The Pizza Boy

This is a special post this week! We have a guest writer on the blog, our little brother! We hope you enjoy this story as it’s his first piece of leisurely writing, we are so proud to share this with you all! 

“Another pizza delivery boy has gone missing last night. Jonathan Harting’s car was found abandoned in a ditch off Carter avenue around 2 a.m. after he departed from his work to deliver to a nearby neighborhood. When he didn’t return for over an hour and wouldn’t answer his boss’ call, he called the police to declare him missing. This marks the seventh delivery boy who has vanished in the past three months since the first, a Larry Wil…” The sound of the news drifted off as Scott looked out the window to see one of his delivery boys run through the rain in a hurry to get into his car. 

Please God don’t let him get hurt.” he thought to himself as he watched Colin drive off into the night. 

Scott tried to tell his crew that they didn’t have to deliver, or should at least go in pairs, but they all shrugged it off and joked to each other about getting killed by some crazed loon or abducted by aliens. Even if they were scared they wouldn’t show it, and they sure as hell weren’t going to miss the opportunity to make their money on tips. All he could do was wait anxiously for his boys to return safely every time they drove away. 

Mrs. Hill peaked through the blinds to see a car pull in her driveway and moved to answer the door, taking a second to collect herself as she heard her 2 little girls rush into the room yelling 

“PIZZAAA!” 

She opened the door but her porch light wouldn’t turn on. She didn’t think much of it and saw the man, his hat covering his face and his shadowy uniform looking strangely unkempt and ill-fitting in the darkness. As he approached she got an uneasy feeling but shrugged the feeling off, as this would just be an easy transaction that meant dinner for her kids. Sarah and Samantha pulled at her pant-legs, barely containing their excitement. The delivery man approached rather ominously, still barely visible from the light streaming from inside the house, and he seemed to gaze at the floor to hide his face from his onlookers. 

“I saw on the delivery receipt that you requested a scary story” he said rather low-toned to Mrs. Hill. 

“I know it’s strange”, she giggled softly “but my girls love scary stories, no matter how much I don’t”. 

As she looked at the man, waiting for a chuckle or an odd glance, she saw him utterly still.

 “If you want a story”, he began “I’ll give you one”. 

She could see a sinister grin peek out from under the bill of his hat.

 “This isn’t the first time I’ve put on a uniform that didn’t belong to me”, the man said “As I recall there have been 7 other uniforms, each one a little too small or a little too big for me”.

 Mrs. Hill felt a sudden chill take her whole body, she recalled from passing memory hearing the news of all the delivery boys going missing in the surrounding area. She wanted to back away, to slam the door shut, or to even strike out at the figure standing before her… But she couldn’t move. 

“I dragged them from their cars first, so as not to leave a trace of the gore to come inside their vehicle”. 

Samantha and Sarah’s grip tightened around their mother’s leg as they began to feel that this situation wasn’t quite right, something was terrifying about this man and they could feel their mother trembling.

 “Then I stripped them of their uniforms so as not to ruin it’s condition, they fought, but I was always stronger.”

 She couldn’t take it anymore, she tried to tell him to leave, move or do anything, but only a small gasp left her mouth as tears began to well in her eyes. Her daughters fingers dug into her legs as they began to bawl their eyes out, begging for the man to leave and for their mom to take them inside.

 “After that I took their heads, I like to leave them in the passenger seat until I complete their last delivery for them.” His grin turned into a smile from ear-to-ear as the mother and her daughters all became hysterical but still they didn’t move. 

The man then began to laugh, but what surprised Mrs. Hill was that it wasn’t the laugh of a maniac, but that of a teenage boy who just pulled off the biggest prank of his life. As he laughed he looked up to reveal the face of a much-too-amused-with-himself delivery boy. 

Colin kept laughing as he tried to squeeze out the words “I’m sorry”, but he was still too pleased with his performance.

 The mother became irate and frantic, she began to shout “I can’t believe you’d try to traumatize my little girls like tha-” her words suddenly stopped as she toppled over like a marionette-doll that had its strings cut.

 The two daughters stood there, heads held low staring at the floor. All the lights in the house began to flicker and go out one by one as black tendrils seeped out from under the mother like shadows, and retreated to the girls. Colin dropped the pizzas he was carrying and began to back away but something came over him and he felt as if his feet were stuck to the concrete stairs. His whole body froze and all he could do was stare at the girls as their black eyes rose to meet his. 

In unison they spoke, “You aren’t the first delivery boy we’ve encountered either” they giggled, “you should make number eight… In this town at least.” 

Colin’s jaw opened as he tried to scream, only for nothing to come out. His tears traced along his face and dripped off his chin as he stared into the empty eyes of the twins. He could see his reflection staring back at him in the girls glistening dark eyes, and was horrified to see how scared he looked. The void of darkness seemed to suck him in and he started to lose all sense of time, and self; only feeling an inexplicable pain of emptiness.

 “Oh and that wasn’t a scary story” they chuckled once again. “This is.”

Thank you so much for reading this special post! Let us know what you thought in the comments below. If you enjoy our blog feel free to buy us a cup of coffee, we promise to share! 

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

-Clever&WTF

Best Movies for Fantasy Nerds

This week we will be talking about the best movies for Fantasy Nerds! Sometimes you just want to sit back, relax, and watch a good fantasy movie. Here are our favorite picks! We hope you like our list! 

Lord of the Rings (extended edition)

Of course Lord of the Rings would be on this list! But if it’s not the extended edition, that’s basically treason. These are not only my favorite books, but also my favorite movies ever, of all time. Peter Jackson transforms Middle Earth onto the big screen flawlessly. The actors and actresses portray the characters so well. If you’re a Fantasy Nerd I have no doubt you’ve seen this trilogy. 

Like any book to movie adaptation some storylines are a little different and some key characters are missing like Tom Bombadil or Glorfindel but they’re still the most incredible movies. They also hold up so well, The Fellowship of the Ring was released in 2001 and whenever I go back for my monthly rewatch I marvel at how well the effects still hold up to present day movies. The makeup and costumes are absolutely phenomenal! I cry often while watching these movies, they’re so emotionally evoking and you get transported to Middle Earth the moment they start. Again, I could go on and on about these movies! If you haven’t watched them drop everything and start a Lord of the Rings marathon, and remember, extended edition only! 

Harry Potter

I have to start by saying that the books are always better, but I think Harry Potter is one of the best movie adaptations of a book series. The actors and actresses in the movies all portray the characters perfectly. The world of Hogwarts is brought to life so well, in both the setting and the fantastic magical creatures. Even if you’ve never read the books, you can still become immersed in the magical setting and storyline. Getting to go to all the movie premieres and watch my favorite books brought to life on screen was a magical experience.

A Knight’s Tale

This is easily one of my favorite movies of all time, not just in the Fantasy genre. It’s about a squire who wants to change his stars and become a knight. When the knight he and his other comrades work for dies, he decides to take his place in a jousting tournament. From there he changes his name and pretends to be a knight to continue competing in jousting and sword fighting. This movie is so well directed and written, with his friends as excellent comic relief and a love interest that blossoms beautifully, and a main antagonist that you can easily hate. 

A Knight’s Tale excellently shows the struggles of a poor man changing his life while maintaining his morals. This movie is hilarious, heart wrenching, and filled with all the fantasy aspects of medieval times. If you haven’t seen it, watch it immediately! 

The Pagemaster

The Pagemaster starts out with a seemingly pessimistic little boy who gets caught in a storm while on errands for his parents, and finds shelter at a library. The librarian insists on him getting a library card and that he is in need of a special book. Eventually the boy falls into this special book and is transported into an animated world where three books befriend him; Fantasy, Adventure, and Horror! He goes on many adventures through different classic stories like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, Moby Dick, Treasure Island and more! Eventually he has to muster his newfound courage and fight a dragon. 

This movie is fantastic for Fantasy Nerds because of the many different everchanging Fantasy settings, as well as the character development. The boy finds so many things out about himself and goes on these incredible adventures. It’s so heartwarming and quite entertaining. It’s also certainly a kid friendly movie for any Fantasy Nerds who want to watch a good movie with the whole family! 

Whisper of the Heart

This movie has a very special place in my heart. It’s my favorite Studio Ghibli movie, and it deserves to be on this list as much as the rest of our picks. While it is a Fantasy it’s still set in more modern times. It’s about a girl who struggles in school because she loves to write. She’s trying desperately to appease her parents, big sister, and friends with school while simultaneously trying to work on her goals as a writer. 

Without going into too much detail she loves checking out books from the library, and she begins to notice a boy’s name repeatedly on the books she is checking out. While she tries to figure out his identity she discovers a small antique shop where she meets a very sweet and supportive old man. Thus her true adventures begin! There are blips into a world of storytelling and Fantasy that are quite unique and adorable. By the end of the movie you will be in tears! 

Reign of Fire

This movie takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where dragons reign supreme. Humans live in constant fear of dragons burning down their communities as they struggle to survive. One day, a dragon-slayer arrives and offers to teach the remaining humans how to kill the dragons. This movie is full of tension and adrenaline-pumping moments. The plot of the movie is excellent, and I was invested in what happened to the characters. All the fearsome characteristics of dragons were brought to life on the screen. I would recommend this movie to Fantasy Nerds who enjoy action and suspense.

Thank you so much for reading! Do you agree with our list? Are there any we left out? Let us know in the comments below! 

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

– Clever & WTF

Winter

It had been six months now since the virus wiped out ninety five percent of the population. We lived in a secluded part of the woods in an old abandoned cabin we came across a few months back. We tried to avoid other humans at all costs. The country had broken out into chaos, humans killing each other for food or supplies. 

A group of bandits killed my parents, they were older and refused to give up what they had. It was early on so no one knew the chaos that would soon unfold. I was away trying to get us food, and when I returned I found our house ransacked, their bodies mutilated and our dog Winter whimpering next to them. At least they had her when they passed. All I could feel was rage after that. Until I met Griffin.

I had my parents rifle with me always after they died. I became a nomad and traveled at night and slept during the day in the woods. Winter was always with me, I would cuddle her for warmth, and fall asleep with my head on her chest and my fingers intertwined in her long fur. Having her with me made everything bearable. 

I was searching for food for Winter and I in a small market. The glass doors had been shattered for some time now. My boots crunched the old broken glass. 

“Stay.” I told Winter as I held up my hand, she lightly whimpered at me and sat down reluctantly, her tail whipping back and forth as she watched me tip toe in. I heard a noise like a can clattering to the floor. I immediately cocked my gun and lifted the site to my eye. I sucked in a breath and scanned each aisle slowly, my pointer finger on the trigger. 

“W-wait!” A male voice spoke to my right. I swerved towards the sound and helped my gun towards the figure. I desperately wanted to whistle for Winter and have her by my side, but I didn’t want her to cut her paws on the glass or get hurt by this stranger. 

“I have a gun!” I spoke firmly and loudly to assert my dominance. 

“I’m coming out, I don’t want to hurt anyone I swear!” The voice responded. 

When he came into view I was shocked, he looked about my age, nineteen, and I hadn’t seen anyone close to my age in a long time. His arms were full of canned dog food. 

I raised an eyebrow and asked him “What’s the dog food for?”

“I was here to gather some food and I heard a dog whimper, so I thought I would bring it some food…” he trailed off and  his lips tugged up slightly into a half smile. 

That’s the moment I knew we would be in this journey together. Since then we did everything as a trio, we even found the cabin together. Griffin won Winter over as soon as he brought her food. She slept between us both, sometimes I felt like she was acting like my mother keeping us separated like that, but we would hold hands across her belly and fall asleep as a little family. 

One morning Winter ran out the door for her usual morning pee as I looked through what we had for breakfast and Griffin slept soundly. I was so used to waking up with Winter, but he wasn’t yet. I threw us together a bowl of canned peaches and pineapples when suddenly I heard Winter barking frantically. I dropped everything and ran to the door. 

“WINTER! COME!” I yelled. I was hoping she just saw a rabbit and would run back, when she didn’t I whistled loudly and yelled her name again. In response I heard growling and barking. Panicking I ran back into the cabin to wake Griffin, but when I got inside he was already up and grabbing the gun. 

“I think Winter is warning us, let’s go.” He grabbed my hand and we ran towards the noise, before we could find Winter we saw two large men, one with an axe and the other with a pistol. 

“Shhhh.” Griffin said as he pulled me behind a tree. “They haven’t spotted us yet, maybe we can pick them off before they do.” 

I nodded at him and whispered “But we need to find Wint-“ before I could finish the man with axe and a long beard spoke. 

“Can you shut that fucking dog up before someone hears us!” He said angrily practically spitting and pointing his axe the opposite direction we were. Winter barked again, and I finally saw her. Her teeth were showing as she growled angrily and the fur on her back stood up. They were going to hurt my dog. 

“Griffin hurry! They’re going to kill Winter!” I exclaimed in a rough whisper. I was shaking, every second felt like an hour. I could feel tears well up in my eyes as Griffin was calmly aiming the gun at the men, at least I thought he was calm but his hands were shaking. 

“Fine, fine. If you want me to shoot a fucking dog I will, just relax.” The other man responded to the bearded man. He lifted his pistol towards Winter and I couldn’t contain it anymore. 

“WINTER! COME NOW!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.

The men whirled to look at me and the one with the pistol aimed it at me. Winter lunged forward and sprinted at them, launching into the air gracefully and sinking her teeth into the arm of the man with the gun. 

“FUCK!!! WHAT THE FUCK! GET THIS THING OFF ME!” The man with the beard swung his axe quickly in response and hit Winter in the right hind leg. Blood squirted from her wound as she fell to the ground crying and whimpering. 

“NO!” I screamed and without thinking I ran towards Winter. Before I took even two steps a gunshot went off and left my ears ringing. I saw the two men fall to the ground, one had blood spewing from his neck and the other from just chest. Within moments they stopped moving and were dead. In a daze a looked back at Griffin and he nodded at me. I made it to Winter and dropped to my knees next to her. I pulled her head into my lap and pet her as she whimpered in pain. The tears in my eyes blurred my vision, I could barely see a thing. I just held Winter close and tried my hardest to show her I loved her with all my heart. 

Winter was learning to hobble on her three legs, she looked up at me with her tongue out and tail wagging. I scratched her behind the ear just the way she liked. Griffin was able to amputate her leg and cauterize the wound, somehow Winter pulled through. Her struggle made my heart ache, but at least she was still here with us. She was willing to protect me with her life that day, so I had to do the same for her.

Thank you so much for reading! Let us know what you think in the comments below! If you enjoy our blog feel free to buy us a cup of coffee, we promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

-Clever & WTF

Best Fantasy Horror for Fantasy Nerds!

For this week’s post we will be talking about some Fantasy Horror books! Some on this list just dip their toes in the horror genre but we thought anyone who enjoys Fantasy would enjoy these, as well as anyone who enjoys Horror! We hope you like our list and find some new reads!

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

I had to include this one! While it’s technically only a short story this is one of my favorite Horror stories I’ve read. The descriptions in this have always stuck with me, especially the way Lovecraft describes Cthulhu waiting below the depths to be called upon, but I won’t spoil that imagery for you. The story centers around cultists who believe in a god named Cthulhu and try to summon him through nefarious acts. The setting is eerie and like I stated before the descriptions of the cultists and Cthulhu are quite unnerving. It’s a quick read that will definitely stick with you! 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

This is one of the books that isn’t fully Horror but some aspects are quite creepy. This takes place in a world where vampires exist, but are forced to live in a city secluded from humans. Our main character is a human who sneaks into this city and has some terrifying encounters with vampires. 

There are different classes of vampires in this society, and the descriptions of the poor vampires and how their thirst for blood is similar to that of a drug addict made me almost uncomfortable to read it was so well written.Holly Black is an excellent author of Dark Fantasy and moments in this book teeter into Horror. Oddly enough if you have ever played the video game Dishonored it had a similar vibe, but with vampires! 

Dracula by Bram Stoker

At first I was thinking this choice might seem too cliche or obvious, but I feel like it deserves to be on this list. It’s so well written, and the form of letters describing the experience at Dracula’s castle is horrifying. Reading it as though it’s someone actually writing out their thoughts, emotions, and experiences makes you feel as if you’re there experiencing it as well. I loved reading the effects of Dracula outside his castle as well and the mystery behind the strange events taking place. As the original Dracula story it’s certainly a necessary read! 

Horns by Joe Hill

Published in 2010 it’s a little bit of a newer book. It perfectly intertwines Fantasy, Mystery as well as a pinch of Horror to make it a perfectly seasoned book. When our main character’s recent ex girlfriend is murdered he becomes the main suspect. In uncovering the mystery he finds out some horrible things about his peers and realizes he also has some incredible abilities. He starts growing horns out of his head, people can’t lie to him, and he has some other abilities I don’t want to spoil. As his abilities adapt the mystery of what happened is revealed, and her murder is quite gruesome. 

Did you like our list? Did we leave any out you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments below! 

Thank you so much for reading! If you enjoy our blog let us know in the comments or you can buy us a cup of coffee, we promise to share! 

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

-Clever & WTF

Secret Magic

Where is this place? I think, as I drive down a seemingly unending dirt road. I was told the property was large and hadn’t been accessed in a number of years, but I didn’t think it would be so far out in the middle of nowhere. My tires kick up dust clouds, and I know I’m going to have to wash my car later. My GPS tells me to turn right down another dirt road nearly hidden by trees.

I sigh when I see the house, large but worn down by time. I start my appraisal evaluation as I always do, by looking for the boundary markers left by the surveyor, so I can assess the value of the property as a whole. Then, I’ll work my way inward to finish with the abandoned house. 

My leather boots crunch leaves and branches as I walk through the woods to the right of the house. I was told the property is a few acres, so I am prepared to walk. I scan my surroundings, looking through the heavy underbrush for an orange flag. My eyes are so focused on searching for that bright spot of orange, that I don’t notice the tree root until it catches the toe of my boot.

I stumble forward and launch my hand out to brace myself against the nearest tree, only I make contact with nothing but air. I close my eyes and flinch as my face is about to connect with the tree, but my head doesn’t hit anything and I feel strangely off center, pitching forward. I don’t feel anything until gravity pulls me to the ground. I draw in a sharp breath at the stinging in my hands, and I look to them first, not noticing any change in my surroundings. But then I look up.

I’m now in a cave surrounded by glittering ores of purple crystals in various shades. Their hues range from a deep eggplant to a soft lavender. I stand and reach out to touch one of the bright purple crystals, and a warmth seeps into my hands. The stinging subsides, and I look down to see that the scrapes are completely healed. I blink. The cuts are still gone. I sink back down to the floor, just staring at my hands, clenching and unclenching them. 

I lift my head and look again at the crystals with a new sense of awe. And then I smile. Holy shit! These things are freaking magic! I jump up; I can’t sit still. I start pacing the cave. I’ve got to test the crystals again, I realize.

I pull my pocket knife from my jeans and prick my finger until a bubble of blood wells up. I reach out my hand to touch a deep purple gemstone. The crystal comes off the wall and falls into my palm. Strange. I grip it with my fingers, and the warmth spreads into my wound. I wipe away the blood to see that the nick in my finger is gone. 

I pass the stone from hand to hand, as I ponder what to do next. Does the magic only heal or can it do other things? What kind of things would I want it to do? I think of my too-large-for-my-face nose, the only thing I truly don’t like about my appearance, and snort. Of course, confronted with the infinite possibilities of magic, I would wish to shrink my nose. With that thought, a tingling feeling starts in my nose and I gasp. No freaking way. 

I don’t have a mirror, but I reach up to feel my nose. I’m pretty sure it feels different, smaller. I glance down at the stone in my palm, noticing that the color seems lighter, now more violet than plum. 

I’m filled with the urge to grab as many crystals as I can carry. I grasp an eggplant colored gemstone and it breaks right off into my hand. I reach for one that is royal purple, but it doesn’t come off. I take my pocket knife and pry it loose, stuffing it in my back pocket. I wedge out a few more, some coming easier than others, but I get stuck on a lavender crystal that won’t budge. I move along to a couple more, until my pockets and hands are full. I notice that the lighter colored gems don’t come loose, but I have about a dozen darker crystals. 

I look around the cave, unsure what to do next. I notice that the entrance to the cave seems to shimmer. I walk towards it and reach my hand through, and it disappears. I snatch my arm back, but my hand is fine. This must just be the way out. 

I step through the shimmery barrier and find myself back in the woods. I turn around to see the same tree I had fallen through earlier. I walk completely around it, but it shows no signs of being anything other than an ordinary tree. I need a way to find it again. 

I spot a rather large rock and push it over to the base of the tree. Then, I take my pocket knife and scratch an X into the rock. Not very original, but it should do the trick. Satisfied, I continue on with my job, my mind swirling with the possibilities of what I will do with my magic crystals when I return home.

“Actually, I’d like to buy the property,” I say. 

You want to buy it?” my client asks. “Does that mean it’s worth more than we expected?”

“Not exactly. Most of the value is in the land, as we thought. But I’ve always wanted a few acres of property, and the house is in good enough condition that it can still be remodeled. I just got a good feeling about it when I was out there. I’ll give you your asking price.”

“Well, that certainly would make things easier for us. I’ll talk to Gerald and get back to you this evening.”

“Sounds great, Alice.” I hang up my phone and settle onto the stiff couch my roommate picked out. I smile to myself. Soon I will have my own place and all the money I need to buy whatever furniture I want.

I glance at the clock. My roommate won’t be back for a few hours. I walk into my room and reach under my mattress, pulling out a couple of the gemstones I had found. I select the darkest one, and wish for more gold. A golden nugget appears in my other hand, more appearing as the color leeches from the crystal. Once the crystal turns white, it makes a fizzling sound and crumbles in my hand. I now hold a handful of gold. 

I place my gold nuggets into a pouch and grab my keys, heading to the nearest pawn shop. Just like before, the man doesn’t ask any questions. He just weighs the gold carefully and offers me a few thousand dollars. Between my two trips, I’ll have enough for the down payment on the property. I’m still going to take out a loan, because I think a cash sale would look too suspicious. 

I return home and wait for my roommate to arrive, or a call from Alice. The phone call comes first, and my offer is accepted. I could tell that Alice and Gerald didn’t want to deal with their relative’s property and were looking to sell it quickly. I make a few calls to begin the buying process. Mia walks in the door just as I’m finishing up.

“I bought some groceries, so we can make dinner. What do you feel like eating?” Mia asks.

“Whatever you want is fine, but can we talk first?”

“Sure, what’s up?” she says as she plops on the couch.

“I’m going to be moving out,” I tell her.

Mia’s face falls and she turns to look at me. The hurt on her face is evident. I wasn’t expecting that. 

“What did I do?” she asks.

“Nothing, Mia. I just found a great place that I want to fix up. I wasn’t planning on looking for a place, but this property is perfect. You are a great roommate,” I reassure her. 

“Are you sure about this?” she asks.

I smile at her. “Do I ever do anything I’m not sure of?”

Mia chuckles. “No, you don’t. That’s why this is so surprising. It’s not like you to jump into something.”

“I know,” I tell her. “But I will need my own place eventually and this just seems like the right opportunity.”

She studies me carefully for a moment, and then nods. “Can I help you pack?”

As we loaded the last few boxes of my things in my car the following day, Mia sighed heavily and looked at me.

“Well, are you sure this is all you want to take?” she asked.

“For now, I don’t want to have too much in the house with all the renovations it will need.” I replied solemnly, I just didn’t want to make multiple trips and have any chance Mia would come with me to help.

“I can follow you to the house to see it and help you unpack!” Mia exclaimed, already getting ready to hop in her car. This is exactly what I was afraid of. I couldn’t have her accidentally finding the crystals, I had to keep her away.

“That’s okay.” I replied sternly “I don’t want you to get hurt, the property is kind of a mess, plus I don’t want anyone to see the house until I get it a little more presentable.”

“Oh…” Mia trailed off “Okay, I guess that makes sense. I’ll just leave you to it then.” 

Mia leaned in for a defeated hug and gave me a half smile as I climbed into my car to head back to my new house, and more importantly to my crystals. 

Two weeks had passed, at least I think it had been two weeks. I was avoiding my phone so I didn’t have to talk to anyone, every minute I spent talking to someone was a minute of a chance I could slip up and mention the crystals. I couldn’t have that, I couldn’t have anyone knowing about them. I still hadn’t told my parents about the new house yet either, I knew they would immediately hop in their car and make the five hour drive here just to see the house. They were curious people and always worried about me so they would definitely scour around the property and inevitably find my crystals. I decided when I eventually had to call my parents I would feign being busy with work, even though I had just quit, but they didn’t need to know that. 

I decided with the crystals I could have anything I wanted. I mean, they produce gold right into my hands! I didn’t need a job anymore, just my crystals. I had an idea at that moment, I would see if they could produce diamonds. Giddy with excitement from my idea I ran into what was the kitchen of the house, it was certainly still falling apart as I had been too focused on gathering more crystals that I hadn’t bothered with the house at all. I had a basket filled with about ten deep purple crystals I harvested today. It seemed to take about four days for a lavender crystal to turn dark enough to pluck free. 

I grabbed one of the darker crystals and thought about glittering diamonds and as I wished for them they plopped into my hand one at a time until the crystal grew pale and crumpled in my other hand.

“Holy shit! It worked!” I exclaimed out loud to no one.

“I can’t believe it…” I mumbled to myself as I glanced down at the beautiful diamonds and their dancing rainbow light on my rundown walls. 

I gently put my new diamonds into a small velvet pouch that is usually the home of my favorite necklace, but these diamonds needed a safe place to be as I drove them to the pawn shop. Once I got there I handed the sack to the pawn shop owner. 

“More gold?” he asked casually as he dumped them onto the counter. But when a handful of sparkly diamonds clanged onto the glass counter his jaw almost hit the floor. 

“Ma’am, I have to ask, where did you get these?” he said as his eyes narrowed at me.

“They’re mine, I promise!” I blurted out, I was taken aback, normally he didn’t ask questions. I couldn’t think of an excuse fast enough and there is no way I could mention my crystals. 

“Okay, okay.” he sighed “Let me just check them for authenticity, stay here.” 

He disappeared in the back and suddenly I felt anxious. What if he was on to me? What if he alerts someone about me bringing in this stuff? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind before, but I had the crystals to protect now. I realized then I couldn’t come back here again, no way. I’m sure there are plenty of places to sell things, or maybe I could sell them online that way no one would see my face. I nodded to myself as he returned with a wad of cash for my diamonds. I took it and left as quickly as I could without being too suspicious. I could feel his stare practically burning into my back as I left.

I was almost home again after that fiasco, my phone ringing jostled me out of my deep thoughts and I practically jumped out of my seat. It was Mia. 

“Shit!” I mumbled. I hadn’t answered her calls since I left. I had to keep her off of my back and from just wandering down here. I told her where the house was before when I came to look at it, joking that she should know where I was in case anything happened to me. I smiled thinking of that moment, I was so caught up in my crystals I didn’t realize I missed Mia. 

“Hello?” I answered.

“Oh my god! There you are! I’ve been trying to reach you!” Mia sounded worried. I guess it had been a couple weeks.

“I’m sorry Mia, the reception here is terrible!” I lied through my teeth.

“Oh, I guess your house is pretty far out huh.” She replied, easily believing me. “Are you busy right now? Want to grab a cup of coffee with me? Or I can bring you lunch there! It has been almost a month now, I’m sure you’ve gotten a little done there, right?” Mia chuckled

Holy shit it’s been a month?! I had to hide my surprise, and keep Mia from coming here. 

“Coffee sounds great, Mia! I’m already out right now actually so I can meet you at our usual place?” I replied mustering all the normalcy I could, this would keep her from coming here. 

The bell on the door jingled as I entered the coffee shop. I saw Mia sitting at a table by the window waiting for me. As I walked up to her she smiled at me but when I got closer her smile faded. 

“Hey Mia!” I exclaimed as I slid into the chair opposite her. 

“Hey, how are you?” she asked skeptically.

“I’m great!” I exclaimed “I love the house, I’m really making progress I think!” I feigned laughter knowing full well I’ve made no progress on the house, only on my crystals. 

“Are you sleeping okay?” she asked me, ignoring what I had said. 

“Yes of course, why do you ask?”

“Well… “ she trailed off, stirring her coffee clearly troubled. “To be honest you have horrible dark circles, it looks like you haven’t slept in days! When was the last time you showered?” 

I hadn’t even thought about it, come to think of it I hadn’t even looked in a mirror in a while. I instinctively reached up to smooth my hair and it felt heavily greasy. 

“I- I mean the water pressure there isn’t great and there’s no hot water so it’s been difficult to properly shower!” I laughed it off again “I definitely need to get it looked at as soon as I can.”

Mia lifted an eyebrow at my words and shifted in her chair. “You can always still stay with me while the renovations are being done, or even just drop by and shower every once in a while.” she offered. 

“That’s kind Mia, but I’m okay, really! It will get fixed soon and as soon as it does I’ll have you over for a little housewarming get together!” I struggled to smile at her. I was getting annoyed with all the questioning, and if she kept prying I didn’t want to slip up about my magical crystals. I mean, if people started finding out, soon everyone would be trying to steal them!

“Well, I actually have to go get ready, I have another showing soon for some clients.” I lied again, I was suddenly aware of all the dirt underneath my fingernails from all the digging to get my crystals. I had to get out of here. 

“Why are you lying?” Mia asked, getting upset with me. “I called your office, they said you weren’t coming back to work. What is going on?”

“You called my office?!” I exclaimed, I was getting angrier and I didn’t know if I could keep calm anymore.  

“Well you wouldn’t return my calls! I was worried about you!” Mia looked hurt. 

“I told you I barely get service! I can’t believe you, Mia!” I had to leave. I slid my chair back, dug in my pocket for a crumpled up five dollar bill and chucked it onto the table.  

The bell on the door rang louder this time as I slammed it shut behind me. I angrily sped home to my crystals.

I flew down my long dirt road, tires crunching loudly. Once I got close to the tree where my cave was, I parked and hopped out. I was still fuming from my argument with Mia. Once I saw the rock I had carved an x onto, I began to immediately calm  down, and the tightness of my chest lessened. Within a moment I felt the cool earth of my cave against my skin. I plucked one of the darker crystals and held it close to me and soon my anger and sadness were gone. I didn’t need anyone, I began to realize as I laughed to myself. I have my crystals! I began to laugh even harder. How lucky I was. The luckiest person on earth! I just needed my crystals. I hugged it closer to my chest. The crystal began to crumple in my arms, and I had never felt better.  

If you enjoyed this short story, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Clever and I wrote this together and we are so proud of it! So thank you for taking the time to read it!

Clever & WTF

Best Royal Fantasy Books for Fantasy Nerds

Welcome, Fantasy Nerds! Today we are talking about our favorite books in the royal fantasy sub-genre. We are looking for fantasy books that focus on a battle for the throne. Here are the ones we recommend:

Game of Thrones

This series is the first one I think of when you mention royal fantasy. It has a medieval fantasy world with vicious ruling families and noble heroes fighting over the throne. There are epic battles, cold-blooded murders, and political intrigue. And there are dragons. While the families’ original conflicts are with each-other, evil beings begin awakening and threaten to destroy the entire Seven Kingdoms. 

I absolutely love, or love-to-hate, the characters in this book. I don’t think there are any that I’m not passionate about, one way or the other. The true-to-life injustices and cruelties make this series so intense and surprising. No character is safe. It’s no wonder this series was made into a hit HBO show. 

Red Queen

In this book, the royalty have silver blood and magic abilities, while those with red blood are just normal, or so everyone thought. Then Mare Barrow, a red-blooded girl, upends society when she turns out to have lightning magic. The royal family forces her to pretend to be silver and become engaged to the prince in order to keep her secret from getting out and destroying their hold over the reds. 

I enjoyed so many things about this series, especially the range of magical abilities that the characters have and how Victoria Aveyard uses and combines them so brilliantly in the battle scenes. The world-building and inventiveness were phenomenal. Also, the villains throughout this series were so realistically evil and gave me goosebumps with their viciousness and obsession. I don’t normally read the add-on novellas with a series, but I’m glad I did with this one, because I still think about Cruel Crown and shiver. I just really felt like this is a villain. I highly recommend this series for all Fantasy Nerds!

The Shattered Court

I know we have mentioned this one in a previous post, but it certainly falls into this category perfectly! The entire premise of this magical series is based around a Royal Court of witches. It’s a matriarchal Court with one queen and only other witches ever come into power. 

The main character Sophie is far back in the line for ruling but when her power finally surfaces it’s astronomical. Her power is so immense that she gains many enemies and has to choose between survival and love, or being loyal to the royal court of witches that has been around for generations.

Kill the Queen

Evie, a low-ranking member of the royal family with little magical ability, is an outcast at court. After surviving the assassination of the entire royal family by her cousin, due to her ability to smell magic, Evie goes on the run and joins a gladiator troupe. There she learns to battle and hone her magical abilities, intent on killing the new Queen. 

This book was action packed from start to finish. The massacre at the beginning was both tense and heart-wrenching. I loved Evie’s journey, from unskilled outcast to tough warrior. Her dedication to revenge and saving the kingdom fueled her into becoming a worthy hero. 

Queen of the Tearling

This series is one of my favorites in general, and is a great twist on royal fantasy. The books take place in the kingdom of Tear, which people came to find in “the Crossing”, a mysterious exodus from America. Kelsea inherits her mother’s throne at the age of 19, and from the beginning her reign, and her life, are threatened. Although the first book focuses on Kelsea, the second introduces Lily, a pre-Crossing character who Kelsea sees visions of through her magic sapphire necklace. As the stories of these two characters weave together, we begin to understand more about the Tearling and the Crossing. 

The story combines medieval fantasy and dystopian in a unique way that I have never seen before. The twists were fantastic and the world-building was immersive. I devoured the series and loved every bit. It has one of my favorite endings to a series that sticks with me to this day. 

Berserk

So this series is a manga, but I think it’s interesting to have on this list. Berserk was introduced to me by my little brother and I have to say it is a story that is literally life changing. The storyline and the character development is some of the most well written work I’ve had the pleasure to read. Some of the characters that you love in the beginning you will despise by the end, as well as the other way around.

The setting of this manga is a medieval type world where one man named Griffith has the goal of becoming the ultimate ruler of the kingdom he grew up in as a poor boy. His arguably best friend Guts is by his side throughout most of this journey, and they form a small army called Band of the Hawks and are well loved by commoners. They go through so many struggles and horrifying obstacles to get to where they want to be. This story is utterly heart wrenching and sometimes difficult to even read because of how emotionally invoking it is. I could easily write pages about this series but I don’t want to give too much away, it’s honestly something everyone should read whether you like manga or not. It’s also an anime if you would prefer to watch, but I highly recommend reading the manga.

What Do You Think?

Do you agree with our list? Are there any royal fantasy books that you would recommend? We would love to know your thoughts! If you found this post helpful, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

The Dragon in the Cave

It was raining again outside the dragon’s cave; he could hear the faint pitter patter of the droplets against the earth as he let out a small fire from his snout. It turned the moisture in the air to steam, and he sighed in relief as he settled deeper into his bed of gold coins. The clang of coins and treasure shifted under his weight. It had been a fortnight since a human wandered into his cave. He didn’t particularly care for humans, always storming in with their pointy, shiny sticks, trying to take his gold. Maybe if they would ask nicely he would share, but none ever did. 

A pile of roasted bodies and long forgotten skeletons were in the front left corner where the light from the entrance of the cave reached them just right. The dragon hoped it would serve as a warning for any humans that attempted to steal his treasure, but it didn’t seem to. Big tough humans with their shiny bodies that melt easily with his fire. No human ever made it close. The dragon reminisced of one human who had shot a pointy stick at him, it tickled. But soon that human was ash, nothing shiny on that one.

Just as the dragon was drifting off into a peaceful sleep, soft smoke exiting his nostrils, he heard a shuffle. He stretched open one glistening eye the color of parchment paper and saw a small figure at the edge of his cave. It was a human, of course, probably there to steal his treasure. It was cloaked with a tattered dark material, and it’s face was covered. 

The dragon lifted his giant head, inhaling so deeply that it made a whooshing sound. 

“W-w-ait… please,” a soft voice stammered. 

The dragon was taken aback, no human ever spoke calmly to him before. Usually just screams or 

“I’LL STEAL YOUR TREASURE AND END YOU BEAST!” 

things along those lines mostly. 

“Why are you here human? Are you trying to be sneaky and take my treasure?” The dragon’s voice echoed loudly within the walls of the cave.

“No…” the human trailed off, clearly thinking carefully about his next words.

“I just wanted to see a dragon, honestly, I have nothing left to live for so if you decide to kill me I don’t really care.” The human spoke a little more calmly now.

“You have struck my curiosity, human, you may enter my cave. But try to fool me and you will end up like those skeletons, nothing but ash.” 

The human slowly sauntered deeper into the cave, and peeled back it’s wet hood revealing its face. He was a young man with grimy long, dark hair and a crooked nose. He stopped about twenty feet away from the dragon.

“I’ve heard tales of the dragon in his cave, guarding his glorious treasure that men try to steal. No one has ever succeeded or come back to speak of you,” the human said to the dragon. 

“Any human who tries to steal my treasure dies a fiery death, but no human has ever tried to just speak with me,” the dragon replied with a hint of sorrow in his voice. 

“I want to speak with you,” the human said. “I am an outcast in our village, they call me grotesque and throw stones at me. I am but a joke to them,” the human sighed heavily and continued, “I just wanted to see you, dragon, with my own eyes before I perish from this world.”

“Humans are strange creatures,” the dragon replied thoughtfully. “They search for only beautiful things and easily throw their lives away for it.” The dragon lifted his tremendous head, the light from the cave glimmering off of his golden scales. 

The human looked up at the dragon, now towering over him, eyes wide in amazement. He took a moment to collect himself and replied to the magnificent dragon before him.

“They think I am ugly and never give me the chance to prove my worth, and I have no family left, so I have given up on the humans in my village,” he continued. “I decided to travel somewhere else, though I do not know where.”

“That may be wise, small one, but I can easily travel to far away lands, many of which I acquired my treasure from. I do not know the abilities of a human, except that your kind perishes easily from dragon fire.”

The human let out a small chuckle, and the dragon quirked his head to the side in curiosity. 

“What is that noise human, are you mocking me?” boomed the dragon as he began to puff up his chest.

“No, no!” the human replied lifting his hands in a defensive manner. “I simply found it amusing how easily you dispense of humans.” 

“You are an interesting human,” said the dragon. “I quite enjoy conversing with you,” the dragon said as he attempted to mimic the humans chuckle, but it came out as a strange raspy roar. At this the human laughed even harder, throwing his head back showing crooked teeth. The dragon seemed to understand this and his mouth stretched over his jagged, pointy teeth in a sort of smile.

“Human,” the dragon boomed again, “I have a proposition for you. I will give you some of my treasure, a few of my old fallen scales, and one of my broken teeth to bring back to your village.”

“Wh- What?” the human stammered. “Why would you do that?”

“You have showed me that it’s possible not all humans only want treasure or beautiful things, for you just want to be accepted and have new experiences.” 

“I am so grateful dragon, but what would I do?” replied the human, clearly still in shock at the dragon’s offer.

The dragon stretched his snout into a crooked smile again. “Silly human, take them and claim you have slayed the dragon. You will then be accepted and perhaps the pesky humans from your village will leave me in peace.”

The dragon lifted a huge taloned paw and pushed a pile of various gold coins and glittering jewels towards the human. 

“Grab what you can carry,” the dragon spoke as he gently plucked one of his broken teeth from a pile of gold. It was ginormous to the human, almost as long as his arm and sharp as a blade. “And be careful with that tooth!” 

The dragon then scratched his belly with his back left paw, his talons scraping free a few of his older scales. They slid down his pile of treasure and came to a soft stop just below the humans feet. He bent down and gingerly grabbed one of the scales and moved it back and forth in the light, it glimmered more beautiful than the jewels.

“I don’t know how to thank you dragon…” the human trailed off. “This is the kindest anyone has been to me.”

“You dear human, are the kindest anyone has been to me as well. Perhaps you will visit me once in a while so we can converse more.”

The human grinned up at the dragon, “I would like that very much.” 

The human left the cave and turned back to look at the dragon one more time. “Thank you, dragon. No, thank you friend.”

The dragon practiced his smile again as he settled back into his hoard of treasure.

Best Fairy-tale Retellings for Fantasy Nerds

The Flame and the Mist (Mulan) by Renee Ahdieh

This Mulan retelling follows a girl who, after an assasination attempt on the way to an arranged marriage, pretends to be a boy in order to infiltrate the camp of the group of bandits who are suspected of the attempt. While there Mariko befriends the group and finds a place where she is valued for her intelligence and skill. She also learns there’s more to the group, and more to her family, than meets the eye. 

That’s what made this book unique compared to the original Mulan story. Mariko gets a chance to see her family from the view of an outsider, and the tension builds as her new friends are set against her brother, who believes he is getting revenge for his sister. Another unique aspect is the political intrigue and betrayal. The Black Clan members have an interesting backstory, and there are some surprising twists at the end that make this story a great read!

A Court of Thorns and Roses (Beauty and the Beast) by Sarah J. Maas

Ok, I know I’ve written about this series many times, but I can’t exclude it from this list. The whole reason I read it is because my husband saw that it was a Beauty and the Beast retelling (my favorite) and got it for me. This retelling recasts the beast as a shape-shifting Fae who is trapped in his beast form, due to a curse, of course. After Feyre kills a Fae that is trapped in wolf form, the “beast” forces her to become his prisoner as punishment. But if you think this series is going to be predictable, you are wrong. This faerie world is so immersive and creative, and Sarah J. Maas isn’t afraid to subvert our expectations to make this retelling fresh and different.

These books blew my expectations out of the water, and I literally cried when I finished the series because I was so sad to say goodbye to the characters. Sarah J. Maas gives her characters so much depth and most are not who you expect them to be. By the end of the books I really felt like I knew them, and this gave the action and plot so much more weight. A Court of Thorns and Roses continues to be one of my favorite fantasy series. 

Dark Breaks the Dawn (Swan Lake) by Sara B. Larson

The Swan Princess movie was one of my favorites as a child, so I was excited to read this retelling. The story follows a Princess who must ascend the throne when her mother is killed, as she struggles to learn to shapeshift into her swan form. Even though I’ve never tried to rule a kingdom, the author found a way to make the character’s struggles and insecurities relatable.

What I found interesting about this book was that the characters aren’t human, but an entirely new race with a unique magic system that influences their entire way of life. It didn’t feel like magic existed just to have magic in the story, but it actually fueled the plot. What really stuck with me though, was the unpredictable ending. It floored me, and left me impatiently awaiting the sequel. 

Throne of Glass (Cinderella) by Sarah J. Maas

This series is very loosely based on Cinderella, and came about because the author was listening to the music from Cinderella and thought the song where she flees the castle at midnight sounded more fitting for an assassin than a Disney princess. You will notice little details from Cinderella throughout the story, but the plot is extremely different. You have a glass castle instead of glass slippers, and a world full of Fae instead of a fairy godmother. 

Celaena is an imprisoned assassin who comes to the castle of glass to compete in a deadly contest for her freedom. Celaena is no Disney princess, and definitively lives in a moral gray area. However, her backstory makes her a relatable and sympathetic assassin, and she has all the makings of an epic antihero. Whether you are a fan of Cinderella or not, I absolutely recommend this series for all fantasy nerds!

Beastly (Beauty and the Beast) by Alex Flinn

I read this book when I was a little bit younger, and it’s definitely a YA book, but good nonetheless! This book is a Beauty and The Beast retelling set in modern times in New York City. It’s a fairly quick read, and if you like the story of Beauty and The Beast you will surely enjoy this book.

The main character Kyle, our beast, is a typical popular high school kid. His dad is rich, he’s attractive, popular, and kind of a bully. Kyle is rude to a girl who turns out to be a witch and she reactively casts a curse on him turning him into a hideous beast. He has two years to find true love, or be stuck forever. I enjoyed this story because of the different setting, as well as how romantic it is. Kyle’s character development is excellent, I loved reading his change as the book progresses. 

The love interest reflects the original Belle, she’s sweet, outspoken and loves books. I also loved the side characters in this book! It’s a quick, sweet and romantic read with the best lesson; love and true beauty are on the inside, not the appearance of a person. When you fall in love it’s for the person they are, not the person they appear to be. 

The Wrath and the Dawn (Arabian Nights) by Renee Ahdieh

This retelling is about a king who orders his bride killed each dawn, and a girl who chooses to become his wife in order to stop him. Shahrzad plans to kill the king as revenge for her best friend, who is one of the murdered brides. True to the original, her plan to survive long enough to enact her revenge is to tell him a tale that is still unfinished at dawn, convincing him to stay her execution long enough to hear the ending. 

What doesn’t go according to plan is that Shahrzad develops feelings for the king. Shahrzad is at war with her growing affections for the boy she comes to know and the hatred for her best friend’s killer. As her time at the palace continues, she realizes that something more is going on. The deaths of the girls are not just at the whim of a monstrous king. 

What I loved most was Shahrzad’s character in this book. She is brave, selfless, and sassy. She is just the right mix of boldness and intelligence that it would take to beguile and outwit a murderous king. 

What Do You Think?

Did you find any new books to read? Do you have a favorite that wasn’t on our list? We would love to know! If you found this post helpful, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Thanks so much for reading!

-Clever & WTF

Ironic Justice – Part 2

If you haven’t read part one of Ironic Justice, you can find it here.

Luna helps me pass the days spent in my cell by teaching me more about familiars. Fairies, she tells me, are perfect for mischievous tasks because of their invisibility. Plus, I can tell they have the personality for it. When I tell this to Luna, she just sticks her tongue out at me.

Rats are good at spying. They can hide in tight places and no one seems to notice them. Toads are the most effective at helping with potions. Cats are perfect for convincing people to do things they don’t want to, and knocking things over. Dogs are great for delivering items and sending messages. They also make loyal protectors, especially when you don’t want another witch’s cat familiar trying to trick you.

Her lessons give me an idea.

“How would I call a familiar here?” I ask.

“Oh, what a lovely idea! Let’s have one come to visit us. Where should we start?” she taps a tiny finger against her chin.

“I was thinking I could send a message to my parents.”

“We’ll summon a dog then. Just be careful. They like to use their tongues to cover you in slobber. Last time I saw one, my clothes were dripping the rest of the day and I smelled awful.” Luna crosses her arms and frowns at the memory.

“I don’t think I have anything to worry about,” I reply with a laugh. Luna glares at me. “But I’ll keep the dog away from you,” I promise her.

“Fine, let’s begin. Most familiars will come when they sense that you need them, just like I did. Some are more intuitive or cooperative than others. Dogs are actually the perfect familiar to start with. They usually come at the first whiff of a summons. Cats on the other hand, although very in tune to your needs, tend to come whenever they please.”

I nod my head, thinking of our stubborn tabby back home.

“First you need to lift your arms above your head,” Luna tells me. I follow her instructions. “Close your eyes and think of what you need.”

I think about how I want to let my parents know that I’m safe. I know my mother must be worried sick. Father is probably trying to find a way to break me out.

“Now, twirl in a circle three times.” Again, I comply. “Then, stick your thumb in your mouth.”

I open my eyes and glower at Luna. She is fighting not to laugh, but once she sees my face she lets it out.

“How much of that was actually necessary?” I ask.

“You only have to close your eyes and focus on what you want. The rest was just for my enjoyment.” She flashes me a sparkly grin.

I look for something to throw at her. Just then a scruffy black dog bounds into the goall. In his mouth are parchment and a graphite pencil. He trots right up to the bars of my cell and drops them in front of me. Then, he sits and stares at me with wide eyes, tail wagging back and forth along the ground.

“Good dog,” I tell him.

I reach through the bars and give him a few pets and a scratch behind the ears. He jumps up and licks my arm vigorously. I laugh, but I hear Luna make a sound of disgust behind me. I pick up my utensils and begin writing a note to my family. The dog stretches out along the floor as he waits for me to finish. When I move back to the bars, the dog jumps up and comes to take the message.

“Deliver this to my parents,” I tell him, unsure if he even understands me.

He sits very still. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do now. The dog pushes his nose against my hand. I reach out and give him a good petting with both hands. When I stop, he bounds out of the goall and disappears. Now, I wait.

After a few days, I begin to think my loyal companion has disappointed me. I hear no word from either of my parents. I had begged them to seek my release from this place, but still, I languish here. Another thought occurs to me; maybe it’s not my familiar that has let me down.

I hear footsteps coming down the steps and I sit up to eat my meager breakfast. Instead, my mother comes rushing forward. My father and a guard follow behind her.

“My baby!” my mother exclaims with tear-soaked eyes. She reaches through the bars to grasp my hands so tightly I think she might crush them. But I don’t care. I squeeze back as a sob escapes my throat.

“You release her, this instant,” my father demands. “She’s been locked in here long enough.”

The guard shuffles forward and mumbles under his breath. He shoves the key into the lock and opens the door. I stumble out to embrace both my parents. My father is the only one holding up both my mother and me.

“I’m sorry it took us so long,” my mother tells me, “but we needed time to come up with the money. And we weren’t exactly sure how to reach back out to you.” There is a questioning look in her eyes, but we can’t say more in front of the guard.

My father leads us back home, where my mother brings me a basin of warm water for a sponge bath. It’s the first I’ve had since I was thrown in the water that day. It seems like a lifetime ago. I went from a terrified girl, thinking I would drown at the mercy of the witch hunter, to a witch who stood up for herself in open court. I still wait to find out whether I made the right decision.

After I’m clean, my mother sits on a stool behind me and brushes my hair, something she hasn’t done since I was a little girl. I explain everything to her, and then I hold my breath. She runs her fingers through my hair as she tells me that it will all work out. It’s only then that I allow myself to completely relax.

When we leave my room, my father has a heaping breakfast prepared for us. I eat a plate full of codfish cakes, with an extra side of fried ham. My father keeps telling me to have some more and adding food to my plate. I laugh and eat until I finally have to surrender to my bursting stomach. It’s only then that I look around to realize that my fairy is gone.

That night in my bed, I call to Luna. She appears to tell me that I don’t need her anymore, at least not at the moment. She will always come back whenever I do need her, though. I ask her to stay with me tonight. I don’t want to be alone. She doesn’t answer me but just looks to the door before she vanishes again. A second later, my mother opens the door to my bedroom with our tabby cat in her arms.

“I thought I might sleep with you, just for tonight,” she says quietly.

I nod my head, unable to speak over the lump in my throat. My mother climbs into bed with me, and our cat curls up between our feet. I fall into a deep restful sleep at last.

The couple of months until my fate will be decided drag on endlessly. I’m glad to be back home, but the fear still nags at the back of my mind all the time. Whatever the decision, I just want this to be over.

On the morning we are set to hear the pronouncement of my guilt or innocence, my family is silent at the table. The wooden trencher of corn mush is hardly touched. Eventually, my father pushes his chair back from the table and walks over to open a cabinet in our small kitchen. He returns with a bottle and three metal canns. He clunks the bottle down on the table in front of us.

“George, is this really the time for rum?” my mother asks.

“’Tis exactly the time,” my father answers.

He passes us each a cann and the matter is settled. He pours me the same amount he pours himself, serving my mother less. When I raise the cann to my lips, the sharp sting of alcohol fills my nostrils. I take a gulp, and I feel the rum burning down my throat and into my stomach. It settles there before spreading warmth throughout my body. I finish the rest before reaching for my glass of cider to wash away the taste. We look around at each other and my father nods.

Just before we leave the comfort of our home, my mother stops me with a light touch to the shoulder. She pulls me into a fierce embrace that puts a lump in my throat. When my father wraps his arms around us both, tears well up in my eyes. We stay that way for a moment before we dry our eyes and open the door.

The second we step outside, I’m glad I had the rum to warm me. I pull my cloak tight against the brisk winter air. We walk through town, clustered together against the cold. I notice something flit around the edge of my vision.

“You didn’t think I’d let you go through this without me, did you?” Luna asks.

I just smile at her as she floats up to stay by my shoulder. We continue on, finally reaching the courthouse. My parents squeeze my hands before we enter. Luna just sticks her tongue out at me. My lips pull up into a smile for a moment, but then the doors open.

My heart starts pounding, and my palms are sweaty despite the cold. When the witch hunter and the attorney enter the courtroom, I turn to face them. The witch hunter’s eyes are wide as he watches me carefully. Mr. Hawthorn steps forward and presents the charges against me. Although I am a witch, I have committed none of the acts that he accuses me of. The foreman then stands to proclaim the verdict. I hold my breath.

“Ignoramus,” he says.

For a moment, I stand in shock. I didn’t expect to be cleared of the charges. I collapse into my parents’ arms, and we all cry tears of joy. My body is shaking, but I turn to bow my head to the jury in thanks. Our exit from the courtroom is a blur.

Once outside, one of the jurors approaches me. My parents are off speaking with friends, so we stand alone.

“Good day,” she greets me before turning to my left. “Good day,” she says again.

“Good day to you, Martha,” Luna replies. I look between the two of them, jaw hanging open.

“You’re a…witch?” I whisper.

“I am, and I knew you were too the moment I saw Luna in the courtroom.”

“You two know each other?” I ask.

“Oh yes, I love to come to visit Crystal and Juniper,” Luna exclaims with a twirl.

“Juniper Hollyrose is my fairy familiar, and Crystal Moonbeam is my daughter’s,” Martha explains.

“Luna Willowvale doesn’t sound so awful now, does it?”

I roll my eyes.

“Is that why I was found innocent?” I ask. “Because you knew I was a witch?”

“Well, that’s why I tried to convince them to let you go, but it wasn’t hard. People around here are sick of all the panic and hatred being stoked up by those two.” She nods toward the attorney and witch hunter across the courtyard. “People are sick of being afraid for themselves and their families. They’re tired of neighbors accusing neighbors of witchcraft, just because of disagreements. Or worse, because they stand out or refuse to conform. Mostly though, they liked that someone finally took a stand against it and revealed this whole affair for the mockery it is,” Martha pauses. “I personally think it’s an ironic kind of justice, that the first actual witch they catch is set free,” she says with a grin.

If you enjoyed this short story, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Thanks so much for reading!

Clever & WTF

Ironic Justice – Part 1

I don’t understand why everyone is screaming. I’m alive! When they bound my hands and feet and tossed me in the water, I thought I was a goner. Two girls I knew had already drowned this way. But almost as soon as I sank into the water, my body shot upward and out of the river. It was uncanny really. I didn’t just float slowly to the top, or bob along the surface. I propelled into the air a bit and seemed to bounce along like a skipped stone.

It’s almost like I actually am a witch. Oh, that’s hysterical.

That must be why everyone is panicking. They really believe I’m a witch. I blink the water out of my eyes as I watch my neighbors trample each other just to get away from me. It would be laughable if it didn’t look so bad. Now they’ll think I’m some evil girl that’s been cursing them all. Perfect, I survived their test, but I’m going to die anyway. How is this fair?

I watch as the guards who tossed me into the water bolt away. They seem to realize they should be arresting me, and turn back. I almost chuckle. They look toward the witch hunter, who arranged this whole farce. He points a shaking finger at me and commands them to take me to the goall.

“Make sure she is secured and well-guarded,” he tells them. “I’ve never seen the water repel a witch so strongly. She must be extremely dangerous”.

Me, dangerous? He can’t be serious. I’ve never hurt anyone. I’ve never even attempted any kind of witchcraft. I’ll admit, it was strange what happened, but I know I’m not a witch.

At least, I’m fairly certain. I would know if I was a witch, right? There would be some kind of sign before now, like cats following me around or broomsticks flying towards me. This is mad.

The guards lead me into the dark filthy cells. They throw me in and quickly lock the doors, backing out of the stone cavern. One of them trips as he bumps into the bottom stair. I giggle as they all scramble up into the light of day. Now, I’m left alone to contemplate what happened.

There has to be a reasonable explanation. Plenty of people float to the top of the water. They just float much more slowly. And they don’t shoot out of the water as I did. This is a calamity. What am I to do? How do I convince people I’m not a witch?

My breathing quickens and my face starts to heat up. No one will believe that I’m not a witch; I’m beginning to doubt it myself. I need something to focus on, so I don’t panic. For argument’s sake, let’s say I could be a witch. How would I find out for certain? I could try doing magic. But how does one cast spells?

I look at the lock on my cell and snap my fingers. Nothing happens.

“Open,” I say as I wave my hand at the bars. Still, nothing happens.

I hear a giggle behind me, light as a wind-chime. “If it were that easy, anyone could do it.”

I turn to see a tiny, shimmering humanoid with a pair of translucent wings. I rub my eyes. Clearly, I’m imagining a fairy in my desperation. I must’ve heard too many stories about witch familiars. The creature flits toward me and I back away, hitting my head on the bars.

The fairy doubles over, giggling again. “She’s scared of me,” she says, “little adorable me, come to help her.”

I furrow my brows and examine this supposed helper of mine. She’s about half a foot tall with pale green skin and wings. She has lavender colored hair and a dress to match. In fact, the cell now smells of lavender too. She floats above the ground, wings moving almost faster than I can see.

“Look at her face; she clearly needs help,” the fairy says with that high-pitched giggle.

She’s really starting to bother me. “I can hear you, you know”.

“Oh, I know,” she says with a wink.

“I don’t want your help.”

“I don’t think you have a choice.”

We stare each other down for a moment. Finally, I sigh. “How do I get out of here, then?”

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea. If you break out of this cell, they’ll condemn you as a witch for sure.”

“What else am I supposed to do?” I ask.

“Win the trial, of course.” She giggles again, and I wonder what would happen if I tried to squish her.

“But I actually am a witch!” I cry out in exasperation.

“Just get the jury to like you. People like you right?”

I gulp. I’m doomed.

“Right, dumb question,” she continues. “I don’t even like her, and I’m a nice fairy.” She giggles especially hard at that.

I grit my teeth and turn my back to her, gripping the bars tightly. Go away, I think. I turn around slowly. She’s still flying around my cell. I throw my hands up in the air.

“I better teach you how to escape, just in case,” she tells me with a mischievous grin. “It’s simple really; you just recite an incantation or perform a ritual that is pleasing to your familiar. That’s me.” She puts her hand to her heart and blinks innocently. “Then, they will help you.”

I groan.

“Some familiars like Latin; others enjoy a good dance…”

“And what pleases you, great fairy?” I ask as I roll my eyes.

“I’m rather amused by rhymes.” She claps excitedly.

“Of course you are,” I mumble.

My fairy familiar floats down to the ground and taps her little foot impatiently. I always thought fairies would be sweeter. I purse my lips as I try to think of a good rhyme. I can’t believe I’m doing this.

“How about this?” I ask. “This lock you will pick, or I’ll give you a kick.” I grin at my cleverness.

The fairy frowns and crosses her arm. Her foot taps faster now.

“Open my cell, or you’ll go straight to…”

“Hey!” She exclaims as she flies right toward my face. She takes a finger that’s as thin as a toothpick and pokes me on the nose. “I’m trying to help you learn magic. The least you could do is take it seriously.”

I present my most solemn face and stand up very straight. She lets out another chiming giggle. This time I smile.

“Do fairies have names?” I ask.

“Of course they do. Mine’s Luna Willowvale. What’s yours?”

Now, it’s my turn to double over laughing. Of course, she would have such a ridiculous name. Luna frowns at me.

“What’s so funny about Luna Willowvale?” she wonders aloud.

I sputter some more. Finally, I straighten up and extend my hand. “Nice to meet you, Luna…Willowvale,” I say as I scrunch up my face, trying not to laugh again. “My name is Jane Lilly.”

Luna reaches out with her little hand and grasps my pinky finger. Her touch is light as a feather, as she shakes my finger.

“Now, Jane, are you ready to create some magic?”

As much as she gives me trouble, Luna stays with me until they come for me. She even takes pity on me and allows me to stop coming up with ridiculous rhymes to get her to do my bidding. I am marched from the goall, as my pulse pounds in my ears. The only thing that keeps me standing is seeing Luna flitting in the corner of my vision. As they open the doors to the court, my mouth goes dry.

A group of local ladies stands in the courtroom. At the sight of me, they start flailing their limbs about and shaking grotesquely. I almost start laughing, until I realize what they are doing. These little fakes are trying to make it look like I cursed them. Unbelievable. I look around the room, expecting to see people treating this like the joke it is, but everyone feigns looks of concern for the women. I let out an exasperated breath. I forget my fear as I am filled with indignation.

The goallers bring me forward and command me to lay a hand on each of the women. The second I touch each of them, they stop their twitching. This is quite a scene. I glare at them as I am brought forward. They cower dramatically and lean into each other. I’d like to give them a real reason to be afraid of me. Luna circles around the group of them and sticks out her tongue. The corners of my mouth pull up slightly.

The attorney steps forward and asks the ladies who struck them down. They all give my name.

“Jane Lilly, you are accused of afflicting Mrs. Mary Marshall by witchcraft, and now you have hurt many others here today. Now you have the opportunity to tell the truth in this matter,” the attorney proclaims.

“The truth is, I know nothing of it. Nor would I be sensible of it, if I was in the Devil’s snare.”

The attorney’s mouth twitches at my snide comment. He peppers me with absurd allegations, but I deny them all. The man’s mouth scrunches up and his eyebrows furrow as he tries to convince me to confess.

“I bid you speak the truth,” he exclaims.

“I will, for God is a god of truth,” I reply. His face turns bright red and he clenches his fists.

At that moment, I watch as Luna flies up and loosens the belt around the attorney’s breeches. They promptly drop to the floor. The courtroom erupts in laughter.

“Congratulations Mr. Hawthorn, it appears you’ve lost some weight,” I tell the attorney before I turn to the jury with a smile.

Mr. Hawthorn, presumably giving up on making me confess, parades a line of witnesses forward to speak against me. I become bored of it all, and I look at my fairy familiar. I glance between her and the group of liars making accusations against me. She gets my hint right away. She flies between the women and starts tickling them with her tiny fingers. They scream and begin jerking around. I fight to keep an innocent expression on my face.

Once again, I am brought forward to lay hands on the women. They pull themselves together at my touch. I try not to roll my eyes. The last witness finishes speaking, and I’m permitted to give my final statement.

“I have never had any inclination to harm another. If I confessed anything of this, I should deny the truth and wrong my own soul,” I proclaim as I look the jurors in the eye, one by one.

After this, I am led from the musty courtroom. As I pass by my accusers once more, Luna carefully shoves a large legal tome onto one of their feet. The girl jumps up and glares right at me.

“She made this book fall on me,” she accuses, as she jabs her finger at me.

“Now they plan to blame me for every accident that occurs?” I ask, hands held open before me as I shrug.

The jurors chuckle behind me, as I exit the courtroom.

Do you want to find out what happens to Jane? You can read the conclusion to Ironic Justice here. What do you think so far? If you enjoyed this short story, we would love for you to leave a comment, or even buy us a cup of coffee! We promise to share!

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Thanks so much for reading!

Clever & WTF