It was the next to last official night of the Under-union Festival and the 4 Fs’ Beautiful Blues were performing their Felansi dance routine in front of a large crowd. The ladies passionately danced, their hands clapping to keep time for the gentlemen to strum their guitars. They were pouring their souls into the routine, closing their eyes and letting the music guide them, yet concentrating intensely on their steps. The music then reached its crescendo and the clapping and steps intensified until one last strum of guitars stopped the ladies in a flourish. The crowd applauded wildly as the ladies held their pose for a few seconds until they all opened their fans, fanned themselves as they curtsied slyly, then they pointed their fans to the men as they got up, holding their guitars and bowing, then hugging the ladies as they walked off aside from Tufarmem as she spoke to her husbands before sitting in a chair and fanning herself alone onstage. As the rest of the Blues exited stage left, Termaf came in stage right and cast her gaze over the audience with a worried expression, as if she were looking for something. “Hi, pal!” called Tufarmem to Termaf. Termaf then turned to Tufarmem and approached her.
“Did you call me ‘pal’?” she asked. Tufarmem looked a little confused but nodded. “Why, I haven’t heard that word in years. You know, kid, I wasn’t always a wandering floozy like you.”
“…She call me a floozy?” Tufarmem asked the audience.
“Ah, back then, it was a brighter time,” continued Termaf, ignoring her question. “I remember the days of yore when I was a happily married woman. Then, one day, a stranger came to my house, begging me for food and shelter, so I told her to make my home her home. Boy, she did.”
“Ooh.” Sympathy was strong in Tufarmem’s comment.
“Yes, ooh, indeed. One night, I came home from work and called out for my darling husband. ‘Lanswey! Oh, Lanswey! …Lanswey? Lanswey, the bread-winner’s here!’ Then…I found it!”
“A note. A note on his pillow!” Termaf looked like she was about to burst into tears.
“Wh…what did the note say?”
“It was one of those cold-blooded notes. ‘Termaf, I’m running away with Yunfeen!’” Termaf then broke down as Tufarmem got up from her chair and rubbed Termaf’s back in reassurance. Soon, Termaf stopped crying as her face hardened. “I swore, then and there, to all the Divine Ones, that I would catch them and make them pay for breaking my heart! I packed my bags and left my house for a nomadic life, hunting them and gathering any information I could about them! My first stop was in the Over-realm in the Drelda Forest, and the Fae told me that I had missed them by three days! On with the chase! To the Gamfinar Jungle, then to the Coliamdii Kingdom! Then the Falchineve Drider colony! Then to the Mid-realm! Largandra! Vorkath! Aridu! Last, back to my native Under-realm! Crelima City! Frigandor! Realmgate City! Then, at last, I met my hated enemy, face to face, in the Grilthan Forest! Specifically, at Alanshi Falls!” Her expression then turned crazed. “ALANSHI FALLS!” She then turned to Tufarmem slowly. “Slowly I turned! And step by step, smarg by smarg, I crept up to her!” She did the same to Tufarmem, then took her chin. “And, standing at the precipice, when I felt her hot breath on my cheek, I LET HER HAVE IT!” She then started beating on Tufarmem!
“HELP!” shrieked Tufarmem. “MURDER! POLICE! HELP!” Termaf then stopped and appeared to regain her senses.
“Wait, you’re not my hated enemy!”
“No! I’m the lady who called you pal!” Tufarmem then readjusted her dress and tried to steady Termaf.
“Forgive me, I haven’t been well. It’s that place! Every time I hear it, it tears me apart!”
“Doesn’t do ME any good, either!” Tufarmem then turned to the audience. “Ungrateful, that’s what it is! How do you like a dame like that?! I talk to her, try to be friendly, and she flies off the handle because she hears ‘Alanshi Falls’!”
“Oh no!” gulped Tufarmem as Termaf turned to Tufarmem slowly.
“Slowly I turned! And step by step, smarg by smarg, I crept up to her!” She did the same to Tufarmem, then took her chin. “And, standing at the precipice, when I felt her hot breath on my cheek, I LET HER HAVE IT!” She then started beating on Tufarmem again!
“HEY! HEY! HEY!” Termaf stopped and stumbled near stage left.
“It’s that man! I’ll kill him! Her too! …Blood?” Termaf then looked down and cried out. “RIVERS OF BLOOD! POOLS OF BLOOD! HA HA! THE BLOOD!” She then went offstage, leaving Tufarmem to fix herself up.
“What a meeting!” As she dusted herself off, Yunfeen came onstage and bumped into her. “Pardon me, pal!” mumbled Tufarmem.
“…Did you call me ‘pal’?” asked Yunfeen, causing Tufarmem to gulp. “It’s been a long time since I heard the word ‘pal’.”
“You too?” quizzed Tufarmem. “Haven’t you got any friends?”
“That’s what I was getting to, the dirty soul-leech! She tried to take him away from me! AH! But she didn’t succeed! So, she trailed me!”
“To the Drelda Forest?”
“…Yes.” Tufarmem swallowed nervously before continuing.
“Then the Gamfinar Jungle, the Coliamdii Kingdom, the Falchineve Drider colony, Largandra, Vorkath, Aridu, Crelima City, Frigandor, and Realmgate City?”
“Yes! YES! But how did you know?!”
“You’d be surprised!” Tufarmem then sat back in her chair. “Then she found you at the Grilthan Forest’s Alanshi Falls!”
“ALANSHI FALLS!” A crazed expression crossed Yunfeen’s face.
“Not again!” yelped Tufarmem.
“Slowly I turned! And step by step, smarg by smarg, I crept up to her!” She did the same to Tufarmem, then took her chin. “And, standing at the precipice, when got ready to swing, I LET HER HAVE IT!” Now SHE beat on Tufarmem.
“SOMEONE HELP ME!” She then stopped when Tufarmem cried out.
“What have I done?! Blood! The Judge! BLOOD!” That was when Termaf arrived back onstage. Yunfeen caught sight of her. “Ah, it’s you!”
“Oh, there you are, Yunfeen!” snarled Termaf.
“Why…!” growled Yunfeen as they inched towards each other…then hugged each other! “Why, it’s been too long!” cheered Yunfeen.
“I’ll say!” laughed Termaf. “I almost caught up with you in the Drelda Forest!”
“I think I saw you in Aridu, but it could have been a mirage.”
“Shame he strung us along like that.”
“When did you find out?”
“Well, I heard the news in Frigandor, but never believed it until after our encounter.”
“Go on, where did you find her?” Tufarmem urged.
“Forget about it!” replied Yunfeen.
“Yeah, it’s past history,” agreed Termaf.
“Why, you cowards!” snarled Tufarmem. “You’re afraid to say ‘Alanshi Falls!’”
“ALANSHI FALLS!” repeated Termaf and Yunfeen with a crazed expression on their faces.
“You stay away from me!” yelped Tufarmem.
“Slowly I turned!” continued Termaf and Yunfeen as they slowly turned and approached her, their expressions still crazed. “And step by step, smarg by smarg, I…!”
“Let them have it!” called Tufarmem as she flung clouds at their faces and dashed off, stage right. The audience applauded as Tufarmem returned and joined Yunfeen and Termaf in a bow.
“Thank you all for joining us!” bid Termaf.
“This is one of our family’s best gigs ever, despite all the mishaps!” continued Yunfeen.
“Unfortunately, the Closing Ceremony is tomorrow, which means we must say good night and goodbye,” sighed Tufarmem.
“Who knows where we’ll perform next,” mused Termaf. “We don’t know, we just go where the wind leads our skyships. But, despair not, for we will never stop performing! With that, the Feisty Felansi Forsorna Family bids you all a fond farewell!” The three gave one last bow as the audience applauded. They then exited stage right, waving goodbye and smiling all the while.
The day finally came. The Closing Ceremony was prepared as the Royal Families sat in their respective positions. The announcer took his place at the podium and began. “Well, it seems our collective memory of certain legends is rather…lacking, for want of a better term. I personally can’t believe I forgot that the White Riders were put to rest long ago. Still, we had fun and having the 4 F’s perform here was a really nice touch. With all that, the reigning monarchs may now step forward and light their fireworks!” Andwayla began.
“I am Queen Andwayla Narven, ruler of the Galdredan Lava Kingdom!” She snapped her fingers and fireworks launched into the air, lighting the sky with her home’s colors.
“I am King Exarla Yunumtey, ruler of the Greltharg Merfolk Kingdom!” He did the same as Andwayla, and thus was the way for all monarchs.
“I am King Alnedar Yerudii, ruler of the Morgonthor Trench!”
“I am Queen Yurmar Hanthuu, ruler of Crelima City!”
“I am King Esirat Glasnita, ruler of Frigandor!”
“I am King Enrel Wenshar, humble ruler of the Actanila Mega-shark Grounds.”
“I am Queen Landuii Altror, ruler of the Calnthor Merfolk Kingdom!”
“I am Queen Endomu Gokurah, ruler of the Greshkagh Mountains!”
“I am King Endormak Tothen, ruler of the Grilthan Forest!”
“I am High Priestess Torunath Lundalii, ruler of the Haldebor Drider Caves!”
“I am Queen Rutalmer Worodai, ruler of Realmgate City!”
“I am Lord Tomugath Varsek, Ruler of Falgreth!”
“I am Chancellor Penshek Tolshoon, ruler of Dwelga!”
“And I am Under-King Orbak Emboramii, ruler of the Belsnath Citadel!” The last fireworks launched, and the crowd cheered. As everyone left for their ships, Malnar gave one last goodbye to her family.
“I’ll be sure to come back the instant Arsha’s completed her tour!” assured Malnar.
“And we’ll keep your room untouched,” answered Orbak.
“…Hey, where’s Mama?” asked Yunfeen.
“Oh, crud! I forgot to ask!” Orbak chided himself. “Arsha, Elmpam’s going to her old home to give a sermon at the church. Could she bum a ride off you?”
“Certainly!” answered Arsha. “Where is she?”
“She’s outside the Endeavor with Denstra right now, waiting to get your word.”
“Then we’ll be there straight away! Farewell, Orbak!”
“May the Divine Ones bless you with clear skies!” wished Orbak. Soon, he left for his own ship, then they stopped by one of the ships the Forsorna family uses. They met with a female Troll in the same style and color of dress Yunfeen usually wore.
“Everyone, meet the Red Matriarch, Lantwee Forsorna!” bid Yunfeen.
“A pleasure to meet you all,” greeted Lantwee. “I trust you’ve all enjoyed our performances?”
“We certainly did!” answered Malnar.
“Then let me present a gift to you.” Lantwee then pulled out a data crystal. “This contains all our performances throughout the existence of our family, even the ones from this week.”
“Thank you, Ms. Lantwee!” Malnar accepted the data crystal.
“Anything for extended family. It’s got a variety of menu options and will constantly be updated with each performance.”
“I will be sure to binge all the performances when I get the chance! Break a leg!”
“And you too!” Yunfeen and Malnar hugged each other one last time before Yunfeen joined Lantwee. Arsha then led her group to the Endeavor and met with Elmpam and Denstra.
“Captain, did you receive word of Queen Elmpam’s journey?” asked Denstra.
“Orbak himself told me,” answered Arsha. “We’ll happily take her. Queen Elmpam, welcome aboard.”
“Many thanks,” bid Elmpam. “You know, this is my first time setting foot on a Dauntless-class vessel.”
“Then you’ve picked the perfect one to board for the first time, now that she’s gotten an overhaul.” They went up the ramp and Arsha led Elmpam and her lovers to the bridge. There was a new addition to the bridge. “…Four chairs, I see. Is one of them for Endea?”
“Yep,” confirmed Denstra. “So, if we face the chairs with our backs to the screen, from left to right, they’re the Ship’s Counselor, the Captain, the XO, and the Ship’s Mechanica.”
“Then we’re in business,” declared Arsha as she sat in her new seat while Elmpam and Arsha’s lovers watched the whole thing from the observation balcony. “Nazay, lay in a course for the nearest Under to Over Realmgate, then take us to the Coliamdii Kingdom.”
“Course laid in, Captain,” reported Nazay.
“Nice and easy.” At Arsha’s command, the Endeavor rose into the air.
“Bridge, this is the Chief Engineer!” called Thangred over the comms. “Everything’s running smoother than ever!”
“That’s no exaggeration,” confirmed Endea. “I feel 10,000 years younger!”
“Good to hear!” praised Arsha. “Just keep us posted. Bridge out.” The Endeavor then went on its way to the Realmgate.