The Longest Battle – Ch 09 – Drawing in the Madness

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    The portal to the Moon wasn’t hard to find. As with many other portals, you just had to know the right book to look in.

     “I want you to know; I really hate traveling to Fairie realms.” Minnie said as she handed Clarice an iron bar.

    “What’s this for?” Clarice asked.

    “To smack any fairies we run into.” Minnie said.

    “Won’t that kill them?” Clarice’s sounded horrified at the notion.

    “Only if you’re very lucky.” Minnie said, hefting a much larger iron bat out of her bag.

    “What if they’re just playful though?” Clarice asked.

    “Then you should swing even harder.” Adella said as she joined them with the Moon portal book in her hands.

    “But if they’re not evil…” Clarice began to protest.

    “It’s not about good or evil. It’s about what they will do to you because of what they are.” Minnie cut her off.

    “There are some fairies who are kind. Some you might even call harmless. Those fairies don’t tread where we are going.” Adella explained.

    “Think of them like hungry alligators. The alligators aren’t evil, but they’ll tear you apart just the same if you get too close.” Minnie suggested.

    “That’s a poor analogy.” Adella said. “Alligators don’t enjoy tearing people apart the way faeries do.”

    “This is starting to sound worse than falling off of a building.” Clarice said as she gripped the iron bar tighter.

    “It is. Living is always difficult.” Adella said.

    “Why are you doing this then?” Clarice asked.

    “Because we’ve been where you are.” Minne replied.

    “The only thing worse than living with those memories is knowing the same thing is happening to someone else and doing nothing about it.” Adella said.

    Clarice didn’t respond to that. Minnie saw her turning inwards, trying to find something to grasp onto.

    “Are we ready to go?” Minnie asked, nodding at the book in Adella’s hands.

    “One last thing.” Adella said and passed a pair of sunglasses to Minnie and another to Clarice.

    “It’s the middle of the night.” Minnie observed.

    “Yes. We’ll be venturing onto the Lunatic Moon when its at its strongest.” Adella said, donning her own pair of sunglasses.

    Minnie shrugged and joined her. Despite spending years in Faerie, Minnie knew that there was far more about it that she didn’t know than she’d been able to discover. More than she’d ever be able to discover in fact. Adella had the advantage that she shared her mind with a slumbering Faerie Queen and could call on the Queen’s knowledge more or less at will. Even with that she was the first to admit that Faerie held a lot of secrets from her too.

    “So what do we have to do?” Clarice asked.

    “Place your hands on mine.” Adella said as she opened the book to the page denoted by a silver ribbon. She placed hand on the center of the book, and Minnie and Clarice placed their on top of hers.

    “Now what?” Minnie asked. The writing in the book was incomprehensible to her. What was worse was that it seemed to be moving.

    “Now we read.” Adella said.

    With a voice raised in something that sounded more like a wordless song than any language Minnie was familiar with, Adella began to recite from the book.

    No matter how many times she entered Faerie, Minnie was never quite ready for the passage to it. Beneath her hand, she felt the book begin to pull her in with the force of a whirlpool as Adella sung the words of the opening spell. Clarice screamed in shock and surprise, but Minnie only bit back a curse. Each doorway into Fairie had its own rules and most of them were unpleasant in Minnie’s experience. Being sucked into a whirlpool wasn’t that bad as such things went. It didn’t even make it into the top ten worst ways to cross between worlds that Minnie had encountered.

    As she fell into the book, the world around her faded away, revealing only a sea of stars growing every more distant. Minnie heard Adella call out “Stay together!” from what seemed like an impossibly far distance away. From another direction, she heard Clarice’s screaming alternating from near to far.

    When she landed, it wasn’t “Minnie”, the tiny college student, whose arrival cracked the tiles of a long and empty corridor. In the ruins of the quiet school, it was Taurus, the minotaur girl, who stood up and surveyed her environment.

    For as much as her minotaur body had been drawn out and craft by faerie magic, it was Minnie’s power that Taurus held, not any fairie magics. The proof of that came in the iron club that she held. In her minotaur hands it was more of a baton than a proper weapon but even so the iron in it would have burned her horribly if she’d truly been one of the fey.

    “That was a rougher trip than I’d expected.” Adella said, picking herself up off the shattered tiles of the floor.

    “How are we still alive?” Clarice asked, looking at the wreckage that surrounded them.

    “This is all an illusion.” Minnie said.

    “Yes. This is the Lunatic Moon. Perception is a fluid thing here. You can’t trust anything you see.” Adella said.

    “What are we supposed to do then?” Clarice asked.

    “Find the missing pieces of the Quicksilver spirit that had bonded to you. Once it is whole, it will not need to feed on the sanity of those around you in order to maintain itself.” Adella explained.

    “That doesn’t sound so bad. Where do we start looking?” Clarice asked.

    “It doesn’t sound bad but it is. This place is dangerous.” Minnie said.

    “It doesn’t look dangerous.” Clarice said, glancing around the environment around them.

    Despite being empty, the school hallway looked clean and well maintain. Daylight was shining through clear windows and chasing away that shadows that would have lurked there in the night. From outside, the sounds of traffic driving past mingled with the calls of various birds.

    “You’re right. Perhaps we have arrived on one of the shoals of the Lunatic Moon. There seems to be much of the human world mixed in here still.” Adella agreed.

    Minnie stabbed her in the chest with the iron bar without even fully thinking about it. The blow was so strong, the iron bar rammed through the wall as well.

    Adella, or the thing that had looked like her, gave a cry of pain and then began to change, shifting away from wound caused by the metal spike.

    “How did you guess so quickly?” the creature said, it’s eyes widening to inhuman size and filling over with a kaleidoscope of colors.

    “My friend would never, ever, even hint to someone that where they were standing in Faerie wasn’t dangerous.” Minnie said with a snarl.

    “She is wise, your friend is. Unfortunately for you, she is also ours.” the creature said.

    “As are you!” the creature that had looked like Clarice added as she leapt at the minotaur girl.

    Minnie slammed her fist into the distorted version of Clarice that was attacking her and the deformed thing exploded like a popped water balloon. It only took Minnie a second to clear the ichor from her eyes but in that time the school changed.

    The sunlight was gone, as was the traffic and the sounds of the birds. In their place, a weird, flickering moonlight illuminated everything and, from outside the shattered windows, Minnie heard the laughter of a thousand teasing children.

    She would have been worried about that, but the question of where the real Adella and Clarice had fallen held her attention more. Or it did until other creatures began to crawl from the shadows.

    The things that crept forth wore the makeup of clowns, but their bodies were distorted in the way no human’s ever could have been. With the lack of light it was impossible to count how many there were, but Minnie could guess that whatever the number was it was more than enough to overwhelm her.

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