The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-29

After Oltor’s execution, the last thing to take care of was the funeral for Rentir and Glanfu. Their bodies were resting in the morgue and the guard leafed through his magazine. He then heard a knock on the door and pressed a button to open the door. Arsha was the one who knocked. She entered the room and spoke to the guard. “Any disturbances?” she asked.

“Nope,” replied the guard. “All the stiffs here are still stiff.”

“And what about any intruders?”

“You’re hardly an intruder, since you know the knock.”

“Any attempts to create a Revenant?”

“Your Highness, what’s with all the questions?”

“The Sheriff’s office went through Rentir and Glanfu’s records, even their communication records! It’s been discovered that they made a deal with Dr. Borg!” The guard’s expression became one of disbelief.

“…Sheriff Rentir?! One of Dr. Borg’s flunkies?!” he asked. “Impossible!”

“It’s possible, I assure you,” came an oily voice. Arsha and the guard’s shadows then came together and formed a pool of blackness. Rising out of the blackness were Oyed, Dr. Borg, and Yulduk. The guard slammed the alarm and Arsha pulled out her communicator.

“Backup! Now!” she called. Two Realmfleet officers then burst into the room as everyone prepared to fight.

“Find them,” Oyed ordered Dr. Borg. “Yulduk and I will hold them off.” Dr. Borg nodded and began her search. Arsha and one officer took on Oyed while the guard and the other officer dealt with Yulduk. To their credit, the two were good fighters, managing to keep a Revenant at bay. Yulduk then cast a fireball at the two. The officer, a Blaze Elf, then held it back.

“Really?” scoffed the officer. “That is SUCH a basic spell.”

“I suppose YOU are a Flame Master?” replied Yulduk.

“I’m near enough.” The officer then created fire ropes. “Rashel bu DAH!” he shouted as he flung his arms towards Yulduk. The fire ropes then became fire snakes as they were launched towards Yulduk.

“Rasulain!” chanted Yulduk as he jabbed into the fire snakes’ mouths, splitting them down the middle and dissipating them. “And you scoffed at ME about basic spells?” The officer was catching his breath after casting his spell. “That’s only a Tier 2 spell. If you’re winded from that, you’re nowhere near as close to being a Flame Master. I, on the other hand…” A red runic circle then appeared beneath him. “Hasheenday!” The runic circle then moved underneath his opponents and a massive octopus of fire grabbed them, burning them as the tentacles constricted them.

Arsha and her partner continued swinging their punches at Oyed. He kept blocking them, then kicked into Arsha’s chest, knocking her back. Her partner then leapt towards Oyed, but Oyed grabbed him by the face and spewed black mist onto him. The mist entered his ears, eyes, and mouth and he was reduced to a twitching mess, his face contorted into a silent scream. Oyed let him crumple to the floor. “He’ll be awake from that nightmare in a few minutes,” he purred to Arsha. He then tilted her chin up. “Such beauty would go to waste if it were damaged.”

“I’m not looking to be part of your harem!” snarled Arsha.

“I offer a greater position than that. You see, you and Dr. Borg are much alike. You both seek to unite the Realms. You both want to ensure the best future possible for you and your loved ones. Dr. Borg saw it my way with no coercion, making her one of my best warriors. I extend the same offer to you. Join me and unite the Realms, fulfill your greatest wish. My offer will lead to peace.”

“Take your offer and blow it out your…!”

“INSOLENT, FECULENT CHILD!” Oyed then grabbed Arsha by the neck and hoisted her up. “Where is it?! I weakened your precious Realms’ resolve with my presence, made the veil between the living and the dead thinner by bringing Intrag into the Over-realm, made one of your fellow Captains resign, yet still you defy me! Where is it?!” He then slashed across Arsha’s face with his claws. “Where, in your soul, is the part that tells you to resist me?!” As blood dripped from her cheek, Arsha chuckled.

“There’s the issue you’re having!” she laughed. “You wanted me to be weakened by my Inner Demons! That’s what made Dr. Borg so much more pliable! That’s where we’re different!” She grabbed Oyed’s arm, then Oyed felt a pain in his head.

Oyed found himself in a barren landscape under a dark sky with the corpses of the Divine Ones littering the ground. He scoffed. “Trying to gain access to my plans, are we?”

“Not really!” cackled a demonic voice. Oyed arched an eyebrow.

“Who are you?! You’re not talking like Arsha!”

“Oh, but I AM Arsha! …More or less!” Arsha’s Inner Demon then leapt onto Oyed, her tentacles constricting his limbs and throat. Her claws then plunged into his skull!

Oyed finally returned to the real world and clutched his head in pain, screaming as if he were really stabbed through the head. When she fell to the floor, Arsha drove her fist into Oyed’s ribs, then another fist into his diaphragm, the impact knocking him into Yulduk. Yulduk lost concentration on his spell and the fire-octopus vanished, leaving behind a burned guard and officer. Oyed’s nightmare victim regained his mobility and mind. All four people checked each other over as Yulduk checked his master over. He was gasping in pain. “…Pain!” he hissed. “Arsha…inflicted…pain!”

“My Lord!” called Dr. Borg. “We have Rentir and Glanfu! I’m opening a way out!” She opened a small Realmgate and drank a strength potion to lift Glanfu and Rentir’s bodies. Yulduk got Oyed up and had the Titan lean on him so they could get out. Yulduk then cast a few fireballs onto the walls, distracting their opponents and giving them time to return to base. Once the fires were put out, Arsha shouted in anger.

“GIVE! ME! A FAT! BREAK!” she roared. She then went dizzy for a few seconds. As soon as her compatriots went near her, she recovered. “Okay, may need to see Malnar about that.”

“Your Highness, are you all right?” asked one of her officers.

“I’m fine now,” she assured him.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, positive.” Arsha then released a breath in fatigue. “Have to admit, Oyed almost tempted me with his offer.”

“What made you resist?”

“His path would lead to the Realms’ downfall. I like the Realms too much for that. I don’t need him to make me a woman; I already AM one!”

“Captain, you made Oyed feel pain,” recalled the morgue’s guard.

“…Yeah, I did,” remarked Arsha in surprise.

“YOU DID WHAT?!” Malnar and Marshii shouted as Arsha was in Sick Bay.

“Use my Inner Demon against the enemy,” replied Arsha as she rubbed her ears.


“What’s the matter with you two?!” protested Arsha.

“Arsha, using your Inner Demon as a weapon could kill you!” lectured Malnar. “If you used it on a weaker opponent, the damage to your soul would be severe!”

“I DIDN’T use it on a weaker opponent!” countered Arsha. “I used it on Oyed.”

“Oyed was there?!” yelped Marshii.

“And he doubled over in pain after I hit him twice,” answered Arsha.

“…But he CAN’T feel pain, can he?” asked Marshii.

“That’s what the Codex says,” replied Malnar. “…Say, you don’t think…?”

“I’m NOT!” hissed Arsha. “I’m not the Champion!”

“But only the Champion could cause Oyed pain,” replied Marshii.

“Come on, even the Divine Ones are a little screwy on that prophecy,” remarked Arsha. “They all said so.”

“I guess you have a point,” mused Malnar. “I mean, they misinterpreted prophecies before.”

“Fair enough,” remarked Marshii. “In any case, Arsha, you’re staying there until I’ve given you a full checkup!”

“But, Doctor…!” protested Arsha.

“Shut it!” snapped Marshii.

After the incident in the morgue, Oyed had bandages over his torso and an ice pack on his head. “How’s that even possible?!” protested Yulduk.

“No yelling, please,” groaned Oyed.

“Sorry, my Lord, but, seriously, how?”

“Out of desperation came invention, I’d say. I had not anticipated someone using their own inner demons on me.”

“You don’t think she’s the Champion, do you?” Offense then crossed Oyed’s features as he stood up.

“Certainly not! Besides, if she were, it would still amount to nothing. I now know how she fights when she’s struggling for life. Victory won’t come to her. …Speaking of which, how’s Dr. Borg coming along?”

“She’s still chanting the spell at the moment.”

“Let’s go see, I never saw a Revenant being created.” Oyed and Yulduk then went into the next room. The bodies had just opened their eyes and were screaming.

“Shanwey yat talyen falunar!” chanted Dr. Borg as the pentagram glowed. “Shanwey yat talyen falunar! Shanwey yat talyen falunar! TEL!” She stopped and the bodies stopped screaming. Much like Yulduk, Rentir and Glanfu had ashen grey skin with blue veins glowing like stars. Rentir’s body still had fur, so one could only see the veins.

“Oh, Oyed, my HEAD!” groaned Glanfu.

“Glanfu? Is that you?” moaned Rentir.

“It’s me, my love,” replied Glanfu. Just then, their memories came back to them. “Our house! The explosion!”

“It DID take your lives,” replied Dr. Borg. “We got you out of the morgue.”

“Thank you,” bid Rentir. “Now, about the cousin fornicator who killed us…”

“The Over-realm Royals already executed him,” replied Oyed. Rentir and Glanfu then knelt. “Please, rise, my loyal subjects.” The two rose. “We’re currently at a repurposed Plunder Island Stronghold in the Under-realm. Would you care for a tour?”

“Of course, My Lord,” replied Glanfu.

“Splendid.” Oyed then led the two out of the room.

“…A real smooth talker, ain’t he?” muttered Yulduk to Dr. Borg.

“Well, that’s how he works,” replied Dr. Borg. Tormo then came in.

“Doctor, we need to discuss something,” he griped as he presented a paper to Dr. Borg. She took it and looked it over. Her eye then went wide.

“Yulduk, Tormo, assemble the Council,” she ordered. “We have financial problems to discuss.”

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

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The day of Elmpam’s sermon had arrived. Arsha, her lovers, Elmar and Calandra, Elmpam’s family, King Lektem and Tegnar, Lady Gramfar, one of the five Green Divine Ones of Earth, and many other people were in the pews as Elmpam went through with her sermon. “We always seek answers from the Divine Ones,” she preached, “but what good is it if they simply hand us the answers? How do we learn? Remember that Lord Glaktem once said that our discoveries of how the Realms work are what improve the Realms, and I see evidence of that every day. More often than not, our prejudice is made less when we discover the answer ourselves than if Lord Slameek tells us how the waves work or if Lady Alpira hands us the answer on why casting a curse feels like your soul is freezing. And thus, we all must remember that our Pantheon, like parents, would want us to find things out for ourselves. We are all children of the Divine Ones, from the first species that went extinct to the ones that rise up today, and we must make them proud by finding the answers ourselves. Let us also remember that even we have surprised the Divine Ones at various points in time. The most famous incident that leaps to my mind is when Lady Gramfar heard the news about Blenders. She thought it impossible for different species to be together and create hybrid children, yet Blenders are such a common sight now. With that, I would like to finish with this prayer.” All the churchgoers declined their heads and closed their eyes. “Divine Lords and Ladies, bless us with continuing to expand our knowledge and keeping our sense of wonder alive. Amen.”

“Amen,” repeated the church. Elmpam then looked to Lady Gramfar.

“My Divine Green Lady, do you wish to add something?”

“Only my prayer for you all,” replied Gramfar. “Bless us with continual surprises, because they make the Realms better.”

“We’ll certainly do so,” chuckled Elmpam.

“What tripe!” called a voice. Gramfar’s face contorted into a snarl.

“WHO DARES?!” she bellowed as she whirled towards the back of the church.

I dare!” barked the voice’s owner. It was a damaged Oltor. “I may be no fan of Oyed, but he IS right about one thing!”

“And what would that be, O Wayward Child?!” challenged Gramfar.

“The Realms are too messy as they stand!”

“Your Majesties, My Divine Lady, could you get everyone out?” asked Elmpam. “I must deal with Oltor.”

“Mama, you’re gonna get hurt!” protested Malnar.

“That IS a possibility,” conceded Elmpam. “However, I’m bound by my morals to stop him and I don’t want anyone else’s pain on my conscience.”

“…Be careful, my child,” urged Gramfar. She and the Kings then herded everyone out through the back, leaving Elmpam at the altar and Oltor at the door. They both then strode down the aisle.

“You’re better than this, Oltor!” growled Elmpam.

“Even parents need to let their children go!” replied Oltor. “The Divine Ones and Oyed can’t grasp that we don’t need them! Their fight fractured a perfect world! Now look where we are! Thieves, rapists, murderers, black magic being used in the Over-realm, and the Final War’s gonna start soon! That’s the trouble with fighting for diversity, we lose sight of where we came from!”

“And killing Out-realmers will make us remember? First Lektem’s dad, now this? When does it stop?”

“When the other Realms understand that the Over-realm is superior in its attitudes! When they understand that light MUST triumph over darkness, the two can’t be balanced! We want the same thing, Elmpam!”

“You misunderstand what I want. When I first came to the Under-realm, I once believed that their use of dark magic was too liberal. I really did. I got over that prejudice when I discovered how many steps one needs to memorize to cast a curse. There are actually so many opportunities not to go down that path and Under-realmers take them, they’re not the all-necromancer society you think they are!”

“Your best friend and name mate died by an Incubus’ hands!”

“And, for a while, I wanted to avenge Elmpam Roosheef’s murder. I really did. I wanted to kill that Incubus so bad, but it’s not the life she would want me to lead and this isn’t the life your wife and son want you to lead.”

“Don’t you DARE put that on me!” Oltor was about to swing his clenched fist when Elmpam pulled a metal cylinder out of her dress’s waistline. “…A TNG?”

“To block your powers and level the playing field. Your ability to talk someone to death IS magic based. You need to stop. Take time to learn before it’s too late.”

“You wouldn’t dare set that thing off!” Elmpam wasn’t bluffing. She pressed a button on the TNG and dropped it. The button flashed before the whole thing exploded, knocking the two Inus back. TNG, short for Thaumic Nullifier Grenade, designed to temporarily block any magical abilities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t differentiate between people, so both Inus lost their powers. They got up and Oltor snarled as he tore pieces of the pews off and twirled them like stakes. “You’re supposed to be my sister!”

“Which is why I have to stop you.” Elmpam took off her skirts, leaving her in nothing more than her bodice and pantaloons, and grabbed a candelabra, twirling it like a staff. Oltor roared in rage and charged at Elmpam. Elmpam swung the candelabra and kept him at a distance. She then threw a non-lit candle at Oltor’s eye, but Oltor rolled out of the way and threw his stakes. They buried themselves into a pair of Elmpam’s arms, and she yelped in pain. He then dashed forward and drove an uppercut into her jaw. Elmpam tried to shake off the pain, but Oltor slammed her head into a column. Elmpam then noticed a cloth near her and grabbed it. She then swung her tail into Oltor’s face, getting some loose fur into his eyes, and he howled in agony as he tried to get the fur out. Elmpam then got behind him and got the cloth around his neck before she grabbed both ends in one hand and pulled hard. Oltor then slammed Elmpam into walls in an attempt to get her off before he passed out. He gasped and panted until…he fell, unconscious. Elmpam checked his heartbeat, sighed in relief when she heard it, then looked mournfully at him as the sentence for what he did was death. “…I’m sorry.” She then used the cloth to bind his arms, then got another cloth to muzzle his mouth. Gramfar and Arsha with her lovers dashed into the church to see how the fight ended. It was then Elmpam felt the pain of the stakes in her arms again. Gramfar and Malnar dashed over to her and cast pain-numbing spells while Arsha called for a prisoner pick-up. Officers and medics arrived at the church as Oltor was waking up. The officers picked him up roughly and fear took over his heart. He knew what was coming.

The next day, Roolpam was pleading with the Kings to mitigate Oltor’s sentence, but they were deaf to her pleas. “Your Majesties, please! I’m his mother!” she wailed.

“He was disowned by your family, according to official records,” reminded Lektem.

“He has personally killed 429 people in his bloody career,” supplied Tegnar, “one of them being Lektem’s father.”

“He has also attacked other monarchs, Fae Empress Rellmeer being the most famous.”

“We’re sorry, Mrs. Tonsur, but Oltor is to be hanged tomorrow.”

“Please, I beg you!” pleaded Roolpam. “He’s let grief dictate his actions!”

“His mistake,” hissed Tegnar. “We had a report saying that Rentir’s house had been destroyed in an explosion and a bomb’s remains were discovered amongst the wreckage, on top of Rentir and Glanfu’s dead bodies. We may not like Rentir, but killing him disrupted elections, another capital offense.”

“Your Majesties!” begged Roolpam.

“We do not wish to detain you with a futile effort!” Lektem pointed towards the throne room’s door, meaning that they were certain of their decision. Roolpam’s tail drooped as did her head. She left the throne room in a somber manner.

Because of his threat level, all Over-realm monarchs attended the execution, as did Oltor’s family. The gallows stood in the center of the execution yard and awaited a person to choke out their breath. Oltor was dragged to the gallows and was held near the noose. “Hear ye, all in attendance!” called a robed man. “Let it be known that on this 1497th day of Rafem in the 4006300080th year of the Three Realms’ Third Age of Unity, Over-Splitter Supreme Oltor Tonsur is found guilty of the following charges: mass-murder, destruction of Multi-realm facilities, attacking Realmfleet, and disruption of politics. Let it be known that the judges have deemed he is too dangerous to be kept alive! Let it be known that he is to be hanged until dead by a former accomplice of his so the Realms may rest easier! Let it be known that none in attendance are to discuss what happens here unless at the Felomphas’ discretion! Your Majesties, will you follow the judges’ recommendation?”

“We have spoken and have agreed that we shall heed the judges,” replied one of Lardeth’s moms, Queen Jeefef Felompha. “Who is the former associate of the Condemned?”

“A Mermaid that has had her trial, Halfam Malfee,” answered the robed man. Oltor’s eyes goggled as Halfam, in her human form, strode towards the gallows.

“You?!” snarled Oltor.

“Me,” confirmed Halfam.

“Let it be known,” called the robed man, “that, because of Halfam Malfee actively mitigating the damage the Over-Splitters have done and proving repentance of being part of a terrorist organization, her sentence is temporary banishment from the Over-realm. If the Final War does not begin, she will live somewhere else for 100 years. If it does and she proves bravery, she will return sooner. Before that, she has requested to be the one to carry out the execution.” Oltor fixed Halfam with a look of burning hatred as the noose went around his neck and was tightened. “Has the Condemned any final words?”

“Halfam Malfee, you are a traitorous fish!” snarled Oltor.

“And you’re a cousin-banging freak!” replied Halfam as her hand went onto the lever. She turned to the robed man. “I am ready!”

“Hang him!” called the robed man. Halfam pulled the lever and the trapdoor beneath Oltor opened. The noose tightened further and Oltor flailed as he tried to get air into his lungs. That futile battle lasted about 11 minutes before he stopped moving. An Inu doctor moved towards the gallows and checked Oltor’s breathing and pulse.

“…It is done,” pronounced the doctor. The silence was deafening as the yard emptied and Oltor’s body was removed from the noose and taken to the morgue.

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“And thus…” floundered Elmpam a few mornings before her sermon. “…And thus…” She then growled to herself before sitting on the bed and looking at her notes. “… ‘And thus, we all must remember that our Pantheon, like parents, would want us to find things out for ourselves.’ Why in the Depths can’t I remember that line?! I wrote the damn thing!”

“THEY CAN’T BE SERIOUS!” howled Lensarn’s voice.

“Daddy?” asked Elmpam. She left the room and went downstairs to see Lensarn and Roolpam in the kitchen. Lensarn was ranting and holding a newspaper while Roolpam checked on breakfast. “Daddy, what’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong?! Our kingdom’s people, that’s what’s wrong!” ranted Lensarn. “Look at the polls!” He handed Elmpam the newspaper and she saw the section concerning the upcoming election for the Coliamdii Kingdom’s new Prime Minister, the right hand of the Royal Family. Elmpam’s eyes went wide as she saw the results.

“Rentir’s a candidate?!” she yelped. “And he’s the people’s choice?! The guy’s a face-eating leopard!”

“No kidding!” agreed Lensarn as he helped Roolpam set the table.

“I can understand that we all need to be diverse,” supplied Roolpam, “but I hardly see how enforcing diversity makes it appealing.”

“Exactly!” agreed Elmpam.

“Elmpam, maybe you can convince our Kings to not let Rentir into office?” asked Lensarn.

“Daddy, you KNOW the All-realm Constitution forbids me from doing that.”

“But you’re from the Coliamdii Kingdom!”

“I’m considered an Under-realm Royal now. I help Orbak rule a foreign Realm and Article 7 expressly states that Royals of a foreign country or Realm may not interfere in another’s politics. I’m sorry, but my vote no longer has weight.”

“…Dammit!” swore Lensarn.

“Hey, guys!” called Malnar’s currently sunny voice. She bounded into the kitchen. “Did you catch the latest?!” she asked.

“…On what?” asked Roolpam.

“That mermaid we found and discovered to be an Over-Splitter!” answered Malnar, referring to Halfam. “She’s given up the secret base and all Over-Splitter secrets!”

“You’re kidding!” gasped Lensarn, his mood brightening.

“Get a load of this!” Malnar pulled out a newspaper, the All-Realm Times, and displayed the headline. “Over-Splitters now smashed!” He then read the article explaining that, last night, after being identified and turned over to police custody, former Mermaid Over-Splitter, Halfam Malfee, revealed that Oltor was planning a two-person assassination attempt on the Kings of the Coliamdii Kingdom. Thanks to her cooperation, their base and arsenal was found and all data relating to the attack was unlocked. Given light of this turn of events, and that Halfam only acted as a spy and actively mitigated the damage the Over-Splitters had done, the police were pushing for a lighter sentence. When asked why she did that, she had said that she only joined because she was taken in by lies that it was an Out-realmer who killed her parents and she only discovered the truth that it was Oltor himself who did the deed because they were top diplomats that brought ideas from other cultures into the Over-realm.

“Well,” mused Roolpam after she and Lensarn read the article, “I suppose that’s a mercy.”

“How did she get past the weaponized conversation?” asked Lensarn.

“… ‘Weaponized conversation’?” repeated Malnar.

“Oltor has an ability where he can literally talk a person to death,” explained Roolpam. “Pretentious sounding, yes, but he can modulate the timbre of his voice so it falls into step with the listener’s heart and then, by gradually lowering his voice, he could eventually coax the heart into stopping.”

“…Yeah, definitely glad I haven’t met him.”

Over in Rentir’s house, Rentir stirred from his bed and yawned. He figured it was another day, another gold for him. He got up from his bed and made his way to his wife’s hammock. His wife, Glanfu, was a Drider from the Under-realm and preferred sleeping in hammocks. She snored peacefully, but loudly. Still, Rentir slept well, he was a deep sleeper. He lightly stroked Glanfu’s hair before heading to his closet and putting a bath robe on. It was his turn to make breakfast and he had an idea in mind. He then went downstairs to the kitchen and found Oltor at the table. “…You DO know you’re a wanted man, old friend,” muttered Rentir.

“Have you seen the latest polls?” asked Oltor as he looked at the newspaper. “Looks like the people want you to be our new Prime Minister.”

“I wouldn’t bet against me.” Rentir headed to the coffee maker.

“No, it wouldn’t be prudent.” As Rentir started the coffee, Oltor continued. “I want you to understand something, Rentir; although my current hatred for you over betraying the Over-Splitters is enough to make Oyed fear me, what I’m about to do is impersonal.”

“What are you babbling about?” Rentir continued showing his back to Oltor and kept his gaze fixed on the coffee pot’s usual area. Knife block, coffee pot, mugs, potholders, they all rested in their usual place.

“Everything that exists has a specific nature. Each entity exists as something in particular and has characteristics that are a part of what it is. ‘Fam’ is ‘Fam’. And, no matter what he does, ‘Rentir’ is ‘Rentir’. If I’m to save the Over-realm from the evils of the other Realms, you and your wife’s existence must come to an end before you approach the Kings with your election petition.”

“You’re going to kill us and give your usual speech that diversity is hollowing out the Over-realm’s morals?”

“I live up to my name’s meaning. I’m a soldier of purity and am dedicated to spreading purity across the Over-realm.” By this point, Oltor had pulled out a garrot wire.

“Interesting plan. Unfortunately for you…it’s not really an option, neither is using a trick I had taught you against me.” Rentir grabbed a knife from the block, held it in a grip so the blade ran parallel to his arm, then turned and slashed upwards, slicing the wire in two and cutting Oltor’s muzzle. Oltor yelped and backed into the table, touching the wound and drawing his hand back to see his blood on his fingers. The commotion caused Glanfu to wake up and scurry downstairs to see the whole altercation.

“Rentir, are you all right?!” she asked.

“Better than Oltor right now,” replied Rentir. “He tried to talk me to death.” He then blocked Oltor’s punch and slashed across his chest. Oltor stumbled backwards as he drew in a breath and covered the wound. The cut only scratched the surface of the skin under his fur, but the spread made it look a lot worse. “Prime Minister?” scoffed Rentir. “That would mean my wife’s talents would be overlooked, she would have been reduced to a trophy wife!” He then slammed the knife’s handle into Oltor’s eye. “Prime Minister? Foolish Cousin Fornicator! My campaign is a sham! A better way to observe the culmination of Dr. Borg’s research!” He then grabbed Oltor’s head and drove his knee into his opponent’s chest. “Prime Minister? Do you know how much power I’d have to give up to be the Kings’ Prime Minister?” He then slapped Oltor a few times, then threw him over the table. “Tell me, did you ever wonder how those assassins even found your wife and son?” Oltor’s single good eye went wide when he started putting two and two together. “That’s right, and I chose my insult carefully. I looked through medical records before you joined the Over-Splitters and noticed that your wife was your cousin on your mother’s side! You two brought an inbred monster into the Realms! That’s why I’m so determined to enforce diversity! When I heard you had joined the Over-Splitters, I decided that I needed a safer place to observe the experiment, so I turned myself in and gave up the location of the base! After that, I was granted amnesty as a Sheriff and made sure to funnel the money I had taken from you lot and put it into my campaign.”

“Ex…periment?” strained Oltor.

“Experiment, auditions,” remarked Glanfu, “whatever flies your skyship. We wanted to prove to Dr. Borg that we were worthy to join her cause and she approved, saying we could even become Revenants if we ever died.”

“And the chance of having a child would still be there,” continued Rentir. “We witnessed a Revenant and a Live One give birth, as well as two Revenants! With the Revenant/Live One Blenders, the child’s dominant traits are the Revenant ones.”

“You mean…this whole thing…!” gasped Oltor in pain.

“That’s right, old friend!” laughed Rentir as he hoisted Oltor up by the neck. “I spent 95 million golds, from the Over-Splitters’ coffers to my pocket, on a fake Prime Minister Campaign, all just to see you go mad!” Oltor then head-butted Rentir and dashed around trap lines Glanfu had laid down so he could escape. Glanfu then tended to her husband as he steadied himself. It was then that the two heard beeping.

Oltor was a good distance away before the explosion engulfed the house. Given its remote location, rescue crews couldn’t get there in time to save Rentir and Glanfu Ental. Oltor howled to mark that the architects of his wife and son’s death were dead. He then dashed away.

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3 Realms 3-26

Elmpam and Malnar enjoyed a nice day with Elmpam’s parents and siblings. Despite living in the Under-realm for a long time, Elmpam still knew how to ice-fish. Roolpam, Elmpam’s mother, led Elmpam, Malnar, and the remaining daughters, Turpam and Yuspam, out onto the lake. Elmpam helped Turpam cut holes into the ice while Malnar helped Roolpam and Yuspam ready the fishing lines. Malnar was eager to catch some fish. “Maybe I’ll catch an Ice Marlin!” she giggled.

“I’m afraid they’re not in season right now,” sighed Yuspam.

“Aw,” whined Malnar comedically.

“Now, the Snow Bass, on the other hand…”

“Snow Bass?! I haven’t had it in years!”

“Well, this is the season for it!”

“Come on, you two!” called Roolpam. “Elmpam and Turpam should have the holes ready by now!”

“Coming, Mom!” replied Yuspam. She and Malnar gathered up the lines as Roolpam got the bait. Soon, everyone picked a hole and took up their lines. After baiting the hooks, they dropped them into the holes and sat on their chairs, waiting for a nibble.

“You know, Mama,” mused Malnar as they all waited, “it just occurred to me that you and your sisters’ names have the same last syllable as Grandma, but all your brothers’ end in ‘tor’. Why is that?”

“…You know, I never asked,” remarked Elmpam. “Mom, why ARE we named the way we are?”

“It’s a bit of vanity on your father’s part,” explained Roolpam. “His name means ‘soft brain’ in the old tongue and he was teased because of it. He didn’t want any of his children to suffer like that, so he insisted on names that would denote some tough characteristic. ‘Pam’ is a feminine word that means ‘dedicated’, so he insisted that our daughters have ‘pam’ in their names. ‘Tor’ is the masculine version of ‘Pam’, so he wanted ours sons to have that syllable.”

“Well, the syllables suit y’all,” remarked Malnar. “So, what’s the meaning of your names?”

“Elmpam, you never told her?” asked Turpam.

“She never asked until today,” replied Elmpam. “To answer your question, Malnar, my name means ‘dedicated speaker’, Mom’s name is ‘dedicated beauty’, Turpam means ‘dedicated entertainer’, Yuspam’s meaning is ‘dedicated fisher’, then Rentor is ‘dedicated enforcer’, and Tuntor means ‘dedicated priest’.”

“…What about Oltor?”

“… ‘Dedicated soldier’.”

“He seems to have forgotten that.”

“He has.” Elmpam’s line then bounced! “Oh?” The line bounced some more! “I got a bite! I got a bite!”

“Haul him out!” called Roolpam. Elmpam had two sets of her hands on the line and tugged as hard as she could! The last tug revealed what she caught! It…wasn’t a fish she expected. If anything, it was a pair of starfish strung together by a strap. “…That shouldn’t be in the lake,” muttered Roolpam.

“No kidding, this is fashionable for Over-realm Mermaids,” remarked Turpam.

“Er, excuse me?” called a voice. Everyone turned to see a woman’s head poking out of the water, not even exposing her shoulders. The woman was Halfam in her usual Mer-form. “That’s mine,” explained Halfam.

“…You got a fish tail below the waist?” asked Malnar.

“…Yeah, why?” asked Halfam.

“Madam, this is a non-Sentina fish-only lake,” growled Roolpam. “No Sentina fish or Merfolk allowed! Come on out of there!” She and Yuspam hauled Halfam out as she covered her breasts with her arms. “I’ll have you put away for this!” snapped Roolpam. “This is a high offense, you know! Swimming in a main source of food for us!” As Halfam was handed her bra, she was taken over to the sled. “Yuspam, help me get her back home. Turpam, Elmpam, Malnar, you girls go ahead and continue fishing.” Yuspam helped her mother carry Halfam to the sled, laid her down and covered her in blankets, then they boarded the sled and urged their dogs homewards. Once they disappeared, Malnar, Elmpam, and Turpam resumed fishing.

“The nerve of some people!” grumbled Malnar. “Can’t believe someone would…” she then noticed her line bouncing. “This better be a fish!” She tugged on the line hard and pulled a large, cyan colored Bass out of the water. “Look at the size of that thing!” cheered Malnar.

“That’s a whopper, all right!” praised Turpam. “A few more of those, and we’ll eat well tonight!”

“I’m gonna try again!” declared Malnar.

“I’m surprised you wanted to fish instead of be part of Calandra and Elmar’s wedding today,” remarked Elmpam.

“I’ve never ice-fished before. Besides, I’ve seen weddings before, and they promised to record it, so I’m not missing out on much.”

Speaking of Calandra and Elmar’s wedding, it had just begun on the Endeavor. It took place in the chapel with Arsha officiating it and flanked by the Pink and White Divine Ones. Lord Benthe and Lady Sentriam were accompanied by Lady Lamsar, Lady Olpen, and Lord Galmik and stood to Arsha’s right, all in pink outfits. On Arsha’s left, in their white outfits, were Lord Clompofenta, Lady Seemeertii, Lady Reemiltee, Lord Galtrak, and Lady Bolmola. Arsha awaited the bride and groom as the organ played. At a certain musical cue, Elmar approached the altar and stood to Arsha’s right. The music then changed once he took his place and, walking down the aisle, in a large, white dress, with a veil covering only the eyes, held by a white rose crown, much of the veil bunched at the back of her head, and the remainder draping behind her, was Calandra. She slowly walked to the altar, then took her place at Arsha’s left. The music then ended and Arsha began her speech. “Beloved friends, we are all privileged to witness the union of Princess Calandra Narven and Lieutenant Elmar Rotem. Both come from totally different worlds in more ways than one, but, as the Divine Ones can attest, especially the ones in attendance,” the Divine Ones chuckled, “different worlds often come together. Such unions bring about changes for good or ill, today is one of the good changes. Elmar and Calandra, have you decided what your family name will be?”

“We have,” answered Calandra.

“We shall be the Narvens,” continued Elmar.

“Splendid,” praised Arsha. “Since the first wooden sea-faring vessels, the Captain has enjoyed the privilege of uniting two people in holy matrimony. I am honored to exercise that privilege today with you two. I know your future together will be long and happy. Princess Calandra Narven, do you take this man to be your husband and future King through disaster and prosperity until the Black Divine Ones must separate you on the mortal plains?”

“I do!”

“Lieutenant Elmar Rotem, do you take this woman to be your wife and future queen through disaster and prosperity until the Black Divine Ones must separate you on the mortal plains?”

“I do!”

“Divine Lords and Ladies, have you any words to say?” The Pink Divine Ones began.

“I am Lord Benthe, and I bless this couple with eternal love.”

“I am Lady Sentriam, and I bless this couple with eternal love.”

“I am Lady Lamsar, and I bless this couple with eternal love.”

“I am Lady Olpen, and I bless this couple with eternal love.”

“I am Lord Galmik, and I bless this couple with eternal love.”

“May you always feel peace and happiness throughout your days as you do on this day,” bid all the Pink Divine Ones. The White Divine Ones then took over.

“I am Lord Clompofenta, and I bless this couple with a new beginning.”

“I am Lady Seemeertii, and I bless this couple with a new beginning.”

“I am Lady Reemiltee, and I bless this couple with a new beginning.”

“I am Lord Galtrak, and I bless this couple with a new beginning.”

“I am Lady Bolmola, and I bless this couple with a new beginning.”

“May your new beginnings in your new joined life be pleasant and happy as today,” blessed all the White Divine Ones.

“Arsha, you may unite them,” bid Lamsar.

“By the power vested in me by the Divine Ones of Love and Beginnings,” declared Arsha, “I hereby pronounce this couple married by law, love, and beginning! Elmar and Calandra Narven, you may kiss!” Calandra leapt to Elmar’s face and planted her lips on his. He returned the kiss with equal passion as the audience applauded.

Far away from the ship, Oltor was trying to contact Halfam. “Halfam! Halfam, come in! Where are you?!” He gave up soon afterwards. “Stupid fish! Spent too long in the Under-realm, that’s what’s wrong!” He then heard barking. “Dammit!” He ducked behind an ice formation, then climbed it high enough for dogs to be unable to reach him. A search party then arrived with their dogs sniffing the whole area. Leading the whole thing was the Sheriff of the Coliamdii Kingdom, Rentir Ental. The party searched the area as Oltor stayed on his icy perch, not daring to make a noise. This lasted for a good hour until one of the officers approached Rentir.

“Sir, we’re not turning up anything,” she reported, “and it’s getting dark.”

“Very well,” decided Rentir. “Call off the search for now. We’ll sweep this area again in the morning.”

“Yes, Sir,” replied the officer. She then turned to her squad mates. “Pack it up and pack it in, boys and girls. We’re gonna continue in the morning.” The search party then left the area and Oltor got an idea.

“Well,” he mused once he was alone and down from his perch, “I DID post a bounty on that traitor about a year ago and it WOULD be a shame if a candidate for Prime Minister were to meet an…accident.”

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-25

The Endeavor made it to the Coliamdii Kingdom, the Over-realm’s most frigid area. Elmpam sighed happily as she put on her old Coliamdii clothes. She DID have a bit of a time trying to match her arms to their proper sleeves, but she got them correct. As she, Arsha, and Malnar went down the entrance ramp, her tail was wagging happily. “Back to the old fisher’s grounds!” she yipped.

“You always light up whenever we visit here,” observed Malnar.

“You’d do the same if you spent most of your adult life in another place outside your home,” answered Elmpam.

“…Fair point.” Malnar then turned to Arsha. “You coming?”

“Sorry, but I can’t,” replied Arsha. “I still need to help set up for Elmar and Calandra’s wedding in a few days. You two enjoy yourselves.”

“We will,” promised Elmpam. She then led Malnar in one direction as Arsha waved them off. She then went back into the ship and made her way to where the wedding banquet would be held, Barmek’s Bar and Grill. Mr. Barmek and Jaltor were discussing some final edits to the menu with Calandra and Elmar.

“So, the sausage became too expensive,” Calandra summed up what Mr. Barmek and Jaltor told her. “Are there any acceptable substitutes?”

“Unless you’re fine with losing the spicy flavor, no,” sighed Mr. Barmek.

“What else has that kick that can be made quickly?”

“Well, there IS a salmon dish…”

“You’ve got Galdredan salmon?” asked Elmar.

“Yeah, a whole shelf of it,” replied Jaltor.

“…You know, I haven’t had salmon since my 300th birthday,” mused Calandra.

“And fish IS part of a Merperson’s usual diet,” agreed Elmar.

“And you like fish too.”


“So, is that a ‘yes’ on the fish?” asked Jaltor. The future bride and groom looked at each other, then nodded.

“Go ahead with a salmon dish!” declared Calandra.

“Perfect!” declared Mr. Barmek.

“Wait a minute,” called Arsha, attracting their attention, “how did the sausage get so expensive?”

“Remember that outbreak of foot and mouth?” asked Calandra.

“…It was that bad?” quizzed Arsha.

“Yep. Farmers had to raise the price on their healthy livestock to turn a decent profit.”

“Yikes.” Just then, Shalvey came up. “Commander, what can I do for you?”

“A message from Realmfleet,” reported Shalvey. “Oltor’s been spotted here.”

“…Oltor?!” repeated Arsha. “The Over-splitter Supreme?!”

“The same. All ships are being searched by order of King Tegnar and King Lektem Yantoru. Yes, even Realmfleet ships are being searched. They don’t want him leaving this place.”

“Well, if the search party has a warrant, we’ll happily cooperate.”

The Search Party’s commander presented the warrant to Arsha when they arrived an hour later. Once everything checked out, Arsha bade them to carry out their search. The stereotype for Inus is that they’re able to smell a criminal from across a continent in any Realm. They’ve cultivated that for a while by joining law enforcement organizations. The commander stayed behind to speak with Arsha. “I know you’re Elgrad’s daughter and that the Royanas aren’t known for being nice to Splitters,” he remarked, “but we cannot afford any chances.”

“I understand, Sir,” assured Arsha. The search lasted for a good two hours, each room being turned upside-down, restored, turned upside-down again, and restored again to really make sure Oltor wasn’t on the ship. The search turned up nothing, so the Search Party pulled out, the commander thanking Arsha for her and the crew’s cooperation. When gone, the whole ship shuddered, no matter where the crew member was. After the whole thing, Arsha spoke with Denstra and Dalengor about it.

“I have to say, I almost panicked,” muttered Denstra.

“How so? You’re not a pirate anymore,” replied Dalengor.

“I’ve been one long enough to flinch whenever someone even utters the phrase ‘search the ship’.”

“That engrained into your skull, huh?” mused Arsha.

“Yeah, being a former pirate has its disadvantages.”

“It also has its advantages. I mean, you DID help us beat Reb back on your first days here.”

“…Yeah, I guess it does.”

Malnar and Elmpam’s carriage arrived at Elmpam’s childhood home and released them at the foot of a marked path to the door. Elmpam paid the driver and he left as Malnar and Elmpam headed up the path. As they got closer, Elmpam could see people coming to a shed, people that wore police uniforms! “What in all the Realms?” she muttered.

“There’s been a lot of police activity around here,” remarked Malnar. “What’s going on?”

“No idea. I’m going to get to the bottom of this.” Elmpam approached an officer talking to her father, Lensarn. “Excuse me,” she called. Lensarn and the officer turned.

“Elmpam!” greeted Lensarn. “And is this little Malnar?! Sweet Heights, my girl! Last time I saw you, you were up to my waist!”

“Good to see you too, Grandpa,” replied Malnar. “What’s all this?”

“Oltor’s been spotted in this kingdom, Your Highness,” explained the officer. “We have no intention of letting him get away.”

“Oltor?!” yelped Elmpam. “Why would he be here?!”

“Gathering what few allies he has left alive, I would guess. Dr. Borg’s been killing Splitters all across the Realms.”

“Erode public trust in us, I see,” mused Malnar.

“I’ve already spoken to this officer about a warrant and he produced one,” assured Lensarn. “Given Oltor’s past, I’m not surprised they want to search here.”

“Why? What connection does your home have to Oltor?” asked Malnar.

“…Elmpam, you told her, right?”

“I swear, I did!” answered Elmpam.

“Tell me what?” asked Malnar.

“Malnar, Oltor’s my eldest brother.”



“…You mean your eldest brother…is the Over-Splitter Supreme?!”

“Yeah, that’s why we don’t really talk about him,” remarked Lensarn. “I disowned him when I got the news.”

“But why would he want to join the Over-Splitters in the first place?!”

“Grief,” answered Elmpam. “He had a wife and son, but a pair of humans from the Mid and Under-realms killed them. They managed to escape justice and he joined the Over-Splitters, feeling slighted by the Over-realm and promising to bring a new era of peace in our time. He rose through the ranks quickly and soon became the Over-Splitter Supreme.”

“…I’m sorry for his loss,” mumbled Malnar.

“By the Ones, it’s FREEZING here!” shivered a Mermaid as she sat on the icy shores of the Over-realm’s Eastern Continent.

“Next time, wear more than a mere fluffy skirt!” growled Oltor unsympathetically. “Now whip up a warming spell for yourself and then prepare the arsenal, Halfam.”

“What for?!” argued Halfam, an Over-Splitter spy that entered into the Scarlet Stream Pirates two years ago. “Oltor, we’re the last Over-Splitters! We need to consolidate our…!” Oltor then slapped her!

“Yours is not to reason why, just to obey orders!” he growled. “Now get that arsenal prepped!” He then stormed off across the snow. “Stupid fish!”

“Pure-blooded mutt!” snarled Halfam as she turned her tail into a pair of legs, then cast a warming spell around her. She then got up and moved to the pile of weapons, getting them ready for a confrontation.

Their arrival was NOT unnoticed. Remsu and Yamta saw the whole thing. “Oh, wow,” muttered Yamta.

“Sheesh, Ansark held women in higher regard than that,” remarked Remsu. “…Can’t believe I just said that.”

“He’s gonna lose an ally if he keeps that up.”

“If she leaves him, she’s safe.”

“Wait, your wife was serious?”

“Of course. No need for people to die if they see sense.”

“…Fair enough.” Yamta’s communicator then vibrated. She opened it to see Femfaf’s face. “What’s going on?” asked Yamta.

“Girls, there’s a complication,” reported Femfaf. “Elmpam’s in the Coliamdii Kingdom.”

“Elmpam? Here?” asked Remsu. “What for?”

“Unknown. My guess is a family visit.”

‘Well, this IS her home,” remarked Yamta.

“Keep us posted,” continued Remsu.

“Will do. Femfaf out.” The call ended.

“This isn’t good,” muttered Yamta. “Elmpam’s presence will make it harder to get rid of Oltor.”

“Not if we play our cards right.”

“What do you have in mind?”

As that exchange went on, a trio of people camped a little further away from them. They all had blankets draped over their bodies and huddled around a fire. One of the people, a woman with blood-red hair and an equally colored floral hairpiece, was moaning her lot in life. “GLORIOUS Pirate Admiral one minute, a homeless BUM the next! What happened?!”

“You know the answer as well as we do, Reb,” grunted the second person, a male Mega-shark. He then shivered. “Grief, cold air is different to cold water!”

“You know, this may be our punishment,” muttered the last person, a male, cybernetic Sea Elf. He then pulled out a book and read a bit. “Maybe we SHOULD be cleansing our immortal souls.”

“How’s a book gonna help us?!” snapped the Mega-shark.

“It’s the Divine Codex!” remarked the Sea Elf. “It’s just a starting point!”

“I’d be more religious if a most DIVINE miracle happened right now,” muttered the woman, the former Admiral of the Scarlet Stream Pirates, Reb Rojam. She then leaned onto the Sea Elf, Melgem’s, shoulder. Jargoon, the former Mega-shark King, just snorted before turning his head away. He no longer cared enough to mutter any racial epithets, given his current company. He turned his gaze upwards…to see something coming towards them. He alerted his current companions to what was going on. The something was a team of sled dogs pulling their owner on the sled. The lead dog signaled for the team to stop and the sled braked to a halt. The owner, their features obscured by their clothes, approached them.

“Need a lift to civilization?” asked the person in a feminine voice.

“…You DO know who we are?” asked Melgem.

“All I see are a trio of people needing warmth,” remarked the sled driver. “Considering that symbiote slimes don’t do well in the cold, I think you could use a roof over your heads.”

“…We’ll take your offer,” declared Reb.

“Perfect, climb aboard!” directed the sled driver.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-24

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!”

“…Found what?”

“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.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-23

Everyone who had seen the broom riders met with Arsha in the conference room on the Endeavor. Nazay, Endea, Tornoth, and Bulshnak told them what they saw, causing Gorfanth to sympathize more with his brother. When Endea and Nazay explained what the riders were doing during their sighting, Lardeth threw his hands into the air. “Of course!” he complained. “After experiencing ghosts, why WOULDN’T Oyed come pay a visit?!”

“What do we do?!” gulped Falnii.

“Pray and repent, by the sound of it!” answered Tornoth.

“There isn’t enough time in all the Realms for you to do that, Tornoth!” snarked Gorfanth.


“Guys, fighting amongst ourselves is the worst thing to do right now!” called Arsha. “We need to come together. Nazay, Endea, get us to yellow alert. Malnar, Yunfeen, go tell the Royal Families about the White Riders and make sure you emphasize what Endea and Nazay saw. Lardeth…”

“Everyone, please!” called Calandra’s voice as she and Orbak entered the room.

“My friends, there’s no need to prepare for war just yet!” urged Orbak.

“Daddy, there is EVERY reason to prepare for war!” argued Yunfeen.

“She’s right!” agreed Malnar. “The White Riders are back, and it looks like Oyed’s managed to seize control of them! Why else would they open a gate to the Depths?!”

“They DIDN’T open a gate leading there,” replied Orbak.

“And the broom riders you guys saw aren’t even the White Riders,” supplied Calandra.

“…How do YOU know that?” asked Tornoth, suspicion furrowing his brow.

“Allow us to present the leader of the broom rider band,” answered Calandra. She and Orbak stepped aside to reveal the leader of the band take their mask of to reveal HIS features. Arsha’s jaw dropped. The leader was a human of Arsha’s skin tone.

“Tendrak!” she snarled as she set her hairpiece onto the table.

“You know him?” asked Foresna.

“You guys haven’t met him yet,” hissed Arsha. “Everyone, meet my cousin on my dad’s side, Tendrak Royana, leader of the Whitefleet Broom Platoon!”

“Hey, Arsha!” chuckled Tendrak. Arsha stood up and grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him close to her face.

“You’re part of Realmfleet, aren’t you?! What’s the idea of terrorizing an Under-realm kingdom, Round Ears?! And you guys!” She pointed to Orbak and Calandra. “What’s the idea of letting them?!”

“Perhaps, I could explain myself, Pointy Ears!” snapped Tendrak.

“Yes, perhaps you should!” agreed Arsha as she let him go. Tendrak brushed his shirt and began.

“Let me start by saying it was never our intention to terrorize the Galdredan Lava Kingdom. We were summoned here to take part in a defense trial called ‘Operation: Warning Web’. The goal was to create an early warning system that would alert people of any potential threats Dr. Borg would fling at us. The Royal Families figured that, since this kingdom has the most broom riders, we would be inconspicuous enough to prevent any sightings. However, after Nazay and Endea spotted us last night, I had to declare the project a failure.”

“Then what about the fiery portal we saw you casting last night?” asked Nazay.

“That was no portal, Commander,” assured Tendrak. “One of my platoonmates is a smoker. He lit up a cigarette and I told him to snuff it for security’s sake. Unfortunately, it still retained its light as he tossed it to the ground onto a patch of dry grass. I figured we should spare the fire department a headache and ordered everyone to douse it. That’s what you two saw, the smoldering remains of us taking care of a fire.”

“I heard the whistle of my late father’s ghost train when Foresna, Falnii, and I saw you guys,” called Lardeth.

“What you heard, Your Highness,” answered Tendrak, “was the after-effects of a wind-dispelling charm. We were hit with really hard crosswinds, so we had to get rid of them for a safer flight. The freight cars you guys were stuck between had a flat bed of pipes and the wind must have passed through them at the right pitch to simulate a ghost engine’s whistle.”

“So, why wait until now to tell us all this?” asked Foresna.

“It was a Code Black operation,” explained Calandra. “The Royal Families didn’t want the details to leave the room they were using to discuss this. I was in on the conversation because Mother wanted to test me on whether or not I would blab about a Code Black operation to the ones I loved.”

“So, even Elmar was ignorant about this?” inquired Arsha.

“He was until last night,” replied Calandra.

“In order for a Code Black operation to be declassified,” continued Orbak, “the people in charge would have to unanimously vote on it or the one carrying out the operation would have to declare it a failure. Queen Andwayla Narven, in all the times we discussed this after the first few sightings, voted to keep it classified. She wasn’t happy when Tendrak took the decision out of our hands. Honestly, I’m glad he did, because the rumor about the White Riders returning at any point in time was always proven false.”

“What makes you say that?” asked Malnar.

“I’m surprised you and Yunfeen of all people don’t know!” remarked Orbak. “The White Riders were laid to rest during the First Age of Unity! During King Rentar Emboramii’s reign, Rentar gathered scientists and mages from across the Realms to try and cure the White Riders as a way of making reparations towards those families. They found a way and restored them to a peaceful rest, taking the bodies back to their families so they could be interred properly and rest in peace. Any time there were sightings, it was always the power of suggestion from a swindler or some young punks trying to scare people. Rentar made the details of their final rest public, so I’m surprised you girls forgot that!” Yunfeen and Malnar turned beet-red in embarrassment.

“Mally,” gulped Yunfeen.

“Yes, Yunny?”

“I think we goofed!” Yunfeen hid herself behind her fan.

“That’s a distinct possibility.” Malnar put her head to the table.

“So, there’s no ghouls flying around?” asked Arsha as she set her hairpiece back into its usual place.

“No, there’s no ghouls flying around,” confirmed Orbak.

“Are you friggin’ KIDDING me?!” snapped Tornoth. “You mean to tell me that Bulshnak and I embarrassed ourselves in front of Gorfanth because you guys wanted to play with your new toys?!”

“…How did you embarrass yourself?” asked Malnar as she picked her head up.

“What?!” yelped Tornoth. “Forget I said anything!”

“Come on, Tornoth!” chuckled Lardeth. “Out with it!”

“No! I won’t!” snapped Tornoth.

“You know what?” giggled Arsha. “We don’t need him! We can ask Gorfanth!”

“Don’t you dare, Gorfanth!” snarled Tornoth.

“I won’t,” assured Gorfanth. “Sorry, everyone, but my staying mum on the details is all part of a contract with his company.”

“Then Bulshnak can talk!” suggested Falnii.

“No, I can’t,” rumbled Bulshnak.

“Can’t or won’t?” chuckled Foresna. As everyone had a turn ribbing Tornoth and Bulshnak, Orbak and Calandra stayed in the back, observing the whole thing. This incident would be going to the public after this, but they weren’t so sure of the repercussions.

“Excuse me, Your Majesty,” muttered Calandra to Orbak as she left the room. She made her way to Elmar’s quarters and found him running his hands over his face. “Elmar, sweetie?”

“I just had a call from Councilman Torrudai,” he mumbled. “He’s demanding to speak with you.”

“…He’s not happy with Mother,” sighed Calandra. “I’ll speak with him.”

“Communications console’s over there.” Calandra sat down and keyed in a command to connect with Torrudai. She then put in a passcode, followed by completing a retinal scan before an old man appeared.

“Your Highness, I’ve been looking for you,” he grunted.

“Elmar told me you were looking for me,” replied Calandra.

“I’ll be blunt, your mother’s decision in light of the panic that went on has made many of my colleagues and people VERY unhappy.”

“I’ve been told that by the people themselves.”

“Then you have a better grasp of the situation. I need to make this very clear; the Galdredan Council has just barely voted to let your mother continue ruling until you marry Elmar and he retires from Realmfleet. However, that was a pretty slim vote. Right now, people have no confidence in your mother’s abilities.”

“Her heart is in the right place, Councilman.”

“Perhaps, but you have frequently said that her head isn’t.”

“…Yes, I did.”

“Your Highness, the only reason that she’s still in command of our kingdom is that she DID propose effective methods of routing Splitter operatives for all Realms and imprisoning them. You must understand that if she does something like this again…”

“Just give me a heads-up so I can return to claim the throne if the vote swings that way.”

“…I’m glad you understand, Your Highness. For now, safe travels.” The call ended and Calandra put her head in her hands.

“…I know she’s my mother,” she mumbled to Elmar, “but she’s not doing our kingdom any favors.”

“Well, we cannot change her so easily,” muttered Elmar. “We can only hope that her future actions will be less…absurd.”

“Yeah…” Calandra simply sat in Elmar’s lap as he wrapped his arms around her in a reassuring hug.

“…You know,” mused Elmar, “I believe the 4 F’s are going to be performing within the last 10 days of this week.”

“…Yeah, I could do with some 4 F entertainment,” chuckled Calandra.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-22

Tornoth and his new partner, a male Orc named Bulshnak, headed towards their destination. Bulshnak had the charisma of a potato, droning on through the rulebook and zinging Tornoth for even the slightest infraction. The horseless carriage stopped at the foot of a dirt driveway leading to a small house. “Steelhorn Haven,” grumbled Tornoth.

“The correct address is…” interjected Bulshnak.

“I lived here when I was a calf, so I’ll use the name Dad gave it!” snapped Tornoth. Bulshnak scoffed at being brushed off like that as they exited the carriage and went up the driveway. They arrived at the door and rang the doorbell. “I’m surprised Dad wanted anything to do with us.”

“With you, specifically.”

“Look, I may not be the favorite of the herd, but I’m not disowned. Dad still keeps in contact with me.” The door opened to reveal Gorfanth. “…Well, well, well! Hello, Gorie!”

“What did I say about that stupid name?!” snapped Gorfanth.

“Sorry, Gorie.” Tornoth laughed. “What brings you back home?”

“Family help. There’s a wagon train that needs to get to the Welmark Well of Fire and it needs to be there by tomorrow morning.”

“What’s the train full of? Your old dollies?”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this. …Tornoth, I need to arrange a continual delivery contract with the Galdredan Reliable Road Services.” Tornoth stared…then fell to the porch floor in hysterical laughter. Bulshnak arched a hairy eyebrow as Gorfanth just gave his brother a deadpan look. Tornoth then climbed up the porch’s support and held himself to the railing as he calmed down. “…Finished?”

“Wait, you’re serious?” asked Tornoth as his amusement faded faster.

“Yes. I need a route to the Well and you guys offer the fastest routes.”

“What do you need us for? We’ve all been there once or twice.”

“You more than us! The routes Great-Grandpa took when we were younger were closed off and he’s getting on in years!”

“I thought living on a skyship meant you didn’t NEED help!”

“Living on a skyship means knowing when to ask for help and I’m asking for help now!”

“Regretfully,” fussed Bulshnak, “Regulation 7, Subsection 9, paragraph 3 clearly says that we cannot negotiate a contract at so late a time unless there was a form of assured quid pro quo.”

“What sort of quid pro quo?” asked Gorfanth, suspiciously.

“That can vary from client to client,” answered Bulshnak. “It can be an actual service now or a later favor.”

“…I’m more inclined to accept a later favor,” remarked Tornoth.

“Forget it!” snarled Gorfanth. “I’d rather owe a favor to Reb Rojam than you!”

“Then we can’t negotiate a contract at this time,” chuckled Tornoth. “Regulations are QUITE clear! Have fun finding someone else!” He and Bulshnak then departed as Gorfanth mooed angrily at their backsides before slamming the door. “I love making him mad!” Tornoth chuckled to himself.

“Regulation 4!” fussed Bulshnak. “Potential clients may NOT be an…antago…” he trailed off as he looked up in the sky.

“What’s up with you?” asked Tornoth as he followed Bulshnak’s gaze. His own eyes then grew to the size of dinner plates. Flying overhead was the white broom band!

“A…Are those…?!” stammered Bulshnak. “Th…They look like…! Galtrak, protect us! They’re real!”

“Quick! Into the house!” urged Tornoth. They pounded up the drive and back onto the porch. Tornoth retrieved the spare key from a panel inside the exterior wall, put it into the door lock, opened the door, then they dashed into the house and slammed it shut, panting in fear.

“What are you two doing in here?!” protested a voice.

“GORFANTH!” cried Tornoth as they whirled around to face his brother.

“What’s the matter with you?!” snapped Gorfanth. “You sound like you’re going through puberty!”

“Don…don’t be stupid!” stammered Tornoth as he regained his gruff voice.

“Me?! You’re the one who flew in here like he’s seen a ghost!”

“Maybe I did…”

“What? You know what, forget it. I’m in no mood for crazy explanations. That wagon train needs to leave tonight, so fine! Take it and I’ll owe you a favor!”

“Er, never mind the favor! I’d be more than happy to help my big brother! No charge whatsoever!”


“Of course! We’re family, aren’t we? We gotta help each other out!”

“Oookaay, I don’t know who you are or what you’ve done with Tornoth…but I’ll take your offer. Actually…” a wicked grin then crossed Gorfanth’s snout, “I must insist on repaying the favor.”


“I won’t tell everyone you squealed like a calf!” Tornoth’s tail flicked in irritation as he looked at Bulshnak. The Orc shrugged and he sighed in defeat.

“Fine. I’ll accept that. Where’s the wagon train?”

“Garage shed 2. It’s already opened.”

“I’ll drive the carriage up and hook it up.”

“Splendid! Pleasure doing business with you!” Tornoth snorted as he and Bulshnak left the house. Gorfanth then looked at the small altar. “Whoever’s watching the whole thing, this is probably wicked of me, but I’m gonna enjoy hanging this over his head!”

The next night followed and Endea was awake again! Her overhaul was finished, and she enjoyed a nice meal after being welcomed back. She was then taken on a rail-ride similar to the one Lardeth and his group took. Her companion was Nazay at the time and he had taken her to a 4 F’s show with the Wonderous Whites as the stars. They had recently made their ships Mechanicas and they became members of the family. After the show, Endea and Nazay returned to the open auto-coach and went back down the line…before running into a complication. “And people say I can’t navigate on the ground!” grumbled Nazay.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” asked Endea as she brought the coach to a stop.

“Face it, Endea! We’re lost!”

“How’s that possible?!”

“Because we don’t know where we are!”

“Nazay, it’s not like we took the wrong road! We can only go where the tracks take us! Since we passed over a bridge spanning a lava river, I’d say we’re on a branch line near the Welmark Well of Fire!”

“Which we shouldn’t be! We’re supposed to be on the MAIN line!”

“Maybe there was a points failure, or maybe the Signalman made a mistake. In any event, I fail to see this as OUR problem! We’re probably about 500 Mebs from the Old Palace Theater Station. If I’m right, we stop there, then get directions back onto the main line from the Stationmaster.”

“I’m just not too keen on traveling down an unknown line in the middle of the night away from your main body! What if someone’s meant to come down this way?”

“You’re right. Maybe we should go up and check.”

“…I guess that’s the best plan we’ve got so far.” Endea then brought the auto-coach up to a cautious speed and they went down the line.

“Er, Nazay, are you familiar with the White Riders?”

“I’ve heard that legend dozens of times.”

“Then, about the sightings…”

“Honestly, I think it’s all some ridiculous hoax. Someone’s trying to stir up a panic. Maybe one of Dr. Borg’s plans.”

“Why would she want to do that?”

“To demoralize us, maybe. I don’t think we’ll see them.” Oh, if only Nazay was right! After getting directions back to the main line from the Stationmaster, they went down the line towards a loop that led to the main line. Traveling down the loop, there was a light. As they came nearer, the light could be seen as a fire…with the broom rider band hovering above them and casting something with their wands at the fire! “Okay, I take back what I said!” cried Nazay. “Sweet Olpen! What’s going on?! Why’s the ground on fire?!”

“It looks like…!” gulped Endea. “Commander, you don’t think that’s…a gateway to the Depths, do you?!”

“I’m not in a mood to find out! HIGHTAIL IT!” Endea opened the throttle and the coach roared down the track!

Unbeknownst to them, the band heard everything and saw them make a break for it. The leader shook their head. “Spotted and we made them panic,” they grumbled.

“I TOLD you guys this operation wouldn’t work!” snapped a second.

“Come on, be fair!” argued a third. “There’s plenty of broom rider traffic! This kingdom’s got the most broom riders in all the Realms!”

“None of them are an all-white band,” remarked a fourth. “We stuck out like a sore thumb just enough for people to spot us.”

“You know, if I were a superstitious person,” mumbled the last, “I’d start thinking that the White Riders were around.”

“Then we don’t have a choice,” muttered the leader. “I’m calling it.” They activated a communicator. “Your Majesty, people spotted us and ran in a panic. Operation: Warning Web is a failure. …I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but after an auto-coach fled from us, we felt like we had no choice. …Very well. We’ll be there shortly. Good night.”

“That’s it, then?” asked the fourth.

“That’s it,” confirmed the leader. “Whitefleet Platoon, return to base.” The broom riders then took off for their base of operations.

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-21

Foresna, Lardeth, and Falnii were enjoying a nice, romantic rail ride during the night. It was on a private, open-roofed coach that was powered by an engine. It was going slow along a branch line along the continent’s southern coast. Foresna breathed in the salty air. “Man, this is a nice view,” sighed Foresna happily.

“I have to admit, no view in the Over-realm can match this,” agreed Lardeth.

“You know,” mused Falnii, “I’ve never been to the Galdredan Lava Kingdom before the Endeavor had to come here.”

“What do you think so far?” asked Lardeth.

“…It’s lovely,” sighed Falnii happily as she leaned her head onto Lardeth’s shoulder. She then brought Foresna’s head down to her lap and stroked his hair. They all gave a contented sigh as the coach continued its leisurely run down the track. Their eyes soon shut as they let the noise of the coach’s wheels on the track bring them to sleep…a sleep that was interrupted as the coach suddenly lurched as it went over a set of points to a siding! Foresna moved to the front of the coach and hit the brakes as the coach traveled between two rows of freight cars. The coach stopped and the three looked at their surroundings.

“What in the Depths…?!” snapped Foresna before he made a call to the nearby signal box. “Excuse me,” he began as the Signalwoman operating the box accepted the call, “my lovers and I were taking a nice tour down your line when we ended up in a siding. What’s going on?”

“I’m afraid, Sir,” replied the Signalwoman, “that all trains had to be diverted into a secluded area, by order of Queen Narven herself.”

“What for?!” demanded Lardeth as he and Falnii joined Foresna.

“She wouldn’t say,” replied the Signalwoman, “only that it was part of a project.”

“Oh, peachy!” grunted Lardeth.

“Thanks,” grumbled Foresna as he ended the call.

“Just once,” sighed Lardeth as he looked towards the sky, “I’d like to have a romantic excursion with at least one of my lovers without something going wrong!”

“We’ll have to make sure Queen Narven hears of this,” declared Falnii.

“You know, I rather hope Calandra takes the throne quickly,” muttered Lardeth. “She seems to have her heart AND head in the right…” a noise then interrupted him, a noise that froze his soul! “Th…that noise!” he squeaked.

“Might have been the wind,” gulped Foresna.

“No, I recognize that sound!” insisted Lardeth. “Don’t you remember?! Dad’s ghost engine made that sound when it whistled!”

“Lardeth, we all saw him and his train reach the Heights last year, remember?!” urged Falnii. Another noise then rang out. They saw five white streaks in the sky.

“What were they?!” asked Foresna.

“If they weren’t going so fast, I might have seen them,” mused Falnii.

“I caught a glimpse of them!” called Lardeth.

“What did they look like?” asked Foresna.

“A broomstick band of five, all in white!”

“Isn’t that what Malnar, Gorfanth, and Arsha saw?”

“Sure sounds like it,” muttered Falnii. “We need to talk to them when we get back.”

Orbak was walking through the corridors of the Endeavor as the overhaul was finishing up. With any luck, Endea would wake up within two days. As he passed by a conference room, he heard the conversation. “You saw them too?!” yelped Malnar as she met with all those that had seen the broom rider band so far.

“They were rather difficult to miss,” replied Lardeth.

“What’s going on here?” asked Yunfeen as she stroked Beruka’s middle head.

“Wait a minute,” called Termaf, “isn’t this their anniversary?”

“…Whose anniversary?” asked Arsha.

“Oh, yeah, it is,” remarked Malnar. “There’s an Under-realm legend about a five-rider band that died.”

“Oh, yeah, that one,” recalled Yunfeen.

“Mind telling those who aren’t initially from the Under-realm about it?” requested Foresna.

“I’m sure I told you about them?” asked Gorfanth.

“I can’t say as I recall any stories like that,” remarked Arsha.

“Nor me,” supplied Lardeth.

“News to me,” reported Falnii.

“I have to agree with my old home’s Crown Prince,” muttered Tufarmem.

“I’m surprised,” muttered Beruka. “I would have thought you’d have heard it from Loondal.”

“Well, it’s not a happy Ghost story,” warned Malnar. “Heck, I’d hardly call it a ‘Ghost’ story.”

“What WOULD you call it?” asked Arsha.

“…A Ghoul story.” Her audience was then captivated. “They’re the first Ghouls, prototype Revenants. During the War of the Realms, my first ancestor, Intrag the Conqueror, was growing more impatient with the stalemate the war became. He ordered his top mages to create unstoppable soldiers for him to conquer the Realms or suffer horribly.

“The mages soon came up with a theory. Vampire blood has been known to have mystic properties, even going so far as to revive recently dead animals of all Realms and give said animals a smidge of Vampire powers. So, they theorized that a generous amount of Vampire blood would revive recently dead soldiers.

“When Intrag heard the plan, he ordered them to enact it. They scoured the Realms for five of the greatest warriors, killed them, and then applied Vampire blood, taken from Vampires who had failed Intrag. Intrag came to see the bodies walk on their own. He was impressed and gave the order to mount brooms and fly about, spreading his gospel.

“Unfortunately, something was wrong. The Ghouls didn’t understand Intrag’s instructions. They simply flew around the skies of the Under-realm. When Intrag heard the reports, he was furious. He mounted his own broom and pursued them. He ordered them to return home for reeducation, but they refused. They said that they were under orders to fly around the sky and they must complete that mission.

“Intrag was enraged. He fired his own magic, but nothing phased them. Whatever damage they suffered, even under his strongest magic, they shrugged it off and resumed their patrol of the sky. They didn’t shoot him down, just went around him constantly. Intrag was furious. His mages had failed him, and they were executed on the spot. That was mere days before the Message was discovered.

“Many have tried to undo what was done to the Ghouls but were unsuccessful. They are cursed to forever wander the night skies of the Under-realm, appearing only on the anniversary of their creation, earning the name ‘White Riders’. Any who catch sight of them, woe be to them.” Malnar ended her story and her audience was in some form of self-reassurance.

“W…what kind of…woe?” gulped Falnii.

“Any kind,” answered Gorfanth, “from the most minor to the most major.”

“Oh dear,” sighed Orbak from outside the conference room. He went towards the entrance ramp without another word.

Calandra was in another dress fitting session. There was one particular wedding dress that caught her eye and she decided to try it out. It was a little loose fitting on her, but she liked the design. The Royal Seamstress was taking measurements and making decisions on alterations. “Now, the shoulder-revealing collar is, in my opinion, a nice touch,” she mused.

“Maybe,” sighed Calandra, “but I want to drape my arms around Elmar’s shoulders when we kiss.”

“Well, with that in mind…” muttered the Royal Seamstress before someone knocked on the door.

“Come in!” called Calandra. Orbak then entered the room. The Royal Seamstress knelt in his presence.

“What can we do for you, your Majesty?” she asked.

“I need to speak to Calandra about certain…sightings,” explained Orbak. The Royal Seamstress was confused.

“Er, would you mind leaving us alone for a sec?” asked Calandra.

“Um, very well, your Highness,” mumbled the Royal Seamstress. She then left the room. Once the door closed, Calandra turned to Orbak.

“There were more sightings?” she asked.

“Foresna, Lardeth, and Falnii saw them last night,” confirmed Orbak. Calandra flopped into a chair.

“Great, now we’ve got THREE sightings in the span of two nights!”

“There’s more. When all the witnesses came together, Malnar told them about the White Riders.”

“That’s gonna cause panic! Not what Mother was hoping for!”

“But exactly what you and I said would happen.”

“Does Mother know? Should we tell everyone?”

“Your mother knows and, when we met, she voted ‘no’ on saying anything.”

“Your Majesty, I know this operation is predicated on secrecy, but Mother’s being stubborn right now. She needs to understand that if there are any more sightings, the word ‘covert’ won’t mean a damn thing.”

“You know better than I do that Andwayla has a knack for remaining ignorant, even in the presence of overwhelming facts.”

“So, what, we just let this play out?”

“We don’t exactly have much choice.” Calandra sighed in defeat.

“All right, I’ll alter the event schedule as best I can to at least minimize sightings. With any luck, we’ll keep the situation from escalating.”

“I daresay the Divine Ones will have their work cut out for them in answering prayers for good luck.”

“No kidding. This could be what gives Dr. Borg the excuse she needs to strike against us.”

The Three Realms The Three Realms (Book 3: The First Strike)

3 Realms 3-20

Sanduay was one of, if not THE biggest broomstick sport in all the Realms. Named after the Battle of Sanduay in the War of the Depths, there were 10 players on a Sanduay team trying to defend their tower from the opposing team’s attacks. Three players, called Head-ons would try and turn the enemy team’s tower completely from green, to blue, to yellow, to pink, to orange, to purple, to red. If the tower is completely red from roof to base, the game is over, and the tower’s team loses. While the three Head-ons tried to keep the opposing team behind, two other players, the Overheads, would hold position high above the roof and pick off anyone who manages to circumvent the three below. The remaining five players, Guardians, would try and keep their tower as non-red as possible. They can only go up one color, so if the opposing team turns one section to two colors down, the five players couldn’t go back up two colors. On top of that, once a section of the tower is red, the Guardians can’t make it go up one color, they have to leave it alone and that particular Guardian is benched. Each of the remaining five players focused on one section of the tower. Two players, the Roof Guardians, would monitor a half of the tower’s roof while the remaining three, the Tower Guardians, each focused on a third of the tower from where the roof sits to the base. Each player’s position was named after one of the 10 warriors that defended and repaired the tower to secure victory. The three Head-ons were Sedomar, Kanomar, and Rodomar; the two Overheads were Terralem and Asolem; the two Roof Guardians were Lansel and Roofel; and the three Tower Guardians were Aludax, Lenezax, and Handomax. When she was a Realmfleet Cadet, Arsha was Captain of the Realmfleet Sanduay Team, usually taking up the Kanomar position, and received quite a number of trophies for her victories. She DID lose, yes, but she lost graciously and still loves the sport! Because of her love for her home, her favorite team was the Largandra Leopards. Though, they weren’t going to be playing in the Under-union Festival, her second favorite, the Falgreth Furies, were. She, Malnar, and Gorfanth were given the opportunity to meet them one night and were pleasantly surprised that they weren’t conceited at all. “I tell you, I’m honored to meet you,” chuckled Arsha.

“I’m honored that you follow us,” returned the Team Captain, a male Troll named Anshuu. “I’m surprised you follow an Under-realm team.”

“Helps me to understand people outside of the Mid-realm better. If I’m going to be a Queen, I need to know how my allies’ subjects think.”

“No better way to do that than Sanduay! How long can you stay?”

“Our entire evening is free, why?”

“Because we want you to watch our practice.” Arsha checked with Malnar and Gorfanth who nodded eagerly.

“Captain Anshuu, we’d be honored!”

“Perfect! We just need to wait for our coach and…” A female Troll then came up to them. She was the team’s coach.

“Sorry, boys and girls,” she grumbled, “you guys are grounded.”

“Grounded?!” protested Anshuu. “Why?!”

“We need to let a broomstick band fly overhead,” explained the coach.

“Did the report say who they were?”

“No, only that it was the only band scheduled to pass overhead. Once they’re gone, you guys can practice.”

“Oh, perfect!” grunted one of the Guardians, a Female Troll named Beshee. “Is it just me or does something ALWAYS happen whenever we practice outside of our home field?!”

“Well, I guess we’ll have to wait,” muttered Anshuu. That was when a noise like something flying could be heard. The noise grew louder as the source got closer. “That must be them,” mused Anshuu.

“Sounds kind of small,” observed Gorfanth. “Must be a Realmfleet band.” The broomstick flyers then went over the stadium. They were a band of five and dressed all in white. “…Or…not,” mumbled Gorfanth. “Who were they?”

“I don’t know,” muttered the coach. “My glasses are still being fixed and I hate wearing contacts.”

“They looked to be about Arsha’s height,” muttered Beshee, “but I think they were wearing masks.”

“Weird,” grunted the coach before she took a briefcase of training drones. “Well, they’re gone, so you guys can practice.”

“Very peculiar,” muttered Arsha as she, Gorfanth, and Malnar went to the stands. “Very, VERY peculiar.”

As hinted before, Felansi dancing is what we call Flamenco dancing. The Feisty Felansi Forsorna Family, or 4 F’s, is a massive family of Felansi dancers that adopted a nomadic lifestyle to entertain people across the Realms. Founded by Succubi and Incubi, the family has taken in humanoids all across the Realms and use their own natural age-stopping magic to keep their family members young-looking. Everyone, great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children, all contribute to this family of entertainers. Originally, they were just dancers, but as the family evolved, they added new entertainment options to their repertoire. Now, with Felansi dancing still the main event, their acts include singing, comedy sketches, fashion designing, and modeling. They are divided into 10 groups in the colors of the Divine Ones, the Perky Pinks, the Ravishing Reds, the Opulent Oranges, the Yummy Yellows, the Grand Greens, the Beautiful Blues, the Plentiful Purples, the Bountiful Blacks, the Gracious Greys, and the Wonderous Whites. Yunfeen, a Succubus in a purple dress named Termaf, and a Zephyr in a blue dress named Tufarmem looked over their script for their comedy sketch. “All right,” declared Termaf, “we’ve got everything up to the climax, let’s rehearse that.” Termaf and Yunfeen turned their backs to Tufarmem, then Tufarmem fed them a line.

“Why, you cowards!” she called. “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…!” The sound of flyers then interrupted them. The three women then threw their scripts down in frustration.

“Come on! Just once!” wailed Termaf. “Just! Friggin! Once!”

“The minute we get to that ‘smarg by smarg’ line, something always happens!” complained Yunfeen. They heard a scratching on the door. “Must be Beruka,” mused Yunfeen. She opened the door to let in her Cerberus, Beruka. All three of his tails were level and the expression on all three of his faces was sour.

“Can you keep the noise down? I’m trying to sleep!” complained Beruka from his left-most head.

“That’s not us, I assure you,” replied Tufarmem. She grabbed a telescope and looked out the window, extending it and looking into it to see the broom rider band that flew over the Sanduay field. “Dear lord, that kind of racket from five broom riders?”

“Broom riders? At this time of night?” asked Yunfeen. She then got a look.

“Let me see,” urged Termaf. She looked through the telescope and found the broom riders. “Now that’s the weirdest broom rider band I’ve EVER seen.”

“Well, they’re gone now,” mused Tufarmem. “Maybe we can practice some more.”

“Let’s do it tomorrow,” suggested Yunfeen. “I need to ask Malnar about it. Maybe she would know.”

“You don’t know either?” asked Yunfeen the next morning as she and Beruka spoke to Malnar.

“No, I don’t,” confirmed Malnar. “Mama didn’t know anything about it either.”

“Now that IS peculiar,” muttered Beruka.

“Did you see what they looked like?” asked Malnar.

“My vision’s worse than yours, Malnar,” remarked Beruka. “They looked splotchy to me.”

“I didn’t see their faces only because they had a mask that hid their features,” muttered Yunfeen.

“Did anyone else in your family see it aside from you three?” asked Malnar.

“No, they said that our ships’ sensors didn’t detect them last night,” answered Yunfeen. “You know, now that I think about it, I’m surprised the Furies were allowed to practice last night.”

“The upcoming game’s a pretty important one,” reminded Malnar, “and it could last into the night. …You know, that just made me realize that the band last night must have had a higher priority.”

“An unaffiliated broom rider band?” asked Beruka. “I’d say that’s not possible, but your story says otherwise.”

“Somehow, I feel like shenanigans are about to happen this week,” grumbled Malnar.

“You’re absolutely sure you can’t tell me what your mother said yesterday?” Elmar asked Calandra that day.

“Sorry, but what Mother told me and Orbak is classified Code Black,” answered Calandra.

“So, you’re all sworn to secrecy.”

“’Fraid so.”

“That complicates things.”

“Sorry, but it is what it is.”

“Why would your mother want to stage a secret operation during the Under-union festival?”

“Well, she thinks this operation will help the Realms.” Calandra looked out the window. “Her heart’s in the right place, you know. She DOES care for the kingdom. She’s kind, good-hearted…”

“Stupid.” While Elmar said it under his breath, Calandra heard that and shot him a Look!

“She is not!” Elmar figured that it would be illogical to hide his real feelings now.

“She certainly is! She’s an ox who can’t put together 2 and 2 if you spelled out the instructions!”

“Now, that’s enough!” Calandra jabbed her finger into his chest. “Need I remind you that she’s gonna be your mother-in-law?! …Speaking of which, I’ve got wedding dresses to try out. I’ll see you in the morning and you WON’T be talking about my mother like that again!” She then stormed off.

“…Well, I’m hardly wrong,” muttered Elmar.