Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 2.6

The two arrived at Crusaders location within moments of each other. Sun Wolf winning by a nose. They found him sitting on the ground spread legged holding his sword in one hand and his ribs with the other, his head slumped down. When they got closer he lifted his head up and looked at them. His left eye was completely swollen shut, his lips split, his nose obviously broken and what wasn’t covered in the dried blood from a scalp wound was black and blue.

“You did it.” He spoke through a jaw clenched in pain. “Any longer I don’t think I would have held out. They were getting really bad towards the end. Sorry if I don’t get up. I am exhausted. I think if I move I am going to throw up.”

“No man, stay down. You look really bad. Like you got swallowed and barfed up by the Wyrm Lord bad. We need to get one of the druids over to feix you up a beit.”

The three members of the team looked towards the runic domes that were slowly dissolving revealing the huddled druids underneath them. Grande shuddered a little bit at the sight.

Crusader noticed the shudder. “What’s wrong man?”

“I was imagining them sky clad and was super grateful for the robes.”

Crusader looking at all the middle aged men and women standing up from their protective huddle and gave a sympathetic shudder from his place on the ground.

When the purple tinted protective dome came completely down Betony limped over to her friends, she looked exhausted and drained. “You made it! Thank you so much for coming. We could catch a vague idea of what was going on out there and when the Sasquatch suddenly broke off their attack I was hoping you had made it.”

It was only then did she see Crusader leaning on the rock at her feet.

“Mother! Bring someone over here to heal Crusader! He looks really bad.”

He looked up at the weary blond druidess and gave a bloody half grin. “I really want to do the bravado thing and say my wounds are no big deal. But that would be a total lie. I can hardly stay awake sitting here.”

Betony’s mother and another druid hustled over to see what they could do. While the attending druid worked magic over Crusader getting his wounds to bind and the bleeding to stop her mother spoke to the assembled heroes.

“Thank you for your help. But I feel it was all for nothing. Whoever caused the attack did their job well. I don’t think we have enough power to complete the ritual and bind the Nexus...”


The heroes were a bit too tired to give the news the shocked expressions Betony’s mother expected. What she received was more of a tired resigned expression.

Grande looked at her “Leisten lady we deid all we could. We beat up... Well drove away your beigfoot problem. What else do you expect us to do?”

“I didn’t expect you to do anything I was informing you of the situation.”

“Oh, sorry to be a jerk, I’m just worried about my pal here.”

While those two were talking Crusader gingerly climbed to his feet, reached into his jacket pocket and threw a bundle over to Sun Wolf, who grabbed it and bounded off onto the nearby bushes.

Betony looked especially frustrated. “What can we do then? I used up almost my whole store of magic holding that shield up for so long. And I know if I take the necklace off I am going to pass out from mana drain.”

Her mother made placating motions. “We will figure something out. Margat took a blow to the head and is being tended to right now. They should have her healed up shortly. She will probably know what to do.”

In the bushes Sun Wolf changed back into her hybrid-form pulling on the studded leather bikini that Crusader had kept for her. She sent a mental nudge in Roland’s direction.

“Roland are you there? Are you ok?”

It was longer than expected before he replied. “I am fine. When I interrupted that woman’s control I got caught up in it… I am ashamed to admit I was reinforcing her commands but directing their aggressions toward Grande and Crusader. I could not stop.” His reply was subdued and Sun Wolf could feel his remorse.

“We both were controlled Roland. I understand. We will make sure she goes to jail and doesn’t do that again. I’m heading back to the group and am going to see what we can figure out to do about this Nexus mess.”

Clouds began to form on her walk back and a light drizzle began to fall. By the time Sun wolf came back the small group had broken up. Grande and Crusader perched and leaned on a nearby boulder complaining how they hated the woods.

“Shouldn’t you two be securing the cause of all these problems?”

They both started to move that direction, Crusader limping and grimacing in pain.

“Oh, sorry I didn’t think that you were still hurt. I thought the druids have had healed you. Crusader please rest and let Grande take care of it.”

“What? Why do I have to do all the work?”


“I was keidding.” He called over to the huddle of druids at the other side of the rocky outcrop “Come on Betony lets grab the crazy woman who messed your theing up.”

After Betony and Grande left the druids motioned Sun Wolf over. They were standing around stiffly; all of them were pretty banged up, several displaying evidence of broken limbs bound up in slings and all had lots of bruising.

Margat began to fill her in. “We have been talking it over and comparing our essence levels and we just don’t have enough to complete the ritual. But a few of our more sensitive members have noticed a magical aura emanating from all of you. We think if we can tap that aura we can siphon what we need to actually complete the ritual. It won’t be much and it will replenish itself over a few days.”

Sun Wolf frowned. “That sounds mighty risky. What if something goes wrong?”

“It should be fine. We are just going to tap into it and use a little bit to help anchor the working.”

“You said should. I’ll think about it for a bit but I don’t speak for anyone but myself. You will have to ask them.”


Grande and Betony trekked back out into the woods to grab the cause of all the evening’s problems. They found her exactly where Grande left her, with a nice purple fist shaped bruise on her face.

“Nice hit!”

“Thanks she deserved eit. After doing what she deid to you guys and Tasha, I steill feel that she deserves more than that.”

They paused in the middle of the rain looking down at her when Grande broke the silence.

“I’ve got eit!”

Betony jumped startled by his exclamation.

“Got what?”

“The team name. Grande and Heis Amazing Friends!” he made a little air guitar motion with his hands.

“I swear to the goddess Carlos that that is probably the worst team name I have ever heard.” She said in a weary and utterly disgusted tone.

“Eit’s not that...”

“Yes, yes it is that bad.” She sighed.

“Come on chica. Help me get theis Beastitrix chick back to the clearing. Do you have anything ein that magic bag to tie her up with so she doesn’t get free?”

“I might, give me a sec.”  She dug for a minute or so with the occasional muttered no, when she smiled a slightly evil lopsided smile. She pulled out a big silver roll of duck tape. “I have this.”

Half a roll later their prisoner was secure.

“I like the way you made sure to press hard on her eyebrows when you covered her eyes with the tape.” Betony admired.

“Thank you.” Grande said with a grin. “Well I really don’t know if her powers use her eyes or her voice.”

“Suuure. Let’s get her back to the ritual site.”

Grande heaved Beastitrix over his shoulder and they trekked back through the downpour.

Margat nodded to Sun Wolf as they concluded their talk. “I shall dearie, thank you for being honest.” She gestured to Betony’s mother. “Come on Rowan. Let’s try asking that swords fellow. ”

With Sun Wolf trailing behind the three women walked through the thickening rain to where Crusader was gingerly leaning on a rock watching everyone hustle about the clearing. He tried to stand up straighter when the women got closer with a sharp gasp and a noticeable pained grimace on the portion of his face not covered by the rain soaked bandana.

Margat made placating motions.  “No need to stand up young man. You look pretty bad off still.”

“I kinda am, they needed to conserve power for your ritual. They healed me just enough to keep me conscious and stop the bleeding.”

Margat made a sympathetic face. “I’m sorry, but that is one of the reasons I came over to talk to you.”

“More magical healing?” he asked hopefully

Rowan chuckled. “Not really Margat wanted to borrow some of your magical energy for the ritual, but I thought about it and I might have something that may be able to help with the healing a little.”

She reached into the belt pouch that every druid seemed to have and pulled out a golden amulet similar to Betony’s. Except where Betony’s amulet had individual thick links connecting to the central runic oval the one Rowan had in her hand seemed to be made out of a broad golden braided cable. It was clear that the amulets followed a similar crafting pattern and might have even been made by the same person.

“This works similar to Betony’s disguise amulet. It physically transforms you and increases access to your magical essence. Because you change physically it makes wounds less severe. I haven’t used it in years and don’t really need it anymore. I thought that it might as well be passed on to someone who may be able to use it. Hold your hand out and I will attune it to you.”

Crusader held out his left hand, his right remained on the pommel of Arondight “Didn’t Betony say she was going to pass out if she took her amulet off?”

She placed the amulet in his hand covering it with both of hers. “That is because she used up almost all her essence stores holding up the shield. When she takes it off she is going to lose the access to that extra power that is keeping her up at the moment. Now please quiet a moment I need to concentrate.” Rowan closed her eyes and began chanting quietly under her breath. A red light escaped from the gaps in her fingers as the amulet warmed up in Crusaders hand bonding to him. Seconds later the light dimmed and she removed her hands from on top of Crusaders, holding the amulet. “All done, it is now tuned to you alone.”

“Umm, thank you?”

Sun Wolf and Margat looked on at this byplay. Sun Wolf looking a tad confused and Margat with a slight smile.

“You’re welcome. Here let me put it on you.” She reached behind Crusader and clicked it closed.

“So what happens now…? Whoa...”

The magic in the amulet took no time before it began to work on the battered swordsman. He could feel his body shifting, contracting and expanding. It was not unpleasant. It was more like a soothing warm full body massage than anything else, while also somehow feeling like he just finished the best stretch of his life, a bit of pressure then a whole lot of relief. The whole transformation was over in about ten seconds.

Crusader stood there blinking for a bit feeling significantly less pain then before, and a bit more relaxed. Although his clothes didn’t fit right. Which was to be expected considering he had just changed shape but they were tighter and looser in odd unexpected areas. A lock of copper red ringlets fell in front of his new face. Without thinking he reached up and began to tuck it behind his ear when he saw his hand. His dainty fine fingered hand with a perfect oval fingernail. He froze and looked over at the women standing there. The druidesses looking at him with faint calm smiles while Sun Wolf’s jaw was agape in shock.

“I’m a girl, aren’t I?” His new voice unmistakably feminine.

Rowan nodded her head. “What did you expect? It was my amulet, the one I used when I was a practicing superhero. Of course it contained my heroing form. Looking at you I forgot just how much I looked like Betony when I wore that.”

Crusader stood there quietly in the pouring rain a moment looking at the women standing before her. She started to speak. “I, I don’t think I want to use this. It feel wrong.”

Rowan stepped forward again “That is fine you can just remove it and return back to normal. This isn’t permanent.”

Crusader reached behind her neck franticly to try to unclasp the necklace and return to normal. ”It is not coming undone. I don’t want to stay like this. Why isn’t it coming undone?” She fumbled at the clasp sounding more than a little panicked.

“Calm down. It was designed to be only unclasped by the person who put it on. It keeps your secret identity safer when an opponent can’t unmask you.” She reached behind the wide eyed panicking superheroine and popped the connecting clasp. It fell forward and the transformation happened in reverse. One full body stretch massage and ten seconds later Crusader finished his transformation and was once again his normal self, and in a considerable amount of pain from his Bigfoot inflicted injuries.

He looked directly at Sun Wolf, “Don’t you ever mention this to anyone, especially to Grande.”

It was at that moment when Grande and Betony returned with their duck taped captive. “Mention what to me?”



“Yep, Nothing.”

“OK, man. Whatever you say. We have our captive. Now what?”

Sun Wolf interrupted before any questions could get asked.

“Rowan and Margat have a favor they want to ask us.” She gestured to the two women.

Margat smiled her little old lady in a cookie commercial smile. “Thank you Sun Wolf. As you all probably know by now we don’t have enough power to complete the ritual to contain the extra aetheric energy from the Nexus. While we were talking about what our options were a couple of the more sensitive members of our order noticed that you all have strong magical auras. We think that we might be able to tap into them to augment our power reserves using a sympathetic linking spell.”

Grande looked a tad dubious at Margat. “How long will eit take us for our power to return to normal?”

“There should be no problem with them regenerating back to their previous levels in a week or so. And honestly I don’t think you will even notice the energy being gone.” She looked hopefully at the three nondruids.

The three looked at each other.

“Sure, eit sounds like fun. Just try not to keill me.” He said with a grin.

Sun Wolf looked a bit more hesitant than Grande. “You said should both times you mentioned this to me.”

“Well my dear. This sort of thing is rarely done. And none of us here have actually attempted it before, we have just read about it. I am confident that we won’t have any problems. But with an untried spell there is always a chance of error, no matter how slight. This is important enough to take a chance on.”

“Da, you are right. This is too important not to do. I will do it.”

Everyone looked at the last member who had not spoken, Crusader.

He slicked back his rain drenched hair and made his decision. “Nope. I’m not gonna do it. I’m not magic, the sword is. And I don’t want to take the chance it gets damaged. It is several hundred years old. And I don’t want to be the one that somehow causes it to be broken or destroyed. So unfortunately my answer is no.”

The older druidesses looked a bit disappointed. But each nodded her understanding of his reasons reluctantly.

Margat turned back to the cluster of waiting druids. “They agreed. Let’s hurry and get our preparations ready to try this again.”

They scattered and began once gain making sigils and placing candles that flickered and hissed in the rain, but that somehow didn’t go out. This time the patterns had an additional set of circles set near the center.

Betony started to join the rest of the circle and help with the rest of the preparation. Her mother stopped her, the newly bonded amulet in hand. “No sweetie. You have done enough tonight. Why don’t you two go get out of this the rain under the trees over there while the rest of use work on the spell. And give this to Crusader.”

Betony was too weary to argue with her mother and walked over to the woods and slumped against the trunk of a conveniently dry cedar, gesturing Crusader to come join her. He drug their captive out of the rain into shelter where he could keep an eye on her and gingerly sat down next to Betony favoring his side.

“Didn’t want her to drown.”

She nodded.  “My mom wanted me to give this to you.” She said dropping the amulet into his lap. “That looks an awful lot like my mom’s...”

“It is. It was. She bonded it to me. I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Fair enough. Although...”

“Please not now. I am too tired.”

The tired twosome watched the rest of the druids and their teammates prepare for the ritual in the pouring rain from the relative dryness of their cedar shelter.

“That looks miserable out there. I’m glad I’m not out in it.”

“Me too.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 2.5

The night was absolutely quiet. The only sounds heard in the clearing were the rustling of the branches and leaves as the chill autumn wind blew around them. The two groups stared at each other. The Sasquatch were frozen in position their heads turned to focus on the unlucky two, their dark eyes staring. Grande and Crusader also were frozen in position looking up at the eight and nine foot tall hair covered creatures.

“Why aren’t they…?”


At the sound of Crusaders voice all the creatures in the clearing let out an ears splitting howl and charged, their massive arms and fists waving.

Standing in their defensive positions Crusader and Grande screamed along, more in fear than bravado.


Sun Wolf was patrolling the woods as fast as she could when it suddenly got quiet in the clearing behind her. She looked over her shoulder back to where her team mates were in puzzlement. Her head snapped back forward when she thought she heard an unnatural sound. It sounded like a person speaking.

But before she could identify where it came from the howling resumed, louder, if that was even possible, than before. She snarled silently to herself and began to concentrate her search in the direction that she thought she heard the voice in.


Dodging left and right, respectively, Grande and Crusader tried to avoid the attacking Bigfeet. The howling and the smell of burnt chili and ammonia were overpowering and made it hard for either of the two heroes to think let alone coordinate anything.


­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Holding the glowing blade in both hands and using it to block large hairy fists Crusader tried to make the sword pulse and strobe light in an effort to temporarily blind or stun the Sasquatch. It flared once and which worked fairly well for the three closest, but their bodies blocked the light from the others behind them who kept pressing forward. That managed to start a few brawls from the ones blinded when they attacked whatever jostled them. In total that one flash took four out of the fight as two of the blinded attacked each other in great sweeping punches and swings, the blows missing more than hitting. While the other blinded Sasquatch managed to start a grapple with another Bigfoot that it was evenly matched for. Crusader kept dodging having several near misses and occasionally trying to smack a fist with the flat of his blade. He thought to himself “Man I hope Grande is doing better than this.”

Grande was having a rougher time. Having no real offensive weapon he mostly tried all the dirty tricks he learned as a goalie to take down opponents without injuring them. Slide Tackles, shin scrapes, toe stomps, whatever he could do to slow them down. A few Sasquatch were limping but he really hadn’t taken any out of the fight. “Theis doesn’t look good.” he shouted aloud “Roland can you make them hate us a beit less?”

When he got no response from the cat he got a bit worried, worried enough to be distracted. A large foot connected with his side, completely catching him off guard, flinging him into a large rock outcropping. Rock chips and dirt flew from his impact. The seconds it took him to get to his feet were enough to have the Sasquatch close the gap and start punching at him again. Grande took a few more solid hits before he went flying again.


Sun Wolf meanwhile felt that she was getting closer to the controller. The wind had given her finely developed wolven sense of smell a whiff of something else in the air other than the cloying stink of Bigfoot, baby powder. She moved closer upwind to where she thought the scent was coming from. The scent became stronger the closer she got. When her ears actually picked up what she had heard before. A human voice.

Sun Wolf crouched low and crept forward, the indistinct human voice becoming louder and forming actual words as she got closer. The woman’s voice was at normal volume, it was apparent from what she was hearing that the speaker was not expecting for anyone to be near her to overhear anything she said.

“What are you doing? Come on! You stupid fur bags! Kill the druids, not those other things. Why aren’t they responding? It is like there is some sort of strange interference.”

Her ranting did not change or repeat itself as Sun Wolf got closer but the intensity did ramp up.

After about another minute of stealthy lupine belly crawling Sun Wolf’s head poked out from underneath a tall cluster of sword fern and she came in sight of the ranting woman.

“Beastitrix controls them. They are Beastitrixes. Obey Beastitrix!” She was ranting and waving her arms about as she paced around a small clearing kicking bushes, sticks and leaves in her fury. She seemed to be in her late twenties early thirties and very fit like most people of the superhero set. And she wore a distinctly odd costume that looked like a classic safari uniform of jodhpurs, calf high boots and the requisite half buttoned shirt with the rolled up sleeves, but with the whole outfit was in shades of black and grey instead of the expected khaki. Her black hair was piled up on her head in whorls of braids and random hair spikes. Her face was hard to see in the moonlight but appeared to be done up heavily in dark tones and looked to be in an animalistic design.

“Roland, “Sun Wolf sent her thoughts out “Do you have any idea who this Beastitrix is? She seems to be the one controlling the Sasquatch.”

She received no reply. So she tried again.

“Roland, are you there?”

Still no reply.

Her wolfy brow furrowed in thought. ‘Strange, He usually answers fast. Maybe he is helping the guys.’ She looked at the woman again and made a decision ‘if I jump her that might throw off her concentration and free the Bigfoot. They will probably run away.’

Her actions decided she tensed readying herself for her attack. The fern rustled slightly as she shifted her footing. Beastitrix instantly looked directly at Sun Wolf and locked eyes with her.

She smiled a wide eyed slightly deranged smile.

“Hello puppy. Be a good dog and come here.” She spoke in her raspy sing song voice.

Sun Wolf’s limbs seemed to have a mind of her own as she stood up and walked into the clearing.

“Oh you are a big wolf, not a dog at all. And what a pleasant color you are.”

She brushed her hands along Sun Wolf’s fur as she walked from her head to her tail. “So soft. Stay. Don’t move. Good wolf.”

Sun Wolf struggled against the command willing with all her might to move, but to no avail.

When she got to her tail Beastitrix grabbed it and lifted. “Good Girl Wolf. “ She emphasized.

If Beastitrix wasn’t in control her face would have been torn off by the angry werewolf. As it was a slight growl rumbled from her.

Beastitrix looked surprised. “Pretty wolves shouldn’t growl at their masters. Beastitrix does not like that.” She sauntered to face Sun Wolf’s face while shaking her own head and waving a finger back and forth.

“Beastitrix needs to show you who is the boss. Sit.”

Sun Wolf sat.

“Roll over three times.”

Sun Wolf fought with all her will power and rolled over two and a half times.

Beastitrix frowned and stared Sun Wolf in the eyes again.

“This will not do. You need to Obey better.” She stressed the word obey.

Sun Wolf’s vision blurred for a moment and she had a hard time focusing. Her thoughts were sluggish and hard to form.

Beastitrix smiled her creepy smile. “Do a back flip. Then sit.”

Sun Wolf didn’t even try to resist that time. She executed a near flawless back flip and promptly sat staring at her new master.

She pointed towards the clearing with the protective shields and the rampaging Sasquatch. “Good Girl. Now go kill some Druids and whatever is distracting my Bigfeet.”

Sun Wolf turned and started to run toward the confrontation. But before she managed to get ten feet she was rudely interrupted by a white and red blur falling from the sky that was cursing in Spanish.

Feos monos peludos apestoso! Hijos de madre de los zorrillos! Sucio pulgas sarnoso alfombras montado!”

The blur collided with her, tumbling them both through bushes, ferns and all sorts of forest debris. Skidding right back into the clearing that held Beastitrix.

Grande stood brushing twigs and dirt off of his mask and pants and spitting out a leaf or two. “What deid I heit? Eit was softer than a tree that’s for sure.” He looked around and spotted Sun Wolf rising to her feet groggily shaking off the blow. He was so concerned for his teammate he didn’t notice Beastitrix until she cleared her throat.

“Ahem. Pardon Beastitrix little Mexican man. Oh Beastitrix is sorry you people prefer to be called Hispanic don’t you.” She said with a slightly distracted thoughtful look on her face and an index finger tapping on her chin. “Pardon Beastitrix little Hispanic man. Are you the one causing Beastitrixes Bigfeet to be distracted? If Beastitrix wants to get paid Beastitrix really must kill all of those druids.”

“What? Lady you must be crazy. Sane people don’t say their names like that in third person. And yeah Grande eis the one messing weith your Sasquatch. See saying my name einstead of I sounds really dumb.” He gestured to his wolfy companion. “Come on Sun Wolf let’s take theis crazy and save those druids.”

With a gesture from Beastitrix Sun Wolf stood up and padded over to Beastitrix and sat down next to her facing Grande, her eyes void of all independent thought. Grande’s jaw dropped.

“You poor mistaken man. Your wolf belongs to Beastitrix heart and soul. You don’t control her any longer Beastitrix does.” She pointed imperiously at Grande and with a demented giggle ordered “Destroy your former master!”


Crusader was nose deep in curdled milk and raspberry scented Sasquatch. He dodged, weaved and blocked as much as he could of the attacks coming in from all directions. But with Grande gone he had to work harder and was still receiving a pretty good beating.

He managed to scramble away up to the top of a nearby boulder and get a few seconds breather. While breathing in gasps trying to regain his breath Crusader held his sword up above his head “Come on flash, come on flash. Flash!” Nothing happened. “Damn it! Do something!”

Before he got a chance to try anything else his brief pause was over, the Bigfeet swarmed up the boulder and managed to knock him to ground level to continue their beating.  


Sun Wolf Hesitated a moment then leapt with a snarl at her former team mate. Grande still stunned didn’t even try to dodge and was bowled over by over two hundred pounds of platinum furred wolf.

Her teeth snapped at his face and throat while she held him down with her forelegs. After he got over his initial shock Grande began to fight back. He punched and kicked and thrashed around until he somehow managed to get out from under her.

“Come on loba! Don’t do theis!”

Beastitrix clapped “Get him! Obey Beastitrix!”

She hesitated again before leaping at him for a second time. This time Grande was ready and managed to get mostly out of the way. Unfortunately it was just mostly. The mind controlled werewolf managed to get her jaws around his right forearm. She clamped down hard, breaking a few teeth on Grande’s impenetrable skin. She yelped but still held on and began to shake him back and forth like a rag doll. The fight carried them all around the small space in a cursing growling flurry, kicking up dirt and plants and ricocheting off of trees in a minor swath of destruction.

Grande fought back, punching her as hard as he could in the head aiming for her eyes apologizing the whole while. “Sorry Sun Wolf. I really don’t want to do theis. But I gotta.” He got a good shot in hitting her eye so hard that she opened up her mouth wide in a howl of agony.

Grande went airborne. He tumbled through the air out of control on a direct course for Beastitrix. Her eyes opened up wide as she tried to avoid the airborne Argentinean. But to no avail. He crashed into her knocking her to the hard ground. Beastitrixes head hit with a hollow sounding bonk and she went limp, knocked out cold.

Grande quickly rose to his feet facing Sun Wolf, fists at ready.  But they weren’t needed as Sun Wolf sat on her haunches at the other end of the clearing shaking her head as if trying to clear it from a bad dream.

Grande slowly walked towards her still ready to avoid an attack. “Chica, are you ok? Does that crazy woman steill have you under control?”

The large wolf sat there for a little while before shaking her head in a negative. She unsteadily walked over to him and sloppily licked her tongue across his face then rubbed her head on his chest seeking comfort and offering apology. Grande in turn gave her a big hug around her neck while patting her back.

“I know you deidn’t do eit on purpose. Mrs. Talking-in-third-person over there deid eit to you.” He gestured towards the unconscious villainess. “We need to secure her and let Crusader and Betony know that the beigfeet aren’t under control anymore.”

They started to walk over to her and paused.  Then simultaneously the both looked at each other and Grande cried out “Crusader!” they both turned and started to bolt to the ritual site.

Before he got to the edge of the clearing Grande stopped and doubled back to his fallen foe. He looked down at her and spoke “Theis eis for hurting my friend.” He then rabbit punched her in the head ensuring that she would remain out of the fight until he could return. That done he turned and sprinted in the direction his wolfy companion went.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 2.4

Natasha picked up after two rings

“Hello Betony, what...”

In a rapid frantic hushed whisper Betony interrupted her “Please just listen. The ritual was interrupted by a tribe of Sasquatch. They just ran out of the woods and are running everywhere and attacking people at random. Does this even make any sense to you?”


“I am hiding behind a rock right now, they don’t see me. I think so anyways.” Betony related as she peered from around the large chunk of granite.


She quickly hid back in the shadow and used her hand to cup over the phone to minimize the noise. “I’m kinda freaking out here. I don’t know if I can do this without you guys.”

“OK, calm down.”

The howling and whooping of the big foot tribe continued unabated. “I have to help.  I just can’t just sit here. What should I do?”

“Sit tight, we are on our way.”

From the other side of the rock Betony heard a whooping noise getting louder and an incredibly bad odor of dirty sweat sox and burning bread get stronger. “Oh no, I have to go, I think one sees me. Please hurry.”

“We will get there as soon as we can. Goodbye.”

Betony ended the call on her phone and tossed it into her belt pouch just as a large hairy five fingered hand gripped the top of the rock and sent it spinning into the surround forest with a howl and a reek of eye wateringly bad Bigfoot stank. Dirt, rocks and leaves flew everywhere as the boulder tumbled off.

Betony scrambled backwards trying to pull herself to her feet from her nearly prone sitting position. She franticly tried to come up with a spell, any spell, that might help her in this situation. Just as the lumbering beast reached for her she remembered a spell that might work. A few eldritch words and a twiddle of fingers later a bright purple flash erupted from her hands directly into the face of the rampaging Sasquatch.

The Bigfoot’s hands flew to its face covering its eyes. Its howls of rage turning to howls of pain as it stumbled backwards blindly into the path of one of its companions. The enraged beast feeling contact turned blindly to attack what it thought was its assailant, who reciprocated. The two creatures attacked each other with wild abandon.

With several of the creatures distracted Betony finally was able to stand up without worry of being eaten or suffocated by stink. She looked around the clearing for the other druids to see how everyone was and where she could lend a hand. About half way across the clearing she spotted her mother constructing some protective wards with a few other conscious members of the ritual. Most of them looked pretty bad.  More than one had scrapes on his or her face and bloody torn robes. Large hairy fists pummeled the dome of swirling and moving runes.

Using a spell of far speech Betony sent a message to her mom. “Are you ok? Do you need help?”

Her mother’s head tracked across the clearing trying to look through the milling bodies until she saw Betony and sent back. “Are you ok sweetie?”

“I’m fine mom just a little bruised.”

“Is your reserve still mostly full?” Seeing her daughter nod Roan continued “You will probably need to transform to unlock total access to it. Then grab everyone you can and start another dome of runic protection. We need to figure out why they are attacking. Normally the sasquatch are peaceful timid creatures.”

“I just called my team they are on their way. So we need to hold on until they get here from Seattle. Which I think I remember you saying was about 4 hours away. The good news is if Crusader is driving them it will probably be a lot less. Did you see where Margat went to? I could really use her help.”

“She is in here with me. She took a blow to the head early and is out cold. You unfortunately have to gather everyone you can on your own. It looks like my spell is distracting a majority of the Sasquatch, so that will be a point in your favor. Good luck hon.”

Betony nodded to her mother and knew she had to get working if they were to survive the next few hours. She reached into her ever present pouch, pulled out her amulet and put it on. Within moments the teenage druidess grew up onto her adult crime fighting form allowing her full magic reservoirs to flow through her veins. Now she could get to business.

The woods were dark and strangely still as Grande, Crusader and Sun Wolf entered them. Off in the distance echoing off of the valleys and hills they could hear an occasional whoop.

About ten feet into the forest Grande was the first to break the silence of their trek. “Deid anyone bring a flashlight? ‘Cause I am blind as heck and I don’t want to fall off of a cleiff or get eaten by a bear.”

“I can see fine...” Sun Wolf began “Oh, I forgot that you all can’t see in the dark like I can. Crusader Do you have any flashlights in your car?”

“Unfortunately I don’t. It is one of those things I keep wanting to do but never get around to. Sorry guys.”

“Well we’re boned.” Grande said disgustedly. “How are we supposed to get out to where Betony eis? No light means no rescue.”

“We have gotta figure something out.”

“Calm down, we can figure something out” placated Sun Wolf. She looked around hoping for inspiration, checking the surroundings and her teammates gear. As she looked at Crusader one wolfy eyebrow rose as she had an idea.

“Crusader I want to try something. Please draw your sword.” He looked a little confused but did as she asked. He pulled the magical blade from the worn leather scabbard. A faint blue glow emanated from the blade dimly lighting the faces of the three present along the trail.

“Now can you try to make it glow brighter?”

“I’ve never even thought about doing that but I’ll give it a try.” Crusader stared at his sword for a few quiet moments and concentrated. The sword lit up. But it wasn’t a gradual increase. It flashed like a one hundred watt light bulb turned on in a dark room temporarily blinding everyone.

While everyone was blinking sword shaped after images out of their eyes Sun Wolf grinned. “That worked way better than I hoped.  Come on let’s hustle and get to Betony.”

With Roland’s direction they trekked through the eerily quiet forest with only the distant echoing whooping to keep them company. The bright blue glow from the sword lit up the surrounding area very clearly, throwing everything into sharp contrast.

They walked in silence keeping watch for rogue Sasquatch.

Crusader spoke aloud as he glanced sideways at Grande “Man I sure hope there is not an abandoned summer camp anywhere near here.”

Grande was aghast. “Why would you say that?”

“I’m just making conversation. Going through dark woods in the middle of nowhere in an area known to be full of Sasquatch. This seems like a very likely place for an abandoned summer camp to be located.”

“Man eif a guy in a hockey mask shows up with a machete and tries to kill us I blame you and am making sure he gets you first.”

If anything Grande was even more paranoid in searching for attack as they continued.

“Roland,” Sun Wolf spoke aloud while looking directly at Crusader “Are there any abandoned summer camps near here?”

A minute or 2 of walking in silence passed.

The cat’s voice answered in their heads “No Sun Wolf. I checked the county records back for one hundred and fifty years. The nearest abandoned summer camp is near Olympia.”

“See Grande you have nothing to worry about. Now keep quiet I think we might be getting close I think I see a light ahead.”

Grande looked visibly relieved.

“But a search of abandoned properties shows that there is a condemned school twenty miles away to the east.”

“Not helping Roland.”

Grande no longer looked relieved.


As they walked closer to the top of the hill a faint pink illumination shone through the trees near the top. The light seemed to flicker as if it was moving rapidly. The whooping and screams got louder as did the strong smell of Bigfoot.

“Crusader put away your sword; I don’t want them to see us.”

Crusader quickly complied and they carefully walked the last three hundred feet only using the pink light from the clearing to guide their way. The source of the light revealed itself to be a pair of semi-translucent domes with runic script swirling across their faces; one a purple and the other in red. Their light combined together to form an odd pinkish glow. From what the threesome at the edge of the woods could see both domes had multiple people inside. What they originally took to be movement of the lights was the shadows cast by the capering of Bigfeet. There seemed to be at least a dozen in the clearing, yelling whooping and trying to crush the domes with their fists and the occasional large rock.

Grande grinned. “I got the ones on the left. You guys take the rest.”

“Are you nuts? That’s your whole plan?”

“Calm down man. I was joking.” Grande whispered harshly “I wanted to say sometheing that sounded all cool like ein a movie and stuff. I know these dudes are strong. I don’t theink I can take one.”

“Quiet both of you; we don’t know how sensitive the ears of a Sasquatch are.” Sun Wolf said through clenched werewolf jaws. “I think I can take one or two in a straight up fight. But even with the three of us I don’t think we can take on the whole dozen I see there.”

Looking out at the condition of the ground and the surrounding tree near the clearing full of milling Bigfeet they had to agree and nodded in assent.

Sun Wolf paused and looked to the side and not quite up position you use when talking to a telepath. “Roland?”

He replied almost instantly to the group. “Yes Sun Wolf how can I assist you?”

“Roland we are at the clearing. And we see two runic domes. Probably protection spells of some sort. I am pretty sure Betony is in one of them. Can you contact her?”

“Let me try.” They all waited in silence as the Sasquatch ran around. “Something in there is preventing me from making mental contact. It is probably the shields you were describing. Sorry.”

“No need to apologize.”

Crusader spoke up. “Is it just me or is this really unusual behavior for big feet? Aren’t they normally really shy and reclusive?”

“That they are Crusader. In the research I did while you were traveling I found that a gathering like this is unheard of in the recorded history of the Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest, which stretched back nearly one hundred years. When they are seen at all it is usually in singly or domestic groups of four at the maximum. Normally at the first sign of danger or trouble they quickly run away and hide.”

“That means somebody must be controlling them!” Grande exclaimed. Everyone looked at him. “Don’t look so surprised. I was paying attention. I am more than just rugged good looks.”

Sun Wolf smirked and shook her head while Crusader rolled his eyes.

Sun Wolf took the lead “Right. Good call Grande. We need to get out there beat up some Sasquatch and cause some mayhem so whoever is controlling them gets mad and makes an appearance.”

“No can do guys.” Interjected Crusader “We can’t beat up the sasquatch. They are an endangered species. If we seriously hurt or kill one we are going to get fined and or go to jail. And from what you were telling me today you would have to register too. And wouldn’t that be the most embarrassing reason to register too? Beating up bigfoot?”

“So how are we supposed to rescue Betony and confront who eis controlling the beigfeet?”

“Sorry man. I have no idea.”

Grande looked thoughtful for a moment. “I theink I have an Idea. What about a deistraction.”

The other two looked skeptically at him.

“Didn’t Crusader just say that idea wouldn’t work because they are protected?” Sun Wolf asked.

“Ya, ya. He deid, but my idea might work better. What eif just two of us deid the deistraction? And the third one went looking for who or what eis controlling them? And we if we don’t actually hurt the beigfeet just made noise and ran around a bunch to make them leave the domes alone we aren’t actually breaking the law.”

Crusader looked at Grande and back at the milling Sasquatch. “That has got to be the...”

“The most brilliant thing you have come up with in a long time.” Sun Wolf interrupted. ”Do you think you and Crusader can distract them for long?”

“Huh? Why me and Grande?”

She gestured to her hybrid form. “I can turn completely into a wolf and I have night vision. So I can actually find whoever it is out here without using a blatant light source like the two of you.”

“Oh, yeah. That makes sense.”

She stepped behind a convenient bush and began to ready herself for her transformation.

“Catch” A small bundle of leather and metal flew out from behind the bush to land at Crusaders feet. “Keep these for me I don’t want them to get lost in the woods before I change back.”

Crusader gingerly picked up her leather bikini and put it into a pocket of his armored motorcycle jacket zipping it closed.

The sound of popping joints,  the twangs of shifting muscles and grunts of exertion came from behind the bush as Sun Wolf underwent her transformation from wolf woman to wolf. Fur got thicker, her muzzle elongated and her hands became large padded paws. In less than thirty seconds her metamorphosis was complete. The blond haired wolf that came out from behind the cover was easily four feet high at the shoulder and stretched six feet long from tip of the muzzle to the end of the tail. She looked at Crusader and Grande then sharply at the Sasquatch filled clearing commanding them to get on with their part of the plan. The large werewolf then turned and bounded into the woods quickly disappearing from sight.

“I guess it is time for us to do our job huh.”

“Si. Let’s do eit!”

Crusader thought in Roland’s direction. “Hey Roland is it possible for you to influence the big feet and make them more interested in us?”

“All I can do is try. As soon as you two start your distraction I will do what I can”

“Thanks Roland.”

Breathing deep Sun Wolf loped through the woods her nose working overtime trying to filter the overpowering scents of the Sasquatch from the other ore common and natural scents of the woods. The glow from the moon and the protective spheres giving her more than enough light to see by as she scanned the area for unusual movement or out of place objects. She began to circle the clearing spiraling out as she went. Hopefully the other two could draw enough attention their way to mess up the controllers plans.

Grande and Crusader bolted into the clearing in a scatter of leaves, twigs and dirt making as much noise as they could.

“Hey stinky over here!”

“Woo Woo! Here I am, come get me! What are you waiting for?! Come on!”

Crusader waved his glowing sword and Grande flapped his arms drawing the attention of the Bigfeet.

A little too well, actually, when all the Sasquatch stopped howling and turned as one to stare at the new arrivals in the clearing.

“Roland! I theink you deid your job too good! They really want to play!”

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Second String Heroes Episode 2.3

Crusader’s thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of Natasha’s cell phone, an overly loud techno rendition of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’

Crusader and Grande looked at each other as they caught only half of the conversation she was having.

“Hello Betony, what… Da… Da… OK, calm down… Sit tight, we are on our way… We will get there as soon as we can. Goodbye.”

Natasha looked over at her quietly waiting curious teammates.

“That was Betony. Apparently there was some sort of attack during the start of the ritual. She needs our help. If they don’t finish the ritual tonight the Nexus will become unbalanced for the next month or so. And you don’t need to be told what that means.”

Aaron and Carlos nodded sagely. Then made slight eye contact with each other and shrugged slightly.

Roland piped in, “Get your equipment and costumes and head out towards the Olympic Peninsula. I will be able to give you exact directions on the way.”

A short scramble of equipment gathering had the team standing in the parking lot staring at each of their respective vehicles.

Aaron spoke. “Whose do we take?”

Natasha looked at her small two seater sports car. “Mines fastest. But I don’t think we all will be able to fit in it...”

“Sorry, but mine eis one person only.”

“Carlos, it is a lifted truck. There should be plenty of room in it.”

“There would be but I had them make the cab like the einside of a monster truck. I sit ein the middle of a roll cage. Eit’s pretty cool.”

Aaron sighed. “I guess it is mine then. I gotta warn you it is kinda messy and smells like pizza inside. Give me a second to clear a space for you guys.”


“Nope Carlos, the lady always sits upfront.”

Natasha gave Carlos a wolf like grin and a wink as she climbed into the car.

A quick trip inside for a garbage bag and a trunk full of pizza warmers later the 3 members of Seattle’s other super hero team hit the road towards the Olympic Peninsula.

While the sun set they cruised down the freeway at a good bit above the speed limit when Grande leaned forward, mask in hand, between the front seats. “So what are we facing? Hippies? Rednecks? Some renegade Klointh?”

Aaron looked in the rearview mirror at Grande. “The Klointh?”

“You know, space aliens, the greys?”

“Oh right, the ones who issued the apology 5 or 6 years ago to the states of Arkansas and South Carolina for all the probing.”

“Nope, none of those,” Interrupted Sun wolf. “This is more of an uncommon local threat.”

“More local than redneck heippies?”

“Da. Apparently the magic gathering during the ritual attracted a tribe of Sasquatch. They went sort of crazy, attacked everyone and ruined the ritual.”

Aaron nodded.

Grande looked over at Aaron and his non reaction. “Super soldiers you wonder about. But you don’t seem surprised that Beigfeet exist.”

“Why would I be? I have grown up in the northwest. Everyone up here knows that they exist. Hell I almost hit one with my car about 2 years ago while on a delivery. They are all over the place.”

“Speaking of deliveries,” Natasha said while her fingers dug into the door arm rest in suppressed fear “Shouldn’t you be going a bit slower and deliver us safely? I think you just passed a Corvette back there. You don’t want to get pulled over and registered do you?”

“I’m just going a little over the speed limit, nothing to worry about. I am in perfect control. And I’m not in costume. Nothing for me to worry about. You guys on the other hand should probably buckle up.”

The car sped along towards the Olympic Peninsula cutting in and out of traffic like a bat out of hell driving on a NASCAR race track and took back roads known to delivery drivers statewide, the setting sun bright in the dirty wind shield. Grande kept everyone not so entertained playing his favorite game; What Should We Call The Team?

“The Saviors.”

In stereo “No.”

“Magic Incorporated.”


“Power Patrol.”

“Grande you said that one earlier today. Still no.”

“Lightning League.”

“Umm not bad, write that one down. There has got to be a scrap piece of paper on the floor.” Crusader wrestled in the center console. “Here’s a pen.”

“Battle Cows.”

“What? No!”

“Old Rusty Peickup Patrol.”

“Seriously, you are just calling out things you see outside the windows.”

 After about two and a half hours the car approached the forest service road that Roland mentally indicated.

Roland narrated in Aarons head as he drove. “As you approach mile marker 271, you will see a gravel road on the right hand side.  Turn down it and go straight for a one point four miles then take the bend to the left. Follow that for five miles and you will find the encampment where Betony and the other druids were staying. As a side note, you made phenomenal time. My calculations indicated that it should have taken you four hours and twenty one minutes. I think we need to see if you have an innate power in addition to what you receive from your sword.”

Five minutes, and several giant muddy water filled potholes later, the beat up car pulled into the clearing next to a random assortment of pickups, sport utility vehicles and campers all centered around a cluster of smoldering fire pits. The tents themselves were ripped up, coolers tossed about and camping supplies were scattered about as if a storm had struck.

As the last rays of the setting sun illuminated the tops of the trees everyone warily geared up and stepped out of the car and immediately an intense smell reached their noses.

Eyes watering Crusader pulled his mask closer to his nose, “It’s quite pungent.”

 Sun Wolf shapeshifted into her hybrid humanoid wolf form and inhaled deeply “It's a formidable scent... It stings the nostrils. In a good way. “

“Natasha, I'm gonna be honest with you, that smells like pure gasoline.”

“My god, what eis that smell?” Grande exclaimed covering his nose and mouth with both hands “Oh!”

To take their minds off of the foulness Grande and Crusader tried to outdo the other in describing the scent that filled the clearing while their eyes watered.

“God no, it smells like, like a used diaper... filled with... Indian food!”

“What eis that? Smells like a turd covered ein burnt hair”

Sun Wolf wanted no part in their game “That, Gentlemen is the smell of bigfoot.”

“Seriously, bigfoot smells like this? How did it sneak up on anyone at all?” Crusader asked gasping.

“One sasquatch isn’t this bad. This is definitely the scent of a tribe of them.  They may be close, be on your guard.”

Playtime being over the other two became more serious and with their backs to the car they began to scan the campsite looking for a sign of anyone else. Grande thought in Roland’s direction; “Hey Gato, you picking up any people thoughts out here?”

Roland projected equally across all of them. “I am reading a few people about a quarter of a mile to the northeast. For some reason I can’t pick out individuals. But I think Betony may be among them.”

Sun Wolf looked at her cohorts. “OK, Roland says they are to the northeast. Let’s go that way and see how we can help.”

Crusader looked at the other two. “Umm, which way is northeast?

They both looked around at the clearing.

Roland’s voice piped in. “Northeast is near the tipped over grey camper.”

“Thanks Roland.”

The threesome then ventured past the camper into the dark waiting woods.

More than a little tired from the training she had just completed Betony sat in the passenger seat of the car as her mother drove to the ritual. She looked out of the window at the passing scenery as the miles rolled on letting it zone her out.

“Betony Heather Ashe. Have you even heard a word of what I have said for the last half hour?”

She snapped into awareness “Sorry mother. I am kinda tired from the fight yesterday, cheer practice and today’s practice session. I am trying to build my internal stores back up, they are a bit low.”

“Hmm maybe you are trying to do too much. You are young after all. Maybe you should drop cheer and concentrate on crime fighting instead.”

Betony looked over in exasperation at the attractive older red haired woman next to her in the driver’s seat. “No, I am not dropping cheer. Just because you weren’t a cheerleader and were vice president of the chess club...”

“Treasurer dear, I was treasurer.”

“Whatever.” With rolled eyes “I mean just because you didn’t do it yourself doesn’t mean I shouldn’t do it. I don’t have to be just like you. I did take up heroing like you and grandma did just because you wanted me to. It was a good idea and my group are really good people like your foretelling said. So don’t say that I totally ignore your advice.”

Her mother gave a small smile to her.

“That was actually what I was talking about, your team mates. You have a good dynamic, a very focused skill set. But I am curious about your newest member the sword guy.”

“His Code name is Crusader or if you want to use his real name Aaron. Why? What are you curious about?”

“He seems nice, cute and he is about your age. Just a little older.”

“Mother! Eww. No. Eww. He is way too old like almost twenty four and he is more of a defender and protector than anything else. And besides he delivers pizza for a living. Uncool when you are a teenager, totally uncool in your twenties.”

Her mother laughed out loud at that.

“I was joking with you dear. There are rumors about you two on the Seattle Heroweb. Mostly speculation.  I thought you should know. The upside is that your real identity is still safe, they don’t know you are a high school student.”

Betony gave her standard suffering sigh “Uggh. Really? Well at least it isn’t rumors about me and Grande. That would be soo gross.”

Betony looked out the window again, “How much longer do we have?”

“If traffic holds like this it should take about three hours.”

“OK, if you don’t mind I’d like to take a nap so I can recharge before the ritual tonight.”

“Sure sweetie. Go right ahead I will wake you when we get there.”

Betony fished around the back seat for a few moments and pulled out a pink camping pillow with a grin of triumph. She leaned it on the window and within a few moments she was fast asleep.

Betony awoke when her head hit the window, hard.

“Ow wow ow owowowowow. What are you doing?”

As she rubbed her head and quickly woke up she saw that the car was driving down a forest service road that had seen better days.

“Sorry dear you were so tired looking that I wanted to let you sleep as long as possible. I didn’t think the road would be so bad. Otherwise I would have woken you up sooner. “

Still rubbing the sore spot on the side of her head “It’s ok. Thanks for letting me sleep so long.”

Ten minutes of negotiating giant mud puddles and pot holes the car arrived at camp. About a dozen people wandered about setting up a large communal campsite. Trailers, Tents and campfires seemed to be the rule of the day.

Betony’s mother looked over at her. “Well we made it. Just a few more hours and we can start the ritual.”

“I can’t wait.” Betony said with a smile.

As they got out of the car they were greeted warmly by a robe wearing short heavy set older woman whose plump smiling face reminded Betony of the grandmothers you always see in commercials handing out cookies to plump smiling children. Her curly black hair had steaks of silver in it and flowed unbound nearly to her waist. While her dark grey eyes sparkled in welcome.

“Roan! I’m so glad you made it here on time. The ritual would not be completely effective without you. Oh and this must be Betony. She sure has grown since the last time I saw her.” She exclaimed jovially with her arms outstretched toward Roan, Betony’s mother for a hug. Who happily gave it to her with a smile on her face. After the hug ended Margat faced Betony with a smile.

Betony smiled back a little unsure

“Hello Betony, I am Margat. I will be leading the ritual tonight.” She kept going speaking at a rapid continuous clip not giving Betony a chance to reply “I just remembered this is your first ritual. There is nothing to be worried about dear. We just need to reinforce bindings on the Aetheric Nexus. A strong spell working. But not terribly complicated. Which is why it needs renewal once a year at the turn of autumn. I remember my first major ritual it was back in nineteen forty four. The Nazi’s undead battalion was just unveiled in Lorient France ….”

It took about twenty minutes for them to unload the car and set up their tent and sleeping bags, Margat talked the whole time while helping them, telling stories about events she was involved in, bits of arcane knowledge and adorable things done by her grandchildren.

The sun lowered in the horizon as the druids chatted, readied their ceremonial garments and gathered their magical paraphernalia for the ritual.

Margat clapped her hands together to get everyone’s attention.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we have to leave shortly to begin our procession to the crest of the mount. It is about a five mile hike to our ritual site. So we need to be in position and ready to begin just as the sun begins setting. Not that I need to remind you all, but I will say this again to remind you none the less: It is important that we utter no words from here on out until the ritual has begun as part of the purification process to center our spirits and attune our astral selves.”

Shortly after her announcement the grey and green robed druids followed Margat onto a forest trail that headed to the north east. They hiked in silence following the trail as it slowly climbed a rocky hill covered in stunted pines and cottonwood for about an hour.

Betony meanwhile was uncharacteristically quiet during this procession looking around and occasionally making eye contact wither mother who smiled supportingly. As she walked near the rear of the druids procession she felt her skin get prickly with a feeling of loose unclaimed magic in the air, the feeling got stronger as they approached the top of the hill.

The procession crested the hill and stepped out onto the bare stone summit, the landscape spreading below them in all directions. Tall fir trees interspersed with pine, cottonwood and cedar ran down the hill to the valley below and continued on across the rolling hills well into the distance. Giving the whole area an unspoiled natural wild feeling.

With gestures and hand signals the high druidess Margat directed everyone where to stand and how to orient themselves for the sealing of the Aetheric Nexus. Betony went to an outside edge while her mother took a more prominent spot near the center of the pattern of druids. When everyone was positioned to her satisfaction Margat walked over to her place, also near the center.

It was nearly half an hour later when the bottom of the setting sun touched the tip of the tallest peak of the Cascades. With a slight nod the ritual began. Slowly at first a low chant filled the rocky expanse. It increased in volume very gradually. Little sparks of multicolored light and glowing twisting threads spontaneously appeared in the air between the chanters, twining and dancing their heads.

Betony chanted along with the others, smiling in wonder at the magic happening before her. It wasn’t long before a smell started to reach her nose out of nowhere, it almost smelled like rotten eggs mixed with cinnamon and cigar smoke. It grew from barely noticeable to very strong in hardly any time at all. She glanced around her eyes watering at the others near her. They also seemed to be in distress, with the occasional tear and runny nose dribble.

An earsplitting howl burst from the woods startling everyone present. The ritual faltered and the sparks and threads faded back into nothingness. Margat frowned and began to chant louder to get everyone back to their place in the rituatials chant when nearly a dozen large hairy bipedal forms burst out of the woods and threw themselves at the druids. Giant hair covered arms and hands swung at the shocked druids sending their bodies sprawling.

Betony hid behind a large rock as even more Sasquatch burst out of the woods hell bent on interrupting the ritual and hurting the assembled druids.

Thinking fast she reached into her bottomless belt pouch and pulled out her cell phone and made a call to the most recent call in her phone. Sun Wolf.