Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chapter Seventeen - The Artifact

Shangri La, China
July 10th, 2022

 A man approached a small cottage in the middle of the Chinese town of Shangri La, a small settlement that was originally named something else before it was renamed in 2014 to capitalize on the popularity of the fictional mythological region. 

Inside the cottage, a man was talking with a customer who was on his way to retrieve some jewelry he had made. This man was Cameron Scott, a former museum curator who had moved from Great Britain to Shangri La to open a museum there. When that plan fell through he took to making unique specialized clothes and jewelry to sell for a steep price.

 "No no, they are done and will be waiting for you when you arrive. Just get here soon, okay?... I just want you to uh... see them..."

  ..."Yeah, their beauty is more enhanced when you see them just after being made.."
 "...No, I know you're not interested in their beauty and just want to give them to family and friends when you get back to the United States!"
 "Look, please get here immediately, I may need help to protect my investment- GAH! I mean, yeah, get here please. Now. I will sell them if you don't."

 Cameron hung up the phone before his customer could respond, then turned to the man who had walked into his home unannounced.

"Can I help you, young man?"

"Yes... my name is Tobias Corvan and I was told to pick up something very rare and valuable for my client. He told me he will pay handsomely for it."
"He also told me something else, but I would forget my own name if it wasn't on my coat! HAHA!... not funny? Yeah I would imagine so. So, Mr. Scott... where is the artifact?"

"I don't know what you are talking about, Mr. Corvan. I do not sell or trade ancient artifacts, I used to when I was a museum curator, but that past is behind me."
 "Mr. Scott... please don't lie to me. I know you're hiding the Artifact. I know it's here, a contact I have here said you were lifting a very heavy-looking chest into this house a few nights ago. So where is it?"

Tobias glared his eyes. "Is it... behind you? You said trading artifacts is your past and your past is behind you, so it must be... behind you!" 

Tobias walked over to an ancient-looking chest and opened it. Cameron had a worried look on his face as the man searched the chest. "It's not in here. I don't see it, so it's not here."

"Oh well." Cameron said. "Are you sure your contact was correct? There are some foggy nights here in Shangri La. Maybe he saw someone else carry a chest into their house."
 "I suppose so. Besides, this chest was gold, and nearly indestructible. It has to be somewhere around here though... but where." Tobias stopped walking and looked at the floor.
"Well darn it. I suppose what I'm looking for is not here, unless you're hiding it elsewhere. What do you say, Cameron? Are you hiding it somewhere else?"

"No. I'm not hiding anything, and I still don't know what you're talking about."

"Very well, then. I'm done here I suppose."
 Tobias walked out into the town, smiling all the way. "You know, I still wonder what that second thing my client told me to do was. I am so forgetful. Goodbye, Cameron."

 "Whew" Cameron said. "Good thing, too. Now I can tell my customer I'm sorry for acting rude to him."

 Cameron took his phone out and started searching through the list of recent calls when a number he'd never seen popped up as an incoming call. He answered it, and heard a small chuckle.
 "Hello?! Who is this?!" Cameron asked through speakerphone.

 "It's me, Old Chum. I just realized what the second thing I was supposed to do! I was supposed to tell you that I left something in that chest in your living room when I was looking through it!"

"What did you leave in my living roo"

 "That...." Tobias said as and explosion ripped the house apart, throwing pieces of brick and wood miles across the Shang countryside.
There it was. Tobias had figured the artifact was under the floor board, because he had stepped on a loose flooring as he left the cottage. He wanted to play to his own sense of humor to get it, and somehow knew that the explosion wouldn't damage it.
Tobias walked into the crater that was Cameron Scott's house and opened the golden chest at the center. Inside was the very thing he came all the way from Twinbrook to get: it was a strange piece of material, metal that he had never seen. He quickly grabbed it and put it in his pocket, then climbed the crater to call someone.
 "I have the artifact, my friend. Where do I deliver it to?" 

"You have done well in getting it, Tobias. I saw the explosion from satellite view myself. Stay there, I will retrieve you and the artifact very shortly. Accessing transportation field... now."

And just like that, Tobias and the artifact he was sent to retrieve was gone.

It was a few moments later that a man in a brown jacket ran up to the wrecked house. He was on his way there already to purchase a special series of sapphire, ruby, and amethyst necklaces for his friends and cousins back home, and had heard the explosion a few minutes before, but did not see who or what started it. He stopped short when he saw the house burned to the ground and no one in or around it.

The man climbed down the crater that the house had become, and spotted the golden chest lying there. He stepped up to it and, using gloves to open it because he didn't want to get them burned from the fire-heated object. He was surprised to see nothing inside.
 "What the? It's empty?" The man said. "What could have happened here? Who could have stolen what was in this chest?!"

He heard sirens and, not wanting to look like the one who caused the explosion, threw his gloves in the fire and ran down the street. He had the urge to call his friend, who had a genius-level intellect, and ask her if she knew anything about ancient golden treasure chests. 

 "Hey Annabelle, I-"

"TOM!" He heard his friend's voice frantically yell out his name through the phone. In the background he heard crying, like someone was injured. "I've been trying to get a hold of you all day! You need to get back home immediately!"

"What's going on?"

"It's about Keera, Tom. She was hurt... bad."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chapter Sixteen - Waking Nightmares

 Nightmare turned around and sat on her throne, looking at the still-shocked Annabelle standing in front of her.

"Confused?" Nightmare said. "I don't blame you. I would be confused too if I were in your position. You see, Miss Kethrin, I was sent here many years ago by the Magistrate of Torra Sev to observe the planet, but my ship hit a lightning storm and I crashed into the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico. That was 1947."

"You were the alien recovered by the government?"

"Not really. I escaped. My allies aboard the ship were injured in the impact, and their bodies were taken to a military base outside the city of Roswell. With my enhanced vision I saw them being ripped up, dissected alive. With my enhanced hearing I heard their screams. They looked more alien than you and I, and even I do not know why that was."

"I ran for months, hiding anywhere. Eventually I stumbled upon a magical book in the manor we were in... after I scared off the old owner, of course. I used the manor as a base but used the spell book to conjure up my own domain, the domain you see now."

"Then why were you a unicorn? Why did you attack the people here in the fifties?"

"I cast that Animale spell on myself, and remembering an image of a unicorn from one of the many shops I hid in, that was the form I took. I spent a couple years training myself, learning spells and learning how to focus them. Then I attacked, scaring the townsfolk just for a spot of fun. They were able to stop me by banishing me here until the year 2000, when a scientist used my spell book to merge science and magic. He wanted to create a new weapon, one that brought nature upon the world, and he used my spells to do so."

"Jack..." Annabelle said, quietly.

"The man released me from my prison here and I gave him an ultimatum, in exchange for my spell book back I would tell him everything he wanted to know about my... OUR race, the Torrans. He wanted me to come with him, but I did not, so he told me he was going to search for more aliens."

"That's... that's how he knew about me!!" Annabelle said. "He told Tom he wanted to take over the planet Torra Sev and use their technology to create a new Earth order here! You betrayed your own species!"

"Yes I know. His idea of megalomania intrigued me, and it made me realize I wanted to take over this world in the name of Torra Sev. I searched for you, and I wanted you to join me, to help conquer this planet. It will be a new Torran empire, right here on Earth!"
"I don't think so!" Annabelle said. Suddenly she lifted her hands and said "CORI TOMRANO!"
"My escape spell? YOU READ MY BOOK!"

"You're damned right I did. I knew I would have to get out of here myself." Annabelle replied. Nightmare stood to her feet angrily, but became worried as her small domain became brightly lit with magic.


There was a bright flash of light, and Annabelle felt like she was being lifted off the ground.

Annablle closed her eyes when the bright light enveloped her. She wondered where she was and a short glance at the lighthouse off in the distance told her that she was just south of her home, on a private beach. She blinked a few times to see right and when she opened her eyes on the last blink she saw a massive black hoof head right for her chest.

Nightmare followed her and had taken on the form of the unicorn again. Annabelle was knocked back by the kick to her chest and fell to the ground, getting embedded into the sand.

"You may know a few of my spells, Annabelle." Nightmare said. "But they are cheap parlor tricks compared to my true power. I will kill you, Annabelle. I will kill everyone you care for. SHASKA DO'JHEM!"

Suddenly Annabelle was lifted off the sand right in front of the monster. The creature's eyes glowed and Annabelle felt the power of the curse as it ran through the veins in her body. Her legs were feeling petrified, and if she didn't act fast, it wouldn't be too long before she was turned to stone.

Just as her vocal cords hardened, Annabelle screamed out a pair of words. "CORVI NOD'RAMO". Suddenly the feeling returned to her legs and body, and she dropped from the Unicorn's grasp.

"THAT counter-spell I learned from watching Night of the Killer Unicorn, one of the few good scenes in that crappy movie! You know, the special effects were terrible, they made you look like a puppet!"


"You don't scare me anymore, Nightmare. I thought you were an immortal creature, but it turns out you're just a cheap costume hiding an ugly brat!"

Nightmare teleported back a ways, and screamed "I SHALL DRIVE MY HORN THROUGH YOUR HEART!" 

Suddenly, the creature started running towards her, it's head angled down for the kill. Just as it reached Annabelle, however, she pulled a strange vial out of her pocket and slammed it into the ground around her, enveloping her in a cloud of white gas, and when Nightmare reached her location, she was shocked to find nothing there.

"WHAT?!" Nightmare screamed.

"Annabelle! ANNABELLE! WHERE ARE YOU ANNIE?! You think you can escape?! You think you can run?! No matter where you go I will find you, Annabelle! I will find you and RIP YOUR HEART OUT!"

 "Psst. Hey."

Suddenly Annabelle revealed herself, after using the potion to vanish she quickly jumped out of the way as the monster barreled down on her, then slowly walked around Nightmare to get on her back instead of escaping as the monster had thought.Nightmare immediately started bucking around, intending to throw her off.

Annabelle held on for a few seconds, but relented to the monster's movements, flying off the beast's back and into the sand, but not before making one last reach.

 Annabelle was thrown a good four feet behind the creature, but her alien biology allowed her to take the brunt of the impact with little injury. Throwing her off weakened Nightmare somehow, and the unicorn fell on her own back, legs kicking. Annabelle stood up and watched Nightmare's struggle to back on all fours.

Nightmare was finally able to stand after a few seconds. Realizing that she was defeated, the creature ran across the beach, ready to retreat, but something affected her, something was gone.
"My horn. Where is it? Where did it go?!"

"Why do you think I climbed on your back, Nightmare?"
"NO!" The monster screamed as it realized Annabelle wanted to get thrown off her back, as the force of the dismount would be enough to rip the horn off if she held on hard enough. Nightmare's inability to feel pain as a Unicorn was the reason she didn't notice it was gone and blood was pooling down her face from the hole in the top of her head.

The horn that Annabelle had ripped off the head of the monster started to fade away in a pile of dust. Nightmare could do nothing but watch as her means of power in the form of the Unicorn vanished in front of her eyes and from the hands of the teenager who had bested her.

  "You haven't stopped me." Nightmare said, angrily.

"I took your power from you, Nightmare, at least your unicorn self."

"You little fool!"

"I've been afraid of unicorns my entire life, do you really think I wouldn't research how to stop them? Stop you?" Annabelle wiped the rest of the dust on her shirt, then continued. "With that horn gone it's only a matter of a few seconds before you change back to your normal Torran self."

  Nightmare had changed back, as Annabelle predicted, but she looked more menacing than before. Thanks to her source of magic being gone as a unicorn, she was not giving off energy, an unstable amount that had built up for over seventy years.

"You are smarter than you look, Annabelle. And yet extremely dense as I said before. You realize this whole damn tactic is futile, right?"

Nightmare approached Annabelle with an angered look in her eyes. Every step brought her agony as she walked. She realized that she would have to get back to the spell book and fight another day.

 "This is a mere speed bump in my progress to conquer this world, Annabelle. Right now I'm going to go back to that mansion and get my spell book, and all this will happen over and over again until one of us is dead. You won't stop me, you won't slow me down. This is all futile."
 "Actually, no."  Annabelle replied with a cold stare. "Just as I had read the escape spell, I also planned on something else. Before I stepped into the portal to your domain I decided to leave something behind so the spell book didn't get into the wrong hands, a little something I had taken from my eccentric inventor of a mother, just in case I needed to stop you permanently, Nightmare."

"What are you talking about."

"Didn't I tell you I have a genius-level intellect?"

 Back at the manor, in the room with the spell book and the portal to Nightmare's domain, the "something" Annabelle had referred to was a small detonation device planted next to the book. It was a few seconds later before a massive explosion tore apart the upper floor of the mansion, destroying the attic and the spell book with it.
 "NO!" Nightmare screamed out as she felt her means of magic get wiped out in a cloud of fire and smoke. "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

Annabelle realized that the villain was giving off a massive amount of energy and escaped the area, Nightmare's scream echoing across the ocean and among Sunset Valley.

  "RAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!" Nightmare screamed. Suddenly, her eyes glowed brighter and she violently exploded, sending dust and sand across the beach.


Annabelle quickly escaped the blast radius and jumped into the ocean to avoid being hit by fallen rubble. She stayed there for a few minutes, then sat down on the beach, relieved. She couldn't believe that she was able to face her fears, defeat an evil being that had been on earth since the '40s, and survived with only a couple hundred bruises. She stayed there until the sun came up, waiting for any police or fireman who would show up.

No one did show, however. And Annabelle realized that this town was more laid back than she thought. Or they could have been investigating the explosion at the manor...
"Annabelle?!" Tom was searching for his friend in the manor on the hill, but was able to escape just in time before Annabelle's explosive went off. He had heard another explosion a few miles away but didn't know which direction it came from. After searching across town, Tom finally found Annabelle on the same beach, watching the ocean.

"Hey Annie, are you okay?"

"I'm fine Tom." Annabelle said. "In fact, I think I'm doing better than I've ever been. I fought the unicorn, the one I feared. Still afraid of them though."

"I wish I would have been here. I wish I would have believed in you when you needed me to."

"Tom, you don't need to kick yourself over this. Looking back, even I think the idea of a killer unicorn was a little off the wall. Good thing she was actually a ruthless magical Alien wannabe dictator!"

"What?!" Tom shook his head, "No really... WHAT?!"

"I'll explain on the way back home. I've had one heck of a night, and all I want to do is go to sleep."

"What about your nightmares?" Tom asked, knowing that she hadn't been getting much sleep for a week because of them.

 Annabelle looked past Tom to the rising sun and said "I don't think I'm going to be having any more nightmares about evil unicorns. At least for the time being. I think I've wiped my mind of them."

 "Let's go home, Tom. Okay? And thanks."

"For what?" Tom asked, puzzled.

"For that invisibility potion, the one you gave me a couple weeks back to pull that prank at school off? It helped me in more ways than I can say. "


The five teens and Keera stood in front of their house after Maria left for work. An hour had passed since Tom and Annabelle went home, and instead of sleeping Annabelle decided to  enjoy the day with her friends and family.

"So what are we going to do?" Scarlett asked the group.

"I don't know... we can go down to the arcade!" Kelly said. "I think I finally got the Gumball machine working! It only needs a few kicks! And unlike someone I know I have the common sense to get out of the way before the thing spills out everywhere."

"No, I mean... for life. What are we going to do when we graduate in a month? Where are we going to go? What are we going to do?" Scarlett asked.

"Frankly my dear I don't give a damn." Tom said, "Just as long as we are all doing it together, as family and friends."

"No!" Annabelle said, slightly angered. "Just as family. I think by now we're classified as such. We are going to find new places, new people, and hopefully no new villains or unicorns!"

 "Well if we're going to find a new life somewhere, I need you to do one thing, Annabelle, It's pretty important."

 "What Tom, what is it?"
 "We are going to greener pastures, right? I'm sure you're an expert on them, so lead the way!"