The [[Witch]] - Chapter 6 (6/23/2021)

“Today we bring these vile criminals and sinners to justice. Their long reign of terror and destruction ends here.”

The Executioner’s words don’t particularly cut me deep. I’ve heard this countless times before. He stands before a large and angry crowd he’s whipped into a frenzy. How painfully nostalgic.

I am but one of the several so-called “criminals and sinners” up on the menu today, and we’re a bit tied up at the moment. A long dark cloak hides my body and the hands cuffed behind my back. My noose is just a little tight, and my short stature is forcing me to the tips of my toes to keep from choking. Surely the work of amateurs, I’ve partaken in better executions.

“Here we have Arthur, a member of the insurgency working against this Kingdom. His crimes are as follows…”

*Thunk*

Ah, they’re finally getting started. Sadly my position seems to be towards the end, leaving me a bit more time. I’m tired. So tired. Mentally, physically, spiritually. I just wish they’d hurry.

“Cursed [[Witch]], there is no place in this world for you.”

These are the first words I remember hearing and comprehending. It was the dawn of mankind and I was an unfortunate orphan left to the whims of an uncivilized world. To avoid the abuses of my adoptive tribe I began learning from their Shaman.

I excelled; weaving and working the magic in the atmosphere was as simple as breathing. However, it brought no relief, and I was used even more as a tool by the tribe. I brought ruin to many a settlement during this time. Again, and again. The death and destruction became too much for my feeble heart to bear, thus I left.

Isolation is better than being used as a weapon capable of bringing only demise and despair.

Or so I thought.

“Next up is Justine, a murderous wench. Her crimes are as follows…”

*Thunk*

I spent too much time in the mountains, perfecting my magic beyond the limits of humanity. Delving into long forgotten taboos. Foolishly I began tattooing my body with spells using a magical but poisonous ink. And when I ran out of room, I took to my eyelids, the inside of my mouth, and even my eyes. The pain was insufferable, but it was nothing compared to the pain of being used as a tool of destruction.

The spell was more of a curse. A blasphemy against the concept of [[God]] itself. My life to this point had been one of loneliness and pain. In a moment of weakness, I had a thought. “If I could live forever… Maybe something good could happen to someone like me…”. And so, I gifted myself a never aging and never dying body.

It was roughly a century later, on my 125th birthday, that I would leave the mountains. My tanned skin, brown eyes, and brown hair all dyed mostly black with my immortal curse. I had stopped growing and aging at 25 and ended at a lithe 5ft tall. Hope shined in my ruined eyes, that things could be different in this second chance at life.

I was a fool. For every happy moment gifted to me by eternity, I received a thousand agonies in return. New friends and family were found, giving me momentary peace. All gone in the blink of an eye as I buried loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after loved one after lov------

“Next up is Alexander, a murdering and thieving bandit caught in the woods. His crimes are as follows…”

*Thunk*

My heart is heavy. Recalling the names and faces of those I’ve left behind is worse than a thousand executions. Tens of thousands of years have passed since my birth. Happiness still out of reach.

To save those dear to me I had to intervene with the world more than I’d have liked. Involving myself in political and military matters. I became a tool once more on many occasions.

And when it was convenient, or I was no longer useful, they sought to end me in fear. Cruel [[Witch]] how could you poison his majesty. Abhorrent [[Witch]] you’re the cause of the crop failures. Evil [[Witch]] it was you who tempted our knights to commit heinous war crimes. Forcefully shouldering the blame again and again, I was put to death. Over and over.

After my executions I would pretend it had worked. After burial I would exit my tomb and leave for the next country. Repeating this endless loop of gain and loss.

The boundless hope that once shone in my eyes was replaced with bottomless despair. This was not the happiness I had wished for… Surely this is my punishment.

“Here we have the vile [[Witch]], she is a plague on our kingdom. Her crimes are as follows…”

This may take a while. The crimes they’ve manufactured against me are innumerable. After all I’ve done to help, we’re back here again.

I see a dear friend in the crowd, Elizabeth. Don’t look at me with those teary eyes. Our time together was painfully short, but I will carry it with me to eternity. I’ve seen your pure soul with my magically infused eyes, you have a bright and pure future unsuited to this world.

I try to smile at her, but it doesn’t reach my dead eyes. How much longer must I endure this? For all my power, why can I not end this bitter cycle?

I don’t care to rule over anyone.

I don’t care to throw about my power.

I just want to love and be loved in return.

“[[Witch]], have you any last words?”

I have words. The unfairness of it all. This rotten world… if I had to say anything…

“This world, is truly meaningless…”

*Thunk*

The floor beneath my feet falls away. My neck snaps as I gasp for air and flail my limbs, for it is all I can do. Ithurtsithurtsithurtsithurtsithurts. I t. H u r t s . I scream internally, the pain consuming all reasonable thought. After putting on a short show I cast a spell to put myself into a long sleep and spare myself more pain. The next time I wake, it will be in another tomb.

Just once.

If you’re listening.

Give me a happy ending.

~~~

Time passes as it does. I wake. My body stiff and sore from its long slumber. The sun shines brightly in my eyes. This is not a tomb, but a field.

I stand to gather my bearings and view my surroundings. Gone are the humble abodes of the peasantry. Gone are the cobble streets. Gone are everything I had known to this point.

Before me stands a grand city. A city of metal and glass.

Chapter 1: The End

First time writer on the board here. I’ve been writing DnD campaigns and thought combining a world/character of magic with the Diaper Dimension might be interesting.

Sorry if the first chapter is a little dark/sad, but I felt it would be a good introduction to the character.

Feedback is greatly appreciated!

1 Like

Welcome!

I see you have some odd formatting in your post. Would you like some hints on how to deal with formatting in Markdown on Discourse?

Some hints would be great! I took a second look after pasting it from my word file and tried fixing the AsteriskThunkAsterisk but I couldn’t get it completely right lol.

That’s one of the easiest fixes: put a \ before each one that you want to show normally :slight_smile:

Like this: \***THUNK\***

it’ll show like this: *THUNK*

For the dividers, there’s a few ways to do those

--- on a line by themselves is the easiest, and it’s also the one that most commonly gets people posting stories.

It renders this way:


(I do need to fix the CSS to make those more visible though)

You can also use this to create a scene divide in proper pupblishing syntax:

<div align="center">~~~</div>

Which shows up as:

~~~

Thanks very much for the hints, I’ve incorporated them and I think it looks a thousand times better!

Don’t apologise for writing something that isn’t generic tropey trash.

I am though still a bit bemused by the square brackets. [[]]

We’ll have to see how that holds up for the next chapter haha. I’m pretty much done with it and it’s not looking any happier. :upside_down_face:

Perhaps all will one day be revealed

MORE! pwease? makes kitty eyes

The [[Witch]] left her mountain. Seeking a new life and experiences she went east. It was a journey full of interesting people, food, animals, and monsters. But the sadness and emptiness inside her could not be quelled.

She could go east no longer. Atop a beautiful hill, a coastal town and its ocean stretched before her. Wandering the streets, she sought something.

She found twins, Olivia and Henderson. Orphans like her. They relied only on each other for the first 20 years of their lives.

A connection was made. They bonded over their pain and the [[Witch]] was able to finally open her heart.

And for the first time in her life, new emotions bubbled forth.

Uncertainty .

~~~

Looking out over the field and the city before me, I can’t help but feel uncertain. I’ve planeswalked before. Seeking stimulation and sometimes even death among the worlds in the night sky. However, this place feels different.

I stretch my magic out, probing about the fabric of this reality. Magic is abundant here. But things are too simple. My home realm could best be described as sheets of paper layered on top of each other. Each sheet containing entire realms full of planets and life.

This place is a single, self-contained sheet of paper. Could this be a separate universe…? Another dimension? I feel claustrophobic. I might puke, just a little.

Pulling myself together I look at the city from the field. Simply put, everything seems absurdly large. A quick glance tells me that doors are built to accommodate a being of roughly 10-15ft in height.

It’s only then that I realize my current predicament… I’ve shrunk nearly a foot. My already short 5ft has become 4ft. Perhaps my body underwent some sort of change to fit this new reality. I’m not particularly sad. I swear. I’m not…

Feeling around I verify my belongings are still strapped around my belt. That’s good at least.

My skin prickles, I’m being watched. Looking around my immediate area I see naught but grass and strange connected metal trees mixed with regular leafy ones. I narrow down this feeling to one of the metal trees.

A small box with glass on one end stares at me. I take a few steps. It swivels. I move back. It swivels again. A one way viewing glass? Nobility from certain places I’ve visited had these. But it isn’t giving off magic.

I exert my will on the strange box. My mind flowing through a physical connection. I see a room. Blinking lights and glass with pictures. I’m on one of the glasses. A well-dressed man sits in a chair watching the one way glass. He’s about my height, maybe a smidge taller.

Toying with the foundation of my body I try various methods to make myself disappear on the glass. Eventually I find something that works, and my form vanishes from the man’s view. The box is complicated but if it looks through me, it cannot see me. I settle back into my body, satisfied.

Doing my best to hide my skin, I wrap my cloak tightly around myself and pull the hood over my head. If anyone knows the significance of my tattoos I may be in a tough spot. If my theory about this place is right, it’s a nonsensical fear.

Mustering my strength, I force myself forward. Into the city.

~~~
⚠️WARNING⚠️ ANOMALY DETECTED ⚠️

The words flashed frequently and brightly across the screen. The well-dressed man staring at these words had just started his shift. It was supposed to be simple, light duty. And a problem has now been dropped onto his lap.

As a member of the Hellcats his duty is to monitor this city, Elmsbury, and report higher up to the main base when things go south. But things had been quiet for some time. No illegal portals, no terrorist little groups, nothing.

The computer burst to life flashing errors and focusing all available cameras to an empty field. He was in the middle of picking up the phone to ask if maintenance was being performed when a small bundle appeared on the screen. A little wrapped in a cloak.

It is not unheard of for littles to find their way into this Dimension on accident. With the amount of portal activity taking place, it would be weirder if some unfortunate souls did not get sucked up on accident. But there are no portals in this city, at least there should not be. Possibilities race through his mind.

The bundle stands, hood falling back, hair cascading down. The little begins looking around obviously confused. The man chuckles having seen this kind of footage before. Suddenly the little changes direction. The little’s head locks on to a camera on a telephone pole. The man begins to sweat. He swears their eyes meet. His hair stands on end.

The little disappears. The man begins to calm down.

“Ah… Shit. Top Brass will not be happy about this.”

Cigar in one hand and phone in the other, the man prepares himself.

~~~

This city is strange and unlike any other I’ve seen. Size seems to vary a good amount from what I can tell. I’ve seen people as short as 2ft and as high as 13ft. Large machines carry people up and down the black-stone road. Much like a horse drawn carriage but without the horse. Must be some clockwork automata, much more advanced than anything I’d seen.

The giants seem confident, most seem to walk with a certain superiority about them. To contrast, the shorter people seem anxious and worried. I wonder what the deal is here.

Despite my best efforts I am very much attracting attention. My cloak is not fitting in with the aesthetic of the world. The smaller people don’t give me much of a glance, but the giants seem curious. I haven’t been approached yet.

It’s not exactly busy right now. A city this size in my world would be packed shoulder to shoulder with traders and adventurers. Perhaps the populace sticks to a somewhat tighter schedule. I’ve seen few cities such as that.

Here and there things catch my eye as I stop and wonder. Marvelous shiny contraptions. Food so luxurious it would not be out of place on a demi-god’s plate. Strange clothing both for giants and smaller people.

I stop before what I believe is a shop. There’s a large window display with numerous glass devices stacked atop each other. Each screen is the same; showing two people dressed colorfully and oddly, talking loudly to each other. They have something puffing up their pants, not unlike something I’ve seen trendsetters do with their breeches.

As I stop and look, my skin begins to crawl as my brain begins to thrum about in my skull. If I didn’t know better, I would say these devices were attempting to psychically attack me. That shouldn’t be possible, no magic is detected. I reinforce my mind, calming my pounding head, and look back at the glass. Now intent on figuring out what’s happening here.

“Hey, what are you doing? Get away from that!”

A voice breaks me from my investigation. A girl my height with anxiety painted all over her face sharply whispers at me from an alley.

Stay calm. Don’t come on too strong. I know I’m a screw-up. I know. Whatever happens, I can’t blow my first interaction.

“Uh hey f-friend, how do you do?”

Between the hood and the tattoos, I’m glad no one can see how red my face is right now.

~~~

The years that the [[Witch]] spent with Olivia and Henderson were the best of her life. Her bright smile never once dipped into a frown. Her initial Uncertainty gave way to pure Joy .

But life had different plans. Or more accurately, the military. Henderson was drafted into a violent conflict between local governments. Olivia and the [[Witch]] were sad and frustrated but they had each other for support.

Then.

Olivia drew ill. Medical knowledge at the time was beyond poor. The [[Witch]] did not have tens of thousands of years of healing knowledge behind her at this point.

However, she did what she could. She did what she could. She did.

Then, Henderson returned home.

In a box.

He…

I…

……

Olivia was heartbroken. Her only brother… She devolved into fits of crying and coughing into her handkerchief. There is only so much comfort that can be offered in this world.

But.

The [[Witch]] did what she could.

And yet.

And.

Yet.

The [[Witch]] found Olivia in bed the next day. Her pillow stained with tears and mucus and blood.

The scene was too much for one person to bear. The room seemed to swim and swirl around the poor [[Witch]]. She made up her mind.

What was one more taboo to break. She could not let this stand. This cruel. Sick. Fucking. Joke.

She had to see them again. Would do anything. To just one… One more time…

She brought them back.

Their shambling, mindless forms taunted her. It was a perversion and mockery of life. Their souls having already moved on to whatever peace they could find, together. Leaving her. Alone.

She dealt with them properly. With her own hands. And buried them. On the same hill overlooking the town she first arrived at.

And so, I she sat there. Between her first and most precious friends. Staring at the beautiful city and its coast.

Chapter 2: Chance encounters with the [[Witch]]

Thanks for reading everyone, my inspiration is through the roof right now so updates will be a bit more frequent than I had originally thought.

I would consider chapter 1 an introduction to the character, so this chapter is what the setup of most future chapters will look like.

She sat with her friends on that hilltop for some time. Hours turned to days and days to weeks. Feeling sorry for herself and her friends; the [[Witch]] had no will to live.

Finally, she exploded. She grabbed a rock and began to carve away at her flesh. Surely, surely if those tattoos were gone, she could reunite with her friends.

The pain was too much. She passed out. Only to wake up shortly after, those accursed tattoos reassembling her wounded skin.

Bidding her friends farewell, the [[Witch]] travelled south along the coast. Seeking an end to her story.

After getting lost in a labyrinth-like forest for years she met someone. A young elf, barely 50 years old.

Lumina. A name befitting the kind elf whose personality shone so bright. She gave and taught the [[Witch]] many things. Among which, healing. She would never again be powerless to a simple illness.

The [[Witch]] never forgave herself for failing Olivia and Henderson… But my dear Lumina dulled the pain and was one of the few others capable of understanding the pain of being long-lived.

Death was no longer an option for the [[Witch]].

It took time but the [[Witch]] opened up to Lumina, and Lumina to her. It wasn’t marriage in the conventional sense, but they were as one for the next 800 years.

The [[Witch]] felt Love .

~~~

“Amelia would love to talk, but we have to get out of here. Follow me.”

The anxious girl turns quickly and heads back into the alley. Moving away from the colorful glass, I follow her. A few steps in and I’m grabbed by the collar of my cloak and pulled behind cover.

“What’s the deal here, you trying to get your head mushed or something?”

The anxious girl who has pulled me in the alley whispers quietly and sharply. Getting a closer look, she’s around 4 ft, short blond hair hidden beneath a puffy white hat, and green eyes. Wearing some strange, long blue trousers and simple grey shirt. This outfit is unlike anything I’ve seen.

“U-um I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here… What do you mean mushed?”

“Hm… Amelia thought you were dressed weirdly for a native, and you certainly lack the sense of one. Amelia’s place is nearby, let’s save the small talk for when we’re safe.”

With that, she lets go of my collar and begins to briskly walk deeper into the alley. I follow behind as we take alley after alley, taking turn after turn. As if the girl is trying to lose someone.

“[[Illusion]].”

It can’t hurt to help, I whisper a spell. Our tracks are erased, and new ones are placed heading in another direction.

20 minutes later we’re at a two-story building with lots of doors and a staircase leading to another level. It seems to be built for normal sized people rather than the giants I saw earlier.

She leads me up a set of steps, unlocks a door with the numbers ‘203’ on it, and waves me in. It’s decorated pretty sparingly, but everything seems very expensive. A comfortable looking couch and chairs surround a short table, across is a squat table with one of the screens I was investigating earlier atop it. There’s at least two other rooms but they’re closed off with doors.

The girl locks the door behind us and deflates on the couch. She pulls out a small rectangular device and begins to tap away at it. I decide to speak up.

“Thanks for helping me, I guess. You could say I’m pretty clueless about what’s going on.”

“Sheesh, that’s for sure. You almost got nabbed big time. Amelia’s name is Amelia. How about you?”

“You can call me [[Witch]], it’s my pleasure.”

“[-i-c-], what? How are you saying that!?”

That’s odd. And Interesting. I hadn’t realized it before but we’re speaking the same language right now and I’m not using magic to do that. [[Witch]] was not a word of the modern language of my world, it’s a dead language. Does that mean that when I transferred over to this world my common tongue became translated to this world and vice versa?

I’m confusing myself and Amelia has been staring at me expectantly for a few seconds, I should probably return to the conversation.

“Ah sorry, that’s a really outdated name from my world. The closest translation would probably be Witch.”

“Are you from Earth? Amelia’s met a few Earth littles but none of them had names that difficult to pronounce. You one of those sleight of hand magicians?”

“Hmm… I’ve never heard of ‘Earth’ before, and you could say I’m something like a magician.”

Two loud thumps on the door halt our conversation. Amelia hops off the couch and walks to the door. She looks through a small hole, unlocks, and then opens the door. A giant woman ducks in and uncomfortably shuffles over to one of the larger chairs.

Roughly 12 ft, brown hair in a ponytail, brown eyes, and athletically built. Wearing a loose grey shirt without sleeves, and baggy trousers. Once settled, she gives me a once over and begins speaking.

“Hello Witch, and welcome to Elmsbury. My name is Gale. I heard from Amelia that you somehow managed to make your way to this dimension. What are some of the last things you remember before arriving here?”

That’s a tough question to answer and frankly it puts me on the spot. I want to form connections. I want to make friends. I want to stop feeling so empty. I… I really do. But how would they react if they knew what I am? And even if they accepted that… They’d just leave me behind too… I truly am hopeless.

Half-truths for now. If they find out what I am later, then so be it.

“I went to sleep, and the next time I woke up I was in a field just outside this city.”

“And what was your world like? We get all sorts of people from all sorts of dimensions here. Perhaps someone who also came from your dimension can help you adjust?”

“Well, it was certainly not as advanced as this place is. We didn’t have those moving pictures on the glass, or the giant metal carriages or the metal trees. Pretty much everything here is shocking to be honest.”

Amelia sighs loudly and takes hold of the conversation.

“Damn, sounds like a really primitive world. Those are usually off-limits because littles from those worlds don’t adjust well. Also, if this dimension were to be discovered by a primitive world, it would be catastrophic in terms of their development.”

“Amelia, I don’t think odds are good that we have someone from her world. We aren’t in contact with many free primitives and odds are pretty poor that they’d be from the same place.”

“Amelia can take care of Witch for now, show her the ropes y’know? We’re between jobs right now anyway.”

“Perhaps I’m lost here, but what do you guys exactly do?”

Amelia smiles broadly and strikes a pose.

“Amelia and Gale, we’re members of LRS - Little Rescue Squad!”

~~~

“Welcome to Elmsbury sir. I am sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.”

The well-dressed man quickly jumps up from his seat, at attention to his freshly arrived superior. The superior gives off a menacing aura despite being a little. Short black hair and grey eyes. Muscles barely contained and bulging from his Hellcats uniform.

He commands absolute attention.

“Cut it out, you know I do not appreciate that. And drop the ‘sir’ shit. You know to call me Thomas.”

“Er, right. Sorry si-Thomas.”

“Well spill it, what happened for you to call me over to this small island? Did a scary Amazon look at you funny?”

“Ha ha, maybe if your admin role in Hellcats falls through you can do stand-up. We got someone new in town… And a weird one at that. It will be easier to show you.”

Thomas sits at the monitor and begins to look over the footage. He goes through it several times, at varying angles. He begins to rub his chin in deep thought.

“Hmm… Do these cameras have any other filters?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Just a hunch, or more of a hope really.”

He begins switching the filters on the camera. Eventually he gets to thermal imaging. This time instead of disappearing the person on screen is seen walking towards the city.

“Bingo, our mysterious friend did not take thermal cameras into account. I want IT to get on fixing these cameras up to detect when thermals are triggered without normal footage being triggered.”

“I will get them right on that sir. Thomas, sir… Thomas.”

Sigh right. You were correct to bring me in, my interest is peaked. I also want a team to investigate power usage during this time. It is not often someone just drops in without portal activity. And if there is someone running illegal portals, they are putting this whole dimension at risk.”

Thomas turns back to the footage, murmuring to himself.

“Let us all hope that this little’s odd tech does not blow this island sky high.”

~~~

I’m sitting dazed between Amelia and Gale. It’s been an hour since they started giving me a rundown on this place and what they do, and I’m doing my best to put it all together.

“So let me get this straight. This is a dimension. Where giants called ‘Amazons’ and ‘Littles’ exist. And most amazons see littles as being nothing more than babies. Littles have some rights, but it’s weighted in the amazon’s favor.”

“Right.” They confirm in unison.

“Threats exist all around to littles, including but not limited to this thing called ‘T.V.’, a ‘quick food’, getting grabbed off the streets, and abduction from other dimensions.”

“Right.” Another confirmation.

“You two alone operate a local branch of an underground agency which seeks to assist littles by freeing captive littles if possible, giving free littles assistance, and trying to improve captive little’s lives.”

“Right.” Maybe I’m understanding alright.

“Sometimes members of LRS need to go undercover so they pair up sympathetic amazons with littles to operate together. Meaning that Gale has had to… treat Amelia as one would treat a baby…”

Judging by how red Amelia’s face is, I’ve hit the mark.

“Pardon my blunt remark, I didn’t mean to poke fun at you or anything.”

“It’s okay, my widdle Amelia doesn’t hold grudges for long. I’m not little crazy but she’s the most adorable little cutie around!”

This seems to be the killing blow to Amelia. She has buried her face in her hands. Her body dyed red. Gale is trembling as she attempts to hold back a laugh behind a wide grin. These guys have quite the routine. Seeing them being such good friends sends a sharp pain to my heart.

“Alright, thanks for the explanation. I think I understand.”

“Wait really? That’s it? No big freak-out, no stages of grief, nothing?” Amelia sobers up quickly, abandoning her embarrassment in favor of shock.

“I don’t have much to go back to in my old dimension, and it… could be a really, really bad place sometimes…”

“Do you want to talk about it or….?” Gale interjects between Amelia and me.

“I… It’s alright. Maybe after I settle down. What’s in the past is in the past, I’m over it.”

I smile sincerely hoping they can see the gesture from under my hood and try my best to believe the lie. The first step to fooling someone is fooling yourself first.

“What about your cloak? Amelia hasn’t really seen you yet, mind taking it off?”

Amelia’s innocent question causes my back to stiffen in response. Gale peers over my head at Amelia and shakes her head disapprovingly.

My hands tremble slightly beneath their gloves as I grip the edge of my cloak’s hood. I reflexively pull it tighter around my head. A mixture of anxiety and grief fill my empty vessel.

“It’s okay Witch, you don’t have to take it off if you don’t want to. People have different circumstances. Amelia is sorry she asked, right Amelia?”

“Amelia is really, really sorry, Amelia didn’t mean to say anything to hurt you!”

Amelia and Gale look concerned and worried. A small part of me is happy that they would feel this way for me. But an overwhelming part of me feels unworthy of such emotion. I stop the trembling in my hands and force myself to speak.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m fine. I’m fine. I can’t take it off right now. There’s a lot I’m ashamed about right now. A lot I can’t show. And this was made by someone dear to me. It’s really all I have…”

The silence draws for a few moments. I feel as though Amelia and Gale can see right through me now. It’s been some time since I’ve last been even slightly vulnerable. Finally, Gale slaps a smile back on her face and picks up the mood.

“Alrighty then, now that Amelia and I have told you about some of the worse things about this place, let’s move on to the good stuff! Popular culture and food!”

Hm… Not quite sure about this ‘popular culture’ but food is one of the few joys I have left. Enjoying the evolution of food is one of the few things to make living through eternity bearable.

“Since your world was on the primitive side, let’s start with something pretty popular right now that takes place in a kind of olde/fantasy setting. It’s called Lord of the Rings!”

“A portal little brought it over and it’s become a huge hit with native littles and amazons alike! Us natives here love it because it shows that littles are capable of creating and having jobs too. It’s even received a few revolutionary movie adaptations on this side. Littles were chosen to play dwarves and hobbits to make it look a little more realistic, and even allowed to wear pullups on set to further the setting’s realism. Something like that is rare and a huge step for little actors! Amelia couldn’t be more happy for the industry!”

Dwarves? I’ve known a few of those long-bearded craftsmen. Their long lifespans made them great companions… I wonder how Amelia and Gale’s story will compare to my world?

~~~

Several hours later, night fell upon what I discovered was an apartment complex. Gale had to head home to her larger house to sleep but promised to come hang out tomorrow. Amelia gave me a spare pillow and blanket to sleep on the couch while she went to her bedroom and closed the door.

I appreciate the gesture, but I can’t sleep. I could. But I can’t. My dreams are nothing but nightmares. Haunting me eternally. The voices of those long past, their faces mocking me. I haven’t slept since… Lumina. So, so long ago.

All humans sleep. Nearly all demi-humans need to sleep, at least partially. Maybe that’s partially why I feel like such a monster all the time. An immortal monster that doesn’t even need to sleep…

I shake my head to banish the thoughts from my mind. I strain my ears to listen in on Amelia’s bedroom. I hear her gentle and rhythmic breathing mingled with an infrequent crinkling sound. She’s asleep. I quietly stand and head to the door.

“[[Phase]].”

With those words I slip through the solid door and feel the fresh night air on my face.

I climb up a ladder to the roof and sit. My legs dangling over the edge. I lean my upper body back, to half lay on the roof and see the night sky. Between clouds I see the various stars that litter the sky and the single bright moon.

“Goodbye everyone. I didn’t mean to leave you all behind. I swear. I promise.”

My weak words echo quietly into the night. Silence quickly filling the void. The bad thoughts begin to creep in as they inevitably do. The previous fun with Amelia and Gale providing only a short reprieve for my battered and weary spirit.

“If somehow I died here… Would my soul even reach you all…?”

At this quiet, tucked away apartment in the city, the only sound that could be heard was that of water dripping onto the apartment’s roof.

~~~

Time marched on for the [[Witch]] and Lumina. They had good times. They had bad times. But they had them together. They could overcome any trial so long as they were together.

However, it became increasingly clear to the both of them… That Lumina wouldn’t be around much longer. 850 years is good for an elf. 100 years over the average. But no amount of time is long enough to be with a loved one.

Afraid of losing someone so close and dear to her heart she begged asked Lumina if she would accept immortality. Surely if they became each other’s reason for living, immortality wouldn’t be as burdensome as it had been before.

Lumina couldn’t do it. When elves die their souls return to their god in the elven pantheon. They remember their past lives, meet with the dead, and make a choice. Reincarnate into a new elven life to continue the cycle. Or retire from the cycle and remain in paradise.

She couldn’t choose to throw that away. She couldn’t choose me the [[Witch]].

The [[Witch]] was sad, incredibly so. But she understood.

And Lumina forced the [[Witch]] into a promise.

“I will choose to reincarnate… So please [[Witch]]… Find me again. I will always love you, to the next life and beyond.”

And so.

Lumina died peacefully.

No sickness.

No despair.

A smile on her face.

Surrounded by friends.

The [[Witch]] by her side.

The [[Witch]] felt as if her world had stopped. Their joy had come crashing down, raining shards of broken glass on her heart.

Somehow this hurt more than Olivia and Henderson. Lumina and the [[Witch]] had significantly more time together. Lumina died peacefully. She should celebrate Lumina’s life. Right?

But why?

Why won’t the longing in my her heart stop?

W h y.

W o n ‘ t.

I t.

S t o p.

The [[Witch]] loved her too much to uphold the promise. She couldn’t force herself on Lumina again and again. Reincarnation after reincarnation. Filling her lives with endless partings.

The [[Witch]] prayed that Lumina would forgive her.

Chapter 3: Friends and Family

Another chapter done, and this was a doozy. A good bit longer than the others, and I had to write on and off since my girlfriend’s family came to town.

- Introduce Yourself -

“M-my name ish AmewiMMMPPpphh!”

Electricity courses through the little’s body. Her eyes twitch and roll beneath the black blindfold, her teeth chattering behind the pacifier used to keep her tongue from being bitten off during the shocks. Fingers frozen in shock and digging into the cold, metal chair’s arms.

The little’s pained screams echo off the walls of empty room. Empty of course save for the little tied to a chair rigged with menacing devices.

- Introduce Yourself -

“Ha… Ha… A-Amewia’s name ish Amewia…”

The little goes rigid, fearing more torment. But nothing happens.

Why didn’t I-I- mean Amelia listen… Amelia’s parents told Amelia not to attend high school on the mainland. Amelia could be back home right now. Living a peaceful life. No Amazons. No round the clock torment.

What did Amelia do to deserve this…?

Amelia had done her best. Graduating near the top of her class among littles and Amazons alike. Always on her best behavior. Not a single accident on her record.

She should have been set.

But a mere several hours after graduation she was nabbed off the streets. A long, black car began rolling alongside her. Two Amazons jumped out and dragged the screaming girl into the dark car with ease.

Amelia had mentally prepared herself for this. She’d heard how Amazons molded littles into what they wanted. She’d seen for herself what Amazons could do to littles. Seen the mindless, drooling littles being pushed along the sidewalk in strollers.

But nothing she had heard could prepare her for what was going to happen.

She was blindfolded, given a locking pacifier, tied up, and diapered in the car. After driving for an indeterminate amount of time, they stopped. She was carried into a building.

The girl could hear nothing but footsteps and the dull hum of machines. The people that grabbed her remained absolutely silent. Amelia was afraid. Her heart thrummed frantically in her chest. She hyperventilated.

Amelia was then tied to a chair.

And that.

And. That.

Was when the ‘fun’ began.

The few times her blindfold was removed was to expose her to a mild hypnosis. She didn’t know what it did, but she could tell it was slowly breaking her down.

Occasionally a mushy food/liquid was funneled through her pacifier. The taste and consistency made her gag, but she could only swallow it down.

While at first, she tried to hold her bladder and bowels in a feeble attempt to retain some control, she soon freely wet and messed her diapers. Changes were not frequent.

And worst of all. The shocks.

Randomly throughout the day and night, a robotic voice would ask her questions. It would ask her questions until she got them right. And when she got them wrong… She would be shocked. The shocks could last anywhere from 5 seconds to several minutes. All at varying pain thresholds.

The girl was unsure how long she’d been here. With her sleep cycle constantly disrupted by the robotic questioning the only thing she could keep track of was her feedings. If she was being fed twice a day, then she estimated she’d been trapped this way for over a month. Roughly 60 feedings.

Whoever had grabbed her was sick and demented. They didn’t simply want obedient and mindless littles created through hypnosis and surgery. They wanted to break littles. Slowly. Painfully. Cruelly. Sickeningly.

- What are you -

Please stop.

No more.

“Amewia… i-ish… a baby? MMMMPPPHhh”

- What are you -

Just hypnotize me already.

Kill me.

“Hk… Amewia… i-ish…”

“… Amewia… ish…. NOTHING…”

Satisfied, the machine remains silent. Amelia sobs into her blindfold, her nose runs freely and drips down the back of her throat. Her diaper warms from a fresh wave of urine spurred on by the electrical stimulation.

They’re going to brbrbreak Amelia. Sshe cannnot continue liike this. What can Ammelia do. How can Amelia essscccaaaaappppeeee….

The girl goes limp, her restraints holding her up. The reality of her situation finally catching up with her. No hope of freedom. No hope of escape. No hope of rescue. Her mind feels like it’s teetering on the edge of a deep chasm.

Amelia is alone.

Sorry Mom. Sorry Dad. Amelia gives up. Amelia… Will see you soon.

Amelia bends her upper body forward as far the restraints allow and shoots back as quickly as possible, slamming the back of her head into the chair’s metal headrest. Again. And again. And again. And again. And. Again.

The back of her head begins to feel sticky, and she starts losing strength and focus.

Almost. There. Just. Keep. GOINGGGG.

She forces herself on, doing her best to keep slamming her head against the now crimson metal.

A door opens in the room, multiple footsteps flood the room in a mad dash. Amelia’s attempt at death is stopped as she’s grabbed by multiple sets of arms.

NOOO LET AMELIA DIE!

Despite the arms holding her down she continues attempting to finish the job, snarling and bucking. She feels a prick on her arm and sleep begins to quickly overtake her.

With a last burst of energy, she howls out in agony and torment.

DAMN IT STOOOOP …!”

~~~

STOOOOP…!”

I jump a little in shock, looking towards Amelia’s room. It’s been several days since my arrival. Gale, Amelia, and I have been hanging around Amelia’s place. They’ve been teaching me more details about this world to be safe before we go out and do anything in public.

The scream coming from Amelia’s room is a first, however. I run to her door, worried that someone has broken in. I try the knob and it’s unlocked. I fling the door open.

“Amelia! What’s wrong, I heard-“

I stop mid-sentence. Confused by the scene before me.

Amelia is sitting up in her bed, drenched in sweat and tangled up in her sheets. Her face is warped by sheer terror. She’s breathing rapidly and her chest is heaving beneath a light pajama shirt. Wrapped around her waist is a thick and objectively cute diaper with floral patterns. Even with my lack of knowledge about such things, it’s easy to tell that it’s soaked.

I freeze. Amelia freezes. We lock eyes. Her look of terror disappears quickly and is replaced by embarrassment as her face flushes bright red. She quickly attempts to throw a blanket over herself.

“G-Get out… DON’T LOOK!”

“I’M SO SORRY!”

I swiftly turn around and escape back to the couch, closing the door to her room behind me. I’ve seriously messed up, haven’t I?

One change of clothes later, Amelia enters the living room and sits on one of the chairs. Neither of us are capable of looking at the other in the eye.

“So… Uh…”

“If it makes you feel any better you did look cute…”

“That really didn’t help y’know?”

“I’ll hold my tongue.”

We sit in silence; Amelia has a conflicted look on her face but seems like she has something on her mind. I’ll push her a bit to see if she’ll continue.

“I really am sorry, It’s just… I heard you scream and was worried that something happened. If you want to talk about it or anything I’ll listen.”

“Well, the cat’s out of the bag now so Amelia might as well come clean. It was nearly five years ago when Amelia got grabbed off the street. They… They broke Amelia. Amelia even begged for death, and tried as well. But Amelia was saved by the LRS. The organization has helped a lot, only a few mental and physical scars remain. Amelia can only talk and think in third person, and Amelia’s nighttime continence isn’t coming back anytime soon. Nightmares have been infrequent as of late, but still sometimes Amelia thinks this life is a dream. That Amelia is still back there, trapped…”

Poor Amelia. Beneath the hood, my face is trapped in grief for the poor girl. I sympathize with her situation. I know far too well how it feels to be used up and broken. But she’s a good person, and undeserving of such treatment. Unlike me.

“I understand Amelia. Not the exact situation, but your feelings. I… I’m afraid of getting close to people. But if it’s to help someone as kind and amazing as you, then I’ll listen whenever you need to talk.”

“Thank you, Witch, that makes me happy.”

“There’s something I want to show you.”

Inspired by Amelia’s courage to share, I lower my hood revealing my face and the tattoos carved on nearly every inch of available skin. Amelia winces, imagining the pain.

“What are those tattoos, if you don’t mind Amelia asking?”

“They’re an old language from my world. I did this to myself, all over my body, when I was at my lowest point. Carving my body up like this hurt, but I thought it would help me take control of my destiny, of my life. But things only got worse.”

“I guess it’s Amelia’s turn to be sorry now huh?”

I chuckle as I raise the hood back over my head, hiding my mistakes once again.

“Heh, rather than being sorry, rely on me and Gale when you need to. We’re here for you.”

“Hey, that goes for you too! Amelia and Gale haven’t known you for long, but we already consider you a friend!”

Joy and fear blossom in my heart at this revelation. The happiness and peace of forming new connections, but the crushing weight of the inevitable.

Swallowing my weak feelings, I force myself to my feet and reach a hand to Amelia to help her stand.

“Well, we should probably get a move on ‘friend’. Gale’s probably waiting at the diner for us wondering if we’ve been grabbed.”

~~~

This is the first official outing since meeting Amelia and Gale. My late-night excursions notwithstanding. What the two ladies have taught me puts my first experiences here in a bit more perspective. The streets were mostly empty since it was typical weekday work hours. Those strange glasses I viewed were storefront TV’s playing hypnosis laden programming.

Now however, I feel like I’m getting the full experience of this dimension. We’ve made our way past the labyrinth of back-alleys that hides the little’s only apartment complex and we’re on the main street. It’s a weekend so it’s very busy, much busier than even a capital city in my old world.

Amazons pack the streets but among them, I see littles in various states. Nervous littles still holding onto their freedom, trying to look unappealing. Captured littles being carried or pushed around; some blushing and embarrassed, some altered by hypnosis, and even one or two that seem to be impartial if not enjoying the treatment.

Amelia is sticking close to the walls, looking down and texting on her phone to avoid catching the gaze of anyone. Her hat is pulled down to hide her features. I’m following close behind, my outfit concealing me nicely but still kind of out of place.

Uneventfully we end our 10-minute walk as Amelia stops before a sign, ‘Solstice’. The place is sandwiched between shops but holds an interesting aesthetic. The place is built of brick over the more common metal that I’ve seen so far, with a large and heavy looking dark wooden door.

“This place is really, really good. Gale and Amelia come here all the time, and best of all littles are treated well here.”

“Interesting, is that rare?”

“Very, especially establishments run by Amazons.”

Amelia pulls a smaller door handle below the larger, Amazon made one and the door seemingly opens with ease. We step inside to a candle-lit entrance. Standing close by is an older Amazon gentleman with steely grey eyes and white hair, wearing a tailored suit that wouldn’t be uncommon of butlers in my former dimension. He wears a carefully crafted neutral smile and gives off a certain aura.

I’ve seen people like him before. He’s a dangerous man.

“Hey old man Franz, is Gale here?”

“Welcome Amelia and young miss. You have kept the fair lady waiting. Allow me to accompany you to her table.”

“Thanks Franz, it’s great to see you again. Sorry that it’s been a while, as you can see we have someone new in town.”

“It is always my pleasure. The two of you are my favorite and most valued customers. Especially since you both bring in so many new faces.”

The two chuckle, their interaction seeming commonplace. It’s quite disorienting to see the menacing looking giant acting so amiable. Perhaps this Franz is just that kind of person.

Making our way through the dark interior of the diner, Franz gets us to Gale’s table. She’s sipping a coffee with two more beverages set on the table. One next to her and one across.

Wordlessly Franz presses a button on the booth and the seats with unclaimed coffees raise to comfortable levels for a little.

“If I may, madam?”

“Of course, Franz.”

Franz carefully picks up Amelia and gently deposits her into the seat next to Gale.

“If I may, madam?”

“Um, alright. And thanks.”

Franz quickly performs the same movements with surgical precision. A gentleman to his core. If I were a few thousand years younger my heart might start to throb.

“A member of our staff will be with you shortly. If you need me just say the word, ladies.”

He turns around and heads back to the entrance. Leaving us in the candlelit corner of this fine establishment. Gale has a look on her face, I decide to speak up.

“So uh… Sorry about being late. You’re not upset, are you?”

“Whaaaat, me upset. Nooooo…” Gale is clearly pouting.

“Someone of your size shouldn’t be pouting, at least Amelia thinks so.”

“Grrr… You’re paying for lunch.”

“Fine, fine. Amelia guesses she deserves as much.”

“Sorry to break up your old married couple routine, but what would you recommend?”

“Since this place caters to Amazons and littles there’s a separate menu for each. I usually get a salad, a turkey club, the house chips, potato salad, coleslaw, and the pie of the day.”

“I-isn’t that a lot!?”

“Heh, these muscles take a lot of energy. My hunger will never be quenched!” Gale flexes her arms, annoying Amelia who ducks in fear of getting swatted.

“If only some of that energy went to your chest.” Amelia snickers.

A vein pops on Gale’s forehead.

“I see someone is eager to pay for dinner as well, and I’m not holding back.”

“N-no, Amelia’s wallet!!!”

They start to laugh, and their infectious energy gets me laughing as well. Its been quite a long time since I’ve done this. Hanging out with people and having a good time. It warms me up.

We calm back down, and they help me choose my order just in time for a young Amazon woman in a black dress to arrive with a clipboard to take our order.

“Hello, I’m Heather. It looks like we got a couple of widdle cuties here. Is your mommy taking you out for lunch today?”

“Excuse me?”

Surprise and shock are obvious on Amelia’s face. This seems to be unusual treatment for this establishment.

“Aw is somebody a little grumpy girl in need of a change?”

The over eager waitress reaches down towards Amelia, likely to check her choice of underwear. Gale’s hand shoots past Amelia and grabs the waitresses’ arm like a vice.

“You got some real guts to talk to my friends like that and try to touch them with me here. What did you get out of Franz’s training?”

“What do you think you’re doing! I’ll have you kicked out for this kind of behavior!”

“Hey Franz, get over here before I break this chick’s fucking arm.” Gale shouts out towards the front of the diner.

In no time at all Franz is at the booth, the scene reflected in his eyes. Gale shoves the waitresses arm away.

“What seems to be the problem here?”

“One of your newbies here is getting a little handsy and overstepping her bounds with my friends.”

“S-she attacked me, get her out of here!”

Franz strokes his chin in thought, eyes narrowing in on Heather.

“I am quite aware of the situation Heather. We have had several complaints about you from other patrons despite your short tenure here.”

“I-it’s not what you think, I can explain-“

“Be silent.”

Franz cuts her off, his words sharp as knives. It’s brief, but for a moment I notice his neutral smile transform into a demented sneer. He quickly covers it up again, but it’s clear he’s enjoying himself. Like a predator that has found its choice prey.

“You work at my establishment; you follow my rules. Are we clear?”

“Yes s-sir.”

“You disregard my rules and treat my dear customers in a way unbefitting our image. It makes me, this restaurant, all of us, look like utter fools.”

“Yes…”

“You are going to be retrained . From the ground up. Go to Jess in the back, she will sort you out.”

“I… Yes sir…”

Heather escapes to the back, embarrassed and frightened over the interaction. I would be frightened too; he is certainly an imposing man.

“My utmost apologies. As thanks for not breaking another of our… less trained… staff’s arms, your meals are on the house today.”

“Hell yeah, you the man Franz. Amelia and Amelia’s wallet are ever grateful!”

“You seemed to enjoy that interaction perhaps a bit too much, Franz.” I blurt out, my inner thoughts leaking.

“Ha, you could say that newcomer. I am not like other Amazons. I was never one to enjoy bending littles to my will. I fought with and against too many during the war. I prefer to best those my own size with my own will. Challenges are oft too hard to find.”

Truly an interesting man. How did Gale and Amelia meet someone like him?

Franz writes down our orders and takes them to the back. Our conversation returns to normal.

“How did the two of you find this place?”

“To be honest, this place is one of the food joints recommended by our organization. Amelia and I have a list of the safest restaurants in town for littles to eat at. Solstice in particular was highly recommended. We hit it off with Franz and the rest is history.” Gale lowers her voice, not wanting to attract attention or let loose their secret in public.

“Since the two of us have arrived here, Amelia hasn’t been poisoned once thanks to that list!”

What a strange place, to be so worried about getting poisoned in your day-to-day life. In my old dimension you’d just have to worry about your ill prepared food not making you sick.

~~~

The little woke up. Asleep for days. A well-lit room.

A nursery room.

New sensations. New sights. New everything.

New world.

All unfamiliar. Scary. Wrong.

The little cried out.

Help.

Help me.

Someone, anyone? Please!

Help me…

[[Witch]]…

But no one could hear the little.

No one able to help could hear.

And no one came.

No one.

~~~

The food was amazing. Nothing I’ve had here so far compares and it’s obviously superior to what I ate in my world. I almost had tears streaming down my face as I ate my sandwich.

As further thanks, Franz brought us a bottle of some fancy wine I couldn’t begin to pronounce. With my constitution I’m incapable of becoming drunk without constant and heavy drinking; even then, the feeling goes away quickly. Gale had 4 Amazon glasses but with how much she ate, I doubt she’s tipsy. Amelia though… She had around 6 little-sized glasses and was not taking it well.

We spent the day eating, drinking, and enjoying our time together at Solstice. Franz even came back and had a drink with us. However, after demolishing two or three bottles we bid Franz adieu and made our way back to Amelia’s apartment. Not before seeing the now blushing waitress Heather, shuffling around with a noticeably different gait, and accompanying crinkling sounds. I think I understand what retraining means here.

Gale carried the grumbling and drunk Amelia home, thrown over her shoulder like a sack of potatoes. She is truly a gentleman.

“Can you be coherent for a minute and fork over your keys?”

Gale shakes Amelia, attempting in vain to bring the girl to life. In reply she mumbles and points to her pocket. Gale digs around and pulls out a set of keys that look ridiculous in her large hands. She tosses them over to me since she’d have a hard time.

I open the door and we shuffle in, Gale forced to hunch. She carries Amelia over to her room as I plop down on the couch. I hear more Amelia grumbling mixed with Gale’s voice. I also hear crinkling sounds, embarrassingly realizing that Gale must be helping Amelia with her ‘problem’.

Gale backs out of Amelia’s room, moments later. Turning off the light and giving the girl a final gentle and loving look unlike any other I’ve seen her wear this past week. I’ve worn that look myself at certain points in my life. It’s obvious to me that despite their teasing they are very close. Truthfully, it makes me feel a little lonely and envious.

She faces me again, appearing surprised to see me for a split second before realization dawns on her face.

“Ah, sorry. Perhaps I had a bit too much to drink, I forgot you were here haha.”

“Is Amelia aware of how you feel for her?”

“…”

Gale runs her hands through her hair sobering up at the question. She looks conflicted before continuing.

“I don’t really understand how I feel myself.”

“If I may, it’s my recommendation that you sort that out and tell her. Just so that… You don’t have any regrets.”

“Hm, I didn’t expect to get such advice from Witch, the emotional brick wall herself.”

“I know what I am. I do. I’m a coward who refuses to face her past.”

“I… I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s okay, I know you don’t. Amelia called me a friend today, it meant a lot. More than she knows. I’ve started to see the two of you in the same way. Despite myself. And I just can’t help but to meddle, after seeing that look on your face.”

Gale makes her way over to the couch and sits next to me, the couch made for littles screams in metallic pain as it adjusts to unfamiliar mass.

“Amelia texted me on the way over to Solstice. The reason you were late, she told you about her confinement. I was the one who saved her.”

“She didn’t tell me that…”

“She probably doesn’t know. She was out of it, half alive when I carried her out.”

“…”

“I was tasked with infiltrating and investigating a certain group. They were the ones that kidnapped her. They were suspected of excessive cruelty, and I was there to shine the light on it. My first day was the day Amelia attempted suicide. I heard her dying howls through the concrete wall. And I was one of the first to enter her room. The sounds she made still haunt me. If only I had arrived weeks or months sooner, stopped them sooner. Would Amelia have been driven to such extremes? Would Amelia suffer to this day as she does? I hate myself for not being there sooner.”

“You did a good thing, Gale. You don’t have to finish this story…”

I don’t want to hear any more. Right now, at this very moment. I see myself reflected in Gale. The tears and pain swelling in her eyes as she recalls the horror. I want to reject it. Reject myself. Throw it away. Get it out of my h e a d .

“I need to finish. You are our friend. You live in this world. You are involved now. Please.”

“I… Understand.” I don’t want to, but I do.

Gale thanks me and takes a moment to compose herself. She looks back at me with focused, unflinching eyes.

“I knew after that incident saving Amelia took priority. I’ve failed people before, and I wouldn’t let it happen again. Working under that group for another several months was hell, the things they did were sick and depraved. Finally, I had enough privileges that I could make my move. I grabbed what documents and footage I could on a drive, grabbed Amelia under the guise of moving her to a new location, and took her to an LRS affiliated hospital.”

“…”

“Amelia made a near full recovery. The one good thing about the way they tried breaking her, is that the hypnosis they used was minimal. Her speech mannerism and nighttime accidents are the only lingering remnants. She saw the work we did to help her, and wanted in. When I heard that, I requested to be partnered with her.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know myself… When I saw her for the first time, the sight was more than I could bear. I felt that I would do anything to save her. Perhaps this feeling was an attempt to atone for past mistakes. I don’t have the hormones or genetic whatever that makes Amazons go little crazy. But that feeling to protect her bound me instantly to her. We are connected, her and I.”

“You feel responsible for the life you saved.” I’ve felt this many times before.

“Yes but it’s complicated. The years we’ve spent together since has evolved our relationship. I take care of her; she takes care of me. I can’t imagine life without her now. She’s saved me just as much as I saved her. And I wouldn’t want to ruin anything by telling Amelia any of this. I see how she looks at Amazons after her traumatic experiences. I… I couldn’t stand her hating me. Anything but that.”

“I don’t think she could hate you, even if you told her how you feel.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence. I’ll think on it and try to find the right words. But you have to promise to work on your feelings too, Witch. We notice how you keep us at arm’s length. You don’t have to be alone.”

“I’ll try. I’ll try. Amelia said much of the same.”

“That’s all we can ask, I suppose. Let’s cut it with the sappy shit here. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. And if you ever need to talk, I’m here. We both are.”

“Sounds good and thank you.”

Gale leans over and quickly grabs me in a huge, crushing hug.

“Ack, t-this is n-nice but ghk I can h-hear my bones creakinggg!”

“What’s that, I can’t hear you over this odd creaking sound?”

Gale puts me back down with a laugh and exits the apartment, leaving me alone with my thoughts.

There were some tough conversations today that brought about a little grief. But they were necessary evils. I see myself in these women and their struggles. The short lives they’ve lived have been harsh, but they’ve carved lives for themselves. Perhaps I can carve a life for myself here amongst them.

I settle down on the couch and flip on the TV. Time for some more ‘research’ on yet another sleepless night.

~~~

It was a month after Amelia’s attempted suicide that she was strapped back to the chair. She was given a minimal amount of time to recover before being sent back. This time with sufficient padding on the chair to prevent another event.

After another month of torment, Amelia had largely given up. She said what the machine wanted to hear. Wet and messed herself freely. Ate the food sludge. And got shocked. Again and again.

When suddenly the door opened. Amelia suspected it was for another change, but she had been changed a short time ago and was only a little wet. She tensed up, hearing the footsteps draw closer. They stopped right before the girl. Amelia felt the restraints and her blindfold loosen, dropping to the floor. She blinked and cowered away, seeing light for the first time since her kidnapping.

Amelia felt herself being gently grabbed and propped up against the Amazon’s body. Much different than the rough treatment she’d received all this time. She felt something drip onto her face.

“I’m… I’m so, so sorry. I couldn’t save her, but you’re still here. I’m still here. I can save you…”

For the first time in a long time Amelia felt safe and warm. Consciousness failed her and she blacked out. The stimulation and shocking feelings of safety proving too much for the weakened girl.

The Amazon wiped her tears and put on a strict business face. She left the room, then the building. Arriving at her car, she deposited the battered little into a car seat.

Gale drove away.

Finalizing Amelia’s escape from her living hell.

And hurtling the two towards their new lives.

Together.

Chapter 4: (Un)Certain Love

Sorry for the wait, this one was even longer! But it was fun to write. I hope you all enjoy the read.

The [[Witch]] left the Elven forests. She wanted solitude, a place she could ignore the world. She went east and eventually found herself at a large open prairie. Miles away from any civilization.

From the earth she summoned a tower tall enough to pierce the sky. The [[Witch]] sat at the top and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. And wai-

A thousand years passed in the blink of an eye.

The [[Witch]] lived a meaningless and meager existence. Running through the motions, doing the bare minimum.

But civilization continued. Growing. Expanding… Encroaching.

Eventually her tower was within a day’s carriage ride to a fairly large city. Her residence had unwittingly become a legendary tale. The residing Duke sent all sorts of people to the [[Witch]]’s tower to learn her secrets. Knights, adventurers, scholars, everyone. She turned them all away and repelled attempts at violence with ease.

Until that fateful day.

A group had come to assail her tower and the [[Witch]] went out to greet them. They were wiped out in an instant. But as she turned to leave, her eyes couldn’t leave the face of a boy. A boy barely old enough to swing a sword. He had dead eyes. Like hers.

She approached him and asked him about his circumstances.

His village was wiped out by monsters. He was the sole survivor. To avoid being a starving beggar he picked up the sword.

His name was William.

The [[Witch]] was moved, and not unlike a stray animal she brought him into the tower.

Having lived impossibly long already, the [[Witch]] was familiar enough with swords and had done her fair share of reading on the subject.

She trained him.

Over the years the boy became a man.

And that man became her knight.

He vowed to protect and serve her. To make the impossible, possible if it meant making her happy. To love and treasure her.

His name was Sir William.

The [[Witch]] was besides herself with happiness. Never had she been the protected.

~~~

My eyes shoot open. From the light filtering through the blinds and the sound of birds, it’s morning. The television is still on from my research the night prior. I had fallen asleep. Even more unusual, it wasn’t exactly a bad dream.

That old fool… Why would I dream of him?

I flip the TV off just as the door to Amelia’s room swings open. The girl is simultaneously yawning with one hand and holding her head with the other. Her white pajama shirt doing nothing to cover the sagging flowery diaper around her waist.

“Uh I’m no expert but I think you should change.”

“Ow ow ow Amelia’s poor headdd… Amelia needs to get food in Amelia before anything. Then a shower because Amelia feels disgusting from all that drinking.”

“Alright, I’ll make an early lunch.”

“Amelia’s hero!”

The hungover little gets to the kitchen table and deflates into a chair, head planted firmly on the table. I get off the couch, turn the coffee machine on, pull out some grapes, and start putting together sandwiches.

Once it’s all done, I bring our plates and mugs to the table. We both dig in with gusto.

“What’s the plan today, Amelia?”

“Ah shit, Amelia forgot… Gale and Amelia need to attend an undercover event.”

“Why, I thought you didn’t have any ongoing jobs right now?”

“We still have to sometimes dress the part and go to some Amazon gatherings. If the people at the top of Elmsbury don’t see us playing our undercover roles sometimes, then we can’t build trust. The two of us are playing the long con here.”

Amelia quickly finishes her lunch and dashes back to her room to get showered and changed. I turn the TV back on and turn my attention to that. An advertisement for a daycare? A mixture of genuine Amazon children and littles are featured, all of whom appear happy to be there. I can’t imagine that isn’t compulsory. After the ad finishes the next program appears. Some sort of movie about an Amazon scientist and his little assistant with a time travelling car?

Engrossed by the movie I jump in surprise as Amelia’s door clicks open. I look over at Amelia and my jaw drops in surprise.

Amelia is wearing a cute short pink and white dress with lots of frill. The dress does nothing to hide the puffy pink diaper wrapped around her bottom. Pink shoes with frilly socks adorn her feet. Her short blond hair is tucked under a long brown wig, the white puffy hat still atop her head. Green eyes now covered by dark brown contacts. A large pacifier dangles from a ribbon attached to her dress. Amelia’s eyes narrow at my reaction.

“You wanna shut your mouth before a bug flies in?”

“Sorry, I was just… Surprised.”

“This is our cover, Amelia is Gale’s little and Gale is Amelia’s mommy. And obviously we need to wear disguises.”

There’s a knock on the door. Amelia rushes over and looks through the peep hole. She quickly unlocks and opens the door.

An Amazon wearing a long-sleeved, flowing red dress that struggles to contain a large bust stoops in. Long platinum blond hair. Blue eyes behind a pair of glasses. I’m completely confused until the Amazon speaks up.

“Hey guys, you ready to go?”

“G-Gale!?”

“Hahaha, do I really look that different?”

“You’re an entirely different person! That dress is doing an amazing job concealing your muscular build and what’s with those boobs!? You could kill someone with those.”

“We have to be very careful about our identities. Looking as different as possible keeps us safe. And can we please stop talking about my breasts or lack thereof, I still haven’t mentally recovered from yesterday.”

“So… Should I just stay here and hang around Amelia’s place while you guys do your work?”

“Well, Amelia and I are going to run over to the house we use as cover and put some finishing touches on. You can come with and hang out there while we work if you want.”

“Eh sure.”

Gale grabs Amelia and I follow them out the apartment, locking up as we leave. A short walk to the main road and we jump in Gale’s car. A booster seat prepared for me and a car seat for Amelia.

~~~

Thomas is once again lounging in his temporary Elmsbury office. He holds a framed picture in his hands, his usually stoic face contains a hint of sadness. A preteen Thomas next to a slightly older girl. They bear a resemblance. They look happy in the picture.

His phone rings and he sets the frame back on his desk, turning it away from him. He takes a quick look at the caller ID and answers.

“Any new information?”

“Yes si-Thomas. The team got the cameras working shortly after your orders. The past several days we have had hits for a little showing up on thermals but not visuals. Notably the anomaly was spotted walking with another little and an Amazon just yesterday. They entered a place called ‘Solstice’. Previously the anomaly has been spotted leaving and entering alleys leading to the predominately little part of town late at night.”

“I want any data we have on the little and Amazon the anomaly has been spotted with, as well as information on ‘Solstice’. Then I will be heading out for my investigation.”

“Right away.”

“Any update on the power usage?”

“We have sent several requests to the main power supplier on the island. They are holding firm on not supplying the information.”

“Hm. If they want to refuse us so badly, they must be hiding something. Push harder and get that data. If someone high up is involved with this, it will not end well…”

“That is what we are thinking as well. I will email you shortly with what we have on those with close contact to the anomaly.”

“Thanks.”

Thomas hangs up and leans back in his chair. Throwing a quick glance to the picture he’s turned away from himself, he returns to his stoic expression. Ready to get to work.

~~~

On our car ride Gale and Amelia explained about the house we were heading to. Officially it is the house where Gale and Amelia’s false identities live. Gale lives there full time acting as a live-in maid for anyone asking around about their cover. While Amelia’s apartment is provided by the LRS, Gale apparently is well off. Her parents left her quite the fortune when they passed.

A 15-minute drive away from Amelia’s apartment and we arrive. It’s on the edge of town with plenty of yard space to keep neighbors at bay. The place is huge , essentially a mansion. We pull into the garage to avoid me being seen by any nosy neighbors.

“Uh, I didn’t know Gale lived in a mansion.”

“To get buddy-buddy with the high society types causing trouble for littles Amelia and I need to act the part. I may be well off but I’m not a big home kinda gal. Less money for training equipment and food!”

“Trust Amelia, all Gale cares about is mixed martial arts and gorging herself.”

“Gah, when you put it like that I sound like some sorta monster!”

Amelia and Gale continue to tease each other as I get the short tour of the house. Living room, kitchen, master bedroom, several guest rooms, stocked nursery for appearances, 2 bathrooms, Gale’s training room, and attic. All of which are huge, each room easily the size of a small home from my world.

We return to the living room, and I sink into the comfiest couch I’ve ever sat on. The cushions engulfing my body and sending me to eternal bliss. Gale throws me the remote to the large TV on the other side of the room mounted above the fireplace. Amelia went to the garage to wait for Gale to finish setting me up.

“We’ll be back after the event. Try not to have too much fun. Feel free to take a bath in my room, it’d be like a pool for you.”

“Thanks, I might take you up on that. Good luck and be careful.”

“Ha, careful is my middle name! And… About our conversation last night…”

“Yeah?”

“… Never mind. We’ll talk more later. See ya.”

Gale departs for the garage, from my spot on the couch I couldn’t get a good look at her face. I’ll ask her about what she wanted to talk about next time. Minutes later I hear them pull out and down the street.

I fiddle with the remote for a second before managing to get the TV turned on… Not. Who in their right mind would watch TV when I could be watching Gale and Amelia’s event?

With little effort my soul exits my body. A pale and invisible form looking like my physical body. My astral body. A thin silver cord connects my body and soul. I depart after the car, sliding through walls and trees.

What better way to learn about this world than watch Gale and Amelia in the field?

~~~

Thomas sits in the back seat of his chauffeured car, looking over the documents his subordinate has given him. Amelia Arte and Gale Renar. He is chuckles to himself; the anomaly has become involved with interesting people.

He steps out of the car, signaling to his driver to wait. Just a few steps away is the entrance to Solstice. He opens the door and steps inside, the dark interior greeting him alongside a young Amazon woman in a short black dress doing little to hide her padded condition. Her nametag reads ‘Heather’.

“Welcome sir, would you like a seat?”

“Yes please and tell Franz that he has a guest.”

“Of course, sir.”

Heather leads the man to a quiet section of the establishment, towards the back. She leaves him with a water and the promise to deliver his message to her boss.

In no time at all, Franz swiftly materializes before Thomas. The old Amazon appraises the little with his eyes, digging through him.

“You have my greetings, what can this old man do for a member of the Hellcats?”

“You know who I am?”

“You have the appearance of a capable young man. Few littles dedicate themselves to training their bodies so harshly without reason.”

“I should expect nothing less from you, Franz. Or should I say the Grey Phantom .”

A wry smile graces Franz’s face.

“It has been quite some time since I was called that… May I have your name as well?”

“Thomas. Mind telling me what a master assassin is doing operating a small restaurant like this?”

Franz puts a hand to his chin and begins to stroke it thoughtfully, appearing to think hard.

“Hmm… I don’t think I will.”

“That is alright and expected. Just my personal interest. Actually, I am here on business.”

“Oho, what may that be?”

“I want you to tell me about the three women who visited yesterday.”

The smile on Franz’s face disappears. Blank face, the slightest hint of controlled anger.

“My apologies but I cannot give up information on my customers.”

“Cut the shit, Franz. We know about Amelia, Gale, and Solstice. The Hellcats let the activities of the LRS go because they are a small-time group, and no love is lost on our end as far as Amazons are concerned.”

“What are you planning? If harm is brought to those ladies…”

“The last thing I want is you as an enemy. I am confident in my abilities, not foolish. We only care about the thing Amelia and Gale were with. Those two will be unharmed.”

Franz’s overbearing presence settles slightly. The veiled anger now replaced with agitation.

“Thing?”

“The other little in a cloak, long black skirt. Look, you give her up and we interfere no further. With you and the other girls.”

“I… Do not like this. That lady, Witch, is their friend and a kind person. But if it is to protect Amelia and Gale… What do you want to know?”

“All I need to know is the location of the house they are staying at. Cameras are limited around the little part of town; we have not been able to find its location. Also, any information you have on this ‘Witch’.”

Regretfully Franz gives Thomas what he wants to know. Afterwards bidding the member of Hellcats farewell. Franz walks to the back office, feeling unusually irritated. Not even the sight of the formerly overconfident Heather begging her supervisor for a change could rouse the sadistic side of his personality. He was mad with himself.

How soft have I become?

At his desk he unlocks a secret compartment. A file is pulled out and opened, documents spill forth. A picture of Amelia and Gale. Franz begins to make new notes in the margins.

Giving up someone to save another, how foolish. But… Those girls. They are like grandchildren to me. Forgive me, Witch.

The file and its contents are returned to the compartment and locked away. Franz sits in silence a moment longer, before getting back to work.

Hmph, the Grey Phantom a grandfather. Hell hath frozen over indeed.

~~~

I followed their car for some time before their arrival at a mansion somehow even larger than Gale’s. Numerous cars line the long driveway. Must be a big turnout.

Gale exits the car and heads to the backseat to unbuckle Amelia from her car seat. She picks her up and they make their way to the front door being manned by a servant. They whisper to each other quietly while outside the range of others.

“Alright Amelia, just like we’ve done before. I’ll drop you off with the other littles. Look for signs of abuse and blend in. I’ll mingle with the Amazons and listen for anything on my end.”

“Augh let’s just get this over with. Amelia hates these sorts of events. Be careful yourself.”

“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get your diaper in a twist. Time to get in character.”

Amelia pops the pacifier locked to her dress into her mouth and does her best to look the part of a brain drained little. They arrive at the door where the butler greets them with a slight bow.

“Good evening, Ms. Farston and little Allie as well. Need I show you the way?”

“Good evening to you. I can manage on my own, thank you.”

With that, Amelia and Gale… Or should I say ‘Ms. Farston’ and ‘Allie’… make their way through the fancy and elaborate hallways of the mansion. The pair reach a door and Gale knocks. The door is opened by an Amazon dressed as a maid, further in the room are other littles dressed similarly to how Amelia is and a large nursery. Gale steps in, gently depositing Amelia on the ground and giving the little a peck on the forehead.

“Mommy will be back soon sweetie, play nice.”

Gale throws Amelia a quick look of concern before turning back to the maid, nodding, and leaving the room. For now, I float after Gale as she continues forward, towards a larger set of elaborate doors also manned by two butlers.

The men give Gale a once over before each grab a handle, pulling both doors open simultaneously. Gale steps into what could only be described as a large open ball room. Food and beverages line one side of the wall. Tables surrounded by chairs close by, and an open space where numerous Amazons stand and talk amongst themselves. A live band plays soft music from a stage at the far end of the room.

This is like some kind of King’s castle! What sort of insane luxury is this!? I unconsciously drift over to the food, their wonderous scents reaching my astral form. Internally I cry out in torment as I can’t eat like this. I can only look on in agony as I watch others consume the heavenly bounty before me. I turn away spectral tears in my eyes, looking to find Gale in the crowd.

It isn’t long before I see her again and zip my way over. She’s talking to a fancy pair of Amazons, a husband and wife by the ring on their fingers and their body language.

“Thank you for the invite to this wonderful party, Mr. and Mrs. Eroldt.”

“It is no trouble dear; we cherish your company. How is little Allie? She is such an adorable little girl; you are so lucky.”

“Allie is great, very well behaved and cute. What about you Mrs. Eroldt? Have you found ‘the right one’ yet?”

“As a matter of fact, we have! She is the most darling little thing. I picked her out myself, and the moment I saw her I knew it was destiny. We almost missed our chance to get her too! Hopefully, we will be able to show the little angel off soon. Not quite ready yet.”

“Well, that’s great to hear. I will leave the two of you to greeting the other guests. Good evening.”

Bidding her depart from the conversation they amicably break up, Gale going her separate way to speak with other partygoers. It’s amazing to see how well Gale is blending in, it’s easy to tell she’s been doing this for a while. The other Amazons adore her and suspect nothing.

Wanting to get away from the… Amazing food… I head back towards the nursery Amelia was left at. See how well her side of things is going.

Amelia is sitting on the plush floor, playing with blocks with several other littles. With her back to the maid, she’s looking through the crowd of littles and seeking out signs of abuse. Seeing such a stern face on someone dressed so cutely is quite the contrast, I barely contain a laugh.

I drift through the crowd of littles getting a close look at them all. They’ve had all their personalities removed. They’re nothing more than babies now. I feel a pang of sadness. This is basically death. Death of the mind. Of the soul. What will become of them when they die?

I leave these morbid thoughts behind me, better not to think about it. I refocus my gaze back to Amelia.

She seems to have got a good look at every little, she settles down and does her best to blend in. Playing quietly amongst the others.

Suddenly the nurse speaks up.

“Alright children, it is time to watch TV!”

Amelia stiffens up at these words, this seems to be unexpected. A look of fear flashes on her face quickly but she manages to suppress it to avoid causing a stir. One by one littles are grabbed and lined up before a large TV.

Amelia attempts feigning sleep, but the Amazon rouses her enough that she cannot pretend any longer. The girl does her best to avoid looking at the flashing colors and screen but the compelling audio forces her eyes ahead. I see horror and panic reflecting in her eyes. The knowledge that she was damned if she looks and damned if she speaks up. An inescapable nightmare.

Satisfied that all littles are watching, the Maid begins typing away at her phone.

Amelia’s eyes begin to glaze over, her mouth opening enough that her pacifier drops, hanging by its ribbon. A little more and she’ll be sucked in completely. Oh shit oh fuck, I should probably do something, right???

“[[Sleep]]”

The moment the word exits my lips, Amelia’s glazed eyes droop closed, and she nods off. Hopefully, no damage done as quickly as I put her under. Satisfied, I return to my body. Gale will continue her networking and Amelia should sleep the rest of the evening away. Job well done if I say so myself.

I stand and stretch my physical body, once again acclimating myself to the constraints of a fleshy form.

That place and the people were interesting. So many Amazons treating littles like dolls. Toys that they could mold and reprogram. My heart goes out to those poor littles, but a small part of me feels… odd.

Perhaps it’s the idea behind that kind of treatment, being protected and treasured. The positives without mental death. Perhaps it’s why I dreamed of William. A reminder of one of the few times I felt that way in my life.

Gale has a nursery here for show… Would it be bad to take a closer look?

I rush over to the nursery and open its doors. Pastel colors adorn the walls and the contents of the room. Crib, changing table, toys, everything. I climb up the crib walls and fall in, landing on the soft bedding.

Ah, this is comfortable.

It feels wrong, but it also feels very right. Safe. Comfortable.

Since coming to this world, I’ve been thinking about those I’ve known before a lot. Olivia and Henderson. Lumina. Now William. Back home I banished those thoughts to the very dark recesses of my mind. But now they surface again. Why?

I wrap myself in the soft, warm blankets in the crib. My weary eyes have grown heavy. Perhaps I will willingly offer myself to sleep tonight. Maybe I can see Sir William… One more time…

And with that I allow sleep to take me.

~~~

William kept his vow; he was a knight among knights. He repelled all attempts on the [[Witch]]’s life. For decades he did this.

Whenever the [[Witch]] asked if he wanted immortality, he would reject it. His honor as a knight would not permit it.

In his old age his hair greyed, and wrinkles dotted his face in the right places, but his ferociousness with the sword never dwindled. Physically the Franz that the [[Witch]] knows today bears some resemblance to this knight.

She was preparing a gift for his 63rd birthday. He was outside defending his lady from another kingdom’s onslaught.

Unusually he cried out in pain, transforming it into a bellow of effort. The sound of his shout echoing throughout the plains. After it died down, there were no more sounds outside.

The [[Witch]] jumped from the tower, quickly going to William’s side.

It was too late.

He had been pierced through his stomach. But even then, he had fought on, ensuring the last of his enemies laid still before succumbing to his wounds. His pale face wore a sweet smile.

This was his knight’s honor.

Dying for his loved one.

She carried William up the tower, their home.

Weeping bitter tears and cursing his knight’s honor.

What point was there if I she could not see him again. The [[Witch]] would rather he live on with her than for him to throw his life away for her.

Gingerly she held him close. At the top of the tower, she watched the beautiful sunset.

And countless years later… In another dimension… The [[Witch]] cried out in her sleep.

For the greatest knight, Sir William.

Chapter 5: To be Protected

I think I’m going to try to pump out a chapter a week. Thank you all for your continued readership. I hope it’s worth the wait!

Gale has always been strong and active. Even as a child; she ran, climbed, jumped, and fought. Taking up various martial arts in her early teenage years. While this is not unusual (especially for an Amazon), Gale has always taken her fitness to a level exceeding the norm.

Perhaps it’s due to her unique Amazon biology. At least that is what some of the doctors throughout her life would say. Gale lacks the hormones that drive many Amazons crazy for littles and babies. Maybe to compensate, her physiology worked double-time in boosting its physical attributes.

It is due to this as well as her vicious intellect, that Gale excelled in every sport and martial art that she tried.

There was no one that could face her. She was the very best.

That is, until she reached high school.

Gale had met her match in the form of a 5ft little. A girl with short black hair and grey eyes. She exuded confidence and strength in waves. Too strong to compete in the little leagues, she had to compete with Amazons. And she excelled.

The two undefeated champions clashed. Both feeling refreshed at finally having an even match.

Finally feeling less alone.

They were the best of friends and the greatest of rivals. The two were the pride of the school and as such, the little was off limits. At least during school hours. Not that any Amazon could grab her.

Then, it was graduation. The girls had one last chance to settle their rivalry. A scholarship sponsored mixed martial arts tournament to decide which of the two were superior. Obviously, they both made it to the top over the course of several days. Demolishing the competition.

A major match was to be held between the two victors. The fight of their lives.

Gale entered the ring.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

But the little – her friend – never came.

~~~

This old memory forced itself to the front of Gale’s mind as she entered the nursery to collect Amelia. Walking past the maid still on her phone. The sight before her triggered this memory.

Time seemed to halt for the Amazon. Looking down at her friend nursing a pacifier, in deep sleep. The TV in front of the small girl, blaring programming meant to reprogram littles. The other littles in the room seem to be in a similar state. Something trickles down her lip and drips onto her hand. Blood. She’d bitten down too hard and split her own lip.

Gale felt a lot of things well up, all at once.

Sadness. Grief. Worry. Panic. Anger. Rage.

She slowly turns to the maid still oblivious to the situation. Gale quickly moves to stand before her and roughly grabs her by the jaw. The shorter Amazon is forcefully stood up and made to look Gale in the eyes.

“What did you do. To. My. Girl.”

“W-what’s the matter, it’s just a hypnosis show?”

“Wrong. Answer.”

The maid struggles to break from Gale’s iron grasp. After a few attempts Gale uses her free hand to roughly pin one of the shorter Amazon’s arms to her side.

“When I left Allie here, I expected to retrieve her later in the same condition. No doubt the other parents felt the same. Should I or anyone else be thrilled to find the maid in charge of the nursery playing on her damn phone and exposing our littles to god knows what?”

“I-I’m sorry, please let me go. I’m new, I didn’t know!”

“What effects. Were on. That. Show.”

“E-everything… I think…”

I’m going to kill her. Break every goddamned bone in her body.

Gale’s hand slips from the maid’s jaw and quickly latches onto her neck.

“Hk pplease sto…”

The maid manages to gasp a plea to the enraged Gale. Though she doesn’t seem to hear or care. The maid’s attempts to free herself growing weaker and feebler as the seconds tick away.

She’ll pay for what she’s done. She’ll pay. She’ll pay. She’ll pay. She. Will. Pay.

“Ughhh…”

Suddenly a groan from behind stops Gale in her tracks. Looking over her shoulder she sees Amelia stirring in her sleep. The fog of rage begins to subside, leaving Gale empty. She lets go and the maid drops to the floor gasping and rubbing her throat.

Gale carefully walks over to Amelia and picks her up. They head for the door, Gale stopping to throw one last warning to the recovering maid.

“You slack off or pull some shit like this again with my girl and you’ll look back at this experience like it’s a fond memory.”

They leave the luxurious mansion. The butler manning the door bidding them a good evening on their way out.

Gale hurries to the car, gently strapping Amelia into the car seat, jumping into the driver’s seat, and turning around to the little. She begins poking and prodding Amelia, trying to rouse the girl.

“Hey, Amelia. Come on, wake up. Please, Amelia. Please.”

I should have been more careful. Am I really going to lose someone else again in the same fucking way? I can’t do this without you Amelia, don’t leave me alone.

Just as Gale’s emotions start to swirl and rage inside her, Amelia’s eyes flutter open. She looks around confusedly, eyes still containing her usual intelligence.

“Um, what’s wrong Gale? Are you crying?”

“Amelia! Oh, thank God you’re alright! What the hell happened in there!? I thought you were gone!”

“Gone? Well, the last thing Amelia remembers is doing the usual, checking the other littles for abuse, when… Oh shit, the maid turned on some hypnosis show. Amelia couldn’t stop looking at it, when suddenly Amelia heard a voice and then Amelia fell asleep.”

“I’m just glad you’re alright. No side effects? Do you feel any urges, can you still count, spell, and tell time?”

Amelia quickly runs through the alphabet, counts, tells time, and does whatever else she can think of to rule out effects.

“Thankfully, it seems like you fell asleep at just the right time. We must be more careful moving forward. You almost gave me a heart attack!”

“Amelia agrees, we need countermeasures for sudden hypnosis. Maybe we should ask our superiors about that?”

Gale pulls out of their parking spot and begins driving back towards her place. The pair discuss their options on the way. Looking through the rear-view mirror Gale sees Amelia stop mid-sentence, her face growing pale and then flushed.

“What’s wrong Amelia? Are you okay?”

“A-Ah… Amelia just wet without knowing… While awake…”

“Well… Hopefully that’s the extent of the hypnosis. Small price to pay for you to still be… You.”

“That’s easy for you to say! Amelia’s the one wetting herself here!”

“Yeah, yeah. Mommy Gale will do her best to take care of you while you recover.”

“That’s not the point!”

Amelia shouts indignantly while Gale laughs. Both women ultimately happy that things didn’t go too wrong tonight. Eventually their exchanges lead to silence as both fall into deep thought. Amelia thinking about her close encounter with hypnosis and Gale thinking about her old high school friend.

I won’t fail again. I swear it.

~~~

Gale was crowned victor by default. A trophy and the scholarship were hers.

She was devastated. She wanted nothing more than one last fight to prove herself against her friend and rival. Winning by default was the worst possible outcome, defeat would have been preferable to this.

The trophy was thrown aside, and she gave the scholarship to third place. She couldn’t accept any of it.

This cursed hollow victory.

Her motivation was gone. She felt lost and defeated. And that is how she would remain for several months. Until she found out the truth.

It was a relatively small town; most knew of the rivalry and friendship between Gale and the little. A shopkeeper on the main street was reviewing his tapes from the last few months before throwing them out. On those tapes he discovered the fate of Gale’s friend. He reached out and showed Gale the footage.

It was a weekend evening. All shops closed early. The little was walking home from her penultimate victory in the tournament. The bout between her and Gale would have been the next day.

An indistinguishable van started following the little.

She was smart, it was clear from the footage that she realized what was going to happen. Her pace picked up, and the van matched it. Keeping even with the girl.

A man in black wearing shades jumped out and attempted to grab her. With the girl’s skills he was easily beaten to submission. As he fell to the pavement, more men and women in black jumped out. Some carrying tools.

Against one or two the little had an advantage, but their sheer numbers worked in their favor. Ultimately a woman in black got the little with a clean hit from a shock baton.

With the lack of audio, the little screamed wordlessly and collapsed. The men and women in black who got dropped by her dusted themselves off and reentered the van with her in tow.

They took off fast down the street.

She was gone.

Fate unknown.

It wasn’t Gale’s fault. Logically she knew that she couldn’t have known or done anything. But that didn’t stop her from feeling responsible.

What kind of friend was she that this could happen on her watch?

What was the point of her ridiculous strength if she couldn’t help those beside her?

This wouldn’t happen again.

This wound engraved itself on her heart and spurred her on.

She couldn’t save her friend, but she could save others.

This wouldn’t happen again…

Chapter 6: Again

Here we are, I managed to make my deadline! Some with a close eye may notice that this chapter is a wee bit short. Late last week and into the weekend I had a bit of a health scare and couldn’t focus on writing. Thankfully rather than a fracture, it’s just a sprain! Next chapter should be more the usual length.

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone enjoys this next chapter.

While I understand the benefits of a self-imposed deadline, please feel no pressure to meet it. Put your health and other commitments first; although we do want to read more, we can wait.

Thanks for the concern and don’t worry. I didn’t resume writing until the issue was resolved. The chapter I was able to post is what I had completed in the time I wasn’t panicked about a potential break.