When you take a four-month break from making regular blog posts for a story in the works, a recap is needed to make sure both author and audience are on the same page (I know, sorry – but how could I resist?).
So before continuing our tale, here’s a look back at where we began and where we left off:
Chapters One – Four:
We meet brave (well, stubborn enough not to care about danger) young Sylvia who aspires to be a great magician. She’s not particularly good at magic but luckily it’s a long-term goal. She finds her entire village deserted when she and her trusty sidekick (pet monkey) Obmuj return from the market. A letter written in her mother’s handwriting tells of mysterious woman asking for Sylvia’s whereabouts and instructs her to make haste for the East Desert where her uncle lives (family friend at this point actually, but he later becomes known as Uncle Albert). Considering this is a rather eccentric uncle who makes mention of the family being from another world, he’s an unlikely choice for safety. However, one never disobeys a slightly cryptic message written in your mother’s handwriting. Before beginning her journey, Sylvia makes sure to pack a spell book and stone pendant shaped like a jagged puzzle piece hanging on a silver chain, both left in her home by a traveling magician. We learn the magician stayed in the village roughly a month prior to everyone disappearing. (Hmmm, funny that). Upon reaching the first neighboring town, three drunken robbers see her loaded cart as opportunity on wheels. Sylvia attempts to save herself by summoning a mighty fire-breathing dragon; what she ends up with is a miniature dragon that snorts out fire when it sneezes. The fire-sneezing pudgy lizard does little to instill fear in her enemies but a vampire with impeccable timing named Vandalarius (there’s a reason we just call him “V”) comes to her aid. You know you’re having a bad night when you need rescuing from a fanged beast though, fortunately for Sylvia, the vampires in this particular story don’t chomp on human critters. Otherwise, this would have been a very short and bleak tale. V introduces her to another vegetarian vampire, Deigenhardus (there’s a reason we just call him “Deigen”), and their human friend, Bastiick (who we later learn is actually “Deigen’s” many times great grandson). When Obmuj causes the stone pendant to become seen, her three new friends show a great deal of interest and Sylvia immediately gains traveling companions. Safety in numbers, kids!
Chapters Five – Eight:
V attempts to deliver a history lesson to Sylvia by explaining that a small group of magicians once ruled the land until what is now known as the Kingdom of Fools (which has a nicer ring to it than just calling it the vampire city) brought freedom to the land. As punishment/final attempt at retaliation, the remaining magicians from that battle turned all the rebels into vampires. Sylvia believes little less than half of what he says and considers his wisdom a fish story legend. While trying to stay off the main roads, our small band of travelers run into a hungry band of zombies. One of the zombies chases Sylvia up a tree and, since she’s not the world’s best fighter, she attempts to use a spell on the icky monster. Surprisingly, it works…sort of. The end result is a talking, sentient zombie named Seth who can’t harm anything without feeling unbearable pain. Another result of the spell is the group’s number increases by one. The group makes a pit stop at the Kingdom of Fools where Sylvia meets the vampire queen. Far from being the cold-hearted ruler expected, the queen greets them in the stables and sits down with everyone for tea. We learn from the queen that Sylvia’s pendant is part of a magical puzzle, one which many of the city’s inhabitants believe could remove their curse of being pale-faced bloodsuckers if it were put back together. Thanks to the queen’s koi pond, it’s also learned that Sylvia’s spell on Seth only keeps him from eating creatures that walk on land.
Chapters Nine – Thirteen:
Sylvia and gang arrive at Uncle Albert’s home but this turns out to only increase the number of nonliving characters in the story due to him being a zombie. We learn he used to possess another of the stone puzzle fragments before his untimely demise at the hands of his apprentice and a mysterious stranger. The apprentice became lunch after Uncle Albert became a zombie but his accomplice ran off with the stone fragment. Far from being a fan of magic (being murdered and robbed for a presumably magic stone didn’t help), Uncle Albert attributes falling head-first onto one of his inventions as the reason for him regaining a rational scientific mind. Not having much more to go on in regards of where to look for additional stones or clues as to how her family disappeared, Sylvia and her friends search for the home of Uncle Albert’s former apprentice. What they find is yet another deserted village aside from two children, Megan and Arthur, hiding in a tree. While Arthur appears to be under the effects of a spell that only allows him to speak accolades about a group of people who call themselves “The Keepers”, Megan provides a bit more useful information. We learn everyone in the village came under the same spell as Arthur when the Keepers sang a song; Megan defended herself using the age-old method of covering her ears. The children lead everyone through a swamp inhabited by giant dragonflies that shoot out darts and knock everyone out except Seth. (Mental note, stay out of swamp with giant dragonflies).
Chapters Fourteen – Seventeen:
Sylvia, Bastiick, and the vampires wake to find themselves in giant birdcages and we meet the Keepers, which turn out to be two twins and fashion diva. Bastiick falls under their spell but Sylvia’s only response is to cross her arms and give them a piece of her mind. The fact she’s somehow resistant to their control and Bastiick blabbing about her family being from another world cause the Keepers to take a keen interest in her. She’s tossed into a holding cell with the children while Bastiick is sent back to Uncle Albert’s with a few of the Keepers’ guards. Sylvia tries to free herself and the children by using magic but only manages to transport into a closet. Seth digs his way into the holding cell and helps them get out; being rescued by a zombie does not do wonders for Sylvia’s self esteem. Back in the desert, Bastiick and the Keeper guards break into Uncle Albert’s home. Two guards get caught in his traps and soon become lunch (yes, there is a pattern forming – he is a zombie after all) while a third knocks himself out and Bastiick ends up swinging upside down from the ceiling. At the castle, Sylvia frees the vampires from their cages with a spell (yes, one finally works – eh, kinda). But as the supernatural members of the group take on the guards and continue basically saving the day, Sylvia feels slighted. We learn Albert’s fourth house guest calls himself Trevor. He informs the zombie uncle that the mysterious magician who stayed in Sylvia’s village was actually a Keeper guard who stole one of their collected fragments (aka the pendant). In hopes of saving his niece before she gets herself fed to a giant sea monster, Albert decides paying a visit to the Keepers’ castle is in order. Meanwhile, with the undead folks decked out like Keeper guards, Sylvia and friends end up in the artifact room. They do a fine job of blending in until both vampires guzzle down the contents of their flasks (which everyone is quite aware do not hold water) and Seth complains about not being able to eat anyone. Meanwhile Sylvia becomes increasingly frustrated at still not having any answers regarding the vanished village members and makes a larger spectacle by hurling her shoes into a pool to wake up the giant sea monster.
Chapters Eighteen – Twenty-One:
The Keepers make an appearance, as does the giant sea monster (which Seth tries to eat – it is a water critter after all). All seems lost when Serena (our singing diva Keeper) holds up a partially completed stone puzzle and uses its power to essentially plaster Seth and our vampire friends to the ceiling. Uncle Albert literally breaks onto the scene by crashing through a wall in a flying metal carriage (yes, it’s basically a plane). One of the Keepers earns a Darwin award after throwing a lighting bolt of sorts at the metal carriage. All the guards get clobbered by Albert’s ship while it flies around sideways and this further eliminates the number of enemies to deal with (but increases the zombie population before the chapter’s end). Serena and the other remaining Keeper decide this is a good time to rush out of the room. Sylvia ends up being surrounded by several zombie guards and needs to be rescued again, this time by V. She gets tossed in the metal carriage and continues kicking and screaming about leaving until Obmuj turns out to have the partially completed stone puzzle in his furry hands. The carriage flies off with Seth left behind and plans for him to regroup with everyone in the City of Fools. Serena traps him in a magical bubble and promises to make him living again if he fetches the puzzle back for her and murders Sylvia. This is not an agreement Seth initially has any intention of participating in until he learns our young heroine and thousands of former villagers (now transformed into birds) will die if he refuses to do so within four days. Meanwhile, Sylvia attempts to use the puzzle during a brief stop in the swamp and pricks herself on the thorns of a rose that withers away instantly (that’s never a good sign). Once reaching the Kingdom of Fools again, she expects the queen and everyone to finally spring into action. What she gets, however, is precaution to not be rash and speeches about needing to study the puzzle. Not satisfied with the slow wheels of justice and deciding to take matters into her own hands, our young magician attempts to steal the puzzle – unbeknown to her, at the exact same time Serena tries to cast a spell to find one of the remaining missing pieces. The end result is a stranger from another world (our world) being transported directly to the Kingdom of Fools and Sylvia believing she summoned him. Uncle Albert and the vampires arrive on scene, which sends the stranger fleeing and screaming. A brief chase lands everyone in the kitchen, our new friend arming himself with a frying pan and cutting board against what he can only perceive as several monsters chasing him. He wraps a string of garlic around his neck for good measure. The vampire queen strolls into the room, appearing rather nonchalant about the unexpected visitor aside from learning his presence is due to Sylvia’s failed attempt at thievery.
Next weekend we’ll be back to our regular posting schedule of new chapter snippets on Sundays. Putting together the recap of everything written up til the break was more of a daunting task that I expected but at least now our characters are ready to step back on the stage.
Onward and forward!