The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 8

“Oh boy! I’m so excited for my first day as Voriodikta’s town herald!” a young man gushed to the two scribes who escorted him through a bustling marketplace towards the town square. “I can’t believe the last guy just quit! Why would anyone want to leave such a fabulous position?”

“Uh… no reason…” one of the scribes lied.

The other scribe handed him a piece of parchment and a curved horn and informed him, “There you go! You’re all set! We’ll be hiding in these bushes if you need anything!”

As they dashed into the nearby shrubs, the herald questioned, “Why would you need to do that?”

“No reason!” the first scribe repeated himself.

“Okay then…” The herald grew suspicious but didn’t broach the subject any further. He stepped onto a small, stone dais, and he gaped when he beheld a group of villagers storming one of the forum buildings, using pitchforks and various other tools to smash everything in their sight! “Maybe I should wait ’til later…”

The second scribe urged him, “They’ll stop when you start. Go on!”

The young herald seemed skeptical, but despite his misgivings, he raised the horn to his lips and blew. The rioters did indeed stop, however, they now turned to the scribe with malice on their faces. One villager suddenly proclaimed, “Oh look, there’s another mouthpiece from the palace! I wonder what lies they’re peddling today!”

They all gathered before him, but they all bore expressions of pure venom, and the herald trembled slightly as he announced, “I’m pleased to report that the monster lurking in the Akadimaikos shore is no longer a threat to the public!”

“They killed it?” another villager probed.

“Well, no, they just tamed it,” the herald nervously let them. Know.

A surly villager jeered, “They said they killed it! See, the royal family lied again!”

The herald assured them, “No, no, no! They never claimed to have killed it! It’s just a lovable pet now!”

“They can’t even protect us from monsters anymore!” an irate villager complained.

“You know who would have killed the monster? Mercinon!” a woman chimed in, and the crowd wholeheartedly agreed with her.

The herald queried, “Mercinon? Isn’t he the one that sent the monsters here in the first place?”

A defensive villager shouted, “See! More lies! Get him!”

The mob advanced towards him, but before they reached him, Exelda challenged them, “If you want the hippocamp dead, feel free to slay it yourselves! But you’ll need several people to work a large spear, and you better get it on the first try or else it’ll easily crush you all in a single move!”

“More lies!” an obstinate villager shrieked. “They have royal horses, so they’re just pawns for the palace too! Let’s get them!”

“Please don’t!” Exelda sounded more annoyed than worried. When one of them neared her, she swatted him away as if he were a fly! As he forcibly flew back into the gaggle, everyone abandoned that idea.

Kefalia surveyed the damage they did and inquired, “Oh my gods! What happened to your tailor shop?”

A sullen villager replied, “He said he didn’t want a dead man running our polis!”

“Is that so unreasonable?” Narcius countered. “Plus, now you have no tailor shop to go to, so when you need a new toga…”

“We don’t need anymore togas right now! We’re fine with what we’ve got!” a righteous villager contended. As the other radicals cheered their support for that sentiment, the last thread holding that man’s clothing together gave way! Everyone around him grew quiet as he now stood there buck naked, and that man broke the silence by growling, “Oh, let’s just go back to our houses and wait for news from the only source we can trust, Konna!”

As the sulky villagers all dispersed, the herald attempted to continue his communique, “In other news, the farmers in Agrochorio have reported a surplus in olives, so prices for the crop have dropped…”

As they trotted away from the area, Akintos brought up, “Remember when we used to get praised for saving people?”

Mercinon marched around the cave in a very flamboyant way and held a stick up in the air as if he were holding a flag. Thanamenti came in from one of the cavern rooms, and she stared at Mercinon in shock. “Huh! I didn’t know you could still get drunk once you’ve died!” she remarked.

“You can? Ooh, who’s tanked right now? Is it that skeleton in the river Styx?” Mercinon continued his prance-like gait.

“He’s sober, he’s just practicing for the parade he wants to hold after he’s crowned king,” Marcin relayed to her as he munched on bird seeds. He glanced up at Dason’s birdcage and tried to coax him, “See, they’re not poisonous!”

Dason muttered, “Yeah, they won’t kill you, you’re already dead!”

Marcin differed, “Yes, but I would still get hurt, just like when I go to the pit of jackals! Remember, you saw me do that a couple of times now!”

Mercinon commented, “Wait, so you don’t like that walk? Should I do it more slow and graceful?” He slowed his pace but still propelled himself exuberantly.

A loud groan sounded from the cavern room, which prompted Marcin to ask, “Did Echinda have another baby, or is that just the sound she makes in the process of making them?”

“I got her newest creation contained in a cage, but it’s hungry, so one of you will have to feed it,” Thanamenti told them.

“Marcin will have to do it, I’m very busy!” Mercinon responded while he pretended to greet his adoring fans as he airily strolled around.

Rolling his eyes, Marcin forced himself to get up and take care of what he perceived as a mundane task. “Okay, what does he eat? Bird seeds by chance?”

Thanamenti notified him, “Actually, he feeds on people…”

“What? You want him to eat me?” Marcin reacted in aghast.

“Just tear off a limb, it’ll grow back just like your flesh does after you leave the pit of jackals!” Thanamenti saw his apparent reluctance, so she elaborated, “It’s just ’til those five meddling pinheads get close to the last feather.” She peered into her cauldron and seethed, “I have a hunch they’re about to come across one!”

Marcin protested, “A hunch? So, you don’t know how long I’ll have to feed him parts of my own body?” Thanamenti glared at him, so he sighed and tugged on his arm, trying to pull it off as he headed into the cavern room.

Mercinon posed to Thanamenti, “Should I add a twirl or something?”

Thanamenti let out an exasperated noise. “Mercinon, are you crazy? Obviously, the first one was better, just lower your knees a bit!” Mercinon took her suggestion and continued marching around the cave, totally oblivious to Marcin crying out in pain in the cavern room.

“There’s a feather!” Kefalia exclaimed as she pointed to some white plumage on the dark, rocky ground.

“Once again, we’re looking for a golden feather!” Exelda irritatedly reminded her. “Don’t even mention it if it’s not the right color! But keep your eyes open ’cause we’re on the volcano now! It’s gotta be around here somewhere since it’s the only thing around Chaos that represents fire!”

Stocastin differed, “I find the premise of that theses faulty! Fire is a chemical reaction of oxygen and a combustible material, and lava is simply molten rock! I highly doubt that the sympathies would place the feather somewhere without fire!”

Exelda debated him, “What would you have us do? Check every fireplace in our polis? Besides, it doesn’t have to be fire, it just has to represent it!”

“But they’re totally different substances! Trust me, I know everything about volcanoes!” Stocastin was so wrapped up in bickering that he didn’t notice a crack in the stony surface and tripped on it, tumbling straight onto the ground!

“Did you know that Gifloga had right there?” Exelda teased him.

The other three roared in laughter, and then Kefalia stiffened up and fell to the floor as well! As Narcius helped Stocastin get up and Exelda picked up Kefalia, Akintos voluntarily laid down. “What are you doing?” Exelda reproached him.

Akintos defended himself, “What? They get to lay down and I don’t?”

“No one else is down there anymore. I think you should get up before Exelda explodes!” Narcius suggested.

“But it’s so comfy here!” Akintos stretched and snuggled in more. “You should try it! The warmth of these rocks is so soothing!”

Exelda snarled in frustration, handed Kefalia to Narcius, and picked Akintos up. She used more force than she anticipated though, so not only did she lift him over head but she accidentally sent him flying up the volcano! Narcius handed Kefalia over to Stocastin and used his super speed to zip up and grab him before he fell in. Akintos landed on the edge, and Narcius reported to Exelda, “Don’t worry! There was plenty of space for him to land, you wouldn’t have killed him!”

Although Exelda felt relieved to hear that her mishap wasn’t as dire as she feared, she still appeared fairly worried. “I am so sorry, Akintos! I didn’t know I could do that! I thought with my pregnancy that I couldn’t lift as much, but having a baby seems to have made my powers stronger!”

“Um… little help!” Stocastin called himself to her attention. Exelda turned back to him and saw that Stocastin had buckled trying to prop Kefalia up, causing them both to have fallen down again! As Exelda stooped down to assist them, Stocastin expressed, “Wow, this is comfortable!”

“Told ya!” Akintos reluctantly began to stand up, but then something caught his eye. “Hey, there’s a feather!”

Dropping Kefalia, Exelda scolded him, “What did I tell you about that?”

Narcius confirmed Akintos’ assertion, “No, this one is golden! It’s on a rickety bridge going over the volcano! Why is that there? Who is that for?”

“What are you waiting for? Hurry and…” Exelda heard something moving behind her, and when she faced the perpetrator of the loud stomping, she gasped. She discovered a giant man made of a clay-like substance heading towards them! Exelda pulled out her sword and ran towards it. He tried to grab her, but she dodged him and took a swipe at him with her weapon. When it collided with his body, it got stuck! He used this momentary distraction to pick her up and lowered her towards his mouth!
“Oh my gods!” Narcius yelped before zipping over to them. He knocked her out of the monster man’s grip, but it continued to pursue them. “Shouldn’t it be easy to destroy clay?” Narcius pondered.

Stocastin, who had gotten pinned down again, corrected Narcius, “It’s not clay, it’s a lipid!”

From on top of the volcano, Akintos puzzled, “What in the name of Gaea is a lipid?”

“Get the feather!” Exelda ordered while she evaded the monster man.

“I… Okay!” Akintos gingerly put a foot onto the first rung of the wooden bridge, and while it did not break, it did make the structure sway. “Maybe my mom was right- I am getting fat!”

Stocastin tried to push Kefalia off of him while illuminated everyone, “That’s what a lipid is! It’s commonly known as fat! You can destroy it through a lipase enzyme!”

As Narcius avoided the monster man, he begrudgingly admitted, “I guess we should have let him bring his chemistry set after all!”

“Yes, you should have!” Stocastin approved of his statement. “But you don’t need purchased chemicals in this case, it’s naturally formed inside urine!”

“So, you’re saying we have to pee on it?” Exelda squealed. “Gross! I’m not doing that!”

Stocastin managed to push Kefalia of him just in time to impede the monster man’s footsteps, which caused him to lose his balance. Right after it landed face first onto the terrain, Narcius stood over him and exclaimed, “And you say I have too much pride!” He showered the monster man, but it didn’t last long. “Damn! I wish I didn’t go before we got here!”

Exelda could see what little he did get out did destroy a part of the monster man, so she quickly placed herself above him and let everything she had out. Stocastin joined her, and when Kefalia could move again, she joined them too. To their relief, their collective efforts worked! The monster man melted! The four of them celebrated, but when the mixture they created touched their sandals, they scurried away from that spot! Kefalia requested, “Um… If anyone asks, can we just say that we threw him into the volcano?”

“The volcano! Akintos!” Exelda gazed up the volcano, and it alleviated her to see Akintos rolling down towards them! When he finally stopped, Exelda asked him, “Is the feather okay?”

“Yes!” He held it up as he answered. “I’m fine too, by the way!” He surveyed the scene beneath him and inquired, “What happened here?”

Exelda replied, “Don’t even bother ’til after I bathe!” Narcius, Kefalia, and Stocastin concurred with her as they headed out. Akintos shrugged as he followed them away from the scene.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 7

Cyrek stood at a podium in front of the capitol building steps, and he proudly declared to the scribes who stood before him, “And that’s the plan! Any questions?” All of the scribes raised their hands, and Cyrek tried to hide his grimace as he called on one of them.

The first scribe wanted to know, “You didn’t actually give any details on how you aim to curtail the violence in the streets, you just rambled on about how important it is to protect our polis. So, am I correct to assume that you have no plan?”

“You guys always assume the worst!” Cyrek shot back to that scribe. “Listen, the royal family has been working with the senate, and we have a plan set in motion, but we can’t release classified details to the public. Otherwise, what would the point of classifying anything be? You next!”

“So, you are doing something to mitigate the riots, right?” the second scribe probed. “They’re growing more and more each day!”

Cyrek differed, “I don’t think there’s that many happening!”

A third scribe pointed out, “There’s one going on right now!” He indicated to the crowd behind him, who roared with anger and would have stormed into the building if the royal guards hadn’t been holding them back.

“That’s really more of a protest than a riot, and, as you can see, we have it under control,” Cyrek debated with him. The other scribes all avidly raised their hands so they could follow up with that, but instead of choosing someone else, Cyrek looked up the stairs and brought up, “Oh look! There’s Prince Dason heading towards the Senate now! Hello, your majesty!”

“Hi! I’m Prince Dason off to do prince things! Yeah!” Dason swung his arms and stared awkwardly at the mass gathered below him.

The third scribe questioned, “Why is he acting so strange?”

Cyrek hesitated for a second and then came up with, “Is that strange to you? I don’t think it’s so unusual, but I’ll go ask him about it anyways!” As he hurried up the steps, the scribes shouted more inquiries, which he ignored. When he reached Dason, he queried, “You’re good, right, your majesty?”

“I’m hungry! Where do you get food around here?” Dason wondered.

“Oh, you’re such a kidder! Just like your dad!” Cyrek let out a nervous laugh. “Well, we have a lot of work to do, so we better go inside! Toodle-oo!” The scribes all tried to get more information from him in vain as Cyrek took Dason’s arm and rushed him inside.

Once they were in the building, Cyrek scolded him, “What was that? I thought I told you to do nothing!”

Dason morphed back into Impusa, and Impusa refuted, “You told me to do nothing, but you didn’t tell me what to say!”

Cyrek made a noise of annoyance, and then he glanced around the large, mostly empty hallway that they were standing in. “Where’s Krimeno?”

“King Peripetio almost walked out there naked and crying for joy, so Krimeno brought him into the palace.” Impusa gestured to the large doorway on the left.

“Well, thank Zeus one thing went right today!” Cyrek reacted in relief. “Alright, go in the palace and get some food. Just remember next time you act like Dason, try harder to act like Dason!”

Impusa grumpily responded, “Next time feed me! I can’t think on an empty stomach!”

Cyrek watched Impusa hobble away, and then he sighed. “Oh well! Maybe the rest of my day will go by more smoothly!” When he opened the door on the right, he immediately heard a senator loudly crying, and he sighed again before going into that room.

Thanamenti hollered out in frustration and nearly flipped over her cauldron. Mercinon threw a rock onto a crudely drawn hopscotch turf, and he very casually asked her, “What’s the matter?”

“What’s the matter?” Thanamenti repeated in disbelief. “Those superpowered scoundrels are out riding around free while our valiant monster is lying dead in-!”

“Aw, man! I lost again!” Mercinon, who had been hopping while she talked, gazed at the square with the pebble on it disappointedly.

Thanamenti snapped her fingers to get his attention. “Hey! This is important! We should discuss it!”

Marcin placed some seeds into Dason’s birdcage and piped up, “You better get used to it! This happens to him a lot!”

Mercinon glared at Marcin mid jump and stumbled a bit. “Look what you did! I almost won that one!” Thanamenti still seemed incredibly agitated, so he assured her, “Look, take it from my experience, taking over a kingdom isn’t easy! But we can’t let losing one battle stop us from winning our war! We gotta keep trying ’til…. Dammit! This game is impossible to win!”

“My little sister beat it when she was a little girl!” Dason taunted him.

“Liar!” Mercinon spouted as he made another attempt. “Oh, oh, oh! I think I got it this time!” All of a sudden, a violent tremor shook the entire cave, and since Mercinon was on one foot, he ended up toppling down! “Oh my gods! Seriously?”

Thanamenti pondered, “Did Echinda just give birth again?”

Marcin set his bird seeds down and dryly regarded her query, “We better hope so or else something that’s about to totally screw us just invaded this space!” Thanamenti gave him a dirty look, so he unenthusiastically volunteered, “I’ll go check.” The cave shook again, but this time, one of the walls broke open and something green and scaly poked out of the cavern room. “Yup, it’s a monster!”

“Thanks! I couldn’t figure that out on my own, eagle eye!” Thanamenti expressed to him sarcastically.

“I resent that!” Dason let her know.

Thanamenti snapped, “You’re a hawk!” The cave went through another tremendous quake, and the creature grew even larger! As its breadth nearly touched the crackling fire beneath her bubbling pot, Thanamenti stated, “We need to move this thing right away! Are those vile oafs close to somewhere where we can put a hippocamp?” She peered into her potion and got delighted with what she viewed. “Oh, this is too perfect, isn’t it? Mercinon?”

Mercinon had resumed his hopscotch and cried out in delight, “Yes! Just one more square!” Thanamenti used her staff to magically erase his game, and he gaped in shock and disappointment for a minute. “How could you just-?” He espied Thanamenti thumping her fingers impatiently, so he attempted to smooth things over, “Alright, now that my head is clear, let’s get to work!”

Neither Thanamenti nor Marcin appeared amused, and Dason opined, “I like our odds on this one!”

Mercinon retorted, “You’re delusional! We’re the ones in control of this situation!” The creature grew wide enough that it hit Mercinon and knocked him down, which made Dason snicker.

“Let’s all sit at this table,” Exelda suggested while she as well as Stocastin, Akintos, Narcius, and Kefalia trudged through a vast space full of handwritten books, scrolls, and scholars.

“Oh, thank gods!” Akintos slumped into a chair gratefully.

Exelda grabbed a stack of reading material that she had stashed at that spot, and Narcius, Kefalia, and Akintos groaned. Stocastin revealed his own set of text that he had set aside, and he merrily regarded the others, “I can’t fathom the motivation of your tedium towards this medium! Personally, I’m excited for a chance to peruse through all of the mysteries that this library holds!”

Before he got started on his pile, Exelda warned him, “Those better not be chemistry books!”

“I… They are… Well… This one is technically more biology.” Stocastin held one of his picks in the air.

“We’re not fighting science, we’re fighting monsters! If it’s not monster related, you can’t read it right now!” Exelda decreed.

Stocastin reluctantly relented, “Fine! But if I come across anything that can get defeated by chemical reaction, I’m going back to my choices!”

Kefalia whined, “Why do we have to do this? We read all these books the last time we were in Akadimaikos!”

“Yes, we did a lot of research a few months ago, and it helped us, didn’t it? If Mercinon is gonna send more monsters our way, we need to be prepared! We need to know all of the weird ways to defeat them and have all of the tools we’ll need to equip ourselves with before we set out! We’re not gonna take any chances! We’re doing everything we can to ready ourselves for what we’re about to face so we can rescue our beloved prince and save the world!” She paused after her speech and added, “I gotta go!”

“What? You cannot leave us here to do all of the work on our own!” Narcius objected.

Exelda bolted up and clarified, “No, I mean I gotta go!”

As Exelda scurried off, Kefalia noted, “Again? You just went not so long ago!”

“I’d love to stay and argue, but I’m not peeing through my toga!” As she gained some distance, she yelled ,”You better be working when I get back!”

“Why did my parents teach me to read?” Akintos grumped as he picked up a book.

They read in silence for a minute, and then Stocastin commented, “This feels peculiar! It elucidates the same sensations that I went through the previous times we visited this establishment!”

Narcius concurred, “I know what you mean! I remember reading this exact book right before we had to fight a monster in the ocean! I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a different scenario!”

Suddenly, the entire building shook, and people outside started screaming. Kefalia remarked, “That sounds an awful lot like our research is about to get interrupted by a monster again!”

“Perhaps their fear stems from something entirely different and we’re victims of a mere coincidence,” Stocastin theorized.

“Aaahhh! There’s a horrible monster in the ocean!” a scholar screamed as he ran for cover.

Akintos pronounced, “Nope! It’s exactly the same as last time!”

Kefalia fretted, “What do we do? Exelda isn’t done relieving herself yet! And we haven’t finished our research either!”

“I think she would disapprove of us letting innocent villagers succumb to the wrath of this monster more than she would of us not reading anymore! I say we go and battle this beast!” Narcius proposed.

“Don’t worry, she’ll catch up with us soon!” Akintos reassured Kefalia, and with the belief that they made the right call, they ran out to face this monster.

They rode their royally decorated horses towards the waterside, and it startled them to see a massive creature whose top half resembled a green horse and whose bottom half resembled a scaly fish! When they got within walking distance of the shore, they halted their horses, and as they dismounted, they watched the monster easily crush a nearby ship and snap at frightened fishermen. “How do we defeat this thing? Man, I wish we did more research!” Akintos lamented.

Narcius suggested to him, “You could try using your powers against it. I mean, it’s in water, you shoot fire…”

Akintos agreed and aimed his palms at the monster, but to their dismay, it had very little effect on it! It raised one of its fins and slammed it onto the water forcefully, creating a tidal wave that engulfed the four of them, slamming them against the cliff behind them! While upside down, Kefalia posed to them, “Now what?”

“Aim for the eyes!” Stocastin advised as he picked up a stone and hurled it towards the monster. Kefalia and Narcius imitated his move, and Akintos shot more fireballs, but the monster appeared unbothered by their actions and advanced closer and closer to them…

“Stop it!” Exelda hollered at them when the monster grew close enough to snap at them. She intended to have them cease their fruitless efforts, which nearly led to their demise, but to her astonishment, the monster actually obeyed her command! This surprised Exelda, but she didn’t have time to question it, so she just rolled with it. “That’s right! Bad monster! Bad, bad monster!” The monster hung its head in shame, and it looked so depressed from disappointing her that Exelda seriously started to feel sorry for it! “Tell you what- We won’t fight you anymore if you leave the villagers alone! Deal?” The creature whinnied happily and then nuzzled her. “Okay, apology accepted! Now, go on and play! But if we hear that you’re causing more trouble, we’ll be right back here, okay?” The creature gratefully neighed and then whimsically swam off.

Akintos inquired, “What in the name of Poseidon just happened?”

Exelda replied, “I don’t know, but…” She lowered her voice so only they could hear her and recommended, “But let’s go read on how we can kill this thing just in case!” They vigorously nodded and hurried back towards the library.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 6

“Bring him to me, and I’ll take care of the rest,” Hades directed them.

“That doesn’t sound too hard!” Akintos assessed.

Impusa warned him, “Don’t jinx it!”

Exelda followed up Hades’ request with, “We can do that! Where is he?”

“I have no idea!” Hades responded with a shrug.

“What did I tell you?” Impusa lightly hit Akintos with her cane.

Cyrek wanted to know, “You have no clue?”

Hades shook his head in dismay. “I’m afraid not. I turned to everyone I know, and I do mean everyone, and no one has any inkling where he went! That’s why I came to you.”

“So, we have become, as the idiomatic expression goes, your last resort?” Stocastin questioned. Hades nodded to confirm this, but he seemed a little guilty about doing so.

“Don’t worry, it’s not the first time we’ve been someone’s last resort!” Kefalia had meant that to give Hades some reassurance, but she just made him look a little alarmed. Cyrek shifted uncomfortably and didn’t make eye contact with anyone for a while.

Exelda ranted, “Oh great! We gotta find a dead man walking around somewhere so obscure that the gods can’t even find him and we gotta find a way to go into the Netherworld to get my boyfriend out and back into human form!”

Her last sentence piqued Hades’ interest. “How did your boyfriend get into the Netherworld? I can’t even get in there!”

“My sister put a spell on him,” Melampia let him know. “I believe that she’s helping Mercinon in some way.”

“So, Thanamenti is in contact with him at the very least,” Hades deduced. “She could be holding him in the Netherworld too! Regardless of the case, going to the Netherworld would make a lot of sense! Wow, why didn’t I contact you sooner?”

Melampia threw her hands up in the air in frustration. “I don’t know! I’ve been here the whole time, not up to much! Apparently, you didn’t get in touch with everyone until now! But I shall forgive you in light of this revelation! My sister’s destructive forces must be stopped before it’s too late! I’m delighted to hear that we have a better perspective on how to do that!” Hades liquid form gave her a high five, and they both seemed pretty pleased with themselves.

Narcius interjected, “Excuse me! I fail to see what you two are getting so excited about! Are any of us even allowed to go into the Netherworld?”

“There is an entrance to the Netherworld here on Earth, but you can’t just walk in. A mortal would need to provide the proper payment to activate the access to the inside,” Hades informed them.

“That’s simple enough! We have enough in the treasury to get them the Drachmas they need to do that. How much is it?” Krimeno pulled his quill and a piece of parchment out of his pocket and prepared himself to take notes.

Cyrek upbraided him, “Krimeno, he didn’t mean a financial payment!” He paused and then queried to Hades, “Did you?”

Hades shot down that notion, “You would need a more heroic tribute than that.”

“Dang it! Why can’t anything ever be easy?” Cyrek bemoaned.

“Hang on! We’re already heroes! Do you know how many monsters we defeated to save the kingdom? I’m not sure the exact amount, but it was a lot! So, we should be able to just walk right in, right?” Akintos reasoned.

Hades denied that, “It needs to be a physical object.”

Akintos argued, “We are physical objects!”

“What if we provided them with a medal or a trophy we got for our services?” Exelda threw out there.

“We don’t have any kind of tokens marking our accomplishments though!” Stocastin pointed out.

Cyrek assured him, “Oh, that’s easy! We can get you one!”

Impusa mumbled, “About damn time!”

“What?” Cyrek didn’t catch wind of what she had said but knew that she had spoken up.

“I was just saying your hair looks nice!” Impusa lied.

Cyrek brushed his fingers through his mane proudly. “Thanks!”

Hades asked Exelda, “You mentioned turning your boyfriend back into a human. Did he by chance get turned into a bird?”

“Yes!” Exelda answered. “Was there a purpose behind that? It seemed so random!”

“Oh, that’s perfect! She used the Curse of the Five Feathers!” Hades exclaimed.

Most of them stared at him blankly after he made that announcement, so Melampia filled them in, “In that spell, the castor can deprive an individual of their human form and hold them in confinement, but it’s not permanent. There’s only one way to reverse it though- you have to gather five special feathers and return them to the avian creature that the afflicted has become.”

Krimeno held his quill up and offered, “You can have this feather! It’s my favorite, so that should count as one.”

“These would be ones that came off the bird itself,” Melampia enlightened them. “when the magic occurred, the sympathies involved plucked five feathers from the cursed one and hid them in significant places that represent each of the five elements of nature.”

“Uh, there are way more than just five elements in nature!” Stocastin differed. “We know of dozens, but scholars believe there’s dozens more that have yet to be discovered.”

Exelda corrected him, “She means earth, wind, fire, air, and water. So… any ideas of where the sympathies put these feathers? Feel free to be as specific as possible!”

Hades gestured in a way that demonstrated his lack of foresight on the subject. “Sorry! Your guess is as good as mine!”

“Even mine?” Kefalia gazed at him in a delightfully hopeful manner.

“You don’t have to answer that,” Akintos disclosed to him before he optimistically expressed, “Alright! This is gonna be awesome! We get to go treasure hunting with a god!”

Hades disputed this, “I can’t go with you! I can appear in various forms, but I can’t actually set foot on Earth. If I could, I’d find out where my wife goes in the summer!”

Exelda needed clarification on this situation, so she posed to Hades, “Basically, the only way we can save my boyfriend and our polis is to keep wandering to different terrains and hope we find one of the feathers we need?”

“Yeah, pretty much!” Hades confirmed. “And you need to move quickly before too much damage is done!”

“Quickly, huh?” Exelda grimaced as she as well as Narcius, Akintos, Kefalia, and Stocastin gave Impusa a worried glance. Exelda politely appealed to her, “Impusa, we need… someone to stay behind and protect the royal family, and since you…”

Impusa folded her arms and gave them all a miffed expression. “I know where you’re going with this…” They all looked at each other nervously until she finished her thought, “You don’t want me to run into my ex in the the Underworld! Or Netherworld or whatever!”

“That was precisely what I was gonna say!” Exelda fibbed.

“Well, that’s settled then! Remember to send Mercinon to me when you find him! Good luck! Your world’s entire existence depends on you!” Hades bade them.

Narcius quivered slightly when he heard that. “No pressure or anything!”

Hades grinned at them encouragingly before his liquid form morphed back into a potion. For a moment, no one spoke as they absorbed all that transpired, but then Cyrek piped up, “Well, I’m gonna go back to the Capitol and pretend like everything is fine! Let me know if you need anything!”

“We need five magic feathers!” Akintos cried out.

“Thank you for your services, Melampia!” Cyrek half bowed to her, and as he led Krimeno and Impusa away from Melampia’s temple, he merrily wished to Exelda, Stocastin, Akintos, Kefalia, and Narcius, “Do me a favor and don’t die along the way!”

Exelda reacted sardonically, “Oh sure, we’ll do that for you!”

Cyrek gave them a wink and warm gesture with his hands before departing, and as he walked away, Kefalia wondered, “Okay… What do we do now?”

They mulled it over for a few seconds, and then Stocastin came up with, “Well, we are presently situated in the Mentivalto Forest, so we can search the vicinity and see if perhaps this location got chosen to represent wood.”

Exelda shrugged. “It couldn’t hurt to check.”

“It might if there’s a bear or something!” Kefalia remarked.

“After all the monsters we faced recently, I think we can bear dealing with forest creatures!” Akintos commented jocularly.

They all groaned a little at his pun, and then Exelda waved goodbye to Melampia. “Thank you for your time!”

Melampia rosily blessed them, “Good fortune to the six of you on this journey!”

Exelda started to quibble, “No, there’s five of us right now since Impusa went with…” She glanced down at her stomach and realized what she meant. “Oh, right! There is six of us, hun?” She rubbed her belly, but then she shook off any anxiety she garnered from this and trekked down the hill with the others.

As they traversed through a trail in a very woody, plant-filled scene, Akintos moaned, “I’m so tired! We’ve already searched through half the forest now! Can’t we take a break?”

“It’s only been fifteen minutes!” Narcius contended.

“It feels like fifteen years!” Akintos grumbled.

Narcius advised him, “We have a long journey ahead of us, so I highly recommend that you man up and quit acting so childish!” When he turned back to the path ahead of him, he nearly ran into a spiderweb, so he let out a high pitched scream and wailed, “It almost touched me!”

Akintos snidely quipped, “Remind me again how muc hmore mature you are than me!”

“Nature is so gross!” Narcius complained as he avoided stepping in a mud puddle.

“I don’t know why you two are griping so much! Personally, I’m enjoying this!” Exelda opined. “Hiking through such beautiful scenery is so relaxing!”

All of a sudden, a loud, belch-like uproar sounded in the distance ahead of them, which startled everyone enough to make them freeze in their tracks! Kefalia observed, “That didn’t sound very beautiful or relaxing!”

Exelda wondered, “What in the name of Hera was that?”

“I don’t recognize that reverberation! If I didn’t know any better, I would hypothesize that we were about to encounter a monster!” Stocastin tried to convince himself that this theory was far fetched, but his face indicated that he didn’t actually think that was so.

“Oh, I doubt it’s another monster! It’s probably just-.” Her sentence got cut off as they experienced a series of short but violent tremors, so she amended what she intended to say, “We better go find out!”

They cut through the thick foliage, and when they got close to a river, Exelda crossed her fingers and prayed, “Please be something normal! Please be something normal!” They finally spotted the perpetrator of the noise, and they all gasped when they beheld a large creature with the snout and skin of an alligator and the structure of a frog! Exelda muttered, “Boo!”

The monster ceased eating a large bush when it detected them, and it suddenly and furiously hopped in their direction! Akintos declared, “Don’t worry, I got this!” He shot a series of fireballs at it, but it simply ate them and laughed at him when it was through. “I don’t got this!”

“Stocastin, turn invisible and got stab it!” Exelda commanded.

“I shall!” Stocastin heeded her word, but when he slashed the monster, its rough skin broke his weapon! “Oh, Phobos! That was expensive!” The monster heard him and began pursuing him based on the sounds he made.

Exelda ordered, “Kefalia, go fly above it and keep it away from what we’re doing!”

Kefalia promised her, “I can do that!” She hovered above him and had to escalate higher as its jump almost got enough height to touch her. Once she was at a safe distance, it still tried to to get her, which amused Kefalia. She taunted it, “You can’t get me! Nah, nah, nah-ah-uh!”

“Narcius, crash into that tall tree at full speed,” Exelda instructed him.

“That sounds painful!” Narcius objected.

Exelda retorted, “Would you rather get eaten by that thing?”

Narcius relented, “I guess not!”

As Narcius gained some yardage, Exelda cautioned, “Kefalia, don’t fly too close to us! Stocastin, stay clear of that spot!”

Stocastin reappeared next to her and responded, “What? You think I stayed there after that?”

Before Exelda could react to him, Narcius hurled himself against the tree, creating a dent that made it buckle. Exelda used her strength to push the tree down, and it landed on top of the monster! They all began to celebrate, but then the monster shook the tree off and laughed at them. Kefalia started weeping and cried, “Oh no! It can’t be killed!” A teardrop landed inside of the monster’s mouth, and it made the monster shriek in pain! It stumbled around a bit, and then it fell down belly up. As it laid motionless, Kefalia rectified her previous position, “Oh, I guess it can!”

“Fascinating! Is it a purely freshwater creature, or does it have an allergic reaction to sodium?” Stocastin studied its corpse curiously.

“Who cares! We have a feather to find!” Exelda thought about it for a moment, and then she noted, “Wow, there’s something I never thought I’d ever say!” The others shared her sentiments as they strolled away from that locale.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 5

Mercinon peered into a bubbling cauldron as Thanamenti used a giant spoon to stir it, and when he spotted something of interest, he questioned, “Is that something?”

Thanamenti slapped his protruding finger away from her brewing potion. “Don’t touch it!”

Mercinon rubbed his freshly sore area and fibbed, “I wasn’t going to!”

All of a sudden, a loud, belch-like uproar sounded from a naturally formed room of the cave, and Marcin emerged from it with panting breath and torn clothes. As he recovered, Mercinon asked him, “So, did Echinda give birth yet?”

“Really? What exactly do you think is going on in there?” Marcin answered grumpily.

“I dunno; I try not get too nosy about what people do behind closed doors!” Mercinon gazed into the stewing pot, so he didn’t catch the dirty look that Marcin was giving him. Totally impervious to Marcin’s foul mood, Mercinon merrily invited him, “You’re just in time! Come check this out!”

Marcin had low expectations of viewing anything that would adjust his level of irritation, but he walked over to the cauldron anyways. He got a bit of a shock to see people moving about inside as if he were gazing out of a window, and when he inspected the scene more closely, he realized he recognized these individuals. “Hey, those are those superpowered jerks! I don’t see my ex anywhere, so maybe she didn’t betray us after all!” They then saw Impusa lagging behind everyone, and he cringed. “Oh for the love of Plutus!”

Thanamenti exclaimed, “That‘s your ex? She’s old enough to be your mother!”

“She’s old enough to be my grandmother, actually,” Marcin corrected her. Thanamenti still seemed confused, so he clarified, “She can turn into anything for a whole minute!”

“It’s best not follow up with that one,” Mercinon advised her. He studied the pot more closely and inquired, “Are they seriously going for a hike with the Senate at a time like this?”

Thanamenti glared at the scene and angrily observed, “No, they’re in the Mentivalto Forest! Which means they’re visiting Melampia!”

Mercinon lied, “I knew that! I was just joking!”

“If they’re going to her, then they may-,” Marcin started to assert.

“It means they’ll figure out exactly what you’ve been up to and will put a stop to it immediately!” Dason’s bird form shouted from a gilded cage.

Thanamenti did not get deterred from his attempt to shake her. “Not if I can help it! Marcin, bring the first offspring that the mother of monsters has given us!”

Marcin whined, “Seriously? You’re just gonna use magic to move it to the forest anyways! Can’t you just do the spell from the room its already in?”

“Fine, but you gotta visit the pit of jackals!” Thanamenti indicated to a newly dug chasm with a dozen barking canines.

“You know that I’m already dead, right?” Marcin challenged.

Mercinon retorted, “Yeah, but it’ll still hurt!”

Marcin sighed and made his way towards to the pit while Dason furiously tried to break out of his cage to intervene against what Thanamenti planned on doing.

Exelda picked up a stiffened Kefalia and draped her over her shoulder so they could continue their pace, and Cyrek scolded Krimeno, “Why would you make her laugh so hard?”

“I wasn’t trying to!” Krimeno refuted. “I really meant it! I’d love to take her out sometime!”

“I told you not to do that!” Cyrek reprimanded him.

Krimeno differed, “No, you said not to hit on Melampia! I figured Kefalia was fair game!” He paused and added, “So… Is that a no?”

Before anyone could respond, Impusa loudly complained, “Oh, don’t mind me! I’m out here all by myself, not a vulnerable position to be in at all!” Everyone halted in their tracks, and she reacted a little more pleasantly, “Finally! It’s about time you all checked on me!”

Narcius informed her, “Actually, we made it to our destination, so…”

“What? No one checked me the whole time?” Impusa raged.

“We could still hear you!” Exelda assured her, and then she mumbled, “It’s a good thing we didn’t have to use stealth on this journey!”

As everyone waited for Impusa to catch up with them, they gazed up a narrow hill where the lush, green plants of the woods became scarce, and up the grassy knoll rested a small, white temple with white columns and a puff of billowy, pink smoke that rose to the sky. Akintos expressed hopefully, “That looks like a potion brewing! So, she most know a lot about magic then!”

Krimeno let him know, “Actually, it’s pomegranate surprise! The surprise is opium.”

“Really…?” Akintos rubbed his chin while contemplating his interest in the concept.

“Don’t even think about it!” Exelda warned him.

Stocastin piped up, “I believe it’s already too late for that! He appears to have already entertained the possibility.”

Exelda made a noise of annoyance. “It’s just an expression!”

“She means she’ll knock you out if you put your lips anywhere near that concoction!” Impusa, who was now directly behind them, chimed in.

“Aah!” Akintos, who hadn’t noticed Impusa approaching them, jumped from a jolt of fright.

Narcius suggested to Impusa, “Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but I think we should carry you to the top of this hill. We all need to stick together now, and I don’t wanna walk at a snail’s pace the rest of the way!”

Impusa took a slight exception to that. “How dare you be so… honest! Yeah, alright, go ahead!”

“Krimeno, go help pick up Impusa,” Cyrek instructed him.

“Um… She’s not really my type…” Krimeno hesitated. Cyrek shook his head judmentally, and when Krimeno noticed Narcius attempting to hoist Impusa by himself, it clicked for him what Cyrek had intended for him to do. “Oh!” He ran over to assist, and they began ascending the ridge.

When they finally reached the temple, they found a beautiful woman with bushy, mahogany hair that flowed to her mid back and a blindfold over her eyes humming a captivating tune in a very melodic, soothing voice as she swayed over a bubbling cauldron. She ceased her warbling as Narcius and Krimeno set Impusa down and Exelda propped Kefalia against one of the pillars, and as soon as everyone was situated, she warmly greeted them, “Welcome! I’ve been expecting you!”

Cyrek guessed, “Hello again, Melampia! You heard us coming, huh?”

“No. Well, yes, you were pretty loud, but prior to that, I sensed a great disturbance in the kingdom,” Melampia stated.

“The gods didn’t show you what’s going on?” Cyrek wondered.

Melampia confirmed this, “Indeed! I don’t know why, but my vision is shrouded at the moment!”

Exelda politely confronted her, “Really? Was it shrouded when you helped Mercinon learn about one of weaknesses?”

Through a jawline that could hardly move, Kefalia chided her, “Exelda! You can’t just yell at an oracle!”

“Well, someone has to say it!” Exelda defended herself. “Plus, we need to know right away whose side she’s on, otherwise we’re just wasting time!”

“I understand your animosity over that,” Melampia empathized wit her, “but if I hadn’t done that, you guys wouldn’t have made the connection between the monsters and the missing prince.”

Her logic made sense to them, and Akintos teased Exelda, “She’s got you there!”

Melampia asked them, “So, tell me, why have you all made this pilgrimage to my quarters?”

“He made me go with him,” Krimeno answered first. “It’s a work thing.”

“Oh, great oracle, Chaos is in turmoil!” Cyrek pushed Krimeno behind him in an attempt to discourage his buffoonery. “Our citizens are revolting against themselves in an support of the madman who died trying to take over the land!”

Melampia gazed into her cauldron as if this tidbit expanded her vision. “I do see a lot of destruction, but I don’t understand why they’re doing this! Why do they want this attempted tyrant to take over the kingdom?”

Kefalia stiffly briefed her, “They’re listening to some dude named Konna who says he works for the palace and that the royals are doing all kinds of horrible things!”

“They’ve also manufactured unflattering slander against yourself as well,” Stocastin put in.

“Oh… Now it’s starting to make sense!” Melampia commented.

Cyrek remarked, “Really? Wow, I haven’t heard anyone use that phrase in ages!”

Melampia revealed, “That sounds like the handiwork of my sister, Thanamenti!”

“You have a sister?” Krimeno’s eyes sparkled.

“She’s not at all attractive,” Melampia relayed to him, which made his spirits deflate.

Akintos inquired, “Why would your sister do that to us? I thought we were cool with each other… now that we’ve cleared up that whole sharing secrets with Mercinon thing!”

Melampia replied, “She’s not doing it to you, she’s doing it me! Ever since we were young, she’s been jealous of my abilities. I can use my skills to provide wisdom and guidance because the gods communicate to me through clairvoyant means. The gods granted her psychic powers too, but she’s only able to channel the dead. She could have used it to provide great comfort to people who’ve lost loved one and a better perspective to scholars studying history, but that was never good enough for her. She wanted to up her range of things she could do, so she started studying sorcery. People weren’t drawn to her like she had hoped, they found her creepy!”

“She does freaky but not in a good way!” Akintos quipped.

“So, she’s destroying our polis out of petty vengeance? That’s awfully rude!” Narcius disapproved.

Melampia went on, “She’s been waiting for a long time to find someone who would work in her favor as they took over the kingdom, and it appears now she has!”

Kefalia questioned, “Is that why she kidnapped her boyfriend?” She pointed to Exelda.

“I believe she’s pulling all kinds of stunts to discredit the people currently in charge, and she couldn’t disparage his character, it’s far too strong to do that!”

“Damn right! That’s my man!” Exelda cooed. She cleared her throat and shifted back to the original subject, “Why would she kidnap him though? Wouldn’t it be easier to murder him? Obviously, I’m glad she didn’t, but I’m surprised she’s sparing his life!”

Melampia illuminated them all, “The gods have granted us powers to help humanity, not to harm it. If we misuse our abilities, then the gods will take them away along with our longevity, so she doesn’t want to face her eternal punishment in Tartarus.”

Cyrek beseeched her, “Can you tell us how to fix this? Please tell me it’s a speedy solution!”

Melampia was about to reply when, all of a sudden, her cauldron began trembling, and the liquid inside began swirling around tremendously. Akintos mentioned to Krimeno, “I thought you said the surprise was opium!” Krimeno didn’t respond; words lost the rest of them as they watched the movement incredulously.

The concoction inside became tall and cylindrical, and it soon took the form of a man! Melampia gasped, “Hades?”

“We’re talking to a god? That just doesn’t seem plausible!” Stocastin exclaimed.

“I know, it’s not a common practice, and I take no pleasure in doing this… No offense!” Hades regarded the group. “I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t desperate, and you’re the only ones left that I can turn to! I had a dangerous individual escape from the Underworld, and he’s been wreaking havoc everywhere!”

Exelda told him, “We’re well aware of this.”

Kefalia apologized for her, “Sorry! She doesn’t mean to come off rude! You know how pregnancy hormones are!”

Cyrek, Krimeno, Melampia, and Hades all turned to Exelda in surprise, and Exelda stared at Kefalia scornfully for letting that slip. “Thanks a lot, big mouth! I wasn’t ready to tell everyone yet!”

“You’re carrying an heir to the throne and you didn’t think to tell us right away?” Cyrek croaked out in astonishment.

“My mouth is normal sized!” Kefalia pouted.

Hades interrupted, “Excuse me, god of the Underworld here, not here to catch up on the latest gossip!”

Exelda bowed to him graciously, “Our apologies!” She took a deep breath and then posed to him, “So, how do we stop Mercinon?”

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 4

When the smoke cleared, Exelda and the senators discovered that a large, golden hawk stood in his place! Before anyone could ask about what just happened, the bird hovered in the air so that everyone could make eye contact with him, and when he spoke, Dason’s voice came out, “Listen, I don’t have long, so I’ll cut right to the chase: a sorceress put a curse on me! She made it so if my true love laid her eyes on me, I’d turn into a bird and get sent to live with her in the Netherworld for an indeterminate length of time! Apparently the spell worked!”

Exelda inquired, “Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”

“I didn’t think you’d believe me,” he replied. “I mean, how can I go up to you and say ‘Hey, I can’t let you see me or else I’ll sprout wings and possibly never come back?’ You’d think I was lying or just plain crazy!” Exelda considered this concept and nodded in agreement.

“Why a bird?” Krimeno wanted to know. “Couldn’t she have just sent you to the Netherworld as a human?” Dason used his wings to shrug.

“Who is this sorceress?” Cyrek questioned.

Dason responded, “She had a hood over her face, so I can’t say what she looked like. I didn’t recognize her voice either.” His image started to fade, so he quickly spouted out, “I love you, Chaos, and I love you, Exelda!” With a pop, he completely disappeared.

For a minute, no one spoke. Everyone felt too stunned to utter a word until Cyrik cried out, “For the love of Zeus, no one mention this to the scribes!”

“No one would believe us if we did!” one of the senators pointed out. “They’d think we all went mad like King Peripetio!”

“We better do something soon or they’ll start to notice something is up!” a second senator fretted.

A third senator argued, “Well, it’s not like the scribes would really catch on! I mean, they rarely see him, and if they do, it’s usually only for, like, a minute!”

Exelda suggested, “I can get Impusa to morph into his image to keep up appearances with the public while we work on breaking the spell! If we can get him back quickly, no one else needs to know! But we need to get him back right away! We can’t let him stay there in the Netherworld! Chaos needs him! I need him too! How do we get him back?”

“You expect us to know that?” the first senator reacted to her preposition. “For Elysium’s sake, we’re law makers! That’s what we know about!”

“And, to be honest, half the time we don’t know what to do about that either!” the second senator added.

The third senator urged them, “We need to consult someone who know something about magic! Do we know any experts in that field?”

Cyrek put in, “The only person that comes to my mind is Melampia…”

“Yeah, she still comes to my mind too!” Krimeno said dreamily.

“Get her out of your mind! She made it very clear that she doesn’t want you!” Cyrek barked to a very stunned Krimeno, and then he more calmly told the senators, “But I’m not sure if we should go to her. I know she’s our oracle, but she gave out information that helped Mercinon. I know we still won against him in the end, but still…”

The first senator remarked, “Well, we need to talk to someone who knows how we can get into the Netherworld! And-!”

The second senator interrupted him, “I don’t know any mortal who would willingly go into the Netherworld! Let’s just find a spell to bring him back!”

“Regardless of how it’s done, we gotta find someone who would have that kind of random knowledge!” the third senator stated.

“Stocastin might know something about that,” Exelda let them know. “Right now, he’s kinda in a chemistry phase, but maybe he’s read about the occult in the past!”

Cyrek decreed, “It’s worth a shot. We gotta get Impusa in here anyways, so you may as well find out if he does! In the meantime, we-.”

King Peripetio passed by and spotted the open door. “Ooh, the door that’s always closed is ajar! I wonder what secrets they-.” He caught sight of Exelda, and he excused himself, “Oh, my apologies, madam! I didn’t mean to walk into the ladies’ room!” He then scuttled off while humming a merry tune, causing the room to get lulled into another bout of shocked silence.

“Um… So anyways… I should go now! I’ll be back!” Exelda addressed to the senators.

“You better come back! We can’t handle two missing people! We can’t even handle the one, really!” Cyrek bade her as Exelda headed out the door, making sure to close it behind her.

In their home, Akintos and Narcius sat on the wooden bench as Impusa and Kefalia stood in an open area in front of them. Impusa directed Kefalia, “Let’s try this again! Remember, I’m not Impusa, I’m a random villager who just mentioned Konna.”

Kefalia complied, “Got it!” She pretended to approach her in the street and asked, “Excuse me! I’ve heard so much talk about this Konna person, but I know so little about him! Can you please tell me more about this individual?”

“No, go away!” Impusa pretended to brush her off.

“Okay!” Kefalia started to walk away.

Impusa called after her, “Come back here! Why did you give up so easily?”

Kefalia expressed ruefully, “I get so confused with these role playing thingies! Are you ordering me around as the villager or yourself?”

“Hey!” Akintos pointed to the corner by the mirror where a pair of beakers were floating in the air.

“Oh, you can see me?” Stocastin probed while still in his invisible state.

Akintos asserted, “Just ’cause you’re invisible doesn’t mean everything you touch disappears!”

Narcius commented, “Well, good thing Exelda isn’t here to see this travesty of a rehearsal! She’d be very disappointed in you guys! You all should be ashamed by how much time you’re wasting!” A bug crawled across the table, and Narcius screeched, “Spider!” He began running around the room so fast it made his visage blurred!

“It’s just a beetle!” Akintos shouted to him as Stocastin turned visible and curiously went over to verify this.

“A beetle?” Narcius got so distracted talking to Akintos that he didn’t see Exelda opening the front door, which caused him to crash into it! Exelda used her strength to keep it from falling off of its hinges, and that made Narcius tumble to the floor!

As the others all erupted in laughter, Exelda queried, “What’s going on here?” Impusa was about to answer her when Exelda felt a sudden pang in her abdomen. “Hold that thought!” She picked up an empty bucket that she found close by and vomited inside of it.

Kefalia commented, “Oh no! She’s been drinking again!”

“I have not! It’s stress! I-!” Exelda almost divulged what she had witnessed earlier, but instead, she got sick again.

“Perhaps you have a more serious issue involving your digestive system than just stress,” Stocastin chimed in.

Exelda disagreed, “I don’t have any other symptoms though!”

Narcius warily brought up, “Well, lately, we’ve seen you… I mean, your body… mainly the stomach area… got… bigger!” He saw her surprised face, and he cowered. “I’m sorry! Don’t hurt me!”

“I’m telling you, it’s just stress!” Exelda repeated that argument. As Impusa hobbled closer to her, she went on, “The riots have gotten a lot of people hurt, and a lot of buildings have been damaged before we had a chance to repair them from the mess that the monsters left behind! Then Dason’s father has been acting strange lately! He’s been out of it for a while, but lately, he’s taken a turn for the worst! It’s been an ordeal trying to keep him at bay! Then, this morning, we…” She trailed off as Impusa got within inches of her face. Impusa seemed to be studying something specific, which confused Exelda greatly! “Um… Can I help you?”

“Yep, that’s what I thought! She’s knocked up!” Impusa declared.

The other four gasped in delight, but Exelda’s mind wanted to completely deny that absurdity. “I’m not pregnant! Okay, so I have some of the symptoms like nausea and a few missed menstrual cycles, but it’s…” She felt her stomach, and suddenly, the truth came rushing to her. “Oh no! No, no, no!”

Stocastin handed his beakers to Akintos so he could comfort Exelda during her panic, and while he and Narcius stopped her from collapsing, Kefalia regarded her, “What are you so upset about? I think you and Dason will make wonderful parents!”

Exelda shook her head wildly, “No! I mean, yes, he would make a great father… No, he is a great father to his son, but he… Oh Zeus!”

“Take a deep breath!” Stocastin gently guided her. Kefalia began panting, so he corrected her, “Not you!”

“I can do it too if I want!” Kefalia reacted stubbornly.

Exelda took a large inhale, and then she explained, “An evil sorceress turned Dason into a golden bird and sent him to live in the Netherworld!” The others grew really quiet as they digested this news, but Exelda interpreted it differently, “I’m not lying! A room full of senators can vouch for me!”

Narcius sarcastically joked, “Yeah, it’s not like politicians would ever lie!” His words clearly stung Exelda, so he rectified his verbalization, “But we don’t need to hear them to ensure your straightforwardness! We believe you!”

“You do?” Exelda stared at them in astonishment.

“Yeah, you’re an honest person!” Akintos reassured her while playing with Stocastin’s beakers absentmindedly.

Impusa concurred, “That claim is so insane that it has to be true! Well, I guess it’s not that strange considering we have superpowers and fight monsters!”

Exelda felt relieved that they trusted her word, but the weight of the situation still daunted her. “Do you guys have any idea how to get into the Netherworld?” She gazed at them hopefully, but they all shook their heads. “Really? Not even you, Stocastin?”

“Mortals aren’t supposed to have the knowledge on how to enter into that world, it’s only designated for those who are neither dead nor living! The gods purposefully didn’t give us any clues on how to do that.” Stocastin mulled it over for a moment, and then he recalled, “Some philosphers suggested that the entrance is somewhere on Earth, so there’s definitely got to be some way in, if that quells your qualms at all.”

“Eh, not really! But thanks for trying!” Tears formed in Exelda’s eyes, and she wept, “But we have to find this entrance! Or some kind of spell to bring him back! The kingdom needs him, and now…” She rubbed her stomach again.

Kefalia attempted to buoy her spirits, “Don’t worry, we’ll find him before the baby comes!”

Akintos also tried to comfort her while still twirling around the beakers, “And if we don’t find him for some reason, we’ll be here to help you! Trust me, you’re in good hands!” One of the beakers fell out of his grip, breaking into many different pieces! “That is not a reflection of our potential parenting skills!”

“I’m a mother, and my kids are parents too, so I have a ton of experience with motherhood and assisting mothers!” Impusa considered her account instantly after that sentence, and then she admitted, “Okay, well, they all disowned me, so it’s been a while, but still…”

“Why did they disown you?” Narcius asked out of curiosity.

Impusa answered him curtly, “Because worked for Mercinon.”

Narcius nodded in comprehension. “Makes sense!”

“Oh, I guess we’ll have to go the oracle! No one else on Earth can help us!” Exelda begrudgingly decided. “I know we’re all reluctant to trust her after she told Mercinon about how Kefalia freezes if she laughs too hard…”

“Shh! Not so loud!” Kefalia glanced out of the window as if she detected lurkers listening to their conversation.

Exelda finished her thought, “… But she’s all we got! She may have double crossed us a bit, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get anything useful out of Melampia!”

Stocastin’s memory got stirred from this. “Perhaps this is a mere coincidence, but the same people who hero worship Konna seem to harbor an animus for Melampia too!”

“Wait, Konna is saying smears against Melampia, and then Dason goes missing? You know what that means?”

Impusa, Stocastin, Narcius, and Akintos all understood what this implication meant, but Kefalia’s brow furrowed. “What does it mean?”

Exelda informed her, “It means that we have more than one reason to visit the oracle of Chaos!”

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 3

The silhouette of a woman with a large, hourglass figure graced a spacious bed, and when Dason entered the room, he proudly proclaimed, “Ah, there’s my beauty!” Upon closer inspection, he could see her shadow in the moonlight, and it showed her mouth hanging wide open. He could also hear her slight snoring, so he knew she was fast asleep, but he still gave her a kiss on the cheek before settling into the bed next to her.

This woman gently woke up, turned towards him, and happily greeted, “Hi there!”

“Hello, beautiful!” Dason shared her sentiments, and they gave each other a sweet kiss on the lips.

“How was your day?” the woman asked.

Dason answered, “Better now that I can see you!”

The woman giggled before she pointed out, “But you can’t see me in the dark!”

“Just being in your presence is enough for me! All day long, I kept saying to myself, ‘Man, I can’t wait ’til I can get home so I can see my gorgeous Exelda!’ At least I think I said it to myself! I’m so tired, I might’ve thinking out loud, who knows!” Dason told her. Exelda laughed, and then Dason inquired, “How was your day?”

“Sickening!” Exelda replied.

Dason sympathized with that feeling. “I know what you mean! I thought after Mercinon died that Chaos would return to being a peaceful polis, but instead it’s almost worse now! It was bad when a power hungry murderer sent monsters to destroy the kingdom, but now our own people are doing it! And why? ‘Cause they believe some strange rumors that insinuates my family has become a bunch of cannibals and a dead man is coming back to life! No, I’m sorry, he never really died according to them, he’s just staying in hiding for some reason that’s all my fault! It makes no sense, and yet it’s drawing so many in our community to commit vandalism and even violence! It is truly sickening!”

Exelda corrected him, “Oh, that’s all true, but I meant physically sickening. I’ve had waves of nausea all day! Actually, it’s been getting worse and worse each day! I’m guessing it’s from my menstrual cycle not appearing lately. There’s probably built up hormones or something, I don’t know! Stocastin would probably know, but it feels kinda awkward talking about it with a guy! I know you’re a guy, but I feel like I can tell your anything!”

“Of course you can!” Dason assured her. “I remember that happening to Aleta when we were kids. The physician diagnosed her with high stress.”

“Apparently it’s a contagious malady!” Exelda kidded.

Dason apologized, “I’m so sorry it’s been so nightmarish lately! I promise I’ll have all this taken care of before you and I become king and queen!” Exelda gave him another kiss before turning back around to fall asleep. Dason wrapped his arms around her and then queried, “When are you gonna accept my proposal?”

Exelda responded, “Ask me again when I’m not nauseous!”

Dason agreed to that. “Deal!” He gave her another kiss before realized that he was putting pressure on her stomach. He quickly moved his arm to below her collar bone and closed his eyes to go to sleep.

The next morning, Exelda walked down a dirt road that fell between two rows of clay houses with thatched roofs when she suddenly got the urge to vomit! She ran over to a water trough and braced herself for the worst, but thankfully, the sensation went away! A nearby horse gave her a peculiar look, so she assured it, “Don’t worry, I won’t taint your drink! Everything’s fine!” She took another glance into it to scope out her reflection. Her skin still seemed to have its usual soft beige hue, her golden brown eyes didn’t show any sign of illness, her dark brunette hair remained neat and combed, and her bronze toga stayed crisp and clean, so she breathed a sigh of relief. “Yup, everything’s fine!” Without warning, an explosion sounded across the street, and Exelda saw a very thin man with short, black hair and dark rimmed spectacles fly out the door, landing on his posterior! Exelda’s tune changed, “Or maybe it isn’t!”

She strolled over to the man, who wondered, “Were you talking to me or that ungulate over there?”

“Both. Is everything okay in there, Stocastin?” she posed to him.

“I cannot determine that from this vantage point. May I get some assistance?” Stocastin held out his hand to her.

Exelda grabbed his palm and surprised herself when she brought him over her head! “Oops!” she remarked. She more carefully set him on the ground, and then she regarded him apologetically, “I’ve had these powers my whole life, but sometimes I forget that I’m not a normal person!”

Stocastin concurred with her statement, “Indeed!”

They heard a male groaning from inside the building, so they rushed in to check on the one who uttered that sound. Exelda immediately spotted a man with shaggy, brown hair, very light skin, and a round pot belly laying against the wall next to a shrine to the goddess Athena. His eyes were closed, and black soot had gotten smeared all over his visage, which made Exelda almost panic. “Oh my gods! Akintos, are you-?”

“I’m fine,” Akintos grumbled as he begrudgingly opened up his eyes. “I just know I have to wash myself, and I really don’t wanna walk that far!”

“What, you mean right there?” She indicated to a basin in the floor next a wooden staircase, which was within a few feet of his position!

Akintos griped, “You know, at first I was loving all these new perks that came with working for the royal family, but now they’re starting to annoy me ’cause it makes me get up more!”

A good-looking man with finely brushed, umber hair, a chiseled jawline, and a toga that showed off his muscles wiped down a full length mirror beside a brick fireplace, and he complained, “I also do not relish the excess in funds we now have! These chemicals he buys for his science excrements haven’t been pleasant!”

“You said excrements, I believe you meant experiments, Narcius,” Stocastin brought up.

“No I didn’t!” Narcius refuted, which made Stocastin glare at him.

A woman with flowing, blonde hair, sapphire blue eyes, and porcelain skin floated around the rooftop and commented, “They’re not all this dangerous! Some of them are just smelly and gross!”

Stocastin took exception to that, “I’m sorry if my attempts to further our understanding of the world is interfering with your vapid enterprises, but-!”

“Enough!” Exelda shouted. “There’s enough fighting in Chaos right now, let’s not add to it! Just get this place cleaned up so we can start the meeting!”

“Holy Hermes!” Stocastin reacted fretfully. “I’m afraid that task may not coincide with the timing of which-!”

From inside of the bathtub, as he used his palms to create a couple of small fireballs to warm up the water, Akintos suggested, “Why don’t you use the easier way? Oh, Impusa!”

An elderly woman with dark skin and white hair peeked her head over the railing of a hayloft above them and crankily addressed Akintos, “What? Why did you wake me up?”

“It’s almost time for the meeting,” Akintos informed her, “And we need Stocastin’s mess cleaned up fast…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah! I’ll be down in a second!” She hobbled over to the staircase, which she descended slowly.

Narcius brought up, “Wouldn’t it be easier to get down here if you transformed first?”

Impusa snapped, “Hey, do I tell you how to use your powers?”

“Yes,” Narcius confirmed.

“Damn right I do! That’s ’cause I know what I’m doing! I have more experience than any of you, so you should listen to me!” Impusa advised him.

As soon as she reached the bottom, she leaned heavily on her cane and exercised a lot of concentration until she suddenly morphed into a giant gargoyle! She rose in the air, took a deep breath, and spouted out a bunch of water. The soot on the floor cleared off, but it also got everyone else in the room soaked! Akintos, still inside of the bathtub, fussed, “You got me wet!”

Impusa flapped her wings and created enough wind to dry everyone off before she started to change back into a human. As everyone took a seat at a wooden table with a wooden bench attached, Exelda gave an order to Akintos, “Put some clothes on.”

“You have so many unfair rules!” Akintos bemoaned.

As he got dressed again, Exelda got down to business, “Alright, so what have we learned?” Stocastin almost divulged a slew of material, so Exelda clarified, “What have we learned about all of the recent uprisings?” Stocastin clammed up after that.

“Nothing is rising up, it’s getting torn down!” Kefalia noted with a straight face.

Exelda rolled her eyes, and then she emphatically revised the topic she introduced, “The riots! Have you discovered anything new about it? Like how it all got started?” Stocastin raised his hand, and Exelda warned him, “If this has anything to do with the origins of the planet, I swear to Zeus-!”

“Actually, I have something relevant to contribute,” Stocastin asserted. “A lot of people are following a supposedly prophetic source who calls themselves Konna.”

Exelda puzzled, “Konna? Like the letter?”

Kefalia conversed, “I thought it was weird too! But one of the villagers in Korikos told me they used that nickname ’cause they’re an insider to the royal palace and giving out their secrets is, like, such a huge risk, so they have to stay an enormous ass!”

‘She mean anonymous,” Impusa rectified that, “Although her description is fitting! No one asks for any proof of this Konna person’s claims, they just believe all this nonsense without any real reason! Ridiculous!”

“How can anyone believe such harsh things about the royal family?” Exelda shook her head sadly. “Especally Dason! They really believe such a kind and sweet man is really a power hungry cannibal bound and determined to destroy the kingdom! They don’t even care how hard he works for them! He doesn’t get home ’til late at night, and he leaves before the dawn, but it means nothing to them! What a disgrace!”

The others shared her outrage, and after a moment of quiet contemplation, Kefalia piped up, “Wow! It must be hard to only see your boyfriend when it’s dark!”

Exelda initially denied that claim, “I see him in the light too! Like when…” She thought about it and couldn’t remember the last time she saw him when it was bright out! She decided to shake that off and moved back to the original subject, “How do we find this Konna person?”

“They wouldn’t tell us once they figured out we were non-believers,” Akintos reported.

“Okay, well our new mission is to find out how to find Konna!” Exelda directed. “I swear I’ll help out more once I’m over this stomach bug!”

Kefalia probed, “Stomach bug? You swallowed an insect?”

Everyone ignore that, and Narcius dryly opined, “Oh great, another fact finding mission! So exciting!”

“What? You wanna go back to risking your life fighting monsters?” Exelda retorted.

“Well…” Narcius seriously considered this notion.

Exelda got somewhat annoyed by his response, but then she empathized with them, “Listen, the sooner we solve this problem, the sooner we can do something more exciting for Chaos.”

Stocastin chimed in, “I get plenty of thrills from this!”

“Can you be thrilled without mixing together chemicals that blow up the place?” Exelda wanted to know.

“I could…” Stocastin espied Exelda’s stern expression, so he relented, “I shall comply with your wishes and use less volatile substances!” Impusa, Narcius, Kefalia, and Akintos all breathed in alleviation, which made Stocastin pout and Exelda titter.

The next morning, Exelda heard Dason getting up, and with the revelations she obtained the previous day in her mind, she got up to share with him what she knew. As she stirred, she heard him rushing from a nearby chair to a dark and empty corner of the room. “What are you doing?” she inquired.

He replied, “I was just… looking at the breathtaking sunrise!” When Exelda gazed outside, she heard him scurrying out of the room! From behind the door, he told her, “See your later, honey!” As she listened to him zip out of the palace, she remembered what Kefalia alleged and grew very suspicious of him.

That night, she waited up for him with a lit candle, but before he came inside of the bedroom, he requested, “Could you put that out? I have a giant headache!” Exelda grew even more suspicious, but she still gave in to him. He kissed her cheek before falling asleep, but she stayed awake feeling thoroughly nonplussed.

Exelda walked through an illuminated hallway and got surprised to see Dason’s shadow lounging on a cushioned bench in a sitting room! When she went in the room, he swiftly covered himself with a blanket and made up an excuse for his behavior, “Just taking a nap break!” Exleda no longer believed that all of this was a coincidence, and she hatched up another way to catch a glimpse of him to see what he may have kept hidden from her!

“Anybody have any ideas?” Cyrek asked the other senators, who all shook their heads.

“I got it!” Krimeno exclaimed.

Everybody turned to him with hope gleaming in their eyes, and Dason questioned, “What do you have?”

Krimeno answered, “My quill! I thought I lost it!”

“Trust me, you lost it a long time ago!” Cyrek half joked about that. While he still reeled in the disappointment that Krimeno had created, Krimeno tried to understand what Cyrek meant by that.

“Aha!” Exelda burst through the Senate doors, fixating her focus firmly on Dason. Dason’s eyes widened in horror, and all of a sudden, a cloud of smoke enveloped him…

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 2

“If you don’t leave now, I’ll send you to the Underworld!” the cloaked woman threatened.

“Oh, please don’t! I was just there, it’s a dismal place!” Mercinon beseeched her.

The cloaked woman didn’t budge, actually she seemed slightly offended by his response. “you dare to trespass on my grounds and then mock me as I take measures to protect it!”

Mercinon assured her, “I probably would have done something like that if I was alive, but I was being serious just now! I got sentenced to an eternity of torture in Tartarus, but before I got on the boat, I picked up a coin I found and ended up here! But hey, I get it, you don’t want me on your property! No problem! Just point me to the exit and I’ll get out of your hair!”

“Wait, did you pick up the silver piece stuck to the floor?” the cloaked woman inquired.

“Yeah. Was it yours?” Mercinon held up the coin he had lifted off of the River Styx, but as soon as he presented it, he recoiled his reach. “Listen, do you mind if I keep it? If I do end up back there, I really don’t wanna do hard labor for my entrance fee! Oh, if I had to do peasant work, I would just die… again!”

The cloaked woman gasped, “I’ve finally found you!”

Mercinon differed, “Um, I think you were in your home minding your own business when I barged in, so technically, I found you…”

“No, no, no! You don’t understand! I placed that coin down there under a spell where no one but the one who had the power to overthrow the kingdom of Chaos could pick it up!” the cloaked woman clarified for him. “And now you’re here! Oh, I’ve waited for this day for so long!” “And now you’re here! Oh, what joy!” She gave him a firm hug in jubilation of this moment.

“Not to put a damper on the occasion…” Mercinon’s voice was muffled from his windpipes’ restriction resulting from her tight squeeze. “But I’m confused! What just happened?”

She let go of her embrace and explained, “My name is Thanamenti, and I’m a demigoddess here in the Netherworld. My sister became famous in your old world, but I got shunned. I grew tired of getting cast aside by the people of Chaos, so I vowed to take revenge on them for ill treatment of me! I made it my mission to oust the wretches in charge of this polis and to replace them with someone who would punish them severely for everything they did to me! And in return, that person would exalt me and make mre more well known than my sister ever became!”

Mercinon reacted incredulously, “Where were you when I was alive? I had to work so hard to… Well, I had to pay a lot of people to work hard for me! I hired these three monsters to destroy Chaos, and they literally ate a bunch of my gold before they got themselves killed!”

“My sister was gifted the power of life, and I got death! The spell wouldn’t have worked when you were alive,” Thanamenti replied to him. “Besides, this way they can’t use your death to stop you!”

“I do like the invincibility thing…” Mercinon savored that concept as he contemplated this new information. “But how exactly can I conquer anything as a dead person? Can the people on Earth even see me?”

Thanamenti enlightened him, “Of course! And with me on your side, you’ll have access to tools you never had when you were alive! For instance, I can elicit the assistance of nearly anyone in the Underworld!”

Mercinon’s eyes sparkled when he heard that. “Anyone? I’d like the help of my old servant, Marcin….”

“Coming right up!” Thanamenti pointed her staff at the cave wall behind Mercinon, and green electricity shot out. When it disappeared, a short man with scraggly hair and ashen skin appeared before them!

“What’s going on? Did I just-?” When Marcin caught a glimpse of Mercinon, his surprise over this occurrence suddenly vanished. “You know, when something weird was going on, I just knew it had to be some hare-brained, needlessly complicated plot of yours!”

Mercinon put his hands on his hips in an affronted manner. “Wow, dying really made you sassy!”

Marcin shrugged. “Well, you can’t force me to comply by threatening to throw me to the jackals anymore! They’re much more docile in the Underworld, by the way!”

“They killed my jackals? What did they ever do to anyone?” Mercinon saw Marcin glare at him, so he added, “Hey, it’s not their fault they have a blood lust!”

“If you summoned me here to play a part in whatever sinister scheme you have going on, you can forget it! I don’t wanna serve someone who murdered me after years of loyal service!” Marcin folded his arms defiantly.

Thanamenti aimed her staff at Marcin. “If you don’t do it, I’ll send you back to Tartarus!”

Marcin reluctantly relented, “Fine, I’ll be good!” Mercinon began laughing maniacally until Marcin brought up, “So, you took care of the superheroes, right?” Not only did Mercinon cease his mirth, he also choked on his spit after his abrupt halt.

“Superheroes?” Thanamenti questioned.

“Yes,” Marcin confirmed, “Apparently, the gods granted these five idiots supernatural abilities, and they managed to thwart all of our plans to destroy and take over Chaos. At least that’s how things were when I died. How did it end with them? Good?” He espied Mercinon glowering at him, so he surmised, “Oh, not so good then!”

Thanamenti inquired, “So, these five super powered people have sided with the royal family?”

Mercinon replied, “Unfortunately, yes. And there’s six of them now since his shape-shifting ex girlfriend turned on me!”

“She did? What did you to her?” Marcin asked.

“I killed you,” Mercinon answered. “For some reason, she found that offensive.”

Thanamenti interjected, “If those six are on the royals’ side, then they must be destroyed!”

“We’ve tried that!” Mercinon remarked. “If we had idea on how to defeat them, we wouldn’t be here right now!”

“Just leave that to me!” Thanamenti directed them.

She began to cackle wildy, and Mercinon joined in. They looked to Marcin, who refused, “Nah, I’m good!”

A group of scribes gathered in front of a set of white marble steps leading into a large, white building with impressive white pillars supporting it, and two men hid from their view behind a large fountain that spouted water into a small pool that decorated the exterior. The handsome man with bronzed skin and silver hair kept watch while the balding, less attractive man gazed at the entrance anxiously. The less attractive man mentioned, “We’re gonna be late, Cyrek!”

“Yes, Krimeno! I’m aware of that! But if these scribes catch us on the way in, we’ll be late fore sure! So, let’s lay low ’til something distracts them and we can leave,” Cyrek suggested. Krimeno laid down on the cobblestone below them, and Cyrek barked, “That’s not what I meant when I said-!” He cut himself off when he realized how loud he had gotten, and he fretted, “Holy Hera, I hope no one heard that!”

“I heard voices behind the fountain!” one of the scribes announced.

Cyrek cringed, and then he picked up Krimeno by the belt on his toga and tried to run up the steps. He heard the cacophony of footsteps behind him, so he dropped Krimeno and attempted to act casual. “Have you all tried jogging up a set of stairs with your assistants? Great exercise!” The scribes all stared at him blankly, but he still tried to play it cagey, “So, with such a slow week, I’m sure there aren’t a lot of questions….” All of the scribes raised their hands, and Cyrek sighed before calling on one of them.

The scribe probed, “Is Mercinon really dead?”

Cyrek made a noise of annoynce. “You guys have asked me that every day for the last three months! Yes, he’s dead! We have several witnesses that saw him die! I watched it happen! Why is this still up for debate?”

“How come no one in the public has seen his body?”another scribe challenged him.

“There wasn’t much left!” Cyrek argued. “Besides, what were we supposed to do? Hold a funeral for the man who sent monsters to destroy our polis? Can you imagine how angry the family of the victims would be if we did that?”

Yet another scribe pointed out, “People are angry anyways! A growing amount of concerned citizens feel as though they got lied to about his death as a part of the royal family’s smear campaign against him!”

Cyrek stated emphatically, “The royal family doesn’t need to lie about him! He was a sociopath who had lots of people killed and injured! Some of you still wear damaged clothing from all of the violence he caused! Why would anyone defame someone who’s already horrible?”

“Some people think the royal family inflicted that mayhem on Chaos just to discredit Mercinon!” a young scribe conveyed to him.

“Preposterous!” Cyrek denied that notion. “Also, I wasn’t actually asking. That was supposed to be rhetorical…”

An older scribe tacked on to the young man’s notion, “They’re saying that the monsters were meant to distract people so no one would find out the royal family’s secrets.”

Cyrek brushed that accusation off, “Oh, please! The royal family doesn’t have any secrets!” Krimeno opened his mouth to disagree, so Cyrek hissed, “Shut up!”

“So, they’re not harvesting bodies just to make a serum for immortality?” a skeptical scribe wanted to know.

“How does that work?” Krimeno questioned.

Someone started to explain it, but Cyrek put a stop to it, “We don’t need to hear the rationale for the irrational! Look, I know there’s a lot of crazy theories going around right now, but I can assure you that none of them are true! Once this small portion of the population accepts that, the kingdom will settle down!”

A curious scribe asked him, “So, as Senate leader, can you give us details about your plan to curtail this issue?”

“I can’t give away confidential information, but I can certify that your government has everything under control!” Cyrek gave them a big, toothy grin in hopes that their angst would get quelled.

“You keep saying that, but it keeps getting worse!” an uneasy scribe exclaimed. “People are throwing huge riots over this issue!”

Cyrek contested that, “I wouldn’t call them huge! But trust me, Prince Dason and the Senate are monitoring the situation regularly and we’ll notify you should anything noteworthy come up!”

An inquisitve scribe wondered, “Oh, Prince Dason is still in charge then? ‘Cause some of the gossip says that the turbulence we’ve had to deal with lately stemmed from Made King Peripetio’s return to power…”

Cyrek affirmed, “The king and queen relinquished their decision making to the prince for health reasons, that hasn’t changed! And King Peripetio isn’t mad!”

A man with wild, long, platinum hair, misty eyes, and disheveled attire emerged from the building and shouted to everyone down below, “Oh, look at the comely crowd that has gathered here! Have you come to frolic in the rain?”

“Oh, his majesty jests with you!” Cyrek chuckled, but he didn’t do enough to cover his discomfort over this predicament. “He’s here to remind Krimeno and me that we’re late for our session in the Senate. We better be going!” Some of the scribes followed them and spouted out more questions until it started pouring. As the scribes rushed to protect their parchment, Cyrek breathed a sigh of relief.

“Dance with me, everybody! Dance!” King Peripetio swayed and pranced on the steps dramatically.

Some of the scribes had lingered long enough to witness this, so Cyrek loudly regarded him, “Oh, Sire! You’re so funny! Stop making us laugh!” He forced himself to laugh, and then he whispered to Krimeno, “Get him inside NOW!” When Krimeno reached out his hand to grab Peripetio, Peripetio pulled Krimeno in and waltzed with him! Krimeno steered him into the building, and Cyrek nervously tittered towards the onlookers. “We have such fun here! See, everything is under control here!”

From inside a room with amphitheater-like seating with desks in front of them, a senator frantically cried out, “We lost all control!”

As the other senators grew hysterical, a striking man with silky, black hair, light blue eyes, a well toned body, fine clothing, and a laurel crown banged a gavel and hollered, “Order, order!”

As the senators simmered down, Cyrek and Krimeno entered into the room with very distressed looks on their faces. Cyrek apologized, “Sorry we’re late, Prince Dason! Things got hectic out there! We really gotta solve this Mercinon problem!”

Dason riposted, “Everyone keeps saying that like he’s still alive! He’s dead, and nothing can bring him back!” He mulled that over for a split second and then added, “Right?” No one had an answer…

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 1

Chapter 1

“Don’t eat me!” a man with beady, black eyes, aged, olive toned skin, and short, dark hair woke with a start. As he oriented his focus, he reassured himself, “Oh, it was just a dream!” He realized that he was staring at a ceiling, but not the ceiling of the last room he remembered being in. This one had a cavern wall and stalactites, so he reasoned, “Oh, those super powered jerks must’ve thrown me in the palace dungeons! Oh, that figures! They were too noble to actually finish me off! Eh! I guess I can’t complain! As long as I’m still alive, I can prevail! I will not give up until the kingdom of Chaos is mine!” He cackled maniacally, and after his stirred up emotions settled down, he decided, “Well, I suppose it doesn’t do a lot of good lying on the ground talking to myself! I should probably get up and find an orator to argue my case! Oh, guards! I-!” He sat up and instantly froze when he beheld three men with flesh-toned, beak-like protrusions extending out of their faces, eyes that were basically just large pupils, and onyx colored robes staring at him from tall judicial benches. “Oh, never mind, I’m still dreaming!”

“You’re not dreaming!” a man with long, peppery hair, a thick, bushy beard, very pale skin, and a gray toga stood in the corner of the room with his arms folded as he spoke to him. “You’re dead!”

The other man in the room laughed as if the bearded man had kidded with him. “Very funny! Just wait ’til my orator hears how you all played a cruel joke on me during my capture! So, what’s the meal situation for prisoners here? It better be fresh or I swear, I’ll-!”

The bearded man interrupted him, “No, you’re dead! I can prove it!” He picked up a spiky, obsidian trident next to him and pointed it at the other man.

A green electricity shot out of the trident and hit the other man in the neck! After he felt a brief stinging, his head popped off! He expected to have everything go blank as he fell into his demise, but after that never happened, he had to conclude that the bearded man’s assertion had merit. “Oh my gods! I’m dead! How did this happen?”

“Just a wild guess, whatever was eating you!” the bearded man responded to him sardonically.

“Wow, you’re so rude!” His headless body tried to retrieve the rest of itself, but it stumbled as it attempted to do so. The men with the strange physiques all laughed, and as he screwed his head back on, he grumbled, “When I get my own cool, pokey thingy, I’m so getting you back for this!”

The bearded man shook his head and guffawed at his thick-headed ignorance. “I didn’t think I’d have to introduce myself, usually my new arrivals decipher it for themselves! I’m Hades, god of the Underworld! You’re here to meet your fate for the rest of eternity, and I’m here to supervise your trial. Any questions?”

The man snapped, “I demand an orator!”

“That’s not a question!” Hades reacted to his protest with heavy indifference. “But don’t bother, you’re representing yourself here! Judges, you may proceed!”

“Mercinon of Chaos,” the middle judge started the session, “We’re here to decide if your words and deeds have merited you an afterlife of bliss in the clouds of Elysium, aimless wandering in the fields of Asphodel, or torture and punishment in the caves of Tartarus. We have a list of your good deeds…” He motioned to the judge on his right, who unfurled a small piece of parchment. “…And we have a list of your misdeeds…” He indicated to the judge on his left, who’s list rolled all the way down to the floor! The other two judges stared at it in surprise, and then the middle judge concluded, “Well, this won’t take long!”

Mercinon put his hands on his hips and made a noise of annoyance. “I wasn’t that bad!”

The judge holding his list of misdeeds exclaimed, “You killed a lot of people!”

“No, I just had them killed! I didn’t actually lay my hands on them! Well, I guess a couple of people had to get pushed into the pit of jackals…” He saw the aghast expressions on everyone’s faces, so he tired to smooth it out, “But I had to do it! I had to try and take over Chaos to rescue it from the terrible royal family and inept senate that are in charge of it! I may have a teeny bit of blood on my hands, but it was for their own good!”

“What would you have done once you took over this land?” the judge with the good list queried.

Mercinon shrugged. “I dunno! Took over more places, put my face on all the Drachmas, you know, king things!”

The good list judge observed, “That doesn’t sound very beneficial for anyone other than yourself!”

“Oh, sure it is!” Mercinon disagreed. “My subjects would adore worshiping me!” A sparkling and billowy cloud of purple light flashed past him, and he asked, “What was that?”

“Sympathy for the dead,” the misdeeds list judge answered. “Normally, this room is filled with them, but based on this list, I’m surprised you got even one!”

Hades snickered slightly, and while Mercinon wanted to utter a clever comeback, the middle judge banged a gavel to get his attention. “I’ve heard enough! We’re ready to make our decision!”

Mercinon objected, “But you didn’t even discuss it!”

“Yeah… We don’t need to say out loud where you deserve to get sent to!” the middle judge let him know.

“I know, I’m going to Elysium, right?” Mercinon grinned at them hopefully.

All three judges gazed at him as if they wished they had more than just large pupils so they could roll their eyes at him. The middle judge decreed, “We sentence you to an eternity in Tartarus!”

Mercinon’s mood deflated upon that revelation. “Well, I’ll be damned!”

Hades remarked, “Yeah, that’s the idea! If you see Kamazota, tell her I said hello!”

“My mom? She’s here?” Mercinon trembled as he searched around the room for her.

“Kamazota is your mother? Yikes! I almost wanna feel bad for you! Toodle-oo!” He pulled a lever, and the three judges chuckled at his expression as he fell down the trap door he had been standing over.

Mercinon landed on a rocky floor face first, and he dully enounced, “Ow!”As he picked himself up, he griped, “If this really is the afterlife and not some kind of horrible dream, how is it I’m still able to feel pain?”

Someone in the near distance replied to him, “Well, how would we torture you if you couldn’t feel pain? Psychological harm only works if you have a heart, and if you had that, you probably wouldn’t would never have gotten sent here!”

“I suppose not, but I-!” He stopped midsentence when he saw who had been speaking to- a giant skeleton in a gondola that floated on a river of lava leading into a dark tunnel! “Now I forgot what I was gonna say!”

“Do I frighten you?” the skeleton jeered.

Mercinon no longer seemed bothered by his daunting appearance. Not really. I dealt with all kinds of monsters when I was alive! I just didn’t expect to be having a conversation with something that didn’t have a voice box!”

The skeleton rubbed his chin contemplatively. “Interesting! I haven’t seen this level of aloofness since Kamazota came here!”

“She’s in Tartarus too?” Mercinon jumped behind a set of sharp rocks and bit his nails as he shook in a hysterical manner. “If I thought I’d have to spend an eternity with my mother, I would have tried harder to fill up that good deeds list!”

“You’re related to Kamazota? That’s helpful to know!” the skeleton noted with amusement. “I’ll have to tell Hades that when we find her.

Mercinon barked, “He already knows! And he…” His tone shifted when he came to a realization from something else the skeleton had said. “Wait, you have to find her? So, she’s missing? Oh, thank Zeus! Okay, I’ll come quietly… Wait, she got sent to Tartarus too and escaped? Tell me how!”

The skeleton scoffed at his audacity. “Do you really expect me me to tell you that?”

Mercinon threw his hands up in a gesture that conveyed his lack of knowledge on that. “Worth a shot! So, it’s possible to avoid eternal punishment after all? That’s so good to know!”

No, it’s not like that!” the skeleton corrected his misinterpretation of the matter. “We originally planned to torment her, but she scared everyone who worked here, so we decided to employ her instead.”

“But you can’t find her, so she got out!” Mercinon persisted.

The skeleton differed, “No! She’s allowed to take a break from time to time. She never really takes a true holiday, she just works on finding her son… Oh hey, that’s you!” Mercinon’s face soured by that quip, which pleased the skeleton. He then directed Mercinon, “Well, I hope you enjoyed that ’cause it’s as close to fun as you’re gonna get for the next infinity years! Get in the boat!”

Mercinon crossed his arms defiantely. “What if I refuse?”

“You think you’re the first one to try that?” the skleton retorted. “Eventually, Hades will come by to check on things, and he’ll make you get on the boat if you don’t listen to me!” He paused and added, “Plus, your mother will come back to the Underworld eventually, and trust me, it’ll be a lot easier to find you on the banks of the River Styx than in Tartarus! So, it’s either deal with unbelievable cruelty or-?”

“Or deal with torture in Tartarus! Okay, I’ll go!” Mercinon sprang up and headed over to him.

Before Mercinon boarded his vessel, the skeleton blocked his path and notified him, “Not so fast! I need to collect your payment first!”

Mercinon puzzled, “Payment? No one said anything about paying money for pain and torture! Although I think my assistant was into that sort of thing…”

“You weren’t buried with a coin in your mouth?” the skeleton asked him.

“I don’t think I was buried!” Mercinon answered argumentatively. “Actually, I don’t even know if the Minotaur left enough of my mouth for an entire coin!”

The skeleton grimaced at the image he painted. “Gross! Well, if you don’t have the payment, you’ll have to earn it! Don’t worry, it’s just a few hundred years of manual labor!”

Mercinon’s eyes widened with horror upon learning that. “Manual labor? Nooooo!” He stepped backwards from the skeleton and fell onto his backside, but the tumble didn’t phase him at the moment. “I can change, I swear! Give me another chance!”

“It’s too late! You made the wrong choices as a human, so now you’ll have to pay the price!” The skeleton extended his hand and explained, “You have to report to the foreman in that door on the other side of the bank. If I don’t take you there, Hades will force you there! Or your mother-!”

“Don’t even say it!” Mercinon winced, and as he did so, he spotted something shiny out of the corner of his eye. He craned his head towards the object and was elated to see a coin lying there! “Oh look, someone dropped their coin! I’ll use that instead of doing peasant work, thank you very much!”

The skeleton relayed to him, “Nice try! That coin is stuck down there! Go on! See if you can pick it up! I’ll wait!”

Mercinon knew that it would most likely prove to be a fruitless venture, but he also wanted to avoid this detestable task he would get forced to endure, so he decided to make an attempt at it, even if it was a long shot it was still a chance at a little freedom! When he touched it, he expected it to stick to the surface, and he had already mentally prepared himself to go do his dreadful drudgery when, to his astonishment, the coin lifted up! The skeleton gasped, “How did you do that?” Mercinon wanted to give him a snotty reply to really rub it in his face, but instead, he found himself slowly disappearing! “Where are you going?” the skeleton inquired.

As he got pulled away from the area, Mercinon replied, “Don’t know, don’t care! Toodle-oo!” The last of him vanished with a pop.

Mercinon got sucked through a vortex of pure light, for a few seconds and then, without warning, he landed somewhere hard with a thud! As he rubbed his hind quarters, he studied his new surroundings. It still looked like a cave, but it had lighter rocks and a less dim atmosphere. “Where am I?” No one responded, but it didn’t bother him much. “Oh well! At least I’m safe now!” All of a sudden, a young woman with a gnarly face, cold eyes, and charcoal robes aimed a knobby staff towards him! “Dang it! So close!” Mercinon muttered as he stared blankly at this mysterious person and awaited her intentions with him…

Rebels of Darkness II, Chapter 32

Rafeneita smirked as soon as she saw Rialowe go down, but as soon as she turned her back on him, Gwynivara saw that he started breathing again! She admired his foresight in feigning his death, and she breathed a sigh of relief to know that he would survive! That feeling, however, did not last long- Rafeneita now turned her attention to the Rebels! They were still tied up, and while Gwynivara could see everyone’s intense concentration as they all tried to channel their incantation ability despite the obstruction created by their restraints, she didn’t think anyone would break through in time to defend themselves! As Rafeneita glared at them, all Gwynivara could think to do was stall for time. Gwynivara opened her mouth to speak, but Rafeneita silenced her before she could get any words out, “No! Don’t think that you can talk your way out of this! Nothing is gonna stop me from saving my planet, do you hear me? It ends today!”

As she raised her palms up to strike them, Gwynivara’s whole body flooded with an icy quiver! She couldn’t believe it would end like this, with the bad guys winning! She felt so sure they could save the world, but as they stared directly at their own demise, she had to accept her fate! She didn’t want to go down shivering from fear though, so she put on her bravest face and waited for the inevitable…

All of a sudden, the door burst open, and Gwynivara’s heart overflowed with joy to see Kierram standing there! Rafeneita stared at him in total astonishment, and her eyes flickered between the rest of the Rebels and Kierram. She stammered, “How…? How did you…?”

“How did I get out of there? I didn’t!” As Kierram explained himself, Gwynivara noticed that he was hiding something behind his back. She had no idea what this mysterious object could be, but she hoped that it could get used to take Rafeneita down before it was too late! “A friend of mine brought me here. We have a special delivery for you…” He revealed what he had hidden- it was a newspaper with a headline that read: “Venenatus Sanguis Cure Found!” The Rebels’ jaws all dropped, and Rafeneita truly seemed confused as she glanced at her grandmother’s ornate vial in pieces on the floor. Kierram grinned mischievously as he informed her, “The medical team performing Professor Chadron’s autopsy found a small vial of the cure in his stomach, and they immediately connected it to the one Joanette Joules featured on her news segment!” All of the Rebels were elated to hear this, and Gwynivara teared up knowing that those two did not die in vain! Kierram tossed the newspaper towards Rafeneita and taunted her, “Sorry, but Vulpes Press is done dishing out your fake information!”

The Rebels all cheered, but Rafeneita cut them off as she conjured another ball of light! She leered, “You think you won? I have the advantage here! Goodbye and good riddance to all of you!”

Before she could hurl the incantation at Kierram, Rialowe lifted his hand and relased an incantation of his own! He aimed it for the Rebels, and for a second, Gwynivara worried that he used his last ounce of strength to destroy them! Instead, Gwynivara felt the rope around them loosen! She picked herself up, and when the others realized that Rialowe had freed them, they followed suit! Rafeneita panicked about the odds coming against her, and the Rebels prepared themselves to deliver her a final blow…

Suddenly, the walls in Rialowe’s dressing room came down, and they were surrounded by security guards who immediately began pelting them with incantations! They were outnumbered, but the Rebels could hold them off! Gwynivara tried to finish off everyone who had her in their periphery because, out of the corner of her eye, she could see Rafeneita slipping away! She couldn’t let her disappear! The Public Health Center may have had the cure’s formula in their possession right then, but Gwynivara knew that Rafeneita wouldn’t surrender so easily! She would find some other way to destroy Earth, and she refused to let that happen! She had to free herself from this battle and stop her from leaving! She intended to finish this once and for all!

The rally attendees screamed and scrambled all over each other trying to get away. “This way! Everyone, this way! Now!” Rafeneita directed in a loud and firm voice. The people around her heeded her commands as if they had been waiting for someone to give them directions. Cody and Justin each did the same at other entrances as Susie, Cedric, and Easton gathered as many Rebels as they could to go assist their comrades!

Gwynivara tried her hardest to both defend herself and see how the others were doing. She could sense Rafeneita’s presence nearby, and while she felt grateful that she hadn’t vanished yet, she didn’t know how long that would last, so she still worked as hard as she could to get to a point where she could slip out and go after her. She didn’t know how she could do that as the security guards seemed to be gaining traction! She inwardly prayed for reinforcements, and instead of getting her wish, she saw Naama fall to the floor! “No!” she cried out. The Rebels all had to fight extra forefully to make up for losing someone, and Gwynivara could tell everyone was starting to get exhausted! She wouldn’t accept defeat, but she didn’t know what they were going to do!

A security guard stood over Naama and tried to take advantage of her weakened state. He conjured up a ball of light to disable her for good, and instead, that security guard went down! Susie moved his body aside and made a beeline for Naama to tend to her. Easton and Cedric shielded them so Susie could continue her rescue efforts, and while they fended people off, some of the other Rebels arrived and joined in the foray! They now outnumbered the security guards, and Gwynivara finally found the opportunity she had waited for! She snuck out and began searching for Rafeneita!

As Justin ushered the frantic bystanders, he saw Agent Cecilio approaching the vicinity! He urged him, “Oh, please don’t go after them! Not now! They’re fighting for us!” He indicated to the jumbo tron where Agent Cecilio could see the intense combat in full swing. “Thousands of witnesses can tell you they’re innocent! Don’t do this!”

“I’m not here for them!” Agent Cecilio let him know. He quickly pulled out his walkie-talkie and rapidly let dispatch know, “We need backup at the Rayburn Jeans stadium stat!” He then drew out his gun, cocked it, and ran towards the turmoil. Justin knew that if he meant what he said just now, he would need help. If he didn’t, then Justin deemed that he still needed to be there, so he pulled out his weapon and followed him.

Gwynivara never understood the connection between herself and Rafeneita, and she never wanted to encourage the visions, not until that day! Now, despite the chaos brewing all around her, she closed her eyes and relaxed her mind as much as she could to get inside of Rafeneita’s head. For a minute, nothing happened, but thankfully, she caught a glimpse of Rafeneita scurrying around like a rat getting chased by cat while she desperately sought out a place to be alone so she could teleport to somewhere safer. Gwynivara recognized that she had gone outside of the arena and currently situated herself by the ticket booth, so she opened her eyes and ran in that direction.

As Emorick fought alongside the other Rebels, he kept an eye out for them just as much as he did his adversaries. He assumed that Gwynivara had remained close to his side, and when he noticed that she no longer stood in his visual range, a nerve got struck as he fretted about her safety. Bella used this momentary distraction to sneak up on him, but before she could strike, Emorick caught sight of her and launched his own attack! Bella fell to the ground to avoid it, and as she got back up, she growled, “You ruined everything!”

“Aw, giving up on your boss’s plan so soon?” Emorick mocked her. She angrily got up and sent a voltaic force towards him. He sent one of equal magnitude her way, and the tow met in the middle. Each of them struggled to keep their incantation up, and both of them tried to push their effect on the other. Emorick’s previous affliction began to catch up with him, and he felt himself weakening. Bella’s face lit up with a devilish delight as she compelled her spell to go forward. Just as Emorick thought about finding a way out, he heard a deafening crack! As Bella stared at the pool of blood expanding on her chest, Emorick forced both of the incantations her way. An electric cloud enveloped her before it disintegrated into thin air! Emorick saw that shot had come from Agent Cecilio! As both Justin and Kierram entered into the purview to assist, Emorick instructed them, “Go find Gwyn!” Emorick’s small victory incited his adrenaline to give him the stamina to continue fighting, and while Agent Cecilio joined in the battle, Justin and Kierram rushed to find Gwynivara.

Gwynivara spotted Rafeneita racing into the room leading into the box office chambers, and knowing that she wanted privacy for her getaway, Gwynivara summoned a billowing energy and thrust it at the walls of her hiding spot. The structure crumbled, and Gwynivara saw that she had lost her usual moxie as she cowered in the open area that used to represent a safe haven for her! Gwynivara marched over to her and seethed, “It’s no use retreating to your home planet! Wherever you go, I’m gonna find you!”

“It’s not easy to find something with absolutely no clues to its whereabouts!” Rafeneita responded as she regained her usual poise. “If it was, I would’ve gotten your parents!” That statement stunned Gwynivara, she had no idea that Rafeneita had any inkling to do such a thing! Rafeneita could see that she struck a chord, so she expounded on the subject further, “You have some distant relatives in Florida, they were there! Somehow, they knew we caught on to them, and we temporarily lost sight of them.” Gwynivara felt relieved to hear that her parents avoided peril, but it disturbed her to know how close they came to their demise! Rafeneita attempted to nettle her more, “The more you pursue me, the more I’ll pursue them! So, it’s your choice! If you want to-!”

Gwynivara’s fright dissolved just knowing that her family was in danger, and before Rafeneita could even finish her sentence, she fired an incantation at her! Rafeneita richoted it back to her, but Gwynivara dodged it. Rafeneita threw incantations of her own at Gwynivara, and Gwynivara could see how much more formidable her skills were than hers, but she didn’t care! She knew sooner or later she’d find a way to break through, she didn’t dare to feel discouraged as she fought back!

Kierram discovered Gwynivara facing Rafeneita alone, and he hurried to go help her! Little did he know that Abigor appeared out of nowhere and attempted to ambush him! Before he could launch his assault, Justin shot a bullet in the exact location of his previous wound! Abigor glared at Justin before disappearing again! Kierram gave Justin a quick nod before joining Gwynivara.

When Rafeneita espied Kierram’s incantation flying her way, she created a force field around her that blocked everything from getting to her! Rafeneita laughed at them and jeered, “It’s been fun, but I think I’ll take off now!” She slowly ascended into the air, but Gwynivara refused to let her get away! She sent a freezing incantation her way, and it slowed Rafeneita down. Kierram did the same, and soon Bernadette came to them and copied their actions. Riley arrived next, then José, Cedric, John, Easton, Niqun, Susie, Naama, and a few other Rebels who had helped them fight the security guards. Once Emorick showed up and joined in, Rafeneita’s protection began to falter. Her alarm heightened to its limit as the last bit of the barrier broke, and she screamed as she tumbled towards the ground! Once again, all of the Rebels raised their hands to give her a final blow, only this time…

Abigor appeared out of thin air! He flew towards Rafeneita, scooped her up, and elevated her to the sky before they both disappeared like a firework! The Rebels all witnessed this in fury at first since she had gotten away after all, but soon, the crowd from the rally clamored for them! It took a while since it almost seemed too incredible to believe, but it finally dawned on them- they had vanquished her! They knew she had the ability to return, but for the time being, victory was theirs, and that was reason enough to celebrate!

Gwynivara had to find Kierram, she would have been devastated if he hadn’t survived this! When they beheld each other, they sped into each other’s arms and gave one another a passionate kiss! After they took a breath, Gwynivara gratefully croaked out, “You came back!”

“I left ’cause my feelings were hurt, but you know what hurt worse? Being without you!” He gave her a big grin before kissing her again.

“Justin!” Riley called out when he found him.

Justin turned to him and spurted out, “Riley! I learned the truth, and I decided to help! I led the Rebels to you to give you as much assistance as possible, and when I went back to make sure they made it to you, I found Kierram! We thought you may have gone here, and you did! I know we just met, but I just… I felt… I wanted to…”

Riley squeezed him tightly and expressed gratefully, “Thank you!”

Justin hugged him back and echoed his sentiments, “No, thank you!” They held each other and savored their embrace.

Agent Cecilio found Rialowe on the floor starting to awaken. He picked him up and cuffed him right away! “You’re under arrest for knowingly spreading a deadly virus!” Rialowe didn’t object. Although he would have liked to have seen his cohorts go down too, he walked away knowing that he deserved this punishment.

A week later, Gwynivara’s heart pounded as she walked into a voting booth. She had been on the run for so long that she didn’t recognize the majority of the people on the ballot, but she still got a thrill just having the ability to do this! After she finished, she dipped her left index finger in ink, a gesture that the other Rebels had already done. As the photographer prepared to get a picture of them, Linda Knucker smiled as she addressed them, “Congratulations!” They returned her smile until she joked, “You didn’t get your voting advice from this guy, right?” She held up a newspaper that featured a picture of Rialowe talking to adoring fans through a plexi-glass wall in a prison uniform, and the Rebels all grimaced seeing that, despite seeing the reality of the situation for themselves, he still had a political influence! “Alright, alright, I was kidding! This is a happy day, I need you to smile for me again!” She put the paper away, and the Rebels all beamed for the camera knowing that she was right- this was a momentous occasion, they were truly free!

Kierram woke up in his bed still posed as if he were holding onto someone. He peered outside and saw that Gwynivara stood outside in the nearby field. She appeared to be attempting some kind of incantation that didn’t manifest itself for her. Curious, he put on some clothes and went outside to check on her. He exited the apartment building that had a sign, which read: Special Services Headquarters. He found her staring out over a small cliff that overlooked the Great Dismal Falls cemetery. He asked her, “What are you up to?”

“I’m trying to teleport,” Gwynivara answered. “If Abigor can do it, then so can we!”

“Carter’s new administration has an excellent vaccine plan,” Emorick conversed as he joined them outside. “I take it you’re opting out?” he kidded.

Gwynivara replied to that quip seriously, “Of course not! Good lord, no one else in the Rebellion… I mean Special Services… is actually considering that, are they?”

Bernadette assured her, “Nope! Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere!”

“Although we are practicing our incantations inside where it’s clear and warm!” Riley joshed .

“I just thought that Nialla might be able to help us out.” Gwynivara held the orb in view of Nialla’s grave below them. As Niqun, John, José, Naama, Rebekah, Cody, Cedric, Susie, Easton, and Justin all trickled out, Gwynivara graciously regarded them, “I’m glad you’re all here! It makes it easier to be away from the rest of my family!” She sighed and then went on, “My parents won’t be safe ’til our mission is complete, and obviously you know that won’t happen ’til we get Rafeneita! She’s still out there, and we still don’t know if she will try to target Earth again now that President Carter is getting the cure out there, but her planet’s still on the brink of destruction, so she’s gonna try something somewhere! We can’t let her do that to anyone! We gotta do all we can to beat her this time! No one else should have to suffer! Wherever she goes, we’re gonna find her! We gotta hurry though! We may not have long…” She held up the orb towards the sky, and they saw a small planet amongst a sea of stars that seemed to grow weaker and weaker by the second! As they all stared at it, they wondered what Rafeneita’s next move would entail…

The End

Rebels of Darkness II, Chapter 31

Gwynivara knew she could free herself from these restraints if she had enough time, but it didn’t look like they had much longer! She had just enough slack to twist her fingers around, so she reached for the orb resting in her other pocket. She hoped that she could us it to channel her energy and create an incantation that could take out Rialowe before he went too far, but since she she could stretch herself only so much, she realized that it wouldn’t work soon enough! She managed to touch a nail to the orb, but as Rialowe set himself in motion to break the vial with the cure inside of it, all she could think to do was whisper a plea, “Nialla, help us!” She suddenly felt a warmth from the orb, and for a moment, she thought that the cure would get saved after all. As the vial plummeted to the ground, she sensed some kind of force leave the orb, so she believed the vial would stay in tact. It apparently did not go towards saving the cure though since its enclosure shattered into a bunch of pieces! All of the Rebels stared at the broken pieces in total disbelief, and Gwynivara’s mind didn’t let the significance of this act sink in right away. All she could do was wonder if the effect she detected hadn’t gone there, she pondered where it actually had gone!

“This is only the beginning, folks!” Bella roared as she stood on the stadium stage. She had her arms up in the air and maniacally bellowed, “The best is yet to come!” Just as the crowd clamored in support of that sentiment, the jumbo tron flickered. It showed a bird’s eye view of Rialowe standing over eight tied up people in his dressing room, and the crowd murmured in confusion. Bella’s tone shifted entirely as she scrambled to get her headset on, and as soon as she did, she frantically commanded, “Cut the feed! Cut the feed! Cut the feed!”

“We’re trying! We can’t!” a stagehand responded in a panic.

Bella screeched, “Who did this? I didn’t authorize this! WHO DID IT?”

The stagehand fretfully told her, “I don’t know! I don’t know!” Bella growled, but before she could say anything else, her eyes widened in horror as she heard audio coming from this footage…

“You monster! You destroyed the cure! Now no one else can ever get cured from Venenatus Sanguis again!” Bernadette shrieked.

“No one has ever gotten a cure! There is no cure!” Rialowe leered.

Riley retorted, “Well, there isn’t anymore, thanks to you, you jackass!”

Rialowe took slight offense to that gibe, but he still kept his cool as he regarded them, “I’m the jackass? You’re the ones trying to lie to people about a cure! Nothing can cure Venenatus Sanguis! It’s cruel for you to give people false hope! How could you be so heartless?”

“We’re being heartless?” Naama scoffed at him. “You’re the one telling everyone that a deadly disease doesn’t exist while you yourself have it! You made everyone let their guard down so you could get them all sick! A lot of people die from this! Do you even care?”

“Of course I care!” Rialowe stated emphatically. “I did it to help save mankind! There is no cure, but if we all contract it, then we can all build an immunity to it and carry on with our lives! It’s the only way!”

José pointed out, “You’re not saving anyone, you’re killing people!”

Rialowe argued, “I know a few people died from it; I don’t like it, but if they didn’t die, then we’d all go down! I did it for the greater good!”

“Someone go shut him up immediately!” Bella ordered.

“I don’t think so!” Susie addressed a security guard as he tried to go backstage. He raised his hand to strike her with an incantation, but when several other Rebels linked arms with her, his hand went limp just seeing that he was outnumbered.

John yelled, “No, you did it ’cause you got lied to about the cure! They wanted you to buy into that garbage so you would spread the disease and destroy humanity!”

Rialowe objected to that, “You’re lying! Just more of your false information! You’re the ones trying to destroy humanity by not allowing the spread to continue!”

“thank about this, Rialowe.” Gwynivara spoke in an unnervingly calm voice that spooked Rialowe by its eerie timbre. He obviously expected her to have some vitriol and push him like the others did, but she didn’t intend on combating him. Although she felt utterly devastated by the loss he caused, she needed him to see the truth. While she didn’t have it in her to show him kindness, she did approach him with the understanding that he had been hoodwinked. She conveyed an air of wisdom to him to show him the error of his ways. “The mastermind behind it all had the sophisticated means to put the virus into a piece of candy without anyone suspecting a thing, so why wouldn’t they also have the ability to procure an antidote?”

“I…” Rialowe tried to think of a clever comeback, but he obviously couldn’t, so instead, he shot back with, “Well, maybe they have it, maybe they don’t, but so what! That doesn’t excuse you guys from trying to scam people with that crap you had!”

Emorick put forward, “Listen to yourself! You just acknowledged that your master may have the cure, and you’re still willing to do their bidding! If they have the cure, then you’re killing people for no real reason!”

Rialowe differed with him, “But I don’t know that for sure! And don’t call her my master! I am my own boss!”

Bella thundered, “Where are you guys? Why aren’t you stopping this?” She gasped when she saw security guards at different entrances struggling against the barricades that the Rebels made. This prompted her to calmly talk into the microphone on her headset, “First lady, we have a problem…”

“Rafeneita gave you that story about the lack of a cure, didn’t she” Gwynivara posed to Rialowe. He stared at her with a poker face, so she went on, “Well, Rafeneita also gave us that vial!”

“Fake information!” Rialowe spouted.

Bernadette countered with, “No, it’s true! We battled her on her mountaintop hideout, and we almost beat her, so she gave us this as a peace offering.”

Riley added, “She didn’t tell us how to use it though. We don’t think she ever intended us to do so! She wanted to keep us busy so we wouldn’t interfere with your spreading operation. Her plan fail ’cause here we are!”

“That doesn’t make any sense!” Rialowe deliberated this. “Why would she tell me one story and you another? Unless you’re lying about knowing her, but how could you know her name if she didn’t give it you…?”

“Rafeneita has been lying to you so she could trick you into destroying humanity!” Gwynivara revealed to him.

Rialowe’s went pale at that concept, but he still didn’t look ready to accept the truth. “That can’t be true!”

The door swung wide open, and Gwynivara’s breath nearly left her body to see Rafeneita’s snarling face! She stared in their direction with absolute fury etched on her face, and the Rebels became numb with terror! Under normal circumstances, they wouldn’t have succumbed to their fear, but they had no way to defend themselves, so their vulnerability paralyzed them! They expected her to immediately take them out at an opportune chance like this, but before she could do anything, Rialowe ran up to her and began to inquire, “You’re trying to save humanity, right? There’s no-?”

“What did you do?” Rafeneita howled. She swooped towards the Rebels, but to their astonishment, she didn’t attack them! Instead, she dove to the floor in front of Gwynivara and examined the shards of glass remaining from the vial! “You destroyed it all!” she cried out as she lamented of the bits that she could find.

“You told me that these frauds would stop us from saving the world, so I took away the thing that would prevent us from doing that,” Rialowe justified himself.

Rafeneita wailed, “That vial got handed down to me from my grandmother! She’s gone, and that’s all I had left of her! Now I can never get it back!”

Rialowe rationalized, “I’m sure your incantation ability is strong enough for you to repair it!” Rialowe glared at him, so he lashed out, “Well, if it was so precious, why did you give it to these guys?”

“I needed to keep them busy and away from us for a while!” Rafeneita let him know. “I knew they cared about the cure, so they would protect it. I always intended on getting it back! And you expect me to use my precious energy on trying to salvage it? You want me to weaken my defenses over your ineptitude? You-?”

“So, there was a cure?” Rialowe puzzled.

Rafeneita grew more nettled after he brought that up that detail. “Of course there’s a cure! And you just wasted the ration I made on my home planet! It’s easy to make there! I could easily find the ingredients and develop the concoction in a laboratory, but I can’t do that here! Could the enzymes be recreated with Earth molecules? Yes, but you think that would be a simple task for me now? I could have had access to another laboratory if Abigor hadn’t messed things up with his mission at the PHC, or maybe his clout at the FBI could have gained me access somewhere, but I can’t do that now! You didn’t even consider this when you did what you did! You took away an important tool! If I wanted to disable someone’s powers, now I can’t! You ruined it! There’s no way I’ll get an opportunity make more now! ” She mulled it over for a second, and then she concluded, “Well, maybe it’s not entirely too late! There’s still a chance I could do it if you get elected president. I could use my special privileges to-.”

Rialowe cut her off so he could get clarification, “Wait, so the cure is real? You lied to me?”

“Fine, I lied!” Rafeneita dismissed his offended reaction and attempted to move on, “We still have a job to do, so I’m willing to forgive you if you don’t screw up the rest of our objective up! You’re late to appear for your rally, so you better get out there!”

“You want me to go out there and help you take out the human race?” Rialowe angrily queried.

Rafeneita folded her arms and gazed at him in annoyance. “You didn’t have a problem with getting people killed before!”

Rialowe argued, “Yes, I did! I didn’t want to do it, but you said it was the only way to save humanity! And this whole time you’ve just been using me to destroy it?”

“Look,” Rafeneita unwillingly leveled with him, “my planet is nearing destruction! It grows more frail with each passing day! My kind needs a place to go, so I came here to clear out Earth so that we can survive!”

“So, you want me to destroy my kind to save yours?” Rialowe challenged her.

Rafeneita gave an exasperated sigh and begrudgingly assured him, “I’ll save you and some of your favorite humans, okay?”

Rialowe denied that deal, “No! I can’t have my old life back without people around! I need people to advertise to and to buy the products that I sell! I need people to clean my house and take care of my yard! If I get sick, I wanna go to a hospital and have people heal me! People repair streetlights and fix cars! People make everything happen! And you wanna make it all disappear! Life will never exist as I know it all because you move your species here! How do you expect me to be okay with that?”

“You act like my kind are primitive beasts!” Rafeneita took exception to his accusations. “You could still have those things with us! One of the reasons I picked your planet is because it’s similar to ours! Even your language isn’t that different! It may not be an exact replica of what you’re used to, but you can still have a decent life if you continue with our plan!”

“Forget it!” Rialowe spat. “I only agreed to do it as a temporary thing so I could get my life back, but I’m not gonna invoke the apocalypse and hope that I can get a fraction of what I used to have! You lied to me before, and you really expect me to believe you this time? Not happening! I’m out!”

He turned to leave, but Rafeneita shouted, “Don’t you dare set foot outside this stadium!”

He turned back to her and scathed, “Oh, I’m not! I’m gonna go out there and tell everyone that I changed my last answer from that debate! If I went to a costume party, I’d dress up as Dorothy and throw water on you to rid the world of the witch that I chose as first lady! Then I’m gonna donate the rest of my campaign money to the PHC so they can foil your plans to destroy humanity! That’s right, you lose! No one double crosses Don John Rialowe!”

Once again, he headed out the door, but Rafeneita’s rage reached its pinnacle! She quickly conjured a ball of light, and as much as Gwynivara detested Rialowe for the damage he caused, she couldn’t let her destroy him for doing the right thing at a crucial juncture like this! She called out to him, “Rialowe, look out!” He ducked, but not soon enough! Rafeneita hurled the ball of light at him, and a sliver of it got him! He laid on the floor, and Gwynivara could see him breathing…