Friday, November 30


The Foundation will soon have medallions to wear as a symbol of lineage and alliance, in the tradition of the Wulfenbachs and the Heterodynes. I have garnered the assistance of the same artist who turned my drawing for a Steelhead flag into reality, Baron Klaus Wulfenbach!

I'm also considering selling pins of the same design, but smaller, as a sort of "life insurance policy". Wearing one as a brooch, cravat, or what have you will be a clear indication that you desire the full extent of my services, should you ever be beyond the help of conventional medicine.

~Dr. Mason

Tuesday, November 27

a sigh of relief

I wrote a rant here earlier about being let go from hosting at Overdose by an incompetent scheduler. But I have ripped that page out, since my friend Dragoness Fredrickson enthusiastically hired me for running the early evening shift at MOGOR. It's a lovely gothic sort of floating castle, heavily guarded for the VIPs to enjoy, and a beach below for the newcomers to practice their grammar and clumsy advances.

Will I miss Overdose? The urban decay bordering on post-Apocalypse? The scuttling roaches? The rotating iron grill of a dance floor that made my Deva queasy? Especially not. And I cetainly won't miss being labeled a Crack...Host.

P.S. I've started dabbling in the Combat Cards game. I don't have a full tournament deck...and the betas I use for filler apppear to be useless. Anyone for trading or a meelee?

Monday, November 26

Performing my civic duty

Out of the blue, who should send a carriage for me but one of my first friends in the Grid, the Fashion Mogul, Acedia Albion! She and her partner-in-fashion Analogue Montagne were introducing a new line of clothing. We had a lot to catch up on...I'm sure she still thought of me as the demon that modeled for her two years ago! I invited Lunar along with me, with the hopes that we could persuade her to open a Victoriana outlet in Harborside.

(Side Note: Even after two years I still get sticker shock when I come to her sim. With currents exchange rates you could buy a real dress at Old Navy for about the same as her Photoshopped dress!)

I'm not sure if I succeeded in striking up a business meeting between Acedia and Lunar, but once Orange Montagne showed up as the Flaming Goy (aka Kris Kringle), we fired up the old Skype-machines and Boom! It was the Mr. O show all over again!

It was just like old times...sending my voice across the aether and singing the praises of Steelhead and the Victorian sims in general. I brought everyone (which was about seven people) up to speed on how Steelhead has changed from the Weird Wild West to Gaslamp Fantasy. I was lucky enough to have Lunar and the Sheriff on hand to whisper some talking points in my ear. I explained the Guvna's patented pre-booking method of colonial expansion, and invited Mr. O to hold a radio show in our Town Hall...without the Santa suit.

And I think Acedia is right. Lunar does look like Bowie in Labyrinth!

Sunday, November 25

Bloodwing Presents: Paradox 101

This is what happened, as best as we can piece together.

The object Qlippothic gave me was her galvanic tesseractor, set to explode - providing enough energy to catapult Darien back to a distant age, and presumably sever the Hydra from him in the process. How do I know this? What we thought was Darien's father, Jeremiah, was also Darien this whole time! How do I know this? I was able to possess the empty shell of "Jeremiah", which meant he was a Seventh Son and not the Sixth. (Despite Jeremiah's twisted experiments, NO scientific folly can outwit the Bloodwing Curse!) And this second Darien is the one Qli reanimated and restored with the memories of the first.

This means that the Darien we defeated survived the timeshift, and was fatelocked to find his way back to the Steam Age
. After I exorcised the serpents from myself when Dr. Mason and I cured the the Baroness's twins, the Hydra seized a Dr. Mason as they were instructed, but not the Dr. Mason we knew! This timelost Darien then impostored as Jeremiah, kidnapped Sumalee and my sister Lumina, challenged his younger self to the haunted tea party, and eventually fell in combat to his doppleganger. And now, he has returned in a circuitous route to the exact point from when we banished him!

Now the question that haunts our family is, when did the Seventh Son take the guise of the Sixth? Some of you wonder if Jermiah and Darien were the same individual all along. I tell you with all certainty this is impossible. Yes, Jeremiah created his son Darien as a clone of himself, and the fact that he allowed Darien to develop his own identity as a scientific control against his other failed experiments made him a Seventh Son.

Qlippothic tells me that a clone cannot replicate itself infinitely. There is degradation, however slight, with each generation that leads to the eventual demise of the lifepattern. Therefore, Darien would not have cloned himself with the knowledge that his progeny would then do the same. The Knot of Fate would unravel.

So the switch had to have been made after the Darien we have all known was decanted. I am still investigating when this point may have been, reading the surviving records of the Foundation from the last generation and asking Darien what he remembers of his childhood. If only the memories of this Darien had not been erased! What a strange tale he would tell us!

Did this Darien perform inhuman experiments humans and nekos? Did he enslave the neko that would become the mother of his younger self's child? Every question leads to more and more difficult questions.


Monday, November 19

A Gathering of Sparks

What do you call that many Sparks in one place? A Convention, I suppose. The problem was, it was a Friday Night, and I traditionally abstain from such "Mad Scientist" activities on Shabbat.

But what if a life must be saved? That little voice asked. Something could explode.


Or they could develop a cure for...

So I showed up, near the end, long enough to contribute moral support to the Intuitive Inventors of the world!

Meanwhile a certain Demon was at a gathering of his species looking for prize money. He turned his attentions offworld for a few minutes and the Hostess decided to call it off early, distibuting the prize equally to all present.

Excuse me while I gloat.

Saturday, November 17

the masks they slide / to reveal a new disguise

As Bloodwing's grip tightened, he bellowed at me in the dialect of the Underworld kingdom he once laid claim. Syllables painful to pronounce and and worse to hear. Words I did make out was Traitor. Malfunctioning. Useless.

He eased his grip as he shifted his tongue to English, but still held my throat.

"I can sense from here there is no soul left in that body, nor any aspect of the Hydra," he snarled as he dragged me across the ash-strewn ground to gaze at the comatose body.

"Jeremiah must have reprogrammed you when you were captured in his lair. But his plan has come to naught. The point is moot. Both doctors are...gone."

"But," I stammered, "Darien's clones..."

Bloodwing shook his head. "I activated the self-destruct sequence for all of the clone chambers."

It was my turn to scream at him. But I could not. He glared at me as I pantomimed the motions of loading my heaviest weaponry. He was also listed as a Creator...untouchable. But this is as close as I could ever get to threatening him.

"This was by his own direction, Qlippothic. This contingency was set in motion as soon as we returned home from the Underworld, to prevent an army of serpents from rising all at once."

I addressed him again in the calmest composure.

"Bloodwing...that body is Darien's. I realize it is not logical. But there are some things cannot be duplicated in a clone with a distinct identity. It is part of the Curse...and beyond Science, even with the Spark, to imitate. There is only one way to prove this to you. And you know how. If as you say, that is now an empty shell...Darien's essence can be recorded into it from his cloning machine!"

Bloodwing shook his head as he released his spiked glove from around my neck. His face, his voice, and the droop of his wings reflected his utter disgust and disappointment in me.

"Qli! This is madness! You are grasping at straws, my daughter!" He crouched over the body and lay a hand on its chest. Instantly, the demon's form vanished...and the body that we thought was Jeremiah Mason sat up with a look of complete amazement.

"This..this cannot be!" Bloodwing said as the body's features grew pale, "This is indeed a Seventh Son!"

The colorations of Bloodwing's form gathered like tinted fog across the Host's skin and solidified, like watercolors dissolving in reverse. The face turned black and crimson. The flesh scrawled archaic designs upon itself. He gazed at his hands, turning them over and caressing them.

"The position of every neuron is exactly as I remember...even the alterations I made to him on the inside are still here!"

He rose unsteadily as his hair reddened and lengthened. He struggled for balance as he remembered how to control another's body, made somewhat easier by the fact that the primary occupant was missing. He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth as horns sprouted and curved from his forehead. When he opened his eyes again they had gone from deep blue to crimson.

"You are right, Qli. We can bring him back."

With a sudden snap, his great red wings stretched out behind him.

"But you WILL explain this when we return, or I will rip out your Spheres and shake the truth out of them myself!"

Friday, November 16

Protect your Creator

I handed Bloodwing one of my most vital components, and he took to the skies to do battle with his Seventh Son gone mad.

I scanned the blackened landscape. Jeremiah Mason's body lay where it fell. Despite the multiple traumas he looked more...human than when I last encountered him. In fact it was now easy to see he could be the sole genetic source of my...


I listened closely for the source of...

Protect your Creator

The battle raged above me.

Restore your Creator

It is too dangerous to...

I stared at the elder Mason's body again. His features were exactly the same...

I ran through the forest to where Darien had left his supplies in preparation for entering the haunted house..which was now collapsing in flames. I recovered a metal tube, capped at both ends.

Restore your Creator

I crouched over Jeremiah's body. The greenish glow from the serum was enough to find the injection site. As the body shuddered, its face was illuminated by the explosion above me.

Restore your Creator

I looked up in time to see Bloodwing's burning eyes as he dove towards me. In an instant his hand was wrapped around my throat.

Wednesday, November 14

gods as lost / gods as blind / gods of suffering and pain

As the pen is passed to me, with a heavy heart I must relay the following events, for no one else was at hand to deal with the threat directly. Jerimiah and Darien Mason, my Sixth and Seventh Sons in an unbroken cycle of generations, were now both possessed by tendrils of the Hydra. The same beast that the Gods of Olympus battled and exiled below the realm of Hades, the same beast that demi-god Hercules, despite what the myths say, did not destroy, but so nearly did (had he only found the last head!)

Both were firmly entrenched in the destructive madness of the many-headed serpent. Each had a symbiont, a serpentine head coiled about their hearts and extended out of the flesh, to whisper evil biddings into their ears. And each symbiont loathed the other, and desired to keep it at shoulder's length. One sought to absorb the other into its Host and dominate the other. The way of these tendrils is to establish a pecking order, and both serpents were willing to risk their Hosts for the sake of staying the Alpha.

I had just shunted Darien's feline son Koen through space I had folded, to send him away to Transylvania. As skilled as he was in his own magickal studies, and deadly as he was in meelee, he was no match for these foes. Further, depending on how the battle ended there was a strong chance of a new threat emerging the moment one proved victorious.

Remaining by my side was the golem I share the praise of creating along with Darien, one Qlippothic Projects. Darien had been lured out to this trap to rescue her. Koen and I had just finished transferring her essence into a metal frame, one sturdier than the life-sized doll shell Jeremiah had forced her to serve in. No demure automaton is she! In her battle-armour she has faced down the screaming, tentacled warships that descended from the Red Planet. But against this constellation of forces, she could do nothing but watch as boiling tears steamed away from her glowing eyes. She had been programmed to never attack the image of her Creator...and now he was locked by bony wing and slavering maw with his own Creator, the man who formed Darien as a humonculous from his own blood. The Hydra had so corrupted both their forms there was no discerning them from our distance without attracting unwanted attention.

"Qli...I know you cannot harm them...but to save ourselves I need SOMETHING to gain the upper hand!"

She nodded silently, and opened the hatch in her torso, She reached into the coal-stoked inferno of her abdomen, and withdrew a...device. Electricity arced about it, and it trembled in her hand like something alive. Nodding hesitantly, I accepted the object. I felt a burning as the lightning within bit at the bones of my arm, but still I clenched it tight.

Even I considered facing the Hydrae with great trepidation. My father, King Hades, had cursed me with two serpents as he exiled me from his underworld. They were my bane even as I tormented Darien by claiming his body as my own for more than a dozen years. In that crowded shell the Hydrae were only a nuisance. But now, as I inhabit my own form, they could destroy me, or worse control me completely.

I could do naught but wait for one Mason to destroy the other, and then do battle with the victor who would have hopefully been weakened enough for me to vanquish. As the forest around them collapsed in ashes from the destructive spells they hurled in duel, I could make out their silhouettes through the drifting smoke. One combatant screamed as a set of fangs locked around his symbiont by the shoulder in a death grip, and wrenched the serpent free. The other mortal collapsed from the blow. Through the sounds of crackling flames and unspeakable gore I heard a faint call..

"Thank G_d! I'm free!"

Followed by the all too familiar death rattle. Qli and I held our breath as we waited for the surviving lion to roar, and reveal its identity.

"Have I not proven myself...Father?", he shrieked. "Thousands of years of selective breeding by our ancient Founder, and YOU sought to usurp your place in the Chain? You had the Spark and the Magick! Only one other dynasty possesses both! That SHOULD HAVE SUFFICED YOU!! Only through the Seventh Son is the Bloodwing made flesh!"

I shut my eyes and looked away. What he spoke was true..until a year ago. But now we both tasted the freedom of a owning a united mind and body, and sharing them with none other. Disaster would result if I were pulled back into his frame, and shared his soul now corrupted.

The second serpent slowly rose from Darien's left shoulder...and I took his self-distraction as my chance to snap my wings, propelling myself skyward to bear down on my doomed, power-mad son from above!


Monday, November 12

Transylvania (part two)

(Continued from What the Mouse Saw)

“Good evening, love, you’re just in time. I’m feeling peckish, and a little catnip before bedtime never hurts.”

From the rooftops, the slitted pupils of yellow eyes narrowed as they saw the young cat struggle. A roar escaped his throat. Red paws stretched their curved claws and lanky limbs tensed to pounce. The black neko leapt over the edge and landed as quietly as a ghost in the alley, blocking the vampire's escape to the dark city. Koen clenches his fists, and the song of metal blades extending from his metal bracers echo between the crumbling bricks.

The vampire tossed Kira aside as crimson eyes glared hatefully at the intruder. Both combatants bared their fangs, and the undead raced towards Koen in a blur.

Koen pressed a button on a black canister he had hidden in his paw. There was a whoosh, and the vampire doubled over on the trash strewn pavement inches from he him, cursing and coughing.

"What's the matter, Drac? Hungry for catnip but can't take a little garlic oil spray?"

Koen stepped on the vampire's head to make sure he didn't bit anyone's ankle as Kira brushed herself off and skirted carefully around her attacker.

Koen bent over. "You got lucky this time, Leech. Go hunt your your old species next time. Far more nutritious for you." The neko rose, and took a deep breath. His whiskers twitched as wrinkled his nose. Not even an industrial dose of garlic could cover the stench of the alley. Of course, he used to live in streets like these. But hunting dinosaurs in lost jungles ruined his appetite for chasing small rodents.

"Let's go, Kira. Train station's this way."

They whispered to each other as the moved quickly through the swirling fog of the winding streets. It was obvious from the aversion several passers-by had to them how many vampires actually roamed these streets.

"Y'see, Kira" he said, "you just can't go around hunting where bigger critters hunt you. And killing that vamp would have attracted too much attention."

Kira rolled her eyes. Grateful as she was she wasn't in the mood to be lectured by another Foundation member.

"And why are you here?"

"Blood sent me. I was actually on my way here eventually but this whole Hydra business just exploded. I'm just here for one vamp in particular."

Koen tugged at his vest, allowing her to see the wooden stake he had stored away beneath.

Another few turns, and past the sound of a body falling lifeless to the ground in another alley, they reached the station. Koen purchased a ticket for Kira and placed it in her hand.

The black neko smirked as he gave her a quick hug and licked her nose.

"We'll always have Kittiwickshire, schweetheart." He winked, and slipped like a shadow into the mists.

Saturday, November 10

This is where I come in

Yes, that was me in the trees shadowing my sister Qli. I saw Poppa go Dark Side with a hydra head sprouted from his shoulder and bony wings on his back. He looked just like Jeremiah, sounded like him too. I couldn't really tell them apart anymore to be honest. Dad's a clone of Grandpa you know. Maybe that's why they hate each other so much. They know they're not unique. Or maybe it was some packing contest the Hydras (Hydrae?) were throwing to see which body they get to share next.

Qli was crumpled up half-broken by a tree while the post-tea party turns into a magic pissin' contest. They started shooting fire and ice at each other. Then they threw screaming skulls and spinning buzzsaws. They kept dodging and deflecting everything, all the while screaming spells at each other in ancient Hebrew and Greek and Aztec and Old Norse. When they started rezzing giant Easter Island statues and hurtling them at each other I figured it was time to scoop Qli up in both arms (which was easy seeing as her limbs were gone) and run like a cat out of Hell. Good thing too, that moai smashed the tree seconds after I scooted with her.

Meanwhile Qli was screaming blah blah blah we have to save Father the fate of the world is at stake and I say, "Yeah when isn't it, let's get you in your brass body and that combat rig and then you can save the world!"

That's when I heard wings and something grabbed me, and Qli since I was holding her, into the air. I figured I was royally SCREWED. I couldn't drop Qli. She was fragile and half-broken already. Her Spheres would roll out and bounce everywhere, then the two Snakes could have an Easter Egg hunt. Even though it was dark I could see we were being carried to the peak of a nearby mountain (we nekos have good night vision you know.) I got a decent drop off where Qli's brass body was lying empty. At this point I figured I could stop struggling since Qli was smiling up at whoever was carrying us, so of course it had to be Bloodwing.

As soon as we landed Blood lifted the back of Qli's metal body.

"Quickly Son! pass me her Sephiroth!"

Yeah, so I reached in Qli's broken shell and...well...I'll save you the details. But soon we had the Spheres and Qli's Soul Chip inside her normal, Fire-Chief Projects body. But I told him to wait before turning her on because I thought we put the Spheres in out of order. He told me to shut up and there was no time to argue. So we turned her on.

"LOL! I haz GLOBES! Dolly avs iz teh sux0rz!!!"


"OW! Ow...that's...much better...thank you. I think you dented my jaw..."

Blood tossed me a can with a button on it.

"Koen you're going to need this."

"I'm going to defeat the Snakes with this?"

"No. You're going to save Kira from being vampire food."


And that's when one of Demonfather's portals opened under me and I fell through into someone else's adventure.

Friday, November 9

son know your enemy / as I know my son

"The spheres are MINE, Darien!", bellowed Jeremiah as he landed just out of striking range of his serpent. Like Darien, he only had one serpent left that perched on the right shoulder. The two parasites hissed at each other while their hosts scowled.

"Oh how close to perfect you are," the elder Mason chuckled, "except that you are not entirely Me. That will change after my symbiont absorbs you, and reclaims the spawn within you!"

Darien's skeletal wings still had me wrapped in a crushing grip. The limbs flung me to the side in a careless arc to where I collided with an ancient tree. I heard something else crack as I collapsed in a heap at the tree's base.

"Be a part of YOU, Father? I beg to differ! It is YOU who shall be absorbed by MY Hydra!"

The elder Mason and his serpent shared the same look of shock than grew to outrage.

"I am the perfect Host! You are but an experiment in my immortality! A fluke to be digested and forgotten after eons!"

"My serpent tells me that I am the next step in the evolution of the Host! You are obselete! Your serpent shall be salvaged and the rest of you left to perish!"

I summoned what calm was left in my broken form as I tilted my body up from a crouch and attempted to sing.

"Eyes betray the soul..."

Both snakes lunged towards me with a deafening screech that reverberated throughout the forest, the vibration felt like it would shatter what was left of me. In the muffled state of near-deafness that followed, I saw them gesture and shout. Torrents flame erupted from Jermiah's hands towards his son, only to be countered by an explosion of ice shards Darien's hands. I could feel a tear well up in my remaining eye as my doom fell into a decision on a duel of dark magics.

Thursday, November 8

Making an Escape

I had no choice but to run, as futile as it was. I cradled the empty, enchanted pot in my arms as I fled deeper into the woods. I kept my head down as the branches scraped across my porcelain skin and tore ruffles and ribbons from my doll's outfit as trophies of their cruelty.

As I ran I swore I could see a pair of yellow eyes trailing me from the boughs above. I refocused on the path I was blazing just in time to trip over a log. I heard something crack as I landed in the pile of leaves.

As I struggled to my feet, a pair of long bony tendrils wrapped around me and lifted me several feet off the ground. My once-human Father glared up at me with reptilian eyes and the inhuman mockery of a smile while the beast that controlled him balanced itself on his right shoulder, already firmly anchored inside the host's rib cage. I looked at the skeletal wings that it used as claws, and then at my own pinned appendages.

My right hand had snapped off in the fall, leaving a jagged hollow tube of ceramic for a forearm. I had to assume the teapot was lost with it.

"Thank you so much for the tea," he hissed, "but my new friend here says it's time for supper!'

"But I'm not flesh!", I stammered. "I'm porcelain!"

"Oh, but your Spheres are pure magic, Sweet Qli," he growled. "The Creator giveth, and the Creator taketh away."

I shut my glass eyes whimpering as the serpent reared over my Creator's body, jaws extended to strike..

Wednesday, November 7

How the Wierd Wild West was Won

Last night Bloodwing's soundbite for describing the town was put to rest. Evocations of Jonah Hex and Twin Peaks for a town built on the Blueprints of a Gold Rush City could no longer sufficiently summarize the quirky yet welcoming atmosphere of our rapidly expanding town.

The release of the Girl Genius comic to the Web has brought exciting changes to the Victorian Sims. The term Steampunk has gone from parody to a genre all its own to the point that every magazine writes about it. I think the work of the Foglios play no small part.

Characters from that comic now walk among us and become treasured friends. Many more newcomers join us inspired by the thrilling tales. It gave my compulsive tinkering on the fringes of Science a diagnosis: the Spark. My propensity to turn that Spark towards Medicine has also given me a name from their pages: a Ressurectionist. Though I still prefer the older term, Reanimator.

From Girl Genius we grateful borrow a style of their coinage: Gaslamp Fantasy. Caledon is a sci-fi Utopia as Jules Verne would have dreamt with a smattering of magic around the edges. New Babbage is the other side of the coin, a Dystopia of factories and urchins with the occasional incursion by Lovecraftian horrors.

Steelhead welcomed Steampunk with open arms, as much as the Gothic archetypes of vampires, werewolves and witches and the High Fantasy of anime elves, nekos and dragons. (To say nothing of colossal chickens, bionic mastodons an Martain invaders counting coup.)

So, Gaslamp fantasy it is. And I'm proud to accept the job of a Councilor for the town as it expands. I'm also offered a clinic in the new town hall..more room for my..innovations. This the greatest gift they've given me since Tensai gave me that glowing meteorite that smashed the old church (which is powering my generator).

I'm told as long as I don't unleash zombie hordes on Main Street I'm fine. (The zombie down the street? That's AzA. He's not mine.)

~Dr. Mason

Monday, November 5

...And the Guest Won't Leave

I must continue the tale from this point, for this is where my Father, Dr. Darien James Mason, died. In the Haunting, one head had withdrew into its host to hide from the punishment of the spirits. Then, the remaining serpent lunged for Darien's throat in revenge for being "poisoned" with holy water. The split second where the fang of one serpent left a pinprick in his neck was all that was needed for the second sliver of the Many-Headed Beast to enter the Doctor's blood, and make its way to his heart. And when the heart stopped beating, he stopped living. The serpent kept the host awake in Undeath - and in that unholy state the holy water became caustic to his flesh.

"Qli," he whispered with the last shred of his sanity, "the water...."

I hurried to the teapot and lifted it from the ground. My pale porcelain hands matched the ceramic of the pot. My eyes peered down at it as my finger searched for cracks in the relic. It was intact. I opened the lid and pulled out the filter, shaking the clump of infused herbs away and gazed inside the vessel. It was empty. Maybe a few drops of poison rolling back and forth in the bottom, but not enough to exorcise the monster within him.

"Qli," he sobbed, "you need to run..."

I shook my head in disbelief as a skeletal dragon wing stretched from his side, then another.

"Father! No!"

"You need to run.." His eyes gleamed with the evil of the serpent as it rose with a horrid ripping sound from beneath his shoulder blade. The unholy ophidian whispered with a forked tongue into his ear, and his tormented visage turned to one of unparalleled cruelty.

"...because I SO ENJOY THE CHASE!!!"

Sunday, November 4

Calling Dr...?

Is there another physician in Caledon available to take a patient in the UK time zone? Our schedules seem diametrically opposed and arranging an appointment has proven impossible. Do drop me a line if you please.

~Dr. Mason

Friday, November 2

The Tea Party's Over..

I tried to regain my balance even as my features began to melt like wax. I could hear Qli pleading for help on the aether transmitter, and in the distance I heard my father, Dr. Jeremiah Mason, roaring in anger from inside the Haunted Dollhouse. The Children of Death were trying to rip the soul from his undead form for failing in their deadly game. The serpent head that erupted from under his clavicle was the remaining extension of the demonic Hydra that clung to his was hissing in protest as well, unbalanced by the disappearance of its twin.

I had met Father...and the collective that seethed within that cursed house to rescue my first-built daughter. Too dangerous in the lion's den for direct attacks, we played a deadly game. We tried to cause each other to slip in the rules of a child's game, the Tea Party. He sought to poison me, or rouse my anger. I had Qli serve him tea from a blessed pot, and the holy water seeping down two throats burned him as he spat it back at me with his curses.

I musn't panic, I thought. Think, Darien. Think through the blinding pain. Hemlock or no, no mundane poison is this strong..and acid this strong surely would have dissolved the pot. The snake..did it spit venom at me? No. The Hydra injects its venom. Even if its poison sac exploded from the holy water it wouldn't..

The holy water is burning me? That can only mean I'm..

I took the opportunity to panic, since I assumed I would never have the chance to again.

To Be Continued.

Thursday, November 1

The Haunted Tea Party Part IV

As my droplet of poison tea arced towards the bloody tablecloth, I wondered if it was worth it to answer Qli's Tea Party invite in the first place, knowing from her perfect handwriting reduced to shaking scrawl that it was a trap.

Jeremiah and the Hydra head extending from his back raised their cups and grinned in triumph. The skeletal wing lifted the cup to the snakes flickering tongue as the human head copied the motion. Then..they both spat droplets at me as their mouths burst into flame.

"HOLY WATER! DAMN YOU DARIEN!!" The serpent screeched as the human's mouth copied the other's searing jaws.

"Why yes! This teapot was blessed for me by a priest in Tombstone!" I wiped the moisture off my face with a moth-eaten napkin. My droplet was in there somewhere, knocked out of trajectory.

"You sprayed me..with holy water! Why.. thank you father! All my life I've been hoping for your Blessing!"

I felt the tips of the serpent's fangs pressing against the skin of my throat for an instant, before the angry children of Death mobbed Jeremiah. What happened under the wisps I do not know, for I was busy with my escape.

Qli had worn down again. Luckily her porcelain form is her lightest. I picked her up over my shoulder and bolted down the creaking stairs. I felt one board snap under my jump to the filthy rug of the den.

I heard their childish screams grow louder behind me. "Play with us! Play with uuus!" I was able to dodge hurtled toys and silverware flying at deadly velocity to a safe distance in the woods past the front gate. I was out of their domain.

I dropped Qli and wound her back key. My hands and face were growing numb..the poison..

"Father, are we having a picnic..I'll pour some tea.."

I flipped open her gearbox and poked a reset switch with a nearby stick, and she jumped to her feat, Violet eyes and burning pupils gazing at me in horror.

"FATHER! Your face! It's.."

My eyes shut on their own as I fell over, quivering.