Monthly Archives: March 2018

Finding Gratitude, Part 22

The Green Witch

            There is something that has to be understood about superhero approaches.

The entrance is completely understood. It has to be fantastically unexpected. The hero bursts into the scene from somewhere no one could possibly have come from. There is a witty retort, the villain has to hiss in the knowledge that defeat is inevitable, and the battle commences. That part is easy.

But this approach always makes studying to be a superhero somewhat difficult. Because the hero is coming from somewhere unexpected, the reader cannot know how they got there. So me, being a fledgling hero, I had no idea how to approach this spire.

Should I scale the side of the building? Try and infiltrate from the depths? Perhaps weave a clever illusion that is only dissipated when the villain says something along the lines of “nothing can save you now”? There were pros and cons for all of these, and reality always seemed to get in the way.

I almost cried when Sela and Lana showed up. It made the approach so much more exciting!

“You were going to fight a dragon without us.” Sela was not happy.

“Not a dragon, a wyvern.”

“You were going to fight a flying wyvern who shoots lightning, and lives in a lair, towering above the city, without us.” Sela is easy to understand. It wasn’t that I was rushing off to my death, valiantly sacrificing myself for the greater good while sparing them the same fate. She was ticked because I might have denied her some of the fun.

“All to save some stupid corrupt city that would be better off being burnt to the ground.” Sela said.

That made me pause. And Lana as well. We looked at her, and she shrugged.

“This isn’t Gotham City, or Metropolis, Mel,” she said. “Let’s be clear. We’re not saving this city, especially not by killing some crazed animal.”

She was right. Looking at her and Lana, it made it all seem more real. There was a bandage on Lana, and a wound that had just barely healed. Sela had minor cuts and bruises, but the look of someone who had just put herself through fire for another. And then there was my night.

“I know…” I was getting a clear picture of what Gratitude would give me.

“In fact, you’re most likely making it easier for criminals to be corrupt, you understand that?”

“Yes!” I shouted. “I know that everything I do in this little cesspit is going to be turned around and used against me at some point or another, and I. Don’t. Care!”

“Why?”

“Because we’re heroes!” I screamed. “Because we are so committed to something so naïve, so kid-like, that it might just work if we believe long enough! We fight, not for what we are, but because of what we could be.”

I looked up at Sela, defiant. Let the rest of the world be terrible, and wrong, and corrupt. We’d turn it around anyways. We’d make the world good, in spite of itself.

Sela grinned back at me, and reached for her mask.

“Just needed to remind you of that, Green Witch. Let’s go kill a dragon.”

Lana nudged me. I smiled, and tussled her head. She smiled, but it was pained.

“Yes, Lana?”

“Um…” she pointed at the Spire.

“How do we get in?”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

Finding Gratitude, Part 21

Sela looked at Lana, and considered letting her die.

It made sense. Lana had her uses, but was ultimately replaceable. And just proving to Gianna how little she cared, that could be well worth it.

But still…Lana was her friend. That was supposed to mean something.

It was simple enough to slash her bonds with Sir Violet. In seconds she was free. A dash, and the blade was pressed against the mayor’s throat.

The guards had swords out, pointed at Lana. “Drop the sword! Do it now, or the girl dies!”

“Back down, you fools!” Gianna shouted. “You’d be dead before you moved a muscle.”

The mayor smirked, and looked at Sela. “And neither of you would leave this room alive.”

Sela shrugged. She figured she’d have a chance. At the very least, she could free Lana and get the girl out the window.

Wait, her wing was injured. No flying for the younger girl. So killing the mayor would mean that one of the Heroines would have to die.

Sela pursed her lips, frustrated. So many difficult choices, she hated difficult choices. Emelia eliminated so much indecision, providing a clarity of vision that was socially acceptable even when she got to kill…

Emelia. Where was she?

“You want to use Emelia,” Sela said. “Anything specific in mind?”

“There’s a wyvern giving us too much trouble. Destroying property, driving potential customers away. Also killing civilians, at higher than expected death tolls for a city our size. Totally unacceptable.

“Your Emelia is already on her way to remove the threat. My analysts give her a small chance of victory on her own, but with allies, it would be easier.”

“So summon the guard.”

“Not cost-effective. Especially when you two are completely expendable.”

Gianna eased away from Sela and walked out of reach of Sir Violet. She reached into her desk, and picked out a small jar. She dipped her fingers in, and smiled.

“Come here, Lana.” She held her fingers out, coated with a honey like substance. “This will make sure you’re nice and whole for the battle.”

Lana looked at her for a moment. When Sela didn’t move to attack, the little girl crept forward. The mayor’s hands were soft and soothing. Her wing immediately felt better.

“There, that should help,” Gianna leaned back, and smiled. “How does that feel?”

Lana screeched. The guards and the mayor collapsed in pain, clutching at their ears. Agony, pure terror scratched at their brains, what was this? Nothing could make such a sound!

Sela laid a hand on Lana’s back. The girl stopped screeching, and flew off. “Lana is a bit shy around strangers,” Sela explained. “But once she gets to know you, she might just hate you for threatening to kill her.”

Gianna nodded. “Understandable. And I’ve dealt with worse.”

“You probably have. Most of your enemies probably just promise death, destruction, the ruin of all that you hold dear.” Sela looked at Sir Violet, and cradled the blade in her hand. “We’re a bit simpler. We try to keep our promises.

“So here’s one. Pretty soon you’re going to get stabbed. And it’s going to hurt.”

Sela left. It was time to find her fearless leader. And maybe fight a small dragon.

copyright 2018 Jack Holder