Saturday, July 14, 2012

Random Thing I Wrote While Bored

  Thalia sat. Mar played with a frying pan. Lydia did the polka with a strange boy named Alex while Kallista  sang opera in the corner. Suddenly, the door burst open and in stalked one named Skyril. Everyone stopped. Everyone stared. Everyone eyed the newcomer.
  Skyril trudged up to the bar, the spurs on her boots rattling, and ordered a root beer on the rocks and turned to to look back at everyone. They were silent. They were staring. Skyril sipped her root beer, and everyone went back to what they were doing.
  She gulped down the rest of her drink and ordered another as she watched the group's goings on. The door, wooden, old, and creaky swung open on ancient hinges to reveal a man in dirty clothes, his jacket ripped in places, and his hair stringy. It looked like he hadn't shaved for a few days. His hand was hanging by his side, but there was a pistol in it, and he trudged in, his step a lanky, lazy walk.
  Everyone went quiet once again but for the girl called Skyril. She nodded to the man, her dusty hat tipping ever-so-slightly. He found a place at the bar and leaned, placing his gun on the top. He ordered a drink and turned as everyone, once again, went back to what they were doing, only a bit more wary. The bartender swallowed and ducked back behind the counter. Skyril felt sorry for the little man.
  The newcomer nodded at Skyril, and stepped closer. Abruptly, Kallista stopped her operatic song, and came over to the bar, ordering something for herself. She looked at the man out of the corner of her eye while she drank. She walked between Skyril and the man, glancing at Skyril, and ignoring him completely. Thalia, Mar, Alex, and Lydia all watched from where they were. Thalia continued to sit, while Mar fiddled more aggitatedly with her frying pan, and Alex and Lydia finished their polka to sit down as well, watching.
  "Howyeh?" Skyril asked Kallista when she continued to stare.
"Yer knew here, ain't'cha?"
Skyril nodded, "Happen to be so. What's it matter to yew?"
The man interrupted, his voice rough and croaking. "Yer unprepared, girl."
Skyril looked at him, standing a little taller, and gulping down the rest of her root beer. "Unprepared fer whut, mister? If yew two think ah need yer help," she shrugged, "than yew'd be wrong."
Kallista immediately shook her head, but the man just grunted. Kallista spoke, "Oh, no, darlin', ah'm not sayin' you need our help, but yer knew, and you better be ready fer this town."
Skyril shrugged, "Fine. Thanks fer the warnin'."
  The man grunted and turned, staring at Skyril. She sighed, already getting tired of all the staring this town did. She look at him, "Whut do yew want, huh? If ya ain't gonna say nothin' than mind yer own business, got it, Mister?"
His eyes hardened, and Kallista closed hers, knowing Skyril had said the wrong thing. He picked up his gun and indicated the door to outside. Skyril rolled her eyes and ignored him, rather, walking to the tables and sitting. She pulled out her pistol and spun it, playing with it as she took the man's glare and gave one of her own.
  Lydia coughed, throwing a look back and forth between Skyril and the man. Then she stood, withdrew her own gun, pointing it at the man. Alex looked at her, wondering what she had in mind. Thalia and Mar leaned forward, interested in the display. She grinned, pulling out her other gun and aiming it at Skyril.
  Her eyes lit up as she pulled the triggers.

My Entry for Derek's Competition [the one I didn't win :P]

  Valkyrie groaned, and sat up. "I told you it was a trap," she said.
"No, you said it looked like it was a trap," Skulduggery corrected. "That's completely different."
He helped her up as a door opened behind them and Sadistica Tortura walked through, an unsettling smile on her lips.
  Skulduggery said, "Oh, hello." then looked at Valkyrie. "This is Sadistica Tortura she's Vaurien Scapegrace's aunt and surprisingly more successful at murder than he is."
Sadistica stopped in her tracks, "Don't ever relate me to Vaurien again. I disowned him years ago, back when he was a bartender and not as much of a failure." She glared at Skulduggery, “How did you even know I was related?”
“Wait, his aunt?" Valkyrie interrupted, shocked. Skulduggery’s shoulders lifted slightly in a shrug, "I'm afraid so."
  Sadistica pointed her long-nailed fingers at Valkyrie, "I just said not to relate me to that moron. Do you happen to be deaf?" Valkyrie laughed. She couldn't help it. Vaurien had an aunt?
  "So, like," she said, grinning, "do you two get together for Christmas or something?" Sadistica looked back and forth between her and Skulduggery. "Don't look at me," Skulduggery said, "I’ve never been able to get her to be quiet either. Except for that one time when…” Sadistica closed her eyes for a second, her hands clutching into fists. “Well, never mind,” Skulduggery muttered.
  "No,” she said after a moment, addressing Valkyrie “actually, we don't get together for Christmas, and I think you need to be quiet now or would you rather me cut your tongue out?”
“She’s a torturer for hire,” Skulduggery informed Valkyrie. “By the way, Sadistica, nice trap. When did you get into the business of trapping your adversaries? I thought you just tortured them after they were trapped.”
  “No,” Sadistica growled, “don’t you remember how this goes, Skulduggery? I ask the questions. And then you answer. And then I kill you, even though I said I’d let you live if you answered my questions. Speaking of which, you never told me how you knew. I destroyed all the files relating me to Vaurien a long time ago. How did you do it?”
  He nodded, “I can understand how that would confuse you, but, you see, I’m a detective, and detectives just know things like this. Actually, don’t tell anybody, but there’s a secret detective agency that tells you everyone’s little secrets when you get the job. It’s actually quite useful.”
  Sadistica blinked and Valkyrie spoke, “But how can she be his aunt? She doesn’t look like him or anything.”
  A rattling interrupted Sadistica’s reply and the door behind her burst open, two cleavers coming through. They grabbed her by either arm as she yelled and squirmed, trying futilely to get out of their grip. “Oh by the way,” Skulduggery said, “I should probably tell you I called the Sanctuary before we came in. Fortunately, they had a couple cleavers they could send over.” Sadistica’s eyes widened in fright.
  Wait a second,” Valkyrie shouted excitedly, “Now I see the resemblance!”

Friday, July 13, 2012

Preview of a story

  She looked at the two of them, disgust showing on her face. They were so little, so insignificant, and yet they were the cause of all this catastrophe. How could humans so very tiny and unimporant be this evil and destructive?
  Perhaps they were posessed by demons, or maybe the two of them with their little minion basked in hatred, disdain, and disgust? Maybe they just loved to get the compassion of the people, by trying to make the solely innocent look dreadfully guilty.
  Unable to decide amongst the three possibilities, she decided the answer was all of them. Well, she thought wistfully, I wonder when their punishment shall befall them? I must say, I'm going to enjoy it.
  As she continued to look upon their little games and mockery of innocence, she saw a few walk up and stand awkwardly between them, and another group, the group that was truly innocent but for childish teasing and playfullness. Ah,thought she, the ones who can't decide. The ones who remain in between. Shame those few can't ever be involved in the real fun of the innocent group, the secret fun only they know about. Indeed, they can look upon them and chatter like they belong, but unfortunately it shan't be complete honesty. They attempt to remain on both sides, or perhaps it is neither... Either way, they think since nothing destructive has been done to them personally- that they shall get out free. Alas, they cannot have the best of both worlds when the worlds are so immensely different, separate, opposite, light and dark.
  She shook her head in disbelief as she saw a few defending the evil two's actions. She wondered how that could possibly be, and decided that some humans were just and simply dumb.
  She watched for a long time, learning the ways of each group. When she finally stopped, she knew the truths and the lies, knew the powers and the peasants, knew the hairs on the head of each, and she was going to enjoy having her fun with them.

Author's note
I wrote this when I was kind of half asleep... So sorry if it's not very good, but what do you think of it so far? It's sort of a preview of a story that has been on the edge of my mind, and I've only just discovered :P

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Picture of the Probable House

Ok, first, I just want to say...

The last post was my 50th :D
I'm happy right now....

Okie, secondly, due to more than one request to see this picture, I shall post a quick pic I took of the house we're [probably] closing on today!
Oh, and it was a picture in the rain.. That's why everything's wet :P

Oh? And by the way, that's not our car... it's not even our RENTAL, as a matter of fact. It's our realtor's car :P
In case you were wondering.....

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Living Skeleton

  Henry's mouth hung open as he stared at Skulduggery. Skulduggery looked back at him, unmoving, but it was already too late. "You-... You're... You're a skeleton..."
Skulduggery shrugged, and Henry jumped back in surprise. Skulduggery made a sound like he was clearing his throat awkwardly and replied, "Yes, yes I am, actually."
  Henry stared, his mouth, once again, agape, "No, no way. You must be... you're a... I know! You're animated, right? You're... you're like a Halloween decoration... right?"
Skulduggery paused for a moment, then lifted his arms in robotic fashion. When he spoke, his voice was devoid of emotion as he tried his best to be a robot "You... caught me... Henry. Good... job..."
  Henry slowly shut his mouth, and he put on his most intimidating withering glare. Skulduggery kept up the act for a minute more before he gave up, dropping his arms to his sides.
"Ok, no, I am not Halloween decoration, and may I just say, thank you so very much for demeaning my character." He straitened his tie and stood a little taller.
  That's when Henry started asking questions, and Skulduggery began explaining the world of magic.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Part VII: Necessities

  Skyril sat up in bed, a surprised look on her face. She glanced around the room, and realized two things: her neck didn't hurt from when the werewolves had bitten her, and she was home, sitting in her own bed. She gasped, looking down at her arm and discovering it wasn't broken. She rubbed it up and down, stretching it out, not believing her own eyes.
  Climbing out of bed, she realized she was wearing her pajamas- the ones with little kittens all over them, and there was sunlight coming through her window. She walked over to it hesitantly, wondering what on earth could possibly be happening. Parting the curtains, she squinted at the sunshine and saw her neighbors across the street walking their dog.
  She shook her head. "This isn't right..." she muttered to herself. Sitting back down, utterly confused, she recalled the last thing that had happened to her. Skyril had been in the Nightmare's world, sitting on a borrowed bed. How had she gotten here? When? How was she no longer wounded?
  Something was wrong. It had to be.

  Skyril moaned and muttered, tossing over in her sleep on the bed, in the house, on the street, in the world of the Nightmare's as she dreamed the Nightmare's dream. And the Nightmare watched her, laughing at the thought of the fun she was going to have.


  Israel stood in the street, his arms crossed as he stared at a point in the air. NJ stood in front of that point, looking back at Israel and saying once again, "She's here. This is the exact spot. I can feel it." Her other hand was clutching Kallista's head, and the backs of her fingers were glowing with intricate, blue designs.
  "Well..," Gepard muttered, "she must be awfully small, I guess."
Raven walked around NJ and where she was pointing. Then leaned against a nearby wall and crossed her arms as well. "NJ? You do know Skyril's larger than an atom, right?" She raised her eyebrow at her skeptically.  NJ sighed, letting go of Kallista's skull and dropping her arms to her sides.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why, but it's that spot. The link between Kallista and Skyril led me here. I'm not sure what's wrong..."
  Israel nodded, "Alright, well then, since I doubt the Nightmare shrunk Skyril considerably, we're going to need to figure what's going on here. NJ? You're absolutely sure that you're right and it's that spot in particular?"
She paused for a second, thinking, then nodded, "Yes, it was that spot."
   "Ok, this means we're going to need to do some research. NJ? Take us to your master."
NJ blinked, and made a face, "China's not my master!"
Israel laughed, "Oh, I know. I've just always wanted to say that."


  Skyril crossed her bedroom and poked her head out the door. There wasn't anyone there, but she turned around anyway and went back to her bookshelf. Selecting And the Darkness Rained upon Them, the bookcase slid by, revealing to her, her weapons. She picked up one of the guns, checked for ammo, and stuck it behind her back, under her shirt. Selecting two knives with straps, she snapped them around her legs, and lastly, she hefted her mallet, a grin spreading across her face.
"Oh, how I've missed you," she muttered as she walked back to the door and exited.
  She padded barefoot down the hardwood floors, pausing only once when it creaked beneath her toes. She needed to fix that. Walking again, she came to the first door, a guest bedroom. The door was open so she peeked in. Nobody. She ran to the closet and swung the door open with a roar, but there was nothing in there except a few empty racks and hangers.


  Raven sighed happily as she gazed at China, then shook her head, bringing herself back to the real world. She knew China affected everyone the same way, but it was so annoying. NJ was talking with her, and her hands spread for a moment, then she shrugged her shoulders.
  It had been a quick drive here, and Israel decided it was best for NJ to broach the subject with China since NJ was already one of her students. Going over to her, they greeted each other with a, "Ah, hello there, Miss Maverick. How has your sigil practice been going?" And a, "It's been going well, China, thank you. That trick you taught me last week was really useful, but listen, I have a question to asked you and I was hoping you have some information." Then the two of the walked out of earshot, and Raven forced herself not to follow behind China, gazing at her fondly.
  Raven realized she was staring at her again and looked away irritably. Her gaze roamed from the books to Kallista, who was reading one in the corner, to Israel, who was pacing and trying to avoid looking in China's direction, to Gepard, who was just leaning against the wall and staring at China with a scowl as he fought the feelings bubbling in him at the sight of her.
  A moment later, Raven was watching her again, and sighed, impatient for NJ to finish her conversation. She walked over to the nearest bookshelf and read the titles, The Love of Magic, Orsiphith's Guide to Avoiding Wisps, Better Early than Happy. Walking down the shelf, she continued examining them half-heartedly until she heard NJ speaking. She trudged back quickly, hoping to hear good news.
  China had disappeared into the library, thankfully, and NJ was telling them what she had learned.
"So, I told China I had some very interesting information for her if she could help me out with any information she might have of her own. She agreed, of course, always happy to be well-informed, and I explained everything to her- about how Skyril was kidnapped and captured by the Nightmare and everything. Well, she didn't know anything about how Skyril contacted Kallista, but she could help somewhat with our other problem."
  "China said that she had heard things about the Nightmare and had read books about it. She explained that the Nightmare seems to disappear with whomever it has capture, but is actually still in that same spot."
  "So why couldn't we see it?" Gepard decided to ask the obvious, yet required question.
NJ nodded, "This is where is gets interesting."


  Having searched the whole house, Skyril sat down on the couch and looked at the phone sitting next to her on the coffee table. She saw there were three messages so she shrugged and put them on speaker to listen. An electronic female's voice echoed out of it, "You have... three... new messages. Message one, July 9, 2012, 3:27 A.M." Skyril's eyebrow rose at the early hour someone had called her.
  A moment later, Israel's drunken voice came on, "I so regret saving your filthy life." Skyril sat up, a frightened expression on her face. The sound of Israel spitting came on the recording followed by, "You killed them! It's all your fault. I should have left you to the Nightmare. It's your fault they're dead, and I... I," His voice got choked up, and Skyril stood over the phone with a horrified expression. Killed someone? Who was dead? What? What? "You're pathetic. You go 'round every day pretending you've got amnesia or something, won't even fess up for being the cause of their deaths." He hiccuped and the phone clicked as he hung up.
  The electric voice came on a moment later. Skyril sat back down, her head in her hands "End of message. Message two, July 9, 2012, 11:36 A.M." An angry voice filled the room, but she didn't recognize it. "I don't know why I involved myself in trying to rescue some girl I don't even know. I guess it was because your friends" he seemed to spit the word out with disgust, "thought so highly of you! Skyril Oblivion. This is Gepard Valk, and I want you to know I think you're a little less than dirt. You go around, day to day, pretending everything's great. You didn't even go to their funerals. What kind of 'friend' doesn't go to the funerals? I'm sorry I met you."
  Skyril's eyes crinkled up, and tears slid down her cheeks. She had done something awful, and she couldn't even remember. She shook her head, trying to recall and seeing a flash of a girl screaming, a building burning down. The electronic voice came on again. "Third message, July 9, 2012, 2:00 P.M." The voice was China's, "Meet me tonight at the park. You know which one. Midnight."
  Skyril looked at the phone and nodded, realizing she did know which park. She would be there.


  "Wait," Israel said as he looked at NJ with a slightly confused expression on his face, "let me get this straight. So the Nightmare exists through everyone's worst fears, but it takes the form of its victims for the fun of it and to have a physical shape, right?"
NJ nodded. "Correct so far." she said.
"Ok, then sometimes, when it has snatched somebody, it will disappear into another dimension that it controls while it plays with the person to its heart's content before finishing the person off and returning for more meat?"
"Yes," NJ responded. "Well, sort of. Ok, not exactly. It's more like the Nightmare has its own dimension where it takes its prey to play with. It can do whatever it wants there, yes, but it doesn't disappear. Not entirely, that is. It leaves a sort of a... Well, think of the Faceless Ones. Remember when they came here? There was a sort of string connecting them from one dimension to the other so that they could come back here after they were thrown into the other world. That's basically the same thing that happens with the Nightmare except there is no Isthmus Anchor because it doesn't need one. It controls the other dimension, and therefore simply leaves its invisble string and can come and go when it pleases. It doesn't usually come back while its victim is still alive or... sane, though, because if it comes back, so does the person."
  Israel nodded absently. "So where does this leave us? Do we need a teleporter?"
"Actually, no" NJ shook her head and turned, pacing back and forth a few steps. "China said this part was really hazy, and that there are several myths and even attempts a long time ago to try to get the Nightmare to return from its world for one reason or another. That seems to be impossible, though, but there are other myths that say people have gotten into the Nightmare's world. Of course, they're still hazy, but there is one fact that keeps springing up." She stopped pacing and looked at Israel. "You're not gonna like it, though."

  She had visitors. She smelled them coming a mile away, and if she hadn't, she would have sensed them some other way long before they arrived. Of course, she wasn't looking at them as visitors, at that moment because instead, they were purely meat, food, flesh, blood, things to fill her boredom if she could just get out of that tiny cage she was forced into everyday before the sun went down. She roared, her clawed hands grabbing and shaking the cage bars in front of her, the vampire trying to get free before the sun shone again. Alas, it was already too late, for dawn was breaking.
  The visitors had come early, moments before the sun decided it was time to get up. The vampire she was stumbled back, screaming in rage at its failure to escape the enclosement yet again, for skin was growing, forming bright and beautiful. It grew, and suddenly there was hair sprouting from her head. Brown hair blooming and falling to her shoulders as her eyes sealed over replaced with gorgeous green, human eyes. Her fangs shrunk last, and with a whimper, Bridget Whiplash was back.
  She sighed and got dressed in a t-shirt and jeans to appear adequately before her guests. The cage had already clicked open when the sun had risen so she stepped out, closing the door behind her and walking out into the open. Before she saw them, she knew there was five of them, and she assumed they needed something from her. Unless they were her friends, but the few she had were either living in, or vacationing in Australia anyway, so it couldn't be- she stopped in her tracks, sniffing the air and grinned.
  Bridget walked out of the Vampire Inn muttering, "Why, Kallista, you shouldn't have."
Kallista waved at her with a laugh, "I can never surprise you when it comes to steak, can I?"
Bridget grinned, "Afraid not."
Kal produced a plate of only-very-slightly-cooked steak from behind her back and handed it to Bridget.
"Mmm, breakfast," she mumbled. "Well, would you, um, like to come into my humble... Vampire room, and watch me eat while you tell me who the rest of these people are?"
  "Hey!" Israel said defensively, "what about me?"
Bridget looked at him for a moment. "Oh, and Israel, of course."

  Skyril sat on a swing in the park. She glanced at her phone. Six to midnight. She wished, then, that China would sometimes be early. Unfortunately for her, China tended to prefer being fassionably late. Skyril sighed, playing with a small dagger in her hand and started swinging back and forth. After the phone calls, she had tried to remember for hours what had happened, but could recall nothing further. She hoped China could possibly clear things up. She was worried that China herself was going to be mad at her for some reason or another even though the message on her phone didn't sound angry, but on the other hand, when would China go out of her way to meet up with someone like Skyril in the middle of the night to give her some friendly advice?
  No, there had to be some alterior motive for China's calling her. Skyril swung higher, wondering what she could have possibly done to Israel and Gepard to make them hate her so badly. Who had she killed? What was her fault? Skyril sighed again, trying to think about something else. That was what she had been trying to remember all day. It wasn't going to do any good to be distracted while she talked with China. Hopefully, China would have some insight into what had happened and would tell her.
  "You're here. I thought you might be."
Skyril looked up, startled  by the sudden voice, and saw China walking up, her black clothing bathed in moonlight. Skyril skidded to a stop on the swing and stood, trying to keep her mind on her questions at the sight of China. "Why did you call me here? I know you're not one to help a friend in need, so what's going on?"
China looked at her and shook her head, "No, and besides, you're not my friend so I wouldn't be helping you even if I was that kind of person. No hard feelings."
Skyril shrugged, already knowing that bit anyway.
  "The reason I called you was for two things. I wanted to see if you would come, and I wanted to give you a, shall we say, proposition."
Skyril looked confused, "To see if I would come? Why would you want to see that?"
"Because, my dear girl, if you had not come, it would have proven to me that you were faking it and you truly remembered. However, you did come, and that leads me to believe that you've been honest. You're suffering from amnesia, aren't you?"
  Skyril sat back onto the swing, looking down at the dirt. "Yes," she said, "I can't remember anything since... well, I guess it was a while ago... I don't know."
China nodded, "And that leads me into that particular proposition I was talking about. You see, there's this certain book I want. I need you to get it for me, Skyril, and if you do that, I promise I'll tell you everything."
Skyril looked at China suspiciously. Nothing was ever as simple as it seemed when it came to this woman, "What book is it you want?"
"The book? It's unimportant to you- only a title. The tricky part is where it would come from."
Skyril sighed, "Get to the point."
A smile spread over China's lips, "A small mansion in Australia called Elysium Asylum."


  "You see, Bridget," Kallista began to explain, "we need just a bit of your blood, if you don't mind." They were sitting in her room. There was furniture to make it as homey as possible with a cage in the next room. There were two couches, an armchair, and a coffee table. She was sitting in the armchair while Gepard, Kallista, and Raven sat on one couch with Israel and NJ on the other. NJ sat and listened, rather surprised this odd group knew a vampire, were even friends with her. Well, at least Kallista seemed to be, and Israel seemed pretty calm. Gepard, on the other hand was glaring, his arms crossed over his chest.
  Bridget took a bite of her steak and glanced at Kal, "You need some of my blood?"
Israel took over the conversation, "It's kind of hard to explain, really."
Bridget shrugged, "Alright, try me." She took another bite of her steak happily.
"Ok, you know when you have bad dreams at night? Well there was an actual being who caused those a long time ago. Fortunately, this Nightmare monster was locked and sealed, but recently, it has broken out somehow and kidnapped Skyril. We got NJ here to track down where the Nightmare was because the Nightmare can change into anything, even air, but when we got there, she pointed at nothing and said that was it.-"
"Well it wasn't actually nothing..." NJ trailed off when everyone looked at her, "nevermind."
"So," Israel continued, "we went to China for help to see if she knew any way to find the Nightmare. She explained that it has its own dimension and there's a string connecting ours and its sort of like with the Faceless Ones a while ago except there is no Isthmus Anchor and no way to make the Nightmare come back to this world. However, there is way to go to the Nightmare's world, and to do that, we need vampire blood."
  Bridget had stopped eating, the fork half-way to her mouth as she listened. Israel looked calm, but almost sheepish at the same time, wondering how Bridget would react.
 She nodded,  "... Alright then, sounds interesting. Just give me a minute to finish my steak."

Friday, July 6, 2012

Part VI: The Link

  "Ahh, Ireland!" Gepard stretched, being the first one off the plane, and feeling much more at home just standing on Irish dirt. The four of them had taken a private jet to get there, since you couldn't sneak weapons past an airport so easily these days. It cost a little more than a bundle, but he figured what had to be done, had to be done. Especially when Israel was paying.
  At that moment, Israel trudged up next to him dragging two large suitcases, three hat boxes, and the shoulder bag of he own. He grunted. "Why must woman bring so many clothes?" 
Gepard glanced at him and laughed. "I take it Raven and Kallista got you to be their bell boy?"
He groaned, "You weren't supposed to disappear so quickly, you know. You left me back there with the two of them." He sighed, said, "here," and thrust one of the suitcases into Gep's hands. "They said- and I quote-" Israel began mimicking a sarcastic female's voice, "'What? Do you expect us to carry our bags? You're the gentleman! Now go be gentlemanly and carry them for us!' Then the two of them ran off giggling." He sighed. "I think they said something about meeting us in the gift shop, but there is no gift shop. We took a private jet for goodness' sake!" He sighed whole-heartedly, "Honestly, they could be anywhere."
  "Actually!" Kallista chirped from behind Israel, "we're right behind you." Israel's eyes closed for a second before he turned around to see Kal's grinning face.
"What ever happened to the meeting in the gift shop idea?" he inquired innocently.
"Well," replied Raven, walking up from the other side, "we found out there isn't an actual gift shop, no thanks from you! There's just a little store that sells tamales. Don't get me wrong, they're delicious, but what I really wanted was one of those little keychains that says 'I went to Dublin!' so that I could pretend to be a tourist." She frowned.
"But you are a tourist," Gepard said quizzically. "You're from America... Aren't you?"
"Yes, but I'm still not a tourist. Everybody knows tourists wear flowery shirts and shorts. This way, I could be a tourist without having to wear those things..."
  "But the good news is," Kallista spoke up, "we came across your contact in there and thought we ought to introduce you to her."
"Wait, Israel's contact?" Gepard asked hastily, "Which one?" he glanced around, slightly nervous. Kallista's eyes narrowed.
"Ok, not your contact." Raven informed, "She's technically my contact, but now she's our contact. Speaking of contacts," Raven tilted her head, "do you think I would look good with contacts?"
"Your contact? You have a contact?"
"Well, yeah, of course. Doesn't everybody these days?" Raven grinned. "Her name is NJ Marverick. I called her up before we came here, thinking she might be able to help us locate Skyril. She's waiting over there, by the way."
  Gepard sighed, realieved that is wasn't one of Israel's contacts- the one who liked machetes- whom he had once gotten on the bad side of. He glanced over where Raven was pointing and saw a tall, slim woman with brown hair to her shoulders. She was wearing a knee-length black jacket, white shirt, vest, jeans and boots, and she was leaning against a small building called, "Tommy's Tamales". There was a sleek, black car parked beside her.
  "Hmm," Israel muttered, "NJ Maverick, you say? I've heard of her. She's a sigil user, isn't she? Student to China. Yes, she ought to be helpful."
Raven grinned, "I thought so too. Now let's go!"

  "So, let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first." Israel began their miniature conference at the hotel, having done introductions at the airport and driven here, where they checked in and rested for an hour, "Skyril Oblivion was hunting Ominous Ebony, a thief and con artist here in Dublin, Ireland. Skyril then went missing, captured by the Nightmare itself. Whether this was Ominous's doing remains unknown. Skyril, having been hurt and possibly tortured by this Nightmare, was able to send a message to Kallista in her dream to inform her of what had happened. How she sent this message is unknown." Israel started pacing as he recited the facts. "The Nightmare was locked away years ago in a bracelet, and as such, kept from further harming the world but for the ripple affect caused by past happenings. How, exactly it was trapped and kept sealed in the bracelet remains unknown. However, if the Nightmare was so released as we think, it will run around causing general havoc and horrors upon its victims until there's no one left. The Nightmare is said to be able to transform into or navigate through anything, such as air. Therefore, how to- if it's even possible- track it remains unknown.... I think that covers all the bases."
  Raven stood up, "Yes," she said, "almost, anyway. You see, I had been thinking about how we were going to track it down, and that's when I thought of NJ here," she gestured to where Miss Maverick sat. "She's uses sigils as China does, and she can also track someone very well. Unfortunately, she needs something extremely important as a link to the person she's tracking, and I'm not sure if we have anything good enough. I looked through the room Skyril occasionally uses at Elysium Asylum, but there wasn't anything good enough." She shrugged slightly, "So I'm not sure if we can take that route after all or not."
  "Wait a second," Kallista commented "I know where she lives. We can go there. I mean, we'll have to get through the loads of security, but surely we bunch of friendly, magical thieves can figure something out." She grinned.

"2015 Misty Ave. Dublin, Ireland. This is it," Gepard said. The house they were looking at was two stories high with a white picket fence and a doghouse off to the side. There was a big oak tree and clusters of purple and emerald flowers around the house, and on the fence was a sign that read, "Beware of dog." But someone had scribbled in 'invisible' before 'dog'. All the other houses on the road were set back from this one, like they were giving it a wide berth. Gepard didn't have a clue as to why, though. It looked downright quaint in his opinion.
  They got out and walked up to the fence. There was a mailbox by the picket gate that had extra mail about to spill out, and Kallista explained, "Skyril sometimes doesn't visit home much when she's on a case. I'd say she's been gone for... a week?" Israel opened the gate, and began walking up the small path to the door, looking over at the doghouse cautiously. A bark suddenly sounded from it, followed by another with growls and angry mutterings. Israel retreated a few steps, and it stopped. Kallista laughed, "I love watching people do that! " and walked right up to the door, ignoring the sound affects coming from the doghouse.
"A fake dog?" NJ asked, skeptical. Gepard pointed at the "Beware of Dog" sign.
"I guess that's what they meant by 'invisible.'"
"Yeah," Kallista grinned, "come here and see." She pointed to the front door, and everyone walked over to her and saw a sign on the door. It read: I'm actually a cat person. Got'cha!
Raven laughed "That is so like Skyril!"
  "I know, right?" Kallista grinned. "Oh, and by the way? There aren't really any security measures. I was just joking." She stepped back. "There's actually a key under this mat." She nodded towards it, and Gepard lift up the mat, revealing a key laying underneath. His eyebrows raised slightly, thinking this was going to be too easy, but shrugged. He went to the door, stuck the key in and fiddled with it a moment before it turned. Kallista was now several paces back and watching, giggling every now and then. Raven noticed and joined her, "What's going to happen?" She whispered.  Kallista chuckled again.
"Just watch. This is going to be brilliant."
  Gepard placed his hand on the doorknob. He almost didn't open it, his better judgement shouting at him to be more cautious, but he shrugged again and did. With a wild, angry howl, a black creature flew out at him, and he yelped, leaping back, as NJ already pressed her palms together, and Israel took his shotgun in hand. He almost shot it, but stopped seconds before as he looked down at the stuffed kitten on the ground. Gepard put one hand on the wall, and one on his chest, trying to calm his sudden, quick breathing. Israel sighed, looking at Kallista and Raven bent over with laughter three yards back.
"Securety precautions, huh?"

  Skyril's house was -more than anything- comfortable. There was a couch and armchair in the living room with a tv on the wall. There was a stand with pictures on it, and a little cat figurine, and in the kitchen, there were cookbooks and pots and pans and ingredients in the cupboard all organized accordingly. Israel, Kallista, Raven, Gepard, and NJ walked around, looking for something important.  Gepard went from the kitchen, to the garage, to the dining room, before coming into the living room. He looked around, appreciating the fact that the house wasn't for show or luxury, but just simple comfort. He saw Kallista to one side looking at pictures, and walked over to her.
  "Have you found anything yet?" he asked. She was looking down at one particular picture, and Gepard recognized Kallista and the girl he assumed was Skyril smiling up at them, and they were both soaking wet. Kallista's hand ran across her face before she turned around, "No," she said, "Not yet." Her voice was grim, Gepard could tell she had been crying.
"That's a nice photo," he said gently and put his arm around her. She nodded quietly.
"It was taken just a few months ago. Skyril was stuck on this one case, unable to locate somebody, and she was chatting with me absently when I said something that gave her an idea. Together, we tracked him down and arrested him. Right afterwords, it was raining, and we were celebrating. We ran outside, danced in the rain and bought a dozen cupcakes that we ate right then. It was... It was really-" her voice choked up, "fun..."
  Gepard nodded and hugged her. "She sounds really great. I can't wait to meet her. You know we'll find her, right? We'll find something to help NJ track her down, and we'll find her."
Kallista nodded, staring at the carpet at her feet.
"Come on," he said, trying to get her mind off of Skyril, "why don't we check upstairs, see if we see something?"
"Ok..," she muttered. Then she looked up, suddenly having an idea, "I think I know what we can use! In her room there's a photo of someone really important to her- he was basically a father to her. You think that will be good enough for NJ to use?
Gepard grinned, "It might be! Come on, let's go check!"
  They ran upstairs, Kallista leading the way to Skyril's bedroom. Gepard paused outside the door, hesitating "I feel like I'm about to look in someone else's fridge..."
Kallista rolled her eyes, "Oh, come on, it's not like you have to tell Skyril you went in her bedroom when you meet her, you know!" She smiled, back to her old self again.
Gepard nodded, "True, true... It still feels awkward, though... going into some girl's bedroom."  He turned slightly pink.
Kallista laughed, "Besides," she explained, "Even if she does find out, the worst that will happen is a smack in the head with a mallet."
Gepard looked at her, "A... a mallet?"
"Mm-hm. She's quite fond of them." Gepard swallowed hard, and Kallista grabbed his arm and yanked him after her into the bedroom.
  The carpet was lush and soft, and the walls were painted a deep purple. Skyril's bed lay on one side of the room, and on the rest of the walls, aside from windows, there were rows of bookcases stacked with all kinds of books and photographs. Gepard walked around, admiring the collection. "Hey, she has And the Darkness Rained upon Them!" he said. "I've been meaning to read that too... Kal ignored him, and walked straight over to a picture on one of the shelves. It was faded, and somewhat old. It was a picture of an older man with white hair, the greenest eyes Gepard had ever seen, and a smile.
  "Who is it?" he asked.
"This is Vivacious Fog. He was a father to Skyril a long time ago."
"Whatever happened to him?"
"He was murdered."
"... Oh."
She picked up the picture and turned, "We should take this back to NJ."
Gepard nodded, his hand on the spine of And the Darkness Rained upon Them. "Let me just look at this real quick." He pulled the book, and it stuck half way. Suddenly, a rumbling sound came, and one of the bookcase slid over to reveal a rack of knives and few guns with a special stand where a silver mallet was placed. Kallista chuckled, saying "Yeah, Skyril has secret little levers all over the place with things like this. She keeps them hidden for those times when she has to pretend to be a normal person and invite her neighbors over or something.
".. Wow," Gep mumbled, looking over the weapons. Kallista pushed the book back in, and the book shelf slid over once more.
  The two of them walked downstairs, gathering the others as they went. When they reached the living room, Kallista informed them, "Ok, I think we found what we need." Israel, NJ, and Raven watched as Kallista held up the picture frame. "This person was really important to Skyril. She always spoke of him fondly."
Israel glanced at NJ Maverick "Want to give it a shot?"
She nodded, and placed her fingertips on it as she closed her eyes.. Little designs appeared on the backs of her fingers, glowing a gentle blue. After a moment, she opened her eyes and sighed.
"It's not going to work. I can tell that it's really important to her, but it doesn't link to her the way I need it to."
  They all frowned, and Israel sat down on the couch, thinking. "Hmm," he muttered, "we need a link to Skyril, and yet there seems to be nothing here that is extremely valuable to her. Could you describe again what exactly we need, NJ?"
"Well," she said, "it could be anything really, but it has to be some... Oh, how do I describe it? Something that... connects.. Skyril's mind to what matters to her most."
"What matters to her most..." muttered Israel, his hand absently stroking his stubble. Kallista sat beside him, disappointed the picture hadn't work. Israel's head turned slightly towards her. He looked up then, stood, and grinned. "I think I have the answer, NJ. What matters to Skyril the most? Her friends. Not only that, but she formed some kind of... mental or magical bond of some sort when she contacted Kallista in her dream. I'm not sure how she did it, but she did. Can you use Kallista as the link?"
NJ blinked, "Well, yes, people can link to other people too. Let me try it out."
"Wait," Kallista looked up , surprise showing on her face, "you think I'm the link? How could I be the link?"
  NJ ignored her question and placed her fingertips on Kallista's head. Raven laughed, looking at it. "It looks like she's about to read your mind or something."
"In a way, I am," NJ responded, her eyes closed. "I'm searching for the connection between the two of you, two friends connected closely to one another..., but don't worry," she said with a half-smile, "I don't actually hear your thoughts."
Kallista sighed, "Good, because that would be awkwar- Wait! I was just thinking 'Oh no, can she see what I'm thinking?' You are reading my thought, aren't you?"
NJ grinned, opening her eyes. She ignored Kallista's question again, saying "I've got it. The link is there, just like Israel said."
He fist-pumped. "Yes! Admit it, I'm brilliant."