Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 6: Escape

Carol and Milla were starting to run out of ideas. In this state, when Lilac was this upset, there wasn’t anything they could do about it. They could comfort her all they wanted, assure her that this would get better, that it wasn’t the end of the world if she couldn’t write yet, but it didn’t matter. All she heard was that she was wrong, and all she could do was cry over it. The only thing left to do was let her sleep it off, and hope that she was in a better mood in the morning.

It was dreadful to be stuck like this, to just leave Lilac under the covers with her tear-stained cheeks and Blue held tight against her. To just watch the rhythmic rising and falling of her chest from afar. Neither Carol nor Milla knew what to do. They both knew that the other didn’t know what to do.

There was nothing they could do.

Carol wasn’t satisfied with that. She refused to be content with sitting around and watching what was left of her best friend suffer. If there wasn’t anything they could do, then they weren’t being creative enough. If there was one thing Carol had learned from Lilac in all their years together, it was that you never solve anything without acting on it, and Carol wasn’t about to forget that.

All she had to do was find some way to make Lilac happy. That couldn’t have been too difficult, right? Lilac was a pretty happy person, generally. Or at least, she used to be. This Lilac and the Lilac from before were so terribly distinct from each other. How could Carol know if Lilac would still take joy in the same things when everything else about her had changed so much? Well, it had to be worth trying, at least. They’d never know if they never tried.

So Carol tried to think about what Lilac had found happiness in, before all of this. If anybody should know this, it would be Carol, right? Carol knew Lilac better than anyone. So what made her happy? Sushi? There wasn’t an immediate way to acquire food from beyond the hospital cafeteria, and the stuff there wasn’t exactly five star, so that was out. Ninja Hurk? It would take too much time to retrieve their DVD box set from the treehouse (and assuming it was still there was assuming nobody had robbed the place in their absence), so that was out too. Dresses? Even setting aside Lilac’s current physical condition and the improbability of a shopping trip, Carol would personally really rather not, so that was definitely out.

It was kind of unsettling how much difficulty Carol was having with this. She hoped that it was just because of how late it was getting, but her memories from before they had landed in this place were blurring. How long had they been here now? A month? Had it even been a month? Had it been more than a month? She had lost track as soon as Lilac woke up, and quickly forgot how much time had passed before that. It was like they were being contained. It felt as though everything from before they were trapped here was so far in the past that Carol could barely distinguish the details. Was this how Lilac felt now? Was Carol even in any position to compare herself to what Lilac was going through? Could she possibly comprehend that feeling of emptiness and confusion?

After splashing her face in the bathroom sink, Carol collected her thoughts and composed herself as much as she was able to at this hour. She stepped back into the room and looked to Lilac, stiff under the covers of her bed. The bed that had been assigned to her by the people of this hospital. The same bed that she awoke in, and had spent nearly every moment in since.

If Carol was feeling trapped, she could only imagine how Lilac was feeling. This building, this air, these walls were suffocating, and they were all that this Lilac had ever known. It wasn’t fair to her. Lilac didn’t belong in a place like this, especially not for this long, with no escape from it. If she were still herself, and she was capable of it, Carol was certain Lilac would have fled this awful place at one point or another. She wouldn’t have been able to stand it.

And that was it. If Lilac didn’t belong here, then there was no reason for her to stay. If she couldn’t escape by herself, Carol would just have to help her.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 6: Escape”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 5: Try

“Alright, you three.”

Too soon after Milla returned did Doctor Quack enter as well, and what he had to say wasn’t something that any of them wanted to hear.

“It’s time to turn in for the night.”

Milla’s expression faltered in disappointment, though not surprise. Fixing her backpack straps, she gave Lilac an apologetic look, then turned back to the door. Lilac looked on with a frown, which only became deeper when Carol stood up out of her chair. Lilac’s gaze followed the two as they began to leave. Her brow furrowed as something began to rise in her chest. Then she allowed that something to spill from her mouth.

“W-Wait!”

At once, Carol and Milla froze in place and turned back to her. Lilac’s cheeks became slightly pink, and her fingers searched the bed sheets anxiously. She looked to the doctor, mouth hanging open for a moment before she spoke.

“Uhhh, um… ‘S it okay, if… if they stay here?”

The doctor blinked. He looked to Carol and Milla, who both blinked back at him. He looked again to Lilac, sat up in her bed and hugging Blue to her chest, eyes wide and pleading.

“Well…” Doctor Quack scratched his lower beak thoughtfully. Then he gave a smile and a nod. “I don’t see why not. Go ahead.”

Carol and Milla cheered, back to Lilac’s bedside within seconds, and the doctor chuckled as he left.

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 5: Try”

FreedomSwap Remix – 0. Prologue

In a rustic little kingdom to the north, all was quiet and calm. Vast waters rippled softly, stars twinkled overhead. Against the landscape of greens and blues stood a large, powerful structure: the kingdom’s Royal Palace. It overlooked the city as a symbol of strength and protection, a reminder to its denizens that all was well. For a time, in this place, the world was peaceful.

That was, until the peace was broken.

From within the palace walls, the earth began to shake. Soldiers standing guard looked around curiously, and, as the tremors grew stronger, so did they grow panicked. Soon the ground had given way beneath them, crumbled stone falling away into inky abyss, taking the soldiers with it.

Those who remained looked on in horror as a monstrous, golden metal paw lifted itself from the chasm and gripped the floor with ferocious claws the size of a dozen men. As it pulled the rest of its enormous feline body into view, the air was filled with sickening laughter that echoed up and down the corridors. The soldiers raised their guns, opening fire on the mechanical monstrosity before them, but try as they might, they couldn’t so much as make a scratch. The visor over the contraption’s face lifted slowly, revealing a gleaming green light that resonated with energy. For a moment, there was quiet as the soldiers stared up at the light, almost as if entranced. And all at once, it let loose a devastating laser beam, ripping across the ground, through the soldiers, and up the wall. Everything in its path was gone.

The wretched mechanical beast stomped across the palace, the cackling it gave off filling the throne room. As the doorway collapsed to make room for the intruder, the King of Shuigang rose from his royal seat, battle axe in hand. He looked on as a click came from the robot, and its cockpit lowered, revealing the figure at the wheel. The laughing faded as the figure stood, staring down with striking reptilian eyes. Donning heavy armor and gripping the robot’s controls with metal hands attached to metal arms, the creature grinned a twisted, fanged grin.

“Hello… Your Majesty.”

Continue reading “FreedomSwap Remix – 0. Prologue”

Kingdom Come

Two months. It had been two months since Avalice was invaded. Two months since three kingdoms were ripped apart and cast to the brink of war. Two months since the Kingdom Stone transformed and bathed all the planet with its light. But for two, the most important thing that happened two months ago was the death of Shuigang’s King.

He had been known as many things. A powerful warrior. A fine monarch. A respected ally. A father. To Dail, he had been all of that and more. An inspiration, a role model. The epitome of a great ruler. The King was everything that Dail wanted to be once he took the throne.

He could remember all the days he had spent under his father’s tutelage. All the time sword fighting or studying politics, Dail had hung on the King’s every word, every movement, so that one day, he could be just like him.

But why? Oh, why did he have to be taken away so soon? There was still so much that Dail had to learn, still so much that he could only have learned from the King. His time wasn’t supposed to come yet. Dail was not yet meant to be king any more than his father was yet meant to be buried. Dail wasn’t ready, he wasn’t prepared. Why did the time have to come so soon?

But oh, Dail knew. He knew too well. The King was dead because of him. It had happened so fast, but he remembered clear as day. He saw it, he saw with his own eyes, the swing of the blade and the flying of feathers. He saw, he saw with his own eyes, the limp, decapitated body fall to the ground. Dail, Dail could have saved him, if only he were stronger. But no. He couldn’t save him. He couldn’t even avenge him. It was his weakness, his failure, his fault that the King was dead. His fault. His fault.

“Forgive me, father,” he prayed, and he prayed each and every night, each and every day. “Forgive me for my failure. I’m so, so sorry. I failed you, and my kingdom. It’s my fault that you’re gone. I can never replace you.”

Two months. Two months he had been saying that. Two months he had spent in Shuigang Palace, begging the forgiveness of a father from whom he would never receive an answer. Two months he had spent drowning in his own tears, refusing to take the throne, for the throne was not his to take. He wasn’t ready to be King, it wasn’t his time. He knew that for a fact.

Dail was a failure. He couldn’t be King. If he were strong enough to be King, his father would still be here, and he wouldn’t be in this position. Until he was strong, he couldn’t be King. Until he wasn’t a failure, he couldn’t be King. Dail could not be King.

Continue reading “Kingdom Come”

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”

Last Beginnings

Blood spilled over the streets of Shuigang. In a dark, empty corner where there lurked only those who were looking for trouble, unconscious bodies scattered the road. They were hurt, but breathing. Beyond them lay another, just a child, whose blood pooled beneath him and painted the concrete crimson. Small footsteps rushed over at the sound of his pained groans, and a short figure stood over him.

“Hey, mister! Are you okay?”

He clenched his teeth and painfully opened a single eye in the hope of getting a look at the person who had addressed him, but his vision was blurred, and his head ached. “Do I look okay to you?” he growled.

“No… No, that looks bad.” The person reached out to him, and spoke in a high voice, “Here, let me help you…”

He swatted their hand away. “No. I don’t need your help.” He tried to sit up, clutching his gut and bloodying his hand. Ultimately he just ended up flopping onto his back again. “I don’t… I… don’t…”

A moment later, he was supported into a sitting position. “Yes, you do.”

He paused for a moment to steady his breathing. Something was being tied around his wound, slowing the blood loss. His vision corrected itself, and he was able to see the group of bodies on the street. “What… What happened to…?”

“I saw them hurting you, so I came to help.”

His brow furrowed in confusion. “What…? So you’re the one who… who took all of them out?”

“Yeah, that was me.”

“But how? You’re just… you’re just a…” He looked to the person supporting him, and he cut himself off. She was a girl, smaller than him, with two little horns sticking out of her head and a pair of long tendrils dangling behind her. She looked concerned. “…a dragon. You’re a dragon.” He rested his palm against his forehead. “Sure, why not? Ugh…”

“I’m going to take you to the hospital,” the girl said insistently, attempting to lift him into her arms.

“No!” He pushed her away, and she stared at him in confusion. “No hospitals!”

“Well I’m not just going to leave you here!” she exclaimed.

He sighed. He looked down at his torso to see what she had used to tie around his wound, which was inevitably her own jacket. “No… No, I guess you’re not. Come here.” She knelt down beside him again. “Listen. I need you to take me somewhere else. I can point the way.”

“I’ll do it,” she said determinedly, and she began to lift him into her arms until he grunted and scolded her.

“No, put me down.” She did as she was told. “I can walk just… fine. I only need you to support me.”

“Oh. Okay.” She lifted him to his feet and helped to hold him up. Carefully, they took a couple of steps forward. He was unsteady, but she had him. “By the way… My name is Sash. What’s yours?”

“My name is—” His answer was cut short by a fit of coughing, during which she stopped and gripped his shoulders. He wiped his mouth and huffed, then looked up. His eyes met hers. He paused for a moment before trying again.

“My name is…”

Continue reading “Last Beginnings”

Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge

Lilac the Dragon Girl stood at the top of a cliff overlooking a small village below. It was built beside a long river, which stretched away from the little town’s territory and into the vast beyond. Not far from this village, the target: an enormous yellow machine, spherical in shape and packed to the brim with artillery, wandering aimlessly across the landscape.

She stepped out of the way of the motorcycle that zoomed up, sending off a cloud of dust as it skidded to a halt. At the handlebars was Carol the Wildcat, wearing a gleeful grin and looking rather energetic. Seated behind her was Milla the Hound, clinging to Carol’s waist and now glancing uncertainly over the cliff they had just barely not fallen off of.

“Took you long enough,” said Lilac, though her tone was pleasant.

“Yeah, whatever,” Carol responded, smile unwavering. “What have we got?”

Lilac raised a hand over her eyes for a better view, a motion which Milla mimicked. “Something big,” Lilac answered, “and probably stupid. A little too close to that town for comfort, though. We should have been here sooner.”

Carol chuckled. “Don’t sweat it, Heropants. We’ll clean this up no problem and be home in time for my mid-midday nap. Got a plan?”

“I think so…”

“Good enough for me!”

Continue reading “Memories of a Freedom Lost – Chapter 1: Riveredge”

Maka Gets a Boyfriend at the End of this Story

It was a fine summer’s day in Death City, Nevada. Birds were singing, the sun was laughing, and Scythe Meister Maka Albarn was sitting in her apartment instead of enjoying the nice weather. On a day like today, most students of the Death Weapon Meister Academy would be out and about, playing games or hanging with friends.

But not Maka.

Maka would rather be sitting in the comfort of her home, book in hand and air conditioning roaring.

“Maka,” groaned Demon Scythe Soul Eater from the kitchen, “if you’re gonna stay inside all day, the least you could do is make some food.”

“Make your own food,” Maka retorted. “I’m reading.”

“You’re always reading,” said Soul Eater, leaning in the door frame to the living room. “The only thing you ever do is read. Why don’t you get up and actually do something with your life?”

“I am doing something with my life,” said Maka. “I’m nourishing my brain with literature.”

“That’s the stupidest excuse I’ve ever heard,” Soul scoffed through gritted teeth. “Now go outside.”

“No.”

“I’m not even asking you to stop reading. I’m just asking you to read outside.”

“No,” Maka repeated adamantly. “It’s too hot. There’s AC in here.”

“Ugh… You’re such a pain.”

Soul Eater scratched his chin thoughtfully. Surely, there must have been some way to convince his meister to get up and about. Just a little push, some sort of motivation to do anything other than all this nothing. But what could it be? Then, Soul Eater got an idea. A horrible, awful, downright moronic idea.

“Maka,” said Soul Eater, a glint in his eye, “do you know what you need?”

“My own apartment?” Maka snarked.

Soul shook his head. “No,” he chuckled, grinning a twisted grin. “A boyfriend.”

Immediately Maka’s head shot up, her eyes bugging out of her face. “What did you just say?”

“You need a boyfriend,” Soul Eater repeated, “and I’m going to get you one.”

Laughing sarcastically, Maka slammed her book shut and set it on the couch beside her. “Um, no,” she said, “that is not happening. I am not getting a boyfriend, much less one that you suggest.”

“Aw, that’s adorable,” Soul Eater snickered. “You think you have a choice.”

He then forcefully lifted her over his shoulder and carried her out the door. She screamed the whole way.

Continue reading “Maka Gets a Boyfriend at the End of this Story”