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The engines had managed to play up Charluth’s lies by acting like he told them directly. When Charluth tried to defend himself, first by saying that he didn’t say a word to them, only to the workers, the workers said that they heard the insults from Crysna. When pressed for details, he lied about the date. “I swear, I heard it from Crysna only two days before I told them!” he urged Tophan as he spoke with him and the engines. “She was at the transfer yards!”

“Was not!” replied Dulna. “She was at the Quarry! The manager there can confirm it!”

“I already checked with the quarry on my inspection tour,” assured Tophan. “The workers were singing Crysna’s praises on the day my grandson said she was absent. So, Charluth, tell me, why would they compliment a supposedly absent engine? Answer: she WASN’T! So, is there another lie you wish to spin or will you finally fess up?”

“Y…You don’t believe me?! Your own grandson?!”

“Considering that your father has warned me about your habit of lying, no, I don’t.”

“JUST A MINUTE!” shouted Charluth. “My dad would never dare say that! He believes I never lie!”

“If that were true,” snarled a voice as a man stepped out from behind Gornula, “then you’re dangerously deluded!”

“D-Dad?!” yelped Charluth. “W-What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“I always triple-checked your stories,” explained Charluth’s father. “I must say, I’m appalled! You lied worse than I did when I was your age!” Charluth dropped the façade.

“Who gives a rip about truth?!” he snapped. “I lied to keep our family afloat! I lied to keep those beneath us in their place! We are surrounded by people who would stab us at any given moment because of the incomprehensible decision of abandoning our benefactor when her stronghold was taken over by Dr. Borg! A benefactor that made us rich beyond belief when we were loyal! Mid-realm rules, Under-realm nobility, Over-realm compassion?! Meaningless! Do you understand?! If we kept to our arrangements before Dr. Borg took over Plunder Island Stronghold, we wouldn’t have suffered through the Final War! Now, with people riding on a severe victory high, we must forge alliances to make sure that they only benefit us! We need to make friends to replace Reb, now that she’s lost her nerve!”

“She was a better leader when she was a Protectorate Pirate!” urged Tophan.

“She was financially weak when she became one! Building power is all that matters in life! …You’re a fool, Grandfather!” He then turned to his dad. “And you’re a fool for following him! …Now I understand why Mom, Mother, Mama, and Dad left you!”

“Whatever you feel about me,” hissed Charluth’s father, “is now irrelevant. Our alliance with Reb made us her vassals and our becoming a family of controllers for a small railway has saved us in numerous ways! …But you insist on the weakness of a nomadic existence. Your pining for a dull existence has proved that you haven’t learned what it means to be civilized yet, so you will remain in my house until you learn sense. You are, effectively, grounded!”

“You can’t be serious!”

“I’m deadly so. Go on and say that you hate me. I’ve heard it before.” He then grabbed his son’s arm and dragged him off the railway. Tophan sighed once they disappeared from view.

“…I must apologize for dragging you into my family’s drama,” he said to his engines. “I must also praise you all for looking out for one another, especially for Crysna.”

“Well, it just wouldn’t do to leave the new engine in the lurch now, would it?” asked Dulna. “It’s simply not the-”

“Not the Great Varshenta Way,” interrupted her coworkers and Tophan.

“…I don’t say it that much, do I?” asked Dulna.

Reb heard the news of what had happened and mulled over the events for a week before she approached Elgrad again. “Rebarisal Rojam,” he boomed, “my colleagues and I have granted you clemency during the Final War and you rejected it when it was over. Tell me, why should you be given it again?”

“Because I now see the folly in a nomadic existence,” replied Reb. Elgrad arched an eyebrow.

“Could you be more specific?”

“I lived as an old pillaging Orc, raiding places for trinkets and other items for me to sell. I never fully internalized what settling down means until an old associate, Tophan, showed me what having a place to call your own can bring. I never made the association that Plunder Island Stronghold was a home for me and my crew. As a Protectorate Pirate, I can make sure that those that are lost can have a home. …They can and will be stronger with a place to call their own.”

“Then will you swear once more to protect the people of the Realms from your old business associates that have yet to see the light?”

“I will.”

“Then let me warn you that this is your last chance. There will be no more chances if you waste this one. Your Protectorate Pirate status is restored.” Elgrad handed her a commission letter.

“Thank you, My Lord.” Reb stood up and took the letter, then she, Melgem, and Rikuna left the throne room.

Arsha and Denstra saw them off at the port. “So,” said Arsha, “what happens now?”

“Probably the usual Protectorate Pirate Business,” replied Rikuna.

“Though, we’re going to stay on the straight and narrow,” assured Melgem.

“And we must SIMPLY thank you,” said Reb. She handed Arsha a small box in gift wrapping. Arsha tentatively took it and looked it over with Denstra.

“Doesn’t look half bad,” remarked Denstra. “In fact, the wrapping’s pretty immaculate.”

“That’s how I wrap presents for my DEAREST friends,” chuckled Reb. Arsha pulled on the bow and the lid flew off as a pop-up snake jumped out. Arsha yelped and dropped the box. She then regained her composure and looked at Reb.

“And what’s that?” she asked, a little annoyed.

“I rigged it up myself,” replied Reb. Arsha picked the box up and looked at the snake’s face.

“Looks almost real,” she said, “but I’ve never seen one with baby-blue eyes.” The snake then squirted water in Arsha’s face. Reb and Melgem laughed as Rikuna hurried them onto their ship.

“That’s for that DREADFUL stunt you pulled on me once I left you!” called Reb. “Now we’re even!” Once everything was ready, Reb’s ship took off and headed for the Mid-to-Under Realmgate.

“…I hate her,” grunted Arsha as her face dripped.

“You, me, and the rest of the Realms,” agreed Denstra as she handed Arsha a cloth.

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Crysna DID take the older Steam Engines’ advice. Yes, she had her accidents, but she learned from them and took steps not to repeat those mistakes again. She made friends with the Steam Engines and was Dulna’s best friend on the Railway. Reb never understood it. “Why, in all the Realms,” she grumbled, “are they becoming friends?! Crysna’s CLEARLY a more efficient engine! She’s stronger, faster, more maneuverable, and she doesn’t produce as much crystal waste! Her type of engine’s going to replace those steam engines you DEARLY love!”

“Non-Mechanica Steam Engines, yes,” replied Rikuna, “and there WILL be Mechanica Crystal Engines that will be so puffed up that they think themselves superior to Steam Engines, but they’re gonna be dealt with.”

“My dear Rikuna, conflict between the old and the new is the DREADFUL name of survival. That is what kept my crew going.”

“It KEPT your crew going. These days, that needs to exist only among non-Sentina animals.”

“If you say so,” grunted Reb, not fully believing it.

There was another person who took Reb’s views to heart, Tophan’s grandson, Charluth. For some odd reason, he took a dislike to Crysna. He was a known troublemaker. The reason for this was because he tried to haul freight cars that were going to be scrapped and tried using Henurya to pull them and add them to Jarnathu’s train. Henurya tried to tell Charluth, but he wouldn’t listen. When Jarnathu collected the cars already arranged and got through to Charluth, the young man became the laughingstock of the railway. Tophan didn’t like that his own grandson was disobedient and fired him for it. Ever since, he tried to cause trouble while his grandfather wasn’t looking. His attempts failed in the past, but he had a feeling his new plan would work. One day, he spoke to the railway workers at the shunting yards. When he approached them, the workers started laughing at him. “Hey, look!” said a Centaur woman. “It’s the driver that can’t tell old freight cars from new!”

“Let’s sing him his favorite song!” called an Elf man.

“One! Two! One, two, three, four!” counted a Slime man. The song echoed through the yard.

Charluth is no help at all!

Thinks he’s very clever!

Says that he’s the greatest of us!

That’s the best joke ever!

When he tries to haul freight cars

Ready to be cut up

Just stand aside and watch him flop

The goofy little Charluth!” Everyone laughed and laughed. Their laughter died when they realized Charluth was laughing with them.

“I see you’re still a merry band!” he said. “That joke will NEVER get old. I laughed and laughed when I heard it! Crysna told me one about Dulna! I’ll whisper it!” He leaned in and imparted a secret.

“…No, you’re lying!” accused the Centaur woman. “Crysna would never say something so crass!”

“…Oh,” Charluth looked pained. “You mean…you DON’T find it funny?”

“No!” said the Elf man. “And she’s right, Crysna’s too much of a good worker to say something like that!”

“Oh dear,” gulped Charluth. “That explains why she whispered it to me.”

“You mean…she told you this?!” asked the Slime man. “That can’t be true! …Can it?” Doubt invaded the workers’ minds and Charluth grinned as he left them to discuss whether it was true or not. His plan was running like clockwork. Unbeknownst to him, however, Gornula was nearby, giving Arsha and her group a tour of the yards. They heard everything.

“What did I tell you, my BELOVED darling?” Reb said to Rikuna. “Old against new.”

“Not on this railway!” snarled Gornula.

Gornula met her fellow big engines at the sheds and told them about what she and Arsha and her group overheard. “It’s unimaginable!” she fumed.

“Unthinkable!” agreed Jarnathu.

“Unbelievable!” confirmed Henurya. “We have to stop his nonsense!”

“And we gotta tell Crysna about this!” suggested Jarnathu.

“Well, here she is!” called Crysna as she parked herself on the turntable. “What can I do for you?”

“Crysna, a known troublemaker is spreading rumors about you that you said something rather insulting to the railway workers,” explained Henurya.

“What?!” protested Crysna. “Why would I do that?! They’re just as important as us!”

“We figured those rumors are unfounded,” said Jarnathu. “But we need to get the villain caught.”

“Well, I’m open to suggestions,” offered Crysna.

While they were talking, Melgem saw the whole thing. He told Reb what he saw and stunned his wife. Rikuna, on the other hand, had a triumphant smirk on her face. “Told ya!” she said.

“But that can’t be true!” protested Reb. “That is not normal behavior!”

“Reb, why are you so adamant that it’s a Dog-Eat-Dog world here?!” snapped Rikuna. Reb sighed.

“Because that’s how the Rojam family survived,” she explained. “The strongest of the children survived while the others were absorbed into other families. We ALL had to fight to make sure we carried the family legacy. It was rare for someone like my mother to give birth to just one child.”

“Forgive me for saying this,” remarked Rikuna, “but that doesn’t sound like a mother to me.”

“Then tell me, what DOES it sound like?”

“Old Orc training.” Reb snarled at that remark. “What you’re telling me is that your family saw how the Orcs raised their young back in the Savage and First Ages and thought that was the best way to ensure the survival of the Rojam family. But the Orcs abandoned that kind of thinking for a reason. It was actually killing the race as a whole, keeping them stuck in a nomadic existence and forever making them jealous of races that settled areas. Once they abandoned the nomadic existence, they became stronger.”

“Oh, so the Forsorna Family is jealous of Civilized people?” snarked Reb.

“Well, they DID say they want a place to settle. Right now, the Realmgate people are trying to-”

“I was being facetious!” interrupted Reb. “Are you telling me the Forsornas ARE looking for a place to settle?!”

“An entire Realm they can call their own, if you can believe it,” confirmed Rikuna.

“So, what, wandering the Realms weakens a person?!”

“Tell me, don’t you have a place you call home? A certain STRONGHOLD?” Reb was stunned at Rikuna’s counterargument. “I thought so. And you fought to get it back. By the Rojam Family’s logic, you ARE weak. But you don’t feel weak, do you? Reb, I’d suggest you examine yourself for a little bit and THEN decide what to do.” Reb couldn’t come up with anything to say in response.

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One of the tests needed for restoring a pirate to Protectorate Pirate status was dinner with the Royal Family they’re pleading their case to. Since Reb was asking the Royanas, the dinner was…awkward to say the least. Arsha and Reb spent half the meal glaring at one another. Rikuna decided to break the silence. “Isn’t this nice?” she asked. “When’s the last time we got together like this, hm?”

“The only meal I remember sharing with her,” replied Arsha, “was when she drugged me and my crew and tried to ransom us!”

“It cost me a FRIGHTFUL amount of people,” recalled Reb. “We never fully recovered from the Splitters’ actions on MY island.” Rikuna gulped.

“Eh heh, good times?” she mumbled.

“No,” said Arsha and Reb together.

“Would somebody please pass the potatoes?” asked Elgrad.

“There…aren’t any potatoes, sweetie,” reminded Hanako.

“Well,” said Elgrad, “I figured the pirates who kidnapped our daughter and had five of her crew killed to be turned into Revenants by Dr. Borg could PULL POTATOES OUT OF THEIR ILL-GOTTEN GAINS!” By the time he was shouting, he was pointing his fork at the pirates.

“Uncle Elgrad!” snapped Rikuna. “We’re here for a nice family dinner, not to fight over who killed who or who stole what!”

“No, let’s have that conversation!” hissed Melgem. “Perhaps we can discover why those fool peasants seem to like you so much!”

“Fool peasants?!” snapped Foresna. “As a peasant, I take offense to that!”

“But why?! You emulate the rich too much! Putting sunglasses on dogs, taking photos of meals, and DON’T get me started on data crystals filled with nothing but recorded plays!”

“At least we’re not fool enough to attack a cruise ship!”

“Now, you see here! We do NOT attack cruise ships!” snapped Reb.

“Not what I read from the news. What ship did you guys attack again? The Monkey Business?” Arsha and Foresna high-fived each other, then Arsha got an idea.

“Is that what this is about?” she asked. “You two are too embarrassed by that and so you felt like you permanently lost your touch at actual piracy?” Reb’s face went as red as her hair in embarrassment and fury. “…Your silence says yes.”

“Look, it’s not REALLY that,” said Melgem, trying to help his wife. “It’s…that prophecy.” Reb sighed.

“The Final Prophecy,” she elaborated. “New Realms, unlimited resources, untold wealth, everyone with full bellies, it’s not all that great for pirate business.”

“Then, by that logic, the Protectorate Pirate job’s gonna go the same way,” remarked Arsha.

“No, it won’t,” said Reb. “While Protectorate Pirates won’t be attacking actual pirates, we DO get paid in making sure the minor threats, like stowaways, are taken care of.”

“Look, Rebby and Melly,” said Rikuna, “what you need is to spend some quality time with average people instead of famous ones like Arsha, and I know just how to do it!” She then held up a flyer. “Who wants to join me as we see the new Mechanica engine for the railway tomorrow? It’s a new type of engine!” Arsha sighed.

“Fine, I’ll do it,” she grumbled.

“Arsha, wait!” interjected Elgrad. “You’re not seriously suggesting-?!”

“My crew’s gonna hear about this, and I’m telling them to take the proper precautions concerning them!”

“…Well, I guess I can’t ask for more than that.”

“REB ROJAM?!” yelped Denstra when the news reached her.

“Unfortunately,” confirmed Dalengor. “However, she’s not doing anything bad at the moment.”

“Keep security on standby when she does!” ordered Denstra. “I am NOT gonna suffer her a second longer than I need to!”

“That’s exactly what Arsha asked me to pass along.”

“Good. Make the necessary arrangements.”

“Aye, Ma’am.” Dalengor then headed off.

Four Mechanica engines were standing in front of their berths at the Largandra Railway sheds, awaiting their controller, Arsha, Reb, Rikuna, and Melgem. The railway was a small one at the western ends of Largandra, so there was no need for a massive fleet of engines. One of the engines, a Mechanica Tank Engine woman named Dulna, looked at her watch. “What’s keeping him?!” she grunted.

“Relax,” soothed the express engine, a Mechanica Tender Engine woman named Gornula. “If anything, an arrival now would make him early.”

“You know how much of a stickler he is for timetables,” said a Mechanica Tender Engine man named Jarnathu. “I’m sure he’ll be here.”

“There’s a saying on my old railway,” retorted Dulna, “if you’re not early, you’re late!”

“Sounds a little stressful, if you ask me,” said the last Tender Engine, a Mechanica man named Henurya.

“In my eyes, there are two ways of doing things!” snapped Dulna. “The Great Varshenta Way or the Wrong Way! At heart, I’m still an engine of the Great Varshenta Railway and-!”

“Don’t we know it!” groaned all three Tender Engines. Just then, they heard a horn.

“Is…is that a new…heavy goods type of horseless carriage?” asked Jarnathu.

“What’s that purring noise?” quizzed Gornula.

“If I were a betting engine,” remarked Dulna, “I’d say it’s the engine arriving on the turntable!” The engine was a Mechanica woman, but she had a different shape to the steam engines. She looked boxy and had no funnels on her shoulders, just radiator grills. There was no visible mana crystal supply and there was nothing for water storage. There WAS a cab, as the controller, a human man named Tophan, stepped out with Arsha, Reb, Melgem, and Rikuna.

“Hello, Engines!” called Tophan.

“Hello, Sir,” replied the Engines.

“Sir, if I may,” asked Dulna, “is she the new engine?”

“She is, indeed!” replied Tophan. “Her name is Crysna.”

“Where are her funnels?” asked Henurya.

“I don’t have any,” replied Crysna. “I don’t run on steam power.”

“You don’t?!” yelped Gornula. “How do your pistons move?!”

“I don’t have pistons.”

“Then how do your wheels move?!”

“I have a crystal-drive engine. One or two mana crystals a day and I’m off.”

“You mean, the mana crystals are wired into you?!” asked Jarnathu.

“They are.”

“It’s kind of like how a ship’s engines work,” explained Arsha, “just smaller, thus needing fewer mana crystals.”

“As such, my type of engine is called a Crystal Engine,” Crysna said proudly. “I must say, I’m excited to work here!”

“Crysna is here on trial,” said Tophan, “to help with shunting work. Dulna, I know you can do the work alone, but what happens when you break down? Your larger co-workers are rather…clumsy when it comes to shunting.”

“Th-the term is awkward, not clumsy, thank you,” mumbled Gornula as she looked sheepishly at her buffers.

“In any event,” continued Tophan, “Crysna needs to learn. Please teach her, Dulna.”

“Yes, Sir,” replied Dulna.

As Crysna learned her duties and what branch line the two shunters run, Reb spoke with Arsha. “Their worthy Fat-”

“LARGE Controller to you!” hissed Arsha.

“…Their worthy LARGE Controller thinks Crysna needs to learn. Crysna’s a Mechanica. She doesn’t need to learn. Besides, she’s a new type of engine.”

“I’ve seen new types of ships that blunder their way through life unlike Endea. If Crysna wants to succeed, she’ll heed Dulna’s advice.

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The Endeavor had to pick the supplies up at Galthar first, then went to Largandra. “Largandra,” called Shalvey, “this is the Endeavor, registry CRS-2784. Requesting permission to land.”

“Standby while we verify your clearance,” replied the person at flight control. Shalvey transmitted the clearance code. “…Clearance accepted. You are assigned to Flight Path 1 to Landing Pad 4. Welcome to Largandra and tell her Highness welcome back.”

“Will do,” answered Shalvey. She ended the call and fed the flight path and coordinates to Nazay. Nazay then guided the ship to the landing pad. As he did, Arsha looked distracted. Denstra saw this.

“Hey, are you okay?” she whispered. Arsha was snapped out of her thoughts.

“…I’m gonna miss you guys once this is over,” she whispered back.

“It’s not over yet. We still have a mission to complete and this one doesn’t exactly have a timetable.” Arsha smiled a bit.

“Yeah, there’s that.”

Once the Endeavor landed, Endea reported to the snooze room, a new addition to shipyards for Ship-type Mechanicas to comfortably sleep under the effects of purple water, the anesthetic for Mechanicas. An engineer and a doctor were on standby. “So, ready to get rid of any and all excess weapons?” asked the engineer.

“You have NO idea!” replied Endea. “I’ve been waiting for this day when I first got the initial overhaul that slapped the damn things on me in the first place.”

“Well, it’s time to get rid of them,” said the doctor. “Time for only the essential weapons to deter pirates.”

“…Yeah, pirates are my only threat now that the Splitters and Dr. Borg’s followers are gone.”

“We’re ready to administer the purple water,” reported the engineer. “You good to go?”

“Yep, put me under!” Once Endea tucked herself into the bed, the engineer called for the go ahead to administer the purple water. She fell fast asleep and the shipyards got to work.

Foresna decided to get to the castle before Arsha. He wanted to get familiar with it since it was gonna be his home at some point in the future. He was let in and wandered the halls, saying hello to everyone. “Hello, Irmalii!” he said to the Royana’s Royal Guard Captain.

“Hi, Foresna!” replied Irmalii.

“Hello, Domesta!” he greeted once the Head Maid floated by.

“Welcome, Foresna!” returned Domesta.

“Hello, Mr and Mrs. Rojam!” he said to a couple. He then realized what he said and grabbed their arms. Unfortunately, his eyes WEREN’T wrong, it WAS Reb and Melgem. “And just what, pray tell, are you doing here?” he asked.

“You wouldn’t believe us if we told you,” replied Reb evenly.

“Try me.”

“Okay, we snagged a BEAUTIFUL new lover. Rikuna, if you must know.”

“Arsha’s oldest cousin on her mother’s side?”

“That’s the one,” confirmed Melgem.

“And what’s your angle on it?”

“We love her, she loves us, that’s the angle.”

“Uh huh, sure. And do Elgrad and Hanako know about your presence?”

“Of course, otherwise we’d be in the dungeon by now.”

“Well, you don’t mind if I drag you two to the throne room and confirm that for myself, do you? And by that, I mean that I’m dragging you there anyway, regardless of your willingness or lack thereof.”

“Now, wait a minute, my DEAR Foresna-!” gulped Reb. Foresna then dragged the two away.

“That’s Mr. Falshenda to you!” hissed the red-headed man.

“And you’re SURE you can do this?” Hanako asked a nine-tailed Kitsune woman as the two and Elgrad spoke in the throne room.

“Positive!” replied the woman, Rikuna. The doors then opened.

“Your Majesties, are you aware that pirates are in here?” he asked.

“We are,” replied Hanako. “Let them go.”

“Why?!” protested Foresna.

“Because my eldest niece here,” explained Hanako, “somehow thinks she can change them with love.” Foresna released the two pirates and glared at Rikuna.

“Rikuna, explanations?”

“It’s simple, I love them!” replied Rikuna as she hugged the two pirates. The two smiled in her embrace.

“WHY do you love those cutthroats?”

“Well, pity, I suppose.”

“Gee, way to make a guy feel special,” grunted Melgem as his and Reb’s smiles faded.

“Oh, come now,” said Rikuna. “Were you two not suffering from your crew mocking you when they discovered you didn’t have a certain map that led to the buried treasures of all currently known royal families?”

“…Maybe,” mumbled Melgem.

“And were they not wishing to be Protectorate Pirates again?”

“…Perhaps,” muttered Melgem.

“And who set you up in style while you plead your case to become Protectorate Pirates once more?”

“…The WONDERFUL Dr. Positive,” muttered Reb.

“That’s right, Dr. Positive! The one who’s gonna turn Melgem from a bad guy to a glad guy! Turn Reb from a sad she to a happy she! Turn you both from Devil to A-Level, baby!” Foresna then grabbed Rikuna and dragged her to Elgrad and Hanako.

“You guys aren’t seriously considering this lunacy, are you?!” he asked the King and Queen. “Reb’s the only living one of Arsha’s arch enemies!”

“Look, all former Protectorate Pirates,” sighed Elgrad, “have the right to a second chance to regain favor with us. It’s a two-strike system, so if they waste it, they’re never gonna be Protectorate Pirates again. I don’t like them anymore than you do, but not even We are above the law. We have to give them one last chance.”

“With all the respect that’s due to you, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever-!” Trumpets interrupted Foresna’s rant.

“Oh, please don’t let it be Arsha,” gulped Hanako. “Her presence will only make things more complicated!” Arsha went into the throne room.

“I heard there were a pair of new guys in here,” she said, “so I thought I’d w-w-w-WHAT IS THIS?!” She finally clapped eyes on the Rojams. “I thought I would be welcoming two new people to Largandra!”

“No,” replied Foresna. “Apparently, we’re all gonna be helping Rikuna in getting Reb and Melgem their Protectorate Pirate status back!” Arsha drew her wand.

“Told you she wouldn’t like it,” Hanako muttered as she held her hand out in front of Elgrad. Elgrad handed her 200 golds to pay off the bet.

“Oh no!” snarled Arsha as she leveled her wand. “I do NOT help my only mortal enemy get a damn apartment in MY home city!” Magic built up at the tip of her wand and she swung upwards, ready to fire a blast at the two pirates.

“LOWURDAL!” shouted Rikuna as she thrust her palm towards Arsha. A spark flew towards Arsha and hit her hand, making her drop the wand. “The Rojams aren’t enemies anymore! They’re family!”

“And how, pray tell, did you, my eldest cousin, arrive at THAT conclusion?” growled Arsha.

“She’s been dating them since your mother and I were looking for you,” muttered Elgrad.

“And once they get those warm, family-style feels,” continued Rikuna, “their icy shell will crack and we’ll all be chest-deep in sunshine!”

“…Whatever you’re on,” grunted Arsha, “you need to get off it now.”

Standalones TTR

Falnii Poster

Of course, she would need an eyecatch.

Standalones TTR

Falnii and her Family’s Greatest Treasures

Falnii comes from a long line of ambassadors that are the best at research. Their knowledge of other countries’ histories has enabled them to always reach an agreement that both parties are happy with.

Standalones TTR

Lardeth Poster

And the eyecatch that served on a few chapters comes into existence.

Standalones TTR

Lardeth and the Shores of his Realm

Lardeth has always enjoyed the beach and he wanted to evoke the old ways of sailing ships visiting the different countries of the Realms.

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“Now, Sho’s dance was over,” said Moru. “I stuck my head in the office door and I saw Milnaf and Dingbat arguing over by the wyvern cage.”

“What were they arguing about?” asked the prosecutor.

“I don’t know,” replied Moru, “but Dingbat was sizzling like a hot hamburger! He grabs Milnaf by the neck like that!” She grabbed Curlandii’s neck! “Then he drags her over to the paper press, see?” She dragged her to a paper press on the table. “Then he smacks her on the head like that!” Moru hit Curlandii on the head with a hammer. “Then he pokes her coconut into the paper press like that, see?” She stuck Curlandii’s head into the press and grabbed the wheel on top. “Then he says ‘I’ll squeeze the cider out of your Alalar’s Apple!’ Then he gives her the works like this!” She twisted the wheel and the press went down on Curlandii’s head. “And he keeps turning and twisting!” She then stopped. “And that, Lords and Ladies, is-” The press then rose so sharply that the wheel spun rapidly, then flew off its post and landed on Moru’s head. Curlandii managed to get out and indicated that she needed her jaws to work again. Moru smacked her jaw and she regained control of her mouth.

“What’s the matter, you wanna kill me?!” asked Curlandii.

“Quite preposterous!” snapped the prosecutor. “When the police broke into the office, they found the defendant, Sho Girla, standing over the body of a murdered woman clutching a wand-only crossbow in her hands!”

“Which only goes to prove that my client is innocent!” replied Bujamiso.


“Yes, Ma’am, and I’ll prove it!” He picked up Exhibit A, a crossbow that only fired with a wand in its stock. “Lords and Ladies,” he said, “the action of this crossbow is so hard, it would take the strength of a Troll to pull the trigger!” He turned to Curlandii. “Try it.”

“I’m no Troll!” protested Curlandii.

“No, your jaw’s too small,” replied Moru. She then poked Curlandii’s eyes.

“So I’m a Troll,” said Curlandii once she recovered from the eyepoke.

“Pull the trigger!” directed Bujamiso. Curlandii tentatively took it. “Never fear, there’s no wand in there.” Curlandii tried to pull the trigger, but she was straining to do so. Her face was turning an alarming shade of purple in the attempt. Bujamiso, feeling secure on that front, turned to the jury. “Sho Girla’s strict exercise regimen has her focus more on her legs. So, tell me, how could her comparatively frail little finger pull the rusty trigger of that instrument of war?”

“Ain’t nothing in there,” sighed Curlandii. She then managed to pull the trigger and discovered that there WAS a wand in the stock! A magic blast leapt from the crossbow and strike Bujamiso in his rear end! He jumped in pain and ended up embracing a woman on the jury. The woman smiled, then leaned to him.

“Channel seven four three, extension nine nine seven two…after 40:00!” Bujamiso realized that she was flirting with him, then his attention as grabbed by Curlandii trying to get her finger out of the trigger guard. When he joined the struggle, she fired another shot that knocked the pendants off Moru and Larima’s necks.

“What did you do with my star pendant?!” Moru asked Larima.

“Give me that crossbow!” growled Bujamiso as Moru and Larima tried to help.

“DON’T POINT THAT THING AT ME!” yelped Larima. The crossbow fired one more shot and it took the priest’s toupee off, leaving a sear on his scalp. They finally got the crossbow away from her.

“You were called in to be a witness, right?!” Moru snarled at Curlandii.

“Certainly!” confirmed the larger Elf.

“So were you!” Larima said to Moru.

“What are you butting in for?!” Moru yanked on Larima’s hair. “You were supposed to be a good one!”

“Well, ain’t I?” asked Curlandii.

“Then what are you disturbing the Royal Court for?!” Moru tried to yank Curlandii’s hair, but it was too short. Curlandii gave her signature “Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk” and then blocked Moru’s eyepoke. Moru went for poking out a single eye. “Get going!” Moru pointed to the stand. Curlandii sat in the stand again and ate on a strip of gum. Lardeth rolled his eyes.

“Stop chewing that gum!” he called.

“Certainly!” Curlandii spat it out and started playing with it.

“WILL YOU THROW THAT GUM AWAY?!” Curlandii then tossed it.

“Look, I got rid of it!” She then saw that it landed on Moru’s nose. Larima then took a tissue and crept to Moru’s face.

“Hold still! I’ll get it!” She then closed her first on Moru’s nose. Moru protested, then Larima got all the gum off and stomped on it. She then cheered loudly. Moru grabbed her arm.

“You’re in the Royal Court, not in the woods, Talmazu!” She smacked Larima and dragged her away.

“Order in this court!” called Lardeth. As the Maidens sat down, the wyvern spoke.

“Find the letter! Find the letter!”

“What does this wyvern mean by ‘find the letter’?” asked Lardeth.

“There’s a whole pile of letters here,” said Moru. She and her friends then looked through the letters on the desk, then Moru saw something. “Look! There’s a note tied to the wyvern’s foot!” Moru opened the cage and held her finger out. “Come on, Wacky, Wacky, Wacky. Come on, Wacky, Wacky.” Her hand went for the note, then the wyvern bit her! “OUCH!” The wyvern flew off and buzzed the throne room. The Maidens armed themselves with hammers and tried to hit it, hurting the people in the process. It then perched itself on a light fixture.

“How are we gonna get it down?” asked Larima.

“Let’s get some salt and put it on his tail!” suggested Curlandii.

“That’s no way to get a wyvern!” said Moru. “You gotta wet its scales so it can’t fly!” Curlandii then got an idea.

“Don’t wait for me!” she said to her friends. Moru and Larima tried to climb the wall as Curlandii got the fire hose.

“I object, Your Majesty!” called the prosecutor as she was fed up. “This court! These proceedings!” The bailiff tried to stop Curlandii from using the hose, but it was too little, too late! Curlandii had already switched it on and a deluge of water erupted from the hose. The whole throne room got sprayed.

“What a night!” cackled the wyvern before the water knocked him off the fixture. As Curlandii and the bailiff tried to tie the hose, Moru took the note off the Wyvern’s foot.

“Get this!” she called. She then read the note aloud. “‘Who killed Milnaf? I killed Milnaf, and with my bow and arrow! Don’t try to find me and shove me off to Realmfleet Max. Signed Wingnut!’” Everyone cheered as Sho Girla’s name was cleared. Once Lardeth handed down the innocent verdict, the priest approached him and held out the Codex. Lardeth placed his left hand on it and raised his right.

“I, Lardeth Felompha, do solemnly swear,” began the Priest.

“I, Lardeth Felompha, do solemnly swear,” repeated Lardeth

“That I will execute my duties as King of the Over-realm faithfully.”

“That I will execute my duties as King of the Over-realm faithfully.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will uphold the laws and dreams of my people.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“I will care for those that are in dire straits.”

“With the help of the now Mortal Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“With the help of the now Mortal Divine Ones, I will not let evil corrupt my judgement.”

“If necessary, I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.”

“If necessary, I will give my life to save my people, should disaster strike.”

“I hereby pronounce you King of the Over-realm!” The crowd cheered as Lardeth looked onwards.

At the port where the Endeavor and Malnar’s ship sat docked, Lardeth and Falnii saw Malnar, Gorfanth, Arsha, and Foresna off. “You call often, you hear?” urged Lardeth.

“Loud and clear, Princess,” replied Arsha. Her face then adopted a thoughtful look. “Wait, you’re the reigning monarch now. That nickname doesn’t suit you anymore.”

“Well, I don’t want it to change,” said Lardeth. “My lovers may still call me ‘Princess’.” He then adopted a pompous voice. “Thus is our Royal Decree!” That earned a laugh.

“Hey, Foxy, you’ll tell us when your coronation is, right?” asked Malnar.

“Of course!” replied Arsha. “Because after the ceremony, I have something for all of you.”

“Oh?” asked Gorfanth. “And what’s that?”

“That’s a secret for now,” replied Arsha.

“In the meantime, we’ll send you copies of our portraits,” promised Falnii.

“Gotta say, Princess,” mused Foresna, “the roses in your hairpiece really give it a nice splash of color. Why those colors, though?”

“Humor me for a bit and remind me what the national colors for each Realm are,” said Lardeth.

“Ah!” realized Foresna. Everyone then sighed.

“Well,” mumbled Arsha, “I’ll see you at my coronation.”

“Take care,” said Falnii. They all kissed one another, then Gorfanth and Malnar headed to their ship as Arsha and Foresna returned to the Endeavor.

“Captain on the bridge!” called Denstra as Arsha stepped onto the bridge.

“As you were,” directed Arsha. “Did our mission parameters come in?”

“Our mission,” reported Shalvey, “is to deliver supplies to the Largandra shipyards and then authorize the Endeavor’s peacetime overhaul.”

“That would be nice,” muttered Endea. “The weapons I got from my wartime overhaul are sticking into me!”

“Nazay,” said Arsha, “lay in a course for the Over-to-Mid Realmgate, then get us to the shipyards.”

“Course laid in,” replied Nazay.

“Nice and easy,” directed Arsha. The Endeavor rose into the air and flew off to the Realmgate.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 6: The Eternal Age of Unity)

3 Realms 6-23

“Take off your hat,” said the priest. Curlandii used her right hand to hold it. “Now raise your right hand.” She put the hat back on and raised her hand. “Now put your left hand here.” He pointed to the Codex. Curlandii then moved her cane into her right hand as she put her left onto the book.

“Take off your hat,” said Lardeth. Curlandii put her cane back in her left hand and used her right to take her hat off.

“Raise your right hand,” repeated the priest. She put the hat back on and raised her hand. “Now put your left hand here.” He pointed to the Codex. Curlandii then moved her cane into her right hand as she put her left onto the book.

“Please, take off your hat,” commanded Lardeth. Curlandii put her cane back in her left hand and used her right to take her hat off. The priest was losing patience.

“Raise your right hand!” he growled. Curlandii grunted in frustration as she put her hat back on and raised her hand. “Now put your left hand here!” She changed the cane’s position again!

“Will you please take off your hat?!” This time, Lardeth was losing patience. Curlandii took her hat off.

“Raise your right hand!” snarled the priest. Curlandii put the hat back on. “Now put your left hand here!” She changed the cane’s position again. At that moment, Lardeth had enough!

“TAKE OFF YOUR HAT!” Curlandii decided to solve the problem by putting the hat onto the cane’s handle.

“Raise your right hand!” growled the priest. She raised the cane. The priest grabbed the hat. “WILL YOU GET RID OF THAT HAT?!” he shouted. Curlandii put the hat on the priest’s head, hung the cane on Lardeth’s arm, and put both of her hands on the Codex.

“Raise YOUR right hand!” she said. The priest raised his hand, then realized what he was doing before he lowered his hand and took the hat off. He decided to hold both it and the Codex.

“Raise your right hand!” he snarled. She did so. “Doyousolemnlysweartotellthetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth?” he asked.

“…Huh?” asked Curlandii.


“Are you trying to give me the double talk?” The priest tried to hold his tongue.


“Why don’t you answer him?!” snapped Lardeth.

“He’s talking Boar-Fae!” replied Curlandii. “I don’t know what he’s saying!”

“He’s asking you if you swear-!”

“No, but I know all the words!”

“…He’s asking you if you promise to tell the truth!”

“Truth is stranger than fiction, Kingy-wingy!” Curlandii then waved at him.

“…Kindly address us as Your Majesty and take the oath!”

“Doyousolemnlysweartotellthetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruth?” asked the priest.

“Certainly! What have I got to lose?” replied Curlandii.

“Take the stand,” said Lardeth. Curlandii picked the chair up.

“Where do I put it?” she asked.

“No, no! Take the stand!”

“I got it, now what do I do with it?” The priest took the chair out of her hands and put it back onto the floor.

“SIT DOWN!” he said. Curlandii sat down, but she sat in a way that made her fall to the floor. Moru and Larima rushed to help her up.

“What’s the matter with you?!” snapped Moru. “You’re in the Royal Court, not in Clandii’s Pool Room!” She then bonked Curlandii on the head. “Sit down!”

“I’m a victim of circumstance!” argued Curlandii.

“Sit down!” said Larima as she smacked Curlandii’s head

“Who are you hitting?” snarled Moru as she poked Larima’s eyes. She then smacked Curlandii’s cheek before she and Larima returned to the bench.

“Proceed with the case,” ordered Lardeth as Curlandii put her bowler back on. Bujamiso then approached her.

“Were you in the Flights of Fancy café on the night of Jamfaf the forty-second?” he asked.

“Certainly!” confirmed Curlandii. As the questioning continued, Moru and Larima drew out a tic-tac-toe board on the bench.

“Did you, at that time, see the defendant, Sho Girla, in any way, shape, or form, commit or try to commit bodily harm to the deceased Milnaf Wilmurna?”

“I object, Your Majesty!” called the prosecutor. “The defense is trying to lead the witness!”

“Objection sustained,” replied Lardeth. As Bujamiso continued his questioning, the prosecutor sat on the tic-tac-toe game.

“Mrs. Hanorfal, did you see Ms. Sho Girla in physical fight with Milnaf Wilmurna?”

“If it pleases Your Grace,” interjected the prosecutor as she stood up, revealing the tic-tac-toe game on her rear end, “may I suggest that the defense allow the witness to testify as to what she saw.” Moru and Larima tried to end the game, but the prosecutor felt their hands and turned to see them. Moru and Larima tried to act like nothing happened.

“I say, Jasna,” said Moru, “what comes after 75?”

“76,” replied Larima.

“That’s the spirit!” agreed Moru.

“Request granted,” said Lardeth. “Proceed with the testimony.”

“Mrs. Hanorfal,” said Bujamiso, “kindly tell the Royal Court what you saw about the murder of Milnaf Wilmurna.”

“Well, it was like this, Mr. Royal-” began Curlandii.

“Address the King as Your Majesty!” hissed Bujamiso.

“Well, it was like this, My Majesty-”

“YOUR Majesty, not My Majesty!”

“Why, don’t you like him?”

“Allow the witness to proceed,” said Lardeth. “We understand her.”

“Thanks, Ol’ Kingaroo! You’re a pal!” After that, she gave her testimony. “Well, me and my gals, we’re musicians. We were tearing up some hot swing music in the orchestra. Sho over there was swinging her clouds. Her sweetie, Milnaf, was inhaling a bottle of hooch at a table,” she took her hat off, “and a hoofer by the name of Dingbat was getting ready to shake his tootsies.” With the amount of old Second Age slang in that sentence, everyone was left confused. The jury couldn’t make heads or tails of it.

“Kindly speak Realm Standard and drop the vernacular,” sighed Bujamiso. Curlandii looked at her hat.

“Vernacular? That’s a derby!”

“Drop the vernacular.” She dropped the hat. “No, no, not that! Talk so the jury can understand!”

“Is everybody dumb?! Say, Kingy, if you let me and my pals kinda act it out for you, we’ll show you just what happened!”

“If the Prosecution and Defense have no objections,” said Lardeth, “We think that’s a splendid idea.”

“No objections,” said the prosecutor.

“No objections,” agreed Bujamiso.

“No objections,” chuckled Curlandii. She then joined her friends on the other end of the throne room as Sho Girla changed her clouds so that everything below her knees and her stomach were exposed. She then formed a cloud boa. Moru put a harmonica in her mouth and blew a note. Larima took up her violin and ran the bow along the strings. Curlandii took up a pair of spoons. Moru then stomped her foot to set the beat, then they played their music as Sho Girla danced and stretched the cloud ball along her body in a teasing manner, giving flirty winks to everyone all the while. Soon, the Maidens stood up and Curlandii exchanged her spoons for a cello and attempted to run her bow across the strings, but it got caught on the strings. She released it and it flew across the room and into the priest’s mouth. She then spun the cello around before she just plucked the strings. Larima continued playing, getting lost in the music and, unbeknownst to her and the priest, used her bow to steal the poor man’s toupee. The toupee then touched her shoulder, and she got a look at it. Her eyes then widened in terror.

“A TARANTULA!” she cried. She swung her bow around, trying to get the toupee off. Moru managed to slap it off, then Curlandii found a hammer and swung it at the toupee. She also managed to smash Moru’s foot. After she hopped around to stop the pain, Moru smacked Curlandii.

“What’s the matter with you?!” she asked. The bailiff then approached the three and Moru swiped his wand from its holster. She fired five magic blasts and the priest realized what she was shooting at! “I killed it!” she announced.

“Stand back!” warned Larima as she used her bow to pick the remains up. “It’s liable to bite you!” Moru then realized what it really was and took it off the bow.

“Tarantula? Shot five holes in the divot!” She smacked Larima away. “Get out of here! Wasted five good sparks-!” The priest then took the ruined toupee out of her hands and put it back on his head.

“I’ll sue you for this!” he threatened.

“Oh, superstitious, eh?” replied Moru.

“Vice-eyed kid, huh?” agreed Curlandii.

“Ladies, you must control your killing instincts,” warned Lardeth. “Proceed with the testimony, please.”

“Proceed!” Moru ordered Curlandii before bonking her with her baton. She then blew into the harmonica and Curlandii plucked the cello’s strings. The two then finished their music as Sho Girla finished her dance routine. She then bowed before reforming her clouds into a slightly more conservative formation.

“That was sure hot, Moru!” said Curlandii as she slapped Moru’s back. Moru then swallowed the harmonica in surprise and coughed, making musical notes escape her. “Hey, Larima, listen!” called Curlandii. Once Larima joined them, Curlandii pressed an area on Moru’s tummy and made music come out. Larima tried and got the same results. They then played her like an old organ before she tried to cough the harmonica up. Curlandii gave her a swift kick and the harmonica came out. “You got it!” cheered Curlandii.

“Please omit the rest of the entertainment and continue,” ordered Lardeth.