Name changes

Yoooo first post with the new design

I feel like I should probably come up with some excuse for the fact that I said that I was going to change the website a bit and instead not only changed it entirely but also changed the whole story it was originally for, but… there isn’t really any. It’s just that things happened. It’s been nearly a year since I started this, hasn’t it? Think of that.

Anyway. I feel like I should talk about name changes in this post, because, well, there’s a lot of them. I’ll present them in a list format, and then maybe add some new art.

  • Johann Faust -> Ernst Johann Leitner
  • Leonard Mephisto -> Leonard Arthur William Tateley, 16th duke of Calitern
  • Sylvia Sapping -> Sylvia Pernet
  • Richard Golson -> Richard Asadi
  • Ishmael Samuel “Monty” Carter -> Francis Samuel “Monty” Beckett Carter
  • Lavinia Avnas -> Lavinia “Vinney” More
  • Janson (as in, the last name, so that’s for everyone with this last name) -> Glines

Name changes were made for various reasons. For Tateley it was made to be less overt with his character, as well as making him sound more British, for Sylvia it was purely to give her a French surname, for Monty it was because I had brainrot from media I recently consumed, for Ernst it was because I just kinda felt like it, etc.

Also! I’ve renamed the story that formerly was Pact multiple times in the past few days, first it was Leitner, then I changed it to some other things, currently it’s called Living Ghosts, which is… mostly metaphorical… but also possibly literal as I get further into writing it idk. A lot has been happening so tbh it could change at any time.

To get into setting changes:

  • The story now takes place in 1807. That’s the biggest one, I guess, going from Victorian to “the middle of the Napoleonic Wars.” What inspired this change? There isn’t anything in particular, but I started reading too much literature from the time and also became an expert on a poet from the period. I guess I wanted to change it to match more with my current interests and because I find the setting of “Napoleonic Wars” really interesting.
  • It’s now 100% set in the UK. There’s a few flashbacks etc to France, America, and Germany (Sylvia, Monty, and Ernst respectively) but nothing more than that.

And now on to plot changes….

  • It’s going to be… more or less the same plot… with the same general “Ernst sells his soul to an English lord for knowledge and It All Goes Downhill From There” thing. However, there’s far more 1. politics 2. mystery and 3. ambiguity. There’s less of 1. outright supernatural happenings 2. Just Hanging Around and 3. Richard. He’s much less of a major character in this version. Sorry!
  • Check the page for the rest of the changes!

And now for the art of Monty which I’m using as my icon now:

Based on this scene, which is one of his first in the rewrite, which has him appearing much earlier (content warning for a drug mention):

Monty was smoking, as usual, when he came to come with Sylvia and Deirdre to meet the doctor upstairs. He knew the man somehow, Sylvia wasn’t sure how exactly, and he was willing to introduce them. She had intended him to come later in the day, but it was hardly past dawn when she awoke and went into the kitchen to find him sitting on their table.

“Good morning, Monty,” Sylvia said.

“Good morning, Ms Pernet.” He had oily dark brown hair, spiked downward with sweat and natural grease, and a long, tired, cheerful face. His gray eyes were darkly shadowed, and he was at present clenching a cigar between two long pale fingers gloved in grimy wool. As usual, he wore a long oiled seaman’s coat, acquired while at sea, and a mess of sweaters and waistcoats and probably more than one shirt underneath to keep warm. His socks would be the same, layered because however nice his boots were at one point, they were now scuffed and thin and kept for mere practicality, because they were free of holes. 



“What did you do last night, Monty?”

“What did you do last night, Sylvia?”

“I helped to rob a grave.”

“I wandered around the docks for a bit high on auntie.”

He meant opium. “Asadi said he thought he saw you in the graveyard the other day in the middle of the night. Alone.”

“Probably. I was trying to stay up all night by chewing coca.”

“That only works the first few times. I’ve tried it.”

“I’ve been thinking I could have Leitner distill it somehow for me.”

“What were you doing in the graveyard?”

“Oh I don’t know. I like to go there sometimes. I walk about the graves and look at the birds. I like the scavengers.”


“I suppose they appeal to my sense of drama. Did you know that I chose my name from a graveyard?”

“You did?”

“From the family plot. Monty Samuel Carter, a son of the family’s original settlers. Died 1684. Same year I was born two hundred years later.”

So that’s today! Thank you for reading and for putting up with the big changes!


So I’m back, and as you may have noticed I did NOT overhaul the website like I said I would over the holidays. Instead, I decided “hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea if I rewrote the entire thing in a completely different time period and with a majorly tweaked story?”

So. Um. Yeah. I’m rewriting it. Set in 1807 this time. Focusing more on the friendship dynamics between Johann, Deirdre, Sylvia, Monty, Richard and Jean. It’s still the same basic story, but… most other things about it have changed.

But if you like my writing, and you’re invested in the characters, don’t worry! They’re staying! And you can stay, too! In fact, you should! This story is going to be a lot more Gothic novel-y, but the elements of cosmic horror elements and the whole angels/demons dynamic is staying, though it’s going to be much less overt. The largest change is the time period. The old chapters are also probably going to be taken down, but not immediately.

So, that’s my announcement. Thank you for reading!

The Things Without Faces introduction and drawing #2

The following is an ‘excerpt’ from an in-universe book Johann reads about the Things Without Faces, called Lordwood Signs.


The Things Without Faces are an ancient group of entities who have enormous power. They’re not quite gods, but they certainly aren’t mortals, and they’re not related to God or Satan. They’re more like gaps in the creation that those two fight over, like cosmic glitches that will exist as long as normal reality does. It’s assumed that they simply willed themselves into existence, and inserted themselves into creation just like that.

Some people think that the supposed everlasting battle in the heavens might not really be between God and Satan, but between them and God, who creates a reality, only to have it eaten by the Things, over and over again. 

Either way, the Things are outside of normal reality. They obey no laws. They have no collective motives other than hunger and want. They might all have different wants, but that’s their only defining characteristic – they all want, and what they want they will eventually get. However, they’re imprisoned beyond death, which keeps them out and away from those things for as long as possible. In a worse case scenario where they do break out, the faeries are supposed to keep them at bay until God can imprison them again, but the chance of the faeries actually doing that is extremely slim.

However, even imprisoned, the Things have agents on Earth. These are immortal beings who have tremendous power that makes them essentially gods in human form, except for a selection of weaknesses that makes them distinctly not Things or mortals, but something in between. These beings are called vampires. There are also corrupted, besital faeries who have many of the same powers as the vampires, but without immortality. They’re called werewolves, and they’re not as powerful as vampires, but they can be just as dangerous.

The Things have a very loose structure, because they are overall a bundle of barely restrained chaos. It’s unknown how many there really are, since the Things are all technically undefined entities without anything close to a real material form, but most scholars consider there to be eleven:

  • The Thing in the Well 
  • The Queen of the Birds
  • The Hanged Man 
  • The Thing With No Mouth
  • The Thing in the Cave
  • The Things in the Wall
  • The Thing Forgotten
  • The Thing That Is Not
  • The Thing That Decays
  • The Mother Over All
  • The Thing That Watches

 There are also a few others whose status as Things is debated. They are:

  • The Man in Red
  • The Changeling
  • The Thing in the Room

Each of these is explained in detail below, including the ones of debatable status.

(further posts will include the rest of the ‘excerpt’)

Also behold this drawing:

From left to right: Sylvia, Leonard, and Delta.

Huge shout-out to my IRL friend who will henceforth be known by their initials AB for coming up with the “chad reunion” joke in reaction to this photoshopped Enlightenment salon:

That’s Thomas Paine on the left and Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the right, two Enlightenment philosophers, if you don’t recognize them.

And, if you’re realizing that you don’t recognize the name ‘Delta,’ that’s because they are the new narrator for part 3 of Pact. I’ve already started writing about them, which is why they’re in the drawing, but haven’t published anything with them in it yet, which is why no one on here is going to recognize their name.

If you didn’t know, this is a reminder that hiatus posts come out on Saturdays and Wednesdays.

Thank you for reading!

Drawings 1

First post during the hiatus! I have three pieces of ship art to share for three of the six ships that I consider to be the main canon ones.

First, there’s Johann and Deirdre.

Second, there’s Leonard and Serena

Thirdly, Daisy and Camilla.

Also, Happy Halloween to anyone who celebrates it!

Deirdre – 2.22.8

Content warnings: death, gore, and mildly bad language

It was late at night, and Deirdre was beginning to worry. Neither Johann nor Rustyn, who had gone to look for him, were back yet, despite the fact that it had been almost a whole day. Deirdre didn’t know exactly what was in these mountains, but it couldn’t be good. Perhaps Stolas had gotten wind of them and was out in the mountains looking for them. Maybe he had brought a legion of demons with him. Or worse, what if the Things had followed them here? Deirdre took a deep breath. Johann and Rustyn were fine. Better than her, even. 

A sudden scrabbling noise of boots on rock echoed up the mountain. She leaned over the cliff and gasped because Rustyn was climbing up the rock face.

“Little help?” Rustyn shifted and almost lost his grip. “I’ve been doing this all day!”

Deirdre threw down a rope she’d had sitting beside her. Rustyn climbed up slowly, and gasped for breath as soon as he made it to the top.

Deirdre immediately began talking far too fast. “I thought you died! Where’s Johann? What about Monty and Richard? Did you see them? Are they safe? Where were you?”

Rustyn waved the questions aside. “All in good time.” 

He walked over to the cave entrance and shoved aside the blanket that had been hung up as a makeshift door, Deirdre right on his heels. 

Sylvia stood up from the fire they’d lit in the middle of the cave. “Rustyn!” 

Wilhelm turned and gaped at him. 

“Where’s Johann?” Sylvia asked. 

“Safe.” Rustyn said. “I mean, I didn’t see him unsafe.”

“Not unsafe?” Deirdre asked. “Where the hell is he?”

Rustyn sucked in a breath. “Listen, I’ve been thinking, and I’ve come up with a better plan than Johann did. We’re going to go by Stolas’ tower anyway. We need to go straight to Stolas when we do, because-”

Sylvia grabbed the front of his shirt. “Tell me where Johann is.”

Wilhelm rubbed his chin. “Well, I think we should simply not go to Stolas.”

“We should,” Rustyn said, ignoring Sylvia. “He’s the only one who can help us.”

Deirdre frowned. This was odd. From what she’d seen, Rustyn would normally want to sneak around Stolas’ place, and try not to attract any attention. Perhaps being out there in the cold looking for Johann had changed his mind. Or, possibly, he had weighed all the options, and thought that this was the best course. She had never trusted this guide, and this was just more fuel for the fire. Realizing that Rustyn was speaking again, Deirdre focused back on the present.

“We should just march right in there- no one will stop us. Then we can-”

“Absolutely not,” Sylvia said. “Where’s Johann?”

“I didn’t find him tonight,” said Rustyn.

“Let’s talk about this in the morning,” Wilhelm said.

“We can’t, because Rustyn’s going to be out as soon as the sun rises looking for Johann,” said Sylvia. “Aren’t you, Rustyn?”

Rustyn shrugged. “Whatever.”

Sylvia glared at him for a moment, then let go of his shirt, turned, and stalked off.

The others seemed content with that ending, so when they all went off to their separate bed rolls, Deirdre did, too. She lay awake in her bedroll for a long time, trying to sleep but silently hating Rustyn and thinking about Richard and Monty, and how confused and alone they must be. She lay perfectly still in bed, save for her fingers, which she tapped as fast as she could against the floor. Richard and Monty, all alone. Johann, all alone. Deirdre and Sylvia and Wilhelm, stuck with a person who was by no means trustworthy.

Sitting by the fire, Rustyn was keeping watch, staring into the flames. What a normal thing to do, and yet, Deirdre was suspicious of him for it. She chewed her lip to slow her fingers down, until it bled and she had to go back to tapping. When that didn’t do anything to calm her nerves, she looked up at the fire, watching Rustyn stare into the flames. Deirdre studied the dancing blaze, seeing the way the flames devoured any wood offered to them, leaping up eagerly, tasting the air like a snake. Then, she turned her attention to the demon in front of the fire. 

She didn’t trust him. That was plain and simple. He was a snake, a slippery monster that was deceiving them somehow, and so well that no one else noticed it, and Deirdre herself wasn’t even able to put her finger on it.

Maybe that meant there wasn’t anything untrustworthy about him. Maybe Deirdre needed to calm down and the only reason she distrusted him was bad experiences in the past. Her father had always called her biased when she was nervous about something because of that.

There was a commotion outside the cave, and Deirdre started. She flipped over very slowly to see what it was, and discovered… an owl, sitting on a rock right outside the cave.

Deirdre didn’t know much about the demonic, but she knew owls were associated with Stolas. That did it for her. She had to get out of here. Luckily, Deirdre was something of an expert at escaping watchful eyes in bad situations. 

She stood up and went over to Rustyn. “Do you think you could pretend to be asleep?”

Rustyn gave her a disgusted look. “Why?”

“It would make me quite a bit more comfortable.”

Rustyn scoffed, but stood up and went over to lay on the ground facing the wall. Deirdre pretended to go back to her bedroll and fall asleep, but about thirty minutes after she’d gotten up, she got up again and went to tap Sylvia’s shoulder.

“What?” Sylvia asked. Apparently she hadn’t been sleeping either.

“We’re leaving,” said Deirdre. “Do not talk above a whisper.”

Sylvia shrugged. “How are we gonna escape hellboy, here?”

“Get Wilhelm up.”

Sylvia crawled out of her bed and over to where Wilhelm was passed out asleep. He wasn’t too hard to wake up. She motioned to the door, and Wilhelm followed her in a crouch-run to the door of the cave. Now Deirdre was the only one left.

“I heard them leave,” Rustyn said. “Where did they go?”

“They went to piss outside.”

Rustyn grunted. 

Deirdre drew the dull, blunt knife from the floor of the mill. She picked up a smooth, heavy rock from the floor of the cave and stood poised over Rustyn’s head for but a moment before bringing the knife down hard on his temple.

He screamed, of course, but Deirdre hammered the knife in with the rock, and his screaming soon stopped.

There was gore everywhere, too, but Deirdre wasn’t coming back to the cave. She pried the knife out of Rustyn’s temple, stood up calmly, and walked out of the cave. When you were in a bad situation, you did what you had to to survive, and that was that, and you waited until afterwards to feel bad about it.

“Where is he?” Sylvia asked. “Rustyn, I mean.”

“Dead,” said Deirdre. Her tone invited no questions. “I think we should head to Wolf Icefall to look for Johann. That’s probably where he went.”

“We need the map,” Sylvia said.


“No, I can get it.”

Sylvia went back in to get the map, then came back out and handed it to her. “Holy hell, Deirdre.”

Deirdre shrugged. “Wolf Icefall is here. Let’s go, everyone.”

They walked in silence until Deirdre couldn’t bear it any more. “Wilhelm, would you play us something on your pipe?” She sort of regretted singing in that cave. It was like giving a piece of her soul away.

Wilhelm began to play softly. Somehow, he managed to ask, “When were you born, Deirdre?”


“I was born in the year 0.”

“I’m younger than both of you,” said Sylvia. “I can’t believe this.”

“You’re older than Johann,” Deirdre said.


They soon came upon Wolf Icefall. To get into it, it was a lovely choice between a frightening slope of molten rock and jagged obsidian, or a sheer rock wall that would have been death to fall from. 

Deirdre pointed to the rock wall. “We’re going down that.”

Sylvia shrugged. “Doesn’t seem too terrible hard.”

She led the way over, and was the first one to start the treacherous climb down. Wilhelm was next, and Deirdre last. She wasn’t afraid of heights, though the climb, with the jagged rock walls pressing in on her, was more than a little triggering of her claustrophobia. She closed her eyes, which might not have been the best idea, but it was the one she chose, and eased herself down the rock wall. It was just one foot over another, one handhold at a time, slowly but surely, until she was at the bottom and the danger was past.

Sylvia pointed to a rock ledge. “Behold, a man!” She began laughing hysterically.

“I’ve no idea why that’s funny,” Deirdre said.

“It’s actually a quote from ancient Greek philosophy. Diogenes. You see-”

“Not now,” said Deirdre. “Is Johann under there?”

“Oh. Yes, he is.”

“Someone go and get him. Please.”

Wilhelm crawled under the ledge and dragged the sleeping Johann out.

“How is he still asleep?” Sylvia asked.

“I don’t know. Someone has to carry him, though.”

“I wish Monty were here,” said Sylvia. “He could do it.”

Wilhelm put his hands under Johann’s arms and lifted his upper body up. “I can drag him along like this.”

“Sylvia, get his feet,” said Deirdre.

Sylvia grabbed his feet, and they awkwardly carried Johann up the steep part of the icefall. Really, it should have been called a rockfall, and Deirdre didn’t know why it had the word ‘wolf’ in it, either. The name was entirely inappropriate. 

That had her thinking about names. People had the same first names a lot of the time, so they were often told apart by their last names. What was her last name? Deirdre strained herself to remember. Surely she’d had one, she just couldn’t remember what it was. For the longest time, she’d just been Deirdre. Had she ever had a last name? Surely. But she’d already come to that conclusion. She would have had a last name, and she would have shared it with her father and mother. Her father’s face was a blurry silhouette in her mind, and she didn’t remember what he’d sounded like, or his name. She only remembered his actions, and one extremely clear scene from her early childhood, when she had found him butchering a rabbit and asked why he was leaving the foot attached. That was because a dead and skinned cat was indistinguishable from a rabbit until you’d already bought it, so a foot was left on to identify it as a rabbit.

Apart from that memory, where the smell of blood and metal and rabbit flooded her senses too much to think of her father, Deirdre hardly remembered anything about what he had actually been like. That had faded, and only memories of what he had done remained.

“What the Hell?” Sylvia asked.

Deirdre looked up. They had crested the steep part of the icefall, and could see the further land spread out beneath them. A perfectly flat road cut through the mountains, and seemed to lead off forever in either direction. There was a wagon rumbling down the road, they could see it in the distance.

“Well?” Wilhelm asked.

“That’s not a well, it’s a road,” said Sylvia.

“We’ll see if we can hitch a ride on that cart,” Deirdre said.

They made their way down to the road. Deirdre hailed the cart, and the driver, a nasty-looking old man, stopped.

“Where are you going?” Deirdre asked.

“Eligos’ stronghold,” said the man. “You might know him as Duke Janson.”

“Can we ride with you?”


Wilhelm and Sylvia hefted Johann up into the cart and climbed in. Deirdre was the last in before the old man started the cart again.

The wagon was rickety, the horses were old, and the driver seemed to hate all his passengers. Deirdre closed her eyes to sleep, or something like that, but was snapped out of her reverie almost immediately by the driver. 

“Damn picking horse, won’t go any faster,” he said. “Won’t go any faster. Hauling too much of a picking load. Picking human. Making my picking horse go slower because of their picking plans at Eligos’ picking stronghold.”

“We can hear you, you know,” said Sylvia.

“Shut your picking mouth, little picking girl!”

Wilhelm was obviously confused. “He does realize he isn’t hauling anything you pick, right?”

This was true. They were squashed uncomfortably between sacks of potatoes, not berries or fruit.

“I know I’m not hauling picking pickable things, picking devil boy!”

“So are you swearing at us, or what?” Sylvia asked.

“I thought I told you to shut your picking mouth, picking girl!”

Sylvia looked a little insulted.

“You know the old man will just call you picking again,” Deirdre said. 

“Which may or may not mean the same thing as the you-know-what-word,” said Wilhelm. 

“Picking road,” the driver said as the wagon rumbled over a pothole. “It’s those picking workers. Spend too much time in the picking bar instead of fixing the picking road.”

A bird squawked off to the side of the road, startling Deirdre.

“Goddamn picking bird!”

This was going to be a long ride.

Johann – 2.21.7

Johann had paid a demon guide to take them to the graveyard from the docks. Apparently, due to Hell’s bizarre geography, they were going to have to somehow cross a mountain range to get to Duke Janson’s fortress, where Albert Janson’s body was interred in the vault. Johann spent a very angry night in an inn near the mountains, because the demon, Rustyn, wouldn’t let them attempt a crossing until the morning. They entered the Border Mountains early in the morning, with Rustyn in lead, then Johann, Deirdre, Sylvia, Alice, and finally Wilhelm.

The mountains were odd. No one had to wear warm clothing because the mountains actually got hotter as they went up, but they had to wear heavy-duty boots because the ground was made of sharp black rocks that were vaguely like obsidian but much denser and more opaque. They seemed to go on forever, but Rustyn insisted that they actually bled into a rainforest at some point, which was equally unpleasant to go through. Having walked even part of the way through the mountains, Johann doubted that such a thing was possible.

Fortunately, Rustyn knew the terrain quite well, because he’d evidently been there several times. He knew where the avalanche hazard areas were, so Johann followed him for the most part without question. Sylvia had made disapproving noises at several points, but that didn’t really mean much, because she disagreed with most things that didn’t have opium in them. Either way, Rustyn led his charges along the narrow mountain passes for most of the morning, never once stopping or even pausing for a moment. This was necessary, Rustyn claimed, to reach the fortress before the demon who lived in these mountains, Stolas, discovered that they were in his territory.

By noon, Johann was drawing on his last reserves of strength, because he had been clambering over hot, sharp rocks for the past five hours, and his limbs were beginning to feel like dead weights that had been tied to their bodies. 

“Can we stop?” Wilhelm whined.

“No,” Rustyn said. 


“Not yet.”

Johann wanted to throw back his head and groan, because he was also exhausted, not that he would ever admit it.

He was quiet for some time after that, staring angrily at Rustyn. The group crested a hill and were met with an amazing view of the surrounding area. Black tipped mountains surrounded them on all sides, as if to flaunt the full majesty and terrifying power of nature. The valleys were bluish in color and so far-off that they seemed wholly another world. Far in the distance, at the top of a mountain, a huge black observatory rose into the sky. That was probably Stolas’ tower, and possibly his place of command. 

“Please tell me we’re almost there,” Wilhelm said.

Rustyn glared at him. “Not even close.”

“Well, can we still stop now?” 

Rustyn turned around. “Look, do you want to get caught by Stolas in this hellscape? Because I certainly don’t. So get moving.”

Johann was ready to kick him in the crotch, but he stayed silent, because he would rather walk the whole of the mountains again then admit that this demon might not have been the best choice.

They resumed traveling, but hadn’t been walking for more than twenty minutes when Sylvia suddenly stopped. “Hold on just a second. Where’s Wilhelm?” 

Johann swung around and was about to give Sylvia a piece of his mind for making excuses for Wilhelm’s whiny little ass, when he realized Wilhelm actually was gone. Johann scanned the area. Heat rose off the ground in waves and made everything shimmer. “I noticed he was lagging behind, but didn’t really think much of it.” 

Sylvia looked around. “Well, where the hell is he?”

As abruptly as he had disappeared, Wilhelm’s slim form appeared from behind a rock. He had an absent look about him, and was moving so slowly, Johann wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d collapsed right then and there. 

“Are you alright?” Johann asked. It was a rhetorical question, really. He could tell pretty well when someone was sick.

“No,” Wilhelm said. “My head hurts, and my nose is bleeding, and I’m more tired than I’ve ever been before. Can we stop?” 

Rustyn was about to open his mouth, probably to say no, but Johann shot him a venomous look.

He backed down immediately. “We have been going for a while. Probably be good to get a few hours of rest.” He waved his arm to follow him “C’mon, there’s a cave a few minutes from here we can rest in.”

Sylvia nodded in his direction. “I think the altitude is starting to get to wilhelm.”

They stumbled up the mountain a few paces, then came to Rustyn’s promised cave. Johann practically fell into the small cavern, pressing his tired, hot body against the cool sandy floor.

Deirdre leaned down to speak in Johann’s ear. “Rustyn has a map.”

Johann groaned and crawled over to where the others sat in a circle. Wilhelm, Rustyn, and Deirdre leaned over an extremely confusing and disorganized map of Hell. 

“Listen,” Deirdre said, “if we were to go this way,” she indicated a spot with her finger and traced a line, “We would all be dead in seconds. I’m telling you, the Pass of Eagle is the way to go.”

Rustyn shook his head, his puffy brown hair flopping back and forth. “No, there’s going to be a storm, and a big one at that. The entire Pass of Eagle will be blocked for days.”

“How can you possibly know that?” Johann asked.

Rustyn glared at him. He had the appearance of a rugged man in his thirties, with a goatee that made him look cartoonishly evil. “Do you want to stay around here when it’s raining ash and hellfire?”

“But how do you know-”

“Because Stolas’ weather predictions about his mountains are always on point, and I was issued a pamphlet a few days ago warning that there would be a storm. Is that good enough justification for you?”

Johann shrugged. “What about Emperor’s Pass, here, in the opposite direction? It won’t be blocked, will it?”

Rustyn shook his head. “Emperor’s Pass is a bad idea.”


“Why do you have to question every goddamn thing that comes out of my mouth?”

Johann shrugged. “I’m paying you, remember?”

“Well, shut up so that I can do my job.”

Deirdre pointed to the map. “Look, this leaves Wolf Icefall.”

Rustyn groaned.

Sylvia, who had been helping Wilhelm stop his nosebleed, dragged herself across the cavern on her stomach. “Alright, so, I only heard that last comment. What’s so bad about Wolf Icefall? Sounds alright to me.” Sylvia brushed some dust off the map. “Where are we?”

“At a rough guess we’re here,” said Rustyn, pointing to a spot on the map that wasn’t too far away from any of the three routes they’d been discussing. “Wolf Icefall is one of the most dangerous places around here.”

“Why is it called that if there’s no ice?” Sylvia asked.

“Molten rock acts the same way ice and snow does,” said Rustyn.

“Holy Hell,” Sylvia said.

“I know my way around Wolf Icefall.” Rustyn pointed to it on the map so that any of them who had forgotten where it was in the five seconds that they hadn’t been looking right at it would now be reminded. “It’s a bit hard to get to. You can either do what’s basically skiing on molten rock, or climb down a treacherous rock wall. Once you’re actually in the Icefall, there’s huge mounds of crystal and rock that you have to climb around. I think that if we make something a bit like mountain climbing shoes, with grips on the bottom, we should be able to make better time climbing over the rocks.”  

“And, how do you know all this?” Johann asked. He’d been led astray by guides who only knew the land hypothetically before. 

“I’ve done this route before, idiot,” said Rustyn.

Wilhelm, who had been laying down, stood up, stretched, and sat back down. “When are we doing all this?”

“After we rest,” Johann said immediately. He wasn’t going another centimeter without at least twenty more minutes of inactivity.

“We have to pass the time,” Sylvia said. “Someone start singing.”

Can anyone here sing?” asked Johann.

“I can,” said Deirdre.

He hadn’t known that about her. “Are you comfortable singing for us?”

“I guess I can try. I only know medieval songs, though.”

“I can play the pipe,” Wilhelm said. “I know lots of tunes.”

“I’ll sing, then,” said Deirdre. “Do you know that old lullaby that was probably about Rome or something?”

“I think I do.”

“That’s what I’ll sing. Are you ready?”

Wilhelm took out a bone pipe. “I’m ready.”

He started up a slow, haunting tune that echoed off the walls of the cave and seemed to fill up the whole world. The music was beautiful enough, but Johann was shocked by Deirdre’s voice when she opened her mouth to sing.

My ship’s a-coming in after all the months

sailing the sea

No matter how far I go, there’s always the castle

waiting for me.

The Red City’s on the horizon, I see it

in the dying light.

The Red City’s there, 

they’re losing the fight.

Cursed be thee, Red City’s Bane,

Bred in a place where things have no name.

Lay down your head, Beloved, you’re safe under lock and key,

Fall asleep to the song of the sea

She was far, far better than anyone he’d ever heard before. Her voice was incredible, unearthly, even. Johann listened in a happy stupor from the music and the atmosphere and the good company as Deirdre sang the song twice more, and Wilhelm played along in the background, before they both slowly fell silent. Johann didn’t want to speak for a moment afterwards, wanting to preserve the magic of the moment, but at last he did.

“You’re incredible,” he said. “Both of you! Why are you trying to be a doctor, Wilhelm, when you should be a musician?”

Deirdre had flushed red, but there was a tentative smile on her face.

“Thank you,” Wilhelm said. “I suppose being a doctor is knowledge I want, and it’s harder than being a musician. Nothing can ever be difficult about being a musician, but being a doctor, now…”

This was an odd burst of arrogance from the usually normal and humble Wilhelm. Johann gave him a look that was meant to scrutinize him, but probably just looked like he had indigestion. 

“You should sing something else,” Sylvia said. “Or play another song.”

“I want to get moving again,” said Johann. His muscles were rested for the most part and he was ready to go.

Sylvia laid back with her backpack for a pillow. “You do that.”

“We should stay here, actually,” said Rustyn.

“I’m not going to,” Johann said.

Rustyn looked down at his grubby nails. “Then you can go out and scout.”

“Maybe I will.”

“Have fun,” said Wilhelm.

Johann glared at him, but did step out of the cave into the open. He immediately remembered how hot it was, and regretted being alive. However, he was going to keep moving, because going back in would include admitting he was wrong, and Johann would never admit that he was wrong. 

The first order of business was actually getting down into the Icefall, and Johann would apparently need skis to do that. Rustyn had said that there were two ways to get it, but Sylvia was the only one who could reliably climb a wall of sharp rocks down into the valley.

Rustyn wouldn’t be dumb enough to suggest skis and not have any, would he? Johann poked around the rocks, moving some of them and feeling under others, looking for skis. He found none.

“Well, skis would have been useful,” Johann said. He wished he had some.

Suddenly, a pair of planks with leather straps on them were lying on the ground in front of him, next to two wooden poles. What was this? Where had these skis come from? Johann wracked his brain for an answer, and soon came up with the fact that, since he had sold his soul, he might be allowed to have whatever he wanted in Hell.

“I wish I had Albert Janson’s body,” said Johann.

Predictably, that didn’t work.

Johann sighed and slung the skis over his shoulder. He had a pretty good idea of where Wolf Icefall was, judging from the look he’d had at the map, and thought that he could be there within an hour. Walking was monotonous, so Johann defaulted to going through his inventory of supplies back at the house. He would need to buy more purgatives soon.

As soon as he came to the edge of the Icefall, Johann unslung his skis and strapped them to his boots. He leaned down to feel the ground that he was going to be on, but found that it was almost too hot to bear as soon as he had his hand a foot away. Johann felt a twinge of annoyance as he brought his hand back up.

Either way, it was malleable enough that he would be able to ski down it, or so Rustyn said. Johann knew how to ski well, since he’d vacationed in the alps many times during his childhood. The slope was steep, and he would have to make wide turns to keep in control. Mercifully, there were no bumps, which would have been a problem not only because they were hard to ski, but also because they would probably be spitting molten rock. 

Johann grabbed his poles and shuffled forward. He looked down into the slope, and, after a moment’s inspection, let his skis dive into the Icefall.

He didn’t make a sound as he slid through the rock. He stuck his poles in the ground every time he turned, which pierced the film over the molten rock and made magma bubble up where he’d been. Avoiding the “wedge” shape that would be deadly on this steep of a slope, Johann skidded smoothly down the mountain, at last coming to the bottom of the dreaded entrance to the Icefall. 

He unstrapped the skis from his feet and slid them under a rock. It would really be a nice place if there was any vegetation. Johann took a moment to try to imagine the valley as it would have looked if it was on Earth, and has all the greenery that entailed. 

Johann caught himself in a daze of imagination, which he shook off. Too much time devoted to only imagination was dangerous, he thought. Everything in moderation.

Johann could not forget where this hole was, because if he did, he would be stranded at the bottom of an Icefall all alone. So, he took off one of his socks and tied it around the rock. He pulled on it once or twice to make sure the knot was tight, then walked through the narrow entrance to Wolf Icefall and ran his hand along the smooth wall. It was so different from the rest of this godforsaken place.

Suddenly, he had a funny feeling that something was in the process of going horribly wrong, and that he would pay for his unseen stupidity. Johann smiled at the bizarre urge, and kept walking.

Johann remembered the last time he’d ignored a feeling like this, and how it had led to the wagon crash. Maybe he should start listening to his feelings more. Reluctantly, he turned around and saw that the sock he’d tied around the rock was gone. 

Oh no. Johann ran back and skidded to a halt right in front of the rock. He suddenly realized that the ground under the rock where he’d hid his skis was molten and bubbling, which meant that the skis had been eaten and burned.

“Goddamn it!” Johann threw his hands up in the air. “Someone come help me!”

Unfortunately, his friends were all cozy in a sandy little cave kilometers away.  He screamed until his voice was hoarse all the same, until all the hiking caught up with him, and Johann’s eyelids began to droop. Before long, he had dragged himself to a spot somewhat out of the way, underneath a rocky overhang, and fallen into a deep sleep.


Fun fact: Rustyn is lifted from the same story from when I was eleven that I talked about in my last post. He was supposed to be the stock ‘cool guy rebel who doesn’t listen to anyone, plays by his own rules, and is the absolute best at everything’ character. The only problem is, in the original story, he was eleven years old and still acting in the same way you might expect a Mary Sue straight white cis male wish-fulfillment character from a bad action movie might.

This is a prime example of why reading my old writing is such an experience. Anyway, thank you for reading!

Richard – 2.20.8

Content warnings: Death, near drowning, thalassophobia

Richard was apparently a source of curiosity in his sun-proof suit. Every person on Nantucket Island was eager to see him, and were apparently disappointed now that he only went out at dusk. At least, that was what Alice told him as they walked down Main Street to the pharmacy on the evening of December first. 

“I saw a kid today who wanted to know when you would be back out in that ‘funny black suit.’ I told him he was being rude and that you would be back out when you were back out.”

Richard smiled. The shops on Main Street were already decorating for Christmas, and he could hear some people singing in the streets, “Angels we have heard on high…”

“Richard?” Alice asked.

“Sorry,” he said. “Wow, look at that doll in the window, Alice. I should buy that for Caro for Christmas.” It was the third time he’d been out of the house in months, because of his concussion, and though his head still hurt, Richard was glad he’d finally taken the initiative to go out a few days ago. He very much liked Christmas, and it made him feel good to see everyone preparing to celebrate it.

The doll in question was an expensive china doll imported from England. Richard opened the door to go into the store it was in.

Johann yanked him back. Richard shouted, especially because the shock made him stumble and drop his cane.

“Johann!” Richard said. 

“Sorry,” said Johann. “I have to say something important.”

“Great. What is it?”

“Mrs Fuller won’t die.”

“You mean, she hasn’t died yet?”

“Why are you so nonchalant? This is your profession.”

“Just because I deal in the dead does not mean I wish death upon the living,” said Richard, reaching down to pick up his cane. “Look around, Johann. Isn’t the atmosphere amazing? It’s Advent for real now!”

Johann shrugged. “I don’t care. We’re going to sail to Hell and steal the body of Albert Janson.”

The shock of the statement almost made Richard drop his cane again. “You’re doing what?”

We are going to sail to Hell and steal the only other moderately fresh body I know of.” Johann pulled the sleeves on his ill-fitting coat down. “Are you coming or not?”

“I’ll come. Alice?”

Alice shrugged. “Whatever.”

Johann pointed down the street. “Monty is at some dock with a boat.”

“I don’t want some high kid driving my boat.”

“He isn’t high, and he’s older than you will ever be. He was born in the 1600s, for God’s sake.”

Alice shrugged. “He acts like a kid, so he is one.”

Johann shook his head. “Say whatever you want, but Monty’s still going to ferry Richard over the river tonight. You, me, Sylvia, and Deirdre are going on another boat that Duke Janson’s been using to go back and forth from Hell every day. He’s leaving in-” Johann checked his watch, “twenty minutes. We’re going to stow away in the hold. You and Monty will meet us in the graveyard and use your small skip to transport the body back afterwards, got it?”

“Yea, whatever,” said Alice.

“When are we doing this?” Richard asked.

Johann gave him a confused look. “Now?”

“Don’t you think you had better, I don’t know, plan a little more?”

“No time,” said Johann. “Go join Monty. Now, Richard!”

Even though he still thought it was an atrocious idea, Richard went.

Monty and Richard stood on a lonely dock, holding a line that seemed to lead off into the fog. It seemed that as soon as they’d managed to find the boat, the weather had immediately turned against them. Clouds and fog covered Nantucket, and the fact that the sun had just gone down didn’t help visibility.

But this was the only boat they were allowed to use, and this was apparently how they would get to Hell. The fisherman they’d bribed to let them use their boat had come and gone, and now they were standing on this dock, holding a rope that seemed to lead nowhere.

Monty hauled in the boat, and they found that it was even worse than Richard, at least, had expected. The fisherman had been sketchy enough, but his boat was just too much. The bottom half was covered in barnacles, and all the planks were covered in slimy green gunk. The ropes looked rotted away, the sails were patched, and there was water sloshing around inside it. 

Richard turned green at the sight of it, and white at the thought of his father’s ghost. “I’m not getting into that thing.”

“Why?” Monty asked, climbing in and sitting on the side, near the mast. “It won’t bite.”

“It’s not the biting I’m worried about,” Richard said nervously, putting his hand on the side and putting both his cane and one foot in the bottom of the boat. He put his other foot in, and let go of the side, propping himself into the same position that Monty was in. “I’m just nervous, and my father-”

“Your father drowned,” said Monty in a very matter-of-fact voice.

Richard stared at him. “How could you possibly know that?”

“Oh, I just do. And, don’t worry, I’ve been sailing out of Nantucket since I was about six, and I worked on a whaleship for years and years. The only problem is that it takes two people to sail this thing, so you have to help me.”

Richard wasn’t sure he could help sail this boat, but Monty launched right into his sailing instructions. He grabbed the rod at the back of the boat. “This is called the tiller. It’s used for steering, and it’s connected to the rudder, which is underwater.” He touched a rope hanging off the sail. “This is called the mainsheet. It controls the sails, which is very important. When I say sheet in, pull on it. When I say sheet out, feed it through this pulley here, and be sure to stop when I say so. When we tack, put the tiller toward the sail and duck the boom, this pole holding up the sail here. Then we’ll switch jobs. I have no idea what the wind is like out there, so just do what I tell you and we should be fine.” 

Apparently, that was all he was willing to say before the voyage, because he grabbed the mainsheet and pulled it in. “Keep us straight.”

Richard was still reeling from being on the boat in the first place, but he grabbed the tiller and held it straight, and, fortunately, they moved forward. 

Monty looked out over the water. “Tiller to the right.”

Richard pushed it left.

“Toward the right, not left,” Monty snapped.

Oops. Richard jammed the tiller right.

“Less right!” 

Richard straightened the tiller out, and felt a gust of wind hit his face.

Monty let the sail out a little, and grabbed the tiller away from Richard, moving them to the right just a tad.

“Tack,” Monty said.

“What?” Richard asked.

“Tiller towards the sail hard.”

Richard shoved tiller as hard as he could. Unfortunately, he didn’t know to duck the boom and it hit him in the head. 

“Dammit!” Richard took a hand off the tiller and rubbed his head.

“We have to switch jobs now,” said Monty. They traded, Richard with the mainsheet and Monty with the tiller. 

“Sheet in,” Monty said.

Richard yanked the rope, and actually managed to bring it into the right position. He smiled and allowed himself a little triumph.


Richard ducked, but the boom still hit him in the back of the head. Now he had the tiller again, and sported a double headache. He kept the boat straight with one hand, and rubbed the back of his head with the other. 

“Rock!” Monty shouted. “Tiller towards the sail!”

Richard shoved the tiller to the left, but was so absorbed in rubbing his head that he did not see the boom coming right for him. It hit him in the stomach, and he was thrown to the bottom of the boat with an oof.

“Dammit, Richard,” Monty said. “Don’t move forward!”

Richard didn’t, but he did put his hands in the front of the boat in an attempt to push himself up, putting all his weight on his palms.

“Oh, for fu-” Monty was cut off by the sound of the boat crashing into the water and flipping over.

Richard was flung into the ice-cold sea, and plunged downward like a dead weight toward the dark ocean bottom. He began to panic, because he didn’t really know how to swim. Fortunately, his survival instincts kicked in, and his hooved feet weren’t totally useless in the water. He awkwardly propelled himself upward, and grabbed on to the boat as soon as he reached the surface. 

“Are you alright?” Monty asked.

“Fine, apart from being  in the water,” said Richard.

“Alright, well, we have to turn the boat back over. Swim under it and push the side up.”

“Erm, Monty…”

“You can’t swim. That’s just fine. I can do it myself. Monty took a deep breath and swam down to what would have been the top of the boat. He managed to get it on its side, and then had to come up for air. Then he dove back down and somehow got the boat upright again, before swimming to the back and pulling himself into their swamped sailboat.

Richard copied him and managed to get himself into the ship again, but not after feeling something like sandpaper on his leg.

“Erm… Monty? Are there sharks in the water? By any chance?” Richard had failed at not letting his nervousness slip into his speech.

Monty looked up sharply from where he was bailing the boat. “What? Sharks? I dunno. Why?”

“Because I just felt… something… in the water.”

Monty popped his head over the side. Richard copied him and went a shade paler. He could clearly see a dark grey form that was at least three feet in length. Then a dorsal fin cut through the water, and he was sure that the ‘something’ was indeed a shark.

Monty swung himself around the boat and counted aloud that there were eight total. Their mouths hung open as they swam, which might not have really been malicious, but scared Richard as bad as anything.

“Bail,” was apparently all Monty could say.

They threw water out of the boat twice as fast. It was now urgent that they got out of there, because the sharks hopefully wouldn’t follow them away from the site of their crash. At least, that was what Richard hoped, and he dared not think what would happen if that was wrong.

At last, the boat was empty of any water, and the two of them were sitting in their correct places again.

“Sheet in!” Monty said.

Richard pulled the sail in, and the boat shot forward, pitching him back. Monty put a hand on Richard’s shoulder to keep him from falling again. Why did his face feel so hot? Richard shook his head to dispel the feeling.

“Tack,” said Monty.

This time, both remembered to duck the boom, but Richard forgot to hand off the mainsheet.

“Hey! We have to switch jobs!”

Quickly, Richard handed the rope to Monty. There were no more mishaps for more than an hour, as they coasted through the calm water, sharks left far behind. There was something calming about sailing, without tacking and with the wind at their back. Then the calmness faded, and was replaced by a sudden feeling of fear and uncertainty. There was a splash to the left, and an ominous shadow passed under the boat. Richard looked around, but saw nothing. He peered into the fog and thought he saw something off to the right. Richard looked even closer, narrowing his eyes and leaning forward.

He sat there in that position for several tense moments, holding his breath and looking for any sign of what could have made those splashing noises.


Richard nearly jumped out of his skin. It was a demon from the deep, come to eat them! It was a siren, ready to lure them to their death! It was a sea serpent, jaws poised to bite their boat clean in half! He realized what it really was and jumped into action.

Fortunately, tacking had become easier by now, and they were able to avert the rock that had been right in front of them.

“That was too close,” Monty said. “I love you to death, Richard, but you have to focus.”

“I- You love me?” Why didn’t Richard mind this declaration, and why was his face hot? 

Monty looked like a boy caught with his hand caught in the cookie jar. “I- Uh- just focus on the tiller.”

Richard went back to keeping the tiller straight, trying to dispel the warm feeling inside him. 

Monty gasped and leaned far forward, so that his tricorn hat almost fell right off his head. Richard ignored him, thinking this was just another of Monty’s quirks. Seeing that he was being ignored, Monty punched Richard’s shoulder hard enough to almost knock him into the water. 

“Ow!” Richard rubbed his arm. “What’ve you spotted?”

Monty leaned forward onto the prow, apparently having forgotten that that was what turned them over before. “Look at this, Richard!”

Richard let go of the tiller and crept forward, peering out into the fog. There was a dark mass coming toward them, which Richard realized was land.

“Hey, I think you found our land,” Richard said, pulling himself back into his spot by the tiller. 

Monty grinned. “There’s probably a dock somewhere around here where we can tie off the boat.”

They looked around and tried to find a dock where they could leave their boat, and soon spotted a few nailed together planks sticking out into the sea. They were lopsided and covered in green slime, but this was better than trying to find the shore and possibly ripping holes in the bottom of their ship. 

Monty sheeted in, and they cruised slowly towards the dock.

“Tiller towards the sail hard, like we’re tacking,” he said.

Richard shoved the tiller right and they swung around, pulling smoothly up to the dock. Monty jumped out, grabbed a rope off the bow and tied the ship off, checking and double checking that his square knot was tight enough.

“Hey,” he said, helping Richard off the boat. “That was pretty good, you know? Let’s just hope we can do it again with somebody else in the boat.” Monty laughed hysterically for a moment, before saying, “alright, but seriously, now. How are we going to get the body back here?”

Richard looked up from where he was tightening his boots. “Leave that to me. I have some ideas.”

Monty nodded and took a few steps into the fog. “Any idea what this could be like?”

Richard wrapped a spare piece of fabric around a stick and dumped oil from a small canteen on it. He lit the makeshift torch and shone the light out into the fog. “Not really, no.”

They began to walk forward, Richard leading. The island had a strange rainforest climate, and they had to fight their way through ridiculous amounts of plant life to get anywhere. Mosquitoes buzzed all around and they had to keep moving to avoid getting eaten alive. The sound of croaking frogs and rustling leaves reached Richard’s ears, creating the feeling that even the rocks were alive here in this jungle.

Then, just as soon as the forest had begun, they were through. The two of them were on a rocky ledge overlooking one of Duke Janson’s fortresses, the place Albert had been buried. There were no windows in any of the towers save the arrow slits, and even those didn’t have glass. Ballista peeked out of the front, and there were stacks of rocks for ammunition. Guards patrolled the ramparts, holding torches and with wickedly curved swords at their belts. They wore typical helmets, curved into a point at the top, with chainmail armor and tunics bearing their coat of arms. The only strange thing was that the dramatic lighting made their faces look almost… white.

“How thin are you?” Richard asked, eyeing the towers.

“I can’t fit through those arrow holes, if that’s what you’re asking,” Monty said.

Richard chewed his bottom lip and flicked his eyes all around the fort. “We have to get in through the second curtain.”

“I suppose our best bet would be to just climb over the back wall.”

“I can’t climb.”

“Oh, right. Well, we could go under it. Through a sewage grate.”

Richard shrugged, and the two crept forward. They reached the back wall and pressed themselves against it. 

“There’s a grate right over there,” Richard said. “Open it and see how deep it goes.”

Monty hauled the grate open and revealed the sewer, which stank to high heaven but was deep enough to go under the wall and big enough to walk through.

“Well?” Monty asked.

Richard smiled. “Hold your nose.”


The tiller is the only thing that’s straight here (:

Fun fact: the sailing scene is actually lifted from an old story I wrote when I was eleven or twelve about a group of children going to defeat an evil wizard (right after I read the Shannara Chronicles). It was one of the better scenes in the story, which was kind of a confusing mess (as are most stories written by eleven year olds who haven’t read anything but fantasy from the 80’s in over a year).

Johann is angry in this chapter that Mrs Fuller won’t die, and historically, she didn’t, she hung on for several more weeks, long enough to name her killer and eventually put her in prison for ten years. Captain Nathaniel Fitzgerald, who was mentioned in an earlier chapter, was the one to stay with her as she slipped in and out of consciousness during the time leading up to her death, and he was the one to insist upon investigating her death. Unfortunately, this is their last impact upon the story, which means I’ll have to find something else to share fun facts about!

As always, thank you for reading!

Deirdre – 2.19.7

Content warnings: Beheading, death, panic attacks

Deirdre woke up at two in the morning because she heard noise and was certain something was crawling through her window. She stayed completely still, heart racing. Don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t even breathe.

After what felt like an eternity in a state of utter panic, Deirdre realized that it was probably not someone climbing through the window to kill her, because if it was, they would have done it by now. She opened her eyes and sat up slowly. The room was indeed empty except for her and Johann. She stood up, feeling the coolness of the floor against her feet, which were hot from being under the blankets.

There was the noise again! Deirdre jumped and tried to stop herself from running back to bed like a frightened child. She tiptoed to the door and out into the hallway, where she stood frozen for several minutes, until she was absolutely sure that it was safe to go downstairs. 

When she did creep down the stairs, she was startled by the sound of a child playing. Deirdre considered what that might be and arrived at the conclusion that it was probably a ghost. 

That was hilarious because she was technically a member of the undead, and it made her laugh so hard she had to stop for a moment so that she wouldn’t fall down the stairs.

After Deirdre was finished laughing, she climbed down the stairs and went into the parlor, where she was doubly surprised to find Caro sitting on the ground playing with her dolls.

“Caro?” Deirdre asked. “I thought you were a ghost.”

Caro giggled. “Not entirely wrong.”

“Oh?” Deirdre sat down on the floor next to her. Was it possible she was like her? “Why?”

“I was dead for a long time. But Dr Faust brought me back.”

“Oh.” She’d have to be displeased with Johann later.

“I think I might have been brought back for a reason.”

“Really?” Deirdre had always had a nagging suspicion of that as well. Sometimes, she had dreams about things she was supposed to do. In fact, lately, she was having dreams about the abandoned church in the woods.

“Yeah, I think so. I think maybe I’m a prophet.”


“Sure, that’s what the people in the walls said. I trust them.”

‘I trust the people in the walls’ was a funny thing to say, but Deirdre trusted the Man in Red entirely, and she wasn’t going to judge if Caro had her own Man in Red. “I have a man who I trust as well, but he doesn’t live in the walls.”

Caro walked one of the dolls, a man dressed in a powdered wig and cravat with glasses, across the floor. She looked down at it and very suddenly threw it across the room. Deirdre jumped as it crashed into the grate in front of the fire.

“Do you hate that doll?” Deirdre asked.

Caro shrugged and picked up another of the dolls. “Can you get something for me?”


“A little blade from the kitchen.”

Deirdre shrugged. “I guess. Why?”

“Because I want to play with it with my dolls.”

“You want to cut your dolls?”

“I have this little doll of Robespierre and I want to be able to behead him if I want.”

Deirdre looked over at the doll she’d just thrown across the room. “Was that him?”


“Why do you want to behead one of your dolls?”

“Because I do hate that doll. His head is hard so he’s bad to cuddle but he’s too big to play with properly. If I had another doll his size I might like him more, but I don’t. And it’s what happened to him in real life, and I want my dolls to be just like real life.”

Deirdre got up and went into the kitchen. She located the knife rack immediately and went through it until she found a small, sort of dull knife. After that, she went back to where Caro was and presented her with the knife.

Caro ran the blade along her hand. “It’s a little bit dull, you know.”

“I don’t think Monica would want me to take a sharper one.”

 Caro shrugged and picked up a featureless cloth doll. She held the doll’s legs down and cut the head off with a sudden and frightening chop. Seeing that it worked, Caro seemed pleased with what she had, and pocketed the knife.

Deirdre stood up. “I think I might go back to bed, Caro.”

“That’s alright.” Caro pointed. “Will you get Robespierre for me, please?”

Deirdre went to pick up Robespierre from behind the grate, and found that there was an eye etched in the stone of the fireplace. A chill went through her and she remembered Johann’s description of the dream with the eye and the weird poem. Eleven will come

“Well?” Caro asked.

Deirdre threw Robespierre at her. “I’m going to bed.”

“Alright, suit yourself.” Caro paused for a moment, then picked up a small doll of mismatched fabrics and rag stuffing and handed it to Deirdre. Its tin button eyes shone in the light, and its mouth was stitched into a cheerful smile. “This is for you.”

The doll was strangely wet to the touch, which disgusted Deirdre, but she took it anyway out of politeness. “Thank you, Caro.”

“It might talk to you. It talked to Ishmael. That’s why he gave it to me.”

“Ishmael? You mean Monty?”

“We call him Ishmael, dummy, because he’s related to us.”

“Oh, right. Well, I’m going to bed now. Goodnight.” 


Deirdre slid the wet doll into the pocket of her nightgown and slunk very slowly back upstairs. She stopped dead in the hallway, mostly because she heard someone crying very softly somewhere in the house. Her immediate instinct was to find the person and help them calm down, so she went up to the first bedroom door and cracked it open.

Sylvia was lying awake on the bed. “Deirdre? I’m glad you’re here. I have something to tell you.”

She wasn’t the one crying, but she seemed distressed all the same. Deirdre shut the door and went to sit on the bed with her.

Sylvia shifted and wrung her hands. “Em… well… you know how most people, most people are, well, they’re attracted to people who are… the opposite of what they are?”

Deirdre felt a jolt of anticipation. Was Sylvia about to reveal something very important to her? “Yes?”

“Well, I, um, I don’t.”

“You like girls,” Deirdre said.

“…Not exactly.”


“Well… I mean, I like girls and boys as friends. And I do like being romantic with both girls and boys. Just romance, though. I just… don’t really feel any need for it to go any further.”

Deirdre was a little confused. “You don’t want sex?”

Sylvia sighed. “No, I don’t.”

Deirdre paused to try to understand. She certainly didn’t know what that felt like – her activities with Johann were proof enough of that – but she understood not wanting something that everyone else seemed to, like physical contact from everyone. Would it be so different to not want sex? Deirdre thought about how she felt at the moment in regards to that. Was that how Sylvia felt all of the time?

Sylvia looked anxious, and Deirdre suddenly felt bad for putting her on edge by being silent for so long. 

Deirdre reached out and touched Sylvia’s arm. “I don’t see any problem with that. Everyone wants something different. If that’s how you feel, it’s just… how you feel. You can’t change that.”

Sylvia tackled her with a hug. “Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.”

Deirdre smiled and squeezed her. Sylvia was her oldest friend. They had known each other ever since the Man in Red had brought her out from under that stone. There was no way Deirdre could not love Sylvia, no matter how she felt in regards to sex an romance.

“You should go check on Johann,” Sylvia said. “I think maybe I heard him crying.”

Deirdre stood up and left the room. She stood in the hallway for a moment before going into their bedroom. “Johann?”

He was sitting at the end of the bed, eyes obviously red from crying. “My brother is dead, Deirdre.”

She felt something like a stone hitting the bottom of her stomach. “What?”

Johann handed her a letter.

“I can’t speak German,” said Deirdre. 

Johann sighed. “I wrote it out in English on the dresser. I didn’t believe it until I wrote it with my own hand.”

Deirdre went over to the dresser and started to read what he’d written on a scrap of paper. 

My dearest son, Johann Faust,

I am writing to you with regret. Only days before we received your letter asking after Wilhelm, we had received another, more shocking letter. Wilhelm was serving as a priest in a small church in France, when he was brutally attacked by a doglike creature said to be as big as a horse. He hung on for a few days afterwards, but his wounds were infected by the poor conditions, and there was nothing they could do save-

Deirdre had to stop reading, because she was close to throwing the paper in the fire. There was only one huge canine from France she knew of, and he had disappeared for several weeks with Oberon and Titania, before returning.

“Well?” Johann asked.

Deirdre wanted to say, Jean Gévaudan killed your brother, but she didn’t. Instead, she said, “I… don’t know what to say.”

“Some goddamn monster killed my brother.”

“I don’t know what to say, Johann.”

“Don’t say anything at all, then. I need to be alone right now, please.” Johann rubbed his temple. “My head is killing me.”

“Cold water,” Deirdre said.

“I want to be alone.”

“I’ll go into Sylvia’s room.”

“Thank you.”

Deirdre nodded to him and went back to Sylvia’s room. Before Sylvia could even get anything out of her mouth, Deirdre said, “Jean killed his brother.”

“Jean said that he killed a man in France,” said Sylvia. “A priest.”

“Johann’s brother Wilhelm.”

“I’ll kill him.” Sylvia paused. “Jean, not Johann or his brother Wilhelm.”

Deirdre wanted to scream and throw something, but she restrained herself and simply asked, “so, can I sleep here, now?”

“I guess. I won’t go to bed for a long time, and I might get up to kill Jean.”

“We should think more about it in the morning.”

“Yea, okay.” Sylvia moved over to create more space for Deirdre. Her room was small, and her single bed was against the wall, under a small, single window. It was covered in a soft and colorful quilt, which seemed to cradle Deirdre when she slid under it.

Sylvia put her arm over Deirdre, so that she could curl up against her. Deirdre closed her eyes and imagined how good it would feel to sleep here, in this bed, with her friend right there to protect her. She was beginning to feel a little less anxious facing away from the door, especially with Sylvia awake and able to see if anyone came in.

Just then, a tap-tap at the window began. Deirdre clamped her hands over her ears and tried to tune it out. She went spiralling backwards into the past, and felt as afraid as she had when her father had hunted her in the woods of 15th century Ireland. She was sweating, and shaking badly, and probably whimpering, because her mouth was open, but she didn’t know what was coming out. 

She had to stop this. It wasn’t really happening. She wasn’t back there. She wasn’t back there and it wasn’t really happening. She was on Nantucket Island in the year 1860. Nantucket Island in the year 1860. Nantucket Island in the year 1860. Nantucket Island in the year 1860. 

Deirdre was watching herself from above, she was watching herself freaking out in that bed, and Sylvia cradling her and speaking softly and saying that everything would be alright. It wouldn’t be, though, because she was- she was on Nantucket Island in the year 1860. That was where she was. Deirdre pulled herself back into her body, felt the shaking and the sweating subside, and slowly went still.

“Calm down,” Sylvia said softly. “Just calm down. Everything’s going to be alright. See? You’re already feeling better.”

Deirdre shifted. Her mouth was dry. She swallowed hard and reached out for the glass of water on Sylvia’s nightstand. “Can- can I drink this?”

“Of course.”

Deirdre drained the glass of water. She felt shaky and weak. “Sylvia-”

“It’s alright. You got through it, right? Just lie back down and try to fall asleep.”

Deirdre curled back up like she had before, only this time, she was certain to pull a blanket over her head so that she couldn’t hear that accursed thing at the window.


Three more posts until I go on a hiatus for November and December! I have several short stories lined up to publish, as well as a lot of art, (particularly some art of the major romantic pairings in the story) and I’ll be redoing pretty much the whole website when I have more free time in late December over the holidays. The archives will still be open, and I’ll still be publishing twice a week, but on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and they won’t be chapters. The first chapter after the hiatus will be at some point in early January, which I’ll have the exact date for later this month, hopefully.

Thank you for reading!

Johann – 2.18.7

Content warning: Something kind of like drowning

Johann laid a wet cloth across Leonard’s bruised forehead. 

“Get this goddamn fish off my eyes!” Leonard shouted.

Johann laid another wet cloth across Leonard’s bruised forehead.

“I’m serious!”

Johann laid a third wet cloth across Leonard’s bruised forehead.

“Damn you!” Leonard tried to struggle, but he had many heavy blankets on him, and he was as weak as a little baby right now.

“It’s not a fish,” Johann said.

“Yes it is! I hate you!”

“It’s a wet cloth, and it’s going to help your concussion.”

“Why would a fish treat a concussion?”

“It is not a fish, Leonard.”

“You’re a quack German fish doctor.”

“I am not, and this is not a fish.”

“Yes it is, and you’re only treating me because you’re irreparably attracted to me.”

“No- Well, yes, I kind of am, but that’s not why I’m treating you, and this is not a fish- stop struggling, dammit, I’m trying to help you!”

“Damn you!”

Johann held Leonard’s arms down. “Leonard, you have to stop struggling.”  

“Get the fish off my eyes first!”


Leonard fell silent for a moment, which disturbed Johann slightly. Still, it was nice to work in peace for once, especially since he had to turn around to get things several times. 

When he was done making Leonard as comfortable as he could be with his severe concussion, Johann sat down on the end of the bed. “Leonard?”

“Where is Serena?” Leonard asked.


“Yes, my wife. Where is she?”

“I don’t know.”

“Can you ask her to come here? Please?”

Johann sighed and stood up. “I will try to find her.”

He went downstairs and pulled on boots and a raincoat. Rain was coming down in sheets outside, and enough fog had rolled in off the harbor with the storm that a ship carrying Enoch, who had left for the twenty-third and should have been back today, could not dock. Johann imagined Enoch grumbling and groaning on the ship, and smiled. He could be hilariously dour sometimes.

Johann stepped out the door, and his glasses were immediately both fogged up and covered in water droplets. He cursed and took them off. There was actually no reason to keep wearing them.

Upon taking several steps along the sidewalk and realizing that people would be able to see him, he took the glasses back out and put them on again. 

Johann walked down Broad Street first. He stopped a worker outside the Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory, because the man seemed to be headed in the same direction he was.

“Have you seen a woman named Serena somewhere around here?” Johann asked. “Long black hair, dark brown skin, on the shorter side in terms of her body?”

“Nah,” the man said.

“Alright, thanks anyway.”

“Any time, my friend.”

Johann tipped his hat to the man and continued walking. There were docks at the end of Broad Street that made him slightly nervous after the events of Thanksgiving day, but he figured that was where he was most likely to find Serena. 

A fisherman was calling out the daily catch of shellfish. “Clams! Lobsters! Crab! Bay Scallops!”

“Have you seen a woman named Serena?” Johann asked.

“I haven’t,” said the fisherman. “Are you going to buy anything?”

To appease him, Johann bought a clam, shucked it, and ate it raw right there. The fisherman went back to calling out his catch.

“Have you seen a woman named Serena?” he asked a pair of young girls playing in the street.

The girls looked at each other and shook their heads.

Johann walked out to where some people were jumping off the docks. It was still pouring rain, but they didn’t seem to have any fear, especially a petite dark-haired woman who was swimming further out than anyone else. Johann grinned and took off his hat and coat. He dove into the water and swam out to where the woman was. “Serena!”

The woman turned around, and Johann saw that she was distinctly not Serena. He immediately felt bad, and would have apologized, if he hadn’t instantly been pulled down into the dark water. 

Something was clamped around his leg. Johann tried to pry it off, but he dropped his hands away when he saw that it was some kind of seal… thing. He tried to swim for the surface, but it dragged him down, and down, and down, into a cave at the edge of the land. 

Fortunately, it then threw him up inside of the cave itself, which was above the water line. 

It was a small, featureless rock cave, with nothing in it except for an oil lamp which lit it. How had that gotten down here?

The seal-thing flew up out of the water, momentarily scaring Johann out of his skin. It landed on the rock on two human feet.

It was Serena, wearing only a sealskin frock coat. She grinned at Johann and tossed her wet hair back behind her back. “Dr Faust! How are you doing today?”

“Well, you might have taken three years of my life away just there. I didn’t know you were a selkie. I must confess, I thought you were just Scottish.”

“That’s right, a Scottish selkie I am, and a Scottish selkie I’ll always be.” 

Johann stood up and ruffled his wet hair. “Good to know.”

“What brings you here today, Dr Faust?”

“Your husband.”

“Aye, my husband?”

“He has a bad concussion.”

Serena instantly went from happy to concerned. “He does? How? Who? Where is he?”

Johann pointed. “He’s up there. In Monica Carter’s house.”

“Take me to him. Please.”

Johann dove back into the hole. She followed him, and when he poked his head up above the water he found that it was raining even harder, enough that the youths at the docks were no longer there. Johann climbed up onto the dock and put his raincoat, which was now soaked inside and out, back on.

Serena followed him, still wearing only her frock coat, back to Monica’s house. When Johann came inside, he was barely able to step over the threshold before Joseph, Monica’s son, screamed “Mama, someone’s coming inside all wet!”

“Sir, you are committing a crime,” Monica said from the study. 

“Sorry,” said Johann.

“Go upstairs and change your clothes immediately.”

“That’s what I’ll do.”

“Oh, and don’t get any mud on my hallway carpet.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.”

“There’s some half-naked woman with him, Mama,” said Joseph.

“Johann, I don’t care if you want to fraternize with a woman, but please refrain from teaching my son the birds and the bees several years too early.”

“This is Leonard’s wife,” Johann said.

“Oh. Carry on, then.”

As Johann led Serena up the stairs, he heard Joseph ask, “Mama, what are the birds and the bees?”

Johann opened the door to Leonard’s room and let Serena inside. She went up to him and took his hand in hers, murmuring something too soft for Johann to hear.

“Tell that goddamned doctor to get this fish off my eyes,” Leonard said.

“That’s not a fish,” said Serena.

“Yes it- Oh, who cares. Thank you for coming to see me, dear.”

“Of course.” Serena kissed his cheek and smiled at Johann. “Would you mind giving us a few minutes alone?”

Johann shrugged. “Take as long as you need. Just don’t do anything too straining, if you know what I mean.”

Serena laughed. “I do.”

Johann closed the door and went up to the room he had been sharing with Deirdre. Monty had moved back into his old farmhouse, but otherwise, all of his other friends still lived with Monica full-time. Luckily, she didn’t seem to mind. Johann checked on Deirdre, who was passed out asleep in their bed, then went up to the attic.

He almost tripped over Sylvia, who was clearly high as a kite on laudanum again. Wilhelm and Alice were playing a dice game, and Richard reclined on a pile of blankets, reading by the gray light of a small, circular window. 

Johann sat himself down between Wilhelm and Alice, purposefully interrupting their dice game.

“What?” Alice asked.

“We’re going to steal the body of Mrs Fuller,” Johann said. He turned back to look at Richard. 

Richard turned the page of his book calmly. “Yes?”

“We are stealing a body.”

“That’s nice.”

“You’re expected to help with this.”

“And so I will.”

“Good.” Johann turned back to the others. “Sylvia-”


“When you’re sober I’ll expect your help as well.”

Sylvia groaned. “It’s already happening.”

Johann turned to Wilhelm. “Wilhelm, you stay by me.”

“Okay, Dr Faust! I love working with you anyway.”

Right. He’d forgotten how irritatingly happy Wilhelm was. “Alice, Richard, you can-”

“I’ll do whatever,” Alice said. She unwrapped a candy and popped it in her mouth. “This candy is really good, by the way.”

“You’ll do whatever, and Richard will make the plan.”

Richard nodded and went back to his book. Johann took that as a sign of assent. 

Johann sighed and flopped back against the wall. “Nothing to do now but wait for Mrs Fuller to die.”


Fun fact #1: the whaling museum that spoiled the entire plot of Moby Dick for me is in the Hadwen & Barney Oil and Candle Factory today. It’s an interesting place, if very spoiler-y.

Fun fact #2: This is completely unrelated, but:

  • The words homosexual and heterosexual were first used in a letter from Karl Maria Kertbeny to his fellow gay rights activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, in 1868.
  • The word bisexual was first used by Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s in his book Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886. The book was translated into English in Charles Gilbert Chaddock’s translation in 1892.

Just some random fun facts!

Thank you for reading!

Monica – 2.17.4

Content warnings: Death, gore, some very weird imagery, near-drowning, discussion of slavery

The Speaker sat on the sofa across from Monica and Leonard. They were a short, stout figure that looked an awful lot like jellified Bird’s Custard in a suit, thanks to the fact that they were only an imitation of human form. Their skin was sallow and stretched too tight, their eyes were like glass marbles that had been dropped into pits slightly too big, and their shoulder-length hair was the dull color of the dead leaves that skirted across the paving stones in fall. All over, they looked like the imitation of a person, like a human created from scratch from someone who had only ever had humans described to them by unobservant people who were bad at describing things.

“Good morning,” the Speaker said. “Duke Mephistopheles. Senator Monica.”

“Good morning,” said Monica. She shook the Speaker’s hand. “What should we call you?”

“Speaker Delta, thank you.”

“Are you… male or female right now?”

“Neither, thank you.”

“Good morning, Speaker Delta,” Leonard said.

Speaker Delta shook his hand, then sat back against the cushions of the sofa. “I understand that Senator Monica has invited me here today to speak with you on the aims of the Shaw-Captains during wartime in America.”

“Do we have confirmation for this war yet?” Leonard asked.

“Yes,” said Monica. God Himself had told her. 

“Alright, then.”

Speaker Delta pulled a folio out of their jacket and took out some papers. “Here I have the general logistics of the proposed strategy among the Shaw-Captains in the event of a civil war in America. We mostly rely on southern plantations for the production of cotton and tobacco, both in very high demand in Faerie, and on the North for the manufactured goods of textiles, leather goods, and firearms. Slave labor also drives most of the South’s economy – they have a deep economic investment in this war. The North does too, of course, because their merchants’ exports to Europe account for so much of the national income from exports. Who was it that said a few years ago, ‘cotton is king?’ He wasn’t wrong there.”

“It was James Hammond, a Southern senator,” Monica said. “What he really said was ‘What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years? I will not stop to depict what everyone can imagine, but this is certain: England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her, save the South. No, you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is king.’” Monica prided herself on having an almost picture-perfect memory. She could memorize whole speeches having read them only once or twice.

Speaker Delta looked impressed with her. “Well, I see that you keep up to date on politics, then, Senator Monica.”

“Yes, I do.”

“That’s very good. Continuing with what I was saying, there have been several proposed solutions to the issue of slavery, such as the federal government buying out all slaves – which would take an incociveable amount of money, by the way – complete emancipation, sharecropping, et cetera, but I don’t see any of them as feasible, and looks America agrees with me, because war is presumably the direction America is going in.

“So, what does this mean for our trade? Well, we expect the borders of the South to be tight in particular, because we expect that if and when war happens, it will be fought on Southern soil. The North will probably be consumed with manufacturing goods for the war, which means we won’t be able to purchase many things for our own trade. The Shaw-Captains intend to stay out of this mortal war, as they always have, and are at the moment considering buying from sources other than America for the goods America would normally provide. We expect trade to be slower for a while, though I can’t even dream of a day where trade among the Shaw-Captains halts entirely. In fact-”

Caro threw open the door to the parlor. “Mama, a murder, a murder!”

Monica and Leonard both stood up at the same time and spoke simultaneously. “A murder?”

“Yes, yes, Mrs Phebe Fuller, the ole’ widow who lives on Silver Street, she’s been attacked, maybe killed! You know Ca’pin Fitzgerald? The old man?”

“Yes,” Monica said. She was deeply confused by the entire turn of events – especially the part where it was Caro who somehow knew what was going on.

“Well, see, one of Mrs Fuller’s friends came in to see how she was, since it’s Thanksgiving, you know, and well, she found her knocked out with an old whalebone fid. She got Ca’pin Fitzgerald, and the doctor, Dr Sherman, and this other guy, Mr Macy, and I followed them, and because I’m very small I got to see what was what, and, oh, Mama! Blood everywhere! I never knew that a human head did such a funny thing when split open!”

Monica practically ran Caro over running for the door. She was out on the street in an instant, shoving past the gathering crowd to get to the front, where Mrs Fuller’s front door was thrown open. 

“Doctor,” Monica said, seeing Dr Sherman coming out of the house. “What happened?”

“I told you-”  Caro began to say.

“Hush, Caro. Doctor, what happened?”

“Mrs Fuller has been attacked.” Dr Sherman wiped off his bloody hands with a rag. “She’s still alive in there, though. Barely.”

Doctor Johann Faust, one of only two of the people in the crash who had been able to move out of Monica’s house for the time being, shoved past her to speak with Dr Sherman. “Sir, I have medical training. I attended several prestigious schools in Europe and I know- well, let’s just say I know a trade secret that you don’t, shall we?”

“I have this under control,” said Dr Sherman.

“I think you should let me help you,” Faust said.

“No,” said Dr Sherman.

“Please, Dr Sherman, let me give you a second opinion on-”

“No, and if you don’t stop asking, then I’m afraid I’ll have to remove you.”

“No police force on Nantucket,” Faust said.

“No, there isn’t, but don’t think I won’t beat the living daylights out of you if I have to.”

Monica should have stopped this conflict. She wasn’t supposed to let the humans fight each other. But, she did sort of want to see Faust get punched in his smug, atheistic face, and she also had Caro with her, and she should get Caro home and away from the scene of the muder. Caro… where was Caro?

“Caro?” Monica asked. She’d slipped out of her grip, and Monica didn’t see her anywhere in the crowd or along the street. “Caro?”

Down the street, at the edge of the dock, she saw a flash of golden hair. Caro and another boy were pushing each other back and forth at the edge of the water. Cathy the doll was abandoned on the ground. Monica’s heart just about stopped. 

“Caro!” She shouted. The boy she was fighting with looked like he was Maxwell, the blacksmith’s son. They were good friends, weren’t they? Why were they fighting?

Monica made her way as quickly as she could through the crowd to the side of the dock. Caro had the boy’s wrists in her grip, and she was slowly shoving him off the side of the dock.

“Caro!” Monica shouted. She grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back, trying to get both her and Maxwell away from the water. Instead, she made Caro overbalance, and Maxwell flew backwards into the harbor.

Monica shoved Caro backwards and jumped off into the water without a second thought. She cut through the water easily, swimming down, down, down, much deeper than she should have been able to under the dock. The bottom, where the boy lay prone, was eternally right in front of her, just outside her grasp. Too late, she realized that she wasn’t going after a human boy. 

Monica tried to swim for the surface. She wasn’t sure exactly what had taken up residence under this dock, but she knew it was hungry for anything it could get its teeth into, up to and including one of God’s own angels.

Walls of darkness closed in. Monica’s lungs were about to burst. Why weren’t angels able to breathe in these human vessels? She cursed this fallen world and tried to keep swimming, but found that her limbs were sluggish, and she couldn’t think straight.

The surface was right next to her. The surface was there with its green – no, blue, remember your numbers – sky. Monica should flap her arms up because that would propel her to the sky. Or, she could stay here and let the blue blackness of the ocean swaddle her forever. 

There was a long pole above her. Monica grabbed it inquisitively, and found herself being ripped out of the ocean and thrown onto the dock, where she promptly lost consciousness for a few seconds.

When she awoke, it was because Leonard was pumping her chest up and down to get the water out. Monica vomited up more seawater than she would have thought her lungs could hold and sat up.

“Th- tank you, Duke Mephisto,” Monica said.

“Actually, you have Miss Sylvia to thank for your life,” said Leonard.

Sylvia Sapping waved from behind him. She was on crutches, because it was her leg that Monica had taken a broken piece of wood out of, and her chest was bound up from her broken ribs. She must have stuck one of her crutches in the water to pull Monica up.

“Thank you, Sylvia.”

Sylvia shrugged. “I only put my crutch in the water.”

“We have to kill whatever that was in the water,” Monty said. “I’ll sail out on the the water to find and kill it. Who will-”

“It’s off the dock, idiot,” said Sylvia. “We can kill it right from here.”

“What is it?” Deirdre asked.

“Bad,” said Monica. “Leonard, would you take Caro home?”

“I had Johann take her so that he wouldn’t fight with Dr Sherman.”

“Thank you.” Monica groaned and vomited up more seawater. “Ugh. I hate this.”

“Don’t worry,” Deirdre said. “We’ll kick that thing’s arse for you.”

Sylvia gave her a shocked look. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you swear!”

Deirdre shrugged. “I thought the situation deserved it.”

“Clear the area,” said Leonard. “Anyone without combat abilities needs to leave. Someone get the civilians out of the way so that we can deal with whatever the hell this thing under the deck is.”

Monica stood up, shaky at first, but getting stronger. She wasn’t supposed to harm anything in God’s creation, but something told her that this thing was outside of the Lord’s jurisdiction. She walked home, only to get her flaming sword out of the attic and strap it to her waist. 

“What’s going on?” Clarissa Janson asked.

“We’re going to fight a nightmare beast,” said Monica.

Clara’s eyes gleamed. “Let me get my shoes.”

The two of the walked back down to the dock, where Monty, Sylvia, and a huge man with auburn hair were standing around sharpening their weapons. Monty had a whaler’s harpoon, Sylvia a small knife, and the other man… nothing, apparently. He must have been very confident in his hand-to-hand combat abilities. 

Leonard came loping down the street a few minutes later. He had a massive medieval greatsword, the kind typical of demons, who were seemingly stuck in the middle ages. He also had a crossbow slung over his back, and a row of bolts across his chest. 

“Is this all?” Monica asked.

“There’s no police force,” said Leonard. 

“Is anyone else coming?”

“Yeah, one more person.”


Leonard shrugged and murmured, “I don’t know when she’ll get here.”

“We should walk along the beach and wade over to under the dock,” Monica said.

“That’s a good idea,” said Leonard. “Do you want to lead?”

“I’ll hang back. Defend the flank.”

“Alright.” Leonard turned back to wave at the others.  “Everyone, we’re going to wade down under the dock.”

He led them down off the dock, down onto the dark sand. Monica’s shoes sank into it and wet her feet a little, since they were so close to the waterline. She hiked up her skirts and followed the small group into the water. When they were all waist-deep and Monica had given up trying not to get her clothes wet, Leonard stopped and whispered back, “We’ve only got a little ways left to go, so listen to what I say when I say it. This might be quite dangerous, so keep close.”

With that, he started moving again. Monty seemed to dawdle for a moment, before Monica nudged him with her elbow and he jumped back into motion.

“Duke Mephisto,” Clara said, moving up to the front. “What exactly is this thing?”

“I don’t know,” said Leonard.

“You don’t know?” Clara asked.

“I think it might be a Thing,” said Leonard.

“What’re Things?” Sylvia asked. 

Monica sighed. Ah, the innocence of humanity and not knowing what a Thing was. 

A pale white tentacle burst out of the water, grew a face, and screamed at them. At least twenty more around them followed suit.

“Well, the Things usually defy definition,” said Leonard, “but I would say that that’s a Thing for sure.”

There was a moment of presumably horrorstruck silence as more and more tentacles burst out of the water, grew faces, and joined the cacophony of otherworldly screams. Monica tried to stay calm, reminding herself that this Thing could not kill her in any way that mattered, and that she had successfully fought and killed Things before. 

However, the humans presumably had not. They stood there facing these horrible monsters, as the moments drew past impossibly slow, probably waiting to be eaten alive. Even Monica herself was feeling the oppressive emptiness of the Things, and beginning to doubt that she really could win against this Thing. She struggled to silence that part of herself, wrestling the Thing’s mental attacks back away from her mind. If only there was some sound to distract her! The screaming had gone disturbingly silent as the tentacles wove back and forth hypnotically. There was no sound but for the quiet lapping of the small waves, and the silence was crushing.

That is, until Monty began to shout.

“Great hammerheads are an ocean fish. They are four feet long from head to tail tip. They live in warm, shallow seas all over the world. Great hammerheads eat stingrays, squid, other sharks, crustaceans and octopus. They surprise stingrays hidden on the seabed by crushing the stingrays onto the seabed with their “hammer”. All hammerheads use their “hammer” to fight and defend but the great hammerhead is the most aggressive (and the biggest). Great Hammerheads have a large number of ampullae of Lorenzini. They also have very small mouths.”

“What in God’s name?” Sylvia asked.

“Do you hear how quiet it is?” Monty asked. “I have to make some noise!”

“That’s a good idea,” Leonard said. “It isn’t attacking us yet because it’s waiting to see if it can possess any of us. Keep up the distraction, Monty.”

“I- uh- Oh! On April 18, B.C. 100 a cheese fight broke out. Many types of cheese were thrown. It wasn’t a very effective war though: most people just ate the cheese that was thrown at them. Some types of algae would agree that “it was a very tasty fight”.  Even though they couldn’t see it, because they were underwater. The fish  agree with the algae. The astoundingly large number of casualties: -1,000. A riot was started to collect more ammunition (cheese) and many shops were raided. The horrible criminal who started it all is Tarf McTam, [23] captured by detective Whodunnit last night. A picture of Tarf Mctam can be seen above.

What in God’s name?” Sylvia asked again.

“He’s just-” Clara began to say, but was cut short by the screams beginning again and reaching a crescendo. The first tentacle to reveal itself threw back the upper section of its head, flipped itself inside out, and revealed that the tentacle was full of teeth.

Leonard drew his longsword. “Kill it!”

Monica threw a splash of water enhanced with angelic strength that way, and knocked the tentacle back. Almost instantly, she threw her left arm wide, and twisted her sword around to bring up a barrier of holy fire to block a toothy tentacle that was reaching for her head. She held her sword in her right hand, holding it up and ready while keeping up the fiery barrier. If Monica held the sword at the right angle, she would be able to keep up the barrier of fire. If not, that side of her would be defenseless.

Monica twisted her wrist, and chopped at the bottom of a tentacle. She leaned the other way and stuck again, lopping the root off. It flew off to the side, and there was another crescendo of pained screams. A toothy tentacle swung down to knock her head off, but she matched it with her sword, and cut it in half with one clean swipe. That got her more screaming.

For a moment it looked like Monica might have been winning, and she allowed herself to feel a bit of elation. This wasn’t so bad! 

Then the bloody stump of a tentacle flew down and slammed her in the side of the face.

Monica saw stars. She was thrown into the water, sword knocked right out of her hand, which made her fire shield gutter out. Monica rubbed the spot where she’d been bruised, watching how the sky spun and how the two bloody tentacles in front of her swapped sides, in and out of focus, mirroring each other. Vaguely she registered Leonard screaming something as he cut a tentacle in half, but then the image of him was blocked by a toothy tentacle slamming into her arm. It was strangely painless, warmth spreading from that point onward to her entire body. 

Monica swore and rolled away. That was poison.

She heard someone yelling something at her, but she ignored them and dove her head under the water to retrieve her sword.

That was when she had what seemed at the time to be a fantastic idea. Some Things had some kind of heart in their material forms, which was a strange weakness in what were otherwise beings of complete strength. If she could find that, Monica could root it out, and dispatch this mortal form.

Monica grabbed her sword and crawled along the bottom, only coming up for air when she was about to pass out. The tentacles didn’t seem to see her crawling under there even when she slid past the tangle of pale flesh into the center of the monster, where there was a pulsating, throbbing hole that she immediately knew she had to climb through.

Crawling through the hole was disgusting, but when she got to the other side, she was in a room made of living flesh. It was only big enough for her to stand and possibly lay down at full length – which she wasn’t going to do – and in the middle sat a sort of pedestal, with an eye sitting on it.

Monica picked the eye up. She cocked her head and smiled at it, watching as the pupil turned to watch her.

She was not supposed to kill anything in God’s creation. Did this eye count? It looked like something the Lord would create, but it felt distinctly like it wasn’t – but it looked like something He might create. She hefted it and tossed it from hand to hand. Had God made it? Had He not?

They should have sent someone with less limitations to destroy this thing. Monica realised that one of her arms was numb. The poison the teeth had given her was taking control. 

She couldn’t destroy the eye if it was something God had made. Monica crawled back out of the hole, pulling it behind her. Why did it seem so much heavier?

The only person she saw was Clara, slashing and cutting at toothy tentacles like a woman possessed. Where were the others?

“Leonard?” Monica croaked. He had been fighting for sure, because there were crossbow bolts sprouting all over the monster’s tentacles. She spotted a form lying in the water, holding something long and skinny. Was that Leonard? Ishmael?

Suddenly, every tentacle turned towards her.

“Destroy the eye, Monica,” Clara said. “Please.

“I- I can’t.”



A tentacle slammed into her stomach and sent her flying. The eye flew out of her grasp, but a harpoon shot out of the water and skewered it mid-air. 

Thank God for Ishmael.

The monster screamed louder than it ever had before. Monica slammed her hands over her ears and shook her head, trying to drown it out. Her head began to pound, until it felt like it was about to explode. She fell to her knees and plunged her head into the water, seeking some release. It did nothing.

Then, as soon as it had begun, the screaming stopped. Monica tentatively lifted her head above the water and saw Clara and Ishmael picking up an unconscious Leonard. 

In front of them was the bloated corpse of a dead whale. Monica and Ishmael locked eyes, and suddenly something clicked. She knew why he hated whales so much. She knew why he had gone whaling.

“We’ll take him home,” Monica said, pointing to Leonard. It was time for her to play the leader. “Get yourselves home, too. Have Faust attend to you.” 

“And you?” Clara asked.

Monica swallowed hard and turned back to the bloated corpse. It was already starting to stink, as if it had been dead for weeks. “I’m going to take care of this dead whale.”


Fun fact! The whole thing with Mrs Fuller actually did happen on November 22nd, 1860 (apart from Johann and the Carters, of course). The murderer turned out to be a woman named Patience Cooper, and the case ended up being a big deal because Ms Cooper was African-American, and a judge was called in from mainland Massachusetts to give her a fair trial, which was huge in a time when slavery still existed. Ms Cooper was still imprisoned, because it was really obvious that she’d done it. At this point, however, Mrs Fuller was still alive, and had not woken from her coma to incriminate her attacker yet.

Thanks for reading!