it to her as a pajama, especially after she lied to him. She began to feel a pang of guilt scratch across her heart, and shook her head to clear herself of it, angrily telling herself that she must harden her heart against Michael for making such a ridiculous request. She then sat down gingerly on the soft bed and ran a hand down her smooth, bare legs. She then put on the fuzzy bunny slippers that she had found underneath the bed and felt the soft, gentle fuzzy fur rub against her feet, almost making her giggle. Then Mist snapped her fingers, and immediately, her braids were undone by unseen hands and her long, glossy hair fell free. She ran her fingers through them to make sure that all the crinkles and tangles were worked out, and got up from the bed lightly. She then looked around the small room, which smelled moldy and was strewn with boxes and old furniture. She had an urge to use her powers to change it to be more cheerful, but decided against it for she was only going to stay here one night.

One night! Mist thought, smiling widely and hugging herself. When I meet Llwyn, tomorrow, I'll just use my powers to make her completely remember and then we can get out of here!

"Yay!!" Mist yelled joyously at the thought, her promise to Michael all but forgotten, and started to dance lightly around the room, deftly avoiding the boxes and the furniture. Small lights that glowed like multicolored diamonds glittered around her hair as she did so, keeping in step with her. "Bonner, you jerk!" She yelled happily as she twirled around, "When I tell my father what you tried to do, boy, are you gonna get it! He'll be sure to break that awful engagement! Oh, won't Llwyn be happy to hear that!" She laughed, her voice full of mirth.

Outside the room, Michael's father paused by the door and smiled softly as he heard her joy filled voice. "It's good to hear a girl's laughter in this house again.." He said nostalgically, almost losing a grip on the bowl full of uncooked meatballs. He then turned to Michael, who stood next to him. "She is going to stay with us for awhile, isn't she son?" He asked, listening to Mist, who was now humming a happy tune.

Michael, who was looking as if he didn't have a care in the world, asked, "Can she, pop?"

Michael's father scratched his graying head and said uncomfortably while blushing, "Well, I suppose she could." He then cleared his throat loudly when he saw Michael look at him strangely, and added in a stern voice, "If she continues to help around the restaurant." He then gently knocked on the door.

"Yes?" Mist answered, opening the door and bringing with her the soft, gentle light that seemed to somehow drown out the lights of the house.

Michael's father smiled and said, "We're going to have dinner soon, dear.", showing her the meatballs in the bowl. "Are you hungry?" He asked.

Mist looked inside the bowl and said apologetically, "They simply look delicious, Mr. Swensen. But I'm afraid I had my fill at the restaurant."

"But Mist, you didn't eat anything there." Michael asked, puzzled.

Mist covered her lips with her hand and gasped. "Oh, that's right. Of course you wouldn't know about that." She said apologetically. "I don't really need to eat physically like mortals. I can just live on the smell." She answered.

Michael's father, his jaw agape, closed it shut abruptly. "Well, I'll be darned." He said in a wonder filled voice.

"I'm sorry if I offended you." Mist said, looking worried.

Michael's father burst out laughing and said good-naturedly, "Naw, of course not! Don't worry your pretty little head about such things." He then turned to Michael and asked, "Pizza sound okay to you?"

Michael looked longingly at the meatballs, and was about to shake his head, but a punch on the arm from his father had him saying, "A large combination...."

Mist laughed at the good natured ribbing between them, and suddenly found herself thinking that she was going to miss the father-son duo when she left. Her smile slowly vanished at the thought. And the fake promise she made to Michael came back to haunt her again, which made her feel even worse.

Michael's father noticed the sudden change in her demeanor and asked in a worried voice, "What's the matter, Mist?"

Mist tried to put her smile back on, failing utterly. She almost blurted out the whole truth about her fake promise to Michael when she saw in their eyes that both of them cared for her very much and very much wanted her here with them. Michael because she knew he loved her and his father because she felt that he was trying to replace something he had lost, a daughter perhaps. She dared not ask him about it because it seemed to her that he buried that part of himself deep in his soul and she didn't know how he would react if she made him remember it.

Mist sighed deeply, dropping all pretense of being happy, and opened her mouth to spill the truth about the whole thing because she simply couldn't keep the truth from them when there was a loud, incessant knocking at the door. Her eyes suddenly lighted up like green flares when she felt a familiar current of power in the air.

"Who can that be at this time of the day." Michael's father wondered. He cast a worried look towards Mist, who now stood as if transfixed to the ground, her gaze pointed unwaveringly at the door and looking nervous, and walked past the living room towards the front door.

"Who is it?" He asked.

"It's me, Gunther. Nicky." A voice answered.

Michael's father opened the door slowly, and saw that indeed was Nicky and was about to turn his head to announce them, but quickly jerked his head back to her. He rubbed his eyes, not believing what he was seeing. Half of her looked as he remembered her. But the other half was noticeably different with longer hair that reached down to her hips and a glow that seemed to somehow enhance her and make her look too perfect to be human.

Wendy, who was standing behind Nicky, saw the shocked look in Gunther's eyes and said, "Listen, Gunther, we can explain this. I know this looks weird to you, but I'm sure when we all sit down and..."

Before she could finish, Nicky bolted past Gunther's stunned body and ran towards Mist, smiling widely. "Mist!" a voice that sounded too lyrical and light to be Nicky's exclaimed happily.

Mist opened her mouth to speak, but instead laughed joyously and ran towards her sister and embraced her tightly. "Sis!" She exclaimed back, and started to cry. She felt the years of fruitless searches and the guilt of losing her sister start to melt away in her warm, gentle embrace.

Llwyn hugged her sister tightly and said soothingly, "Now, now, Mist. Don't cry. I'm alright, see?" Then suddenly Nicky took over and added, "Not really. I'm still in here, you know."

Mist gasped when she heard the other voice coming from her sister, and she held her out in front of her. "No..." She whispered. "It's not your memory...There's two of you."

"Bingo." Nicky answered happily. "Your sis tells me you can split us up."

"Do you mind?!" Llwyn took over and said angrily as Michael and Gunther watched Nicky with looks of complete disbelief in their eyes. Llwyn wiped a tear off Mist's cheek and said gently, "Mist, you have to use your powers to free me from this body."

Mist shook her head unbelievingly and whispered in a stunned voice, "How did this happen....."

Llwyn sighed deeply and answered, "Well, to make a long story short Mist, when you dropped the dragon ball on me, I was blasted into limbo. I floated around there for awhile with the other mortal souls, not knowing who or what I was until one day I got attached to this girl's soul and was born."

Nicky interrupted by taking over and introduced herself in a friendly voice, "How do you do? I'm Nicky."

Before Mist could reply, Llwyn took over again and continued. "I existed inside her mind thinking that I was her conscience until father restored my powers. Fortunately, that slowly jostled my memory back."

Mist nodded slowly. "No wonder you look so dreadfully human." Mist said, looking her over.

"Oh, great! Now you got her ragging on my looks!" Nicky growled angrily.

Mist smiled apologetically and said, "Please don't misunderstand me, Nicky. I did not mean to offend you. What I meant was that a mortal's beauty can't begin to compare with..." She stopped when she saw that her words were further fueling Nicky's anger. "I'll begin the process to cleave you two apart." She said hastily, and raised her fingers to her lips. She started to whisper words that made everyone's skin feel as if it was crawling with tiny ants.

When she held her hand, palm outward, in front of her, beams of sharp, blue light shot up from the floor, encircling Nicky and herself. The light started to spray inward, enveloping the two of them and making them look as if they were burning. As Michael took a worried step forward, the flames of light disappeared as quickly as they manifested. Mist motioned Nicky to sit in front of the couch and sat down on the carpeted floor herself, facing her.

"Take my hand, Llwyn." Mist said, and clasped Nicky's hand in hers. She then turned her head to Michael, Wendy and Gunther. "It is absolutely imperative that we be not disturbed during this process. Please, no matter what happens, do not touch us or try to break the spell." She announced, her voice serious, and then turned back to Nicky. "Are you ready?" She asked.

"Ready as I'll ever be." Nicky said, her voice sounding worried but full of excitement.

"It's in your hands, Mist." Llwyn answered, her voice calm and collected.

Mist closed her eyes, and raised her head towards the ceiling. A circle of pure white light suddenly appeared in between the two of them, and it started to spark tiny lightning into the air between them. Wendy crept closer, and sat herself carefully down the couch, followed by Gunther. She looked at Nicky's face, and couldn't help but feel that something was about to go wrong. She then looked at Michael, who was standing next to the couch, looking full of worry, and was about to slide over to him and motion for him to sit down when she felt a swirl of harsh wind claw past her face. Trouble had come at last.

(12)
C'est La Vie, Little Goddess
by Bard Mistress Aidynni

"Oh no!" Wendy exclaimed, and quickly got up from the couch, and bolted towards Nicky and Mist when she ran into a materializing form in front of them. "I knew it was you!" She shouted angrily as Bonner, his form not quite solid yet, fall and drape something across Mist's neck.

"By the damned! The wrong girl!" Bonner cursed, watching the neckband snake itself around Mist's neck and close. He then noticed that he was still falling towards the ground and frantically waved his hand to stop his fall, knocking the ball of light out from between the two girls.

A huge explosion resulted, blinding everyone as the pure white light grew at an alarming rate and engulfed the whole living room. When the light subsided and everyone blinked their eyes to get their vision back, Wendy saw three girls on the floor, knocked senseless. She quickly walked over to the blond haired girl with the shorter hair and raised her face. Wendy sighed in relief as she saw that it was Nicky. "Hey, wake up sleepy head. It's all over." She said, and smiled as Nicky came to slowly.

"Did it work?" Nicky asked groggily.

Wendy helped her friend up and said, "It looks like it." She then looked towards the goddess Llwyn, and remarked, "There does seem to be a resemblance to you after all."

Nicky slowly crawled towards Llwyn, who was now sitting up and looking dazedly around her, and knelt down beside her. She peered into her face, and that of Mist, and whistled. "My god. You guys are identical twins. Except for the hair color that is."

Llwyn groaned, grabbing her head. She then suddenly gasped and said, "My powers! I don't have all of it!"

Mist, who was being helped up by Michael and Gunther, winced as she came to. "Something disturbed us..." she said, her voice unsteady.

Llwyn looked at Nicky and then her eyes widened as she exclaimed in frustration, "Of all the! She still has some of my powers!"

"That is too bad. However, I think that can be solved readily." A male voice, smooth as a cat's purr, observed. Standing before the dazed group on the floor was Mephistophales, smiling dangerously.

Bonner, slowly coming to, got up and went over to stand by him. "That mortal wench made me put the neckband on the wrong girl, lord Mephistophales." He said angrily, pointing at Wendy.

"Bonner?! What are you doing here?!" Llwyn demanded.

Bonner gave her a winning smile and said, "I came to take you home with me, my love."

"He's the one that ruined the spell!" Wendy exclaimed. "And he put something on Mist's neck too!"

Llwyn bolted up from the floor, and her anger was visible in the form of a pale, white light that surrounded her form. Everyone averted their gaze before her, for even though the goddess' beauty made their heart ache with such unearthly perfection, the light threatened to drive them all insane with fright.

"What is the meaning of this? Explain yourself!" Llwyn ordered imperiously. "Or I swear, Bonner, fellow god or not, I will make you regret your very existence!"

"Don't gaze at her, Michael!" Mist pleaded, covering his eyes with her hand when she noticed that he was blankly staring at Llwyn. "It'll cost you your life!"

Nicky, who was also gazing at Llwyn, thought that Llwyn's long hair looked like living coils of golden serpents, slithering around her like as if they had a life of their own. She then gasped as she peered at her face, finally realizing just how much the goddess did look like her. However, she saw that the differences that were there between them was as clear as day and night. There was something about her that wasn't quite human. "Too perfect...." Nicky murmured, and then turned to study Mist, who smiled uncomfortably at her. She suddenly felt like an ugly duckling, for even though they all looked alike, it was that difference of mortality that separated the two sisters from her.

"Hey, you're not supposed to be looking!" Wendy hissed behind her.

Nicky sighed and replied, "No, I suppose not."

"The necklace was a wedding present, honest!" Bonner babbled. "I just happened to trip and put it on Mist by mistake, that's all."

Llwyn didn't believe him of course, and she replied, "Take it off her right this minute."

Mephistophales cleared his throat when he heard this and said, "Not until I get what I want from you, Llwyn, goddess of destiny."

"Who in the hell are you?" Nicky asked, getting up as Wendy frantically grabbed for her hand.

Mephisto turned to face Nicky and smiled. "How appropriate." He remarked, then turned again to face Llwyn and bowed gracefully. "I am Mephistophales, a devil." He introduced himself.

"You told me you were a god!" Bonner exclaimed, red with outrage.

"The old scratch himself!" Gunther whispered, his voice full of wonder and fear.

Llwyn looked at Mephistophales with scorn and asked, "What does a mere devil want from me?"

Mephisto smiled widely and said, "A lot of things, actually. However, the first thing I want you to do for me is to change my destiny so I may triumph in Armageddon, when I fight my former lord for the control of these pathetic mortals."

"Don't even consider it, Llwyn!" Nicky said, grabbing Llwyn's shoulders from behind.

Llwyn smiled coldly, ignoring Nicky. "Get out of my sight, you pathetic fool, before I blast you out of existence." She said to Mephisto, her voice full of scorn. When she raised her hand, a bluish light crackled between her fingers like living lightning, coiling around her hand.

"I don't think so." Mephisto said, standing his ground as Bonner slowly started to edge away from him, keeping a weary eye on Llwyn's hand. "You see, your sister is now mine." Mephisto then turned and motioned to Mist, who suddenly bolted up from the ground and came over to stand beside him, her green eyes empty of life.

Llwyn looked as if she was slapped, and she slowly dropped her hand. Nicky gasped, holding tighter onto Llwyn.

"Mist!" Michael exclaimed in alarm. He tried to stand, but Wendy grabbed a hold of him while exclaiming, "Stay down or you might get hurt!"

"But..."Michael said weakly when he saw Mist's empty eyes regard him with the look of a total stranger.

Mephisto laughed, and he touched Mist's hair, running his hand over its glossy, black length. "She is completely under my control." He said, his voice full of triumph. "Come and give us a kiss, dear." he commanded, and sneered at Llwyn as Mist dutifully leaned over like an automaton and kissed his cheek.

"You bastard!" Michael exclaimed in rage, his heart felt as if it was being torn in two, watching Mist completely under Mephisto's power. Shaking off Wendy's desperate grab, he bolted towards Mist and Mephisto with his fist raised.

Mephisto saw him and smiled. "Kill him, my dear." He simply commanded, and Mist raised her hand slowly and held it out, open palmed. Michael stopped dead in his tracks and gasped as if he ran into a brick wall, frozen in place. She then slowly began to close her hand, and as she did so, Michael started to cry out in pain as his body began to compress together by an unseen force.

"Mist, no!" Michael cried out, his voice laced with pain.

Mist visibly flinched when she heard his voice, and her fingers started to tremble violently. Mephisto noticed this and growled, "What are you waiting for? Kill him now!"

Everyone's eyes were on Mist's fingers as she started to tremble all over and then fell to her knee as if her legs couldn't hold her. Her green eyes flashed for an instant as if trying desperately to stop herself, and she violently closed her fingers as all traces of that light vanished and her eyes became depthless green pools of emptiness. A terrible crunch resounded throughout the living room as Michael groaned one last time and fell to the floor like a broken doll. Mist slowly got up as Wendy and Gunther came over to Michael's body. Wendy desperately felt for a pulse, then tried to feel a heartbeat as blood oozed out of Michael's closed lips. She shook her head slowly at Gunther. "I'm sorry, Mr. Swensen." She said, her voice trembling. "Michael's dead."

"No...No..It can't be." Gunther whispered, and grabbed Michael's lifeless body by the shoulders. "Wake up, son. Wake up!" he exclaimed, shaking him like a broken puppet. "No..." he murmured weakly, feeling the tears well up in his eyes as he felt Michael's warmth disappear.

"I trust that further demonstrations won't be necessary." Mephisto said as Bonner vanished into thin air. He snorted at Bonner's disappearing form and then said, "Now then, are you ready to give me what I want?"

Nicky, tears flowing from her eyes, exclaimed as she clenched her fist, "I swear, you'll pay for this!"

Llwyn, looking defeated and tired, listened to Gunther repeat into Michael's ear, "Michael, Michael.." over and over, refusing to answer. She lowered her head, casting her gaze to the floor.

"Or shall I demonstrate once again, this time on that one?" Mephisto asked, his voice pleasant as if he was discussing a shopping list. "Your friend, Wendy. Yes, I believe she'll be..."

"Stop!" Llwyn blurted out, raising her head. "I cannot grant your wish. My power is divided. What you are asking of me is impossible unless I have my power in full." She said.

Mephisto smiled and answered, "Oh, I know that. That's why I'm going to kill your mortal counterpart next. Then your power will be complete, won't it?" He laughed out loud as both Llwyn's and Nicky's face drained of all color. "Ah, beautiful goddess. You see, you are now completely under my power." He said, his voice full of glee. He then turned to Mist, who stared blankly into nothingness, her eyes unfocused. "Be a dear and kill Nicky for me, will you?" he suggested, smiling triumphantly.

Mist raised her hand, and a small, crystal ball appeared in it, swirling with loud, sharp colors.

"No, Mist..." Llwyn said as she stared at the dragon ball. She quickly turned to Nicky and said, "Whatever you do, stand behind me!"

Nicky shook her head defiantly and exclaimed, "No way! I have powers too! I'm not going to just stand around and do nothing!"

"Idiot! You're a mortal! No matter how much power you have, you'll be killed if a goddess attacks you!" Llwyn exclaimed back at her, and screamed in pain as white hot lances of flame smashed into her body, emanating from Mist's open mouth. Nicky screamed too, cowering behind Llwyn and using her as her shield. She felt the intense flames that licked and danced around her, and grabbed onto Llwyn's golden belt.

"Hang on tight!" Llwyn ordered, her long, blue dress looking burnt and smoldering. No sooner as the words left her lips that both of them were blasted off their feet and smashed into the large window of the living room, breaking out of the house in a shatter of sharp glass. They landed in a thud onto asphalt, knocking the wind out of Nicky, who was surrounded by a strange, white glow that seemed to have protected her from the glass. However, Llwyn was not so lucky. She was grabbing onto her arm, which was cut badly and bleeding.

"Why?" Nicky asked, stunned.

Llwyn winced and said through her clenched teeth, "I still care about you. I was you for twenty years, for crying out loud."

Nicky was about to stammer a thanks, but instead pointed towards the window and exclaimed, "Here she comes!"

Mist floated out of the broken window like some zombie, looking lifelessly gray Her form was surrounded by a green glow that seemed to be dark and foreboding as the depths of night itself. Mephisto followed, looking as if he was having the time of his life.

Mist raised the dragon ball and threw it at them. The ball screamed through the air like a streaking meteor and caught Llwyn in the gut, smashing her into a tree and leaving Nicky exposed and helpless. Llwyn coughed up blood and clutched her stomach as the ball returned to Mist's hand. "Run towards me!" Llwyn commanded weakly, her voice sounding watery from her own blood.

Nicky shook her head as she saw Llwyn, who now crumpled over and clutched at the dirt in pain. "You'll be killed!

A sudden ding resounded into the night air as Nicky jerked her head to see that Wendy smashed a baseball bat into Mephisto's head. She opened her mouth in disbelief as the bat broke in two and Mephisto turned to look at Wendy with annoyance. "Now really, was that truly necessary?" He asked.

"Go back to hell, you evil scum!" Wendy seethed, and roundhouse kicked him in the face. She screamed and fell, clutching her foot in pain. It was like smashing her foot into a metal wall.

Mephisto smiled as he gazed at Wendy on the ground, and then turned to Nicky. "Loyal friends are so hard to come by these days." He mused, and grabbed Wendy by the neck and raised her up, choking her. "Here's to true friendship." he said, and threw her down headfirst into the pavement, however, a swirl of strong wind carried her up before she hit the pavement.

"No one makes a fool of me and gets away with it." Bonner said dangerously as he materialized into form, carrying Wendy in his arms.

Mephisto raised his brow. "What? You're still here?" He asked mockingly. He then turned to Mist and said, "You know what to do, dear."

Mist turned to Bonner and pointed the dragon ball at him. Immediately, the wind god was engulfed in hot, green flames that looked as if it was taken out of the core of the sun. Just as the asphalt under them started to melt and run like molten wax, the flames suddenly swirled like a funnel, and dissipated into thin air. Bonner gently laid Wendy on the ground, and rolled up his polo shirt sleeves. "It'll take more than that to take me out, fiend." He said, and raised both of his hands towards Mephisto, commanding, "Winds of the world, your god commands you. Strike a mighty blow for me against my hated foe!" A large coil of swirling blue wind snaked out of his palms and smashed straight into Mephisto's chest, blasting him off his feet and sending him sprawling to the muddy grass.

"Why you rotten wind freak!" Mephisto screamed, livid with rage. He then turned to Mist, and noticed that Llwyn was trying desperately to take off the neck band off her. He slowly walked over to the two, and smashed his hand into Llwyn's cheek, sending her to the pavement.

Llwyn gasped in pain as she lay there, feeling the cold pavement against her body. Nicky quickly came over to her and asked, "Are you okay?"

"The necklace is the key." Llwyn said weakly, coughing.

Nicky looked at the golden band that wrapped itself tightly around Mist's neck. "I can take it off." Nicky said, and tried to get up, but Llwyn held her back.

"No. The one who put it on first must do it." Llwyn said, and screamed as lightning bolts shot through her back. "Get away from me, Nick!" She said as she writhed on the ground, her form being ravaged by bolts that coiled around her like living snakes.

"Llwyn!" Bonner yelled, and turned to Mephisto with uncontrollable rage in his eyes, saying, "Stop this right now. I'll do anything. Just leave her alone."

Mephisto snorted and answered, "You? You already served my purpose. I don't need you anymore. Oh, don't worry. I'm not going to kill her. It's the human side of her I want to kill. But your dumb girl keeps getting in the way." He laughed as Bonner looked away, his face crimson with shame. Mephisto laughed out loud as Bonner slowly disappeared without a trace.

Nicky gritted her teeth as she listened, and strode forward. "You want me? Well, here I am. C'mon, take your best shot." She said, her voice trembling.

"What are you doing? Run!" Llwyn exclaimed, crawling towards Nicky.

"I can't let this go on any longer, Llwyn. You'll be killed!" Nicky shouted back.

"You idiot! I can't be killed! I'm a goddess!" Llwyn shouted back, and jumped in front of Nicky in time as a blast of superheated energy smashed into her side, burning a hole the size of a manhole in her dress and sending her sprawling into the dirt, where she clutched at her side in obvious pain.

Mephisto clucked his tongue, and shook his finger at Llwyn, saying, "Now, now. Don't you think you've had enough punishment for one day? Why don't you be a good little girl and let me kill your friend?" He then turned to Mist, and his eyes grew wide in shock as he saw Bonner, who appeared there as silent as a gentle breeze, ripping the neckband off Mist. "No, no!!" Mephisto shouted as the band came off and smashed into crumbling bits as Bonner crushed it in his hand.

Mist blinked her eyes, and started to visibly shake. A certain light returned to her green eyes as she clenched her hand into a tight fist and swirled to face Mephisto. "I'm going to make you pay for what you've made me do." Mist said, her voice uneven because of the rage. Her usually smooth white skin was an ugly, blotchy crimson.

Llwyn slowly got up wincing, and limped towards Mephisto, raising her hand. Immediately, green bolts of lightning played around between them. "You won't be around to see tomorrow, I guarantee you that." She said ominously. Nicky and Wendy quickly came over as she started to fall and supported her between them.

Mephisto looked around himself nervously. He cleared his throat as the two goddess drew closer, and felt the rage emanate from them like blasts of hot wind. "Now, listen, ladies." He began, his voice trembling. "I...I.." He screamed as Mist smashed the dragon ball, which looked white hot like the core of the sun, into his face. "No! Please, hear me out!" He screamed painfully. "If you let me go, I'll resurrect Michael! I swear! Please! I know you don't have the power to do it now! But I do!"

Mist stopped as if slapped, and she withdrew the dragon ball from Mephisto's face. There was an ugly, gaping hole on the side of his face that looked empty and dark.

"You all have expended too much power for a resurrection, but I can do it. Please, spare me, and I'll save him." Mephisto pleaded on his knees, looking up beseechingly at Mist.

Mist, without saying another word, waved her hand, taking to the air. Mephisto was lifted up and flew with her through the window. Bonner raised his hand as well, and everyone was picked up gently on a current of wind and sent through the window, back into the living room.

Gunther was sitting on the floor, clutching onto Michael's lifeless body. When Mist approached, his body tensed up, but when he saw the tears in her eyes, he moved over as Mist landed next to him and took Michael's head into her lap.

"Oh, Michael." Mist whispered sadly as she stroked his icy cold cheek. She then looked up at Mephisto with hatred and said, "You had better be telling the truth, or I swear..."

Mephisto, without saying anything, laid a gentle finger on Michael's forehead, right between his eyes. Immediately, Michael's chest started to move slowly and he slowly opened his eyes.

"Michael!" Mist exclaimed, tears streaking down her face as she hugged his head against her chest.

"Mist.." Michael whispered in a tired voice. "I had a weird dream...I thought you killed me..."

Mephisto looked at Llwyn, who was pointing a glowing finger at him, and with a nod from Llwyn, disappeared into thin air.

"Everything's going to be alright now, Michael." Mist whispered into his ear and kissed his cheek.

Michael smiled weakly. He reached up to touch Mist's lips and said, "I know."

Llwyn stared at the two of them and a faint smile found a way on her bloodied lips. "Sis, you're all grown up." She whispered to herself and turned to Nicky when she tapped her on her shoulder.

"Uh...Listen, Llwyn." Nicky began, her voice unsure.

Llwyn wiped the blood off her lips and said, "There's no way to get my powers back from you unless I kill you, Nick."

Nicky sighed and said, "I know."

Llwyn smiled at Nicky, who looked extremely nervous, and said, "So if you don't mind, I'm going to stick around here until you grow old and die."

Wendy snorted and said, "Gee, Llwyn, you could have softened that up a little."

"Must be Nicky's uncouth influence." Llwyn observed slyly.

"Hey!" Nicky shouted, obviously offended.

Bonner slowly came up to them then, looking apologetic. "Listen, Llwyn. Beloved." He began, and flinched as Llwyn yelled angrily, "If you ever pull that kind of half brained, idiotic stunt again, I swear, I'm going to beat the living tar out of you!"

"Uh...Yeah. I know." Bonner said, looking uncomfortable. "And Llwyn?" He said.

"What?!" Llwyn answered, irate.

Bonner fidgeted with his shirt and said, "About the engagement..."

Llwyn rolled her eyes in frustration. "Bonner, I am not..."

"I know." Bonner interrupted. "I know you're not interested in me. And I don't know, waiting for you for all those years, well..."

"What are you saying?" Llwyn asked, her voice full of suspicion.

Bonner cleared his throat uncomfortably, and said, "I want to break off our engagement, because..."

"Because?"

"Because I found someone else that I want to have a lasting relationship with." Bonner said, and inched towards Wendy.

Llwyn burst out laughing as Wendy's face twisted into an unimaginable horror. "You have got to be kidding!!" She exclaimed, as she hid behind Nicky.

"Now, Wendy. You don't know me well enough..."

Llwyn knelt down besides Mist and Gunther as Wendy screamed and ran out of the house, dragging Nicky with her. Bonner followed hurriedly behind them as Llwyn laid a gentle hand on Mist's shoulder.

"Well, sis. Looks like we'll be staying here awhile." Llwyn said, smiling.

Mist turned to Llwyn and hugged her, sobbing, "I'm sorry, sis. I didn't mean to.."

"Now, now. There's no need to apologize." Llwyn said soothingly, gently running a hand over Mist's hair. She held her out before her and asked teasingly, "Since you can't leave until I leave, you now have an excuse to keep your promise, don't you?"

Mist blushed, and looked at Michael, who was now busily being examined by his father for broken bones, and said, "You know about that?"

"Yes I do." Llwyn answered, she then held Mist's trembling hand and looking at Michael, observed gently, "Don't worry, Mist. It's just life. You'll get used to it."

Mist smiled as Michael desperately shook himself away from his father's grasp and murmured dreamily, "I hope it's going to be fun."
The Cyan
(Chapter 1)

A dark haired man stepped into the long, quiet corridor. He noted with his sharp, black eyes the rows of armed guards who stood at attention along the walls and his mouth curled into a look of disgust as they saluted crisply when he passed them by. He was dressed in tarnished gray armor, dented and blackened with weather and use. He held his helmet to his hip as his cape, emblazoned with a single black rose against a field of red, made swishing sounds as his armored boots clicked and clanked on the stone floor.

He stopped before a iron shod door as one of the guards moved his spear to let him pass while the other guard opened it for him and announced, "Lord Derik Wengardent is here to see you, my lord."

As the man stepped into the sparsely furnished room, he noticed that it was empty save for a young man seated by a large table covered with maps, and an old man with a sharp, hawk like nose who leaned on a wooden staff, standing next to him.

"Derik." The young man said without looking up from a map spread out before him.

"Lord Michels." Derik replied, nodding his head.

The young man traced his finger across the map while asking, "Are my armies ready for battle?"

Lord Wengardent nodded again, and replied, "They are. But I must caution you, if you move against the high king..."

Lord Michels looked up at him with an annoyed look. "I did not ask for your opinion on the matter, Derik. Your duty is to fight, not lecture me on morals. I have Romney for that." He said, motioning to the old man with his head.

Lord Wengardent's eye twitched at this, and he said, "He has no morals, Johnathan." The old man grinned at that, showing yellowed teeth that seemed on the verge of crumbling.

Lord Michels shrugged and replied, "Exactly."

"He is your friend." Lord Wengardent persisted with a hint of anger, walking over to the table.

Lord Michels bolted up from his chair angrily and shouted, "Now you listen to me and get this through your head. I rule here, not you. What I say and decree is law in this land. If you don't like it, you can pack your bags and drag your sorry old carcass out of here. Brother or not, I won't have you question my decisions!"

When Lord Wengardent said nothing but looked at him with dour in his eyes, Lord Michels shook his head as if to shake away his anger, and walked over to the other side of the table and draped his arm across his armored shoulder. "Derik, I know what I am doing. Just trust me on this one." He said, forcing a smile on his lips. "Taran's too weak, I know it, you know it. He doesn't have what it takes to rule Eteria. Don't you see? We're doing this for the good of the country."

Lord Wengardent shook his head and replied, "By attacking your friend. Johnathan, no matter how you try to justify it, it is wrong."

Lord Michels sighed. "Wrong. Yes. But it is the right decision for the country and you know it." He said, and pointed towards the large map on the wall. "Eteria will shatter if I do not. The other lords are all thinking the same thing at this moment but cannot act because they don't have the resources to do it."

"They don't because they expect you to back Taran up if they rise against him." Lord Wengardent said, keeping his eyes on lord Michels. "If you move against Taran, not only will the public call you a traitor, but the other lords as well will attack you, for they will have justified cause. After your demise, they will divide up your land amongst themselves and then attack Taran for the high kingship. Can't you see, Johnathan? You are the buffer against Eteria's civil war. If you attack Taran, not only will it be morally wrong, it will be your doom as well."

Lord Michels opened his mouth to speak, and closed it shut. A slow understanding came across his eyes as Lord Wengardent's words sank in and he angrily turned towards the old man and then shouted, "You fool! Why didn't you tell me something like this would happen?!"

The old man bowed his bald, wrinkled head low and replied humbly, "Lord Wengardent is right to a degree. The other lords will attack when you move against the high king. However, if we kill them before the attack were to commence, it will..."

"Murder? You cannot expect my brother to stoop himself that low. You go too far, Romney." Lord Wengardent spat out. He then turned to lord Michels and asked incredulously, "Surely you can't be even thinking about following his advice."

Lord Michels sighed and turned away from both of them, staring at the large map of Eteria on the wall. "I want Eteria..." He murmured to himself slowly. He then asked Lord Wengardent, "You said that Lord Oden's troops are spoiling for a fight."

Lord Wengardent nodded and said, "Aye. They want Taran's head."

"Is there a way we can give it to them?" Lord Michels asked him casually.

Lord Wengardent shook his head. "Johnathan, I just told you it isn't wise to do so." He said in a tired voice, and looked at Romney's grinning face. He then reluctantly added, "at least not yet."

"Let me hear your plan, Derik." Lord Michels said simply, still looking intently at the map.

Lord Wengardent went over to the desk and sat himself down. "First, you must build up your image amongst Oden's people. From what I gather, they didn't like the way he did things, but they praise his results. Since you just received Oden's land from the high king, I think you are asking for trouble if you expect them to go to war against Taran out of the blue. Even though they hate the high king, they hate traitors even more."

The old man snorted at this, and said, "But Oden is a traitor. Seeking to wrestle the kingship away from Taran on..."

"He was within his right on that day, you twisted warlock. He went after the kingship honorably." Lord Wengardent replied with irritation in his voice, his black eyes flickering with loathing at the sight of the old man.

"Building up my support base with Oden's people..The idea does have merit." Lord Michels murmured, looking to be in thought. "With Oden's troops integrated with my own, the other three lords would not even dare to challenge me if I went to war against Taran."

Lord Wengardent shook his head. "Not quite. You can certainly expect Lord Servan to side with Taran. After all, he is Lord Taran's godfather."

Lord Michels grimaced. "I had almost forgotten about that old gizzard." He spat out distastefully. Lord Michels then began to pace around the room slowly. "So we're basically back to where we started." He murmured. "If there only was a way to get the remaining lords to fall in with me, then surely it would succeed."

"Unfortunately, they all have the same ambitions that you have." Lord Wengardent said.

Lord Michels stopped and stared at Lord Wengardent. "What good is your idea of winning lord Oden's people over then? It's completely useless." He stated in an annoyed voice. "Romney's plan is beginning to sound better and better."

Lord Wengardent shook his head. "You have to start winning them over now. It is in your best interest."

"Why should I waste my resources on such a worthless lot?" Lord Michels asked incredulously.

Lord Wengardent got up from the chair and said, "Because they are now your subjects. And," He walked over to the large map of Eteria and stood next to Lord Michels. "You'll need them when you attack Taran."

"But it's not possible! If I begin a fight with Taran, even with Lord Oden's troops, my forces will be too depleted after the war to control Eteria." Lord Michels said, "You yourself told me that a few minutes ago."

Lord Wengardent nodded. "That is right." He began. "But who said that our first target had to be Taran?"

Lord Michels opened his mouth, but closed it shut. A slow understanding came across his eyes as he spoke slowly with voice filled with wonder and excitement. "Of course....Attack the other two lords to get them out of the way..."

"Get Taran and Servan to go to war against the other two while we use our troops as sparingly as possible, 'supporting' our high king." Lord Wengardent said, looking at the map. "When the other two are vanquished, we use lord Oden's troops to wipe out Servan and Taran. By that time, they will be in no shape to fight."

"Brilliant!!" Lord Michels shouted, slamming his fist into his hand.

The old man cleared his throat, and spoke up. "An interesting plan, Lord Wengardent. However, how will you justify attacking the other two lords without any cause?"

Lord Wengardent turned his head to face Romney and sneered, "Why I expected you to come up with this part of the caper. After all, it is your specialty, is it not magician?"

Romney grinned, showing his yellowed teeth. "Brand them traitors against Taran? I believe I can arrange a few things to achieve such an effect." He said, his voice tinged with mirth.

"Then it is all set!" Lord Michels said excitedly. He turned to Lord Wengardent and gripped his hand warmly. "What will I ever do without you, my brother?"

Lord Wengardent flinched, but managed to hide his distaste. "It is for the good of Eteria, Johnathan." he said gruffly, and freed himself from Lord Michels' grasp. "Then, by your leave." He announced, and bowed stiffly, leaving the room.

When the door closed shut, the old man started to laugh. "I have to hand it to you, my lord. You were most convincing." Romney said.

Lord Michels stared at the closed door. "There is no other way to get it out of him. I dislike fooling my brother like this." He said, his voice sounding tired.

"Half brother, my lord." Romney informed.

"Half brother or not," Lord Michels began, turning around, "He cares enough for me to give me another way to be high king without being a traitor for awhile."

Romney adjusted his weight against his staff, looking like an old scarecrow blowing against the wind. "I warn you against putting too much trust on him, my lord." He said. "A military genius he is. But what of his ambitions?"

Lord Michels snorted, and said, "You forget, Romney. He, being the first born, had a claim to the throne I'm sitting on now. Bastard born or not."

Romney nodded slowly. "Aye, my lord. But push him too far and even his brotherly love for you will not be enough to save you from his betrayal. You best keep that in mind." He advised, and as lord Michels sat back down he picked up a parchment from a stack from the table and presented it to him.

"What is this?" Lord Michels asked, looking the document over.

Romney looked down at lord Michels with a crooked smile and said, "As your brother suggested, it is a beginning of a way to win Oden's people over."

Lord Michels started to read the document, and nodded. "Seems this former sheriff in Whilna has been wrongly stripped of his rank." He said. The new sheriff requests compensation for his disability." Lord Michels threw the letter back in the pile of papers on the desk. He then turned to Romney and asked, "How big is Whilna?"

Romney smiled and answered, "Big enough for your deeds to not go unnoticed, my lord."

Lord Michels leaned back in his chair and said, "Very well. Send someone over there to give this..Sumner fellow a few gold crowns."

"I think it's best if you went there personally, my lord." Romney advised.

Lord Michels' features paled for a flicker at the suggestion, and Romney noticed this. "May I make a suggestion, my lord?" He asked. When Lord Michels nodded quickly, he produced a document from the folds of his brown robe and presented it to him.

Lord Michels took it and after glancing at it, asked with a hint of barely disguised fear, "You think it will work?"

Romney's pale green eyes glinted as he replied with anticipation and confidence, "Even the angel of death will be no match against the full might of the Black Blades. They will hunt her down and destroy her."

Lord Michels stared at the document, and closing his eyes, handed it over to Romney, who stared at him like a brown hooded vulture, and said, "Send it. And make sure that they understand that I will not be satisfied unless she no longer walks among the living."

Romney hid his smile, and bowed before Lord Michels. "Rest assured, my lord. Cyan will be no more." He said, and disappeared from the room like a fading shadow.

The Cyan
(Chapter 2)

Father Smith startled himself out of his slumber, almost falling out of his chair by the bed. He then yawned, and then winced as he felt the dull pain in his neck when he stretched, and muttered, "Too old."

He gazed at the face of the sleeping girl, her long hair disheveled and splayed out like strands of golden strings. He shook his head slowly, then eyed the mail shirt that lay on the table next to him. "They don't go together. This child and the shirt." He said to himself, and laid a gentle hand on her forehead, surprised at how ice cold her skin felt against his dried, wrinkled skin.

"Dear Lord, I pray on this child's behalf. She is too young to be snatched away from us so soon. Grant this child your mercy, my Lord." Father Smith whispered, as he closed his eyes. He opened his eyes once again as he finished his prayer, and sighed as the girl lay there, lifeless.

"I swear, if I didn't see her chest heave with her breath, I would mistake her for dead." Father Smith wondered, and removed his hand, for her coldness had begun to unnerve him. "It's as if she's made of marble..." He wondered, and as he peered closer to her face to lift her eyelids, they suddenly lifted open, showing round, blue eyes that were pale and deep as blue colored ice.

"Mercy...." The girl uttered, sitting up suddenly and causing father Smith to take a step back in surprise, almost falling backwards against his chair. She then turned her head slowly to the priest, her long hair falling like a sheet of golden snow against her pale skin. "Where am I?" She asked in a voice that seemed so empty, Father Smith's hand went to his cross around his neck.

Father Smith stuttered, his eyes firmly fixed on the girl's own, making him feel empty and frightened, as if his soul was bared naked for all the world to see and peck away. "You're in my hut. My friend found you passed out in the stream." He managed to answer, his knuckle showing white against his skin as he gripped his cross tighter.

"Stream.." The girl said, turning her gaze away.

Father Smith let out an inward sigh of immense relief as the gaze was broken. He cleared his throat and said, "You were unconscious. It seems you slipped and fell, hitting your head on a rock, perhaps."

The girl slowly tried to get out of bed, but stopped herself when she realized that she was naked. She then blushed crimson and gathered the sheets around herself, her cheeks turning the color of red roses. Father Smith's fear of the girl seem to immediately vanish as if it had never existed when he saw this change. He suddenly felt very protective of her, and he hurriedly went over to the fireplace where her clothes were draped.

"They were soaking wet and I had them dried. Here, child." He said, smiling as he handed the clothes to her. He noticed that her gaze no longer had an electric edge to them when she gazed into his eyes again and smiled bashfully, and he found himself grinning as he turned around to let her dress.

When he felt the girl sitting slowly in the chair, he turned around and pulled another chair close to her. He almost gasped when he saw her, for the sight of her was such that she seemed delicate and fragile like a glass figurine. Father Smith thought she had to be the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, for he had traveled the world extensively in his younger days before he took up his vows and a woman's beauty was no stranger to him.

To think that her gaze alone would make me not notice her beauty, she is no ordinary child. Father Smith thought to himself. He then dug into his pocket and pulled out a pouch, handing it to the girl.

"I found this in your pocket." He said as the girl took it and carelessly spilled the contents over the table. Large, sparkling gems tumbled out, rolling about like multicolored stars. As father Smith looked at her critically to see her reaction, she exclaimed, "Ahhh.." and held one of them close to her face, turning it over and over as it glittered like a prism when it caught the light.

"They are yours, I presume?" Father Smith asked.

The girl turned to him and shook her head. "I don't think so. But they are so pretty." She said, and gathered up the gems, putting them back into the pouch.

"But they should be. You had them in your shirt pocket." Father Smith said as the girl tried to hand the pouch back to him.

The girl looked puzzled, and asked, "Were they? I can't remember." Her smile then started to vanish as she turned her gaze to the pouch. "I can't remember." She repeated to herself quietly.

"What is your name, child?" Father Smith asked gently, leaning closer.

The girl blinked then opened her mouth. A look of complete confusion came over her eyes as she tried to reply, but failed. Her head lowered slowly as her long, golden hair spilled over to cover her face. "I don't know. I can't remember. I can't remember anything." She whispered weakly.

Father Smith put his hand to his chin. "It could be due to the result of the blow you received on your head. I've seen something like this before." He began, and laid a comforting hand on her soft shoulder. He noticed, much to his surprise that her skin now felt as hot as a burning coal. "Don't worry too much about it. It's not important." He continued, his expression growing more worried. He quickly put on a smile when the girl raised her head, her sad expression slowly melting away from his comforting smile.

The door to the hut slowly creaked open, and Sumner walked in. He was downcast, his face looking dark and drawn. He dragged his left foot slowly over the sill and closed the door slowly.

"Did you talk to the sheriff, Sumner?" Father Smith asked in an uneven voice, a little disturbed that he didn't even hear Sumner's horse approach, let alone the door's creaking as it opened.

Sumner unbuckled his sword belt, and put it against the wall next to the fireplace. "I did, Father." He said, not looking back, gazing pensively into the tiny, lingering flames.

Father Smith noted this and asked, "Is something wrong? Did something happen?"

Sumner sighed and turned, saying, "Nothing that should...." He stopped in midsentence as his gaze fell on the girl. "My god..." He murmured involuntarily as he saw her shimmering like a ghostly white image before him, driving away the dark, drabness of the tiny hut like a brilliant beacon. In his eyes, he saw white feathered wings, protectively enfolding the girl with their pure, gentle light, as she gazed at him curiously with her icy blue eyes that made him suddenly feel foolish and inadequate before her. "An angel.." Sumner blurted out as he tore his eyes away from the girl to the priest, who was staring at him with open worry.

"What?" Father Smith asked in a troubled voice.

"Don't you see her wings..." Sumner began in an awed voice as he turned his gaze back to the girl. "They're gone..." He murmured in shock as he saw that the wings he saw no longer existed.

"This is the girl you saved from the stream." Father Smith told him, switching his gaze from the girl to Sumner.

Sumner looked the girl over, widening his eyes. He stopped abruptly however, when he noticed that the girl was blushing from his scrutiny. He immediately dropped to one knee before her, and bowing his head, spoke. "I apologize for my rude behavior, my lady. I have forgotten my manners."

The girl turned to father Smith questioningly, and when father Smith nodded and smiled at her reassuringly, she slowly got up, and kneeled before Sumner. Even though she was not in contact, the closeness of her being felt to him like a hot summer breeze. A faint smell of spring's blooming flowers touched his nose gently as she said gently, "I want to thank you for saving my life."

"It was an honor, my lady." Sumner said bruskly, trying to keep his voice even. His knees buckled and threatened to topple him when he felt her soft, cold lips on his forehead.

"Uh....Thank you." Sumner blurted out, for that's all he could think of saying at the moment.

The girl turned to father Smith, who was covering a smile under his hand, and said, "What he said..Angel..."

Father Smith answered, "A messenger of God. Among other things."

The girl closed her eyes for a few seconds, and then said, "I think that's what people called me. Angel." She slowly got up, and sat next to father Smith. "What are they?" She asked as Sumner raised his head.

"Well... Angels are also helpers of God. Archangel Michael wields a sword to slay and vanquish the wicked who dared oppose God's rule." Father Smith began. And as he continued, a shadow of recognition began to slowly appear across the girl's eyes like wispy mists, only to be blown away as her gaze turned to Sumner, who acted like he wasn't staring at her, when as a matter of fact, could not keep his eyes off her.
{Law Office of NW Ulfius and Associates}
** All the information in this month's GOH Magazine can be found in the original First Edition TSR Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books, Monster Manual (c) 1979, Players Handbook (c) 1978, Dungeon Master's Guide (c) 1979, Cyclopedia of the Realms (c) 1987, and the Second Edition TSR Advanced Dungeons and Dragons books, Volo's Guide to the North (c) 1993, Player's Handbook (c) 1989, Monstrous Manual (c) 1993***


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