Everyone involved should probably update THIS with what they want for their character, since it's still on the Gamexus.
Eris glanced at the clock again. How long had it been since Magic-girl and her stupid crush started talking? Hours? Days? Weeks?? Would she die an impossible death from old age before those two stopped talking?!
…Seventeen and a half minutes. Huh.
She had barely been paying attention to them, floating in a patch of sunlight and slowly stroking Vigil’s ears while he napped on her. Which may not have been the best idea, she realized, considering they no longer matched the rest of him in color, size or texture, but what could you do?
Bell glanced over at the new girl, who was lying (floating) on a window ledge (over the floor) that was apparently the only window in the school with such a wide ledge (actually, it was, thanks to a smudge on the blueprints). According to Lynette, she was entered into a battle to the death along with the magical girl and rabbit. Which made their getting-along-ness much harder to understand than the simple idea of two magical beings in her school. Three, if Eris counted. She felt the heat rise in her cheeks, and determinedly looked away.
“I know what you’re telling me, and I feel like it’s probably true, but looking at her I just can’t see it.”
Lynette tilted her head but didn’t look over. “But you investigate mysteries all the time! You said you’re more observant and that you were planning on investigating her anyway, so you must’ve known something was up with her. What tipped you off if you can’t see her for what she is?”
“She just showed up one day, and immediately was the most popular girl in school. She had no records, attends no classes, and is almost inhumanly beautiful.”
Lynette gave a small smile. “That’s because she doesn’t, she wouldn’t, and she almost certainly isn’t.”
“I know you’re talking about me, I’m right here,” Eris muttered.
“Nooooo we aaaren’t, Eris.” Lynette sing-songed.
“Yes you are, my ears are burning.”
Both turned to look, one at the odd phrase, and one at the old phrase, and saw that her ears were, in fact, on fire. Bell began to panic. Vigil merely cracked an eye open and said “Put them out, Eris. We get the joke.”
“You’re no fun,” she pouted, but dutifully reached up and grabbed her ears, putting them out. “So are you two lovebirds done talking? Are we all up to date on the humdrum life of a high school student? The gossip, the goings on, the who’s who? Surprise! That last one is me!” She began to sit up, and Vigil jumped down. When she finished brushing the fur from her clothes, she looked up to see an upset Lynette holding an unamused Vigil in her arms.
“Change them back,” both said in what Bell considered to be creepy unison.
“Hm? Oh, right.” She grabbed the ears, pulled them off, shook them out, and put them back on Vigil’s head. “Good as new, but mine were better!” She said with pride.
“Uh… huh…” Bell said, looking at Eris, her face beet red.
“Hey, Lynn, your girlfriend’s wandering eyes aren’t exactly being faithful here.”
“Can’t you undo your look?”
“It kind of fits me.”
“Just get rid of it.”
“No, I mean I’ve really grown into it.”
“I can’t, okay?! And the glamour is just so much fun!”
“It’s perma…?” Lynette shook her head. A question for later. “Can’t you just break its hold on her?”
“What? Oh, sure.” Eris reached forward, put her hand on the now-drooling Bell’s head, closed her eyes, and pushed in.
Bell blinked dazedly. “What…? What happened?” She looked at Lynette, at Vigil, and then turned back to Eris. “What the-! Where did all that come from?!” She meant the wings and crown. “And why are you floating?!” She meant the floating.
All Lynette said was, “Told you,” before she started walking to the door. “C’mon, Eris, we’ve got a couple of leads to check out.”
“Oh yea? Like what?”
“Weren’t you listening while we were talking?”
“Is that a serious question?”
“Yes it… nevermind. We’re looking for Ella, and by extension unusual goings-on at the school, which would’ve been hard without Bell’s help since everyone is acting weird over Patsy’s death. We also need to keep an eye out for everyone from our fight. ERIC and Weaver would stand out, and I’d be able to spot Gomorrah, so we’re just going to check everything to see who is at the school besides us. So far we’ve got a few new gangs-“
“- an old ghost story from the school’s past-“
“Nice enough, we’ve shared lunch.”
“-the growing group of gothic kids-“
“Architecture styles can have kids?”
“And the new girl who Bell thinks is a witch, which is you, so that’s one down.”
“She’s super fun to hang out with, and pretty cute too.”
Vigil gave a deadpanned look. “We know you think you’re fun, Eris.”
“And cute. But no, that last one isn’t me.”
Lynette and Vigil exchanged worried looks, while Bell just looked confused. “Yes it is. I’m the one who told them, and I told them it was you.”
“Then you’re wrong, because I’m not the only new girl. I’m the newest girl.”
Again. Had it really happened again? Gomorrah would be frustrated if that was a thing it felt, but it wasn’t. It looked on. There was little to see. A small town seemingly set down in the middle of a large forest. Small towns were best ignored; too much given for so little gained. Sure the similarities were there: places with small populations, sometimes nothing but animals, some abandoned buildings and some petty crime. But small towns had a problem that cities did not: everyone here knew everyone. Literally. Be it by face, name or reputation, if someone went missing people would know. And alert people made it harder to settle in. Gomorrah did what it could though and took an abandoned house. Two floors and a basement? That’s sublet to three families right there. Poor ones, of course, with children. Wealth went for larger homes with fewer people. No, these were the dregs and downtrodden. A start, but it needed so much more.
They all helped in their own ways. The children fought and formed gangs, cut classes, vandalized and stole, kept the neighbors up half the night blasting music. The adults made friends, of a sort. The Last Stop 93 was rife with just the right sort of people to rub elbows with while drowning your sorrows. And they helped find more outcasts, the ones who wouldn’t be missed. Someone old walks into an alley, someone new walks out. With millions of shades to choose from there was bound to be a close fit. But this was taking too long, wasting time. There was so much to do before, it wanted to be. Just one bit of luck was all it needed…
Lucky Stones was trying to remember what his job was. It had something to do with…banks? Did he work in a bank? No he was going to try to rob one, wasn’t he? He needed something to impress the Don, and Vinny said this place would be a pushover. He looked up, hand already halfway to the gun under his coat, and saw he wasn’t in a bank. Two file cabinets and a grey-haired secretary looked back. What was he doing? This wasn’t the bank… no he wasn’t here to rob the joint he was…
“Any questions about the filing system, Mr. Stones? You’re still pretty new, so I can give you a hand if you’d like.”
Lucky looked down at the folders in his hands, and remembered. “No, I got the hang of it by now. This stuff’s easy. Graduated kindergarten with top honors, boss.” That was what he was supposed to say, right? Or was that something he’d said? He looked around again, confused, but everything seemed normal. It was just off somehow.
“Are you sure you don’t need me to tell you where the filing room is, Mr. Stone?”
Such a stuck-up hag. Looked older than his great-gran, and trusted him just as much. “Down the hall, then you take a left, then a right, then another right, then a slight left, and it's the third door from the right.” That shut her up, and he’d just guessed!
“Very well, hop to it, then.”
Hop to it? Who spoke like that now? No one talked like that since…wait. What year is this? Wasn’t he supposed to be…? But Lucky looked down at the folders in hand while he walked and the questions passed. Right, the filing. What was it anyway? Flipping through the top few only showed maps. Some kinda land survey? He couldn’t make heads or tails of it. How in the hell was he supposed to file this when he didn’t know what he was filing? Entering the archive and shutting the door, he tossed the folders on the table and began to read. A lot of it was technical mumbo jumbo talking about dirt and rivers. Halfway through the stack that would’ve gone into “mineral exploration” (but would sadly remain unfiled), he saw something that made him grab his phone.
Lucky hit a number on speed dial, and hardly waited for the “What is it?” on the other end before he excitedly said, “Forget about the bank, boss. Eighty grand ain’t got nothin’ on this.”
If Gomorrah had hands, it would have rubbed them with glee. Silver! Who knew? And that idiotic mayor would’ve left it alone to “preserve the beauty of our town”! Well buck that, apparently the stuff was practically lying around if you knew where to look for it, and Gomorrah knew. And with no eyes in that part of town, it could put what it wanted, within reason.
Oh, what to have, what to have? It needed a refinery, for one. Housing, too. And the people, of course. Your workers, your start-up business owners, drinkers looking to blow off steam at the end of a long day. Drinkers who became fighters. Fighters who became murderers. Then came their ignored children, shuffled off to school and classes they would ditch, students who became vandals when their parents weren’t home or didn’t care enough to keep tabs on them. Gangs, but maybe just the ringleaders for now, considering the size of the nearby school. They’d pull in the locals well enough.
Some people think the earth is precious too, though, and that there was plenty of lumber around for that refinery to use. Tree-hugging, earth worshipping, tradition grasping, what-have-you’s. Gomorrah changed a couple dozen rioters into protestors, but a protest could turn violent so easily. Crime would skyrocket. Overburdened police forces asked for help, and who better to provide them with the crooked police force they would need?
Sections of forest were replaced by buildings, though if one looked closely they might still glimpse the trees behind the shadowy buildings. A quick colored line on the map, courtesy of Lucky, and suddenly the bus went through that part of town. And hardly an eye was bat. There were some mutterings among the populace, but new growth was seen as “just what the town needed to get past that poor girl’s death” by most, courtesy of some well-placed old money families, or at least doppelgangers of them.
Small towns were difficult to infiltrate, with old ties and established connections, but boom towns? Boom towns were something Gomorrah knew, as were the ghost towns they quickly became.
Bell was still absorbing the revelation of events that was Eris, Lynette and Vigil. After having the glamour lifted from her mind, and then the possibly disturbing idea that there was a deadly witch in the school that wasn’t Eris… it was more than she wanted right now. She just wanted to focus on Patsy’s death.
The group was on their way to the library right now, on Eris’ word that they would find the other new girl there because “that’s where we always find each other” even though neither had any reason to be there. To Bell it sounded like random guesswork, but Lynette seemed to take it in stride, so off they had went. At least the walking was easy, considering the path Eris made for them. Even knowing about the glamour, and having felt its effects, she was amazed at the lengths students were apparently willing to go for her. Eris had simply leaned out the door, called “Oh, boooooyys!” and there had been four of them there in a heartbeat. They then proceeded to (barely) carry a grand piano to the library, believing Eris to be riding on it, where in reality she was floating just behind it. Ignoring any trampled students on the way, Bell, Lynette and Vigil just followed in the wake.
Where had the piano even come from? The school didn’t even own one! Eris said the music room, and Lynette had just shaken her head when asked.
The three of them seemed to be catching up with each other, each telling what had happened in the interplanetary circus, who they ran into and what they did. Eris seemed to only run into one, whom she kept referring to as “wrecking ball” and lamenting not seeing “glowstick”, but she seemed to have spent some time as a vendor? It was hard to tell what Eris was saying, but judging by Lynette’s curious expression and Vigil’s frown, they understood just fine. Maybe it was similar to an inside joke, she just had to have been there to get it.
Oh! Lynette was bringing up Eris’ appearance. Maybe that might reveal something useful.
“It’s not part of the glamour. I can’t just get rid of it, this is me now.”
“Can’t you change back?”
“Not really. Chaos expands to fit its container, but it grows into it too. This body holds a little more chaotic potential than the body I had before. I needed it to hold the glamour without having to constantly focus on it. All I really did was change the size of my body a little, but I can’t change myself back.”
“But you kept the wings?”
“Of course I kept the wings! They’re part of my actual body, not just this one that I shaped.”
Bell felt the need to chime in. “Actual body? What do you look like if this isn’t it?”
Eris frowned. “I don’t know. If my parents hadn’t disguised me, I could look like almost anything right now. We look a lot less like this,” she said gesturing to her body, “and a lot more like this,” she pointed to her differing wings. “Just a whole bunch of things thrown together, with no two alike. And we change more the older we get. My parents were a couple dozen different things, and I know I’ve got at least three, but that was a couple hundred years ago, so I’ve probably got more to me now, but I don’t know what it might be, and I’ve got some ways to go before I can undo their work. Pushing my limits helps though, so the more chaos I use, the sooner I’ll be able to undo it.”
“And the centuries you were on the run did nothing because…?” Lynette ventured.
“I was on the run, duh! Good luck pushing limits when you’re hiding for your life.”
Nothing helpful there, but it was interesting. Eris seemed more like a curiosity than anything. She hadn’t seen her do much of importance besides her glamour, but there wasn’t anything Eris did that Bell could possibly replicate. Lynette and Vigil were more deductive thinkers, and she appreciated their willingness to help, but outside of their story and Vigil’s obvious intelligence, hadn’t shown much either. This made her wonder, though. Eris claimed to be leading them to one of the other contestants, whom Lynette seemed to think would be Ella. However, she also said that it had taken a number of them just to weaken her to where they could actually fight her. If she had been here long enough to recover from her injuries then they might be walking into a deathtrap. She might be all for investigating things, but maybe stepping into the middle of a fight to the death wasn’t such a good idea?
“We’re here, beautiful.”
Bell was pulled from her musings and saw that, indeed, they had made it to the library. The boys set the piano down, and Eris floated to each of them, giving each a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the head and a “I can’t thank you enough, you don’t know what this means to me.” However, as soon as they turned away, starstruck looks on their faces, Eris mimed gagging and muttered “Idiots.” to Vigil. Did Eris ever misuse her that way? She didn’t think so, but thinking back on the glamour made things fuzzy. In fact, it made her feel warm all over and when Eris had looked at her… Pushing down her confusing memories, she decided it was best to get moving.
“So, what’s the plan here?” She asked.
“Well, if this new girl is Ella, we should probably sneak in and try to take her by surprise,” Lynette said.
Vigil added, “She won’t be expecting us, so if her guard is down it might be easy. We don’t have much choice since there’s so few of us here.”
“Forget that. I’ll just go get her, bring her out, and we can settle this once and for all. I’ll try to sneak up on here if that’s what you want, but I can do this myself. Wait here.” And without waiting for a response, Eris gently opened the door, snuck in, and slammed it shut behind her.
She heard the door to the library slam, and peeked over the shelf she was by to see Eris. Eris! She’d come to play again? And what luck that she felt like going to the library just minutes ago! Today was shaping up to be a great day, she just knew it. If only her head would stop hurting, she’d have run to greet her! As it was, she decided to lie in wait, tracking her movements by the rustle of her clothes against the bookshelves. If she was right Eris would be in front of her right…now! She jumped out to the left, expecting to see Eris’ surprised look in front of her, and was instead tackled from behind.
As she fell into the shelf, the girl’s combined weight forcing it to tip over, she giggled and thought “The right, I should have turned to the right.”
“No,” Vigil sighed, “we can prepare as much as we can, but Lynette can’t power up before Ella is out, her magical signature would give her away. Our best bet is to just be alert and ready for a fight.”
“In the meantime, we can start planning for the other things we need to investigate. How long did you say these gangs have been here?”
“Just a few days, I think. We’ve never really had problems with violence at the school, but since they opened the silver mine, we’ve had a handful of new students who seem to be causing a lot of trouble. They came in with chips on their shoulders and grudges against each other, and with Patsy’s death a lot of students just want to belong to something they think gives them meaning. I’m guessing it’s part of how Eris got so much attention, but it also explains why the gangs grew so much so fast. It doesn’t explain why they’re so violent though. It’s all very West Side Story.”
Lynette and Vigil both gave her a confused look, not understanding the reference, but before Lynette could voice the idea she had, a crash resound from the library, followed by a loud shushing sound and something similar to a slide whistle.
“OH NO YOU DON’T! Get back here you little…” Several thuds and what sounded like a small explosion came from beyond the door. They saw a multicolored beam of light shoot past the window, and a sound like flapping wings began.
Eris crashed through the door with a yelp, sliding along her back until she hit the opposite wall. Out the open door flew a small flock of books. After she scrambled up, she ran past the others yelling “Don’t worry, I got her right where I want her!” The door pulling shut in her wake.
“Shouldn’t we help her? Bell asked.
Vigil shook his head, and Lynette answered, “She said she’s run into Ella before now. Even if she didn’t recognize who it was, Eris can’t seem to resist causing trouble, so they’ve probably fought before. I’m sure she’ll be alright.”
Gradually the sounds of violence began to cease, until all was quiet once again in the library.
“YOU CAN COME IN NOW, I GOT HER!” Except for Eris, of course.
The three went in and began looking for Eris, which proved harder than expected considering the library looked like an active warzone, complete with errant beams of energy bouncing between shelves, a flock of paperbacks and a swarm of bookmarks, two small fires and a giant snail that upon closer inspection appeared to be ink in a hardcover-book shell. They ignored the librarian, who seemed to be handling the situation with the stoicism their kind was known for, and eventually stumbled across the pair responsible for the damage.
Eris was pinned under Ella: Ella having pinned her legs with her own, and immobilized Eris by pressing her face and one arm to the ground; Eris’ only advantage was that her free hand was wrapped around Ella’s neck, and the other girl was, quite literally, turning blue in the face and looked on the verge of passing out. Despite that, she continued to giggle through her wheezing. If nothing changed it appeared that Eris might, in fact, win. However, upon hearing the footsteps of the others, both girls turned to look, and despite what they had expected as a result of the fight, no one was really prepared for what they were suddenly seeing.
Despite Lynette and Vigil’s expectations, Ella was not, in fact, Ella. Lynette felt faint, Vigil was shocked. She was a spirit, but her soul was torn. No, not torn, shredded Lynette remembered seeing those like her in the Gamexus, and Vigil was smart enough to guess that, whoever she was, she was a part of Gomorrah. Some poor soul bent so far to the will of a city that lived for misery she probably had no idea what she truly was. The only thing to throw them off was the pink threads weaving between the tears like some early patchwork of piecing her back together.
Bell took one look at the girl pinning Eris down, and had the feeling that this girl would be important to her. Whoever she is, she must have something to do with what’s been happening at the school since Patsy’s death. I can feel it in my intuition. My gut. Whatever. The Mystery Club didn’t appoint me their head for no reason. I’ll get to the bottom of this, I just know it.
Eris saw Bell, and knew exactly what she was thinking. Not because she was clever, which she’d be the first to admit she was, but because she saw the words literally forming in a thought bubble around her, and her skin and clothes had taken on a more ink-and-paper look.
All four, surprisingly, had the same thought about these separate things: “What is going on with that girl?”
The girl, for her part, saw Vigil and thought him absolutely adorable.
Vigil, after giving his head a shake, was the first to recover. “Eris, let her go and step away. That isn’t her.” He kept his voice calm; not having much experience of Gomorrah’s inhabitants, he didn’t know what kind of temperament they would have.
Eris dropped her hand from the girl’s neck, the girl giving a long gasp as she did, but didn’t move otherwise. “What do you mean this isn’t her? You wanted the little witchy girl and I brought you to her. You think I did this?!” She gestured to the mayhem of the room around them with her free arm. “Well…I did do a bit, but not all of it!
“Listen, child,” Vigil began soothingly to the girl.
“M’names Amelia,” she coughed, finally catching her breath.
“Amelia, then. I think our overzealous friend here mistook you for someone else we were looking for. If you could get off of her, she’ll apologize and we can figure something out.”
“No dice, bunny boy. I pinned her so I won.”
“You were going to pass out in another second!”
“…We’ll call it a draw then” She said, climbing off of Eris.
Eris dusted herself off as she got up, glaring at Vigil. “What’s this about Amy not being the witch? I told you I didn’t do all of this myself.”
“Let’s just move away from her and you, Lynette and I will have a talk about it.”
“It’s not nice to talk to people behind their backs, you know!” Amy interjected.
“Hush Amy.” Eris reached between two books on a shelf and pulled out a giant ball of cotton candy that clearly hadn’t come from there, giving it to her. “Here’s something to fill the time while we talk, it’s what you get for winning, just let me have a chat with my friend.” Amy beamed as she took the treat, and immediately began stuffing her face with it.
Vigil eyed the cotton candy with suspicion, but went over to Lynette, gently shook her from her shock and gestured for the three of them to step a little further away. “Eris, that isn’t Ella. That’s-”
“Yea, you already said. I thought Ella was a weird nickname for Amelia, but I guess if you took the second half you’d kind of have it? But she does laugh a lot, even though my color is cuter.”
“Don’t interrupt. She’s a tortured soul, and unless something horrific happened here while she was alive and continued to happen after she died, she’s got to be part of Gomorrah.”
“Then how’d she do some of this?” Eris asked, gesturing to the library. “Do the people of Gomorrah have chaos powers too?”
“I don’t think so.” Lynette answered, “They’re just souls going the motions of their lives, and being twisted and bent to will of Gomorrah. The only thing that makes here different is she’s… cheery. She’s got that pink holding the parts of her together, only I don’t understand what…” She trailed off, looking between the threads in Amy’s soul and the candyfloss she was holding. “Eris, what’s in the cotton candy?”
“Not much. Just some sugar and chaos and a little bit of coloring. When I first gave her some, instead of falling into the glamour like the others, she just gave an excited hop and said it was her favorite flavor. No idea where she got some of my stuff before that, but I treat her whenever we hang out since she likes it so much. She says it helps keep the headaches away.”
“Well that must be part of it. Maybe since she’s dead but still corporeal enough to do things like eat instead of manipulating her, the chaos is just sort of being…absorbed into her? What do you think Vigil?”
“This is actually new ground for me too, but that’s as likely a reason as any. We just have to be careful, with a citizen of Gomorrah having chaos abilities, there’s no telling how dangerous she is.”
“Not very, she’s my friend. Besides that, her control is awful, her power is weak and she’s got no concept of the fundamentals. She was just sort of slinging chaos around the room. The only reason she pinned me is because she’s scrappy. I think she fights a lot. Besides, you don’t even know if she’s from Gomorrah yet.”
“I think it’s pretty safe to assume she is.” Vigil said.
“Yea, well look what assuming did so far. I assumed she was a witch and you assumed I was right. Great going on that, by the way.”
“Well then how do you propose we find out for sure?” Lynette felt a headache of her own coming on. “We can hardly just ask her.”
“Sure we can! Hey, Amy!” Eris called to the girl.
An ignored ‘Shhh’ came from the librarian, who was currently battering the ink-book-snail thing with a broom.
“We’re friends right?”
“You bet!” Her voice was a little muffled, probably from large chunks of spun sugar in her mouth.
“Where you from?”
Of course Bell thought. She wished she knew what the others were talking about. Whenever a big city kid moves to the country they assume it’s the only city anywhere. Like we’d all know where she’s from just from that. If she hadn’t shown up just before the gangs did, I’d smack her for her thinking we’re all country rubes like that. As it is, she must know something about what’s happened since Patsy’s death.
Eris saw Bell’s thoughts, but continued on anyway. “Gomorrah, right?”
“You’re the second person lately to know that without me tellin’em. Can I come over now?”
Lynette and Vigil traded glances. Who else had Amelia met that knew about Gomorrah?
“One more and then sure. Did you know you’re dead?”
“I think I’d know if I was, and I don’t think I am.”
“Well Bell here didn’t know she’s just a part of a book, so there’s that.”
“Huh.” Amy came over, cotton candy now finished. “Well, I’m not just gonna take your word for it, but I’ll think about it awhile, maybe ask my folks, assumin’ they’re sober enough to answer.”
“There, see you guys? Nothing to worry about from Amy. Now, about these episodes Bell’s been having…”
So I’m way way late with this, and it isn’t nearly as long as I’d like. I'm only like 5k of the 10-15 I was hoping for. I’ll keep writing assuming no one else puts anything up in the meantime, but I don’t know how long that might go.
If nothing else happens involving this small group (Gomorrah is an entire city, and it’s players aren’t limited to Lucky and Amelia) my plans are for only Eris to be able to see Bell’s episodes for now, but to explain them to Lynette and Vigil. As for what they are, they’re snippets from Bell’s “canon” story that the battle has interrupted, it’s just that Amy has accidentally taken the place of the actual girl her suspicions would be directed at, that’s why her thoughts never include our contestant’s names: they aren’t canon to the book.
Eris is going to be suspicious of the world around them, looking for more of these moments and trying to see the book they are in. She’s doing this because: A) She can enter two-dimensional media (it’s in her profile) and I want her to, at some point, fall/drag another into it, because then they could appear anywhere and anywhen else and B) If someone removes the binding from a book, who knows what could happen?
Amy's headaches are caused by Gomorrah trying to burn away Eris' meddling and reassert itself. Her similar train of thought to Eris is caused by the chaos inside her being Eris's chaos.
The group would continue looking for Ella, and find her in one of the aforementioned locations in the story.
My writing currently would just be limited to Lynette, Vigil, Eris, Bell, Ella and Amy, but if someone wants to put up a claim to them in the meantime and do their own thing with this group or any other, have at it.