Admiration of a Sun

Stealth Elf had always been a Skylander of mystery. Everyone knew that she was powerful and agile, yes, one of the greatest Skylanders ever known. However, very few could actually tell much about who she was as a person. Her past, her interests, and her character were all utterly unknown. To the public, and even lower-ranking Skylanders, Stealth Elf was an enigma, a figure of admiration never to be fully understood.

To Sunburn, scrawny, self-centered, and the epitome of a lower-ranking Skylander, she was a cute mysterious girl who kicked a lot of butt. And nothing was much more intriguing to Sunburn than cute mysterious girls who kicked a lot of butt.

“I’m going to go talk to Stealth Elf,” he declared one day to his circle of friends.

This was met exclusively with blank stares.

“…Seriously?” Zap questioned.

Sunburn nodded confidently. “Yep! Completely and totally seriously.”

Zap and Dino-Rang exchanged baffled glances. Then Boomer burst out laughing.

“Ha ha! Man, that’s a good one!” Boomer wiped a humored tear from his eye, and Sunburn lowered his brow at him. “Sunburn’s going to talk to Stealth Elf, ha ha… Hoo boy, that’s a good one! Thanks for that man, I needed a laugh.”

Boomer patted Sunburn on the back, still chuckling to himself. When he looked up, he saw three sets of eyes on him. He glanced around in confusion, then, landing on Sunburn, he blinked in realization. “Oh. You were actually serious.” Sunburn nodded, and Boomer paused momentarily, staring at nothing in particular. Then, slowly, he gave Sunburn’s back another pat and turned to leave. “Welp, good luck with that.”

“Why do you want to talk to Stealth Elf?” Dino-Rang questioned. “Nobody talks to Stealth Elf. Especially not guys like us.”

Zap snickered. “Uh, yeah. You trying to get stabbed or something, dude?”

“Of course not,” Sunburn scoffed. “Besides…” He put on a smirk, running a talon across the spines on his head. “Who would want to stab a face like this?”

Zap and Dino-Rang observed Sunburn’s arrogant grin, exchanged glances again, then turned back to Sunburn. “Stealth Elf,” they chorused.

Sunburn placed his talon back on the ground, shaking his head in dissatisfaction. “No, no, guys. That’s not how this is supposed to work. I say I’m going to go talk to a girl, you say…?”

“You’re going to get stabbed,” Zap reiterated flatly.

Sunburn blinked. “No, I’m pretty sure that’s not right…”

“Sunburn, dude,” Zap said, “there are only so many ways that you talking to Stealth Elf could possibly go, and most of them involve you getting stabbed.”

“What about the ones that don’t?” Sunburn inquired.

“You get kicked in the face,” Zap answered.

“Thanks for the support, guys.”

“It’s nothing personal, mate,” Dino-Rang assured him. “It’s just that we prefer our companions not to have holes in them.”

“Well, I’m talking to Stealth Elf,” Sunburn stated, “and neither of you can stop me.”

“It’s your funeral,” Dino-Rang sighed.

“Don’t say we didn’t warn you,” said Zap.

“Oh, please!” Sunburn chuckled. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Continue reading “Admiration of a Sun”

The King’s Heart – Part 1

“The ship is docking, King Dail!”

King Dail. He was still getting used to that title. For as long as he could remember, it was Prince Dail. It was what the castle staff called him, it was what his subjects called him, it was what the other Kingdoms called him. He had always been Prince Dail, to everyone, to himself. Of course, he had always known that there would come a day when that title would change, that he would become King Dail of Shuigang, “Mighty and Beloved Ruler of the Water City” as he had once heard it put. Perhaps Dail had just figured that day wouldn’t have come so soon. Then, he had always imagined that his father would be there for the coronation.

“I’ll be there in just a moment!” he called. He knew that he couldn’t be too long, but he needed another moment to collect himself.

In the mirror, Dail stared himself in the eyes. No matter how many times he fixed his hair or straightened out his robes, he still looked like a mess. Or at least, he thought so. Maybe it was just the nerves getting to him, he couldn’t really be sure. But he was certain that he felt like a mess. The title of King hadn’t brought him might or love. All it had brought him was responsibility. Ever since he was coronated, Dail was swamped with work. Repairs from the invasion, peace treaties with the other Kingdoms, and hardly a single break. As King, he ate, slept, and breathed work, and it felt like it would never end.

Though he knew that he was still technically here on a work trip, Dail couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. For the first time as King, he was away from the castle, away from Shuigang. Away from paperwork and royal decrees. Even though he was only going to be here for a couple of days, he wanted to take what opportunity he could to relax. Perhaps, even, while he was here, though this may have been wishful thinking… he could discover something new.

As pleased as he was going to be with his appearance, he placed his hand on the door handle. He hesitated for a moment, then took a deep breath.

“Here we go.”

At the gates of Shang Tu Palace, at the end of many lines of guards, stood the Magister and his associates, patiently awaiting the arrival of Shuigang’s leader. Then again, “patiently” may not have been the best choice of words.

“What the heck is taking so long?!” Carol groaned, slouching lazily. “The ship has been here for like half an hour.”

“It has not been half an hour,” said Lilac. “Stand up.”

Carol grumpily did as she was told. “It still feels like we’ve been here forever…”

A staff was pounded on the ground beside Carol, and she flinched back, eyes darting up. “You would be wise to watch your tongue, Carol.” Neera addressed her with stern eyes, and Carol narrowed her own. “Regardless of how much you’re enjoying this, the fact of the matter is that this is important. Perhaps you could learn something from Milla’s example.”

Carol looked to Milla, who was stood as straight as possible, arms pinned to her sides. Her brow was furrowed in concentration, and despite the relative lack of heat, sweat poured down her forehead. Carol looked back up at Neera skeptically. “She looks constipated.” Lilac suppressed a chuckle.

Neera, with a roll of her eyes, explained pointedly, “Milla is making an effort to keep up an acceptable appearance. Not only is this the first Tri-Kingdom conference since the invasion, it’s also your first appearance as representatives of Shang Tu. You should be taking this seriously. Isn’t that right, General?”

Apparently, at some point while they were standing here, General Gong had dozed off, because he was now snoring loudly and drooling down the front of himself. Carol smirked at Neera, who pressed a palm against her forehead. With a flick of her spear, she fired a small but very cold blast of ice at Gong. It whacked him upside the head. “Gah! The monster has growing pains!” Gong, startled awake, quickly glanced around. Met by Neera’s icy stare, he nervously straightened himself out and cleared his throat. “Uh, yes. I agree with… whatever Neera said.” Lilac and Carol giggled.

While Gong tugged anxiously at his collar and Carol waved a hand in front of Milla’s face, Neera approached the Magister. “Your Excellency,” she began, “forgive me for interrupting your thoughts, but I was hoping to ask—”

“About the job I’ve given you?” the Magister cut her off.

Neera blinked. “Um. Yes.” She scratched her head, then readjusted herself.  “It’s just… Wouldn’t it be better left to the children? It would be a fine addition to their training, and—”

“I have my reasons for selecting you, Neera,” the Magister interrupted coolly. “I understand that it isn’t the kind of work you are used to, but rest assured that this will be a good experience for you.” As Neera lifted an index finger in preparation to protest, the Magister added, “A better experience for you than it would be for the dragonblood and her friends.”

Neera lowered her hand defeatedly. “I… understand, Your Excellency. I won’t speak of it any further.”

“Good,” said the Magister quaintly. “Now then, I believe we have a foreign dignitary to greet.”

“Announcing King Dail of Shuigang!”

Continue reading “The King’s Heart – Part 1”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 4: Reconnect

Lilac wasn’t getting better.

Actually, she seemed to be getting worse.

No amount of help or encouragement appeared to be doing much for her. When she was addressed, she took to the comfort of her bed sheets. She spoke only when spoken to, and even then her responses were short and strenuously pieced together. When the doctor spoke about advancing her rehabilitation, she froze up near completely.

She didn’t show any interest or enthusiasm for getting better. Not when the doctor brought it up, not when Milla prompted her about it. From Carol’s point of view, she could hardly be blamed for it; the girl could barely even hold a pencil properly.

Days of attempts led to zero progress in the reading and writing category, and they seemed to have tried everything. And oh how Milla in particular tried everything. She tried having Lilac repeat sentences back to her. She tried reading one page at a time. She tried drawing letters and having Lilac trace over them. She tried holding Lilac’s hand while she traced over them.

But nothing changed.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 4: Reconnect”