2. Shit Could Have Been Worse
3. And Then She Farted: A Life of Moments of Public Humiliation
4. Bounced Checks, Fender-Benders, and Other Fuck-Ups
5. Just One More Cookie, I Swear
6. How to Make Enemies and Alienate People
Things are winding down now. Only two more chapters to go. (Holy shit, what am I going to do then? Nothing like planning ahead or anything.)
Rado sat by himself, drinking a goblet of wine. Suddenly he stood up, the goblet dropping to the floor. Red wine coursed through the grooves in the floor. He thought, “This cannot be! I feel it–my son is here!” Rado turned around and saw the door opening. He quickly hid himself as two people walked in.
As he looked at them, immense joy flooded through him. One of them was a young man. His hair was the color of spun gold, his eyes a rich blue.
“My son,” Rado thought.
The other was a woman-child. Her hair hung long down her back in a cascade of black curls, and her eyes were also black. When Rado beheld her face, he thought his heart might leap from his chest. Her face was exactly as Dalia’s once had been. The large eyes, full lips, and elfin nose all matched precisely.
“My daughter?” he thought. “But how?”
Adrienne walked quietly through the room, observing every detail. Darien was on the other side of the room, looking at the many wonders displayed there. Suddenly, Adrienne felt a presence in the room and drew her sword. Darien followed suit.
“Come out if you value your life,” he said.
A tall man walked out from behind a screen in the corner of the room. He had black hair and black eyes, and Adrienne noticed he was dressed all in black, just as she was. Realization hit her like a sharp blow.
“He is our father,” she thought and looked at Darien. Darien looked back at her, and she could tell by his eyes that he also knew.
“Welcome, friends,” said Rado in a friendly tone. “Won’t you sit and have some wine with me?”
Darien immediately sheathed his sword and sat down, but Adrienne stood her ground.
Rado looked at her. “Please,” he said, and she knew then that he would not harm them.
After Rado had poured the wine, he said, “You know who I am, do you not?”
“Yes,” replied Darien, “we do.”
“My son–and my daughter, who I did not even know existed. I never thought the day would come when I would see my children.”
Darien gave Rado a cold look and said, “How could anyone as evil as you have been with someone was good as our mother was?”
“I loved your mother more than life!” roared Rado, standing up. “Why do you think I have done all this?” he said, gesturing around him. “To avenge her death! Life dealt me a cruel blow. The only way to ease my pain was to inflict it on others.”
“You disgust me,” said Adrienne. Rado looked at her and then struck her hard across the face.
Darien jumped to his feet with a drawn sword. “How dare you!” he cried.
“No, Darien,” Adrienne said quietly as she stood up. She stared into Rado’s eyes and gathered her power.
It felt as if someone had kicked Rado in the gut, and he stumbled backwards. He straightened and said, “You have the power.”
“It is the only thing I can thank you for, Father,” she said, spitting out the last word like an obscenity.
Adrienne felt Rado putting his power over her. He was very strong, and it felt like someone was crushing her, putting an unbearable amount of pressure on her body. Adrienne pointed her finger at him and flicked a flame toward him. It singed his hand, and he cried out in pain. She felt the pressure immediately subside.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Rado, his eyes pleading. “You could stay here with me–my two children. And when I am gone, all of this shall be yours!”
“You cannot bribe us,” said Darien.
“Perhaps,” said Rado, his pleading tone turning darker. “But I can force you.”
Rado reached into his cloak and brought out a golden globe that sparkled in the light.
“The golden sphere,” thought Adrienne. “The ultimate power.” A power unlike anything she had ever felt before ran through her.
Suddenly, Darien lunged at Rado with his sword, and Rado knocked him down with a surge of power from the sphere. Adrienne watched in horror as he hit the ground and struck his head,
“Darien!” she cried.
Darien did not get up, and Adrienne looked at Rado with a new hatred.
“Wither!” she yelled, and Rado fell to his knees, dropping the golden sphere. Adrienne picked it up, and it suddenly glowed brighter. She put it in her cloak and drew her sword. Rado, now recovered, did the same.
“You will pay,” said Rado and lashed at her with his sword.
“Believe me, I already have,” said Adrienne and blocked him.
Father and daughter circled one another, and Rado suddenly jabbed Adrienne in the side. She could feel the pain sear through her. She tried to ignore it and went on.
Rado attempted to strike her again, and they locked swords. Rado pushed her to the ground, but she took him with her. Their swords clattered away to the side, and Adrienne took her dagger from its leg sheath. Rado grabbed her wrist holding the dagger, and Adrienne kneed him sharply in the groin. She swiftly stabbed him in the chest, penetrating his heart.
Rado’s eyes widened, and he looked at her. He put his hands over hers where she held the knife at the hilt and whispered, “My daughter.” Then his eyes were empty.
Adrienne got up and gently folded Rado’s hands on top of his breast. Excruciating grief filled her heart, and she turned away from her father’s dead body. She looked over to where Darien lay, his chest rising and falling with steady breathing.
“Can you forgive my terrible deed, Darien?” she thought. “Can I forgive myself?”
Adrienne took the golden sphere from her cloak and looked at it. “I have fulfilled my purpose,” she thought. She walked over to the window and looked out over the land as her father had so many times before her. She knew nothing would ever be the same again.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 12!
I may seem like a mild-mannered middle-aged woman on the outside, but under this chubby, bifocal-bespectacled exterior is a wild child. In what way, you ask? Like this, bitches:
1. Fuck E.coli and airborne fecal matter. I use my iPad when I’m on the crapper.
2. Five second rule? More like five minute rule.
3. Raw cookie dough is divine, and I don’t give a shit about salmonella.
4. If a good foot-stomping tune comes on the radio while I’m driving, I may actually nudge the odometer to 10 mph over the speed limit.
5. I’ve cussed in front of other people’s kids. (I feel bad about it, but pretend I didn’t say that.)
6. Sometimes I like to use the word “ain’t.”
7. Sometimes I go more than a month without seeing my therapist.
Still with me? We’re almost done. Only three more chapters after this. If you’re new to the story, catch up here: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5, chapter 6, chapter 7, chapter 8, and chapter 9.
Adrienne trudged through the woods, sweat dripping from her face. She had been put with a specialized army at this time—an army of sorcerers and sorceresses. The only member of the group she knew was Darien, and she stayed close to him. The goal of this specialized group was to go directly to Rado’s castle, find him, and kill him as the greater part of the army kept Rado’s men occupied. They all knew that once Rado was dead, his army would crumble—and that is exactly what they wanted.
The group stopped for a minute, and Adrienne overheard a conversation: “There are fifty of us—and none of us are strong enough to overcome Rado. Even if there were ten thousand of us, we could still not. Rado has the golden sphere!”
“Excuse me,” said Adrienne. “What is so special about the golden sphere? I have heard of its existence many times.”
A quiet murmur rose up among the group, and the man who was speaking before said, “Silence! She is but a woman-child. She would not know.”
He then turned to Adrienne and said, “The golden sphere is the one thing that could destroy us all. It is a thing to be feared greatly—in Rado’s hands, he could overcome the entire Earth.”
“Let us move on,” said another man, visibly shaken. “There is no time to waste.”
“That statement could not be more true,” thought Adrienne, and she began her journey with the others once again.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rado paced the floor, his hands clenched into fists.
“Damn them!” he thought. “Those spineless idiots! How could they allow them to get by?”
“JARVIS!” he roared.
“Yes, master?” said Jarvis as he entered, sweat dripping from his face.
“Send the army out to greet our friends. If I see even one man from the enemy army escape, Jarvis, I will have your head. Do you understand?”
“Yes, master!” said Jarvis and ran out of the room.
“This cannot happen,” thought Rado to himself. “I will not lose everything I have worked so hard to get! It will not happen!”
Rado looked out the window to see his large army assembling. Somehow he knew that they wouldn’t be enough. Rado knew that he would have to depend on his own strength, as he had many times before.
“And they will cower before me,” he thought. “I will make them tremble.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hours passed, and Adrienne could sense how close they were getting to Rado’s castle. The feeling of deja vu had not left her since she arrived in the Western domain, and it both scared her and filled her with a sense of wonder.
“What is happening to me?” she thought.
Suddenly, the castle loomed before them. Adrienne, a feeling of recognition running through her, grabbed Darien’s arm.
“I feel it too, Adrienne,” he said, not taking his eyes from the castle.
“I don’t understand it,” said Adrienne.
“Neither do I.”
They both walked on in silence with the others, and then the leader of the group spoke.
“We are going to split up into pairs. The point is to get to Rado and kill him. If we split up, we have a greater chance. May the Gods be with all of you.”
They entered the castle, and Adrienne and Darien separated from the others.
“I think we have an unfair advantage, Adrienne,” said Darien.
“Because don’t ask me how, but I know where Rado is.”
Adrienne just looked at her brother and followed him down the hall.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 11!
Far away, a tall man with hair the color of coal stood by a large window, watching the sun set. As darkness seemed to completely envelop him, he turned from the sight. He walked toward the doorway and called, “Jarvis!”
A shorter, stocky man with graying hair quickly entered the room. “Yes, master?”
“I will have some wine, Jarvis.”
“Very good, Master Rado. Right away.”
Jarvis left, and Rado’s thoughts began to drift. His first thought was of his beloved, his Dalia. Oh, how he grieved for her! He knew that no other woman could ever take her place. But what of the son she bore?
“My only son,” he thought. “Where are you? Do you live?”
For many years Rado had sent Western spies to the other domain to find him, but no luck. He knew that if he could find his son, and saw him worthy of it, he would be his only heir.
He remembered his son, four years old, with hair the color of gold and eyes like the sea. Just like his mother.
“And he would also inherit the golden sphere,” thought Rado. With that thought, he reached into his cloak and brought out a golden, glowing bauble.
“The ultimate in sorcery power. With this I could control the world. And I will. As soon as my Western troops devastate as many of their villages as possible, then—”
“Excuse me, my lord,” said Jarvis, bursting into the room looking harried.
“What is it, Jarvis?”
“There have been reports from many of your ships that a band of foreign ships is headed this way. They are reported to be from the enemy domain.”
To Jarvis’s surprise, a smile came to Rado’s face. “So, the little people want to come and play, eh? Let them come!” With that, Rado turned on his heel and walked out of the room.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Activity stormed through the ship as Adrienne assembled her gear. They were approaching the Western domain very rapidly, and all knew that they were sure to be attacked.
When Adrienne finished, she sat down next to Cochran and waited for the first enemy ship to be sighted. “Why do I feel like I have been here before?” thought Adrienne, looking at the Western land. “Why does it all seem so familiar?”
“First ship sighted!” someone called, and Adrienne stood at the ready. The ship approached quickly, and they were soon side by side. Many Western men began to jump onboard, and blood began to be shed.
“Toran be with you,” said Cochran to Adrienne, and ran off.
Suddenly, a Western man jumped in front of Adrienne with a drawn sword. He sneered at her and said, “A young lass, eh? Oh, you’ll be a nice prize.” As he said this, Adrienne drew her sword.
The man lunged at her, but she blocked the blow. He came at her again, and she nimbly ducked out of the way.
“You’re a tricky one—just the way I like ’em,” said the man. He grasped his sword with both hands and swung it at her with such force that it sent her reeling backwards.
As she tried to recover, the man caught Adrienne around the waist. He made her drop her sword, and then pulled her head back by her long, curly black hair.
“’Tis such a pity that I must kill you. One with beauty such as yours should not be wasted.” As he said this, the man drew a dagger and held it at her throat.
Suddenly, the man’s eyes widened. “No!” he said and let go of her. “The pain!” he screamed and doubled over, holding his side from the spell Adrienne had used on him. Adrienne grabbed him by the neck and said quietly, “Then I shall end your pain.” She sunk his own dagger deep into his breast.
She turned to find Jacob standing there, his arm slashed and bloody, his sword dripping with blood. He stared at her for a moment, and then said, “Are you all right?”
“Yes. I am fine.”
“Thank the Gods. Good news—we did it! We overcame them, Adrienne. Now we can go and find their master.”
Chills went down Adrienne’s spine as he said this, and she wondered why.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 10!
The next morning, Darien and Adrienne got up early to practice their fighting skills.
They both drew their swords and clanged them together in greeting. Adrienne blocked Darien’s lash at her side and used her sword to push him backwards. Darien stumbled, but recovered quickly. He slashed his sword at Adrienne once again, and the blow to her sword made the arm that held it tremble.
Jacob, hearing the clang of metal, came up on the deck out of curiosity. He quietly sat in the background and watched, marveling at the skill this young woman had. She was the most incredible thing that Jacob had ever seen. No woman in the South could even come close to Adrienne’s skill, and she was also very beautiful. But she was so young, yet a woman-child. She could only be eighteen years old at the most.
Adrienne took the hilt of her sword in both hands and clenched her teeth. She swung her sword at Darien’s with such force that it sent his sword clattering across the deck. Adrienne put her sword back in its sheath.
“Bravo! Bravo!” said Jacob, standing up.
“Jacob—I did not see you standing there.”
“I am sorry. I did not mean to startle you.”
“Do not worry. Oh—Jacob, I would like you to meet my brother, Darien.”
“Well met, Darien,” said Jacob and bowed.
“Likewise,” said Darien and also bowed.
“You are quite a fighter, Adrienne,” said Jacob. “Where did you get your training?”
“From Cochran—he is with us.”
“Yes, I believe I have met Cochran.”
“It is hard to miss him,” joked Darien, referring to Cochran’s immense size.
“Quite,” said Adrienne and laughed.
“Do I hear my name spoken in jest?” said Cochran jokingly, walking toward the group.
“Never!” said Adrienne.
“All jesting aside, I need you to come with me, Darien. I think that we should replace some of our weapons. Especially that one,” said Cochran, gesturing to the sword that lay on the deck where it had fallen when knocked out of Darien’s hand. The blade was cracked.
Darien’s face turned a shade darker, and then he left with Cochran.
Jacob laughed. “You keep good company,” he said.
“They are my family.”
“What of your parents?”
“I never knew them. My mother, Dalia, was murdered by barbarians. I do not know the name of my father. He left before I was born.”
“As long as you have those you need now, the past is not important.”
Adrienne turned and looked out over the vast sea. After a long pause, she said quietly, “That is true, but the future is proving to be the most important of all.”
Jacob silently took Adrienne’s hand in his and looked into the distance. What lay there, he did not know.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 9!
The Northern army had ridden all that day without rest, and they came to the docks weary and hungry. Much time passed as all the horses, gear, and soldiers were settled on the ships, and Adrienne sighed with relief when they were finally on their way.
A great feast was held that night to refresh the soldiers, and Adrienne, Darien, and Cochran joined the others in the large galley. They all ate and drank, and some even sang with musical instruments they had brought.
Suddenly, there was a loud noise. Someone was banging on their tin plate with a spoon.
“Attention! Attention!” the man called. “Jacob, the leader of the Southern army, wishes to make a toast!”
Everyone cheered as a tall, lean man with auburn hair stood on the table with a mug of ale in his hand. The cheering subsided.
“As we all know, this is a dark time. We are joining in alliance to crush the Western forces and their sorcerer leader, Rado!”
A cheer rose up. When all was quiet, Jacob continued.
“Even though the future will be a time of sacrifice and war, let us enjoy our feast tonight and gather energy for the upcoming struggle. Eat, drink, and be merry!” he cried, and then all cried, “Hear, hear!” and held up their mugs.
Adrienne looked at the Southern leader and found that he was looking straight at her. He raised his mug at her and drank, not taking his eyes off her. Adrienne raised her mug to him and drank also. Then she turned her attention back to a man playing a lute.
Later on in the evening, many of the musicians came together and played a song they all knew. Not many women were in the army, so most of the men danced with the serving girls.
Adrienne sat by herself. Darien had asked a pretty serving girl to dance, and Cochran had gone to get more ale. Suddenly, someone lightly touched Adrienne’s shoulder. She turned to see Jacob standing there.
“I would be honored if I could have this dance,” he said and extended his hand. Adrienne took it and let him lead her to where everyone was dancing.
“I noticed you before,” said Jacob. “Where are you from?”
“I am with the Northern army,” Adrienne said.
“You must be very special—you are the only woman in the Northern army.”
“I have been well educated, you could say.”
Adrienne and Jacob were separated as they switched partners, and Adrienne found herself with Darien.
“Well, what a surprise, sister! I did not know that you liked to dance!”
“I was asked by the leader of the Southern army.”
“Really? I have heard that he is quite a man. His fighters revere and respect him almost like Gorban himself. He is Gorban’s right-hand man.”
Partners were switched again, and Adrienne was back with Jacob.
“We meet again,” he said and smiled. “I did not get a chance to ask your name before. What is it?”
“I am called Adrienne.”
“That is a lovely name. I am Jacob.”
There was a pause for a few moments, and then Adrienne said, “Jacob, what do you think our chances are of winning this war? The Western forces are very strong.”
“That is true, but their strength stems from Rado. If we can kill Rado, then the strength of his armies with be extinguished.”
“Who is this Rado?”
“He is a great sorcerer. Possibly the greatest that has ever walked this Earth. His power has not been matched—not even by your leader, Lorenai.”
“Then how can we overcome him?”
“We will just have to utilize what sorcery power we have—and pray to the Gods for a miracle.”
Come back next Thursday for chapter 8!
The army traveled at a fast pace. The had to, because on the evening of the third day, the Northern army was to meet the Southern and Eastern armies at the docks. Then they would begin the journey to the feared Western lands, across the vast, dark sea.
They all spoke very little during the journey to the docks; all were lost in their own thoughts of fear.
On the evening of the second day, the army halted at the command of the leader. Adrienne secured her steed, and then sat down next to Darien as he built a fire.
“Darien?” Adrienne asked.
“What is it?”
“What was our mother like?”
There was a pause, and then he said, “She was beautiful. If you can imagine someone with your face and my coloring, that would be her. Your face is just like hers once was.”
“What about our father?”
“I remember very little of him. He was not around very often. He was a dark man, with black hair just like yours.”
“I wonder if one day we shall ever meet him, Darien.”
“Well, they say that one always knows their father–even if they have never seen him before. Maybe that will be true for us.”
“Maybe,” said Adrienne.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rado, now in the Western lands, had no knowledge of the fate of his wife and children. He did not even know his youngest child existed. When the tale of Dalia’s death reached him a year later, he flew into a rage.
“My Gods!” he cried. “You have taken my life!”
As the weeks passed, Rado’s rage and violence increased. He often was seen holding a golden bauble, clenching it in his hands until his knuckles turned white. Finally, in Rado’s ultimate rage, he decided to overtake the Western lands in spite of the Goddess Galdra.
In a short time, Rado had the Western people in his control. With his great powers of sorcery, he was able to influence the people to hate the Northern, Southern, and Eastern lands with a terrible, violent hatred.
The day Rado held aloft his golden sphere and cracked the Earth was his day of avenging Dalia’s death. That night, as Rado went to sleep in his new domain for the first time, he found that he could actually sleep.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 7!
Lorenai paced her chamber, deep in thought. She was worried. Deeply worried. She had been receiving reports that the Westerners were crossing the sea more and more, raiding towns and killing the townsfolk.
“We might be next,” she thought, and knew that something had to be done about it. “Gordan?” she called.
“Yes, Lorenai?” he asked, coming into the chamber.
“We must send a message to both Gorban and Guad-Shon, the leaders of the Southern and Eastern lands. The Western forces are growing stronger, and I fear that soon they will penetrate the Northern land as well as the South and the East. We must join our armies together and travel to the West. We must protect what is ours!”
“Yes, Lorenai. Right away.”
After Gordan left, Lorenai faced the window and looked out upon the land. She could smell the scent of the wildflowers that were sprinkled throughout the Northern hills.
“We cannot lose this,” she thought. “We cannot.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Weeks passed, and the armies of the North, West, and East came together to ready themselves for battle. Activity shook through all the lands, and it was unusual to see anyone without a weapon.
Anyone who had had training in combat or in the art of sorcery was recruited for the great army. Lorenai and Gordan both watched with sorrow as Cochran, Darien, and Adrienne readied themselves for war.
Lorenai approached Adrienne, who was cleaning her weapons. Adrienne looked up and said, “I do not feel right leaving you.”
“You must. I will be fine. I am the one who taught you everything you know, remember?”
Adrienne smiled. “Of course.”
“Adrienne,” Lorenai said in a serious tone, “you do know that this is your purpose. It is your destiny.”
“Yes, I do know.”
Suddenly, the leader of the army called out to all the fighters to mount their steeds. Adrienne looked at Lorenai with sadness.
“Fulfill your destiny well, my child,” said Lorenai and embraced Adrienne.
Adrienne mounted her horse next to Darien and Cochran, and then turned to look back one last time.
“Farewell,” she said, and then turned and did not set eyes on her home again for a long time.
Come back next Thursday for chapter 6!
Rain fell from the skies and beat upon the ground like angry fists the evening the Nieromen left. With them they took a girl–young, wet, and scared.
Adrienne stood there as they left and thought, “What is my purpose? Why is it so important?” Adrienne turned and realized that Darien was at her side.
“I thought that was going to be you,” he said quietly.
“I know. So did I.”
“It scared me. You are the only family I have left, Adrienne. If I lost you, I don’t know what my world would be like.”
Adrienne embraced her brother and knew he was right. She knew that he mourned the death of their mother greatly, and that it had scarred him. She could not share that sorrow with him since she was too young to remember, but she could share one thing–the mystery of their father’s identity.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Rado was a very strong man. He was tall and lean, with curly black hair that hung down to his shoulders. All who had ever seen him had feared him, but they still could not help but be surprised by his beauty. It was disconcerting to see one who was so evil could also be so beautiful. That is what probably scared people the most about him.
Long ago, Rado had lived in the North, Toran’s land. He had met and fallen in love with a beautiful woman named Dalia. He hair shone the color of gold, and her eyes were the color of the sea. They married and had a beautiful child, a son who looked just like Dalia.
Rado was a very violent man, and many times he struck at Dalia in anger. Finally, Rado could stand it no more. He could not allow himself to hurt his beloved Dalia, so one night he left and headed for the Western lands.
Dalia was heartbroken, but she was determined to make the best of her life. Dalia knew that she would love Rado’s unborn child in her womb more than life.
Months passed, and Dalia gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Just days afterward, a band of ruffians came to her town on a raid. Dalia was killed, and her young son and newborn daughter were abandoned, left to die.
Come back next Thursday for chapter five!