WillCuddle4Food t1_j91l6tv wrote

Confused, I looked around the seemingly blank room for some sort of clues. I had my pants and socks, shirt, and clothes. My shoes had vanished.

In my usual habits, I clapped my hand over my pockets. No phone, no wallet, no keys. "What the hell..." I muttered, now running my hand over the white wall's perfectly flat surface.

It glowed ever-so-slightly at the touch, but there was no light source in the room whatsoever. Almost like I was trapped inside an Amazon box painted white. There were no windows, doors, tables, chairs...it was practically a blank space.

Panic set in by now. I couldn't remember how I'd gotten here. I just...was. How old was I? Where was I from? Why couldn't I recall anything?

All I could do was search and search around the room, growing more and more desperate about hoping to find SOMETHING that was not...void of any detail. I could feel myself sweat from the anxiety.

My focus on the walls and ceiling had distracted me, however, and I nearly kicked myself when I saw a folded piece of paper. How could I have missed it!? Was it always there? Had I ever actually looked at that spot?

Was it, like this room, blank?

The last question hit me like a ton of bricks. The faded blue denim of my jeans contrasted the floor vaguely as I looked down. The paper felt...well, I'd never really thought about how it felt before. It was just...there.

As I unfolded and heard the crackle of the page, an odd sense of hope flooded through me. Maybe it was a clue to getting out. Instructions or a detail about something I missed in this room.

Fifteen folds...who the hell has the time for that? It felt like an eternity to undo them all. My own impatience would be my undoing it felt. My eagerness seemed like it would get the better of me as I unfurled the final fold to reveal a single, sloppily written sentence in the middle of the page.

"We have been trying to reach you about your car's extended warranty."


WillCuddle4Food t1_j6ozkfm wrote

"Queen...?" Dramin winced as all the air left his lungs. "You're the-"

His words ended abruptly as he stared at his lover. There was no mistaking that the guard he slew clearly called her the Queen. The one sliver of hope in him was the way she paled and recoiled in fear at the question.

"No, no!" She wept softly as she wrapped her arms over her core. "This isn't what it looks like. Gods...this isn't how I wanted you to find out."

The words struck him and shattered his world. It'd been a nine month journey since he had been dispatched by the King, and six months since he had met Trisaria. The timeline of events since their first night together spun around him. How much of it was true? What was a lie?

An overwhelming presence snapped him out of his spiral. He spun about with his hand still on his blade, expecting another guard. Instead, shock hit him like a brick, much like how his sword hit the floor.

Dressed more regally was another Tresaria, though not with child. Her reserved expression and condescending glare screamed that she was...different. What was concerning was that she wore her presence with the confidence of a goddess...or a demon.

"Are you done playing games, Tres?" The woman asked in a low and sultry tone. "Or do you plan on toying with the man's emotions some more?"

Dramin flinched as he felt Tresia's touch on his arm, but stood in fear as she held with such warmth. The tears that stained her cheeks made rationalizing the situation all the more challenging.

"My queen..." Tresaria shook as she bowed her head. "Please do not see the way I am as a betrayal. I-"

She was cut off by the queen's gently raised hand. "My guards being dead on the floor is more to answer for than you being with child, dear sister."


The queen continued, turning her attention to Dramin as if she could hear his thoughts. "Yes, sister. Now if you'll hear me out, we might yet move past this misunderstanding."

Dramin felt Tresaria press into him encouragingly, though it didn't clear his mind a bit. Rather than face the queen, he turned to his beloved, whom he pledged a life of happiness to. "I need you to explain." He whispered, his hands now resting on her shoulders. "It needs to be you. I...I can't..."

Her finger pressed his lips as she leaned into him for comfort. He obliged.

"We are triplets. The queen, myself, and our sister. Desia, the one not in this room, is the one your king recognizes as the demon." She explained slowly. "All of us are identical, so she abuses her face and figure by raiding the border, sowing distrust by targeting nobles and diplomats that would know us at a glance. She wants war after her lover was killed in a border dispute."

Dramin looked back and forth between the woman he held and the queen, slowly unwinding the tale. "Then why were you..."

"We each share the burden of ruling." The queen interjected. "Tresaria is a woman of the people and travels throughout to see their plights and offer them aid. I manage our military and our coffers, though I hold the official title."

Gods, this sounded like a special kind of hell. A sister trapped in the past, another managing the present, and the third sowing a future.

Dramin found himself holding Tresaria closer as he listened. He lifted his head and looked to the queen, who remained unnamed to him. He only knew her by reputation alone. "Then what next?" He asked, almost sheepishly.

"A simple suggestion might be to appease your contract." The queen said without a shift in expression. "Your king wants the demon that is attacking his borders. Give her to him. Offer to return here to insure there isn't an evil heir upon the throne. Live out your life happily with your child and beloved."

"And the recompense for killing your guards?" It all felt too simple.

The queen grinned, displaying an expression far different from Tresaria's gentle smile. "A formal apology to their kin, and then serving in their stead. You might even be on detail to protect the queen as she roams the land amongst her people."

"And you have no qualms with your flesh and blood dying at my hand?"

"That's not quite what I said." Another grin. "Your king might be more pleased if you turned her in alive."


WillCuddle4Food t1_j68dt6b wrote

It had been eighteen years since I last saw Bre'teria, and in that time, I'd never once heard her call me 'her' human.

"Do not test my patience!" Her great silver-scaled form bellowed, her wings flared with her fangs bared. "I shall reduce you and your ilk to nothing if you do not comply!"

Baron Crawford, a fat and pompous man of self import, balked at the threat with what looked like a boar leg in his hand. It seemed like he was actually considering freeing his captive for a moment before his sneer crept out. He took a disgustingly large bite of cooked boar meat and had the audacity to actually laugh at the majestic creature at his gates.

"I think not." He crowed before swallowing, standing at the edge of his hundred-foot tall wall around his estate. "Not without some...incentive."

His cackles were drowned out by the bellow of one pissed off dragoness. "Incentive!? The impudence! I shall rend flesh from bone, sunder your lands and salt your fields! Your incentive is that I shall be quick if you release my. Fucking. Human!"

I honestly expected the argument to go on longer, but Bre'teria smashing the castle gates. The deafening impact shook me from the top of the wall. Crawford fell on his ass in the most undignified way.

The slaughter that ensued was horrifying and glorious. Rather than kill the fools before her as a dragon, Bre'teria cast a spell on herself to make her human.

Gods, that silver hair was as mesmerizing as the last time I saw her.

It took her minutes to tear through Crawford's guards with her bare hands. She was a blur of Amazonian splendor as she kept true to her word. Limbs flew whimsically through the air as the cries of grown men echoed around the Baron.

Each spray of blood on his courtyard paled him by another shade.

"M-make her stop..." He cowered as he crawled on his knees toward me. His gems, gold, and jewelry scraped against the stone. A lone ornate dagger rested at his hip.

It was at this point I thought fitting to reveal I'd liberated myself from the chains that shackled me. His idiocy was abundant, and I felt responsible for making him aware. "No? You pissed off a dragon. I couldn't stop her if I wanted. You imprisoned me for my reputation alone, yet made no effort to prepare for the feats I'm renown for. Why would I worsen the world by letting a fool like you pollute it?"


"Leave it to a man to grow impatient and finish first." Bre'teria's airy sweet tones rippled across the stone. Even veiling her presence as a human, she was brimming with power and majesty.

And sass.

"My lady," I bowed after tucking the last of the dead baron's rings in my pocket, "I would never dare to offend you in the same way twice."

She stared with a sultry smirk a half a dozen paces from me, her lean arms crossed over her chest. "No, I'll be seeing to that." Her tone was borderline threatening. I didn't doubt she spotted me pocketing the jewelry I'd looted, so I wasn't certain what deserved this response.

The next few minutes ticked by as she stared me down uncomfortably. For her? For me? Possibly both. I certainly felt knots in my stomach.

"Why did you really save me?" I asked with a timidity I hadn't shown since my apprenticeship. "Your human? Your fucking human? When did that happen?"

She hissed as her eyes glowed with her magic. For a second, her draconian fangs were bared before she composed herself. She was proud, even by the standards of her kind, so such a confession was probably wounding.

"When the egg that held your daughter began to hatch. It takes eighteen years for a dragon egg to mature. I thought you'd like to be there when she's born."


WillCuddle4Food t1_j1mt2kb wrote

The workshop was silent in the aftermath of my latest adventure. I was sitting there silently, cleaning my blast box, this world's name for guns. In the agonizing year since I'd come to the Spear Peaks, I'd hunted orcs, fought insects the size of a car, and even slain a dragon.

With the contracts I'd taken on to earn money, I was able to spend my down time comfortably. The workshop was outfitted with all the tools I needed, a comfortable bed, and even enough food to be content as could be. Yet it was all so hollow. So...empty.

A sip of coffee...or, at least that's what I told myself it was...that offered a small taste of the home I missed dearly.

"Three hundred twenty seven..." I breathed between sips. Counting the days anchored me. It helped me cling to my memories in a world that would drown them in power, magic, and possibility. So much so that it threatened to render me oblivious to the obvious.

Like the picture frame sitting on the mantle of the fireplace. The golden frame on a metal tripod that I'd stared at for so many years, that had scrabble letters that spelled "daddy" and "daughter" in the top left corner, that had a photo of a beautiful one-year-old girl feeding her dad a cracker at some fast food restaurant that she adored.

Nearly a year of being dead inside, numb to as many emotions that I could bury as possible, and my favorite picture of my old life found its way into a world where neither featured face existed. I stood slowly, leaving my glass behind at my chair as I stumbled forward. A tear ran its way down my cheek as I stared at the nostalgic frame and ran my fingers along the glass.

At its base was a piece of paper, college ruled. Perforated. Dark blue ink between the lines in a right slant. Gods, it was her handwriting. My breath trembled as I read.


Not a day goes by that I don't think of you, that I don't look at that picture of us in Skyline. It gets harder and harder to remember the time we spent together. A few head injuries from soccer sure didn't help.

All the practice you and Rebecca gave me paid off, though. I have a full ride for soccer! Mom's pissed because it's overseas, but she can't complain because the opportunity is too good to pass up on.

Another month and I'll be 18. I-"

Gods...eighteen? It hadn't even been a year that I was gone. She shouldn't be more than eight!

A sob escaped me as I clung to that page like a lifeline, desperately reading about her budding love life, the accident that killed me, and how my son was doing. It was amazing how concisely she could write with such rich emotion. An aching sense of pride flooded over me.

After a deep breath, I looked at the bottom of the page's backside. "From Santa" was written neatly in the corner, small enough that the letter was untarnished otherwise. I cursed beneath my breath as I continued to gently trace a touch over this odd gift.

"Merry Christmas, Elise..."


WillCuddle4Food t1_j14jc5y wrote

"Angela, I'm so sorry I'm late..." I muttered as I slid into the booth. It felt horrible to take her to somewhere atrocious like Waffle House, but it was payday. The account was always a bit slim after everyone got their dues. "Work was hell today. Hopefully yours was better?"

My olive-skinned date sat across from me, dressed to the nines and with a calculated smile on her lips as she sipped her coffee. "Don't worry, Tony. I could tell it was a rough one by the line of pizza sauce on your neck."

As she leaned forward and dabbed her napkin at the protruding line, I felt my face flush. She had the incredible knack for being so disarming, and yet so charming and enthralling. I couldn't help but fidget and lean in just so she could finish faster. That way her dignity would be unimpeded again sooner.

Her smile shifted into a knowing smirk as she leaned back into her side of the booth and took the menu. "So, tell me about it." A pause was offered so I could figure out what she meant. When there was nothing, she scoffed in amusement before looking me in the eye with those hazel beauties. "I mean the customer that made you late. Seems like they had you all kinds of upset."

"Ah..." I deflated slightly while avoiding her gaze. She made it all seem so easy. The confidence that matches skyscrapers, the composure as vast as oceans. Nothing could ruffle her feathers. And still, she wanted to hear about my struggles. "It...was a mom hosting a birthday- a teenager sleepover. No call ahead. No online order. Showed up five minutes before closing and demanded a half dozen pies with all these customizations. I wasn't going to make the cashier or anyone put up with the attitude, so I let them leave on time. The lady didn't even tip..."

Angela's smile faded as she leaned in. She held up her hand to dismiss our server that just walked up and uttered a smooth "three minutes, darling. He's talking me into an appetizer." Her stare was piercing and intense. It sent a chill through my bones while my heart was aflutter. "You still use that one app I recommended for processing your card payments, right?"

I nodded, not wanting to sour the pending meal further.

"Alright. Well, tonight's on me." She said, offering a look that demanded my compliance. It was an offer I couldn't refuse, after all.

Once our server returned, Angela ordered our food generously, getting far more for me than I'd intended. Her stern expression softened as she took my hand in hers. "Tony, you're a sweet guy and don't deserve that at all. I'd like to have my accountant look over your books to help. He's freaking magic and has a knack for pulling coins out from behind your ear. I also know a guy that can do some advertising for you. His brother does staffing for when your business grows."

A knot formed in the pit of my stomach. Dinner was one thing, but all of this additional help she was offering seemed over the top. She wasn't asking for anything in return! I'd told her the shop meant a lot to me, especially since my grandfather built it from the ground up, but it had always fought hard to stay afloat. Old fashioned word of mouth was what kept it alive.

"This all sounds great, dear, but aren't you being too generous?" I asked, shifting in my seat nervously.

She beamed, as if waiting for that very question. "Not at all, dear. You've been wonderful to me and all my family. My cousins have been going to your shop for years. Your smile whenever you'd spin the dough is what had me fall in love with you. If my family business can help your family business, I will. I want to see that smile again."

"Angie... what...what is your family business?" I probed, giving her hand a squeeze. She always evaded answering, but all this help demanded I know more. I had to understand the deals I was making.

She sighed lightly as she gripped my hand back. She saw the server was busy behind the counter and leaned in. "It's not exactly...above water, if you catch my drift. Comes with the Capone name. But we've grown since the Forties. It's not all dark dealings and knockin' off people. We just...think a lot of the rules are wrong and treat them like suggestions."

"You're part of the Mafia?"

"I AM the Mafia, Tony." She breathed deep. With another squeeze of my hand, she continued. "And I am not trying to get you into the Mafia. Just trying to take care of the man I love."

"Then what's going on?"

"We take care of family. It's the one rule that's kept us together." She insisted, pulling her free hand into her purse and pulling out a little box. "And I want you to be family so I can protect you. Marry me, Tony."


WillCuddle4Food t1_j0qcrhh wrote

Heh, I love the more casual approach to the warlock pact. This gives me so many different guesses as to how their pact was formed and it makes me curious to find out. It also conveys a significant amount regarding the nature of their bond in so short a time! Shorter submissions tend to leave me wanting, but this leaves me appeased.


WillCuddle4Food t1_j0qblwg wrote

That's absolutely fair. I was basing this more on the concept of a D&D Warlock, which would explain the deviation away from the soul consuming pact. That said, I definitely could write an afterward to elaborate.


WillCuddle4Food t1_j0oy2nj wrote

"So...let me get this straight. You just need to know how to...open a door?"

Arcturis flinched at the question, wishing he was the bead of sweat that ran down his brow. With a hard swallow, he nodded at Baelith, his demonic patron. "Y-yes, my lord...this servant is deeply sorry for his fai-"

"Oh, thank fuck!"

The relieved exclamation shocked the young warlock as he saw the horned demon general sit in front of the tiny trap mechanism on the door and began fiddling with it almost gleefully.

"B-begging your pardon, Lord Baelith...you seem...excited?" Arcturis questioned meekly while standing dutifully to the side. It was a stupid compound lock that simple thieves' tools couldn't have picked. He'd sought simple insight from the demonic powerhouse that enabled him to perform wonders and even granted him an unholy weapon to defend himself.

And that intimidating being was happily tinkering at the lock with what he could only interpret as a hellish smile marred by scar, fang, and soured brimstone on his breath.

"Yes." The measured reply was accompanied by simple clicks triggered by long slender claws moving at impossible angles as the demon lord toiled happily. "Wrath and slaughter lose their lustor after a few thousand years. Slaying your enemies and destroying their will to live is a hollow accomplishment if there is nothing else to sweeten the victory. Constant success without challenge...without gain...has left little desire to press on."

The explanation surprised them both as he lock gave way to the nightmarish tyrant's fiddling. Still, Baelith seemed pleased to have done such an oddly simple task, leaving Arcturis with renewed worry when his patron turned to face him.

"Call again when you need another task completed." The graveled voice instructed as its owner rose. "And don't let the tasks become more complicated than they need to be. The bolts for the hinges were always facing you. This door is about as secure as the belt of a glutton at an eternal feast."

With a groan, the towering being rose to his feet and cursed when his head hit the ceiling. His arm snaked into the room and returned with a number of items in hand, including a sword riddled with infernal runes. "Now, as payment, I'll be taking these. Best of luck."

The deafening roar of flames that consumed Baelith mirrored his warlock's confusion that riddled him from nape to naval. The very reason he'd wanted into the room was robbed of him. Arcturis could only wrestle with his anger and bewilderment.

"WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT!?" He yelled into the air, releasing fresh frustration at seemingly nothing.

The twisted pleasure of his patron seeped into his veins as that hellish voice echoed in his mind. "A lesson. Make sure the price for the help you seek is a cost you are willing to pay, especially when you are capable of solving the problem yourself."

At his hip, Arcturis felt the weight of the blade he'd come to steal added to his own. Yet again, he found himself confused.

"And sometimes there are unexpected rewards that come from fucking around and finding out."