The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 20

A large beast with the body of a bear and the head and claws of a lizard came snarling towards them! The heroes all panicked and tried desperately to escape their confinement, and Exelda deplored, “After all we’ve been through, I can’t believe it ends like this!”

            They winced as it crept closer, preparing themselves for a grisly outcome, but the monster’s footfall met with the stick that Stocastin brought in to use as a torch, making the monster slip! It slid across the cave and into the pit of jackals where it got immediately ravaged! Akintos kidded, “I think the other guys know the feeling!”

            “You can’t be serious!” Thanamenti bellowed. “They’re tied up, totally unable to move or use their powers… This should have been a cinch! How could it possibly have gotten messed up” Dason opened his mouth to say something impertinent, but Thanamenti cut him off, “Don’t you dare give me another sassy remark or I swear, I’ll-!”

            “You’ll what? Kill me?” Dason grinned at her mischieviously.

            Marcin wondered, “So, now what? We sit here and listen to their drivel ‘til Echinda gives birth to another one?”

            Mercinon responded to him, “What else are we supposed to do? Ugh! That could take forever! I wish I had something to do in the meantime… like getting a makeover!” Before Thanamenti could rejoinder, a shop appeared at the end of the cave with a sign that read: Salon. “Oh, you’re so kind! Thank you!”

            “Wait, what? I didn’t…!” Thanamenti stared at her staff as if she were questioning its betrayal to her.

            “Um, I wouldn’t go in there if I were you!” Marcin cautioned Mercinon.

            As Mercinon continued to stroll over to the beauty shop, Mercinon regarded Marcin, “You’re absolutely right! I wouldn’t recommend you go in there either! I’m sure these guys are good, but I doubt they’re miracle workers!” He opened the door and greeted the employees, “Hello there! Can we start with a haircut or should we-?”

            Once the door became unshut, that wall of the cave disappeared, creating a window into a world with fire, brimstone, and a very pleased Hades standing before them! “Hades! You’re not allowed in here!” Thanamenti snapped.

            “I’m not in there, and neither is he!” Hades indicated to Mercinon. When Mercinon realized that he had inadvertently stepped into the Underworld, he tried to run back inside of Thanamenti’s cave. Hades used his staff to pull him back, and he taunted him, “I don’t think so!”

            “You’re so mean! What did I do to deserve this?” Mercinon thought about the words he uttered and grimaced. “Oh right!”

            Hades told Mercinon, “Time for you to pay your fare!” He conjured up a mop and bucket.

            Mercinon’s eyes widened widely at the prospect that Hades proposed. “No! A Few seconds ago, I was destined to be king, and now I’m doing peasant work? It’s not fair! I… Wait a minute! I have a coin now! I don’t need to…” He searched all over his toga and fretted, “Oh no! Where is it?”

            “Looks like it fell in the pit of jackals!” Marcin informed him.

            “Well, don’t just stand there! Go in and bring it to me!” Mercinon ordered.

            Marcin refused, “Forget it! The days of you bossing me around are done! You can go rot in Tartarus, but I think I’ll stay here in the Netherworld!”

            Hades shot that concept down, “I don’t think so!” He pointed his staff at Marcin, and Marcin got transported into the Underworld!

            “Hey! That’s not right! You aren’t allowed in my cave, so your magic shouldn’t be allowed in here either!” Thanamenti contended with Hades.

            “You used your magic to steal things from my world!” Hades pointed out. “Incidentally, I’ll take it back now!” He aimed his staff towards one of the cavern rooms, and a fish-like monster flew into the Underworld.

            Dason questioned, “That’s Echinda?”

            Mercinon noted, “That’s what I said!” He turned to Marcin and stated, “Well, if I gotta spend an eternity getting tortured, at least I’ll have a friend to agonize with!”

            “Actually, he paid his fare already!” the giant skeleton let him know as he docked his boat on the rocky shore.

            “When you killed me, I had a coin in my pocket. See ya, buddy!” As Marcin climbed into the boat, he revised that sentence, “Well, actually we’re not really buddies, and I won’t be seeing you again, so none of that is true! Toodle-oo!” He waved his fingers at him as they sailed away. Mercinon started to weep about his situation, and Hades made him, the mop, and the bucket disappear.

            Hades cast a spell in the newly created gateway between the Underworld and the Netherworld, and he announced to Thanamenti, “It’s sealed now, so you can’t hide from me anymore If you try to overthrow society again, you will pay!”

            Thanamenti complained, “I hadn’t even thought about doing it again yet! I can’t get over you creating that illusion in my world! You had no right to do that!”

            “I didn’t do that. Looks like you have a new enemy with apparitional powers! Well, see you around!” He smirked at her and started to leave, but he stopped in his tracks when he remembered something. “Oh, you guys probably want out, huh?”

            “No, I wanna have my baby like this!” Exelda expressed sarcastically.

            Hades freed them, and Exelda embraced Dason fondly. Dason chirped, “I’m so happy to see you in the light again! Wait, how does this place stay lit? There’s no candles or windows?”

            Exelda shrugged. “I don’t know! I… Wait! I just revealed that I was pregnant to you!”

            “Technically, I did that first,” Kefalia put in. “Just like I did with the senate leaders, remember?”

            “You’re not surprised?” Exelda asked Dason.

            Dason answered her, “Nah! These buffoons aren’t good at keeping secrets! Plus, I’m just so elated to have you in my arms again! Hey, are you nauseous right now?” The others found that inquiry odd, but Exelda’s face lit up as she shook her head. Dason got down on one knee and adoringly addressed her, “Before anything else crazy happens, will you be my wife?”

            Happy tears rolled down Exelda’s cheeks. “Yes!” Dason beamed, and Hades made a ring appear on her finger.

            “Aw!” Kefalia cooed as Exelda and Dason kissed.

            “That makes me feel all warm inside!” Narcius clutched his chest in a sentimental way, but then his face soured. “No, wait, that’s just heartburn! But still, my deepest congratulations to the two of you!”

            Stocastin rejoiced, “Huzzah!”

            Thanamenti spat, “Yeah, that’s great! Could you leave my cave sometime soon?” Dason, Exelda, Stocastin, Narcius, Kefalia, and Akintos all merrily headed out.

            Cyrek stood in front of the capitol building with Krimeno and the other senators behind him. He announced to the group of scribes that had gathered before him, “We’re pleased to report that we’ve made significant progress in our efforts to eradicate the riots from Chaos!”

            “This isn’t going to be like when you claimed that you made significant progress in dropping the housing prices, is it?” one scribe probed.

            “Hey! One percent is still a percent!” Cyrek shot back. “And no, this news isn’t like that. I was going for a bit of dramatic flair, but that’s ruined now, so I’ll just say it then- the riots have stopped completely! Everyone can rest easy now, so you probably don’t have anymore questions for me, right?” All of the scribes raised their hands, which made him grimace.

            He called on the closest scribe, who inquired, “Will the government be holding a public funeral for the casualties of the invasion of senate building?”

            Cyrek replied, “There was only one casualty, and that was Mercinon. Normally, we’d gladly do that for a popular public figure, but considering he and his followers tried to kill us, that’s going to be a big, fat no! Next!”

            “Will Princess Aleta face repercussions for the Konna scheme?” another scribe pondered.

            “I’m glad you asked that! We have the royal family here to comment! Come on out!” He motioned towards the palace, and Aleta and Dason almost stepped out, but when Cyrek spotted Dason and the heroes approach from behind the scribes, he motioned for Aleta and the other Dason to stay back. “Just kidding, they’re over here!”

            As Dason and the heroes came up to the podium, a discerning scribe asserted, “Wait, but that guy looked an awful lot like Dason!”

            Dason vocalized to him, “Oh, that’ll be my son! He looks more and more like me each day. I just wanted to thank our heroes- Stocastin, Akintos, Narcius, Kefalia, and Exelda- for their valiant work in curtailing the recent unrest in the kingdom! The scribes politely applauded that sentiment. “And I have something much more exciting to share with you all…”

            “More exciting than our polis avoiding total destruction?” an inquisitive scribe wanted to know.

            “Yes,” Dason affirmed. “Exelda and I are going to get married!”

            Exelda showed off her ring to everyone, and they all marveled at it as they scribbled down this revelation. A curious scribe queried, “When is this union happening?”

            After shrugging a little, Exelda told him, “We don’t know yet, it just happened!”

            “We’ll keep you updated on our plans when we figure it out,” Dason assured them.

            “Okay, well since this engagement kind of stole our thunder, that’ll be all for today! Thank you!” Cyrek concluded. The scribes all shouted out their unanswered questions, but the senators and the heroes all hurried inside to discuss things.

            As soon as they spotted their arrival, Aleta and Impusa ran out to greet them. Aleta celebrated, “Big brother, you’re back!”

            After Aleta hugged Dason, Dason revealed, “I am! And I brought a new sister for you!”

            “Ooh, did you parents have another baby?” Kefalia cooed.

            “Oh my gods, you proposed!” Aleta surmised what happened.

            Exelda showed Aleta her ring, and Aleta shrieked with delight before giving her a hug. Impusa supposed, “Let me guess, you proposed in the Netherworld in front of your vanquished foes?”

            Dason puzzled, “How did you know?”

            “Because you had your first kiss in front of your enemy’s corpse! Real romantic! You two weirdos are made for each other!” Impusa commented with a wry smile.

            “I’m so excited to have a sister now!” Aleta gushed.

            Exelda remarked, “Thanks! I hope Andreos says the same thing about his new little sister! Especially since she has superpowers, I don’t want him to get intimidated!”

            Cyrek pondered, “How do you know?”

            “She created an illusion that duped Mercinon into opening up a gateway between the Netherworld and the Underworld, and no one else has the ability to create a false image like that!” Stocastin explained.

            ‘She can use her powers much sooner than I could!” Narcius marveled. “At least I think! It’s not like I could use my super speed in my mother’s womb!”

            An incredibly wrinkled old woman appeared before them, and with a mischievous grin, she stated, “She’s going to be a handful!”

            Akintos screamed at her visage, and then he apologized, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, I just never saw anyone who looks were so… Someone help me out here!”

            “It’s okay, I get that a lot,” the woman forgave him.

            “Excuse me, ma’am, but due to the recent attack to the building, we’re not allowing anymore visitors,” Cyrek relayed to her.

            Krimeno projected unexpectedly, “Hey, I know you!”

            Cyrek amended his sentence, “Oh, you do? Well, in that case, you may-.”

            “Wait, we saw you in Mercinon’s palace!” Exelda realized. “Aren’t you Mercinon’s mother?”

            “Why, yes! They call me Kamazota. Have you seen my little boy?” Kamazota asked. “I’ve been searching for him everywhere!”

            Narcius told her, “Well, he was in the Netherworld…”

            Kamazota nodded. “Ah! No wonder I couldn’t find him! Do you mind if I wait for him here? It’s hard to travel on Earth with all the gods watching your every move, you know?”

            “I can’t say we can relate!” Akintos riposted. “But Mercinon isn’t coming here! He’s not in the Netherworld anymore either- he’s back in the Underworld, so…”

            “Oh, darn! This complicates things!” Kamazota grumbled. “Oh well! Thanks for the heads up! I’ll see you later!”

            As she hobbled away, everyone stared at her with wide eyes. After a bout of a disturbed silence, Kefalia ranted, “No, no, no! The last time this happened, Mercinon came back and caused all this trouble! It can’t happen again! But it really can’t happen again since Mercinon is in the Underworld, right?” Everyone stayed quiet, so she repeated, “Right?” No one had an answer, so they all decided to toss the issue aside and returned to their previous conversation.

The End

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 19

They all expected Akintos to announce that he found something profound after that gulp, but instead, he let out a burp! He noticed that everyone was staring at him, so he wondered, “What? Did I miss something?”

            Stocastin responded, “Alas, you have not! It appears that putting the golden feathers together had no effect.”

            “Great! We went through all that hard work only to have nothing happen!” Narcius griped. “So, now what? We gotta keep roaming Chaos ‘til we find the Netherworld entrance?”

            “I guess so,” Exelda lamented. “I really hoped that once we found all of the feathers that our job would get easier, but apparently, that’s not happening! I suppose we could go back to the city and pour through the maps again… Unless you wanna explore the Synorolofus Mountains first. I think it’s starting to go out of Chaos’ territory, but they are right here!”

            Akintos denounced that plan. “Oh no! We’ve been doing so much walking that I actually miss doing research! Besides, these hills are so quiet that I doubt that the Netherworld or anything is out there! I’m not sure why they even bothered to build these stupid watchtowers!”

            Kefalia disagreed with his last point, “I don’t blame them for being careful around here! I’d wanna keep watch too if I lived near a weird, glowing cave!”

            “A glowing cave? Where?” Exelda desperately searched for it.

            “Down there!” She indicated to a small, cavern entrance towards the bottom of the ridge across from them. “Why would anyone build a palace around that creepy thing?”

            Exelda rejoiced, “That wasn’t there before! The feathers opened up the entrance to the Netherworld! Come on, let’s go!”

            Stocastin requested, “Wait!” He sifted through the debris from the broken tower and picked up a long, slender piece of wood. “We might need this!”

            “Why? I think your sword will work better as a weapon than that thing!” Narcius differed.

            “I meant as a source of light in case that illumination does not cover the entire breadth of the section of the formation’s interior in which we must travel through,” Stocastin countered.

            Kefalia puzzled, “Does that stick light up?”

            Stocastin enlightened her, “No. Stocastin would use his abilities to light it up, and-.”

            Exelda interjected, “Stop wasting time! We have a prince to rescue and a kingdom to save! Come on!” The urgency in her voice was so pronounced that they heeded her word without anymore fuss and followed her towards the glowing cave.

            “Are you sure this’ll work?” Mercinon asked Marcin as he climbed onto a pair of stilts.

            “It’s the only way we can make you appear taller to your subjects!” Marcin answered. “Unless you wanna roam the streets in a shoe with a heel so large that it gives you a considerate boost in height…”

            Mercinon contemplated that concept. “Hmm… High heeled shoes… What a novel idea! What do you think, Thanamenti? Would it look too-?” He stopped mid-sentence when he discovered that Thanamenti had left from his sight. “Oh, when did she leave? Is she sending out more monsters or something?”

            Marcin glanced around the cave and spotted her lying on the floor. “Oh, she passed out again!”

            “Oh, strange! I thought she finished drinking for the day! Oh well! I’ll just try these things out for a while!” Mercinon mounted the stilts, and while he was shaky, he relished in the fact that he could do it at all. “Hey! These aren’t too bad! After a little bit of practice, I’m sure I can-.” All of a sudden, Dason transformed back into a human! The abruptness of the moment threw Mercinon off so much that he lost his balance and fell to the ground! “Ow! My head! Good thing I’m already dead! I’d hate to have that as the reason I go out!”

            “Hey guys…” Dason’s speech got muffled since he remained in the bird cage and could hardly fit inside of it anymore. “I’m happy to have my old body back, but could you help me out of this thing? Or at least get a more size appropriate enclosure?”

            Marcin panicked, “Oh no! He’s a person again! You know what that means, right?”

            Mercinon nodded his head. “Yup! Thanamenti is doing spells in her sleep! Sad! We should take that staff away from her when she’s unconscious!”

            ‘No! It means that the royal family’s heroes reversed the spell!” Marcin emphatically told Mercinon.

            “This is really uncomfortable!” Dason stated.

            Mercinon regarded the issue that Marcin raised. “Did they? That sucks! But… eh! As soon as Thanamenti wakes up, she’ll send out another monster and hopefully this one will actually rid ourselves from them! Ooh, I hope it’s another minotaur, but, like, a more evil one that won’t get swayed to their side! We’ll see how they like getting eaten alive! In the meantime, can you help me get back onto these things?”

            Marcin contended with him, “We don’t have time to practice! We have to prepare for their arrival!”

            “They’re coming here?” Mercinon questioned.

            “Ugh! Yes!” Marcin grew frustrated by Mercinon’s slow uptake on the crisis at hand. “We have to defend ourselves since we can’t use Thanamenti’s magic right now! Oh, I wish we had her conjure up something for us to defend ourselves with in case she’s out of the picture!”

            Mercinon resumed walking on his stilts and assured Marcin, “Relax! They may have reversed the spell, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll find the Netherworld entrance immediately! By the time they get here, I’m sure Thanamenti will have woken up.”

            Marcin posed to him, “And what if she doesn’t? We need to protect the premises! We’re the only ones who can!”

            Mercinon urged him, “For the love of Pasithea, will you calm down? Leaving the cave unguarded would be idiotic! I’m sure she has some kind of safeguard to prevent them from coming inside!”

            “Actually, I believe that the magic that kept the cave concealed was the only means of protection!” Stocastin asserted. Mercinon got so shocked by the heroes’ arrival that he tumbled down again!

            “We did have to move some of her stuff out of the way though. Man, she has a lot of books!” Kefalia held up a couple of texts with titles revolving around the occult.

            Marcin stooped down to Thanamenti’s level and shook her by the shoulders. “Please wake up! Please wake up!”

            Mercinon chided Marcin, “Will you quit freaking out? It’s not like the last time when we had to fight for our lives! Oh, wait, you weren’t there ‘cause I had already killed you. Whatever! It’s not like when we were alive, they can’t kill us since we’re already dead!” He saw that the heroes looked surprised to hear that, so he dared them, “Don’t believe me? Go on, give it a shot! Nothing will happen, but you can try!”

            “Okay!” Exelda accepted his offer and lobbed off his head.

            “Ow! Ugh, that was a bad idea!” Mercinon frowned as he put his body back together.

            Akintos delighted in this spectacle, “Neat! I wanna try!” He aimed his palms at him and burned off his hand! After he grew a new one, Akintos remarked, “Cool! It’s like that self-regenerating chicken!”

            Dason snickered derisively at Mercinon, who somewhat vexedly addressed the others, “Well, I think you get the picture, so we-.”

            “No fair! I wanna try!” Kefalia flew at him before anyone could object and gave him a swift kick, sending him barreling into the pit of jackals! Dason roared with laughter while Marcin forgot his previous woes and watched this scene with amusement.

            “Wow, that really hurts!” Mercinon moaned as he crawled out of the perilous chasm.

            “It gets a little better after the dozenth round,” Marcin quipped.

            While his wounds healed, Mercinon beseeched the heroes, “Please, no more demonstrations! I think we’ve proved that you can’t kill me again!”

            Stocastin acknowledged, “His assessment appears to be correct. We don’t have any recourse to neutralize him either, so we’ll have to physically inhibit him from carrying out his attacks.”

            “Don’t bother!” Marcin recommended. “He doesn’t do much work now, so nothing would change! Well, he would be more helpless than normal, so I guess it would be more annoying for me… Unless you tied me up too… Please don’t! I’d rather go back to Tartarus than listen to him blabber on for an eternity!” Mercinon glared at him.

            “We weren’t gonna leave you here forever,” Narcius let him know. “Hades wants us to bring you back to the Underworld. Well, he didn’t mention you, but we assume he wants all of the dead to return. But how are we supposed to do that? I always thougth that we’d just have to kill you again to send you back, but apparently that won’t work!”

            Exelda mulled the matter over for a moment. “Hmm… There must be some kind of entryway to the Underworld…”

            Kefalia distressed, “Don’t tell me we have to find more feathers to open it up!” Stocastin, Akintos, and Narcius shared her sentiments at this horrifying prospect.

            “There’s an entrance in the back of the cave,” Dason notified them. “Also, can you get me out of this thing?” Exelda used her super strength to break the cage, and Dason was able to hop out. “Ah! I’m free!” Right then, a magical force swooped Dason and the heroes up and bound them together with a green rope made of electricity. “Dang it! So close!”

            “Aw, man! Seriously? We just got out of a bind like this!” Akintos whined.

            Mercinon could see Thanamenti standing beside her cauldron, so he breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh good! You’re awake! Can you please dispose of these wretches? They annoy me!”

            Thanamenti regrettably filled him in, “I can’t harm them! If I could kill them, don’t you think I would have done away with that bird ages ago?”

            “Uh, I’m not a bird anymore!” Dason mentioned.

            “Why not?” Mercinon inquired.

            Stocastin replied, “Because we were able to break that spell!”

            Mercinon clarified, “No, I meant why can’t she kill you? Thanamenti, what do you mean you can’t kill them? They’re right there! They can’t use their powers, they’re so vulnerable! It’ll be so easy! What’s the problem?”

            “If I use my powers to kill, the sympathies will take my powers away,” Thanamenti revealed. “Oh sure, I can send monsters their way, and if the monsters happened to annihilate them, then so be it, but if I could directly kill them, I would have done away with the royal family years ago and you’d be down in Tartarus doing manual labor to earn your fare on the River Styx!”

            “Ew! Don’t remind me of that horrid subject!” Mercinon shuddered. “Okay, I gotta wipe that from my memory! It’s ruining our big win! Just send out a monster or whatever you gotta do to rid ourselves from these pests! Meanwhile, I need to practice my victory march!” He got back on his stilts and resumed traversing around in them.

            Exelda boldly shouted out, “You haven’t won yet, you undead prick! We may not be able to attack you, but as we did with your last monstrous attempt, we can still outsmart you!”

            Kefalia, who had been gazing at the open book in front of her, brought up, “Uh, I was trying to research baby names and I accidentally summoned a demon!” A small, red sprite hovered above them with a malicious expression on its face.

            “Ooh, can the demon murder them?” Mercinon pondered from atop of his stilts.

            “No! Go away, you!” Thanamenti used her staff to cast the demon away, and then she leered, “So, I’m supposed to be intimidated by your wit, huh? Forgive me for not shaking in my boots!”

            Narcius retorted, “No, we won’t forgive that!”

            Thanamenti sneered at them, but before she could say anything else, Dason jumped in, “You can put up a brave front all you want, but I know deep down inside, you’re terrified right now! Don’t deny it! If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have fainted when you saw that they got the last feather!”

            “Hold on, you know that she fainted and you didn’t bother to tell us?” Mercinon cried out incredulously.

            “Why would I do that? You’re trying to destroy my polis!” Dason rebutted.

            Marcin queried, “That’s why you passed out? I thought it was the booze again!”

            Thanamenti’s demeanor became very disconcerted, but when she heard a thump come from Echinda’s chambers, she perked right back up. “It doesn’t matter! You’re about to get what’s coming to you!”

            “Oh, is it a makeover? I’ve been dying to go to a salon…” Mercinon espied Thanamenti’s irritated face, and he realized his blunder. “Oh, you were talking to them!”

            “Say goodbye, super zeroes!” Thanamenti cackled. Exelda tried to think fast as they heard footsteps coming towards them…

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 18

“And this was his bedroom,” the minotaur informed Exelda, Akintos, Stocastin, Narcius, and Kefalia as he led them into a space with an enormous bed that had an ornate wooden frame and a wardrobe that matched the other piece of furniture in the room. It was adorned with obviously self-created artwork showcasing Mercinon in an exalted fashion. “I didn’t touch this one much since I found it kinda creepy, but I thought about doing something sometime soon ‘cause I can’t sleep just knowing it’s here!”

            “Wow, he makes Narcius look humble!” Akintos remarked.

            Narcius queried, “Thanks, I guess! Wait, is that a compliment or not?”

            Exelda responded, “I wouldn’t worry abut that right now! There’s some paper and a couple of wooden frames, so let’s see if the feather is somewhere in here!”

            The heroes reluctantly began searching for the feather. Stocastin peeked behind a drawing of Mercinon as king, and when he noticed a small bust of Mercinon seemingly staring at him, he shivered and turned it around so its eyes couldn’t point in his direction. Exelda opened up the wardrobe and found that it had gotten packed so tightly that it came flooding out as soon as the door became ajar, burying her in a slew of elaborate togas and accessories! As she pulled a gilded laurel crown off of her head, she wondered, “Why did he need so many different outfits? He almost never went anywhere outside of his so-called palace from what Impusa said.”

            Akintos reached across the bed to check under the pillow farthest from him, and as his belly brushed across the surface, he noted, “Ooh! He may not have a good taste in decorations, but he sure picked out a good place to sleep!” He laid down on the bed and let out a comfortable sigh.

            “I see something!” Kefalia announced before diving under the bed and retrieving a small crate.

            “Is it a feather or artwork that he didn’t have room for?” Exelda probed.

            Kefalia made a disgusted face and quickly shoved the crate back under the bed. “Neither! It’s… Well… Akintos, if I were you, I wouldn’t’ lay on there anymore!” Akintos’ eyes grew wide, and he hastily slid off of the bed.

            Stocastin suggested, “I think we’ve gleaned all we’re going to get from this area. I propose that we examine the Dytikadasi forest that surrounds the palace instead. We found no trace of it in any of the wooden objects that we could find in here, and anything we missed sounds potentially psychologically harmful to have burned into our memories.”

            Kefalia, Akintos, and Narcius concurred with that statement, but after Exelda freed herself from the garments that buried her, she disputed, “Listen, I’m sure there’s some things in here that even the sympathies wouldn’t’ touch, but I’m almost positive that they would have put a feather somewhere around here! This whole thing happened ‘cause of Mercinon! Melampia’s sister has a connection to him, and she’s the one who cast the spell, so it makes absolute sense for a feather to come here! There has to be something we overlooked!”

            “How is that possible? We’ve already went over every room in this place!” Narcius differed. “So, unless there’s a secret chamber hidden from our sight…”

            “Did you ever try investigating the building for anything like that?” Exelda asked the minotaur. “Any trap doors or concealed staircases or things like that?”

            The minotaur answered her, “Of course I checked! I don’t got much else to do as an unemployed monster, so I’ve gone through every inch of this structure! There’s no surprises unless you count the junk he stashed under the bed!”

            Kefalia put in, “It’s not surprising, just gross!”

            “Are you sure there isn’t anything else connected with the palace that you may not have shown us?” Exelda pressed the minotaur.

            “I showed you everything inside of here,” the minotaur insisted.

            Exelda grilled him, “What about outside of the palace? Did he have, like, a garden of more art made for the outdoors?”

            Akintos crossed his fingers and prayed, “For the love of Lytta, please don’t let that horror exist!”

            “No, there’s nothing like that,” the minotaur assured them. The heroes all exhaled in relief, and then the minotaur went on, “The only thing outside of the palace is a couple of watchtowers facing the Synorolofus Mountains. I haven’t been up there since the entrance is too small, I couldn’t squeeze my horns in there, but from what I could see, there wasn’t anything up there except bugs!”

            “Bugs? Oh, were skipping those things then!” Narcius declared while shaking from that frightening thought.

            Exelda glanced out of the window, and between two mountainous hills, she saw two tall towers made of logs. “The towers are made of wood! That has to be it! Let’s go!”

            Narcius protested, “Hey, do I make you face things that you’re afraid of? Like what if I made you… I don’t know! You’re not really afraid of anything, are you?” Exelda shook her head in exasperation before grabbing him by the wrist and dragging him out of the room.

            The wind howled against them as they stared at the left tower, which gave them no clue to what may have existed in the interior except for a small platform at the very top that faced the craggy peaks behind the palace. “This wood is quite dilapidated! I would hazard a guess that these spires have been vacant for an extraordinary amount of time!” Stocastin observed.

            “Do we really have to go into these hideous eyesores?” Narcius eyeballed it judgmentally.

            “Kefalia, can you fly to the top and see if you see anything up there?” Exelda requested.

            Once she made a couple of fruitless attempts, Kefalia reported, “I can’t! The wind here is too strong!”

            Exelda concluded, “Well then, we don’t have a choice! We have to go inside!”

            “Count me out!” Narcius refused. “Who knows what’s lurking in there!”

            “That’s the entire reason we need to go in! To see what’s lurking in them!” Exelda shot back. Narcius’s knees quivered, so she told him, “Fine! You can stand watch by yourself! Stocastin and Akintos, you take that one while Kefalia and I go in here.”

            Akintos and Stocastin headed to the other side while Exelda and Kefalia ducked inside the small entrance of the one closest to them. Narcius reassured himself, “Yup! I’m much safer out here! All alone…”

            The two sets of heroes had gotten halfway up their respective towers when they heard Narcius’ high-pitched scream, so they came rushing out. Their adrenaline surged as they feared the worst, but when they came out, they saw Narcius unblemished. He let them know, “I almost dropped my mirror!”

            Akintos griped, “Oh great! We gotta climb this thing twice now all ‘cause you almost dropped a stupid mirror!”

            “It’s not stupid!” Narcius refuted. “I need this! And if it breaks, I won’t get to get another one ‘til we get back to town, and who knows when that’ll be!” He gazed at his reflection admirably and then added, “It calms my nerves!”

            “Whatever! Just don’t scream again unless it’s an actual emergency!” Exelda warned him.

            Narcius complied, “Fine!” He went back to savoring his image, and the others rolled their eyes and returned to their towers.

            Kefalia and Exelda nearly reached the top when Exelda squinted her eyes to see something above them. “Is that a feather?”

            “Maybe! Nothing else in here is shiny!” Kefalia dusted off a cobweb. All of a sudden, they heard Narcius scream again. Exelda cringed, and Kefalia pondered, “Should we go check on him? He did agree not to do that unless it’s serious!”

            “It better be serious or I swear to Zeus, I’ll… punish him somehow!” Exelda exclaimed as they hurried out.

            When they came out, they expected to see Narcius fretting over something innocuous, but instead, they got a jolt of dread to see him surrounded by a cloud of blue electricity! The other four had barely begun to process this when they felt a force propel them into Narcius’ enclosure! “What’s happening?” Stocastin wondered. Narcius was clearly too scared to speak, but he pointed towards the sky. They saw half a dozen women in scantily clad clothing flying towards them with wings like embellished butterflies, and while they had ravishing appearances, their expressions beamed out pure spite! Stocastin regarded Narcius, “That doesn’t tell me much!”

            The one in red pronounced, “We got them all! Not that I’m at all surprised! Our talent far outweighs theirs, but it is nice to be able to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done!”

            The one in orange shared her sentiment, “Yes, indeed! I had expected them to put up a fight, but I’m glad we didn’t’ have to resort to that! I’d rather not have to repair any imperfections that a battle may create!”

            “What are you gonna do to us? Pleasure us to death?” Akintos grinned with a gleam of hope in his eyes.

            “I already asked that,” Narcius relayed to him. “Trust me, the answer’s a no!”

            The one in yellow scoffed, “As if our noble blood would ever compel us to do such a vile act!”

            Kefalia opined, “Wow, they sound like you, Narcius!”

            “How shall we do this, ladies? Our powers are so mighty that the possibilities are endless!” the one in green posed to her peers.

            “Ooh, look! A parting gift!” the one in blue cried out in delight.

            As they quarreled over who got to use Narcius’ mirror, Exelda asserted, “They do sound like you, Narcius!”

            Narcius bewailed, “Okay, okay! I get it! I’m arrogant! Is that really necessary to prove right before we’re all killed?”

            “No, I only meant that if they’re like you, we can decipher their weaknesses! So, how would we destroy you?” Exelda inquired.

            “Hey, put down my mirror before you ugly hags break it!” Narcius shouted to them.

            The women arched their heads up in total bewilderment, and the one in purple sneered, “He’s lying! He was just trying to preposition us because our beauty bewitched him!”

            Narcius contended that, “I thought I was at death’s door, I would have done it with anyone, even you revolting cows!”

            “I don’t think cows are revolting!” Kefalia objected. Exelda elbowed her, so she amended her blunder, “You guys wish you were as attractive as cows!”

            “You’re telling us you don’t find this at all attractive?” The one in red showed of her body, and the heroes all made gagging noises.

            The one in orange shrieked, “How dare you!”

            The one in yellow sniffled a little. “It can’t be true!”

            “It is!” Stocastin confirmed. “And you smell bad too!”

            “What?” the one in green roared. She tried to sniff herself, but tears started to flow and her nostrils got blocked. “You’re so mean!”

            All six started crying, and shortly afterwards, they started fading! “Oh no! Our gorgeous bodies!” the one in blue hollered.

            The one in purple tried to hex them, but her hand disappeared, so she yelled, “You’ll pay for this!”

            Akintos retorted, “No, I don’t think so! I think we won!”

            As the winged women’s heads vanished, they gave out one last shriek before they popped out of sight! The electric cloud that bound them dissolved, and the force that pulled them in pushed them out, sending them sailing in all different directions! Exelda got slammed into the tower that she had explored, and after she recovered, she asked everyone else, ‘Are you guys okay?”

            “No!” Narcius answered tormentedly. “They took my mirror with them! Those bitches!” He started sobbing but instantly stopped when he spotted something on the ground. “No, wait, there it is!”

            “Isn’t it funny how this is the second monster killed by tears?” Kefalia conversed.

            Stocastin speculated, “The cipactli suffered from an anaphylactic shock due to the sodium and other substances in your tear water whereas the hubris from these female creatures-.”

            Exelda interrupted him, “Hey! That was a feather I saw!” They espied the golden feather, which now dangled off of the edge of the platform at the top! She used her super strength to make the tower vibrate in an effort to knock it down, but she accidentally made the whole thing fall apart! “Oops!”

            Akintos groaned, “Why didn’t you do that from the beginning? I would much rather have searched through the rubble than do all that climbing!”

            “I got it!” Exelda held it up in the air triumphantly.

            “Yay! We have all the feathers!” Kefalia jumped and clapped in joy. ‘Now what?”

            Exelda theorized, “I think we gotta put them all together.”

            They each pulled out the feather that they retrieved and brought it to her. Exelda stacked the ends together like a fan, and with mounting anticipation, they waited for something to occur. For a moment, they thought nothing happened. Suddenly, Akintos let out a gasp…

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 17

She heard someone coming, so Aleta pulled her hood down over her face a little further as she walked down an almost empty road. She couldn’t see much of what was ahead of her, but she could see the cobblestone steps down below her, which was all she needed. Or so she thought! She crashed into a wooden pole, which briefly exposed her face as she tended to her wounds. She glanced around to see if anyone had seen that, but thankfully, not many people lined the street that early in the morning! She put her hood on again with less skin exposed, but she worried about this decision because if someone came close enough, they would probably recognize her. She inwardly prayed that no one would run into her until she returned to the palace!

            After a bit of searching, Aleta began to grow tired, so she slipped into an alleyway to take a breather. She gazed out at the vast cityscape and started to feel doubts about her plan. Chaos didn’t seem like such a large place when she had traveled by horseback, but now that she had spent a significant amount of time hoofing it herself, she didn’t think her idea was very practical anymore! There was just too much ground to cover to get the object before anyone else found it first! She had no clue if she would even get close to it prior to “Konna” delivering it, and if she did, she may not have even known it since she didn’t know exactly what she was even looking for! She took a great risk in coming out there, and she no longer knew if it would even be worth it! “What am I doing?” Aleta groaned.

            “You’re asking me?” a man pushing a cart of sugar beets queried as he passed by.

            “No, I was talking to myself, thank you very much!” Aleta regarded him while trying to keep her visage shielded. The man gave her a peculiar look before scooting his cart a little faster away from her vicinity. She almost felt offended, but then she reasoned that it was safer for him to have the opinion that she lost her mind versus him figuring out who she really was! She could hear more people starting their day, and she wondered if she was already too late. She thought that it may have been pointless to keep hunting for that thing…

            Just when she decided that she should leave, something fell out of the sky and hit her on the head! “Ow! Man, the gods really want every part of my brain to hurt today!” Aleta muttered to herself. When she checked out the ground to see what had done that to her, she spotted a scroll tied up with a black ribbon! “Is this it?” she gasped. She then stooped down and reached out to it with trembling hands, and while she was dying to know the contents of this note, her nerves didn’t allow her to move very fast. She got within inches of it, and then…

            A person approached the alley, and when he espied Aleta, he exclaimed, “It’s you!”

            “No, it’s not!” Aleta knew that probably was an ineffective sentence to utter in this situation, but she couldn’t help it! She was starting to panic, and while she had brought a dagger for protection, she suddenly forgot everything Dason had taught her about how to actually use it!

            “Yes, it is!” the man insited. More people had flocked over in that direction, and he beckoned them, “Look you guys! We caught her in the act!”

            A small crowd with a wide variety of people started at her with wide eyes and murmured excitedly with each other. Aleta admonished herself for getting herself into an area where she was cornered, and she mentally prepared herself to fight her way out. Or at least she tried! She thought she had brandished her weapon, but she realized that she was holding the scroll like a small sword! She moaned knowing that she made herself seem incompetent to a group of individuals who harbored animosity towards her family, and as they advanced towards her, she readied herself for the worst…

            To her astonishment, they all got down on their knees and bowed to her! “Huh? What’s going on? Are you still gonna kill me? Not that I want you to, but still…”

            “Kill you?” the man who had first seen her responded. “We would never kill you, Konna!”

            “Wait, what?” Aleta reacted in bewilderment. “You think I’m Konna?”

            A woman in the throng argued with her, “There’s no sense in denying it anymore! We caught you in the act of delivering your bulletin!”

            Aleta, now completely dumbfounded, didn’t know what to say to that except, “This is really more of a scroll than a bulletin…”

            “See, she admits it! She’s Konna!” a young boy shouted joyfully.

            “No, I…” Aleta attempted to deny that claim.

            Another lady in the mix asserted, “It makes sense! Konna said she was an important part of the palace, and who would have more of a cause to speak out than the jilted princess?”

            All of the others agreed with her argument, and Aleta almost contended their views again, but she suddenly got struck with a brilliant stroke of inspiration. “Fine, I confess! I am Konna! I grew jealous of my brother being poised to take over the kingdom! Yeah, I totally would rather have the stress of running our polis than continue being a pampered housewife! That makes sense to you, right?” They readily accepted that explanation, which she felt grateful for. “I made up all of those crazy rumors to frame them!”

            “Wait, you lied to us?” a little girl questioned.

            “Yeah!” Aleta rejoiced in the fact that they all bought into this concept. “But I can’t do it anymore!”

            An old man probed, “Why not?”

            Aleta had to think fast. “Because…” Luckily, something clicked for her pretty quickly. “Oh, yes! Because Mercinon is dead! No point in trying to take down the royal family without anyone good to replace them. Mercinon never had any kids, so…”

            “Why didn’t he ever get married?” an elderly woman inquired.

            “Beats me!” Aleta honestly replied with a shrug. “But now he will never get the chance since he got taken down yesterday.”

            A teenage boy cried, “Yesterday? You mean when we invaded the senate building?”

            “That’s right!” Aleta tried to hold back her laughter. “So, go forth! Spread the word! Tell everyone to stop the violence! And stop bad mouthing the royal family! You’re stuck with them, you may as well get used to it!” The congregation all dejectedly discussed this turn of events as they left, and Aleta glowed with pride at this turn of events! As everybody dispersed, she could see Cyrek, Krimeno, and Impusa standing on the street with their hoods off and their jaws wide open!

            “Is it too gauche for a future king to wear this?” Mercinon asked Marcin, who was putting the finishing touches on a cape that flowed from Mercinon’s shoulders to a few feet behind him on the floor.

            Marcin, while still sewing, answered him, “Kinda. It makes this already small space feel that much tighter!” Mercinon gave him a reproachful expression, and Marcin could tell he misinterpreted his intent with that dialogue. “Oh, you meant later! It’s not typical, but once they see the garish way you’ll undoubtedly decorate the palace, no one will be surprised!”

            They heard a series of loud thumps coming from the adjacent cavern room, and Mercinon commented, “I’m glad we decided not to send Echinda back to the Underworld! It’ll be niece to have a tool to use when I wanna smite my enemies! Hmm, it sounds like it’s a bit packed in there. Should we start moving them to the palace now?” He didn’t get a response, so he called out, “Thanamenti?”

            “She passed out,” Dason reported while snickering.

            “She passed out what? Candy? I’ve been dying for some pasteli!” Mercinon’s eyes brimmed with hope, but when Dason slapped his wing to his temples and shook his head, Mercinon’s mood deflated. “Well, excuse me for adopting a hint of optimism!”

            Due to the massive size of his cape, Mercinon did a wide u-turn to check out the case for himself. On the other side of her enormous cauldron, he beheld Thanamenti unconscious on the ground with bottles of alcohol all around her. Marcin joined his side and remarked, “Oh Dionysus! She better not be dead! We’ll never succeed without her magic!”

            Marcin bent down to check her pulse, and Thanamenti unexpectedly slapped his hand away from her! Mercinon enquired, “Well, is she alive?”

            Thanamenti groggily got up, and with hazy vision, she observed, “Mercinon, you’re on fire!”

            “Thank you! I mean, I always knew it, but I love hearing it out loud!” Mercinon gushed.

            “I meant it literally!” She indicated to a part of his cape that had touched the flames beneath her pot, which was now burning up!

            Mercinon screamed and tried to run from it, but his cape was too heavy to allow him to move very fast. The weight of it anchored him down and sent him plummeting to the floor! Thanamenti aimed her staff at him, which dowsed him with much more water than needed! She stood up as Dason doubled over in laughter, and Thanamenti apologized, “I’m sorry for knocking out like that! I usually don’t drink that much!”

            Mercinon tried to get up, but the cape had become even heavier, so he couldn’t stand up right then. He kept trying as he conversed with Thanamenti, “Ah, it’s okay! You’re allowed to do a little celebrating after we pulled off that feat!”

            “What celebrating? We lost again! Why do you think I was drinking so much?” Thanamenti challenged him.

            “Victory drinks?” Mercinon guessed.

            Marcin suggested, “Oh, take that thing off! It’s ruined now anyways!”

            Mercinon undid the clasps on his cape, and then he went over to Thanamenti’s brew and pondered, “So, we didn’t overtake the capitol?”

            “No!” Thanamenti bitterly snapped. “And suddenly no one is taking my messages anymore! People have lost faith in Konna! Even those nuts at the winery took down all their souvenirs of me! We lost most of our support!”

            “Great! Can you turn me back into a human since you’re obviously giving up on this folly?” Dason requested.

            Thanamenti vehemently disagreed, “We’re not giving up! It’s just unfortunate to have to do everything from scratch! We can still pull this off by riding ourselves of the heirs to the throne! Mad King Peripetio, his bed ridden wife, the snotty princess, the hawk’s young brat-!”

            Dason corrected her, “I’m not normally a hawk!”

            “Don’t forget Exelda!” Mercinon piped in. “We can’t have her survive since she’s carrying-!”

            “Shut up!” Thanamenti cut him off by making more water fall on him. Dason opened his mouth to find out about that subject Mercinon raised, but Thanamenti wouldn’t let him speak. “Don’t even bother! But we do have to find out what those interfering nuisances are up to at the present moment!”

            Mercinon stated, “While you do that, I’ll work on anticipating our success by making sure I’m dressed for the occasion! Could you be a doll and conjure up some more fabric for my cape?”

            Thanamenti made a noise of annoyance, but she prepared herself to do as he wished. Before she magicked anything, she caught a glimpse of something occurring in her potion and paused her efforts. “Woah! You might wanna take a look at this!”

            “Why? I contribute nothing useful to this part of the plot!” Mercinon objected.

            “Oh my gods!” Marcin hid his chuckle at this development. “They’re at your old palace!”

            Mercinon roared, “What?” He rushed back over to the concoction, and when he witnessed Exelda, Kefalia, Stocastin, Narcius, and Akintos investigating the halls of an ornate, shadowy-stoned structure, he shrieked, “How dare those heathens besmirch my property with their ghastly presence! Again! I demand that you send a monster to chase them away immediately!”

            Thanamenti balked at that notion, “Why would I do that? There’s already a monster there, and it’s not doing a lot of good!”

            “That’s the minotaur who killed me! Of course it’s not doing any good, Impusa convinced him to side with the not-so super heroes!” Mercinon griped.

            “Fine! I’ll send Echinda’s latest offspring there and make sure it includes the minotaur too!” Thanamenti headed towards the cavern room to do just that.

            Mercinon made her halt in her tracks, “Wait! Tell these guys not to get killed!”

            Thanamenti threw her hands up in exasperation, but instead of criticizing his ineptness, she ambled over to the new monsters and muttered, “I hope I didn’t drink the last of my booze!”

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 16

“You know, this is kind of fun!” Marcin remarked as he painted a wooden throne gold. “If I hadn’t devoted my life to serving your depraved whims, I would have totally become a painter!”

            “I know what you mean!” Mercinon concurred as he painted the walls of the cave a sunny hue. “I may not hire servants to color the inside of the palace when I take it over because this is so relaxing!” He got a spot on his toga, and his stance on this activity shifted. “Oh gross! I didn’t realize this was so messy! No wonder they hire peasants to do it! Oh, Thanamenti! I-!”

            Mercinon cut himself off when he beheld Thanamenti lying exasperatedly on her cauldron. She pulled up her heavy head and groaned, “What?” Her eyes grew wide when she saw Mercinon’s partially finished project, and she queried, “What did you do to my home?”

            Not catching on to Thanamenti’s growing ire at his decision, Mercinon proudly showcased his work, “Isn’t it great? I’m a natural! I think I’ll tell my subjects that I have a background doing this kind of labor, give myself a humble beginning…”

            “Why in the Netherworld would you think that this was alright to do?” Thanamenti barked.

            “You said it was okay!” Mercinon refuted. “Don’t you remember? I went up to you while you were watching your potion and told you I need paint to brighten things up a bit. You said ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’ and conjured it for me.”

            Thanamenti clicked her tongue in annoyance. “I thought you were changing the color of your chair!”

            Mercinon corrected her, “Throne! There’s an important difference! You see, a mere chair-.”

            “You wanna talk about important things? Don’t you wanna know what’s happening with our enemies?” Thanamenti posed to him.

            “Which ones?” Merinon inquired.

            From inside his birdcage, Dason replied before Thanamenti could, “She’s talking about how my girlfriend and her powerful friends did at their quote en quote execution.”

            Mercinon remembered, “Oh yeah! I meant to follow up on that. So, what do you got for me? Good news?” Thanamenti neared her boiling point after hearing that, so Mercinon surmised, “Oh, I guess not.”

            “They beat them all?” Marcin reacted in surprise. “That’s impressive!” Thanamenti glared at him, so he revised his sentence, “Did I say impressive? I meant repulsive!”

            “I couldn’t believe it! We did everything right this time! They were outnumbered! They had powerful adversaries! They had a crowd rooting against them! And yet, somehow, they were able to walk away!” Thanamenti ranted. “They’re not even that good, but somehow they’re always able to prevail! They used a lousy cage as a weapon! That should have been game over! But they killed two monsters with it! Who does that?”

            Marcin wondered, “Why did you send the cage to the arena?”

            Thanamenti roared, “I wanted it out of here! I had to keep the monsters separated so they didn’t kill each other, but I had no use for it after they were gone! Besides, I had no way of knowing that the stupid thing would actually be useful to them! Ugh! I hate continually trying so hard only to end up making no progress! This is so depressing!”

            “So, this cheery wall color isn’t helping at all?” Mercinon wanted to know. Thanamenti growled, aimed her staff at the painted section of the cave, and made it disappear. At first, Mercinon looked disappointed to see all of his effort vanish like that, but instead of complaining, he requested, “Could you get this stain off my toga?” Thanamenti angrily sent a spell in his direction, and a force came out that exerted so much power that it knocked Mercinon off of his feet! Dason chortled heartily at that sight, and Marcin hid a wry grin from Thanamenti’s view as he continued adorning Mercinon’s throne. Mercinon glanced down at his clothes, and when he noticed that the blotch was no longer there, he gratefully regarded Thanamenti, “Thank you!”

            “I guess all we can do is go back to throwing monsters at those superpowered jerks ‘til one of them finally does them in!” Thanamenti sighed. “Did Echinda give birth to anything new?”

            Mercinon, who could see into Echinda’s cavern chambers from the floor, reported to her, “I think she’s asleep again.”

            Thanamenti sunk down in a deflated manner and slunk herself against her enormous pot with the bubbling concoction. “Oh great! Now what do we do?”

            ‘You could admit you had a terrible plan and give up on such a far-fetched scheme!” Dason needled her.

            “Did you actually think that would work?” Marcin asked Dason.

            Dason answered, “Not really, I mostly just enjoy pissing her off.”

            Marcin nodded in comprehension. “Ah!”

            Thanamenti almost lost her temper again, but then something in her brew caught her attention. “Are they heading to the capitol? I didn’t think they would do that ‘til they accomplished their mission! Not that I truly believed they stood a chance of winning, but still! Why would they go there? Every important building in that area except for the palace has been destroyed, so why would they…?” Suddenly, an idea struck Thanamenti that caused her lips to curl up in a malicious smile. “Oh, I know how we can dispose of those loathsome pests without any monsters!”

            She maniacally laughed and expected Mercinon to join in, but when she looked over at him, he was studying his fingertips. “I got paint on my nails too! Huh! It kinda looks nice! What do you guys think of painted nails?” Marcin and Dason didn’t respond, and Thanamenti exhaled in annoyance.

            “I didn’t know you guys had a cat!” Krimeno exclaimed as a blonde kitty nestled on his lap while he sat on the floor of an empty hallway with Aleta, her husband, Impusa, several palace workers, and all of the senators.

            “Oh, yeah, he’s the palace mouser.” Aleta’s tense muscles clearly indicated she had far more pressing matters on her mind.

            Cyrek pondered, “Ho did this all start?”

            Krimeno gabbed, “Oh, cats have been loyal companions to humans ever since-.”

            “For the love of Eleos, I’m talking about the rioters invading the Senate!” Cyrek shouted.

            “There’s rioters outside?” Akintos puzzled as he arrived with Exelda, Stocastin, Narcius, and Kefalia. “Man, these walls are really soundproof!”

            Cyrek gazed at their arrival in astonishment. “How did you guys know that we were in here?”

            Exelda responded to him, “We didn’t know you were in here. Dason told me that they almost always use the back entrance to avoid getting questioned by scribes and stuff.”

            “There’s a back entrance to the capitol building?” Cyrek stared at Aleta in an offended manner.

            “It’s only supposed to serve the royal family as a safety measure. If we let everyone use it, then it wouldn’t be a secret and we’d lose the security of it,” Aleta justified. “Besides, someone has to talk to the scribes and you’re so good at it!”

            “So, what are you all doing here?” Impusa conversed. “Did you get all the feathers? No, that’s a stupid question. Something’s wrong, isn’t it?”

            Akintos riposted, “Aside from the riots you mean?”

            Stocastin explained, “We theorized that the feather representing the air element may have presented itself in a place that houses a large amount of people who speak at high volumes because people release carbon dioxide, a substance quite important to air. We didn’t find it in the Nothiathlima stadium, so we believe it could have lodged itself in the Senate.”

            A teenage boy that greatly resembled Dason walked in from the backdoor and glanced at everyone gathered there in confusion. “Don’t you guys usually have your meetings in a place with more seating?”

            “We’re here hiding from the rioters!” Cyrek uttered in vexation. “How is it no one can detect the sounds of a violent mob tearing up the senate building?”

            “I just got used to hearing the noise of mayhem and turmoil happening in the kingdom.” The boy shrugged. “Why are they attacking the Senate? I thought they hated my family, not you all!”

            One of the senators brought up, “Actually, a lot of people hated us politicians before Konna came along! I guess that’s why she never bothered to make up rumors about us!”

            Kefalia commented, “I never hated you guys! In fact, I think my father voted for you!” She pointed to one of the senators sitting on the floor, and the senator seemed rather pleased with himself.

            “All we know is they all got here when we were about to vote on raising the taxes on barley, so we had to pause our session and run in here to hide,” another senator filled them in. “I vote no, by the way.”

            Some of the senators grew incensed by his opinion while others whole heartedly supported it, which prompted them to engage in a fierce debate on the subject. Cyrek pounded the wall and bellowed, “Order! Order! Everybody, this is not the time nor the place!”

            Impusa observed, “They all came at the same time? Obviously, someone coordinated this attack!”

            Narcius, who found a mirror hanging on the wall and couldn’t stop himself from admiring his reflection, stated, “It was probably one of those Konna bulletins that appear out of nowhere and everyone trusts for some stupid reason!”

            “Konna bulletin?” Aleta echoed back in intrigue.

            “Konna supporters are under the delusion that an insider from the palace spills the dirt on the royal family’s most guarded secrets,” Exelda expounded. “Lately though, ‘Konna’ has been telling them to do things in the name of Mercinon. But we can go more into that later! Right now, we need to save the Senate building so we can see if there’s a golden feather in there! Plus, it’s the right thing to do and all…”

            Krimeno chimed in, “Did you say golden feather? Dason left one of his feathers behind on the Senate floor, so I started using it as a quill. It’s my new favorite!”

            Exelda cried out, “Oh my gods! I was there that day! I could have grabbed it then! If I only I knew it was significant before I took off!” She took a deep breath, and then she moved on. “Oh well! Anyways, here’s the plan: Impusa, Kefalia, Akintos, and Stocastin, you four will come with me and fight off the invaders while Narcius goes into the Senate building and rescues that feather!”

            “I gotta go in there alone?” Narcius shivered from fright.

            “Use your super speed, grab it, and then come back out and fight with us,” Exelda commanded. Narcius still seemed frightened, but he nodded in obedience.

            On the palace steps, the royal guards struggled to contain all of the furious combatants. One of them bragged to the guards, “We outnumber you by far! Why don’t you give up?”

            One of the royal guards devoutly asserted, “We will never surrender!”

            “You guys should get out of the way,” Impusa advised the guard.

            “Okay, we surrender!” the royal guard heeded her word.

            For a brief instance, the agitators thought that they won. They ran towards the palace in a frenzied excitement until Impusa transformed into a giant hedgehog with massive wings! She exhaled and blew a bunch of them away. Exelda, Stocastin, Kefalia, and Akintos ran across the hallway and fought off the miscreants who had already made it to the capitol building. As Narcius zipped inside of the Senate floor, Akintos cheerily mentioned, “Man, fighting these idiots is a lot easier than our usual monsters!”

            A minute later, Narcius came out of the Senate building, and Exelda praised him, “Well done, Narcius!”

            “I couldn’t find it,” Narcius confessed. “Which one is Krimeno’s desk?”

            “The small one in the front. It’s not there?” Exelda fretted.

            Narcius gasped, “Oh, why didn’t I think to search there? I’ll be right back!” Exelda gritted her teeth but continued to battle. Narcius came back and declared, “I got it!”

            Exelda kicked the person in front of her, sending him barreling down the tall staircase at a rapid speed. “Good! Now, help us fight!”

            “Fight who?” Narcius shot back.

            “Fight who?” Exelda hollered. “You don’t see all these-.” When she viewed what was in front of her, she abandoned her previous notion. Everyone who hadn’t gotten captured by a guard had just retreated! “Oh, I see! Wow, Akintos was right, that was easy!”

            One of the royal guards retorted, “Easy for you, maybe! The rest of us didn’t get blessed with superpowers from the gods!”

            Another royal guard escorted the senators and royal employees out of the palace. When Cyrek emerged, he spotted a group of scribes that had turned up at the foot of the stairs, so he spoke to them, “I know what you’re thinking, but trust me, that was nothing! Everything is fine!” One of the statues in the hallway toppled over, which made the entire structure tremble. As the dust settled, the heroes went inside of the palace and Cyrek went on with scribes, “The real story here is that the price of barley may be going up soon…!”

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 15

As Thanamenti aimed her staff at Echinda’s cavern room, Mercinon sat by her bubbling cauldron and Marcin handed leftover food to the hungry jackals in their pit. Mercinon asked Marcin, “Is it a lake?”

            Marcin answered, “Nope.”

            “Is it a river?” Mercinon tried again.

            “Nope.” Marcin shook his head.

            Mercinon made one more attempt, “Oh, I got it! It’s a fountain, right?”

            Marcin scoffed, “We already established that it’s liquid that people hang out in! Do people hang out do that in a fountain?”

            “I hate to side with Mercinon, but we have a fountain in front of the palace, and sometimes the palace guards have to chase people out of it,” Dason put in. Mercinon stuck his tongue out at Marcin, so Dason added, “But it doesn’t really matter ‘cause Marcin isn’t thinking of a fountain.”

            Mercinon grew irate from his competitive edge, and he hollered, “Wait, you know what it is?”

            Dason’s beak formed a grin. “Maybe!”

            “Come on, you have two more questions left,” Marcin urged him.

            “Okay, okay! Is it a… pond?” Mercinon guessed.

            Marcin shook his head again. “One more chance.”

            Mercinon mulled it over for a minute and finally came up with, “It’s a really, really big puddle?”

            “Isn’t that the definition of a pond?” Marcin responded.

            “Aha! So then, technically I get one more chance!” Mercinon declared.

            Marcin denied that. “No, you lose!”

            Dason asserted, “It’s a public bath!” Marcin nodded, and Mercinon pounded his fists in a raging fit! “I’m not surprised you didn’t get that one! Obviously, you haven’t used one in ages!” Dason waved his wings in front of his face as if he were wafting away a stench.

            “Hey! Birds don’t have noses!” Mercinon protested.

            “They don’t talk either, but here we are!” Dason shot back.

            Thanamenti finished her project with the door and probed, “What’s happening with those no-good do-gooders?”

            Mercinon puzzled, “Huh?”

            “I’ve spent this whole time sealing up that door so Echinda’s creations don’t get out, and I told you to that the moment you see an appropriate place to put them to tell me, and this whole time YOU HAVEN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION TO THE MISSION?” Thanamenti roared.

            “No, no! I was!” Merinon lied. “Last time I checked, they were still napping in a little inn by Agrochorio. They’re probably still…” He gazed into the pot and gasped, “Oh, good Eris! They’re on the move! I mean, I totally knew that! It looked like you were almost done, so I waited to tell you…”

            Thanamenti almost boiled over, but then she stopped herself and took a deep breath. “This is for a better polis! This is for my control! Things will get better for me soon!” Once she finished consoling herself, she ambled over to her potion and determined, “Oh, they’re heading south towards Notiathlima! If they go there, we may finally be able to unleash all of these monsters! Almost all at once too!’

            Mercinon feigned interest in her plan. “Oh, that’s wonderful!” He then more excitedly addressed Marcin, “Okay, my turn! Guess what I’m thinking about!”

            “Is it an object?” Marcin posed to him. Thanamenti rolled her eyes and then ignored them as she focused on the image in her concoction.

            “It’s not in here!” Akintos declared as they entered into an ovoid, barren field encircled by a track and a multi-tiered, stone set of seats.

            Stocastin challenged him, “How do you know? We’ve only just arrived!”

            Akintos gestured to everything around them. “The Olympic stadium is totally empty when the athletes aren’t here! If the feather was here, we’d see it right away!”

            Exelda moaned and leaned against the walls of the pews as if she were in agony. Kefalia very concernedly inquired, “What’s wrong? Was it something that Akintos said? Did he hurt your feelings? I thought looking for the air feather here was a great idea ‘cause, like you were saying, there’s normally a lot of people gathered here, and that’s a lot of air coming out of their lungs, so I don’t know why he-.”

            “Ugh! I need some honey!” Exelda groaned.

            “Listen, we’re trying to rescue your boyfriend, and I’m sure he’ll give you all the romance you want!” Narcius reassured her. “With all the time you’ve spent apart, I’m sure he’ll be raring to-.”

            Exelda wailed, “No! I need the food honey! The baby needs it right now!”

            Akintos fumbled, “Um, we’re not very close to a marketplace…”

            Exelda howled and slammed her hands against the arena’s walls. This made the entire structure tremble, and shortly afterwards, stone slats came down from the entrances to the field, sealing them in completely! Exelda grumbled, “Oh great! Now I’ll never get my honey!”

            “There must be a way to release the sealing mechanisms of these doors!” Stocastin reasoned as he pushed on the rocky enclosures.

            “Wow, these are really stuck!” Exelda observed as she pushed on the entryway by them with all of her might. “Kefalia, go fly to the other side and see if there’s a lever or some kind of release.”

            Kefalia soared to the opposite end of the field and reported, “There’s nothing over here!”

            Exelda yelled, “Go outside and come back in!”

            “Oh! Okay!” As she rose into the sky, she saw something that made her don a pronounced frown. “Uh-oh!”

            “What is it? Another monster? Is it an actual dragon this time?” Narcius shivered at the thought.

            Kefalia told him, “Um, not exactly…”

            All of a sudden, a slew of people came trickling into the stands and started sitting down all around the vicinity. “Oh, this isn’t good!” Akintos remarked.

            “What’s going on?” Exelda queried to the spectators.

            “Oh, Konna left us a note saying to come here so we could see the execution of some traitors to the crown of Mercinon,” a man informed her. “Oh hey, I guess that’s you, huh?”

            Exelda scathed, “You all came to watch us die! That’s totally barbaric!”

            The man seemed unphased by that. “Yeah, well, is it my fault you put yourself in this situation?”

            “Maybe! I don’t really know you, you could have done this!” Exelda retorted. The man brushed her off and headed towards where his companions had gathered.

            “What do we do?” Kefalia fretted.

            Stocastin asserted, “That all depends on how they plan on doing it. We can’t plan a counterattack or defense until we know what we’re up against.”

            Akintos snidely commented, “Let me guess, Mercinon’ll send some kind of horrible monster to do it.” A wooden box suddenly appeared before them, and as it nosily shook where it landed, the other heroes looked at Akintos incredulously. Akintos shrugged. “That’s the way he’s always done it! Well, except for that one time he took Exelda hostage…”

            The box burst open on its own, and the crowd burst into applause as hundreds of insect sized warriors teemed out! Akintos shot fireballs at the ones within his trajectory, which worked, but many of them were able to evade his attacks. They couldn’t reach Kefalia, who hovered just out of their reach, but they swarmed all over Stocastin! Narcius ran in a cowardly way around the track to avoid them, which made the spectators laugh. Exelda squished all of the ones who came her way, and she instructed the other four, “Crush them!”

            Stocastin threw himself to the ground and rolled around to smash them. Narcius didn’t hear Exelda’s directions, so Kefalia swooped down and impeded his path, forcing him to halt in his super fast gait. Kefalia then gestured to the others, and while Narcius comprehended this concept, his pause allowed the tiny warriors to start ascending his body! He mimicked Stocastin as Kefalia came down and assisted in smooshing them. Their teeny adversaries slowly grew smaller and smaller in numbers, and after a few minutes, the heroes didn’t see any more of them moving! They had a bunch of tiny cuts on their skin and felt thoroughly exhausted from their efforts, but they knew that they had won that battle, so they celebrated! “Sorry to disappoint you all, but you’re not witnessing an execution today!” Narcius taunted the people, prompting them to boo furiously.

            “If we won, how come they didn’t lift up the gates?” Kefalia wondered.

            “Uh, it appears as though we’re not done yet!” Stocastin indicated to the area behind them, and with complete dread, they turned around to see what he referred to.

            They saw the earth in front of them shake and then crumble, and then a giant cage burst out! It housed a large cat with olive toned skin and giant quills for fur! Its confinement opened by itself, and the creature pounced towards them! They expected it to charge at them, but instead, it took a deep inhale. When it exhaled, it shot out all of its quills! They all managed to duck and avert getting hit, but as its quills grew back, it decided to hunt them! It pursued Kefalia, who flew from it and cried out, “How do we kill it?”

            Exelda glanced around for some kind of hint, and when she caught a glimpse of its cage, a stroke of inspiration came to her! “Get it to come over here!”

            Kefalia had to escape the creature’s orbit to dodge another quill attack, so Narcius called after it, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty!” It sped to where he stood, so he used his powers to outrun it. As it followed him, he emitted a high-pitched scream, but he still managed to get it to go by the cage. When it finally got to the right spot, Exelda tipped it over so that its flat top fell on top of the creature! It shrieked as it made contact with it!

            The five of them all stared at the cage to see if it truly had perished, and when they saw green liquid flowing out, Kefalia pondered, “Is that blood or did it just relieve itself?”

            An unfamiliar male’s voice coming from behind them relayed, “It’s both!”

            They swiveled to face him only to find he was a monster with the body of a snake but the wings and legs of a heron! Thoroughly non-plussed, Exelda stated, “Oh great! It can talk!”

            “Are you here to kill us?” Stocastin asked him.

            “Yeah,” he answered.

            Akintos requested, “Could you not?”

            The monster declined that, “No!”

            It released a fog, and the heroes could no longer see each other! As they groped around to find each other, it jumped onto Akintos! It bared its fangs and lowered its jaws towards him, but before it could sink its teeth into his flesh, Stocastin caught sight of this event, pulled out his sword, and struck him hard! It didn’t penetrate the monster, but his move applied enough force to knock it into the last creature’s cage! He slammed onto the bars so forcibly that the door closed on him! The monster tried to get out, but he found that he couldn’t get the thing to budge! “Uh, a little help!” the monster demanded.

            “Like we would if we could!” Narcius fleered.

            “This is cheating!” the monster objected.

            Exelda quipped, “We weren’t given any rules, so no it’s not!”

            The monster manically whimpered, “Let me out! Let me out! Let me out!” He began hopping up and down in his enclosure, bouncing faster and faster until it hit its head so hard that it fell down and moved no more!

            The heroes studied it for a few seconds to make sure it showed no more signs of life, and while the cage’s door flung open, the monster clearly had lost its ability to set itself in motion ever again! “Okay then!” Exelda uttered. They examined the arena to see if they would face any more contenders, but when they saw that the exits were no longer blocked, they knew it was over! Exelda rejoiced, “We won!”

            As the five heroes basked in their victory, the whole crowd vehemently expressed their disappointment at the results. A young boy lamented to his parents, “I thought we were gonna see the traitors get killed!” The mother pat him comfortingly as they left.

            As the heroes viewed the spectators complain and leave in defeat, Akintos morosely expressed, “Wow, I never imagined so many people would want me dead!”

            “Don’t allow the volume of Konna’s supporters in this space deceive you,” Stocastin sagely advised. “It may seem like a lot since they all appeared at once, but they don’t represent the vast majority of Chaos’ population! The numbers of people who will be overjoyed that we survived will far outweigh what you saw here!”

            “Can we get out of here?” Kefalia beseeched the others as she eyed the remnants of their opponents in disgust.

            Narcius suggested, “We should all probably bathe again before we search for the next feather!”

            The rest of them agreed, and they started to head out. Exelda abruptly ordered, “Wait!” She climbed into the stands and reached into a pile of things that the attendees left behind. She proudly held up a jar of honey and exclaimed, “At least one good thing came from this disaster!” Her fellow heroes chuckled as they all departed from the building.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 14

A group of scribes waited at the bottom of the staircase at the capitol building, and after a while, Cyrek came out with King Peripetio. Once they approached the podium that had been set up for them, Cyrek addressed everyone who had gathered, “King Peripetio has generously decided to give you some of his time today to go over the issues concerning his recent health, but make it quick because he only has a minute to spare! Okay, go!”

            “Do you really think a minute is enough time to go over everything?” a curious scribe inquired.

            “Would you rather spend this minute going over that or the matter at hand?” Cyrek replied.

            Cyrek called on another reporter, who asked, “Your majesty, why has your behavior been so strange lately?”

            King Peripetio answered, “I just wanted to try using some humor to ease the tension. I guess it didn’t work!”

            “What about reports of palace workers feeling so concerned about the way you’ve been acting that you’ve had to be physically restrained to keep you at bay?” a keen scribe questioned.

            “What reports? Who made these reports?” King Peripetio shot back.

            That scribe admitted, “Well, we did, but we based it off of stories we heard from other people!”

            Another scribe challenged him, “If you’re so healthy, why do you have your son running the kingdom?’

            King Peripetio retorted, “What? Am I supposed to have him sit around and do nothing ‘til he inherits the kingdom? You want someone totally unprepared suddenly take charge?”

            “How come he didn’t appear with you for this event?” a skeptical scribe probed.

            “Hey, this is supposed to be about me! You really wanna talk to him?” King Peripetio pushed back.

            This same scribe responded, “Yes, I think we need to.”

            King Peripetio shifted uncomfortably. “What? Right now?”

            The scribe nodded, and King Peripetio hesitated. Cyrek jumped in, “Well, your minute is almost up anyways. It may be too late for a side by side, but you can go get him.” Cyrek saw subtle signs of something worrisome about King Peripetio, so he wrapped his arm around him and suggested, “Let’s go get him!” The scribes erupted in whispers at the audacity of the casual way he handled the king, but Cyrek and King Peripetio ignored them.

            A moment later, Aleta got escorted out with a handsome, well dressed man on her arm, and a discerning scribe told them, “We were hoping to speak with King Peripetio’s son, not his son in law!”

            “My brother is… indisposed right now. Nothing too serious, just some… digestive issues,” Aleta relayed to them. “Trust me, you don’t want to speak with him right now! How can my husband and I help you all?”

            “I want to gooooo!” Peripetio, who was tied to a chair, voiced loudly. “I want to talk to the pretty people!”

            Krimeno differed, “You mean the scribes? They’re not really all that attractive!”

            Cyrek entered into the hallway where they kept Peripetio with another Peripetio, and the one bound up exclaimed, “Wow, what a mirror!”

            The free Peripetio fully morphed into Impusa, who commented, “I don’t think they bought it.”

            “Oh, I didn’t know you were selling something!” Krimeno remarked.

            “You wonder why I haven’t given you a raise in years! It’s ‘cause of instances like that!” Cyrek rubbed his temples. “And I agree, they’re suspicious. They can smell blood here.” Krimeno opened his mouth to articulate a thought, but Cyrek cut him off, “It’s a metaphor! They’ll doubt the reports of the king’s health based on what they just witnessed, but they can sense panic in the palace. They’re not gonna stop ‘til we can discredit Konna and all of the crazy rumors about the leadership of Chaos!”

            Aleta and her husband joined them, and Aleta piped in, “Most of the rumors are absolute bunk, but Konna got one right: my father has lost his mind!”

            Peripetio wondered, “Does he miss it?”

            As Aleta stared at Peripetio sadly, her husband remarked, “I haven’t known the king for long, but this behavior doesn’t make any sense for him! One day, he was a little off, then the next day, he’s completely gone! It’s weird, it’s like someone put a spell on him or something!”

            Cyrek, Aleta, and Impusa’s eyes widened at that reference, and then Aelta queried to Peripetio, “Dad, did someone curse you?”

            “Lots of people curse at me!” Perpetio stated.

            “Did a nasty sorceress use magic on you?” Impusa grilled him.

            Perpetio chirped, “Oh yeah! The hooded lady! She made me feel wonderful!”

            Cyrek needed clarification, “By make you feel wonderful, you’re talking about the brain scrambling effect, right?” Peripetio nodded as he rocked back and forth, and the other four gazed at each other knowingly.

            “It’s working!” Mercinon shouted gleefully as he held a pan over a small fire.

            “I know it’s working! I’m the one who taught you how to make that cake!” Marcin regarded him as he swept around Dason’s birdcage.

            Mercinon dished his dessert up and set it next to a slew of pan-fried meals. “I know, but I really thought you lost it!”

            Marcin conversed, “Actually, I lost it over a decade ago! See, after my scholarly days, I went to look for work and-.”

            “You already told us that story!” Thanamenti snapped as she exited Echinda’s cavern room. “We don’t need to hear it twice!”

            “What’s the matter? Did those superpowered jerks defeat another monster?” Mercinon pondered as he started prepping for his next culinary project.

            Thanamenti spat, “No! Well, yes. They destroyed the potianaks somehow! And the zubenu that I forgot about. You know, the monster I set out when I thought they’d go northeast and then they went northwest! Anyways, that’s not what’s wrong right now. Haven’t you been paying attention to what’s happening with our plan?”

            Dason spoke up, “No! He’s just been waiting for the day you say one of the monsters actually won!”

            “That’s not true!” Mercinon hid his guilty face behind his fire. “I just trust your judgment, so I immerse myself in other important things!”

            “Important things, huh?” Thanamenti eyeballed all of his finished work with some contempt. “Where did you get that fire anyways?”

            Mercinon reminded her, “You got irritated by macrame and burned everything.”

            Thanamenti cracked a small smile. “Oh yeah! Well, this last monster is truly powerful! I do believe it will finally put an end to those meddlesome do-gooders!”

            “You say that about every monster!” Dason pointed out. “How’s that working out?”

            “Shut up!” Thanamenti barked. She studied the image in her bubbling cauldron and cooed, “Yes, it won’t be long now!”

            As Exelda, Akintos, Stocastin, Narcius, and Kefalia past some thriving olive fields, Kefalia squealed, “We’re nearing the Agrochorio village! Eek! I’m so excited to see it again! I know we were just here a few months ago, but it’s so much fun to revisit my hometown! It’s really a magical place!”

            Narcius plugged his nose and commented, ‘It smells magical!”

            “If it’s so wonderful, why did you leave?” Akintos probed.

            “The farmer I worked for caught me flying and thought I was a sorceress,” Kefalia explained. “He kicked me out, and no one here wanted to talk to me anymore. Gosh, things sure have changed since then! Now everyone calls me a hero! Wait, now the Konna supporters think we’re all… sorceresses! Huh, I guess things haven’t changed that much then!”

            Exelda asserted, “That won’t last long! Once we get the rest of the feathers, we’ll be able to save our polis and we’ll go back to being heroes again! I just hope that this place will be the one representing earth!”

            Stocastin quibbled, “I’m telling you, the volcano represented earth because lava isn’t fire! We got earth and wood, so we need-.”

            “No, the feather at the papermill was the water one,” Exelda disputed.

            “They made their paper from trees, and trees are wood, therefore, it was a wood feather,” Stocastin argued.

            Exelda countered, “I know trees are wood! But Mylos found the feather and used it as a bookmark. His business is right on top of a river, so odds are that he found it near the water!”

            Stocastin disagreed, “There’s also a lot of trees in that proximity.”

            “Yes, but they haven’t spent a lot of time there ‘cause of that fire-breathing chicken, so it had to be water,” Exelda reasoned.

            “It’s called a zubenu.” Stocastin folded his arms and pouted.

            Exelda grinned triumphantly, but when she found herself walking in the citified section of this region, she halted her footsteps and frowned. “Where are we going?”

            Narcius responded, “We were gonna ask you that!”

            Exelda mulled it over for a minute. “Hmm… Last time we came here, we went left towards the vineyards and faced a monster there. I think we should go right this time since we’re probably gonna have to face another monster and I doubt that they would place a monster in the same place twice!” From the left pathway, they heard a deafening, ghoulish screech followed by a number of citizens’ screams, so Exelda expressed in dismay, “Or maybe they’ll go to the exact same spot again! I don’t see the point since they’re still recovering from the last one, but whatever!” The five of them hurried in the direction that they heard their next adversary.

            They came across a tall, stone barn with a thatched roof and wooden doors, which were open at the present. They saw two older blonde people whispering to each other in a plotting way, and Kefalia joyfully greeted them, “Mom! Dad!”

            “Well, hello there!” her father rejoiced. “How are you doing?’

            “Fine!” Kefalia embraced her parents and then continued, “Well, I’m a little exhausted from work, but otherwise, we’re-.”

            Exelda interrupted, “Um, hello! Let’s save pleasantries for later! Don’t you think we should kill the monster before we catch up on things?”

            Kefalia’s mother assured Exelda, “It’s only dangerous if we go near the treasure in the barn!”

            “You’re trying to steal your boss’s riches?” Narcius reacted in shock. “Wait, he keeps it in the barn?”

            “I don’t know where he keeps his gold and Drachmas, but that’s not the treasure we mean,” Kefalia’s father let Exelda know. “We found it in the manure pile, we think it’s been there for a few days.”

            Exelda perked up when she heard that. “A few days? Is it a gold feather?”

            Kefalia’s mother confirmed, “Yeah! How did you know that? Are you psychic?”

            “Yes, and I predict that terrible things will happen unless you stay right here and stay out of our way.” Exelda led the other heroes to where they could peak inside the barn without drawing out the monster, but they didn’t see anything. “Stocastin, turn invisible and find out what monster we’re dealing with.”

            “I can and I shall!” Stocastin disappeared as he marched towards the barn. The other four watched and waited for a minute, and then, all of a sudden, they heard that horrible screech again! It created so much wind that it nearly knocked the heroes down! Stocastin reappeared as he flew backwards out of the barn, and when he landed, he informed them, “It’s a banshee.”

            Everyone understood what that mean, and Exelda reveled, “See! Didn’t I say that our research would pay off?”

            Akintos riposted, “Probably! But we’ll still never admit it!”

            Exelda shook her head, and then she turned back to Kefalia’s parents. “Do you guys still carry your pet rock with you?”

            Kefalia’s mother held up a pigeon-shaped statuette and proclaimed, “Sure do! Why?”

            A giant, green, almost reptilian woman waited behind a haystack. She heard a noise enter the barn, so she pounced, ready to strike. She was mid screech when she realized that it was an object made of stone. She studied it in confusion when suddenly, an invisible force pried her jaw open! Narcius and Akintos held back her hands, and she watched in horror as Exelda carried a large bale of hay to her and shoved it down her throat! She tried to screech as she watched Kefalia fly to the top of a mountain of manure, and she began to lose her breath as she watched Kefalia gingerly pick up the feather. “Ew! Would it break the spell if we washed it?”

            “I dunno.” Exelda picked up the rock pet as they casually exited the barn. “Maybe we could throw it in a sachet of fragrant plants.”

            “I hope the air and wood feathers aren’t in such crappy places!” Akintos kidded. They all laughed as they rejoined Kefalia’s parents.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 13

“It’s simple really!” Stocastin prattled on as the five heroes walked down a dirt road lined with lush trees and verdant grass nestled alongside the green foliage. “The chemicals that certain metals are comprised of interact with oxygen and water to form a new substance! It is called oxidation, but you need more than just oxygen to make it happen! The air is made of oxygen, so it’s always around it, but if there’s any moisture in the atmosphere, it-.”

            “When I said I’m probably rusty with sword work, it wasn’t an invitation to blabber on about actual rust!” Akintos told Stocastin. “I just meant that since we haven’t had to use our swords in so long that I’m probably gonna be a little slow with it when we do gotta use it.”

            Narcius sarcastically remarked, “You? A little slow? No!”

            As Akintos glared at Narcius, Kefalia attempted to buoy Akintos’ spirits up, “Don’t worry, Akintos! I’m sure we’ll run into a monster that requires sword work soon, and you’ll get plenty of practice then!”

            “First of all,” Exelda put in, “if you had just practiced regularly like you were supposed to, you wouldn’t be rusty!”

            “Don’t act like you didn’t skip practice more than we did!” Akintos argued. “That baby in your stomach is proof that you were too busy playing with Dason’s ‘sword’ to do much with your own!”

            Kefalia puzzled, “What does it matter whose sword she used?”

            Stocastin piped up, “Technically, infants don’t come from a woman’s stomach! It’s another organ that-.”

            “We didn’t do it all the time! We’re not animals!” Exelda refuted. “Okay, Dason’s a bird right now, but still! We did practical things too!” She mulled it over for a second and then added, “But I guess I haven’t spent enough time with you guys lately, have I?’

            “Wait, playing with Dason’s sword…!” Kefalia looked as though she caught on to Akintos’ euphemism, but then she frowned again. “No, no, I still don’t get it!”

            Narcius responded to Exelda, “We used to think you were too strict, but when you’re not around, Impusa takes charge! She’s mean! So, yes, we would prefer to have you around more often!”

            Exelda could see that they missed her more than what they voiced out loud, and she got touched. “Aw, I’m sorry you guys! When we get Dason back and save Chaos from Mercinon, I’ll schedule more time with you, I promise!”

            “You always say when it happens, don’t you mean if it happens?” Akintos posed to her.

            “No, she doesn’t!” Stocastin differed. “We have a hundred percent success rate so far, and unless we encounter a monster with significantly more skill level than what we’ve faced so far, odds are we’ll continue to flourish and achieve our end goal!”

            Narcius shuddered. “What if we do run into a monster that’s harder to beat than the ones we’ve faced so far? Oh Kratos, we’ll be doomed!”

            Exelda admonished him, “Don’t talk like that! We’re not gonna encounter anything we can’t handle!” They came across a group of trees with a large scorch mark on them, and as they stared in apprehension, Exelda assured them, “That’s not necessarily from a dangerous creature! Look at Akintos! He can produce fire and he’s not all that dangerous!”

            Don’t say that so loud! I don’t want to sound weak to the dragon!” Akintos fretted.

            “There’s no dragon!” Exelda insisted. “That probably came from something else!”

            Akintos, Narcius, and Stocastin seemed doubtful about her claim, but Kefalia busted out in laughter. Stocastin queried, “You now understand Akintos’ comical reference about the sword, don’t you?”

            She nodded as she continued her fit of giggles, and then she froze. “Oh great! We’re about to face a dragon and we just lost our person who could meet them in the sky!” Narcius complained.

            “There’s no dragon!” Exelda repeated as she picked up Kefalia and draped her over her shoulder. “We’re going to a paper mill to see if they’ve seen one of the golden feathers, and that’s it! Nothing too crazy! Who knows, maybe it’ll be as simple as them handing it to us when we get there!”

            Akintos, Stocastin, and Narcius traversed down the path nervously, their eyes darting everywhere as if they expected an ambush to occur at any moment. The trees above Narcius rustled, and Narcius screamed, “Aah! It’s the dragon! Hide me!”

            Narcius hid behind Exelda, and with her free hand, Exelda pushed him away from her. “It’s just a squirrel!” she crossly informed him.

            “So? Just ‘cause it’s small doesn’t mean it can’t breathe fire” Narcius bit his nails as he warily walked.

            “I thought with your noble ancestor’s blood running through your veins that you’d want to show off your innate prowess and defeat any monster that dared to come your way!” Exelda prodded him.

            Narcius’ stance and demeanor changed completely upon that characterization. “That’s right! I come from the most decorated soldier in Greece’s history, so I can conquer anything put before me! By myself if I wanted to! I’m that strong and brave!” Akintos stepped on a twig, and the sound of its snap made Narcius let out a high-pitched yelp. Exelda rolled her eyes but otherwise chose not to respond.

            They came across a cozy building with a water wheel that churned into the nearby river and a sign that read: Chartikano Paper Mill, so Exelda reminded everyone, “Alright, we don’t want these people to turn us away for any reason, so please no more talk about dragons!”

            Akintos probed, “What if they bring it up?”

            Exelda shook her head exasperatedly before knocking on the front door. After a small wait, a tall, beefy man with a gruff appearance came to the entrance. His bushy mustache covered his lips, so they couldn’t tell if he had a genial disposition or not. He noticed Kefalia on Exelda’s shoulders and raised an eyebrow, so Exelda hastily explained, “She’s injured… Anyways, we’re here on an important quest, and we were wondering-.”

            “I don’t have any money!” The man huffed as he tried to shut the door.

            “That’s okay, her boyfriend has loads of it!” Kefalia regarded him through gritted teeth.

            The man clearly got confused by the whole situation, so Exelda clarified for him, “We’re searching for an important object that may save our polis, and we just wanted to know-.”

            To their surprise, the man’s ears perked up as he listened to something in the distance. “Did you hear that?”

            “That might’ve been me,” Akintos admitted. “I didn’t think it was noisy enough to-.”

            “You better come inside!” the man barked. He had an aura of authority to him that made them immediately obey his word, and they hastily followed him into the paper mill.

            They entered a small but active workshop, and the employees were busy enough that no one acknowledged that visitors were now present. The man who let everyone in stood before them wringing his hands, and he apologized, “Listen, I’d love to help you guys out, but we’re not making a profit right now! We lost a lot of revenue after the attacks.”

            That last sentence got Exelda’s attention. “Attacks? Who’s been attacking you? Villagers?”

            “No,” the man reported to her.

            “Damn!” Exelda expressed in dismay.

            Akintos questioned him, “So, it was a monster! Was it a dragon?”

            The man shook his head. “It’s not a dragon…”

            “Told you!” Exelda emphatically conveyed to the other heroes.

            “It’s so much worse than that!” the man revealed.

            Exelda and the others’ eyes widened in dread to receive that message, and Akintos chided Exelda, “Still feel like taking that victory lap?”

            Narcius was practically shaking at the concept that the man raised. “How could it possibly be worse than a dragon?”

            “We do not speak of it!” The man shivered from the memories of it. “All I know is that it’s destroyed a lot of our trees, and no man has been able to slay it! It’s injured a number of my workers too! So, I’m sorry we can’t support your project! I’ve had to pay out too much money already for protective measures. I can’t spare anymore!”

            “We don’t need your money!” Exelda iterated. “We’re just looking for-.”

            A man who appeared as though he worked for the paper mill burst the door open, and he tried to quickly shut it behind him, but something pushed against it and prevented him from doing that. He cried out, “I’m sorry, Mylos! I tried to stop it from getting here!”

            Mylos ran to a bell handing off of the wall and clanged it loudly. All of his employees stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to him. Mylos ordered, “Everyone hide! Now!” He faced the heroes and addressed them, “We’ll find a place a place for you to hide too!”

            Narcius and Akintos nearly went with him, but Exelda pulled them back and declined Mylos’ offer, “No! We’re monster hunters, we can take care of this!”

            Mylos seemed doubtful as he left them there, and Akintos, Narcius, and Stocastin appeared just as scared. Kefalia slid off of Exelda’s shoulders and rejoiced, “Yay! I can move again!”

            Exelda drew out her sword, and the others followed suit. The man at the door let go of his barricade, and the heroes prepared themselves for the worst. To their great bewilderment, they discovered that the creature behind the door was an ordinary-looking chicken! “It’s the monster behind the rooster?” Kefalia inquired.

            “Don’t underestimate it!” Mylos warned them from beneath a worktable. “It’s more powerful than it looks!”

            “Oh, yeah, sure!” Narcius cockily strolled towards the fowl. “If this bird really frightens you that much, I’ll take care of it for you!” He ignored Mylos’ urging him not to approach the beast, raised his sword, and challenged the chicken, “Alright, birdy! Do your worst!” The rooster opened his mouth, but instead of clucking, it let out a huge cloud of fire! Narcius let out a high-pitched scream before using his super speed to evade the flames. “I didn’t mean it that way!”

            Exelda commanded, “Narcius, hurry! Get some water and put that fire out!” The chicken struck again, so she added, “And that one too!”

            Kefalia, Akintos, and Exelda attacked it from three different sides but could never reach it as they avoided its fiery breath. Stocastin turned invisible, and after the other three got it to where he could strike it, an unseen hand beheaded it! The heroes exhaled in relief, but Mylos cautioned them, “It’s not over yet!”

            “What are you talking about?” Akintos retorted. With horror, they watched as its head grew back onto its body! “Oh, that’s what you’re talking about!”

            Akintos, Kefalia, and Stocastin resumed lobbing off its limbs while Narcius expediently fetched water to put out the things that the chicken caught on fire. Exelda shouted to them, “We can’t kill it that way! We need to do something different!”

            Stocastin hollered back, “It’s a little hard to think right now!”

            Exelda grabbed a sledgehammer and waited for it to pass her. When the rooster did, she dropped the sledgehammer on its head! The creature didn’t die, but it couldn’t get up! As it flailed on the floor, Exelda exclaimed, “There! Now, how do we kill it?”

            “Maybe water would put it out like it does with its fires,” Kefalia suggested.

            “Good idea!” Exelda praised her.

            Kefalia puzzled, “It is? Gee, I’m not used to hearing that!”

            Stocastin sagely asserted, “We’ve gone over this before! It’s not like you’ve never had a good idea. It doesn’t happen often, but wisdom comes from experience, and with-.”

            “We could try throwing it into the river,” Exelda interrupted his longwinded talk. “If we keep it tied to…”

            Mylos halted this plan, “No! Hold on!”

            Akintos raved, “Are you serious? You guys wanted it gone a minute ago, and now you want to save its life? Why? Why? Why?”

            “It regenerates itself, and it can’t move, right? Well, that means it could be butchered continuously! We could harvest its meat and sell it at the market! Maybe it’ll make up for the profits we lost from the damage it caused!” Mylos grew excited at the prospect, and his employees agreed with him.

            “Well, if it ever escapes, try water!” Exelda relented. “Come on, guys! Let’s go!”

            Stocastin requested, “Wait! There’s a book there that-!”

            Exelda reproached Stocastin, “The Chemistry of Paper? Oh, Stocastin, when are we ever gonna use this?”

            Stocastin shot back, “Hey! I don’t reprimand you for your sordid hobbies! Besides, I actually didn’t intend to have a literature discussion! Behold what he used to mark his place!”

            “You found a feather! Way to go!” Exelda lauded him.

            “Oh, you were looking for that feather? Why didn’t you say so?” Mylos commented to them.

            Exelda grew incensed by that, but she chose to let it go. “Thank you for your time! Good luck with your paper mill slash butcher’s shop!” The workers all merrily waved to them as they exited the building.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 12

Staring into the bubbling potion in her cauldron, Thanamenti yelled, “You can’t be serious!”

Mercinon, who was sitting on the floor of the cave with a half finished lantern holder, took exception to that, “Oh my gods! I only asked if you could conjure some more twine for me! Sheesh!”

“I’m talking about what those overly powerful imbeciles did, not you! I wasn’t even listening to you!” Thanamenti disputed with him.

“So, how did this round go?” Dason, whose birdcage had gotten lined with a small, woven rug, queried with a note of derision in his voice. This caused Marcin, who now donned a macrame vest on top of his yoga, tittered at Dason’s quip, but when he saw that it caught Thanamenti’s attention, he hid his face behind the book he was reading.

Mercinon worked on tightening the knots on his current project and casually conversed, “So, they defeated the onocentaur, huh? How did they do it? Did the strong one throw rocks from the mountain at him?”

Thanamenti raged, “No! They got him drunk and he drowned! They really didn’t even use their skills this time! They cheated!”

“Why did you send a creature whose weakness was alcohol somewhere where they could get some?” Marcin probed. “You’re making it too easy for them!”

“They were on a mountain! An empty one! How was I supposed to know they’d bring alcohol with them?” Thanamenti argued. She grew saddened and ruefully stated, “They were all hungover too! This should’ve been a cinch! I mean, I know the strong one didn’t drink, but still!”

Mercinon got up and put a sympathetic arm around her shoulder. “There, there! It’s not over yet! We’ll find a monster that’ll maim them! At least you got to see them in agony for a while! That was fun, right?”

Thanamenti sniffled a little. “Yeah, that was nice!”

“And there’ll be other monsters, right?” Mercinon reminded her.

“Yeah, that’s true!” Thanamenti’s spirits started to lift up.

Mercinon told her, “See? Everything’s fine! Now, don’t you feel dumb for getting all worked up?” This filled Thanamenti with a blazing ire, but Mercinon didn’t seem to notice that he offended her. “So… How about conjuring that wine now, hmm?”

Thanamenti coldly regarded him, “OH, I’ll get you your twine!”

She aimed her staff towards the section of the cave where Mercinon had stationed himself, which conjured enough twine to bury Mercinon!

As Dason laughed uproariously and Marcin chuckled behind his book again, Mercinon stuck his thumb out from beneath the heap. “This’ll keep me busy for days! Thank you!”

Thanamenti looked irritated that her plan to punish him seemed to have backfired, but before she could react, they heard a series of thumps coming from Echinda’s chamber. “Ooh! Did she have a multiple birth?” Thanamenti wondered.

“Elysium forbid you check for yourself!” Marcin said under his breath.

“What did you say?” Thanamenti eyed him suspiciously.

Marcin grinned sheepishly at her. “I was just saying that I’m on my way to go check on her.” He scrambled to distance himself from her as she continued to glare at him while he walked towards Echinda’s cavern room. He didn’t glance back at her and instead focused on cautiously scoping out the situation. He peeked inside and reported, “She gave birth to ordinary people! They don’t seem very scary!” All of a sudden, something shifted about their appearance that made Marcin try to get away form them! A couple of claw-like fingers caught him and dragged him into Echinda’s territory! “Oh Aigea! She created more people eaters!”

The others ignored his terrified screams. Mercinon sifted through the pile of twine and questioned, “Where is my lantern holder?”

“Exelda didn’t drink any liquor? She kept her promise to me!” Dason celebrated.

“She didn’t do it due to your promise! She did it because she-.” Thanamenti cut herself off when she recognized that she almost let something slip out.

Dason prodded, “What? What are you hiding from me?”

Thanamenti replied honestly, “Lots of stuff! There’s loads of dark things in my past you don’t wanna know about!”

Before Dason could interrogate her any further, Marcin popped out of the room scratched up but otherwise unharmed. “Wow! You’re sure regenerating faster now!” Thanamenti remarked.

“No, I’m not! They didn’t want to eat me!” Marcin corrected her. “They’re not cannibals, just blood drinkers, and they passed on mine ’cause my dead blood is too cold for them! Huh! I think I actually feel a little hurt for getting rejected to get eaten by them!”

“I found it!” Mercinon declared as he held his project up in the air proudly.

Thanamenti rolled her eyes and then turned her attention to the image in her cauldron. “Okay now, you contemptible twits! Let’s see you defeat these guys!”

Marcin posed to her, “Are you sure you wanna encourage them to do that?” Thanamenti gave him a hard stare, and he figured out what she meant. “Oh, I see what you were going for there!” He quickly immersed himself into the book he had been reading previously, and Thanamenti gave an exasperated sigh as she continued to observe the heroes.

“So, have you thought of any names for you baby yet?” Kefalia asked Exelda as they traversed through a thick of mostly barren trees.

“I haven’t had time to think about anything but surviving this mission!” Exelda answered her. “It still doesn’t feel real to me! Well, except for all the vomit! And I can see a little bump now. I didn’t know it was a baby before, I thought I was just bloated!”

Narcius assured her, “Listen, I know you wanna name your son after me so he can mimic some of my stunning qualities, and you’re afraid to say it because you’re concerned that I would want to reserve that right for my future son, but I’m completely fine with you bestowing that honor the future prince! It’s okay, really!”

Exelda raised her eyebrows at that absurdity, and then she responded, “First of all, I’m, like, ninety-nine percent sure that I’m having a girl…”

“How do you know? A couple days ago, you thought your swelling came from gas!” Akintos teased her.

“Trust me, a mother knows!” Exelda remained steadfast on her conviction. “But secondly, I don’t wanna decide on anything ’til I can discuss it with Dason! Oh Eileithyia, I hope that we can get him out of his bird form so he can help me parent this kid!”

Stocastin reassured her, “I’m confident that the feathers we shall find will reverse the effects of his avian visage!” A deadened branch whipped him, so he vexedly tore it off its base and tossed it to the ground. “I’m not quite as confident about the odds of finding a feather in this arboretum of nothingness! Why are we even bothering to search this area? It seems highly improbable that the sympathies would choose this god-forsaken place to hide a sacred object!”

Kefalia knowledgiably let him know, “The Lofundasos forest dried out, but if we keep heading south, we’ll hit the Chartikano Papermill, and their river leads to Agrochorio, my hometown! Such a special village, there’s gotta be a feather there!”

“Well, let’s hurry up and get there ’cause there’s clearly nothing here! I hope! It’s sort of creepy like something might be hiding here though!” Narcius shuddered and then consoled himself, “Yup, definitely nothing here!”

“Look, there’s something over there!” Akintos pointed to something over Narcius’ shoulders.

Narcius dismissed that notion, “Nice try! I’m not falling for that trick again!”

Kefalia backed Akintos up, “Actually, Akintos isn’t lying this time! There is something there!” “Aah! Don’t let it hurt me!” Narcius shrieked. When he finally beheld what Akintos had referred to, he composed himself and poignantly asserted, “That’s not something there, that’s someone! More than one person, actually! Oh Adonis! What are they wearing?”

“Quiet! They might hear you!” Exelda cautioned Narcius.

Narcius differed, “I don’t think their hearing is that good!”

One of the mysterious figures announced to his comrades, “There’s people in the distance! I heard one of them talking about our clothing!”

“Oh great! Now they probably won’t help us!” Exelda threw her hands up aggravatedly.

“Go over there and help them!” a female in the group directed the male who had spoken up a second ago.

Narcius bragged to Exelda, “Ha! See! I didn’t hurt our chances for us to get help from them!”

Exelda brought up, “You said they couldn’t hear us! You can’t take any credit, I was the one who was proven right!”

An old man wearing a crude toga made from a burlap sack approached the heroes and greeted them, “Welcome, weary travelers! Won’t you sit with us by our comfortable fire?”

“A comfortable sit? I like this guy!” Akintos chirped.

“Wow! I love your clothes! So much fancier than ours!” the old man complimented them. “Yeah, you guys look good!”

As Narcius followed Akintos towards their camp, he soaked in the man’s praise. “Yes, I know I look good! I was just saying that this morning!”

Kefalia, who fell into the rearmost position in their group, didn’t see that the old man suddenly grew fangs and claws while he tried to bite her! She abruptly moved her head in a way that made him miss as she exclaimed, “Oh, there’s a feather! No, never mind, it’s a dead leaf!” The old man grimaced as he changed back to his normal appearance and joined everyone else.

They found a group of people whose ages all ranged widely sitting around a large bonfire with an extraordinarily long spit over it, and when they finally reached them, they all welcomed the heroes, “Hello, travelers!”

Exelda awkwardly waved to them. “Hi, everybody! We have some questions for you, if you don’t mind!”

“Not at all!” a middle aged man obliged. “Please, sit down.”

“Oh, that one is with child! Go bring her a seat so she doesn’t have to stoop so low!” a woman instructed a young boy.

As the young boy delivered their one and only piece of furniture, a rudimentary and somewhat holey chair, Exelda told him graciously, “Oh, that’s so kind of you! Thanks!”

The boy wondered, “So, when do we eat?” His teeth and nails sharpened, and he tried to take a bite out of Exelda.

As the other heroes settled themselves down, they failed to perceive that Exelda was in any peril. Coincidentally, Kefalia glanced over, which caused the boy to immediately turn back into his normal self. Akintos inquired, “What are ya cooking on such a large spit?”

“Oh, whatever we can catch!” A middle aged woman eyed them with a hint of voracity in her eyes.

“We’re on a journey to search for very distinct golden feathers. Did you guys happen to have spotted objects like that?” Stocastin posed to their hosts.

A young woman responded quizzically, “Golden feathers? What are you going to do with those? Add some ornaments to your splendid outfits?”

Narcius rubbed his chin contemplatively. “Hmm…! Gold feathers would look absolutely dashing on me! What a fabulous idea! I never thought I’d get good fashion advice from people who dress so terribly!”

Exelda put in, “It’s kinda complicated, but the feathers may help us stop the riots in the kingdom.”

“There’s riots going on in the kingdom?” an old woman questioned.

“You guys don’t know about them?” Kefalia reacted in surprise. “They’re happening all over Chaos!”

The old man they initially met shrugged. “We haven’t been anywhere besides this forest! Oh, we did go to a cave once!”

As Exelda explained the dilemma to them, a young man slowly crept up to Akintos. “Basically, a bunch of citizens have been radicalized to think that this dead criminal should be king ’cause they believe this sham about the royal family practicing dark magic and drinking people’s blood!”

Just before the young man took a bite in him, Akintos lounged back further, and the young man had to quickly shift back before he caught him. Akintos opined, “Who is disgusting enough to drink blood?”

The people in burlap glanced at each other uncomfortably, and Stocastin misinterpreted their expressions. “Quite abhorrent, right? But by retrieving these golden feathers, we believe that-.”

“Hey!” Narcius had pulled out his hand mirror from his toga pocket, and he caught a young woman with her pointy transformation right as she almost pierced his skin! “They’re trying to eat us!”

“Narcius, that’s ridiculous! They…” Exelda trailed off as everybody changed forms. Her opinion reversed, and she cried out, “Oh Zeus! It’s true!” The old man charged at her, so she used her sword against him. It wouldn’t pierce his skin! “Dammit! I’m so tired of that not working!”

Stocastin turned invisible, picked up a rock, and hurled it at the young man’s head. It didn’t phase him, but he did grow confused as to who did that to him. “Stone doesn’t work either!”

Akintos relayed to them, “My fireballs are working!”

“Throw them into the fire!” Exelda commanded. While Akintos continued to throw fireballs, Exelda used her strength to make the old man fly into their bonfire. Kefalia flew to the old woman, picked her up, and dropped her into the fire. Stocastin tripped the young man, and the young man fell backwards into the flames. Narcius used his speed to both evade the ones around him and apply enough force to push people into the fire quickly. They repeated the process until the area appeared empty. “Is that everyone?” Exelda surveyed their surroundings just to be sure.

“Yes!” Akintos replied to Exelda’s inquiry. A little girl appeared hanging off of the tree branch above him, so he changed his response to, “No!” He destroyed her with his fireballs, and then he affirmed, “Okay, now we’re good!”

Exelda asked Kefalia, “Do monsters run that paper mill you mentioned?”

Kefalia answered her, “I don’t think so, but I haven’t been there in a while, so…”

“Wait, were those people monsters, or do they normally haunt these woods?” Narcius’ eyes darted all over as he fretted about the possibilities.

“I don’t think so! It’s not like they have a representative in the Senate!” Exelda kidded. “Plus, if they were around longer, I’m sure ‘Konna’ would claim they’re from the royal family’s palace and let her loyal dupes watch them go after people!”

Akintos stated, “I hope the paper mill people are nice to us!”

Stocastin disagreed, “I actually hope that they’re more on the unfriendly side because lately the individuals who behaved kindly towards us have tried to assassinate us!” Kefalia, Narcius, and Akintos shared his sentiment and crossed their fingers for that outcome as they headed out.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 11

Dason sat a long table in a luxurious dining room eating from a large tray of biscuits. A woman who greatly resembled him except for her younger age walked in and got startled by his appearance. “Dason! You’re back?” she inquired.

“Nope! This is Impusa, just waiting for my body to morph back into its glorious old self,” he replied.

“Are you just being sarcastic so I’ll…” she trailed off as she watched him transform into Impusa. “Oh, you were being serious!” she reacted in disappointment.

Impusa, while she continued to shovel food into her mouth, explained, “Sorry, Aleta! I heard some protesters out there acting like fools, so I went out to yell at them.”

Aleta sat next to her and asked, “How did it go?”

“They seemed a little alarmed by the amount of curse words I used. I guess Dason doesn’t use them much, huh?” Impusa supposed.

“No,” Aleta confirmed. “He rarely even raises his voice.”

Impusa responded, “Whoops! The Senate’s probably not gonna be happy with what I did! Oh well! They have worse problems than that to deal with right now!”

Aleta conversed, “Tell me about it! I thought my days of running the kingdom due to my brother’s kidnapping were over, but here I am again! Not only that, but I can’t leave the palace without people screaming horrible things about me and my family! Some anonymous post puts out all these crazy rumors and people believe them without any proof! It’s so weird!”

“I don’t get it either,” Impusa shared her sentiment. “I got duped into working for Mercinon, but he was charming and promised great things if helped him. It’s hard to fathom what any piece of parchment could offer that’s as alluring!”

“Maybe they were promised something too,” Aleta theorized. “But still, what could Konna have said that would make them accept a totally different version of history? My ancestors didn’t use dark magic to take the throne! King Dikiosini took it away from his son because he killed someone! And it’s not like we were outsiders who randomly decided to take over- King Dikiosini gave it to his cousin! It’s well documented too! People trust Konna’s paperwork but not official government ones?”

Impusa ranted, “I don’t see why they think destroying their own buildings is gonna solve any of their problems! If they really thought Mercinon was set to take over, then why would they create as disaster for him to inherit? There wouldn’t be much left for him to take over!”

Aleta shook her head in disappointment. “It’s sad! I never thought Chaos would be known for hysteria!”

As Aleta reached for a biscuit, Impusa moved the plate out of her reach. “Uh-uh! These are mine!” she conveyed to her with a mouth full of food.

“May I remind you that I’m the princess here!” Aleta admonished her.

“Sorry!” Impusa put the plate back where Aleta could access it.

After Aleta took a bite and swallowed it, she started chuckling. “I can’t wait ’til their side is defeated and Dason comes back! The looks on their faces will be priceless!” Impusa agreed, and they both laughed.

At that moment, Cyrek and Krimeno burst into the room. Cyrek seemed a little frazzled, but Krimeno spotted the food and savored, “Ooh, fresh biscuits! Don’t mind if I do!”

“Impusa, did you tell people that Exelda and her team left the capitol to go on a mysterious mission?” Cyrek wanted to know.

“No,” Impusa assured him, “They mentioned something about the heroes not helping out with putting a stop to the riots, and I told them where they could stick their opinions.”

Krimeno pondered, “Where is that?”

Cyrek regarded Impusa, “Don’t answer that! I guess ‘Konna’ is spreading rumors about them too! That’s just great! Ugh, I thought they’d be back before anyone interrogated me about their absence!”

“What did you tell them?” Aleta queried.

“Oh, I didn’t provide them with anything that had substance to it! I reassured them that our heroes were helping out and then I changed the subject, you know, typical diversionary tactic.” He sighed, and then he told them, “Well, I better not let the Senate go unsupervised for too long! Let me know if you hear anything!”

Krimeno chimed in, “Oh, I heard a great joke the other day! Two men go-.”

Cyrek snapped, “Not you! Come on, let’s go!”

A cook brought out another tray of biscuits, so Krimeno objected, “But they just brought out a batch of fresh ones!” Cyrek gave him a hard stare, so he relented, “Okay, fine!” Cyrek left, and Krimeno started to leave, but he quickly circled back and snatched a biscuit before hurrying out.

Mercinon laid on the floor of the cave with his eyes closed and his mouth snoring loudly. Thanamenti looked down on him in disgust and then kicked him, causing him to wake up and sleepily shout, “Mother is back! Quick, hide me!”

“Do I look like your mother?” Thanamenti retorted.

“Kinda,” Mercinon admitted.

Thanamenti rolled her eyes before critiquing him, “You’re dead! What do you need sleep for?”

Mercinon stated, “I don’t need sleep. I’m just so bored here! I miss my palace! If you don’t destroy those superpowered jerks soon, I’m gonna have to take a walk to see it or I swear to Plutus I’ll… I don’t know… Something bad will happen!”

“Something bad will happen if you do go there!” Thanamenti warned him, “You know the royals probably seized control of your home, it’s too risky! Besides, we can’t take chances with you going back to Earth until those meddling cretins get destroyed!”

“Destroy them faster!” Mercinon whined.

Before Thanamenti could respond to that, they heard a loud thump coming from Echinda’s cavern room that was loud enough to rouse Marcin and Dason from their slumber. Dason glanced down at his bird form and lamented, “Aw, man! I forgot about the curse! In my dreams, I’m still human!”

Thanamenti rejoiced, “Oh, what a relief! We really needed another monster! One of you needs to get up and tell me if it’s one that’s good in higher elevations! I saw those idiots exploring the Vorivuna Mountains.”

Mercinon fell asleep again, so Marcin exasperatedly sighed and got up. When he stood in the entryway, he got hit in the chest with an arrow! “Ow! Son of a bitch!” Echinda screeched, so he amended his statement, “I didn’t mean you!” As he pulled the arrow out, he wondered, “Where did you get this? Were you born with it?”

As Marcin headed back to the main area, Thanamenti probed, “Well? Would he do well in the high altitude?”

Marcin bitterly spat, “I don’t care! He could go up there and rot for all I…” He espied Thanamenti’s angry face and reluctantly divulged, “He’ll be fine! That is until the superheroes find a way to destroy him!” Dason chortled exuberantly, but Thanamenti grew irate. Before she could blow up, Marcin volunteered, “I’ll just see myself to the pit of jackals!” Thanamenti seemed slight acquiesced as he headed in that direction but didn’t watch the proceedings as she brought her staff towards Echinda’s chambers.

“What a beautiful morning!” Exelda chirped. Stocastin, Narcius, Akintos, and Kefalia did not share her viewpoint as they lagged behind her while they climbed down a rocky mountain. “Don’t you guys agree?”

“Not so loud!” Akintos groaned. “Did we purposely aggravate you when you used to drink and got hung over?”

Exelda responded to him, “Yes, several times.”

Akintos recalled this and weakly chuckled, “Oh yeah!”

“I know you can’t tell from my marvelous good looks, but I fell terrible!” Narcius made known. Akintos, Stocastin, and Kefalia concurred.

“Not me! I feel great!” Exelda clutched her stomach and reversed her position. “Okay, maybe not that great!”

Exelda vomited off the edge of a small cliff, and Kefalia soon did the same. Once they finished, Kefalia merrily noted, “Hey, we’re throw up twins!” Exelda didn’t know how to react to that, so she just resumed descending down the slope.

Stocastin bemoaned, “Why did I consume such a large quantity of alcohol? I knew exactly what kind of effect that it would have on my body, and yet I participated in that inadvisable behavior anyways! What did I think I would gain from this experience?”

“Well, you did get to feel a woman up! That’s something!” Akintos attempted to buoy up his spirits.

“Indeed, that was a most satisfying moment!” Stocastin acknowledged.

Kefalia posed to everyone, “I don’t remember everything from yesterday. Did I do anything stupid?”

They all snickered a little, and then Narcius spoke up, “You mean stupider than normal?”

“Are we close to completing our exploration of this terrain?” Stocastin asked.

“Nope! We have a few more peaks to go to,” Exelda answered, which caused the others to all grumble. Once Exelda’s feet touched the bottom, she thought about it and reassessed her plan, “Maybe we should take a short break though!”

The other four all exhaled in a grateful alleviation and then settled against the stones at the bottom of the ridge. After a minute of silence in which everyone tried to recover, Stocastin observed, “Hey, there’s a peach tree over there!”

Akintos pressed, “Do you have a good reason for bringing that up, or are you still drunk?”

“I no longer have enough substance in my body to create an inebriated effect! Actually, I called that to your attention because consuming that fruit may help us quell the symptoms stemming from our over consumption of wine,” Stocastin educated them. “The natural glucose inside of it has vitamins that will-.”

“Who’s gonna get up and get it?” Narcius threw out there.

Everyone got quiet for a few seconds, and then Stocastin begrudgingly stepped up, “It was my idea, so it only seems fitting that I be the one to retrieve it.” Narcius, Akintos, Kefalia, and Exelda halfheatedly cheered as he slowly made his way towards a tree next to a small creek. As he gathered the fruit, he prattled on, “Peaches are also very fibrous, so they may aid us in-.”

Suddenly, an arrow flew from the other side of the creek and into a peach that Stocastin held up! He turned invisible and announced, “I believe I see a monster in the distance!”

The others all cried out in anguish to hear that. “Please, no! I’m so uncomfortable right now!” Exelda wailed.

“You could sit on the grass, it’s more soft than the rocks,” Kefalia suggested.

“Stocastin hasn’t come back yet. Go see what it is,” Exelda directed to Kefalia.

Kefalia protested, “But it might make me sick!”

Exelda countered with, “If you don’t, it might make you dead!”

“Oh, right!” Kefalia lifted herself up and forced herself to fly. She soared over the trees where Stocastin disappeared, and then she abruptly had to swerve away from an arrow, which caused her to hurl again! When the projectile met the ground, a male voice hollered out in repulsion, so she apologized, “Sorry!” She thought about it and instantly changed her opinion, “No, I’m not! You tried to kill me!”

“What was it?” Exelda inquired.

A creature emerged whose top half was a young man with a longbow and whose bottom half resembled a donkey, and Kefalia replied to Exleda, “That!”

Akintos burst out laughing and kidded, “That guy looks like a jackass!”

Exelda, Narcius, and Kefalia giggled a little at his joke, but the creature got incensed by his quip. “You find my appearance comical? How about now, wise guy?” He pulled an arrow out from his quiver and shot towards Akintos too fast for him to dodge the attack! It hit him in the leg, and a red liquid came pouring out! “Ah-ha! I’ve hit your artery, and now you will perish! Still feel like teasing me?”

“You didn’t hit an artery! You hit a wine bladder!” Akintos corrected him. “I still have that?”

“What is this wine you speak of?” the creature puzzled.

Exelda filled him in, “You’ve never heard of wine? Oh, it’s a glorious drink that makes you relax your body and mind!”

Before Kefalia, Narcius, and Akintos could disagree, the creature doubted her claim, “I don’t believe you! Do you think I’m dumb?”

“It’s true! I can prove it! I think! Did anyone else bring their wine bladder?” Exelda’s eyes flickered between the three remaining on the mountain’s edge.

“I do, but why would I share it with…” Narcius beheld Exelda’s eyes flashing in warning, so he altered his assertion, “Why would I share it with anyone else but you? Here, try some!”

Narcius walked over to him, and after the creature snatched it away, Narcius nervously ran back to the ridge. After the creature tasted it, his eyes lit up in delight. “Oh my! This is delicious!”

Heading back towards the creature, Narcius barked, “Hey! I didn’t say you could drink the whole thing!” The creature made eye contact with him, so Narcius cowered, “But of course you can though!”

As the creature guzzled down the wine, Stocastin reappeared and quietly complimented Exelda, “I see where this is going! Good one!”

Exelda saw that he was carrying an armful of peaches and exclaimed, “Is that why you dragged your feet coming back? You were protecting the fruit?”

Stocastin defended himself, “We need them!” Exelda shook her head as she handed out peaches to everyone as they watched the creature drink.

It didn’t take much for the creature to start swaying with his eyes slightly glazed over! He gazed at the five heroes and tried to jog his memory. “What was I gonna do here?”

“Have another drink?” Narcius guessed.

“Good idea! This drink makes me thirsty, so I need another one!” The creature stumbled over to the creek, but as he stooped over, he passed out, landing his head into the water!

Kefalia gasped, “Oh no! He’s gonna drown!”

Exelda shrugged. “If he sobers up, he’ll probably try to kill us again, so he can stay there! I hope he doesn’t just wake up wet!”

“I woke up wet once!” Akintos related. This made the others crack up, so he clarified, “The roof was leaking! I swear!”

“Anyways, let’s get going before Mercinon sends another monster to help that jackass finish the job!” Exelda motioned for them to follow her away from there, and they somewhat reluctantly complied and achingly headed out.