Riley Origin

Riley Origin

I don’t understand why people hate the dark so much. I think it’s nice.

It’s quiet and soft. And nighttime air is fresher. None of my foster parents liked my habit of going out at night. But it was the best time.

And it was during a nighttime stroll that I met my best friend in the world.

As I walked along the sidewalk in the dark I saw a tall, bright figure; beautiful and…. Mean. It chased after a small dark shadow. Even down the block I could feel the small creature’s fear. I took off running towards them.

I reached them just as the bright figure cornered the shadowy creature against a storefront.

I slid between them, throwing my arms out wide and puffing my chest out to look bigger, “Stop being a bully!”

The bright figure stopped. My heart pounded in my ears as I waited for it to move again. But when it went to reach around me, I turned and scooped the shadowy creature into my arms and bolted for my current home.

I didn’t slow down until I reached the front door of the flat. I glanced around for the bright figure as I tried to calm my breathing enough to sneak back in. When my heart stopped pounding, I quietly opened the door and tiptoed to my room. I could feel the weight and fear of the creature in my arms but still it didn’t feel entirely real.

I shook my head and shook away the unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach. I set the shadowy creature down on my bed and proudly declared. “I’m going to call you Teddy!”

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Grant Origin 6

Grant Origins

Part VI

After a while the lions disappeared. Feeling woozy and extremely hungry, I wandered into the kitchen and piled a plate high with meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I leaned against the wall, watching the still, bloody corpses. The fennec fox jumped onto the table, though I wasn’t sure how he got in. I guess the same way as before. I scooped some meatloaf onto the table for him. “I guess we’re kinda stuck together now, huh? I’m gonna call you Killer.” The fox didn’t seem to mind the new name I gave him, letting me scratch his ears as he ate the meatloaf.

When I finished I set the plate down, letting Killer eat what was left. I stepped over my father’s body, feeling blood soak through my socks as I walked across the living room to pick up my mothers cell phone and dial 911.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“I killed my parents.” I calmly gave my address and stepped out to wait on the porch, Killer joining me after a moment. I set him on my lap and pet him as I waited for the sirens.

*

I didn’t expect my confession to not be believed. And when I summoned my lions as proof I didn’t expect to pass out from exhaustion either.

When I woke up I was in power-suppressing handcuffs and was quickly shuffled to an interrogation room, where a pretty, young black woman that was definitely not a cop was waiting.

“Nice to meet you, Leah.” She spoke with a soft accent I couldn’t place and a beautiful, mesmerizing voice.

“That’s not my name.”

“Sorry about that, honey. What is your name if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Call me Grant.”

“Alright Grant.” She took a seat across from me and laid her hands on the table. “You know those cuffs do nothing. You’re not a mutant.” I only nodded. “Now taking this might do something.” She sat Reka’s relic down on the table between us.

“I would like to talk to you, Grant. Will you talk to me?” After a brief hesitation, I nodded.

For what felt like hours, we talked. About my parents, about school, about… Sierra. She told me about her own deal for her magical voice and asked me about my deal with Reka And at the end of an hour she stood up. “I have one more question for you, Grant.” She held her hand out towards me, “How would you like to attend Ravenhold Academy?”

Grant Origin 5

Grant Origins

Part V

I wasn’t entirely sure about the plan forming in my head as I headed up the stairs. Hell, part of me was convinced Reka was a dream. But the other part of me wanted to use the powers, prove they were real.

I waited at the top of the stairs for my father to unlock the door and let me out, I hid my hand with the relic in my pocket. “You couldn’t wear something nicer to dinner?” He asked, his nose wrinkling at my shorts and old T-shirt. “Whatever. Just set the table.” He turned and walked back to the living room to sit his ass back down on the couch.

I took a deep breath, my heart pounding with the decision I had half made. As I walked to the dining room, I glanced out the living room window and saw the fennec fox sitting on the lawn, watching me. My heart pounded louder.

As I set out plates and forks, my parent’s voices drifted to me.

“They’re burying that Michael today.” my father muttered. Sierra. My hands shook as I set a plate down.

“I heard, Mallory was talking about it. Good riddance to that damn tranny, can’t corrupt our baby girl anymore.”

I dropped a plate and distantly heard it shatter on the floor.

My decision was made.

All that was left was to hope that it was more than just a dream. That the power Reka promised was real. I raised my right hand as my father stood and started towards me. “Leah! What the hell are you doing!”

I ignored him and reached inside myself, into my imagination, my anger, and summoned a pair of lions.

My father had almost reached me when the lions appeared. He didn’t have time to react before the lion was at his throat, clamping down, and tearing it out. Warm blood splashed across my face as he fell to the ground a shocked look frozen on his face. My mother managed to scream before the second lion reached her, tearing out her throat.

The lions continued to tear the corpses apart and I couldn’t tell if it was on my orders or not. The blood pooled, creeping towards me. I swallowed down the lump of panic forming in my throat. Throwing my arms out wide, the chains of the relic rattling against each other, I took in a deep, shuddering breath and spoke.

“My first sacrifice for you, my goddess.”

Freyja Origins: I

Freyja Origins: Meaning of Sacrifice

Part I

“Your mom’s a hero, you should be proud! I wish my mom was a superhero!”

That’s what I’ve heard all my life. To them, it’s like being a rockstar.

They don’t understand the baggage being a cape kid means. They don’t understand what it’s like to be woken up in the middle of the night because your mother has enemies and one of them’s come knocking.

***

Mom always had a picture in her room, right by her bed. A tiny baby girl, I knew she wasn’t me, she had a beauty mark above her lip. Sometimes I’d go look at it, wondering why mama had never spoken of it. One night, she caught me.

“Freyja, it’s past your bedtime.” She said, coming closer. “What are you doing in my room?”

“I just wanted to look at the pictures. Who is that?”

Mama went quiet, she walked closer and kneeled down by my side, matching my height.

“Freyja, this is your older sister Sif, my first daughter.”

“I have a sister?” I asked eyes wide.

“She passed away before you were born. She’s in Helgafjell now.”

“Mama?”

“Yes, Hasse?”

“Why don’t we have a family? What about papa, or grandma?”

She wrapped her wings and arms around me, holding on tightly. “It’s complicated, hasse, I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

“But—”

“No but, come on, let’s get you back to bed.”

She carried me back to bed, and tucked me in. I had so many questions, over the next few weeks I asked then, but she wouldn’t answer them…

***

I was five when I wanted to pick ballet, that was before mom pulled me out of school, I wanted to be with my friends, but instead she made me take fencing. It’d help me one day.

I remember screaming and kicking when she took me to my first lesson, fencing was dumb. The moment the car came to a stop, mama held me down.

“Freyja, listen to me.”

“I don’t want to do fencing, I want to do ballet with my friends!”

“I’m sorry, but you can’t.”

“Why not!”

“You’re special, Freyja. One day, you’ll have wings, just like me and you’ll be a champion for good, do you understand?”

“No?”

“Our family is special, my mama had wings too, every woman in our family had them. You see, when my mama died, I took her place as Valkyra, I grew the wings and gained the powers. One day, it’ll be your turn, and after you, your daughter.”

“Are you going to die?” My ears wattered up at the thought.

“Nobody lives forever sweetheart, but don’t you worry, I’ll be by your side for a long time.”

Mama would die. The thought burned through my mind. And then it would be my turn. Mama was a hero, she fought the bad people, baddies who’d hurt people.

***

I gave in to mama. I started going to fencing lessons, but those were just the start. Soon I was also doing martial arts, foot races, then she had me take lessons on ancient history and the legends of the nordic people.

Mama personally saw to all this training, soon she pulled me out of school so I could ‘focus on the important things.’ I stopped being a kid, I was her apprentice. She told me about our family; how the first Valkyra had found a wounded valkyrie and taken her place, how her daughter (my grandmother) had inherited the power, and how it had then been mama’s turn.

The magic would pass from mother to daughter, and we would have only daughters…

A few years later I did the math. Mom was only eighteen, when she’d had me, sixteen when she’d had sif. I’d never had a papa, mama had just done the deed with a friend for have me and Sif, she’d done what she had to, and the earlier the better…

***

Every month or two the other capes’ kids and I would get to meet, we all had different stories, but still similar in many ways.  I never really liked them. The guys, especially, they were idiots. But they were the closest thing to friends I had in years.

Martin Hwang was the better looking one, he was kind of a idiot, he and his dad were the brick type, even at sixteen, he looked more like a man than a teenager.

As usual, we got drunk, messing around a case of beer and a few liquor bottles was our way of bonding, none of us were good at this friendship thing. A few suggestive words and Martin and I left, going back to my room.

I don’t remember much of it, he wasn’t there when I woke up. The soreness of the morning was the only reminder of what had happened.

Three weeks later, I missed my period. The pregnancy test came back positive. Mom was definitely surprised when I told her I was pregnant. I lied to her, told her it was an accident. Didn’t want her to worry, she had enough to worry about.

The legacy had to continue, now it would, I’d done my duty.

Grant Origin 4

Grant Origins

Part IV

“What the hell are you?” I shook as I faced the owner of the voice, a giant woman made of moss and dirt with a ram skull for a head.

“I am called Reka, Goddess of Nature. What is your name, little one?”

I bit my lip, “Leah Grant.” I answered, a little too weirded out and scared to question her divine status.

“Oh but that’s not right, is it little one?” She tilted her head to the side. Though her features didn’t change her expression seemed to.

“You can call me Grant.”

“Alright, Grant.”

A happy flutter interrupted the fear in my heart.

The fennec fox jumped onto her shoulder and licked her skull. She pet him, “My friend has been watching you since you picked up my relic.”

“Relic?”

She pointed to my hand, dirt falling from her arm as she moved. I looked down, seeing for the first time that I was wearing the jewelry I dug up. A chain bracelet connecting to rings on my fingers and thumb by small silver chains. “I have a soft spot for the underdogs of nature, little Grant.” She stood, her body shifting inhumanely as she moved. “And you are like a trampled flower but you refuse to wilt and I-”

“I’m not a damn flower.” I crossed my arms over my wrapped chest.

Reka halted her approach to me. “Oh uh right… Then you are like a… wolf? Who has been abandoned by the pack that should protect him-”

“I wasn’t really abandoned. I was locked in a basement, cut off from my friends, got my ass beat.”

“Will you just let me make my analogies?” She sighed, “Little Grant, would you like to be my priest?”

“Your… priest…?”

“Pray to me. Worship me. Make your sacrifices to me. And I will give you power. The power you need to make them pay for what they’ve done. The power to not suffer anymore.” She held a hand out to me.

I clenched my fists, keeping my arms folded over my chest. “What kinda sacrifices? What power? What do you even count as ‘worship’? This is all a little vague if you ask me.”

“Apologies, little Grant. Why don’t we sit down and have a nice chat about it.” Reka walked back to her throne of tree roots and sat down. She waved her hand and another, smaller chair of roots formed, “Come sit with me and talk, little Grant.”

I didn’t really like her calling me ‘little’ all the time but I couldn’t argue the point with a woman 5 times my size. I took a seat next to her and the fennec fox jumped into my lap, curling up against my stomach.

And Reka began to talk and talk. Her voice gentle, soothing, calming as she explained. After a while her voice lulled me to sleep.

When I woke up I was in my bed and the fennec fox was nowhere to be seen. I sat up and coughed my ribs aching. I stretched, trying in vain to make them feel better. I looked down at the relic on my right hand.

“Leah!” My parents called the name that was dead to me.

I curled my right hand into a fists and slid out of bed. Time for my first sacrifice.

Gunslinger Gal: Part III

Gunslinger Gal

Part III

The door to my new room was already open, hanging off about an inch out from the frame. That meant that my roommate Lumas was there, or that something was incredibly wrong.

What kind of name was Lumas? Definitely not one I’d heard before, maybe they were from another country. I pushed the door open and saw someone whom I presumed was them.

Lumas was standing before one of the bed, just sort of awkwardly staring at it. A giant tee-shirt about three sizes too big reached down to their knees and obscured their shape. It was old and worn, like most of their outfit. And with their hair was shaved to only an inch, I didn’t feel safe making any gender assumption.

I went to the other bed, dropping my bag which had Lumas jumps a little. “Howdy, Partner.” I said, tipping my hat.

“Howdy?” They stared at me, their expression vacant. Then they sighed. “That’s new. Hey.”

“I’m Penny Henry.” I said, grabbing some of my clothes and putting them in the drawers under the bet. The room was quite posh, with large captain-style beds. “What’s your name, Sweetheart?”

They tilted their head just a smidget. “No, its Lumas. Why would you think it’s sweetheart?” On their hand, little darks scales or shells fragments formed but they paid it no mind.

I just had to laugh, surely they were an interesting type. “Just a pet name, Lumas. We’ll be rooming together, so we ought to get along, don’t you say?”

They nodded slowly. “I guess. Still, most people who give me pet names tend to want something else.”

Something else? Lumas seemed sweet, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was odd about them, and I don’t mean them scales.

“All I want is a friend,” I said, “and perhaps a hand reaching taller shelves.” Lumas wasn’t the tallest folks around, but height had never been one of my blessings.

The plates on their hands faded. “I guess. I’m not that much taller than you, though.” Their gaze went down toward my revolvers. The plates came back, but their expression remained blank.

Darn it, what were they thinking? And what did those bits on their hand meant?

“I saw there happens to be pizza downstairs, are you hungry, Sweetheart?”

They shrugged lightly. “I’m fine,” they said, but I could hear their stomach growling.

“Are you alright, ’cause you don’t look mighty fine to me.”

Clearly, they weren’t the trusting type, I’d have to work on that.

They shook their head and sighed. “I’m fine. Just.. you said pizza?”

“That I did.”

They took of their backpack and put it down on the ground, a good feet or two from the bed. Was something wrong with their bed? They seemed fine to me.

“Fine. Let’s grab some then.”

I nodded and opened the door. “After you, sweetheart.”

Their hand scaled up again as they passed through the door. I wanted to ask, but I did not feel like Lumas would be the question answering type. Oh well, what was the harm in trying?

“I don’t meant to pry, but your hand is doing that thing quite often, might I say.”

They stopped, looked at their hand and then shook their head. “Can’t control it all that well. The weapon didn’t exactly come with instructions either.”

That wasn’t much of an answer, it was a weapon? Didn’t look like any kind of weapon I was acquainted with. I let my mind drift back to the sea, asked the hypertech bit of my brain for possible answer, but none came, this wasn’t anything in my repertoire…

“I see.” Was all I could answer. There was already a gathering of folks in the kitchen, Lumas had stopped by the door. “Do you want to mingle or would you rather grab some and find a quiet place to be?”

Their eyes slowly went over everyone. “Don’t really like crowds,” they said after a pause. “What about you? Don’t let me stop you from ‘mingling.’ I’ll be fine on my own.”

“I can meet folks ‘nother time, better get to know you, Sweetheart.”

I’d be lying if I said Lumas hadn’t sparked my curiosity, beside we were going to be rooming together, it was best to get to know them.

“Whatever you say.” They said with yet another shrug.

We went into the kitchen, I scanned the boxes until I found meatlover’s pizza and grabbed a few slices. I gave a few waves to the people in the kitchen but paid them no mind otherwise. Deryn was there, I gave them a wink and a grin before focusing back on Lumas.

Lumas, whom had taken half a pizza and stacked it on a plate. They had quite the appetite it seemed.

“Would you like to sit outside?” I proposed to them. I’d seen patio doors at the back.

Lumas looked around, this time a bit more frantically. “Yeah. Outside is good.” Once again plates formed.

We went out and found that the house had quite the backyard; a wooden deck with tables, chairs and a barbecue, an in-ground pool of good size, and a little cultivated garden further back.

We sat down on the patio and Lumas jumped into their pizza.

“So, sweetheart, what’s your story, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“From another world. Not sure you want to know the rest.”

Now, who in god’s green earth would be satisfied after hearing that? Lumas was a dimensional alien? Maybe that explained much, although they looked human.

“I ain’t met much dimensional traveller folks before.”

“This is the only other dimension I’ve been to, other than sanctuary. Better than mine.”

Sanctuary was the world’s answer to dimensional refugees; a self-sustaining city on another world where there’d never been any humans.

“This is my home world, never left it.” Dimensional travel wasn’t something most people could do, if you were lucky maybe you could get an earth Bet or Gimel visa, but it was expensive and quarantine and decontamination procedures made it inconvenient.  “Are you one of them refugees?”

“I guess so. Some group called the Wanderers picked me up.” They said, like they’d announced something boring and mundane, not that they were acquainted with one of the most mysterious figure in all of history.

The wanderer and his namesake group were these strange dimensional explorers, they didn’t belong with the United Nation’s survey corp.

Everything Lumas said was only bringing more questions…

“What brought you to this here school, sweetheart?”

“Trying to control this and maybe to some good.” They said, not quite sure of their words.

“I see, how long has this been a thing?”

“Forty eight days.”

“That sure ain’t much. What’s it do, other than give you odd lookin’ hands when it feels like doing it?”

Lumas closed their hand and a sword appeared in it, it couldn’t quite be described proper. It was black, just black that’s what it was ‘made’ of, and it moved— no, it swirled. Looking at it made my headache.Then it was gone and their hand had a gauntlet, made of that same blackness.

“It’s a weapon. A lot was sacrificed to make it.”

“I see.” I nodded and rubbed my temple.

“Why am I even…” they sighed. “What about you? What do you do?”

I took out my revolvers, making sure to keep them pointed away from Lumas and my finger away from the trigger. I didn’t keep them loaded, but my Pa had always taught me to handle weapons like they were loaded.

“Made these, used ’em on some bad fella home. Got sent here,” I said. “This one’s Vigilance, the one’s Justice.”

I’d gone a little melodramatic naming them, but when you dressed like an old west gunslinger, drama was part of the act.

Lumas’ eyes widened. Small plates once more formed on their hands. “Cool…”

“But you, sweetheart, ain’t got a thing to fear.” I holstered them back. “I only shoot ’em bad people who hurt folks.”

They shook their head. “Been shot before. Wasn’t fun.” They didn’t feel like explaining, just eating more pizza.

“Sorry to hear that.”

“Not saying I expect you to shoot me. Obviously you gotta be halfway decent to want to be a hero.” They sighed. “I’m not good at this…”

“That, you sure ain’t.” I had to laugh at the self-awareness. “But there ain’t anything’ wrong with being’ awkward, sweetheart. Makes ya all the more charming.” I added with a wink.

They raised a brow. “Charming? That’s another new one.”

“Are you doubting’ me sweetheart?”

Darn it, I was back in flirting mode.

They took a bite of pizza, chewing it for a moment. “Hard not to doubt someone you just met.”

“Fair enough, sweetheart,” I said with a smile, “I’ll have to reiterate when we know each other further.”

“Ok. I guess I’ll wait and see then. Who knows, right?” The bits on their hands grew further, into the begining of claws, but then vanished again. Lumas was staring at their hand.

Then there was a knock on the glass door. I turned around and saw someone standing there. They were short, four and a half feet, but didn’t look like a kid, the proportions were wrong, it was more like someone had shrunk down a teenager… Their clothes were ill fitting too, much too large for their size.

I waved at them and they opened the door. “Come on out, hon!”

“Are you Penny?” They asked in a quiet and squeaky voice. “There is something at the door for you.” As they spoke they shrunk another two inches.

“That I am.” I looked at Lumas, making sure I wasn’t the only one seeing this, they were staring too. “I better go check on that, sweetheart.”

Lumas nodded.

I turned around and the new comer let out a squeaky “hi” at them, shrinking another inch before running away. That had been something odd alright. Then again, so was Lumas.

I was starting to think maybe a southern girl with cowgirl fantasies weren’t the oddest thing. I reckoned I might be normal up here in Ravenhold…

Freaks Like Me: Part VI

Freaks Like Me

Part VI

I didn’t sleep much that night.

I just kept tossing and turning in an unfamiliar bed. It was too soft and the sheets were rough on my skin. When morning came I needed to ask mom if she could send me my own sheets.

I must have fallen asleep at some point because when I opened my eyes Drew was already gone, her bed was done up all neat. I could feel her presence downstairs, along with over a dozen more, it was a real cacophony in my mind…

The sun was already up so I decided to get out of bed. I went to the bathroom and washed my face and teeth, but I didn’t feel like taking a shower. The morning was already far too stressful for that.

Dr. Laurie always told me it’s okay to conserve spoons when you need to. She was my therapist, the only one I trusted, she’d let me see into her mind… So I could know that she wasn’t another Dr. Kalvert…

I splashed my face. No more bad thoughts.

I took out my phone and checked my schedule app;

MORNING
1. Wake up,
2. make bed,
3. wash-up,
4. teeth brushing,
5. get dressed (Remember deodorant),
6. breakfast and medicine,
7. text mom,
8. Freetime before class,
9. Go to Class

Having mom’s schedule was a reassuring presence, I pressed my finger on each of the completed tasks, ticking them off the list. Damn it. I’d forgotten to make my bed. I went back to the room and did my bed before changing my clothes.

Undies and shirts you changed everyday, pants you could keep a second day if they weren’t soiled. Did my hoodie need changing? I wasn’t sure. I took a whiff, it didn’t smell bad to me?

I put my dirty clothes in a bag like mom had taught me. What was I going to do with them? Mom always washed at home…

I took out my phone and texted mom.

How do I wash clothes? <

I put it down and walked out of my room before I remembered that you’re supposed to say hi to people…

Also, hi mom. <

Phew. She hadn’t answered my message yet.

People-ing is dumb and complicated. Why can’t hi’s and byes be inferred? That’d be easier and faster…

I walked downstairs and went for the kitchen, breakfast was the next step. I froze at the door, there were so many people inside, they were all thinking so loudly, I couldn’t follow anything but the occasional fragment…  

Drew noticed me and came over.

“Is everything okay?”

I shook my head. “Too many people.”

“Oh.” She smiled. “Do you want me to get you a plate? You can eat somewhere more quiet.”

I nodded and she got went back in, grabbed some food from the counter and came back with a plate.

“Living room?”

I nodded again and we went in the living room, we were alone there for now. I sat down and Drew put down a plate of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and beans on the coffee table.

“Are you okay, you’re kind of quiet?” She asked.

“I just need some quiet time.”

“Oh okay, would you like me to leave?”

Would she get mad if I said yes? She had offered… I just nodded and watched her thoughts, she stayed calm.

“I’ll see you in class then.”

She left me alone and I could breathe. I slouched in the chair, it was only the second morning and I was beyond exhausted… Maybe mom had been right… Maybe this wasn’t for me.

The people in the kitchen were having fun, but I just wanted to crawl back into bed and hide… How could people handle so much at once? My chest hurt, I couldn’t breathe… Should I call mom? What was I going to do? This was all just too much change all at once…

My phone buzzed and I was on the verge of crying.

> Morning sweetheart. I believe in you.

I wasn’t on the verge of crying anymore. I hit the call button.

“Avery?” Mom answered, her voice was tired… She must have just woken up. “Avery, are you crying?”

I couldn’t answer.

“Listen to me, baby girl, it’ll pass. I know you’re scared right now, you’re in a new and scary place, but I’m here for you okay?” There was a pause. “I might not believe in superheroes, but I believe in you, I believe you can do it and make yourself proud.”

She kept talking and I listened to her voice, I missed it already, she always knew what to do in any situation. I wiped my eyes clean with my sleeves.

“Thank you mom…”

“I love you darling.” She said, I took a deep breath. “Now, here’s what you do with a washing machine.” She continued explaining, it was really complicated, you had to split whites and colors, know how much soap to put and the right settings, then you had to dry it, make sure the lint screen was clean. “I think that covers it. I need to go and make breakfast for your dad, will you be okay?”

“I think so.”

“Never forget how much I love you.”

“I love you too mom.”

We hung up and I took a few deep breaths. My stomach was rumbling and I needed my meds, that meant eating first. It was cold by now, but I’d always been a slow eater so that was how I usually ate my food.

After taking my medicine, I got up and went back to the bookcase I’d scouted the night before. Books were nice, they were always there when I needed an escape.