can we take a moment to just think about how incredibly scary magical healing is in-context?
You get your insides ripped open but your friend waves his hands and your flesh just pulls back together, agony and evisceration pulling back to a ‘kinda hurts’ level of pain and you’re physically whole, with the 100% expectation that you’ll get back up and keep fighting whatever it was that struck you down the first time.
You break your arm after falling somewhere and after you’re healed instead of looking for ‘another way around’ everybody just looks at you and goes “okay try again”.
You’ve been fighting for hours, you’re hungry, thirsty, bleeding, crying from exhaustion, and a hand-wave happens and only two of those things go away. you’re still hungry, you’re still weak from thirst, but the handwave means you have ‘no excuse’ to stop.
You act out aggressively maybe punch a wall or gnash your teeth or hit your head on something and it’s hand-waved because it’s ‘such a small injury you probably can’t even feel it anymore’ but the point was that you felt it at all?
Your pain literally means nothing because as long as you’re not bleeding you’re not injured, right? Here drink this potion and who cares about the emotional exhaustion of that butchered village, why are you so reserved in camp don’t you think it’s fun retelling that time you fell through a burning building and with a hand-wave you got back up again and ran out with those two kids and their dog?
Older warriors who get a shiver around magic-users not because of the whole ‘fireball’ thing but the ‘I don’t know what a normal pain tolerance is anymore’ effect of too much healing. Permanent paralysis and loss of sensation in limbs is pretty much a given in the later years of any fighter’s life. Did I have a stroke or did the mage just heal too hard and now this side of my face doesn’t work? No i’m not dead from the dragon’s claws but I can’t even bend my torso anymore because of how the scar tissue grew out of me like a vine.
Magical healing is great and keeps casualties down.
That stuff is scary.
shit just got creepy
Or maybe magical healing doesn’t leave scars or damage. It is magical, after all.
So after years of fighting, your skin is still perfect. Unmarred. In fact, you’re actually in better shape than regular people who don’t get magical healing when they fall out of trees or walk into doors or cut themselves while cooking dinner. You’re in such good shape that it’s unnatural.
And the really good healing magic takes away more than just the obvious injuries. You first start noticing it after about ten years when you go home and haha, you look the same age as your younger sibling, that’s funny.
Not so funny ten years later when they look older. Or forty years later, when you bury them still looking like you did at twenty. When do you retire from this gig anyway? How much damage is too much damage?
How many times do you glimpse the afterlife, or worse, how many times don’t you? What do you live through, get used to, show no outward sign of except a perfectly healthy body, too perfect for any person living a real life.
How many times are you sitting in a tavern with your friends and you hear the whispers, because the people around you know. How can they not know? Your weapons shine with enchantments and your armour is better than the best money can buy and there is not a damn scar on you. You hardly seem human to them.
How long before you hardly seem human to yourself?
And you find yourself struggling to remember the places where the scars should have been, phantom pains that wake you screaming, touching all the old injuries and finding nothing there. It’s all in your head. Was it ever anywhere else?
How long before you’re fighting a lich or a vampire or some other undead monster and you wonder…
…what makes me so different?
Here we go someone who GETS IT.
im tired of “psychic powers misdiagnosed as psychosis” stories instead i want actual psychotic characters with psychic powers being constantly irritated as fuck because they cant tell whether their visions are prophetic or hallucinations and if the chosen one thing is a delusion of grandeur or not
They have a portal that leads to a fantastical world in their closet, but they don’t know if it’s real or not. It could be, but it could also be their brain screwing with them by taking forgotten bits of that one time they read Narnia. They low key sometimes throw trash through it and it seems to disappear but also sometimes it comes back like wtf is this, make up your mind fake portal.
their best friend comes over and is like holy FUCK dude narnia’s in your closet and they’re like lmao i know and the best friend is like what?? and they’re like i told you about that hallucination right?? and the friend is like no narnia is literally in your closet and they’re like SHIT DUDE I’VE BEEN IGNORING IT FOR MONTHS BC I FIGURED I JUST NEEDED TO ADJUST MY ANTIPSYCHOTICS
They go to their doctor and say “yo I don’t think my meds are working, cuz a giant black wolf is following me around and crowd keeps appearing????” Their doc just looks at them. “So that’s not your dog then?” “Oh shit, it’s real !? So it HAS been stealing the food from the fridge!”
i’m so here for a psychotic chosen one who ignores all budding signs of magic because they’re just like “yeah, same shit As Always”
I wonder if, in superhero universes, the villains ever get contacted by those “Make a Wish Foundation” and similar people.
I mean, the heroes do, of course they do, kids who want to meet Spiderman or Superman or get to be carried by the Flash as he runs through Central City for just thirty seconds.
But surely there are also the kids, who – because they are kids and sometimes kids are just weird – decide that what they really, really want is to meet a supervillain. Because he’s scary or she’s awesome or that freeze ray is just really, really cool, you know?
Oh, man, that would absolutely be a thing. The heroes would be so weirded out by it. The villains with codes of ethics would totally band together to force the villains without one (should they be the one requested) to do their part for the cause.
But imagine the person who has to track down the villains and organise everything?
Like, the first time it happens, no one actually thinks it’s possible, but one of the newbies volunteers to at least try. They get lucky, the kid wants to meet one of the villains who is well known to have a personal code of ethics (eg one of the rogues), and it takes them weeks to track the villain down to this one bar they’ve been seen at a few times, plus a week of staking out said bar, but they finally find them.
So they approach the villain, very politely introduce themselves and explain the situation, finishing with an assurance that, should the villain agree, no law enforcement or heroes will be informed of the meeting.
The villain, assuming it’s a joke, laughs in their face.
At this point, the poor volunteer, who has giving up weeks of their time and no small amount of effort to track down this villain, all so a sweet little girl can meet the person who somehow inspired them, well, at this point the employee sees red.
They explode, yelling at this villain about the little girl who, for some unknown reason, absolutely loved them, had a hand-made stuffed toy of them and was inspired by their struggle to keeping fighting her own and wasn’t the villain supposed to have ethics? The entire bar is witness to this big bad villain getting scolded by some bookish nobody a foot shorter than them.
When the volunteer is done, the villain calmly knocks back their drink, grips the volunteers shoulder and drags them outside. The bar’s patrons assume that person will never be seen again, the volunteer included. But once they’re outside, the villain apologises for their assumption, asks for the kid’s details so they can drop by in the near future, not saying when for obvious reasons. They also give the very relieved volunteer a phone number to call if someone asks for them again.
A week later, the little girl’s room is covered in villain merchandise, several expensive and clearly stolen gifts and she is happily clutching a stack of signed polaroids of her and the villain.
The next time a kid asks to meet a villain, guess who gets that assignment?
Turns out, the first villain was quite touched by the experience of meeting their little fan, and word has gotten around. The second villain happily agrees when they realise it’s the same volunteer who asked the other guy. Unfortunately, one of the heroes sees the villain entering the kid’s hospital and obviously assumes the worst. They rush in, ready to drag the villain out, but the volunteer stands in their way. The hero spends five minutes getting scolded for trying to stop the villain from actually doing a good thing and almost ruining the kid’s wish. The volunteer gets a reputation among villains as someone who can not only be trusted with personal contact numbers but who will do everything they can to keep law enforcement away during their visits.
The volunteer has a phonebook written in cypher of all the villain’s phone numbers, with asterixes next to the ones to call if any other villains give them trouble.
Around the office, they gain the unofficial job title of The Villain Wrangler.
The heroes are genuinely flabbergasted by The Villain Wrangler. At first, some of the heroes try to reason with them.
Heroes: “Can’t you, just, give us their contact details? They’ll never even have to know it was you.”
The Villain Wrangler: “Yeah sure, <rollseyes> because all these evil geniuses could never possibly figure out that it’s me who happens to be the common thread in the sudden mass arrests. Look man, even if it wouldn’t get me killed, it would disappoint the kids. You wouldn’t want to disappoint the kids would you?”
Heroes: “… no~ but…”
The Villain Wrangler: “Exactly.”
Eventually, one of the anti-hero types gets frustrated, and decides to take a stand. They kidnap the Villain Wrangler and demand that they give up the contents of the little black book of Villains, or suffer the consequences. It’s For the Greater Good, the anti-hero insists as they tie the Villain Wrangler to a pillar.
The Villain Wrangler: “You complete idiot, put me back before someone figures out that I’m missing.”
Anti-hero: “…excuse me?”
The Villain Wrangler: “Ugh, do I have to spell this out for you? Do you actually want your secret base to be wiped off the map? With us in it? Sugarsticks, how long has it been? If they get suspicious, they check in, and then if I miss a check-in, they tend to come barging into wherever I am just to prove that they can, even if they figure out that they’re not being threatened by proxy. Suffice to say, Auntie Muriel really regretted throwing my phone into the pool when she strenuously objected to me answering it during family time. If they think for even one moment that I’ve given them up, they won’t hesitate to obliterate both of us from their potential misery. You do know some of the people in my book have like missiles and djinni and elemental forces at their disposal, right?”
Anti-hero: “Wait, what? I thought they trusted you?!”
The Villain Wrangler: “Trust is such a strong word!”
Anti-hero: “Wait, wha-” <slumps over, dart sticking out of neck>
The Villain Wrangler: “Thanks. I thought they were going to hurt me.”
Villain: “You did well. You kept them distracted, and gave us time to follow your signal.” <cuts Villain Wrangler free>
The Villain Wrangler: <rubbing circulation back into limbs> “Yeah well, you know me, I do whatever I have to. So I’ll see you Wednesday at four at St Martha’s? I’ve got an 8yo burns unit patient recovering from her latest batch of skin grafts who could really use a pep talk.”
Villain: “… of course. Yes… I… yes.”
The Villain Wrangler: “I just think you could really reach her, you know?”
Villain: <unconsciously runs fingers over mask> “I… yes, but, what should I say?”
The Villain Wrangler: “Whatever advice you think you could have used the most just after.”
Villain: <hoists Anti-hero over shoulder almost absently> “….yes.”
The Villain Wrangler wasn’t lying to the Anti-hero. They know that the more ruthless villains would not hesitate if they thought for one second that the Anti-hero would betray them.
But this is not the first time the Villain Wrangler has gone to extreme lengths to protect their identities.
Trust is a strong word. The Villain Wrangler earned it, and is terrified by what it could mean.
Okay this absolutely needs to be a full-length novel or movie, immediately.
But what about vampire history teachers. Vampires who read something from a text book then proceed to light the book on fire and throw it out the window because “No. that’s not even close to what really happened. Listen up nerds I’m about to teach you what really happened in France during the revolution”
I need this as a series
Vampires sharing the recipe for Greek fire.
Vampires speaking in dead languages.
Vampires being able to translate untranslatable scripts.
Vampires who react to straightwashing historical figures like “Are you kidding me everyone knew that man was queer!”
Vampires from cultures who were once antagonistic towards each other stubbornly maintaining a friendship that’s lasted longer than their civilizations.
Vampires who honour forgotten deities you won’t find in mythology books.
Also, vampires who secretly saved stuff from the Library of Alexandra.
A vampire show that does not revolve all around sex and eternal cursed love.
nerd vampire whose knowledge of current events is terrible but they can always remember everything that’s considered “history” so they have a super-detailed knowledge of everything up to about thirty years ago and then ?????
vampire who couldn’t tell you what caravaggio was known for but duelled with him at least three times and slept with him at least ten. “cara-who OH YOU MEAN MICHAEL yeah he was cool”
vampire who spent 100 years in a convent and is still so bitter that in all that time they never made her mother superior “GODDAMMIT I HAD SENIORITY! I HAD SENIORITY!” “okay so first off janet, that was six hundred years ago, but more importantly, maybe if you didn’t always start those complaints off with blasphemy…”
vampire professor who just sort of showed up at oxford when it was founded and is still there (and nobody’s noticed because he still never actually shows up to his lectures)
vampire politician who lifts all their campaign speeches wholesale from speeches given 200 years ago and just waits for someone to catch them out (nobody ever does they’re prime minister and their approval ratings are through the roof)
WAIT I HAVE MORE
queer vampire who constantly talks about the fashion for straightness and you need to be really careful because if you tell them straight is default they WILL scream at you for five days straight about what a modern concept heterosexuality is
vampire hoarder who has an entire town where they just kept having to buy new houses to keep their stuff in and some of it’s probably worth tens of millions by now but you’ll never find it in among the 1950s kitschy kitten sculptures and boxes of newspaper (the newspaper is a wonderful mix of yesterday’s guardian and daily courants from 1725)
vampire sailor from manderville’s time who just has so many stories and some of them might even be true
vampire bluestocking girl who took to the internet like a fish to water and spends her whole unlife engaging reddit antifeminists about women’s rights because that’s one fight she’s determined to see through. also with the advent of cheap dyes she literally wears blue socks every day and hopes one day someone gets the joke
vampire doctor who just gets SO CONFUSED about the literature because do you know how hard it is to keep up with medicine kevin? when i got my doctorate we thought leeches were good and then they were bad and now they’re good again? i was published in issue one of the lancet kevin that is 387 lancets kevin how the hell am i meant to remember which one’s current kevin why are they saying cannabis is good for pain like this is news??? (but also lives in a state of wonderment every day in hospital because wow look at all this stuff we can do now look at it kevin!)
entire coven of vampires constantly quibbling over manners because they’re all from different periods: “HATS OFF AT TABLE” “SCREW YOU LEONARD ONLY PEASANTS EAT BAREHEADED” “TABITHA THAT HASN’T BEEN GOOD MANNERS SINCE THE 1500S NOBODY HAS LICE ANY MORE” “IT ISN’T ABOUT LICE LEONARD IT’S ABOUT GOOD MANNERS YOU NEED TO HAVE GOOD MANNERS WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE OVER FOR DINNER” “I SWEAR TO GOD TABITHA IF YOU MAKE THAT PUN ONE MORE TIME I WILL SHOVE YOUR STUPID HAT DOWN YOUR THROAT”
Inspired by various tumblr posts.
Humans quickly get a reputation among the interplanetry alliance and the reputation is this: when going somewhere dangerous, take a human.
Humans are tough. Humans can last days without food. Humans heal so fast they pierce holes in themselves or inject ink for fun. Humans will walk for days on broken bones in order to make it to safety. Humans will literally cut off bits of themselves if trapped by a disaster.
You would be amazed what humans will do to survive. Or to ensure the survival of others they feel responsible for.
That’s the other thing. Humans pack-bond, and they spill their pack-bonding instincts everywhere. Sure it’s weird when they talk sympathetically to broken spaceships or try to pet every lifeform that scans as non-toxic. It’s even a little weird that just existing in the same place as them for long enough seems to make them care about you. But if you’re hurt, if you’re trapped, if you need someone to fetch help?
You really want a human.
they are a witch’s two familars and have never gotten along, but one day the witch disappears and so they must go on a cross-country search in order to bring her home. along the way, the cat learns to loosen up while the crow gains worldly experience, and they both become better friends
Okay so I found my dead grandfather’s journal from 56 years ago. This is some old stuff, okay, and I was like yeah I’m gonna read a page or two.
Basically he wrote down this road trip he did with a friend of his (name is Giulio) but at some point it gets so weird.
I’ll try my best to translate it from italian to english (english is not my first language) and well, I’m also having a hard time trying to read my gandpa’s writing cause he wrote like a drunk snail.
Now, beware, my grandfather was an italian man dedicated to work, church, work and work, who believed in the traditional family and all that Jazz. But at some point I reach this part where he writes: “yesterday me and Giulio slept in the same tent as mine was stolen at the gas station. As it was really cold, we slept close. In the middle of the night I realized that the warmth next to me did not belong to my Nadia (his fiancé at the time, my grandmother). It was the most intense feeling I’ve ever felt”.
And I was like allright that’s some weird no homo bullshit but who cares.
BUT THEN IT JUST GETS WORSE.
“I was having a cigarette whilst Giulio was asleep in the car, having a nap before we hit the road again. In the midst of the smoke of my tobacco, I saw his face and thought that the woman who is going to marry him will be lucky”.
Grandpa, what the hell?
BUT OH NO IT JUST GETS BETTER.
“We shared a bed. Old motel did not have spare rooms, it was awkward at first. Then I started thinking that the warmth of Giulio’s body is somehow becoming more familiar to me then Nadia’s.”
Now, I have like seventy more pages of this goddamn journal but I am pretty fucking sure my gandfather had the worst crush over his best friend.
Due to popular demand I have translated some highlights cause damn it gets gayer and gayer.
So at one point my grandpa kind of stopped talking about Giulio and I was like (there we go, denial. Been there done that).
Then out of fucking nowhere, date 23 of may 1960, my grandpa writes:
“We finally reached Palermo. It is a beautiful city, full of art and good food, tomorrow we will visit some of the churches. I am now writing in our hotel room, a cheap place that still looks lovely in it’s way. Giulio is taking a shower. The noise of the water is keeping me awake, although I suspect that’s not the only reason I can’t shut my brain down”.
First of all, my grandpa wrote like a fucking professional writer. Second of all… grandpa, you can’t sleep cause your best friend is naked in the shower?
Anyway, they visit Palermo, everything is nice, they hit the road again and tHEN THIS HAPPENS.
“We stopped in a little bar. We ate something, chatted with the bartender and asked him directions for our next stop. We then had a few beers to celebrate our good times. A young girl then sat on the stool next to mine: she told me her name, Enrica, and she was pretty and lovely in her dress. Yet I did not make conversation with her and dismissed her after she made her intentions somewhat obvious. The main reason is, of course, my devotion and love for my Nadia. The second reason is that Giulio was watching me.”
AND HE JUST SWITHES TOPICS TALKING ABOUT THIS MOTEL THEY FOUND AND FOR FUCK’S SAKE GRANDPA YOU CAN’T JUST STOP THERE CAUSE THIS IS SOUNDING LIKE A GREAT FUCKING FANFICTION.
My granfather was totally pining after Giulio.
Now, there are like fifteen pages where he doesn’t really say anything about Giulio, he talks about cities they want to visit and that their car broke down in the middle of the street and got some help from, and I quote, “a handsome young man, probably not older than 16″. Like, really grandpa?
This is the last thing I read.
“I believe Giulio will have my back no matter what happens. He made that much clear.
-What happens after this trip? -he asked me at the reastaurant where we had dinner.
-We go back to our lives, I have my workshop to look after.
-And Nadia. You are going to marry her, I hope.
-Of course. -I answered, as my love for Nadia is strong -Will you be at the wedding?
-If you want me to.
-Of course I do.
-Then I’ll be there. By your side, as usual. That much wont ever change
I am now realising that I’ve never felt such intense feelings for anyone before, because my love for Nadia is strong but yet this is a different emotion. He is my brother, my friend and a half of my heart. That will never end. It almost seems like I am enamoured.”
And he then starts talking about the food of the reastaurant.
MY GRANDPA TOTALLY WENT INTO BRO MODE. I AM DYING INSIDE CAUSE WTF AM I DISCOVERING?! THIS IS SOME PARABATAI BULLSHIT
I am so going to translate the whole thing and publish it changing the names.
And the journal it’s not even over.
I am going to be serious for like ten seconds: I have finished reading the journal and I am now going to write the last bits I chose to share. Let me be clear, I DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO USE THIS AS A FANFICTION IDEA. I saw many many tags saying: fanfiction AU, ideas for fanfiction, remember for fanfiction and so on. Don’t. Do not think this is a good prompt cause this is memories. My grandfather wrote that stuff and the only reason I am sharing it is cause first, it’s absolutely lovely, two: it may help someone who has feeling for a friend and such and is confused about it, especially if their friend is of the same sex. But this stuff actually happened and I do not want anyone to think about it as a good idea for a fic. I’m happy people are liking this and I am happy people are invested in my grandpa’s adventures, but have respect.
Now, in the journal there are also many thoughts he had about society, and work and culture that were really interesting, and so many poems for my Grandmother who were the most beautiful things I ever read. It was obvious he was in love with her deeply. I have decided to keep them private.
On the fourth of june they are in Venice and my grandfather writes:
“I have spent many beautiful days traveling Italy with Giulio, going back and forth the country, savoring every single thing this expereince gave us. We are now in Venezia, it is as beautiful as my Nadia told me. So much art, and incredibile food. The Canal Grande is wonderful at night. I walked with Giulio alongside the Canal for hours, not really speaking, as he told me about his favorite moments of the trip. I simply listened, enjoying the sound of his voice”
The page ends like that, he then starts writing two days later, talking about the presents he picked for Nadia and his family. My grampa then talks about Giulio one more time.
“It has occured to me of how lucky I am. I did not only travelled for this beautiful country, but I did so with my dearest friend. I am grateful to God for this opportunity, as Giulio is the kindest soul. We are kindred spirits, I know we will never be separated. Such feelings make me feel horribly guilty. In a way, it almost feels as if I am somehow betraying Nadia. But I would never do such a thing, I am sure of that. I love her. And yet, I feel dirty”.
He then completely stops talking about Giulio. The pages go on and on, talking about his trip, the last cities he visited, the places he saw. Then I reached the last page and I am still shaking.
“We are going back to Rome, the travelling is reaching it’s end. Giulio is driving. I do not know what to do with myself and my heavy heart. The feelings I have haunted my dreams. And yet I can’t bring myself to feel sorry for them. They are intense and they are shaping my soul in a new form I never experienced before. There are moments when I catch myself staring at his profile, with the low sun behind him. Those are the moments I shall treasure the most. This journey will be in my heart forever, in my memories and on this pages. I feel like I am a different man, I hope a better one perhaps. I am going to see my Nadia again, then marry her, and I know we will be happy. Because I love her with every fiber of my being. And in the same way I will always think of him.
June, 31, 1960″
My grandfather was a kind, tender man. He loved deeply my beautiful grandmother, they lived together happily for almost 50 years. My grandfather was a man who loved with all his heart and the fact that I had the chance to find out about this side of him makes me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
I don’t know what happened to Giulio, I never met him nor heard his name, so the whole thing remains misterious.
But I will say this much:
My grandfather’s name was Sergio Milani, he died three years ago because of the Parkinson illness. He was a loving, kind man, who loved his family and loved his wife.When he died, he was cremated, as he requested. I have decided to burn this journal and to throw the ashes in the sea where we once threw my grandfather’s. This journal belongs to him, and I will give it back.
Thank you all for the kind words (I received many lovely messages).
In fairy tales and fantasy, two types of people go in towers: princesses and wizards.
Princesses are placed there against their will or with the intention of ‘keeping them safe.’
This is very different from wizards, who seek out towers to hone their sorcery in solitude.
I would like a story where a princess is placed in an abandoned tower that used to belong to a wizard, and so she spends long years learning the craft of wizardry from the scraps left behind and becomes the most powerful magic wielder the world has seen in centuries, busts out of the tower and wreaks glorious, bloody vengeance on the fools that imprisoned her.
That would be my kind of story.
Princess Talia was fourteen, her eldest sister was placed in a tower.
Adina was eighteen by then, and so of a marriageable age. She had grown quite
beautiful, though she was more willful than winsome, and she did not care for
the notion of the tower very much at all. Their mother did her best to persuade
her on the subject. After all, the queen herself had been eighteen when her own
parents had sent her to live in that very same tower, to be safely tucked away
until her husband could be chosen, and then ride out to claim her. A tradition
going back ages and ages.
such a sight,” their mother said, wistfully. “I had been alone for so
long. Reflecting upon the nature of the world, and my place in it, and what it
would mean to serve my kingdom. And the solitude was difficult. But then one
bright morning I saw a vision of a gallant knight riding towards me; and I knew
I would never feel lonely again.”
you had best make certain you pick a strong man to be my husband,” Princess
Adina had replied. “For if I go to that tower you can bet I will spend my
time honing my skills with a blade, rather than staring wistfully out of
windows. And any man who thinks to claim me for a bride by anyone’s leave save
my own will need to defend himself.”
mother had tutted, and their father had rolled his eyes; and when Princess Adina’s
belongings were packed with a very pointed dearth of swords or spears or
knives, it was Talia who slipped a wrapped sabre into the travel wagons, and it
was their middle sister, Devorah, who tied another to the underside of the
first food cart to leave for the tower.
a few weeks had passed since Adina left the castle, however, before word began
to spread of dragon sightings in the south. The king and queen, of course, saw
this is a good sign; and they let it be known that any lord bold enough to slay
the dragon would be granted leave to rescue Princess Adina from her tower. It
seemed all too fortuitous, for surely any man who could defeat a dragon could
handle a willful princess; and Adina could hardly deny
the bravery or skill of any such person.
perfect,” their mother had said.
was before the dragon reached the tower.
had been present when the messenger had arrived, bursting hastily into the
hall, and speaking in broken tones about barricades destroyed, and mountains
crossed, and ancient enchantments broken as the dragon had forged its way
straight to the hidden princess. Rumours abounded of the dragon absconding with
Adina; though some varied as to whether she had been seen clutched, terrified,
in the menace’s claws, or riding on its back, whooping loudly. (Calling for
help, the court agreed – if anything; the confused descriptions of startled
shepherds were unlikely to be too reliable, under the circumstances, of
matter of rewards changed, of course, and so it became that any brave soul –
lord or no – who could rescue Adina from the dragon could claim the princess
for their bride. Talia worried, but she didn’t worry too much. She was of a
mind that if the dragon was still alive, then it was likely because Adina
wanted it that way; and her sister was, at least, out of the tower she had held
such contempt for.
months after the incident, a story came back, too, of a renowned hero who had
nearly slain the dragon at its caves in the west; only to be disarmed by
Princess Adina herself, who, by his report, made a very rude and anatomically
improbable suggestion, before knocking him down a mountainside.
king and queen seemed convinced the report was nothing but slander; but Talia
was inclined to give it far more credence than tales of her sister weeping
whole rivers of tears or cowering beneath the dragon’s glare.
around that time that Princess Devorah began sneaking out of the palace at
discovered this one evening while in the midst of her stargazing. If her eldest
sister could be said to be beautiful and headstrong, then it would be easy to
claim that the middle sister was plainer, and yet more charming. She owned a
pale blue cloak, that suited her quite well; but that stood out, too, in the
moonlight, as she slipped away through the palace gardens.
went on for quite some time before Talia at last confronted her sister, who
blushed most tellingly at being discovered.
found my knight,” she admitted. “There is a doorway in the gardens, and it
opens to the fairy forest. I did not mean to go, the first night. It was only
that I saw the doorway, and I wondered where it went. And I could not help but
think that my own time to be locked away in a tower is coming swiftly, and what
a thing it might be to escape, and that perhaps fate had given me a chance. But
then I got lost in the fairy forest. It was strange and dangerous, and I feared
I had been too foolish for words, until my knight found me.”
saw the lovestruck look on her sister’s face, and felt a great well of sympathy
folk are strange and dangerous, but Mother and Father are not without pity. If
your knight is as noble as he sounds, perhaps they will understand,” she suggested.
Devorah only sighed, and shook her head.
they would, if my knight were a man. But she is a maiden, as fair as moonlight.
And I would have her no other way.”
sympathy increased tenfold, at that, for she knew as well that their parents
might make some concessions, but that would be a bridge too far for either of
them. As she began to offer comfort, however, Devorah turned it back towards
sister told her, then, of the plan she and her fairy knight had concocted; that
when Devorah was taken to her tower, her knight would come, and open a door
there; and then Talia’s sister would away with her to the fairy realm for good.
The tower would sit empty. The suitor their parents at last settled upon would
ride out to find no one waiting for him.
planned to tell you,” Devorah assured her, and then offered her a single silver
bell. “When it is your time to go to the tower, stand on the highest point
and ring that bell. A door will open, and you can come away with us. The fairy
realm can be frightening, but my beloved will help us, and as well-read as you
are, I am certain you will have more of an idea of what to expect than I ever
the bell, and hugged her sister, and thanked her; though she admitted that she
did not know what she would feel, when it came her own time to go to the tower.
But Devorah only said it would be her choice, whichever she made.
indeed, after a year had passed, her sister went to the tower with none of the
fuss nor complaint that Princess Adina had put up. Being as charming as she
was, there were no lack of suitors for their parents to choose from; and it was
not long at all before the king and queen made an advantageous match with the
eldest son of a neighbouring kingdom, just beyond the western mountains where Adina
and her dragon still roamed.
the son came back empty-handed, accusations of trickery abounded. The western
kingdom accused the king and queen of withholding their daughter; and the king
and queen accused the western kingdom of stealing her to some unknown fate. In
the end matters were only settled once a scryer confirmed that Princess Devorah
had not been in the tower when her suitor arrived; and then, the dispute was
settled with the consolation offer of Talia in Devorah’s place.
rulers of the western kingdom demanded their princess at once; but Talia’s
parents insisted that she was still too young. A compromise was reached. Since
the tradition of the family was to ensconce their princesses in towers, and
since twice these towers had been breached and the princesses lost, the king of
the western lands offered a tower in his own domain. There Talia would stay
until she turned eighteen, and was of age to marry the prince.
so, the king and queen would not have agreed, but for the fact that the western
rulers were renowned for their masterful sorcery and spellwork. Should conflict
break out, the armies they could amass would be formidable indeed.
princesses must think of their kingdoms first,” Talia’s mother told her.
Talia did think of her kingdom.
thought of it as she rode with her accompaniment through the mountains, and
when a great dragon’s roar split the air; and when her guards scattered in
fright, or else were pinned down by the claws of a great, emerald beast, with
eyes like flames and wings that sounded of lightning when they clapped. She
thought of it when her eldest sister slid down from the dragon’s neck, and
rushed to hold her, and begged her not to be afraid.
come with us,” said Princess Adina. “The western prince is a monster, and
the rest of his family no better. I would not let a pig marry him, nevermind my
marvelled at how well-informed her dragon-riding sister seemed to be, but Adina
only waved off such questions.
into town all the time,” she said. “No expects to see a princess who was
kidnapped by a dragon wandering around a market square.”
you spend enough of my coin for them to overlook it, even if they were
suspicious,” rumbled the dragon, though it sounded more amused than anything
are the one who demanded expensive company,” Adina returned.
watched them with fascination, and wondered if they might not be able to fight
an army themselves. But her sister was forced to sadly admit that her dragon
was nearly more show than substance, and that any well-armed force would take
them down with relative ease. Particularly when they could bring magic to bear.
Talia thought of her kingdom, as she declined her sister’s offer, and sadly
sent both she and her dragon on their way. Then she set about encouraging her
guards to come back, and help gather the horses, so they could head out again.
thought of her kingdom all the way up to the tower itself. It was a bleak
spire. Once a sorcerer’s lookout and secluded place of study, according to
their guide; who then helped set up the wards and enchantments. Talia thought
of her kingdom as she bid everyone goodbye. As she made her way inside with her
things, and found that though the place had clearly been cleaned and dusted, it
was sparse and severe and cold. Dark stone twisted up the walls, and drafts
blew through the ragged edges of the window frames. The lights were magic, at
least, but only half of them worked, and there was little in the way of artwork
thought of her kingdom as she selected a room on the highest floor, and
unpacked her things.
when at last it was dark, and she was alone, she did not think of her kingdom.
She thought of herself, instead, and she wished she had flown away with Adina
and her dragon. She wished she could climb to the top of the tower, and ring
her silver bell, and escape with Devorah and her knight. She thought of the
unfairness of being sent to her tower too soon, and even vindictively imagined
having told her parents of Devorah’s escapades, and being spared this fate by
forcing her sister to do her duty instead.
then she felt an awful wretch, for thinking such a thing; and she cried herself
ragged until she fell into a deep sleep.
morning, her mood was grim.
woke to the discovery that the usual enchantments were in place, which was
something of a relief. Princess Talia was educated in matters of diplomacy,
finance, tactics, mathematics, literature, history, geography, and many more
besides, but she had no idea of how to boil an egg. The tower gave her meals in
the kitchens, and warmed the hearth against the cold; and she spent her first
day mostly in that room, with one of the books she’d brought clutched firmly in
her hand, wondering how she was supposed to survive years of this without
perhaps, the intent of all this business with towers was precisely to drive a
princess mad. It would explain a good deal about her mother.
second night, she cried again, and the one after was much the same; but on the
fourth day, she woke to the grey dawn, and the cawing of ravens outside her
window; and she decided that if she was going to live in this tower for many
days yet to come, then she may as well explore it. She made a point of mapping
out all the floors, and figuring out how to reach the highest part, if it ever
came to it. And she found that the attic was full of old boxes of clothes.
Robes and hats and gloves and scarves, worn things and shimmery things, and a
very impressive collection of walking sticks.
was all well and good, and sorting through it gave her a diversion, at least.
She aired out some of the clothes. They were much too big for her, of course,
and the tower wardrobe could provide her with some very nice dresses. But she
imagined she might tire of very nice dresses, after a while, and some of the
robes looked very comfortable.
real find, however, came the next day, when she discovered the door to the
thought that the spareness of the tower was owed to its lack of usual
occupancy; but when she found the basement, another answer made itself clear –
someone had taken practically everything out of the main rooms, and shoved it
all haphazardly into the basement, and closed the door on it.
supposed she could see, on one level, why someone might have deemed the objects
in the basement unsuitable for a princess. Though she could not fathom why they
assumed a bored princess would not simply go downstairs at some point. She felt
inexplicably insulted at the lack of locks on the door; though this feeling
swiftly gave way to curiosity, instead.
rooms contents had not been kindly handled. She tsk’d over books that had been
dumped in piles, their pages crinkled and their spines twisted. Some heavy
tomes on stands had been left to accumulate dust and cobwebs, and boxes full of
glass bottles had been ungently handled, leaving some to crack and leak
suspicious liquids that stained the floor. Several rune-marked skulls lined a
shelf in the room, and looked to be the only things that had not been touched
much. There was strange furniture, and jars of things like powdered unicorn’s horn, which
told her plenty about the ignorance of the people who had cleaned up this
place, because even she knew that was valuable stuff.
length, she rolled up her sleeves, and set about organizing it, just as she had
done the attic. Though, in this case, the task was much larger. She broke down
into its simplest steps. Step One – the books. Going through the mess, she
picked out all the books she could find, and did what she could for them. Some
were in languages she did not recognize. Even the ones she recognized had
uncommon titles, like A
Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy, and The
Lost Art of Summoning, and A Comprehensive Bestiary of the
books proved not only to be the first step in cleaning up the basement, but
also the world’s most sufficient distraction. Talia found herself paging
through them out of sheer fascination with the volume of subjects available,
and the fact that she knew next to nothing of these topics. Soon enough she had
gathered up every book for beginners she could find, and before long she
discovered that one of the largest tomes was a dictionary, and she unearthed
also a translation guide for one of the unfamiliar languages that seemed common
to the texts.
then, slower going for the tasks of dealing with the broken bottles in the
crates – in the end she found a pair of thick gloves in the attic, and picked
out the ones that were not broken, and shoved the rest – crates and all – into
one of the empty closets.
reading a bit more, she then barricaded the closet.
left the skulls be until she opened up the book on Necromancy, and then she
carried them up to a room where the moonlight could hit them. That evening she
had her first proper conversation inweeks as she took a chair into
the room, and waited for nightfall, and then spoke to some quite interesting
and helpful spirits. They were transparent of course, and not all of them were
very coherent. But they seemed happy to be out of the basement, and keen enough
to help her get a better understanding of some concepts from the books that had
been tricky for her.
organized the jars of ingredients, and discovered several discarded cauldrons,
and after some more reading, she went back up to the attic and fetched down the
wizard staffs that she had taken for walking sticks, and put them where they’d
be closer to hand. In a box under an overturned table she discovered a smashed
crystal ball, with a tiny pixie’s skeleton in it; and an unbroken crystal ball
which gleamed and glowed only faintly when she held it up to the stars.
her think of Devorah and her knight. So that evening she did at last go up to
the highest point of her tower, and ring her silver bell.
enough, a door appeared in the basement. She wrapped the pixie skeleton in a
piece of black velvet, and tucked the crystal ball under her arm, and opened
sister was delighted to see her, though confused as well. It was too soon for
Talia to be in her tower. So it was that Talia had to explain what had
transpired, and when she did, Devorah was overcome. It made her feel triply
awful for her uncharitable thoughts that first evening, to see her sister cry
and offer to go back and take her place.
have to stay here with your knight,” Talia insisted. “It isn’t all bad.
There are some interesting things in the tower. And if I can talk to you
sometimes, as well as the skulls, I probably won’t go mad.”
blinked back her tears.
skulls?” she asked, in a voice that said she was worried her sister’s mental
state had already faltered.
Talia found herself explaining about the tower, and its basement, and the
crystal ball she had brought, and the little skeleton, too. That made Devorah
cry a bit more, because she was a kind heart, and she had grown fond of the
little pixies in the fairy realm – even the vicious ones. She called for her
knight to come, then, and Talia watched as a silvery figure rode up on a white
horse that looked more like a ghost than a proper steed, however solid it may
have been to the eye.
love looked like moonlight made flesh; slender but sharp as the blade of a
knife, and she bowed with courtly grace. She showed less grief over the pixies
than the princesses did. But then, her expression seemed to reveal very little
at all, until it turned to Devorah. At which point it would soften, and stars
would seem to dance in the dark pools of her eyes.
this prince, who is so perilous a betrothal?” the fairy knight asked.
not know him. I know only his reputation, which had seemed fine enough, until Adina
spoke to me,” Talia explained.
a little more of him,” Devorah admitted, frowning. “Adina and I went to
one of his sister’s weddings, years ago. You were too young to come along. He
was a horrible brat, but then, he was a child. His father wasn’t much better,
fairy knight looked at the tiny pixie skeletons, and then at once broke the
crystal ball. The wisp of a sprite which escaped was small and quick, barely
there before it was gone again. But Talia didn’t mourn the loss of the crystal
ball. And after a moment, her sister’s knight tilted her head towards her, and
went and drew a small vial from her saddlebags.
is a poison of sleep,” said the knight. “If you drink of it, you will fall
into a trance, and will not wake but for true love’s kiss. In dreams you may
find freedom. I would have offered it to Devorah, had she refused me, and her
suitor proven cruel. I will offer it to you, now. Should the worst come to
pass, drink it.”
tiny vial was silver and elegant. Pretty enough, even by the reckoning of
princesses. Talia took it, with gratitude. And when she left through the fairy
door before dawn, and came back into her tower, she felt lighter than she had
since leaving home.
several months, then, the little silver vial rested in her pockets, as she wore
dresses but also sometimes robes. Talia learned the few benefits of a life
primarily alone, in an empty and unoccupied tower that was locked up tight –
though even her mostly-indoor spirit began to long for the feeling of wind in
her hair, and grass between her toes, she could also parade around the rooms
naked as she pleased. Or clad only in a long robe which railed behind her, as
she sang songs with no one to care that they might be off-key, or that they
were ones she had overheard drunken servants singing.
poured through her new books and consulted with spirits, cavorted with her
sister and the fairies by night, and one morning she woke up and snapped her
fingers in a moment of grand epiphany; and flames darted up at the gesture.
alone, in the long and quiet days, she learned.
months into her stay, Talia discovered how to unlock the tower door. It was a
simple spell, in fact. More a matter of tricking the tower into doing as she
wished. She strolled the grounds, well away from any guard posts, and found
wild vines and strange plants growing in the tower gardens. There was a book of
plants inside, and so she dragged it out with her the next day, and set about
identifying all the growing things she could not recognize; which, apart from
the dandelions, was nearly everything.
dusted off the cauldron, then, and must have burned herself sixteen different
times in attempting to master the various magical recipes involving the garden
plants. And plants from the fairy realm, as well. In one of the big, heavy
tomes, which always seemed to fight her every time she turned the pages, she
discovered a recipe for the sleeping draught which Devorah’s fairy knight had
given her; and by the gleam of a full moon, she gathered ingredients from both
worlds, and set about trying to recreate it.
was difficult to gauge without tasting the end results, though. She was very
sure to label her own attempts accordingly, and dared not drink any of them.
not a bad life. Not at all. It was lonely, at times, but with Devorah and the
spirits, not terribly so. And the freedoms she found were beginning to seem
more and more appealing. As time went on, Talia found herself thinking she
would much rather stay in her tower than see any shining prince approach from
when at last he came, she was ready for him.
time almost snuck up on her, but the terrain visible up from the tower window
was wide and barren, and one night as she went to bed she chanced to see a
campfire burning. And she counted the days in her head, and then fell into a
flurry of activity. She readied a fine dress, and packed up her things. She
slipped the best staff in amongst her chest of clothes, and packed the skulls
in with her jewellery. She slipped the sleeping potion into her pocket, and
emptied out the bottom of the crate containing her shoes and slippers; and she
did away with half of them, and fit as many of the most important books she
could manage in their place. She hid potions ingredients in among her make up,
and her own notes were kept safely in her diary. And every spare nook or cranny
she could find, she stuffed something she deemed worthy; until the things she
had first arrived with had become like a veil for the things she had uncovered
find yourself in that tower,” her mother had once told her.
mother had found her place as queen; and Adina had found a dragon; and Devorah
had found her doorway out. As the sound of hoofbeats grew closer, Talia stared
towards the horizon of the western kingdom. Her fingers toyed with the stopper
of the sleeping draught.
wondered what she had really found.
drink it yourself? one of the spirits had asked her, the first night she had
come back from visiting her sister, with the tiny vial in hand. It seems to me that the logical
thing to do, in an unhappy marriage, is poison the other person. Especially
when that opens a door to you taking his kingdom out from under him.
interesting things, her skulls had to say.
course, the kingdom she would marry into was one ruled by magic. Sometimes
princesses must think of their kingdoms first.
wry little twist of her lips, Talia practised her best expression of swooning
relief, and waited for her prince.
I know that the characters are fictional.
But the emotional damage they cause is real.
Having grown up in DC, statues of various dead guys on horses are basically background radiation, or they were before I became Hamilton trash and started noticing them again. Now it’s like every time I turn around there’s a Founding Father looking at me like I personally disappointed him, and it’s getting a little unnerving.
Although: as a result, I sort of want to write a magical realism thing where that can really happen. Where if you do something they would have disagreed with strongly enough, the statues climb down off their columns and lumber down Mass Ave to the Russell Building or the Capitol, where they stand on the sidewalk, arms crossed, glaring into the window of whoever’s just introduced legislation that offended them. They don’t speak, or attack anyone, or damage anything– well, they do tend to bump their heads on low-handing streetlights, sometimes, but that doesn’t count. Mostly they just stand there, mournful, accusing, for everyone to see.
Sometimes lawmakers can talk them around, convince them they’re not actually betraying the political ideals of their predecessors. Politicians who are good at this tend to have much, much longer careers than the ones who aren’t. Politicians who piss off the wrong statues seldom get reelected.
George Washington rarely budges, and when he does it’s front-page news, nationwide. Madison’s always been easier to talk around than most. Hamilton spend more time off his plinth than on it, but he cools off fast. Jefferson holds grudges, to the point that hardly anyone worries too much about making him mad.
It’s not just politicians, either, and they don’t always come to life in anger. Joan of Arc’s bronze horse will shiver to life in Malcolm X Park, sometimes, and carry her off to join protest marches, when she thinks their cause is just. Gandhi walked with Iraq War protestors. The Spirit of American Womanhood, outside Constitution Hall, danced on the day that Roe v. Wade was decided, and when Obergefell vs. Hodge went through, Eleanor Roosevelt taught a clumsy Lindy to Baron von Steuben.
Lincoln has only risen from his seat once since he was put there in 1922, and that was to nod in solemn approval at LBJ from the White House lawn.
Some cities rarely put up statues, and many have taken theirs down. Paris has a great many artists and writers memorialized, and curiously few politicians. In London, during the Blitz, Nelson shinned down his column to help dig people out of collapsed buildings, until he was broken to pieces himself; he stands atop the column again today, reassembled, but has never moved since. In the last months of the Soviet Union, a desperate Communist Party had the statues of Moscow chained in place. These days, Monument Avenue in Richmond is punctuated with a long series of empty plinths and bare columns.
But DC keeps theirs, and keeps building more.