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.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 10

“Enopio! We have guests!” the wife shouted into another room as they entered into her cottage.

“Keep your eyes out for the feather and any signs of danger!” Exelda quietly advised Kefalia, Akintos, Narcius, and Stocastin.

Narcius dismissed her notion of peril, “I’m an excellent judge of character, and I can just tell we’re safe with these people! I highly doubt that we have anything to worry about here!” When they got into the thick of the building, they could see a cluttered but quaint cottage full of homey knick-knacks that would have made them feel instantly comfortable if it weren’t for the plethora of pro Konna and anti royal family décor! As Exelda glared at him, he defiantly stated, “This doesn’t prove anything!”

Their hostess emerged from another small room with a man in his fifties that had gray hair and a tall, lanky body, and he greeted them all with a genuinely warm smile that gave off the aura of a kindly father, “Welcome to Enopio’s Winery! As you may have guessed, I am Enopio, and this is my wife, Krassi! Please, have a seat!” He indicated to a small, round, wooden table adjacent to a cooking area.

“Are you all hungry?” Krassi asked them as they sat down.

“Boy, are we ever!” Akintos answered without consulting anyone else first, which clearly miffed Exelda.

Enopio grabbed a bottle of wine off of the counter, and as he set a glass in front of everyone, he gingerly queried to Exelda, “Forgive me if this seems insulting, but are you pregnant or just overweight?”

Exelda obviously didn’t like the way he phrased that, but she gave him a reply anyways, “I’m both! No wine for me, thank you!”

Once everyone else had a drink in front of them, Enopio suggested, “How about a toast?” They all agreed to that proposal, and as they raised their glasses, they expected him to say something flattering about his guests, but instead, he praised someone else, “To Konna, whose hard work and personal sacrifice has done a great service for Chaos!”

Kefalia, Akintos, Stocastin, and Narcius instinctively shied away from the notion until Exelda raised her glass of water. “Cheers!” She flashed her eyes towards them in a way that commanded them to follow suit, which compelled them to instantly join them.

After their glasses clinked and they took a sip of their drinks, Enopio conversed, “So, what brings you guys to our neck of the woods?”

Everyone but Kefalia waffled on what to say about their reason for coming to the area, but Kefalia proudly let him know, “We took a boat!”

“I see…” Enopio seemed a little thrown off since she hadn’t said that in jest, and then he quickly followed up with, “And what did you have planned for this boat ride?”

“We’re on a scholastic mission to discover lost artifacts,” Stocastin came up with.

Enopio raised an eyebrow at that. “Really You’re all scholars?”

He hadn’t directly alluded to Kefalia, but she figured out who he had meant. “I have a lot to learn!”

“I think it’s a wonderful idea!” Krassi piped in as she stewed some beans in a large pot over a fire. “Get all of the valuable trinkets hidden in our polis before those dreaded royals get their dirty palms on them!”

“You guys must not be familiar with everything that they’re up to,” Enopio misinterpreted their bewildered expressions. “Well, Konna has revealed to us that they actually came into power on illegal grounds! One of their ancestors performed dark magic to sway the rightful king to abdicate his throne to them, and they have to continue that practice in order to stay in their position! Did you know that they sacrifice the blood of children for this spell?”

Akintos started to object, “That’s not true! They-!” Exelda discretely kicked his shin, so he changed what he originally meant to say, “I mean… They can’t ’cause Mercinon stops them!”

Enopio’s eyes sparkled by this concept. “Oh yes! Mercinon is an amazing man who already does so much for this country! I can’t wait for him to take his rightful place as king! Did you know that he’s related to the last legal king of Chaos?”

“Wow, I guess Konna has all the answers!” Narcius sardonically remarked, which earned him a dirty look from Exelda.

“Yes, she does! Such a wise and courageous woman!” Enopio, who didn’t pick up on Narcius’ sarcasm, extolled her.

Exelda had been so wrapped up in this less than favorable chat that she failed to notice that Krassi had approached her side, but when she turned her head slightly, she discovered that she was within inches of of her! Krassi inquired, “You don’t have any dietary sensitivities due to your condition, do you?”

She tried hard to concentrate on the topic she raised, but with where her eyes fell from her lower vantage point, Exelda couldn’t see anything but Krassi’s enormous bosoms! She didn’t delight in this sight, but her surprise unintentionally caused her to stare. “Not that I…” She spotted Krassi’s necklace before then, but she could now see that her jewelry had a charm attached, a charm that Exelda realized was the object resembling one of the golden feathers that they had seen prior to coming inside! “Not that I know of! Thanks!”

After Krassi returned to the kitchen to complete their meal, Exelda quickly gulped down her water and then requested to Enopio, “Could I get a refill, please?”

“Of course!” Enopio obliged.

“So… You got quite the show!” Akintos grinned cheekily and kidded, “Did you find the feather in her toga?”

Exelda responded, “Maybe!” It threw Akintos off completely to get that retort, but before anyone could probe into the matter any further, Exelda instructed them, “One of you is gonna have to try seducing her to catch a glimpse of that thing hiding in her breasts!”

Stocastin decreed, “Narcius should spearhead this task.”

“Me? Why do I always have to seduce the unattractive women?” Narcius protested.

“It’s your own fault for being so good looking!” Kefalia conveyed to him.

Narcius ran his fingers through his hair and acknowledged, “Yes, being this beautiful does come with an ugly price tag!”

Exelda rolled her eyes just as Enopio gave her a full glass of water and Krassi served them a piece of bread with their beans. Exelda could tell that they wanted to continue gushing about Konna, so she changed the subject, “So, how long have you been in the wine business?”

After a coupled of hours, they had long finished with their meals, but after multiple glasses of wine, everyone but Exelda found Enopio’s stories highly amusing. No one caught wind of Exelda impatiently tapping her fingers as Enopio concluded another animated anecdote, “And then the guy’s wife burst in and screams, ‘You scoundrel! You told me you quit!’ And the guy told her, ‘I quit my job, not wine!’” Narcius, Kefalia, Stocastin, and Akintos roared with laughter, and Enopio chortled at his own recollection, “I’d be surprised if he survived the journey home!”

Akintos slurred quite a bit as he chimed in, “That’s like Exelda, what she would do! But she’s the one who promised Da- ow!”

“I promised my child’s father I wouldn’t drink anymore.” Exelda faked a smile for Enopio but glared at Akintos when their hosts weren’t looking.

“Time for another refill! I’ll have to go back to the wine den to get more. Excuse me.” Enopio got up and headed to an adjacent room.

Krassi observed, “Wow, there’s a lot of dishes! I suppose I should wash them before more visitors come here. Excuse me as well.”

Exelda heavily recommended to Narcius, “You should help her!”

“Why? Dishes aren’t my…” He espied the angry expression on Exelda’s face and reversed his stance, “Oh yeah! Hey beautiful! Need a hand?”

“Sure!” Krassi chirped. Narcius applauded her and guffawed at his own joke.

As Krassi handed him a towel, Exelda muttered under her breath, “Oh my gods! He calls that seduction?”

Akintos loudly wondered, “Why do my legs hurt?”

“Because you drunks keep getting close to revealing information you shouldn’t!” Exelda hissed. “We can’t tell them we’re associated with the royal family! Who knows what they’re capable of!”

“Enopio’s such a good name! You should name your baby that!” Kefalia hiccuped, and then she added, “If it’s a boy! But if it’s a girl, you should name her… uh…”

Narcius emanated a big, toothy smile as he purred, “Krassi! You… so pretty! Let’s make out!” He moved towards her with his tongue already swishing, which made Exelda bury her head in her hands and shake her head.

Krassi smacked him in the head and scolded him, “You pig! I’m a married woman! My husband is n the next room!”

“But he’s not here right now!” Narcius gave her a cheesy wink.

“Oh, don’t mind him! He’s just too in-ur-be-rated! Here, I’ll help you do the dishes!” Kefalia offered.

Akintos watched the two women with great interest and questioned, “Ooh, is she gonna seduce her?”

Exelda sourly articulated, “Nope. She’s just doing dishes!”

“Oh, this attempt is proving beyond their capabilities! I’ll just do it!” Stocastin announced.

“You? What do you know about seduction?” Akintos challenged him. “Your idea of flirting is jabber-jawing about formulas!”

Stocastin retaliated, “Hey! It’ll work on the right girl! Besides, I don’t need to seduce her to get the feather!” He turned invisible as he headed towards her.

Exelda tried to quietly deter him, “Oh no! Stocastin, don’t!”

Krassi prattled on with Kefalia, “I found my kids’ names from reading our guest book. We’ve had visitors from all over Chaos and even other parts of Greece, so lots of unique names came our way! One time, we even had a man from- Hey!” She felt something digging into her cleavage, so she turned to yell at the perpetrator. She saw Narcius still standing there, swaying slightly, so she smacked him again.

“Piece of cake!” Stocastin became visible again and sat back down at the table.

“Oh, you guys want some cake? I think we still have some!” Krassi searched the shelf where they stored their food.

Akintos delightfully asserted, “Free cake too! What a great afternoon!”

Exelda deduced, “Free food and an endless supply of wine? Who does that without a motive? Why is Enopio taking so long?”

Kefalia placed a cake on the table as she opined, “You’re too suspicious! They haven’t given us any reason not to trust them!” All of a sudden, a metal cage popped out of the ceiling and surrounded them! “Okay, maybe now they have!”

“Play time’s over, my friends!” Enopio emerged from the wine den carrying a large, slender, wooden pole, threateningly. Krassi retrieved one of her one from behind their pantry and joined her husband in staring at their cage menacingly.

“Are you sure it’s over? ‘Cause you called us your friend and are carrying game sticks!” Kefalia regarded them.

Enopio spat, “Shut up! Did you think we gave you all that food and wine out of the goodness of our hearts?”

Narcius fibbed, “No…”

“We knew who you were!” Krassi divulged. “Konna sent a bulletin out just this morning saying that five palace employees were on the hunt for a rare ingredient for an extremely dark spell, and we caught you! Won’t she be pleased to hear we put a halt to your devious plan!”

“Wait, you’re in contact with Konna? How do you communicate? Where are these bulletins?” Exelda quizzed.

Krassi admitted, “She doesn’t talk to us directly, we just know where she hides her messages for the people of this land! But I’m sure that’s about to change!”

Enopio growled, “Quit trying to get something out of us! That’s what we were trying to do to you! But you didn’t provide us with much, so-!”

“If you wanted to convince us to expose our secrets, you probably shouldn’t have partook in so much liquor!” Stocastin pointed out.

Enopio cringed at that. “It doesn’t matter! The important thing is that we make sure you don’t hurt Mercinon’s rise to the top ever again!”

Akintos prodded them, “You guys know that we’re superheroes, right?”

Exelda easily pried two bars of the cage open, and Akintos created two fireballs that instantly destroyed their weapons! Kefalia flew to the top of the cage and grabbed the rope used to lower it, and she tossed it to Narcius, who used his speed to tie them up before they could run away. Exelda taunted them, “Nice try! We’re leaving now!”

“Hold on!” Akintos ran into the wine den and pulled out a bladder of wine that he could fit in his toga’s pocket. “For the road!”

“Exelda doesn’t want us to steal!” Kefalia gasped.

Akintos countered with, “They’re not gonna report us! They just tried to kill us! Which one is more likely to earn a dungeon sentence?” Kefalia as well as Stocastin and Akintos thought he had a valid argument and helped themselves to a purloined item of their own. Exelda exasperatedly sighed.

As they exited the building, Exelda griped, “Well, that was a disaster!”

“No! If Gifloga erupted while we were there, that would have been a disaster! We got out alive and we got the feather!” Stocastin pulled the gold charm he took from Krassi out of his pocket.

“Let me see that!” Exelda snatched it from him and exclaimed, “It’s not a real feather! It’s metal! Cheap metal too! Look, the gold comes off when you scratch it! She must have had it in the window to dry the paint!” She grumpily tossed it onto the lawn.

Narcius yawned and proposed, “That’s too bad! Let’s take a nap before we search for the real one!”

Exelda denied that, “Oh no! We’re gonna keep going! That’ll be your punishment for drinking on the job! Dason made that rule for me, but it applies to everyone! Let’s go!” The other four groaned as they headed back towards their boat.

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 9

Thanamenti gazed into her bubbling cauldron and furiously bellowed, “This is unbelievable!”

Mercinon, who had been gracelessly dancing to music emanating from a self playing harp, took her words as a personal compliment, “Thank you! Can you believe I’ve had no formal training?”

“Yes!” Thanamenti gave him a disgusted look before returning her attention to the potion in her pot. “I meant that’s simply unthinkable that these five incompetent do-gooders managed to destroy the shabti! How could they possibly know the one way to do it?”

“There’s more than one way to do it!” Marcin quibbled as he sewed a long, red robe. “I found that out when I finished my studies. I was heading towards a place of employment, but then I found a special house and ended up spending money instead of earning it!”

Thanamenti rebuked him, “That is not what I meant! Did you hear anything I else I said?”

Marcin shrugged. “Eh! I tune in and out of your conversations.”

“I don’t get it! They’re not very smart, and they’re nowhere near the level they could be if they actually honed their skills, so how is it they’re able to best our monsters every time? Something isn’t right!” Thanamenti ranted.

“I guess you’re looking for a reason other than your plans are dumb and they simply outsmarted you?” Dason taunted her from inside of his birdcage.

“Yes! Ugh, why did that spell give you the ability to talk?” Thanamenti pouted.

Mercinon, while he continued to frolic to the same haunting melody, advised her, “You need to relax! Just because they bested a few of our attempts to obliterate them doesn’t mean they’ll survive them all! Just send out the next monster and hope for the best this time around! Repeat the process ’til we succeed! Simple!”

Thanamenti responded, “First of all, don’t ever tell an angry woman to relax, it’ll make her do the exact opposite! And second… I guess you’re right! Go check on Echinda and tell me what monster we’re dealing with next.”

“Yeah, Marcin, go check!” Mercinon tacked on to what he presumed was an order for his assistant.

“I think she was talking to you,” Marcin corrected him.

Mercinon laughed in disbelief. “Me? Get an order? Don’t be ridiculous!”

Thanamenti backed Marcin up, “Actually, I was talking to you.”

“What?” Mercinon got so stunned to hear that revelation that he tripped over his own feet and landed on the floor of the cave.

“All you do is waste time doing trivial things! You need to contribute more than just bossing Marcin around! I can do that!” Thanamenti scolded him.

Mercinon argued, “I’m resting now because when I’m king I won’t have a chance to do it! It’s good for you, you should try it sometime! Oh my gods! There I go telling you to relax again! Okay, I’ll go check on Echinda.”

Marcin suggested, “Maybe I should go check. He’ll probably mess it up somehow!”

“I beg your pardon?” Mercinon took great exception to that. “Are you implying that I’m incapable of handling an easy task like that?”

“I don’t think he’s implying it, he pretty much said it straight up!” Dason needled him.

Mercinon defiantly declared, “I’ll show you all! Ooh, if I didn’t want that cape right away, I would so make you revisit the pit of jackals!” As he marched inside, Marcin purposely slowed down the speed of his sewing. As soon as Mercinon entered into the cavern room that they held Echinda in, he exclaimed, “That’s Echinda?” They heard Echinda screech, and Mercinon amended his blunder, “My apologies! There’s nothing wrong with your looks! I just pictured you differently in my head!”

After a bout where the only sound heard stemmed from the self playing harp, Thanamenti inquired, “Well, what do you see?”

“I don’t see anything in here!” Mercinon replied.

“Oh, Marcin was right about you! I better go see this for myself!” She walked over to Echinda’s chambers, and she cried out in astonishment, “Oh no! She hasn’t given birth yet!” She came back to the main area of the cave wringing her hands. “She always creates a monster at a certain pace, and she hasn’t made a new one yet! What if she’s barren?”

Mercinon emerged from Echinda’s quarters and informed Thanamenti, “She’s just fallen asleep. Maybe she only gives birth when she’s awake. I didn’t think a woman had a choice about when she went into labor, but it’s probably different with her. In the meantime, just-.” He cut himself off before he finished that sentence.

Thanamenti raged, “Oh, you better not have been about to tell me to relax again!”

“I wasn’t going to!” Mercinon lied. “I was gonna say you should… Watch them in the cauldron! If they get too close to a feather and she still hasn’t produced another monster, we’ll… do something about it!”

“Knowing them, they’re probably getting close!” Thanamenti glanced into her steaming concoction and grinned. “Oh, we have time! If they were close to a feather, they probably wouldn’t be disrobing right now!”

Mercinon, who had returned to his fancy swaying, rushed over to the cauldron when he heard that last part, and Marcin paused his stitching so he could be privy to this sight. “Drats! The river water is covering them!” Marcin lamented.

Thanamenti rejoiced, “I recognize this place! They’re in the Nerostaffilon River, so close to peril and they don’t even realize it!” She cackled in delight.

“So, we don’t need a monster at all right now!” Mercinon sighed in relief.

“Well, if we get one, it probably wouldn’t to send it near there! The more danger to them the better! But for now, I can relax!” As Thanamenti conjured herself a comfortable chair, Mercinon opened his mouth to say something regarding what she had just expressed, but Marcin shook his head to urge him not to do it, so he shut his mouth and went back to his feverish dance.

As Exelda and Kefalia bathed on one side of a viney shrub that seeped into the riverbank, the men settled in on the other side. Stocastin merrily washed himself while Akintos lounged int the water and Narcius fixated on his reflection exuding from the stream. Narcius praised his image, “Wow, I think you’re getting more gorgeous with age! Look how smooth the muscles on my glorious chest are! And no hint of wrinkles on my beautiful face! Oh sure, there’s a few lines of refinement, but it just makes me appear more distinguished! And my hair shows- Aah!” A fish briefly popped out of the water in the spot he was staring at, causing him to jump a bit.

The others chuckled, and Exelda remarked, “Oh, thank Aidos! I couldn’t take much more of that!”

“I’m ashamed that I used to have romantic feelings for that guy!” Kefalia commented.

“What?” Narcius genuinely didn’t catch the statement she had made.

Kefalia fibbed, “Nothing!”

Stocastin suddenly had a realization. “Hey, this is water!”

“Listen, we all know you’re smarter than us, but I hope you don’t think we’re that dumb!” Akintos retorted.

“No, I only meant to allude to the fact that perhaps it serves as a symbol suitable enough for a place where the feather could manifest for us on our quest,” Stocastin clarified.

Exelda lauded Stocastin’s idea, “Oh, that’s true! I wish I had thought of that, but all I could think about was getting all the remnants of the volcano off of me!”

Stocastin opened his mouth to correct her, but Narcius cut him off, “We know what it really was, but we all agreed not to bring it up ever again, remember?” This made Stocastin recall that pact, so he no longer wished to broach the subject any further.

“Well, I hope everyone enjoyed that break! Get dressed ’cause we’re not walking down the riverbank naked!” Exelda directed them as she retrieved her toga and started putting it on.

“Walking? Look, I know we agreed to not bring the royal horses near potential monsters, but why do we have to walk when we’re on a river? Why can’t we take a boat?” Akintos whined.

Exelda pointed out, “We don’t have a boat.”
Kefalia indicated to something on the other side of the stream, “There’s a boat over there we could use.”

“Kefalia, that’s tied up, so obviously it belongs to someone. We can’t steal anything unless it’s an absolute emergency, and laziness hardly qualifies as one!” Exelda lectured.

“We wouldn’t be stealing it, we’d just be borrowing it for a while! It’s not like we’d take it with us after we’re done!” Akintos reasoned.

Exelda still seemed hesitant, so Stocastin logically hashed out, “Time is of the essence on this mission, and this gesture would expedite our term in this terrain.”

Still feeling a little reluctant, Exelda relented, “I suppose we do have to do all we can to find the feathers as soon as possible so we can save Dason! Oh, and the entire kingdom! Okay, let’s do it!”

Narcius, Exelda, Stocastin, and Akintos all swam towards the log raft with a small sail on it, but Kefalia stayed behind and relayed to them, “I can’t go beyond the shallows ’cause I don’t know how to swim!”

“You can fly!” Akintos brought to her attention.

“Oh yeah!” Kefalia reacted in relief. She hovered over them as they got onto the small vessel, and when everyone else got on board, she frowned. “There’s no room for me on there!”

Exelda echoed Akintos’ words, “You can fly!”

Kefalia chirped, “Oh yeah!”

Not too far down the river, they came across a small home with a vineyard behind it, and Stocastin warned Kefalia, “It’s highly recommended that pregnant women do not consume alcohol!”

“I know that!” Exelda barked. “You don’t need to keep harping on me for that! After I found Dason, I no longer needed wine to help me relax! I found something much more effective!”

“What is it? Some kind of potion?” Kefalia pondered.

Narcius piped up, “It’s obviously the act involved in creating her son!”

Exelda put in, “Or daughter! Anyways, we’re not stopping there!”

“Stop the boat! We have to in there!” Akintos announced.

“Akintos, since when do you drink liquor?” Narcius inquired.

Shaking his head, Akintos replied, “Look inside their window!” They all gazed inside of the cottage, and in the window frame, they saw an object that resembled one of the feathers! “Also, I’ve been drinking every now and then since I hit puberty.”

Squinting in that direction, Exelda esteemed, “I don’t know, something seems off about it.”

“Well, we should go find out! What if it’s a feather and we miss it?” Kefalia beseeched.

“Alright, let’s go check it out.” Exelda used the wooden oar left on board to veer raft towards the house.

Once they had docked, they crept up to the cottage, but when they peeked inside, they discovered that it had vanished! “Where did it go? Don’t tell me we did all that work for nothing!” Akintos fretted.

Stocastin theorized, “No one left the premises, so they must’ve moved it to another location within the building.”

“You should turn invisible and sneak inside to search the place,” Narcius suggested.

“I can’t sneak inside! They won’t see me, but they could hear me!” Stocastin objected.

Kefalia puzzled, “How else are we gonna get inside?”

Exelda shushed them and then whispered, “You guys need to be more quiet! Someone could hear us!”

“No one can hear us!” Akintos denied that claim. At that instance, a middle aged woman with red hair and a plump physique opened the window and peered outside! “Aah! Oh, hello! We were just…”

“Oh, this happens way too frequently! We’re going to have to put up a sign! Fisherman visiting our facility want to take a break here, but they can never figure out where the front door is! Go around the corner and you’ll see it!” The woman ducked back inside of her home and presumably waited for them.

The five of them complied with her advice, and Narcius mentioned, “Get invited inside! I should have that of that sooner!”

Exelda had a grim expression on her face. “Don’t get too excited about this!”

“Oh, why not? She seems nice,” Akintos disagreed with her less optimistic viewpoint.

“She has the feather somewhere in there! The fact that it disappeared from our sight may not bode well for us!” Exelda worriedly assessed.

Kefalia cheerily regarded her, “You stress out too much! You should ask yourself this: what’s the best that can happen?”

Before Exelda could dispute her assertion, they reached the front door. The woman they met before opened her entrance up and invited them, “Come on in!”

The Unsuper Heroes II, Chapter 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I resent that!” Dason let her know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 20

She let out a deafening screech as she rose out of the pile of boxes and sprouted wings as well as feathers. It didn’t take long for her to transform into a giant eagle, and she immediately dove for Dason! Narcius used his super speed to push him out of the way, and she swooped back up into the air. Kefalia flew up to her and brandished her sword. She tried to strike Kefalia with her beak, but Kefalia dodged it. Impuse suddenly felt heat sting her underbelly, and when she looked down, she saw Akintos firing at her. Before Kefalia could slash her, she barreled down towards Akintos. When she got close, she saw a sword come from seemingly nowhere! She avoided getting stabbed, but as she halted, a crate rammed right into her chest! As she got pinned to the wall and struggled to breathe, the contents of the box spilled out, which made it light enough for her to push it off. She tried to reach for her cane, but just as he was about to grab it, Dason put his foot on it. “You’re really gonna take a cane away from an old lady?” she scathed.

“Why do you need it?” Kefalia questioned. “You can just wait until your powers reset and just become something that can walk better!”

“Don’t give her any ideas!” Stocastin advised her.

Impusa gave them both dirty looks and renewed her efforts to retrieve her cane. Exelda stared at her curiously until an idea struck her. She picked the cane up, and when Impusa urgently crawled towards her, she tossed it to Akintos and directed him, “Burn it!”

“Nooooo!” Impusa desperately cried. She tried to tone it done as she added, “I need it to walk!”

Exelda responded, “We’ll get you another one, we’re just going to destroy this one. Akintos, burn it!”

Akintos formed a fireball in his palm, and Exelda watched Impusa’s panicked expression deepen as the flame grew closer to her cane. “No! I want that one! Please don’t!” Exelda gave her a knowing look, so she unwillingly admitted, “Alright, fine! That cane is special. Now, give it to me!”

“You can’t use your powers without your cane, can you?” Exelda surmised.

Impusa snidely confessed, “Okay, fine, Missy! Not all of us are lucky enough to have our powers imbued within us! Some of us rely on a relic to enact our abilities! Happy now? Now, give it to me!”

“This cane makes people shapeshift? Woah!” Akintos closed his eyes and tired to make himself transform, but he practically strained himself trying. “How does it work?”

“It doesn’t work for just anyone!” Impusa said indignantly. “It has the ability to recognize-.”

Narcius requested, “Let me try!” He took it from Akintos and flipped it in various directions to try to make it work for him. “Hey, this is kind of fun!”

Impusa glared at him for his flippant attitude towards her precious object, and Exelda took her bout of silence to bargain with her, “We’ll cut you a deal: give us information on your boss and we’ll give you back your cane.”

“Okay, he colors his hair. Now, gimme my cane!” Impusa demanded.

“Give us useful information if you want it back,” Exelda clarified.

After she huffed from annoyance, she warned them, “Any minute now, my boyfriend’s gonna come help me, and then you’ll all be in trouble!”

Kefalia remarked, “You have a boyfriend?”

“Of course I got a boyfriend!” Impusa told her proudly. “Who wouldn’t want this body?”

“I wouldn’t!” Akintos retorted. Stocastin, Narcius, and Dason all shared his sentiments.

Impusa didn’t look ruffled by their slant. “Fine, your loss! I can turn into anything, you know!”

Dason pointed out, “Yeah, only for a minute!”

‘What, you need more time than that?” Impusa shot back.

“Yeah, a lot more!” Dason stated firmly.

Exelda reacted pleasantly to him, “That’s good to know!” Dason shrugged sheepishly, and Exelda shifted her focus back to business. “Ahem, anyways… We need something from you!”

Narcius exclaimed, “Mirrors!”

“What?” Exelda and Impusa asked simultaneously.

“That’s what was in the boxes!” He bent down and picked one up with excitement. “Hello, beautiful!”

Stocastin challenged Impusa, “Why do you have such an unwavering allegiance to your boss when he has shown you none in return?”

Impusa differed, “Excuse me? He’s been real good to me, and under his rule, I’ll have a much better life than I would under your parents’ rule.” She indicated to Dason. “Your laws haven’t been very fair to my people, so why should I help you?”

“Laws take time to enforce,” Dason countered. “Just because a law changes doesn’t mean people will obey them. Like we have a rule against treason, but that hasn’t stopped your boss from doing it!”

“I guess that’s true,” Impusa unwillingly acknowledged. “But he’s still promised me a fabulous lifestyle for helping him! I’d be crazy to give that up!”

Akintos brought up, “This guy can make you all kinds of promises too! Doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen!”

Impusa looked affronted. “You’re calling him a liar? He’s been nothing but nice to me, so why should I-?”

“He’s just using you!” Exelda told her. “He’s buttering you up so he can get what he wants out of you. I’m sure he’s not the first man to do that to you!”

“You’re wrong!” Impusa emphatically denied. “If you just met him, you’d know that he’s a genuine guy!”

Kefalia commented, “I don’t think any of us thought he was a girl!”

Stocastin started to correct her, “No, she meant-.”

Exelda interrupted him, “Too bad we can’t meet him and verify your story since we don’t know where he is!”

“Yeah, I guess we’ll just have to imprison you and have troops storm the entire area,” Dason tacked on. “I bet your boss won’t be too happy with that!”

Impusa didn’t seem too keen on that alternative, and everyone but Narcius, who couldn’t tear himself away from his reflection, watched her as she did a lot of thinking. Finally, she seemed to have come to a decision. “I gotta deliver this ransom money. If I go too late, he’ll have the night guard surrounding the place. I need to go now so no one has to deal with any guards.”

Exelda picked up on her hint right away, “Gotcha!” Dason agreed, and Stocastin as well as Akintos realized what she had really meant to say. Narcius wasn’t paying attention, and Kefalia looked lost in thought. Exelda addressed her, “We’ll explain later.”

“Now gimme my cane!” Impusa snatched it from a distracted Narcius and picked herself up. “I need to hurry!”

She trudged along as fast as she could, but she could still hardly inch along. Akintos wondered, “Wouldn’t it be faster if you turned into an animal that can move quicker?”

Impusa responded to him, “I gotta save my powers in case I’m attacked. It’s okay, I’m moving along just fine!” The rest of them watched her maintain her slow gait, which prompted Narcius to impatiently sigh.

As the sun began to set, Dason and the five heroes had weary expressions as they walked at a snail’s pace. “Can we at least play a game ’til we get there?” Narcius requested.

“No!” Exelda snapped. “And keep it down! We could be getting close, and we don’t want this guy to hear us! Plus, we need to stay vigilant for any traps he may have for us.”

“Wouldn’t Impusa have already run into these traps before us?” Akintos probed.

Stocastin replied, “She would know how to get around them, and we’re not close enough to her to see how she would do it.”

Akintos argued, “Then why can’t we just get closer? She already knows we’re following her, why can’t we just-?”

“Hey! The lady said no, and her word is final!” Dason admonished him.

Exelda smiled at his support, but she sternly reminded Akintos, “We need to stay out of this guy’s sight. Once his attention is on the gold and his guard is down, we-.”

Kefalia gasped, “Oh my Zeus!” Everyone turned to her with wrapt attention. “My ear finally popped!”

Exelda rolled her eyes. “Okay, no more talking until we get there!” They rounded the corner, and a giant palace suddenly came into view. “Well, we’re here, but I still don’t want you to talk!”

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 18

What is that?” Narcius asked as he gazed at a rectangular, one story building shrouded in shadows from the neighboring mountains.

“I have no idea,” Exelda answered him. “Probably not her house though!” She watched as the elderly lady dragged the wagon with the gold to a door on the far left.

Kefalia wondered, “Why would they make a building in the middle of nowhere?”

Akintos replied sarcastically, “So weird, why would a criminal need so much secrecy?”

Stocastin appeared before them and joined in on the conversation, “I actually don’t believe the guilty party would try to take over the polis if this individual had the ability to build a structure of this magnitude. If they could, then they could just find an empty land and start their own polis. Akintos is correct about the strategic value behind the malefactor’s plan, but Kefalia’s premise on the premises is valid. Premise on the premises? How droll!” He gave a very snort-filled laugh at his observation.

No one else found it quite as humorous, so Narcius changed the subject, “What do you think they would have originally put in a building like this?”

“Duck!” Exelda ordered.

‘Why would they store ducks in-?” Narcius started to say.

Exelda pulled Narcius behind some nearby brush, and they saw the old woman scoping out the area. The five heroes had nervous looks on their faces, but luckily for them, she didn’t seem to have spotted anything suspicious. She dug through her pockets and mumbled, “Let’s see… Where did I put my… Oh, here!” She found a key ring with several keys on it. “Oh gods, why in the world do I have so many dang keys? He should have marked them! Whatever! I’ll try… this one!” She tried it, and the key didn’t fit. “No? Okay, I’ll try this one! Hmm, this one? This one? Wait, that was the first key again! Not that or that or that… Wait, what about this one? Oh, here we go!” She opened the door, and the five heroes tried to catch a glimpse of what was inside. They could only see a blank wall as the elderly woman dragged in the wagon with the ransom money, and as she entered inside, they tried to see more with no success as the door got shut promptly.

Akintos queried, “Now what?”

“We’re going to follow her in,” Exelda told them all. “If we’re lucky, it’ll be an empty room with just her and the bad guy sitting in it. We’re not that lucky though, so we’ll see what monsters or traps might be waiting for us inside! Let’s go!”

They crept up to the door that the old lady had gone through, and they all hid behind Exelda as she cautiously reached for the latch. When she couldn’t open it, Exelda quietly lamented, “It’s locked! I’ll have to break down the door!”

Kefalia pointed out, “There’s another door over there.” She indicated to another door a little farther to their right.

“That door is probably locked too,” Exelda assumed.

“It’s not,” Narcius said after he tested the other door.

Exelda stared at the door in front of her and frowned. “That looks like it’s part of a different room.”

Stocastin put in, “Different room! This is hardly a palace, so it’s highly unlikely that it’s got more than one room in it!”

“It’ll be faster if I just tear down this one!” Exelda objected.

“You just want to break something, don’t you?” Akintos probed.

Exelda initially denied that claim, “No I don’t, I…” She mulled it over for a second and then admitted, “Well, I do, but-.”

Kefalia concluded, “Sounds like we should go in the open door then!” Stocastin, Akintos, and Narcius agreed with her and already started going inside.

“No! Guys, wait! Ugh!” When she saw them enter the building, she begrudgingly ran in after them.

They found themselves in a hallway with a wall to the left and wooden crates stacked up almost as high as the ceiling to their right. The room was too dark to see what was on the other side of the building, so Akintos found a torch on the wall and lit it. Narcius observed, “There’s a door right there!”

“Great! Come on, let’s hurry!” Exelda directed. They rushed over to a small door in the middle of the wall, but before they could see whether or not it was locked, they heard some loud growling behind them. With trepidation, Exelda remarked, “Akintos, please tell me that was your stomach!”

They slowly turned around, their eyes grew wide when they saw what perpetrated the noise. The creature standing behind them had six dog-shaped heads with sharp teeth, tentacle legs, and a cat tail! Kefalia flew above the monster while Narcius used his super speed to dash around it, and both actions confused the various heads. Stocastin turned invisible and tried to stab its heart, but his sword wouldn’t penetrate its skin. Exelda tried to chop off one of its heads, but even with her super strength, she couldn’t break through its hide either. Akintos threw fireballs at it, and it twinged the monster a bit, which prompted Stocastin to gasp, “Wait a minute! I know what this is! It’s a Scylla!”

While still darting between the heads, Narcius snapped back, “Are you going to tell us what that is? ‘Cause it’s a little hard to remember our research right now!”

Stocastin started to explain, “The base of its molecular-.”

“Cut to the chase!” Exelda interrupted him as she fended off a couple of the heads. “How do we kill it?”

“Sunlight!” Stocastin replied simply.

Kefalia, who flew close to the ceiling, noted, “There’s a window behind these boxes!”

Exelda stated, “I can knock the boxes down if you can get this thing away from them for a minute.”

“I know something faster!” Akintos stepped into Narcius path, which made him crash into him. Akintos stole Narcius’s mirror and handed it to Exelda, who tossed it up to Kefalia. Kefalia flew behind the boxes and pointed the mirror in various directions until the sun finally reflected onto the Scylla. The Scylla shrieked as the mirror broke, and just like the mirror, the Scylla also burst into a bunch of little pieces!

“My mirror!” Narcius wailed ramatically.

Kefalia winced as she picked a piece of glass out of her arm. “At least you didn’t get any-!” She screamed as she was suddenly dragged down below! Exelda, Akintos, Narcius, and Stocastin ran into a small opening in the boxes to go help.

They found her wrapped in a long, green vine that stemmed from a giant, red tulip sitting under the window! She tried to slip out of it, but its grip was too strong. Exelda ran over to her and held up her sword to free her, but another vine snatched Exelda up! She dangled upside down, so she couldn’t reach the vine to free herself. The vines slowly dragged them closer and closer to the flower until something sliced off Kefalia and Exelda’s vines from its base! “Thanks, Stocastin!” they both chimed in unison, but before he could reply, they saw more vines growing out of the flower!

All of a sudden, a green haze flew across the room, and the flower absorbed it, which made it immediately go limp! The five heroes turned around and saw a small but beautiful deer standing in the entrance that they had just gone through! Kefalia cooed, “Aww! Thanks, little guy!”

She flew towards it, and Exelda warned her, “Don’t pet it! It could be dangerous!”

“But it’s so cute!” Kefalia got near it, but before she could pet it, it snarled at them and then breathed out more green fog. Kefalia dodged it by flying upwards, and the others dived to the ground to avoid it. Kefalia yelled, “Bad deer!” and used her sword to cut off its head! When its body hit the ground, more of the same green smoke flowed out of its body and began filling up the air around them. The five of them ran down another aisle of boxes to get away from it.

They cautiously walked down the long row of wooden creates, expecting to get attacked at any time, After nothing seemed to be happening, Akintos commented, “Maybe we killed all of the monsters already!”

“That would sure be nice!” Exelda responded wistfully. “But I doubt it! Plus even if the rest of this building is empty, we still have to find our way back to the entrance and find that old lady! She’ll lead us to Dason and the person responsible for all of this!”

“I wonder what’s inside all of these boxes.” Kefalia peered closely at them as they passed by.

Stocastin put in, “It appears as though they were mass producing something before their operation got shut down. It mostly likely isn’t anything valuable or else the manufacturer would have absconded with it.”

“Maybe it’s something useful… like more mirrors!” Narcius looked at a lid of one with great interest.

Exelda advised him, “Don’t open it! It could be dangerous!”

Akintos assured her, “Don’t worry, it’s nailed shut.”

Despite what Akintos asserted, Narcius tried to open one anyways, but he couldn’t make it budge. “Fine! But if we pass by an open one, I’m looking in!”

“You know, curiosity killed the cat!” Akintos teased.

“But he’s not a cat!” Kefalia disputed.

Before anyone could correct her, they suddenly came to an intersection with three vast hallways that they could choose from. “It’s a maze!” Exelda said in awe. They heard a man scream in the distance, and Exelda exclaimed, “That’s Dason!”

“I can’t calculate which way would lead us to his location the fastest!” Stocastin fretted.

“What do we do?” Kefalia asked Exelda, and Exelda couldn’t come up with an answer right away. She gazed down each row and appeared to come to a conclusion that made her uncomfortable…

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 17

Is it something that lives in the ocean?” Narcius asked Stocastin while they were crouched behind some large-leaved bushes. Akintos had fallen asleep while leaning against a tree, Kefalia absentmindedly doodled in the dirt, and Exelda looked as though she were about to lose her patience.

“No,” Stocastin answered Narcius.

Narcius inquired, “So, it’s something that just swims in the ocean?”

Stocastin chirped, “Nope! That was twenty questions, so I win!”

“What was it?” Narcius questioned.

“An evia barbel,” Stocastin replied.

Narcius raged, “A fish? You said it didn’t live in the ocean!”

Stocastin educated him, “It doesn’t! It’s a freshwater fish!”

Exelda hissed. “Will you two keep it down? Someone could hear us?”

“Who can hear us? There’s no one here!” Narcius argued.

“They’ll never come if they hear us! They’ll think they’re being ambushed!” Exelda peered over the bushes and saw the small wagon with a pile of gold was still sitting there by itself. “Maybe it’s already too late! Maybe they already heard us and won’t come!”

Kefalia put in, “But we haven’t heard anyone coming all day!”

Exelda shot back, “What do you expect? They’re not going to bang a drum or sing at the top of their lungs! They’re traveling alone, so they won’t make a lot of noise! And how do you expect to hear anything if we keep making noise?” Kefalia shrugged disinterestedly. Exelda sighed and she turned to Stocastin, “Go back on the pathway and keep watch.”

“But it’s such a lackluster task!” Stocastin objected. “I can’t make any noise, so there’s only so many things I can do to occupy my-!”

“Go there or I’ll throw you there!” Exelda threatened.

Stocastin became invisible and muttered, “Okay, okay!”

They saw one of the branches move forward and then quickly back. Stocastin turned visible again as he fell backward and landed on top of Akintos’s belly. Akintos woke up with a start and reacted, “Oof!”

“Sorry!” Stocastin apologized before turning invisible again and heading out.

Akintos yawned and stretched his arms and legs. “Is it time for lunch?”

“Shh!” Exelda spat. “He or she could come any time to collect the ransom, and if they get scared away because of us, we’ll-!”

“We’ll get fired?” Kefalia guessed.

Akintos responded to that concept grimly, “If we’re fired, we won’t get paid! Okay, I’ll be good!”

Exelda almost spoke up about something, but as Akintos fell back asleep, she decided to let it go. The stick Kefalia had been drawing with snapped, so she flung it away from her. They heard Stocatin cry out, “Ouch!”

“What are you doing here?” Exelda quietly scolded him. “You’re supposed to be-!”

“Shh!” Stocastin interrupted. “Someone’s coming!”

Narcius and Kefalia’s eyes lit up, and Exelda shook Akintos’s foot to wake him up. All five of them peered behind the bushes, and they watched the pathway with baited breath. For a long moment, nothing happened, so they shifted uncomfortably. “Squatting like this really hurts my legs!” Kefalia softly complained.

Exelda ignored her and whispered to Stocastin, “”Are you sure someone is-?”

Narcius gasped, “Look!”

From a distance, they saw a small figure bobbing ahead. They watched with much anticipation, but they began to grow confused as to why it was taking the individual so long to arrive. When the figure got closer, they could see a dark skinned, elderly woman hunched over and clutching a cane. As she slowly hobbled forward, the five heroes began to doubt that she would be the one who the villain sent to collect the ransom money. Akintos slumped down to go back to sleep, but Exelda grabbed him by his toga and made him sit back up. Under his breath, Akintos questioned her, “What? It’s not like they’d send a moorish grandmother to-.”

“Don’t let appearances fool you!” Exelda warned him. “It could be a disguise.”

They continued to watch the old lady as she approached the small wagon with the gold. Kefalia whispered, “What if she takes the gold and just brings it to her house?”

Narcius quietly commented, “I’m pretty sure we can take her!”

Exelda shook her head but didn’t say anything because the old lady reached the ransom spot. She counted the gold there and looked reasonably satisfied, so she took the handle with her free hand, turned herself around, and made her way down the path she came from. Exelda softly instructed, “Stocastin, go out there and let us know when she gets far enough for us to follow.” Stocastin became invisible and waited by the clearing where the gold had been. After a long pause, Exelda quietly scolded, “Stocastin!”

Stocastin assured her, “I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you!”

Kefalia, Narcius, Akintos, and Exelda inched forward along a dusty, dirt road that was surrounded by trees. Narcius impatiently asked, “How long is this path?”

“I have no idea!” Exelda answered. “We never did get a chance to study the maps of the outer ridges of Chaos.”

“I never thought I’d say this, but I miss hiding behind the bush!” Kefalia moaned.

Akintos shared her sentiment, “I never thought I’d say this, but I wish we would move faster!”

Narcius squinted so he could see between the trees. “The sun is starting to set! I’m not facing anymore monsters in the dark! I’d say we tie her to the wagon and force her to tell us where this secret lair is!”

Kefalia and Akintos agreed with him, and Narcius readied himself to use his powers to get her, but Exelda grabbed his toga to stop him. “We can’t do that!”

“Why not?” Akintos probed. “We’re wasting so much time by-!”

Stocastin suddenly appeared before them and reported, “Still no updates!”

Exelda reminded him, “I told you, you don’t need to keep updating us like that! We’ll assume there’s been no changes until you tell us otherwise.”

“I know,” Stocastin acknowledged. “I was just bored.”

“Get back over there in case she disappears!” Exelda ordered him. Stocastin begrudgingly complied.

Kefalia puzzled, “Wait, does she have the same powers as Stocastin?”

Exelda replied, “I have no idea, but that’s the point! I know she seems like a harmless old woman, but the person responsible for all of this mayhem isn’t going to send just anybody for this important task! They sent her for a reason! We may not be the only ones in Greece who the gods gave supernatural abilities to! If we act too rashly, she may reveal a threat that could get one of us hurt or killed! Plus, if we approached her now, we don’t know if she would actually reveal her boss’s secrets. If she stays silent, then we may never find out the mastermind’s hiding spot! In order for us to save our kingdom, we need to make sure she gets all the way there!”

“What if she breaks a hip on the way there!” Akintos wondered. “Or what if someone else attacks her on the way?”

“Then we’ll save her life,” Exelda reasoned, “and she’ll owe us a favor.”

Akintos relished that idea. “Ooh, we can blackmail her! I like it! Oh please, Zeus, Athena, whoever’s listening, please let this happen!”

Exelda admonished him, “That’s a terrible thing to ask for! You shouldn’t wish harm on anyone!”

“Uh, she does work for the bad guy,” Narcius pointed out.

“Yes, but we need her right now!” Exelda disputed. “We should be calling upon the gods to get her there quickly and safely.”

Kefalia exclaimed, “Ooh, she’s on our side right now and doesn’t even know it! She has no idea how much she’s helping us right now!”

Exelda grinned slightly at this, but then she added, “Let’s hope she stays helpful when we get there!” All of a sudden, Stocastin appeared in front of them again. “Stocastin! Are we almost there, or are you about to get into a lot of trouble?”

“Probably both,” Stocastin told her. “I see a building in the distance!”

The other four looked shocked, and Exelda swiftly commanded, “Narcius, dart over to the troops and let them know the news. We’re almost there!” Narcius used his super speed to dash behind them, and Exelda repeated, “We’re almost there!”

As Stocastin turned invisible and returned to his post, Akintos excitedly remarked, “Finally, some action! I hope!”

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 16

How could you ask such an audacious question?” Cyrek cried out while he leaned on the podium on the palace steps.

One of the many scribes in front of him calmly responded, “I just said ‘How are you?’.”

“Sorry,” Cyrek apologized. “I just expected the opening question to be something more probing and that’s the answer I rehearsed. Not that I need to rehearse…”

“Well,” the scribe followed, “I was going to ask if you had any updates on the prince yet…”

The five heroes walked up to the back of the crowd, and Exelda whispered to the others, “We should come back when-.”

Cyrek recognized the five of them and changed his tactics. “Yes, but first, let me introduce the valiant group who have been so successful at keeping the invading monsters at bay! Come on up here, guys!” All of the scribes turned around and stared at them curiously, which made Exelda, Narcius, Kefalia, Stocastin, and Akintos bear painfully awkward expressions. Cyrek gestured for them to join him by the lecturn, and they felt obligated to do so. The five of them reluctantly walked up there, and Exelda, Narcius, and Akintos stood on one side while Stocastin and Kefalia stood next to Krimeno. Cyrek addressed the scribes, “Do you have any questions for our heroes?”

The scribes all eagerly raised their hands, and Exelda picked someone at random. “How long have you guys had super powers?”

“We were born with it,” Exelda replied.

“Could you speak up, please?” the scribe requested.

Exelda shouted, “We were born with it!”

Cyrek advised, “You don’t have to say it that loud.”

The scribes all wrote her answer down, and the first person to finish raised his hand next. After Exelda called on him, he inquired, “Do you have any leads about Prince Dason’s disappearance?”

Cyrek replied, “Really? You have five monster slayers here and you only have one question for them?”

“Oh, we always have more to ask,” the scribe told him, “but that’s kind of all we can think about right now. So, what’s the update?”

Cyrek sighed, “Okay, okay! The update is that Prince Dason is alive and well.”

Another scribe queried, “He’s back now?”

“No, not yet,” Cyrek admitted.

“Then how do you know he’s alive and well?” the scribe asked him.

Cyrek took a moment before he unwillingly answered, “The kidnappers… have asked for a ransom.” A flurry of quills scribbling sounded after that remark, and Exelda suddenly tuned in with great interest. “We plan on a peaceful end to this situation, and Chaos will go back to normal again very soon.”

Another scribe corrected him, “You mean normal aside from dealing with constant monster attacks?”

“Yes,” Cyrek said as casually as he could. “Now, does anyone have anymore-?”

Yet another scribe blurted out, “How much is the ransom?”

“That’s all the time we have for today! Thank you!” Cyrek quietly instructed to the five heroes, “Don’t make eye contact with any of them. Come this way!” The heroes began following Cyrek to the palace, but Krimeno stopped to wave goodbye to the crowd, which made them barrage him with questions. Cyrek turned back, grabbed Krimeno by his toga, and pushed him up the stairs before he could spill out anymore information.

Once they entered the palace, they stood in a giant hallway bustling with various servants and government workers. To their left, they saw the entrance to the throne room, and to their right, they saw the senate floor. Cyrek shifted his attention to Exelda, Stocastin, Narcius, Akintos, and Kefalia. “Sorry about that! I know you didn’t have much preparation for your first informational conference, but I needed a distraction. The less the public knows about our plans, the more safely we can carry them out. We don’t want the criminal to find out and ruin our rescue strategy.”

“What is your rescue strategy?” Stocastin pried.

“I was going to ask the same thing!” Krimeno reacted in astonishment.

Akintos surmised, “You don’t have a plan, do you?”

Cyrek stuttered, “Well, I… we… the palace just got the ransom note, and we… uh…”

“That’s okay,” Exelda interjected. “I have an idea.”

Exelda, Narcius, Akintos, Kefalia, and Stocastin followed Cyrek and Krimeno into a room where a couple dozen men sat in stadium type of seating with a platform where they could take notes. Everyone was arguing with each other until one of them finally took notice of the strangers in the room. “Oh no! It’s the royal inspectors!” The room suddenly fell silent, and all of the senators did their utmost to put on a professional front.

Cyrek let them know, “Uh, no. These are the heroes that have been fighting off the monsters for us.”

The senators all breathed a sigh of relief, and one of them hailed them, “Thank you for all of the work you’ve done! We owe you a big thanks!”

“By thanks, do you mean payment?” Akintos kidded, which prompted Exelda to lightly tap the back of his head.

“She has an idea of how to handle the ransom transaction,” Cyrek reported.

The senators all mumbled in surprise, and Exelda informed them, “Actually, I think I know how we can stop the monster attacks as well.”

They all seemed surprised by that notion, and another senator asked, “How is that possible?”

Exelda explained, “Dason disappeared around the same time as the monster attacks, which could have just been a coincidence, except we had more than one monster know Kefalia’s defect of freezing if she laughs too hard for too long. I’m not sure how anyone besides us could have known that, but if the monsters were invading our polis on their own, how would so many of them have this piece of knowledge? Obviously, one person is orchestrating these attacks, so if we catch Dason’s kidnapper, we can stop the flow of monsters too.”

Another senator questioned, “If someone is guilty of both crimes, then what in the name of Hades is their motive? Why demand money if you’re planning on destroying the kingdom?”

Stocastin jumped in, “We believe that the culprit behind the events actually wants to take over Chaos. The purpose of the monsters is to weaken our defenses, which, needless to say, would make it easier for this individual to use their forces to hijack the throne. The kidnapping is most likely a distraction, although they may also have a purpose behind the money itself such as paying for supplies or possibly to hire help.”

The first senator that spoke up inferred, “Ah, so we pretend to deliver the ransom money and then arrest the guy when he comes to collect it?”

“Highly unlikely that a man who sees himself as the future king would go get the money himself!” Narcius scoffed.

“Narcius is right,” Exelda agreed. “I don’t think he or she would retrieve the money themselves because they’d already anticipate some kind of ambush. But they’d deliver the money to the person they work for, so if we follow the person who comes to collect it, we can find the main person’s hideout!”

The second senator that spoke up gave his opinion, “Sounds simple enough. We could send the royal guards to… Wait, this person is going to a hideout where they store monsters?”

Kefalia responded, “Probably! It’s not like they’d have two hideouts!”

“Then you guys should handle the transaction,” the third senator concluded.

“Really? You’d trust us with a bunch of money after I made that joke?” Akintos replied incredulously.

Before the senator could say anything back, Exelda stated, “We may need the royal guards’ help since we don’t know if this person has begun to assemble an army or not, but we should probably go to the hideout first and clear the area from any potential monsters.”

Cyrek wondered, “How are we going to hide a whole army?”

“Oh, I know!” Krimeno enthusiastically suggested, “We could get a giant wooden horse and pretend it’s a gift when it’s actually full of soldiers…”

“We already did that in the Trojan war,” Cyrek pointed out.

Krimeno looked confused. “Trojan war? Never heard of it!”

Cyrek cringed, but before anyone could respond to his absurdity, Exelda assured them all, “The royal guards can hide at a distance, and we can use our powers not only to spy on the transaction but we can quickly summon the soldiers when we’re ready. We can put a stop to this today if the five of us just had the military backup. Oh, and we’ll need some money too.”

“Yay!” Akintos celebrated.

“For the ransom,” Exelda reminded him, which made Akintos pout. “So, what do you say? Can we count on your assistance?” The senators mulled it over for a moment, and…

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 15

They hadn’t even left the village before they grew out of breath. Exelda braced herself for a moment, and when she caught a glimpse of the enormous figure moving about the ocean, she knew she had to act quickly. She scanned over the other heroes and noticed that while Narcius acted tired, his respiration hadn’t actually slowed down. She breathily commanded him, “Narcius… use… your… powers… to… get… down… there…quick!”

“All by myself?” Narcius fretted.

“Kefalia… can… you… fly?” Exelda asked.

Kefalia answered, “Need… air!”

Exelda told Narcius, “Carry… Stocastin… with you!”

“Ugh, fine!” Narcius draped Stocastin over his shoulder and used his super speed to race to the shore.

A few seconds went by when Narcius returned to them. “What are you doing?” Exelda questioned him.

Narcius reported, “I can’t see a thing down there except for a pair of giant fangs! We don’t know what to do!”

“Well, you and Stocastin can…” She paused before she made an observance. “Wait, you just left him there?”

“He’s got his invisibility, he’s fine!” Narcius reasoned.

Exelda ordered him, “Get back over there! We’ll come help shortly.” Narcius reluctantly sped away, and as Exelda watched him go back to the seaside, she realized just how far they had to go. “We need a faster way to get there.” She saw that Akintos was slumped over an empty cart, and when she stood up, she could see that the pathway out of town was a long slant downhill. “I’ve got an idea!”

As Exelda used her super strength to free the cart from its restraints, Kefalia shrieked, “You’re stealing?”

“We’re commandeering this vehicle for the sake of our duties to the kingdom,” Exelda clarified for her as she dragged it to the top of the hill.

“It’s stealing but legal,” Akintos surmised to Kefalia. “Hmm… I wonder what else we can legally-.”

Exelda cut him off, “Don’t even think about it! Get in!” Akintos willingly hopped onto the cart while Kefalia hesitated. “If you can’t fly, you need to get in here now!” Kefalia made a feeble attempt to fly, and when she couldn’t do it, she forced herself to get on the cart.

Exelda gave the cart a swift push before she hopped on. The further downhill they went, the more speed they gained. When they got to the flatter land, the cart continued the same momentum. They were all worried about crashing into the ocean and screamed. Narcius used his powers to intercept the cart, but he wasn’t strong enough to stop it. He veered it rightwards, which changed their trajectory towards a small tree. They all screamed again as they braced for impact. The cart barreled into the tree, and Exelda as well as Akintos flew head first into the sand! They spit sand out of their mouths as Kefalia exclaimed, “Oh, I can fly now!”

“Oh, sure, rub it in!” Akintos grumbled.

Suddenly, they saw the shadow of something massive heading in their direction, so Akintos and Exelda rolled out of the way. Exelda drew out her sword but couldn’t see where the creature went. She tried to find it with just the moonlight, but all she saw was darkness until a set of fangs raced towards her! She successfully dodged it, but she didn’t see where it went. “I need light! I need light! I need light!” she repeated frantically as she ran from the fangs.

“Here!” Akintos grabbed a piece of wood from the now broken cart and pointed his palm at it. After it was lit, he tossed it to Exelda, who managed to catch it mid-run.

Exelda used her torch to search for the monster and in a flash, she spotted a serpent with fish-like scales and fins! It lunged towards her, but Kefalia flew by its head to intervene. It tried to chomp her, but she darted around too rapidly for its bite. Exelda managed to run to the beast without it noticing her, and she used her sword to cut it in half! It howled in pain and flopped to the ground.

Kefalia inquired, “It’s dead already?”

Narcius commented, “It is? Wow, that was easy!”

“Too easy!” Stocastin said dismally. “No way would our adversary choose a creature that bore so little of a challenge!”

Exelda peered into the water where the back end of the monster laid and watched as the topmost part had bubbles frothing near it. They began to form faster and faster, so Exelda yelled out, “Guys, we’re not done yet!”

They watched with horror as the severed back half formed a new head! Both halves sprang back to life and dove after the heroes! Exelda fended off one of them with her sword while Kefalia flew by its head and distracted it by taking swipes at it with her weapon. Stocastin turned invisible while Narcius used his super speed to dart around randomly because Exelda had the only source of light and was now nowhere near them. Akintos made another one for them and ran over to deliver it. He saw the creature suddenly lunge towards him, so he pointed a palm at it and sent a fireball flying into its face. The monster seemed annoyed by it but didn’t seem hurt. When Kefalia flew near the other creature’s head, its antennae tickled her. Akintos shouted, “Kefalia, get away from there!” When she didn’t, he sent a fireball her way, which hurt her but snapped her into place just in time. The beast that Akintos had been fighting used this opportunity to go after him, so Narcius used his super speed to hurl himself into it. It moved the monster’s body out of the way, and before it could get back up again, Stocastin cut it in half!

“Why did you do that?” Exelda hollered as she continued to fight the other creature. “It’s just going to regenerate!”

“Yes, but it buys us some time,” Stocastin pointed out.

Exelda recognized the legitimacy of his reasoning and halved hers as well. They all quickly convened together, and Exelda probed, “How do we kill it?”

Stocastin replied, “How do you kill anything in general? Obviously we can’t cut it up or burn it.”

Exelda put in, “Probably can’t poison it.”

“Strangle it?” Narcius suggested.

“Where’s Polyphema when you need her?” Akintos joked.

Kefalia brought up, ‘What about drowning?”

Stocastin dismissed that notion, “You can’t drown it! They’re sea creatures!”

“How do you know that?” Kefalia challenged as the four creatures were starting to form.

“Look at them! They have scales, fins, and gills!” Stocastin turned invisible again as the four creatures were now fully formed.

Stocastin, Kefalia, Exelda, and Narcius each took a monster to fight, but with only two torches available, Kefalia and Stocastin had a hard time seeing theirs, so Akintos dashed back to the broken cart to make more. While Exelda fought hers, she cried out, “Wait, they have gills? That means that they need water to breathe!”

Stocastin, who briefly turned visible to receive his torch, agreed, “Affirmative!”

The creature almost got Stocastin and Akintos, so they rolled out of the way. Stocastin’s clothes caught on fire, so he ran into the water to extinguish it. Akintos aimed some fireballs to keep it from attacking Stocastin. Exelda beheaded hers and instructed the others, “Do it one more time!” Kefalia and Narcius managed to cut theirs down, and Narcius zipped over to Stocatin and Akintos so they could use his light. Stocastin couldn’t find his sword in the water, so Akintos drew his sword and killed the last monster. Exelda directed everyone, “Get the bodies out of the ocean before they morph back to life!” Exelda used her super strength to throw her two halves out, Kefalia flew hers to shore one at a time, Narcius used his super speed to drag his out, and Akintos and Stocastin helped each other haul a piece out. One of their pieces started to form in the water, so Akintos used his fireballs to make the water boil. While the other seven pieces on the shore writhed and gasped for air, the one in the ocean looked bothered but not dying. Kefalia helped Exelda glide through the water, and when Exelda reached the last monster, she threw it onto the beach. They watched as its respiration slowed down more and more, and when it finally stopped breathing, everyone breathed a sigh of relief!

Once again, the five heroes were out of breath, and they braced themselves in the water while they waited for air to flow normally again. After a minute or so, Akintos noted, “Our cart is broken, so that means we’ll have to walk all the way back.”

All five of them groaned, and Exelda relented to Akintos, “Okay, we’ll sleep in tomorrow and go to the palace in the afternoon!” The other four all sighed gratefully to hear that.

The Unsuper Heroes, Chapter 14

In an empty basement room, Dason sat bound but not gagged in a cage. Marcin entered with a plate that had cooked meat and leafy greens on it and jovially announced, “Dinner!” Dason responded by giving him a cold look, and Marcin surmised, “You’re still mad, huh?” Dason continued to give him the same stare. “That’s a yes. You’d be less angry if you ate something. You must be starving! I mean, you’ve refused every meal I’ve tried to give you since you got here!” He took a small pinch of vegetables and held it up to Dason’s mouth, but Dason didn’t seem tempted to eat it. “If you don’t eat, you’ll be too frail to go home.”

Dason finally spoke,”How do I know you haven’t poisoned it?”

Marcin reasoned, “If Mercinon wanted to have you killed, he’d throw you into the pit of jackals. That’s kind of his thing.” He wiggled the bit of food he had in front of his mouth, and Dason reluctantly took it. “There you go!”

After he swallowed it, Dason surprised himself with his observance, “That’s not bad! I wasn’t expecting it to have any flavor.”

“Well, you weren’t eating, so I didn’t think you’d be tempted by bland food! Here, try the beef!” Marcin held the meat up to him, and Dason curiously took a bite. When Dason made a face that indicated he enjoyed it, Marcin remarked, “It’s good, isn’t it?” Dason nodded while he chewed. “It’s a special recipe my mother passed down to me.”

“I take it you don’t have the same issue with your mother as your friend upstairs.” Dason took another bite of food.

Marcin laughed, “Oh, no! His mother was a tyrant! She was brutal, really terrorized her kids.”

After Dason swallowed his food, he probed, “If his mother’s cruelty had such a traumatic effect on him, how could he, in good conscious, do the same to the people of Chaos?”

“He’s not taking over to torture the polis!” Marcin defended him. “He wishes to restore a dignity to the throne that he believed was lost through your family’s mismanagement. He thinks that passing off some of your power to the Senate makes you look weak.”

“I meant the monsters,” Dason argued, “People are losing their homes and their lives all for one man’s primitive political views!”

Marcin shrugged. “You sent your armies out to war knowing some of them will die in the process. It’s the same thing really!”

“No, it’s not! My soldiers chose to enlist, and their sacrifices helped defend Chaos from a dangerous regime. Mercinon isn’t giving them a choice, and he’s destroying the kingdom! Establishing power through fear is vile and barbaric!” He took another bite of food and couldn’t help but relish it. “You know, if it weren’t for the whole treasonous kidnapping thing, I’d hire you as a royal chef in an instant!”

“Marcin! For Hera’s sake, untie his hands and let him feed himself!” Mercinon stood at the doorway with his arms folded.

Mercinon’s sudden appearance made both Dason and Marcin jump. Marcin nervously reacted, “Sire! You’re here?”

Mercinon raised his eyebrows at him. “Uh, yeah! I don’t live in my office; I can go other places!”

Marcin peered at Dason and turned back to Mercinon. “If I untie him, he might find a way to escape. I don’t know how, but he seems crafty enough to figure something out.” Dason nodded to acknowledge the truth of that statement.

“Whatever.” Mercinon shook his head and moved on. “So, am I safe to assume that the superpower jerks killed the Catoblepas?”

“You’re so smart!” Marcin praised him. “How did you know?”

Mercinon replied, “Well, if we were successful, you’d tell me right away… I hope!”

Mercin rationalized, “Hear me out! It could only get defeated by moonlight, and I set it loose early in the morning! I didn’t think there’d be a way around that!”

“Did you find a replacement before you cooked up a gourmet dinner for our hostage?” Mercinon asked.

“After I went to the hill, my girlfriend and I waited at the ransom drop site for hours,” Marcin answered. “I now they have a few days, but I thought they’d pay it right away.”

Mercinon berated him, “Marcin, you idiot! Have your girlfriend deal with the money while you deal with the monsters!”

“Yes, sire!” As Mercinon started to leave, Marcin whispered to Dason, “I made some dessert too, but I’ll have to bring it-.” Mercinon turned around and stared at him quizzically. “I wasn’t saying anything!” He scurried to join Mercinon, who rolled his eyes before he shut the door.

Exelda studied a couple of maps while Narcius, Stocastin, Akintos, and Kefalia all thumbed through different books. Akintos exclaimed, “Oh no! I hope we don’t run into this monster!”

Narcius leaned over Akintos’s shoulder and furrowed his brow. “That doesn’t look so dangerous!”

“That’s what he wants you to think!” Akintos expounded. “It lulls you into a false sense of security so it can strike without warning! Just one bite can infuse venom in your body that will kill you in just seconds! There’s only one cure too, and I don’t think we’ll be able to find it!”

“What is it?” Kefalia inquired.

Akintos dramatically revealed, “The tears of a virgin! I mean, how would we find a virgin who would volunteer to potentially face a monster?”

They slowly craned their heads towards Stocastin, who took offense to that. “Why do you assume I haven’t yet performed the human reproductive act?”

“That!” Narcius said in response to his question.

“Just because I don’t talk about it doesn’t mean I haven’t participated in provocative activities!” Stocastin huffed. “I choose to spend time doing more intellectual pursuits because I enjoy the challenges it provides so much more than a temporary social engagement. I’ve been approached by many amorous women, but I don’t get the same thrill from them as I do by solving an academic mystery. Anyone could take those women to bed; it’s not like it’s hard!”

Kefalia pointed out, “Actually, if it’s not hard, it won’t work!” Narcius and Akintos snickered, and Stocastin pouted.

Exelda grinned but didn’t say anything on the subject. Instead, she brought up, “I’m not seeing anywhere in Chaos where someone could store a bunch of monsters without people noticing. They must be in a place just outside of the city-state! I’m going to need more maps!”

At that moment, someone came up to their table and informed them. “We’re closing now, so please return your materials. Feel free to come back in the morning.”

“Wow, we’ve been here all day!” Kefalia noted.

“With all of this research we’ve done, I feel prepared to face anything!” Narcius declared as he helped gather up books.

Exelda gently reminded him, “Don’t get overly confident! So many of the monsters on this list we made sound easy to defeat, but it’s one of those things that’s easier said than done. Plus, you never want to underestimate your enemies- they may end up surprising you!”

As they put their borrowed material back on their shelves, Akintos put in, “Plus, we don’t have all of these random things it takes to kill all of these things! Like silver, lots of things get killed by silver. I had no idea it was such a deadly object!”

“I bet the palace has lots of silver!” Kefalia stated.

“Excellent point!” Stocastin reacted.

Kefalia seemed shocked at the concept. “It is?”

Stocastin told her, “It was bound to happen sooner or later.” She made a happy gesture in celebration of this feat, and then Stocastin went on, “Princess Aleta did say to come to her if we needed anything to do our job.”

“That’s true.” Exelda rubbed her chin contemplatively as they finished putting everything away. “And they would have the maps we need to look at too. Alright, we’ll go to the palace in the morning.”

“How about the afternoon?” Akintos suggested as they made their way to the exit. “I’m so tired!”

Exelda queried, “How can you sleep at a time like this?”

Akintos responded, “Simple! I close my eyes and…” He pretended to snore as they walked onto the street. With his eyes shut, he didn’t see the camel in front of him and crashed into it. “Who takes their camel out at night?”

The other four laughed as he picked himself up, and then he joined them in their mirth. When they continued on their way, Narcius conversed, “I won’t have any trouble sleeping tonight! I simply have to have my beauty sleep or else I…”

Suddenly, the streets came to a sudden halt as the ground shook beneath them! People all stared in the direction that the shock came from, and from their high vantage of the hilltop that the town rested on, everyone could see people running away from a large mass in the ocean. The five heroes all knew what that meant, and Akintos and Narcius both wailed, “No!”

“No beauty rest tonight!” Narcius grumped.

“Pull it together, guys!” Exelda addressed them. “The sooner we kill this thing, the sooner we can rest!” They all agreed and headed out towards the seaside.