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No Good Deed: Ch7 - An Unexpected Party
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 12:36 am    Post subject: No Good Deed: Ch7 - An Unexpected Party  

Sorry about this - it's even longer than last time! :shock:

==========

Chapter Seven: An Unexpected Party

Elladora considered the problem for a moment. Supernatural powers. It was not an uncommon wish, especially among idiotic first-timers who ought to know better. She usually tried to grant such requests as subtly as she could, and also as briefly.

It was high time for a different approach, she thought. A quick wave of her wand and the job was done.

"There you are, dear girl," she said, with a flourish. "From now on, whenever there is trouble, BeastlyGirl will be around to fix it. Good luck, Miss Crumpet."

"Wait a minute!" cried Veronica. "What are my powers? What can I do?"

Elladora smiled with just a hint of malice. "Oh, I'm sure you'll find out. Half the fun is in the experimentation, my dear. Don't worry if your special abilities aren't immediately apparent. I'm sure you'll... grow into them. And remember – if you need me, just make a second wish and I’ll come running."

‘Well, walking anyway,’ she amended in her head. ‘Eventually. I suppose.’

Trying her best not to cackle, Elladora gave one last wave of her wand and disappeared.

-----------

She arrived back at the cottage to find it in turmoil. The front room had disappeared under a pile of boxes. Plastic bags filled the few gaps that the boxes had left. There was no path through to her beloved tea and cream cakes. Dust swirled in the air like morning mist, tickling her throat and making her eyes water.

"Chuzzle!" she tried to bellow, and only managed to wheeze. She coughed and tried again. "Chuzzle!"

A small figure appeared in the doorway, dustpan and brush at the ready. "Yes, Miss Chubb?" he called, politely.

"What are you..." she broke off, sneezed and rubbed violently at her eyes. "Oh, blow this!" she muttered. Another sweep of her wand and she appeared in the slightly less dusty hallway opposite.

"What are you doing?" she demanded.

"Err... cleaning, Miss?" suggested Chuzzle, as if the answer should have been obvious to anyone with the brain capacity of, say, an amoeba.

Elladora rolled her eyes. "I realise that, Chuzzle. What I'm asking is... why are you cleaning?"

Chuzzle's face cleared of bewilderment.

"Ah. Now I see what yer getting at, Miss Chubb," he nodded. "Well, you see, I'm cleaning because the house is messy, y'see?"

Elladora gave up on tact (or indeed upon the prospects of having any intelligent conversation with this creature!).

"What's in the boxes?" she snapped.

"Junk," came the prompt reply.

Dora's chest swelled with indignation. "There is no junk in this house!"

Chuzzle's only reply was to reach into one of the boxes beside him. He drew out a sky blue teapot, with a flower pattern of lime-green and purple on it. It was probably the most hideous teapot ever to be designed since people had discovered tea. The designer probably still woke up with cold sweats about it, assuming that a lynch mob hadn’t already put him out of everyone else’s misery!

Dora, however, was unmoved. "My grandmother's tea set," she said, firmly. "Put it back immediately."

With a faint air of resignation, Chuzzle replaced it, only to bring out a framed piece of artwork. It was a portrait of an unsmiling and slab-faced woman in period costume. It was dusty with obvious neglect and that was no surprise. The only useful place for a picture like that was hanging on the front door, to act as a burglar deterrent!

"My grandmother," said the fairy-godmother, even more icily.

Chuzzle silently replaced it, bringing out yet another item in its place. This time, he held it up for her to examine. She recognised it immediately. A full Victorian bathing-suit in navy blue, complete with the tutu-like frill around the waist and the all-in-one bloomers. His expression was one of polite inquiry, nothing more.

Dora felt herself going crimson. She opened her mouth, perhaps to say something about fashion coming around in cycles... or about maybe taking up swimming again one day... but in the end, she had no wish to see what Chuzzle was going to fish out of the box next.

"Well, I'd think you would settle in for a few days before you turn the house upside down, that's all," she muttered, crossly.

"Normally I would, Miss Chubb," he answered. "I couldn't find yer gladrags, though. Thought I'd be sure to come across them if I started tidying me way through the clutter, though."

"My... gladrags?" she repeated, faintly.

"You know, Miss. Yer gear for the Godmothers' Ball."

Dora's face assumed the frozen expression of a small furry animal seconds away from being roadkill.

"The Godmothers' Ball?" she protested. "That's tonight? It's just... I'm very busy at the moment. Lots of backlog to catch up on, chores around the house, all those receipts to sign off for Fate - and besides, I'm not sure my dress fits any more, even if you could find it. Then it'd have to be de-mothballed, washed, aired, dried, ironed... you really shouldn't trouble yourself about it."

"No trouble, Miss. I'll find it, never fear. You shall go to the Ball."

And that, it seemed, was that. As he disappeared back up the stairs, he whistled cheerily, making the tune up as he went along. A few moments later, Elladora could hear the faint sounds of cupboards being opened and emptied in the bedrooms. It was an unsettling sound, especially as she imagined some pervy little gnome rifling through her underwear drawer. Still, there was nothing to be done about it. She decided to deal with the situation in a mature and adult manner. Five minutes later, the tea was brewing and there were two cream-filled eclairs on a tray beside the teapot.

As she poured the milk, she thought about what Chuzzle had just said. The Godmothers' Ball, for goodness sake! Every year it was held at the MAFIA club, and every year she had to find a new excuse not to attend. Not that she was averse to parties in and of themselves. She even liked the other fairy-godmothers, in a 'wave to them from the other side of the street' sort of way. It was the way the whole thing was arranged that got to her. Such a smug little event! The slogan was 'The one night of the year when even a fairy-godmother's wishes can come true'. As if! What actually happened was that they sat in uncomfortable little chairs, eating bland food and drinking cheap wine, while all the Management and Bureaucratic types read out Lists of Achievements. Those lucky enough to have won awards like 'Wish of the Year' were presented with gifts such as crystal ashtrays, silver nutcrackers, brass candle-holders in the shape of the three wise monkeys, or corkscrews fashioned in the likeness of the urinating shepherd-boy. Then, afterwards, the dancing. Dora shuddered at the prospect of choosing between such dance partners as other fairy-godmothers, one of the Powers, the big bad wolf, or that sleazy Prince Charming.

This time, she had the feeling that she wouldn't be able to get out of it so easily. Not with Chuzzle around to organize her life. Still, she could but try.

She carried it through to the study, only to realise that Chuzzle had got here first. Some of the books were gone from the shelves, others were arranged more neatly. The desk was polished and the tea-stains were gone. An antediluvian pot-plant had been replaced by one that was less necromantically inclined, and the stale smell was gone from the room, replaced by a much fresher floral scent.

Dora had to admit (if only to herself) that Chuzzle seemed to be having a positive effect on her cottage. Now, if she could just get him to lay off the gnome-pornography, he might live out the month!

She laid down her tray and went to sit in her armchair. It was then that she noticed a thick scroll on the bookshelves. It was tightly rolled and held fast by a plush red ribbon. Since it was sitting in the place that her orb had, until recently, been, Elladora was fairly certain that it hadn't been there before.

Curious, she wandered over and reached up for it. It felt surprisingly heavy, the paper soft and almost clothlike. There was no writing on the outside. Wondering whether this was another one of Fate's ridiculous games, she unthreaded the ribbon and straightened the sheaf of papers out so that she could read them.

The document began:

Charter of Employment for Miss Elladora Chubb. Terms & Conditions:

Elladora's lips began to move silently, as she worked her way through page after page of soft parchment. A little frown-line began to dig its way deeper and deeper between her eyebrows as the full implications of the text sank in. Occasionally, she would snort or mutter such words as "Mince pies!" and "Respite!" and "Twenty years!"

Finally, she got to the bottom of the final sheet. Standing up, eyes blazing, she bawled:

"Chuzzle! Get here - now!"

The gnome entered hesitantly, relaxing when he saw that, apparently, the orb was not the problem this time.

"What c'n I do for yer, Miss Chubb?"

"Did you put this here?"

"Yes Miss." Promptly.

"Where did you find it?"

"Under me bed, Miss. Bit careless of yer, leavin' it in a godforsaken place like that, yer fairy-godmotherness."

"Under the gnome's bed, eh. And then she doesn't give me a gnome..." Elladora snapped out of her reverie with a glare. "Right. That does it. I'm off to have it out with Fate."

"Right you are, Miss. When will you be..."

"...back?" he finished, to the empty patch of air in front of him. Elladora had already vanished.

--------

Dora arrived, an instant later, outside Fate's front door. She regarded the bell-rope with fully justified suspicion. What little treats did it have in store for her today? Remembering the last week's worth of horrors, she almost considered sneaking around the house and climbing in through one of the side windows.

The only thing that stopped her was the idea of being caught in the act by Fate's new manservant. What would Alexander Rose think if he found his fairy-godmother, huffing and blowing, skirts hiked up to her waist and straddling a windowsill? Other than that she had been overdoing it on the cream cakes for the past half-century, of course! It was simply too undignified.

Nevertheless, there would be no more trap-doors or giant cuckoos if she could help it. She stood well to the left of the doorway, and back from the welcome mat. Extending her reach, she took a ginger hold of the bell-rope and pulled.

Immediately, there was the sound of a thousand sleigh-bells, all jangling at different pitches. The door began to be suffused with a glittering mist that sparkled in the rays of the sun. As she watched, the door slowly faded, first becoming translucent, then diminishing to an echo of its original shape before finally disappearing altogether, revealing the hall behind it.

Theatrical, of course - but for once, Fate seemed to have offset the drama with real beauty and taste. Perhaps the Powers had made her see sense, once they had received Elladora’s complaint. Whatever had happened, the change was both welcome and overdue. With a smug little smile, Dora stepped through the doorway and into the hallway beyond.

At least, that's what she attempted to do. What actually happened was that the invisible door barred her progress in a rather stubborn and solid way. She bounced off it, forehead first, with all the momentum of a good return serve. The next thing she knew, she was a great deal more horizontal than she remembered being, and a crowd of bluebirds were chasing each other above her head.

"Ahh. Okay. It still isn't quite working perfectly then." A voice sounded from above her. Dora found herself curiously unsurprised. Alexander Rose! The only thing that made Fate even more unbearable than she already was!

"Here - let me help you up." He offered her an arm. She considered ripping it off and beating him with the soggy end of it. Then she decided to leave her fury to the one who more truly deserved it. Fate had a lot to answer for!

As she struggled upright, Alexander kept up a litany of enthusiastic chatter.

"I persuaded Fate to let me have a go at the front door effects. Did you like it? I mean - before it went wrong? You wouldn't believe some of the cool equipment she's got, and she doesn't use half of it. There's a whole room full of stuff that's never been taken out of the boxes. I thought if I could... if... I..."

He finally trailed off, common sense catching up with enthusiasm and rugby tackling it to the floor until it stopped wriggling. Only when Dora felt the boy to be suitably cowed did she sweep past him, making her way to Fate's drawing room again.

The green-robed figure swept towards her as she stalked into the room.

“Miss Chubb,” she said, in hollow tones. “You received my summons then?”

“No I did not! I came here to discuss my contract – which, I might say…”

“There are far more grave matters for us to settle.” Fate’s steely tones overrode Elladora’s. “I must say, Miss Chubb, that you seem determined to make a reputation for yourself lately. Over-use of a wand’s power, however, is a serious offence against the dictates of Limbo, and as such…”

“Wait, wait, wait! Hold on just a minute!” Dora had to shout to make herself heard. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. What do you mean – ‘overuse of a wand’s power’?”

“Protesting your innocence is not going to help your cause, fairy-godmother,” retorted Fate, gleefully. “The results are here, for all to see.”

With that, she handed over a copy of The Limbo Times. There, on the front cover, was the headline:

Luck of the Draw?

Pandemonium ensued today in Normal Realm, when the National Lottery Grand Prize was found to have been won by nearly four thousand people. While many of the individuals concerned are delighted to have an unexpected windfall, many others feel cheated by what has happened. Concerns are growing about the spiraling debt of those who have celebrated their win before finding out the exact amount due to them.

Meanwhile, in Limbo, the incident has been traced back to a Fairy-Godmothering incident. Although the Powers have declined to comment so far, there have been calls for a full-scale inquiry…

Elladora looked up from the paper, frowning in consternation.

“Are they talking about my granting of Beatrice Talbot’s wish here?” she demanded. “Because I didn’t…”

“Yes, they most certainly are,” proclaimed Fate, “and yes, you most certainly did. Changing the destiny of four thousand people in an unsolicited manner is…”

Suddenly, Elladora remembered. “It must have been the wand! It was faulty – I couldn’t get it to work properly, I even had to hitch a lift home with Cappo!”

“And you have proof of this, Miss Chubb?” asked Fate in a silky voice. “Perhaps you can produce the faulty wand as evidence? No? What a pity!”

Elladora opened her mouth to protest again when a new thought occurred.

“No,” she replied, equally smoothly. “I’m afraid I don’t have my old wand with me. Perhaps you can produce receipts for the last four replacement wands you gave me, talking of evidence?”

There was a sudden tension in the air.

“I don’t believe I follow you, Miss Chubb.”

Dora smiled sweetly. “My contract clearly states that, as a safety requirement, all Godmother wands should be replaced at the twenty year mark. Now, let’s see, I’ve been working here for… what… a hundred years now? I should be on my fifth wand by now. I wonder how the Limbo bureaucrats would take the news that four thousand people won the lottery because my boss couldn’t be bothered to observe safety regulations for her employees?”

“Well, all you had to do was request the item in question.” Fate interjected quickly, but there was a new bluster to her tone. “I would have…”

“It’s funny how many other perks I’ve been missing out on too.” Elladora’s voice could have cut through sheet steel now. “It’s quite a detailed contract. I read it thoroughly – once I found it.”

“I really don’t see that this…”

“Four extra mince pies at Christmas every year,” continued Elladora, riding roughshod over Fate’s protestations. “Annual wand and orb maintenance checks. Fair and reasonable notice if a staff meeting or training session is required. Support and backup for sick days and holidays. Holidays at all, for that matter!”

“I simply assumed that you didn’t want…”

“Don’t give me that!” exploded Elladora, unable to hold her temper any longer. “You hid the contract where you knew I’d never find it! Under a house-gnome’s bed in a dusty attic, for goodness sake! Then you go and deprive me of a decent house-gnome – and, by the way, I’m not at all sure the one you’ve given me is what you could call ‘decent’ – for a hundred years! By my reckoning, you owe me four hundred mince pies, a hundred wand repairs, who knows how much lost time to your ridiculous meetings and two years worth of backdated holidays!”

She paused, panting for breath and directing a look of pure poison at Fate. The cowled figure took advantage of the moment’s silence to interject.

“I’m afraid that none of the benefits of your job can be backdated, fairy-godmother. You were quite entitled to claim them at the time. I cannot be held responsible for the fact that you did not. As you will no doubt recall, I told you that the upkeep of your cottage was your own responsibility, when you first got the job. If your cleaning and tidying skills have caused you to somehow misplace your contact, then that is unfortunate for you.”

“However,” she added, as Elladora advanced on her, “I think, under the circumstances, a dropping of the entire matter may be in order. I will… neglect to mention which of my staff was responsible for the lottery debacle yesterday. You, in turn, will neglect to mention any contractual hiccups to anyone outside of these walls. Are we agreed?”

Dora looked upon Fate with loathing. The wand incident was not her fault and she was sure that, given a fair hearing, she could prove it. Then again, who could tell what the Powers would think of a godmother who could not control her wand? Simple sacking was one thing – a six week training course in Basic Wand Use was another horror altogether!

“Deal,” she begrudged. “but as soon as I get caught up, I want that holiday.”

“Of course,” agreed Fate. “As soon as you are caught up.”

That was far too easy. Elladora’s eyes narrowed. However, she had taken more than enough of a dose of Fate for one day. It was time to get home and let her blood pressure go down a little. With no more ado, she stomped out into the hallway and made her way home.

Fate’s orchestra, apparently having learned wisdom by now, hid until she had disappeared from view…

----------------

It was lunchtime by the time that Dora got back home. However, seeing that chaos was still reigning supreme, she quickly retired to the study. She could eat later, once Chuzzle had finished ransacking the cottage.

Instead, she picked up the orb. It was time to see how BeastlyGirl was getting on. She performed the intricate rune that channeled the globe towards Veronica Crumpet and sat back to watch…

--------------

Veronica Crumpet hugged herself with glee. Real super-powers, just like in the movies! She wasn’t too sure about the whole ‘BeastlyGirl’ thing yet… but no doubt, once she was famous and all-powerful, she could have her pick of titles.

Whatever. It was time for her to go out and discover what she could do. This was far more important than going to school and attending all those boring lessons. She had people to save!

The heroic music was already fanfaring inside her head as she raced out of the house. People were heading to school and to work already. Veronica paid them no heed. She was too busy trying to work out whether she felt stronger or faster or smarter than she had a half hour ago.

It was no good. She felt no different at all. She slowed to a walk at the next junction and gave the matter some thought.

Beastly Girl, the fairy-godmother had named her. So, that was like Batgirl or Catwoman or Spiderman then? Only it couldn’t be any of those because they’d already been done. It would have to be something different and special.

Maybe the super-powers would only show when she had the right costume on? That made a weird kind of sense. Clark Kent was only Superman when he had the whole blue skin-suit thing. Stick the specs on him and he was just plain old nerdy Clark Kent again.

Or maybe she only got super-powers when she needed them? Like when someone was in danger or when she needed to defeat a bad guy or something? Yeah, that was possible too.

What she really needed was somebody to save.

As if her thoughts had triggered it, she heard the sounds of yelling, from a building site across the road. She willed herself to speed up and was surprised to find herself moving much faster and feeling much lighter. With a power that astonished her, she leapt clear
over the waist-high fence, only to land in a heap on the other side as her trousers slipped into a tangled knot around her ankles. She shook them off and was amazed to see that her legs had grown beige-brown fur and were totally the wrong shape, and that her ankles and feet were more like hooves! All of a sudden, she appeared to have the bottom half of a gazelle!

Another scream shook her out of her stunned disbelief. This was no time for sitting around – she had lives to save! She shucked the trousers off and rose to her feet again. Now that she knew about her transformation, it seemed a lot more difficult to keep her balance. Nevertheless, she managed a wobbly attempt at a sprint and rounded a site-hut, eyes peeled for citizens in distress.

What she actually saw was two ten year olds, swinging from the lower rungs of some scaffolding and yelling with delight. For a moment, Veronica felt violent disappointment. Nobody was in mortal peril – it just wasn’t fair! Then, an inkling of hope reasserted itself.

‘Well, children shouldn’t be playing in building sites,’ she rationalized. ‘It’s dangerous. I should save them anyway.’

With no more thought, she set off towards them.

“Children,” she said, importantly, “you are in danger. BeastlyGirl is here to rescue you.”

“Ya what?” said the first, wrinkling his nose and looking her up and down.

“What’s up with your legs?” demanded the second.

“You must come with me,” repeated Veronica, tetchily. “I’m here to save you!”

“Save us? Here!” exclaimed the first child, “You’re not one o’them Yoda’s Witnesses are you? Only my mam said to watch out for them!”

“Yeah. My mam said not to talk to strangers,” interrupted number two, glaring at her. “So you stop talkin’ to us, right?”

With that, the two of them turned their backs on her and began to play again. Veronica regarded them with growing desperation. How was she supposed to save people if they didn’t want to be saved? Some citizens didn’t know what was good for them! What was the use of having extra speed if all she managed was to be useless at double the pace?

Maybe Beastly Girl had something else that could help? Even as the thought occurred, she felt a strange burning sensation in her throat. It was as if she had a red-hot marble caught in her oesophagus. Her eyes bulged and she coughed violently. To her astonishment, a spray of milky liquid shot from her mouth and spattered the boys. Their expressions went from disgust to bewilderment to slackness in the space of a few seconds. Veronica watched in consternation as their legs buckled beneath them. They stared at her, only their eyes betraying the fact that they were still conscious. Conscious, but apparently, completely paralysed.

“What was that?” she breathed. It was then that she noticed her tongue and teeth were the wrong shape for speaking clearly. The wrong shape for being human, too, come to think of it. She reached up and felt nervously at her new physiology.

A forked tongue? Fangs? Did that mean she had snake super-powers, as well as deer?

Cool!

She bent down to pick the first of the boys up. Then, acting on impulse, she bent again and picked the other up. Her blouse tore at the shoulders as her upper musculature altered to fit the profile of ‘ox’. She set off with a boy on each shoulder, running and leaping out of the construction site in easy strides. They got set gently down, on the legal side of the fence. They were already twitching. Veronica hoped that meant the paralysis was wearing off. Either way, they were safe now.

“Ssssafe and ssssound,” she said, with a benevolent smile at them. “Beasssstly Girl to the ressssscue.”

Her eyes gleamed with enthusiasm. That had been fun. Now, if she could just find some way of detecting when others were in trouble, it would be even better.

A pair of long, floppy rabbit ears began to grow out of her hair…

---------

Elladora looked up from the orb. Something was wrong. She felt… strange… as if something was pulling at her. She stood up and lurched forward as the room spun. Her hand moved to grab the arm of the chair, but instead passed right through it. Everything faded to blackness in front of her eyes, though they were still open. There was a gale of wind all around her and she flew through the emptiness of the howling void.

Then, light, so suddenly that Elladora reeled. She was standing on an unfamiliar carpet in an unfamiliar room. Her stomach lurched queasily and it took her a moment to take in her surroundings.

She was in a bedroom. It was decorated in a shabby shade of mint green with a double bed that sagged in the middle. The dressing table was what caught Dora’s attention, though. It had half a dozen black candles burning in their holders. There was a miniature version of a wand that looked as if it had been made from lolly-sticks and tinfoil. There was also a Christmas-tree fairy lying dumbly beside it – although Elladora couldn’t help but notice that someone had shoved what looked suspiciously like a sock up the front of its dress. It had either enjoyed a sinful night with one of Santa’s elves, or it was a rather unflattering representation of Elladora herself. Just to finished the home-made altar off, there was a plate full of cream-filled éclairs.

Somebody had been practising a basic summoning charm on her – and she didn’t have to look too far to see who the guilty party was.

Beatrice Talbot stepped forward, out of the bedroom alcove.

“I didn’t think it would work,” she said, simply.

Elladora started to get a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. For once, she had actually tried to do the right thing by one of her wish-listers – and, for once, it had not turned out right in the end. Just her luck, lately!

“I wouldn’t have figured you for a new-age witch,” she said, a trifle nervously.

“I’m not,” said Beatrice. “I think it’s pure codswallop. Then again, most people would say the same about fairy-godmothers. Where’s the harm in trying? I didn’t have any more wishes left to summon you with.”

Elladora took a deep breath. “Well, I’m here. What can I do for you?”

Now for the tantrums. Now for the accusations. Now for the vows of revenge.

Beatrice surprised her. “I just wanted to say thank you. It probably isn’t something you hear very often. I should know.”

Dora’s mouth hung open. “But…?”

“But I won a grand prize of not-quite-enough-to-cover-the-expenses-of-the-party?” finished Beatrice with a twisted smile. “Yes. Clever of you to do that. So many of my so-called friends turned up out of the blue, as soon as they thought I had money. Not a penny in my hand and they couldn’t wait to get their claims in. Then, this morning, when the news hit the TV, they went silent. Just what you’d expect really.”

“Then…” ventured the fairy-godmother, tentatively, “…what are you thanking me for?”

Beatrice smiled wryly. “I think you know exactly why. I’m thanking you because some of them didn’t disappear. You know what was the first thing my husband said to me, when he found out that we’d won nothing after all? He said, ‘Never mind, my love, you’ll always be a winner to me.’”

Surprisingly, tears sprang into the woman’s eyes. “My cousin was on the phone this morning, making sure I was okay after the shock of it all. Then there was Sarah, my friend since I got my first job. She rang up to offer to lend me some money, in case I’d promised any of my winnings away. Makes you realise who your friends are – and who really cares about you. Just as you planned, I suppose. I wanted to feel like I wasn’t bottom of the heap any more, and that’s exactly what I got.”

“Err… well…” floundered Dora.

Mrs. Talbot gave her eyes a final dab then looked up at the fairy-godmother again. “It’s all right, you can go now. I’ve said what I wanted to. No need to get all soppy about it. Just – thanks.”

“Uhh… you’re welcome,” said the fairy-godmother, lamely. Looking flustered, she swished her wand and disappeared, somewhat gratefully.

It only occurred to her after she got back to the cottage that she should have asked the woman not to put her gratitude down on paper. The last thing she needed was another gold star on her record!

----------

No sooner had she reappeared than Chuzzle was upon her.

“I’ve found yer dress,” he said. “Now, try it on, see if it fits, Miss Chubb.”

It did not. Not by a long way. Despite her protestations, Elladora proceeded to spend a very dull afternoon being pinned, hemmed, let out, let down, taken back in, sewn up and accessorised.

“But I don’t even want to go!” she sighed for the hundredth time.

“Nonsense, Miss,” said Chuzzle, through a mouthful of pins. “I ‘ear they’ve got lemon cheesecake for dessert. Besides, I’ll betcha never get ter sit down an’ ‘ave a proper natter with all the rest o’ the fairy-godmothers. Think o’ the gossip you could swap.”

Dora was reluctantly forced to admit that he might have a point. Maybe if she had spent more time socialising with her peers, she would have found out about all the many ways that Fate had been cheating her for the last century.

Perhaps she could even take it a little further. Maybe if she could get them organised, they could form a union against Fate – or at least create a little good old-fashioned anarchy! What would happen, for example, if all the fairy-godmothers demanded their week’s holiday simultaneously?

Yes. For once the Fairy-Godmother’s Ball might actually be entertaining. A smile played around her lips and she ceased her complaints.

By the time evening arrived, Dora was more than ready to go to the Ball. She stepped into the pumpkin coach with barely a word of complaint, her official fairy-godmother uniform fluffing and frilling like the world’s largest meringue. So intent was she upon her goals that she did not notice how eager Chuzzle seemed to be to get her out of the house…

----------

It was a little over an hour later. Elladora’s mood had sunk lower than a supermodel’s IQ. The rest of the godmothers were a complete waste of time!

Yes, they had experienced run-ins with Fate (although none seemed nearly as severe as her own contretemps). Yes, they agreed that her ways were high-handed and that her abode was more like a fun-house than the Palace of a major mythical entity. Yes, they agreed that five hundred years was a long time to be stuck in a single job.

The problem seemed to be that they were either to naturally agreeable, or too naturally downtrodden to do anything about it. They sat their in their various shades of meringue, nodding and smiling and looking as spiritless as any long-time advertising executive.

Then, on top of that, she had been seated next to Prince Valiant – that ogling little oik – and the white wine was of a vintage that she would have been ashamed to use as drain-cleaner. The combination of the company and the alcohol was giving her violent heartburn.

Enough was enough, she decided. It was time to excuse herself before the awards began.

“If you’ll excuse me,” she murmured, rising from her chair, “I must go to the bathroom.”

“Need any help, my lovely?” leered Prince Valiant.

If looks could have killed, Elladora would have been on Limbo’s Most Wanted List a dozen times over. Fortunately, even in such a magically-charged reality, they could not. She contented herself with muttering something that a respectable fairy-godmother should not know the meaning of, and slipped away to the ladies’ restroom. Once there, she was only a brief wand action away from returning home.

She transported herself straight to her bedroom. The first thing to do was to get rid of this revolting outfit! Why she had ever let herself be persuaded into attending that tiresome Festival of Smugness was beyond her! She virtually tore the gown in her haste to be rid of it. Then she stamped on it a few times for good measure. Feeling a mite less frustrated, she lost no time in returning to her more everyday skirt and blouse. Then she headed downstairs, to see if she could locate the indigestion tablets.

She was just chewing down her second chalky tablet when a knock sounded at the door. By force of habit, she trudged into the hallway to answer it. She met Chuzzle in the hallway. He froze, a terrified attempt at a smile on his face.

“M-Miss Chubb! You’re back early!”

“I don’t like parties,” she replied, shortly. She stalked past him to the door and flung it open.

A gnome stood on her doorstep, beaming. He wore a golden belt and a dark green outfit.

“Evenin’, Miss. Not at the ball yet? Well, how’d yer do anyway. Bobbin’s the name. At yer service.”

And with that, he trundled past her, stretching up to hang his coat and hat on the banister.

“Anyone else ‘ere yet?” he asked Chuzzle, who was sweating profusely.

“Err… no… you go into the kitchen now, there, that’s it… Miss Chubb, how’d yer like me to fix you a nice cup of cocoa? I’ll bring it to yer room, you can ‘ave a nice early night, how’s that then?”

“Chuzzle,” growled Dora. “What’s going on?”

Another knock sounded behind them. The flustered gnome dived for the door but Elladora was closer. She opened it to find a red-cheeked (and red-suited) gnome, standing where the other one had been just a moment ago.

“Dobbin at yer service,” he said, cheerily. “I see Bobbin’s ‘ere already? When’s it start, then?”

“Ah, well, it’s like this y’see,” writhed the gnome, miserably. “Yeah, go on through, ‘elp yerself… y’see, you were meant ter be out fer the night… and… well, I…”

Elladora was entirely unsurprised when the tale was interrupted by yet another knock at the door.

“You’d better see who that is,” she snarled.

This time there were two of them, dressed in blue and silver, looking full of happy anticipation.

“Fuzzle. Nuzzle,” muttered Dora’s housekeeper, shiftily.

“At yer service,” they chorused.

“I expect so,” replied the fairy-godmother, laying on the irony trowel-thick. “Please. Go through to the kitchen. Help yourself to some cream cakes. Make yourself some tea. I expect there’s some sherry in the cupboards somewhere. Do feel free to rifle through my stocks and shelves. In the meantime, I expect Chuzzle will be glad to tell me what he’s up to!”

To her disgust, the gnomes cheerfully took her at her word, disappearing into the kitchen and leaving Chuzzle squirming before her.

“Err… where was I?” he asked, desperately.

“Let me cut a long story short. Does this have anything to do with the orb?” She bit each word as if it had personally offended her.

“Err…”

Another knock. Five gnomes this time! ‘Skippy at your service’ and also Chippy, Grippy, Greeny and Beany. Their rounded features beamed up innocently at Elladora. Within moments, their cloaks and hats had been added to the rubble on the bottom of the stairs. Elladora watched with fury as they were directed hurriedly into the kitchen.

“You were going to use my orb, weren’t you?” she blasted at him, the moment the others were gone. “You were going to be the host of a PlayGnome party. In my cottage!”

Chuzzle looked at the floor, radiating embarrassment.

“Well, Miss, y’see… I’m the only one who’s got the triple X channel. I didn’t mean no ‘arm, Miss, but you was away enjoyin’ yerself an’ I thought… well, we don’t get much of a chance of a get-together, an’…”

Knock knock-knock knock knock!

Elladora closed her eyes briefly. Then, assuming a calm she most certainly did not feel, she opened the door once more.

Four of the little blighters! They were worse than cockroaches!

“You must be Miss Chubb.” One of them extended a rather small hand up to her. “I’m Tally. This is Trumpy and Tubbs and…” He hesitated, looking uncomfortable. “…Roger.”

Elladora stared. She couldn’t help herself. “Roger?”

The tallest of the gnomes (and that wasn’t saying much!) promptly burst into tears. The others looked at her as if she was guilty of some unutterable crassness.

“’e’s very sensitive about ‘is name, Miss,” rebuked one of his companions. Trumpy, she thought it was.

“Pardon? I mean… oh, here, have a tissue,” grumped Dora, fishing a Kleenex out of her sleeve impatiently. She turned away, half-embarrassed, only to see Chuzzle giving her a particularly miserable look of appeal. It said, as plainly as words could have, ‘Please please please don’t embarrass me in front of my friends!’

The sounds of hitching and snuffling behind her and the sight of Chuzzle in front was melting an unwelcome hole in her fury. She hovered, torn between outrage and pity. Then she marched to the study door and gestured violently for her housekeeper to join her in private.

The door shut behind her. Chuzzle opened his mouth to speak, only to be silenced by a wave of Dora’s hand.

“Right,” she said, tightly. “This is the deal. One party. No more. Ever. I mean it. Whether I am in the house or out of the house, you will never attempt to bring your mates around for a loud night in! Especially not to watch certain channels on my orb! Tonight, you may borrow my orb, as long as you take it into the cellar and hold your party there. You will keep control of your little friends and when I awake in the morning, I do not want to find a trace of them ever having been here. If they keep me awake tonight, I will personally make you sorry you were ever assigned to me. And I do not under any circumstances, ever want to hear about anything that went on during the evening’s… festivities. Am I making myself perfectly clear?”

“Yes Miss Chubb.” Chuzzle’s face was a picture of gratitude. “Would yer like me to fetch yer a nice cup of cocoa, up into yer bedroom?”

“No!” snapped Elladora. She stalked from the room and headed upstairs, already feeling like she was making a huge mistake.

Eventually, she got to sleep…

-----------

When she awoke in the morning, Elladora was pleasantly surprised to find that her house hadn’t been turned upside-down by gnomes. They had left, quietly and tracelessly, presumably in the early hours of the morning. Beyond that, she had no desire to know.

There was an exquisitely presented breakfast waiting for her in the dining room. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, breakfast muffins, a fragrant-smelling lemon tea and a bowl full of fruit.

She eyed it suspiciously, but didn’t let it stop her from tucking in. All of this was probably just the gnome’s way of saying ‘thank you’. Either that or ‘for goodness sake, don’t fire me!’.

There was no sign of her housekeeper. He was probably staying out of her way. Very sensible of him. She finally finished, mildly appalled at the amount of food she had left untouched, and wiped her mouth on a napkin.

Now it was time to see what lay in store today. Another name, another wish.

She went to fetch her book and opened it at the page with the list. For a moment, she thought she had got the wrong notebook. She flicked the page back and forth, just to check.

How had this happened? There were six more names on her backlog list – right below the final old one. Wishes didn’t come in that fast, or with such convenient timing.

Of course. Fate! Elladora bridled with fury. They had agreed that Elladora could take a week of holiday, the moment she caught up. Now it seemed that her boss was intent on making sure she never caught up – and never got the holiday!

Well, she would deal with Fate later. For now, she had a wish to grant. She memorised the name and swished her wand.

----------

This time, she did not land in a bedroom. Dora was aghast to find herself standing in a treehouse, facing a sulky looking freckled girl with pigtails and a rather battered teddy bear. Her clothes were rather ill-fitting and there was a hole in the toe of one shoe.

Elladora had met her before. This was Sofie Mackland and she was ten years old. It was her second wish.

“What can I do for you?” she asked, pleasantly.

Sofie glared. “I made my wish weeks ago,” she said, resentfully. “Where were you?”

“Busy. I’m here now, though,” replied the fairy-godmother, firmly. “What do you want?”

“Shouldn’t you already know? You’re supposed to be the magical one!”

“You have to say it.” Dora’s patience was fast running out – and it had barely been there to start off with. “Or not. We could forget the whole thing if you prefer?”

“No!” countered the girl, quickly. “No,” she repeated. “I want to make the wish. Do I have to say anything special?”

Dora sighed. “Start it with ‘I wish’. End it with a nod. Now get on with it.”

“Okay.” Sofie stared into the distance for a moment. Then: “I’m sick of being the youngest. I’m sick of having to wear everyone else’s hand-me-downs and never having anything new. I’m sick of everything I do being old news, because one of my brothers or sisters has got there first. I want to… I mean, I wish to have something that nobody else in my family has. Totally different and unique. That’s what I want.”

She nodded, decisively.

“Easy,” smiled Elladora…
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:43 am    Post subject:  

Another masterpiece Ms. Stoat! The gnome called 'Roger' was especially hilarious! :D

This story keeps going from strength to strength; D-Lotus was right, you should consider publishing it.

Now, something unique eh.... Well if the family is not so well off, it wouldn't have to be anything amazing.

How about a pony! Little girls always seem to want a pony (a generalisation I know, but meh... they do in cartoons) so give her one. The parents probably wont be able to keep it, so it would mess the wish up and get the girl angry with her when they give it away to the glue factory... :-D

Bit of a rubbish idea.... I shall return when I come up with something better....

*wanders off to ponder and hold breath....* :shock:
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Smee



Joined: 16 Oct 2004
Posts: 5215
Location: UK

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 4:49 am    Post subject:  

Great chapter :D

Just leaping in with the first post. - And failed. :poke: Soily

Obvious ideas leap to mind - horns, wings, fur, two heads, tail, warty nose etc.

Some more evil ones - crippling illness, two behinds, male genitalia. :-o

Maybe a superlarge brain (that expands her skull), making her rediculously clever but quite a sight.

If I have more ideas I'll be back. I'm sure others can come up with evilier.

Happy Writing. :D
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject:  

Nice chapter. :D

I don't think a pony, but maybe a ponies' tail? No one has one of those!
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 5:38 am    Post subject:  

chinaren wrote: Nice chapter. :D

I don't think a pony, but maybe a ponies' tail? No one has one of those!

ROFL! :lol: That's a better idea. Although it is kinda similar to the hybrid super-powers wish in the last chapter, so maybe we should go for something a little different. Give her a gun! :-D

On second thought, no, that would not be a good idea... :?

How about a machine that let's her pause time or read peoples minds.... could lead to some funny stuff I suppose :P
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:17 am    Post subject:  

an extra head?
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:55 am    Post subject:  

Hey, great chapter again!

Hmm...lets see...we already had a lot of body changing, and stuff like that. She wants to be special...so give her some really dumb ability...like being able to burp out the alphabet, or knowing by heart all the adresses of every single McDonald's in the world!

I bet no one in her family can do that!

Besides, giving her one of those abilities wouldn't teach the girl any lesson (hopefully) and she would get anti-commended, or in trouble, like she wants.

As for her clothes, give her new clothes...all of them two sizes too big or too small. Although I kind of feel sorry for her...maybe we should give her new clothes....(Cinderella got new clothes when she went to the ball).
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:40 am    Post subject:  

I really feel sorry for the kid. Why don't you give her a magical pet, you know something that dosen't need to be fed or have any special living conditions...something that can talk to her and make her feel better when she needs it but it only talks to her...I can think of some funny ways a pet like that could get her into trouble...
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Key



Joined: 08 Feb 2004
Posts: 2614
Location: The Royal Palace

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 11:56 am    Post subject:  

I'm with Kalanna. I think we should do something nice for this one, even if it won't upset the Powers or get us fired (is that still what we want, anyway?)

Magical pet sounds good.
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 3:01 pm    Post subject:  

Getting fired hasn't worked out for us, but the job satisfaction has improved at the very least. ;) At least at certain moments, if we can keep the gnome away from the orb long enough to watch the angst.

Something no one else in her family has ever had? A high paying job, extended education, family planning and birth control spring to mind...but then I'm being uncharitable. Perhaps she should have a benefactor- Pretty Woman style where an older lady or gentleman takes a particular interest in her because she reminds them of someone. Then she could enjoy the attention and gifts that person would shower on her.

Or maybe a talent scout notices some ability at singing or acting, and then she is catapulted to overnight stardom and a complete loss of anonymity virtually in an instant. A few days of unrelenting fame should make her more appreciative of hand-me-down clothing and older siblings.
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Mother Goose



Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 5:22 pm    Post subject:  

You have a special sympathy for the youngest in a family, Key? :)
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 5:17 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Or maybe a talent scout notices some ability at singing or acting, and then she is catapulted to overnight stardom and a complete loss of anonymity virtually in an instant. A few days of unrelenting fame should make her more appreciative of hand-me-down clothing and older siblings.

That's a good one!

Also, what if she's adopted by a benefactor like Tom Cruise...poor kid, she'll like the hand-me-downs soon enough. (I'm not even going to mention Michael Jackson.)
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:57 am    Post subject:  

D-Lotus wrote: Also, what if she's adopted by a benefactor like Tom Cruise...poor kid, she'll like the hand-me-downs soon enough. (I'm not even going to mention Michael Jackson.)

:x OOooh, evil! She has loads of new things, personal tutors and undivided attention, as long as she listens to the Christian Science ideas....

I like it. :grin:
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Mother Goose



Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:27 pm    Post subject:  

After all those years of observing the older siblings, Sofie becomes an author noted for her keen characterizations and motivations. Her brothers and sisters regard her with awe, but with trepidation that she will reveal to the world all their secrets and weaknesses in her best-selling books.
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:09 pm    Post subject:  

Now that I like. Way to go Mother Goose! :biggrin:
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Mother Goose



Joined: 09 May 2004
Posts: 511
Location: Connecticut

Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 5:54 pm    Post subject:  

How to get to be a famous author? Maybe she's been keeping a secret diary, which somehow finds its way to a publisher who snaps it up.
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 8:10 am    Post subject:  

The poll will be going up some time tomorrow. Any last-minuters, feel free to contribute. There seem to be plenty of options already, though. Thanks for that everyone :D
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:38 pm    Post subject:  

I was wondering - just how much power does she have as a fairy godmother? could she make someone a God if they asked? a vampire? (not that i would do either of those of course)

what about making someone fall in love - how much can she affect?
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:48 pm    Post subject:  

lordofthenight wrote: I was wondering - just how much power does she have as a fairy godmother? could she make someone a God if they asked? a vampire? (not that i would do either of those of course)

what about making someone fall in love - how much can she affect?

Interesting question.

The only indications of power we've had so far are 1) that she managed to make the world go silent for a brief period of time once and 2) that making the England Cricket team win the Ashes short-circuited her wand's power.

She can't affect herself in any way with the wand's powers either. That's been stated. AND she's supposed to keep pretty much below the sight-line in all the magic she works.

Now she has a new wand - the Wishmaster 2000 - the power of her magic might have altered. She would still be expected to be subtle enough not to rip the fabric of the universe wide open, though. I would have to say that 'God' is well out of her range. Vampire is a possibility. Making someone fall in love might take another visit to Cupid, but he seems to be amiable enough to help Elladora out, so you could always go that route if you wanted to.

Hope that helps :)
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:11 pm    Post subject:  

but under her own power she couldn't create love where there was none before then?

Damn rubbish fairy godmother if you ask me - i mean, all i want to to finally fulfill my god-complex and become the most powerful being in the univers and she cant even do that right

i mean, what a jip
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Shady Stoat



Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:26 pm    Post subject:  

Poll's up. Many many options. Vote please :)
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LordoftheNight



Joined: 11 Aug 2005
Posts: 5260
Location: Hell

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:34 pm    Post subject:  

went for the unique body iteniry, with the hope that it will be an extra head
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:09 pm    Post subject:  

Always with the mutations arn't we Lordy. Went for the pet...duh.
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ethereal_fauna



Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Posts: 2567
Location: USA

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 3:26 pm    Post subject:  

Difficult to pick just one, but I went with the unrelenting fame. :)
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:16 pm    Post subject:  

Well, a bloody hard choice, but I went for the pet in the end, just to see what you can think up. ;)
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D-Lotus



Joined: 21 Oct 2004
Posts: 4123
Location: Hollywood, USA

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 5:26 pm    Post subject:  

I went for the benefactor...
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Kalanna Rai



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject:  

China and I agreed on something...it's a sign of the appocolypse! Or he had some bad seafood...
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Chinaren



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 8783
Location: http://www.NeilHartleyBooks.com

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:01 pm    Post subject:  

Quote: Or he had some bad seafood...

Well, I don't eat seafood, so... :shock:
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DukeReg



Joined: 12 Oct 2005
Posts: 287
Location: Australia

Posted: Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:59 pm    Post subject:  

I voted pet. There is so much leeway in what qualifies as a pet, she can have a lot of fun with this one.
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Solomon Birch



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 1562
Location: England..... but Japan beckons.....

Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 3:44 am    Post subject:  

Went for magical gadget, cos' I suggested it and it would be cool to see what you come up with to make it interesting. :biggrin:
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Suneila
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Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject:  

I went with 'unrelenting fame'
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 12:20 am    Post subject:  

Just over 12 hours left to vote. Don't complain afterwards that you didn't notice the poll ;)
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LordoftheNight
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Joined: 11 Aug 2005
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Location: Hell

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:36 am    Post subject:  

which poll? xD
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
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Location: England

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:41 am    Post subject:  

lordofthenight wrote: which poll? xD

If you're not careful, I'm going to join the campaign for cute, skipping lordy with the fluffy bunnies on his heels :P
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LordoftheNight
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Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject:  

wah - i'll be good
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Shady Stoat
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Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject:  

:rofl: Lordy with a fluffy side! Doesn't bear thinking about!
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Kalanna Rai
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Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 9:26 pm    Post subject:  

Maybe you could ask Crymmy to borrow Glomp for a while...and then he and Lordy could romp through feilds of flowers with Fauna's fat fairy skipping along behind them blowing kisses...Now that's horror for ya :twisted:
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Shady Stoat
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Joined: 02 Oct 2005
Posts: 2950
Location: England

Posted: Wed Mar 01, 2006 11:38 pm    Post subject:  

4 votes for a magical pet. Looks like a winner to me :)

I'll start the next chapter as soon as I've got some coffee inside me :cool:
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LordoftheNight
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Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:04 am    Post subject:  

that's a very, very bad plan rai
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Kalanna Rai
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Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 3075
Location: The Frozen North

Posted: Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:37 pm    Post subject:  

I liked it personally. It's a rather evil thing to do to someone as demonic, sorta, as yourself Lordy...Besides only I would think of that.



Point for Freelance evil.
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