Once Upon a Time – Chap. 44.1


All record of past battles, both in historical accounts filling pages of dusty books and in the seemingly wild unproven tales that still passed around campfires, at least shared commonalities. There were a great number of casualties, a few losers on each opposing side, and even fewer winners. The Battle at the Castle of Fools (or whatever title future dusty books would later deem it) set itself apart from the usual laundry list of gore and tragedy even within the first half hour. Certainly the thousand or so birds still ominously circling overhead lent credit to this. But even besides this odd addition, any onlooker stumbling upon the fight would likely conclude that they witnessed a bizarre new game of sport rather than anything close to an actual battle or war.

The giant bubbles continued bouncing where they wished and caused fighting parties to stop and dodge out of their path before attacking each other again. The bubbles themselves had become as much a part of the action as any other participant due to both Gwendolena and the Keepers moving them around strategically against one another. When the Keepers magically roused up enough wind to force a yellow foolishness bubble toward the vampires, Gwendolena made a countermove with her clear bubble or one of the purple wisdom ones. When the Keepers tried to send a red bubble of hate toward Simone and Ian, Gwendolena pushed it away with a pink love bubble. Since the pair were already quite in love with one another, however, Gwendolena needed to correct her own intervention with the clear bubble to keep them from doing nothing but holding hands and staring into one another’s eyes. This battle differed from past ones in the number of casualties as well, for there happened to be none so far. Gwendolena’s side had managed to keep a step ahead of the Keepers in all attacks and the henchman quickly found becoming captured resulted more in being taken out of play rather than anything so dire as death.

“Don’t kill me, don’t kill me, don’t kill me!” squealed a young henchman dropping to the ground as the sword he just tried to dive into Deigen’s heart ended up in the vampire’s hands instead. “Please don’t kill me and I swear I’ll turn my loyalty to you!”

Deigen flopped his arms to the side and shrugged. “Okay, deal.”

The henchman half stood out of his fearful crouch. “Really? You’re not going to sink your fangs into me and turn me into a vampire?”

“No, I’d rather not and I’m fairly certain it doesn’t really work that way anyhow.” Deigen took a few steps away and thumbed behind him. “But if you’re thirsty, our queen Gwendolena made lemonade and you’re more than welcome to some of it. There would be cookies also but,” the vampire turned to his right and raised a brow at Sylvia while continuing, “I’m afraid the person who was supposed to help make them had other plans.”

While the henchman ran over to a lemonade table manned by Trevor (which was really the only job Gwendolena had felt would keep the lad enough away from any actual fighting to stay alive) Sylvia stormed over to Deigen.

“You’re chastising me for not baking stupid cookies when our enemy came knocking at the door?” She pointed at the lemonade-guzzling henchman. “And he’s supposed to be one of our enemies! Why didn’t you bite him or something?”

“Because biting people is a very unhygienic way to handle problems with people.” Deigen turned the henchman’s sword in his hand, admiring the craftsmanship. “Not to mention more than a little childish. And speaking of children, you were supposed to be watching over Meriall while baking those stupid cookies if I remember the queen’s instructions correctly. If you had,” he looked back up at her, “Seth and I wouldn’t have retrieved her from that Wymer fellow who helped rescue the dear.”

Sylvia rolled her eyes. “So what if he helped bring her over, he’s still on the enemy side. You’re a vampire and Seth’s a zombie, one of you should have eaten him.”

“You are a disturbingly narrow-minded young lady sometimes.” Deigen shook his head at her while leaning slightly to look at something over Sylvia’s shoulder. “But I believe I see something that may help make your suggestions of how to deal with our enemies a little less grim.”

Sylvia snorted. “Really and what would that be, the lemonade we made for all the traitors and cowards lining up at Trevor’s table?”

“Nope.” Deigen sidestepped to the right while pushing her to the left. “Something that might change your perspective.”

Before Sylvia could even begin to recover from the vampire’s unexpected shove, a giant pink bubble rolled over and enveloped her.


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