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Supercape

Maybe Baby (IC)

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GM

9th July 2011

Wharton Forest

Mr and Mrs Rhymer were young, in love, recently married, and had just had a new born child, Josephine.

They were not rich, but they got by. Mr Rhymer worked as a baker, and his young wife worked part time in a grocer store. They got by. They didn't have much, but they had each other and they were as happy as any two people had a right to be.

And today, they were taking a walk in Wharton forest. They could get some cheap food from their jobs, and had a fresh and tasty picnic with them. They had set it up in a secluded part of the forest, and were enjoying the fresh bread, tasty sundried tomatoes, and josephines gentle sleep. They kissed and laughed.

And then Josephine was gone.

And three dancing dwarves in red caps and ghastly laughs were all that were seen and heard above the screams of the parents.

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Siobhan was tired. The emails, the letters, the calls to go off and do interviews, then having to deal with every monster and beastie going... they were just getting too much for her.

So she sat, in the lotus position, legs folded and hands resting on either knee, her head tilted slightly upwards with her eyes closed. Her breathing was slow and rhythmical, barely making a sound as she breathed in and out. To her right, Hayley dozed peacefully on the grass, sprawled out with legs spread-eagled.

Which, of course, was totally ruined by the screaming sounds. In a flash, Siobhan had burst from her trance, and kicked up off the ground, wand in hand. "Hayley, come around under me!" she commanded to the dazed looking furball, which promptly bounded off into the bushes.

The witch appeared above the picnic site, wand leveled downwards, winds blowing up and around her, making her coat flap and billow.

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GM

"My baby my baby! My precious sweet Josephine!" wailed Mrs. Rhymer, distraught. She wrung her hands and puller her hair. Mr. Rhymer was no less frantic, running around in circles fruitlessly, looking under logs, stones, and on one particularly mad moment, a leaf.

From the distance, came a chuckle, a giggle, and a snigger.

"Off to the Unseelie Court with sweet Josephine!" came the mocking laughter.

Seeing the appearance of Equinox, the Rhymers threw themselves at her "please, return our daughter!" they wailed, unsure if Equinox was the theif or a potential saviour.

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Siobhan landed on the ground, the wind abruptly dying down as she summoned up a field of wards around her, and then used the small spell stored in her pentacle amulet. Surrounded by a fluid, yet solid, wall of will and magic, she looked around her, searching for the redcaps.

"Don't worry, I'll do everything in my power to find your daughter," said the witch in the most assuring tone possible. <Hayley, I can't see them. Can you sniff them out??

<Yes, yes!> whispered the raccoon's voice in her head. <I'm hiding near them... can smell them...> Siobhan just nodded to no one in particular at this.

And closed her eyes, casting her mind through the mental link she shared with her familiar. She opened her eyes to see... undergrowth, and small furry paws beneath her feet. And the smells of trees, and leaves, and animal trails... and faeries up ahead.

Gathering enough presence of mind to both look and smell through Hayley's senses, yet gently overlay what her own eyes saw over this image, Siobhan reached out with one hand, and made a come hither gesture. "I know where you are, redcaps. You don't fool me."

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GM

"Oh thankyou lady!" wailed the still wrecked mother, held in the arms of the equally distressed father.

"Fiddle dee de" came the laughter from the woods ahead.

"Smell us can ye?,

Rot, bother, and spoil,

Double our toil!"

The laughter had a definite note of frustration that was half-concealed amongst the jocular timbre that perfused the verse - never mind its quality, of course. There was even a suggestion of rustling leaves and a smack round the head as the faerie folk squabbled amongst themselves.

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"Yes, I can smell you. And I can't smell a baby, which one would frankly assume to be somewhat easier than it is to smell a faerie masked by glamour. Which means... nothing is stopping me from saying one little word."

Siobhan brought her right hand, holding her oak wand, up into the air, and the other hand sliding downwards towards the ground. Then spun them both round, in a gesture evocative of tipping over a large container. "Kinesi." The ground beneath their feet exploded in a shower of earth, rock and falling flora.

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GM

The three redcaps tumbled out of the erupted forest, covered in soil and leaves, their squat bodies spinning and stumbling from the force of nature that had been unleashed upon them.

"The earth does quake and rumble!

My feet do slip and tumble!

My head does pound and smack!

My sight does fade to black!

Came the less than amused lament, as the three fae creatures staggered around for a few seconds before collapsing in an entwined heap, all unconscious.

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Siobhan, still in full "wrathful witch" mode, kicked one of the unconscious redcaps off to the side, so that she could easily bind the other two, roots bursting forth from the ground to wrap them up in an ever-thickening knot of vine-like wood. The third one, she just propped it against a chunk of rock her attack had thrown up, and pointed her wand at its head, willing a red glow of fiery heat into the tip, ready to blast it forth at a moment's notice. "Hayley!" she called, as her dazed-looking raccoon hopped out of a long trench of dirt and stone her attack had thrown up. "Alert me the second that thing even stirs. I need answers."

Then, wand still aimed at the unconscious faerie, she turned to the Rhymers, and her face softened. "Oh god... listen, my name is Siobhan Drake. I'm a superhero called Equinox," she said, trying to sound soothing. "What I need to know in order to help you is your surname, and I'll need to know exactly what happened here. That way, I can find who has her, and bring her home."

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GM

"We...we are the Rhymers..." said the unsteady voice of the father. "I am John, this is my wife Irene..."

He seemed to be to shaken to fully grasp the situation, and was on the verge of babbling. "We just came here for a Picnic... I swear, the baby, Josephine, was asleep, we barely took our eyes of her for a second. Please! you have to help us, she is our only child!"

At this, Mrs. Rhymer burst out sobbing in a new frenzy of tears. She threw herself at Equinox's feet and clawed at her long black coat, pulling at it in desperation.

"You have to help us! Bring back our Josephine!" she screamed.

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Equinox dropped her wand, and knelt down to hug the poor woman. "Listen," she said softly, resisting the urge to say It'll be alright, knowing it would never help. "It looks like they took her to the land of the faeries. I can go across there and bring her home."

She screwed her eyes shut and leaned her head against the woman's. "Irene Rhymer, John Rhymer, I swear by all my power that they're going to give her back. But to do that... I'm going to have to ask you to go home, and try to remain at least somewhat calm. Tearing open a door between worlds then going into Avalon is going to be difficult. I'm sorry, but you can't help me. Go home, and I'll bring her to you."

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GM

The two Rhymers still wept, but not without abandon. Mrs Rhymer slowly got to her feet with her husbands help, and by clawing her way up Equinox's cape.

"Can you miss? can you?" they asked "please! promise us you can bring her back!" they implored, voices cracking with despair.

And yet, not total despair. Equinox had brought them hope, hope that their worst nightmare could end.

The Rhymers gave Equinox there address, with a degree of solemness, and departed back through the wood, giving Equinox infrequent backwards glances pregnant with expectation.

"Fiddlesticks" moaned one of the Redcaps, as his eyelids fluttered and he reached for his skull.

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Equinox forced a small smile at the couple as she stood up. She made sure to both memorize the address on the paper, make Hayley memorize it too, and only then did she put it in her pocket.

Which is why she hadn't picked up her wand when the redcap stirred, and was forced to quickly mumble "Fotia," and light her right hand on fire.

"Fie! Fie!" she shouted at the faerie.

"Little faerie warrior, how do you do?

Don't you know I can speak in rhyme too?

Tell me where they took the child,

Or o'erturning the earth will be made to look mild."

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GM

"Scary witch with scary wand

I was tossed around in earth and pond

the child they spirited away

to the wond'rous land of fae

never to be seen again

by mortal eyes, do ye ken?"

The Redcap weakly chuckled, but fear was clearly in its eyes as it listed to Equinox and her dreadful rhyme.

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Equinox's hand flared up brighter, and her eyes flared up a more brilliant white. "I know that, I'm not stupid." She shook her head. Then fixed her gaze directly on the captured faerie's, not even bothering to look tired, or exasperated. She just looked angry.

Behind her, Hayley went to retrieve her wand, and the witch caught it deftly in her left hand without moving her right one, or even averting her gaze for a second.

"Where in Avalon? What lady or lord?

I'm going to them, with spell and sword,

This child is not yours, it's plain to see,

So I'll ask you again, or will you deny me?"

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GM

The redcap sighed. Clearly the witch wanted more than what he had attempted to brush her off with. Evasion would not suffice, it seemed.

He cleared his throat.

"On the floating Isle there be,

A witch fae touched by Unseelie.

Under water, under stone,

She whiles her time, on her throne,

Childless has she ever been,

Till our theft, so it seem!"

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Equinox tossed her hair back, and turned away from the redcap, not fearing the cowering, simpering thing.

"And without her child still she'll be,

Her plans did not account for me,

But scurry off, little pig, take your friends,

And hurry off, quickly now, a'fore your end,"

And the witch turned. "And bring a message back with you. I formally challenge your lady's champion to a duel. Terms to be discussed, but if I win, I want the child. She can name her price, and name her warrior. Can you do that?" She stirred up just enough wind around her to make her coat billow and blow in its breeze. "Or is it above the competence of you brave faerie warriors?" The last few words came out as a languid laugh.

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GM

The Redcap looked cross for a moment and scowled.

"Away we go, away we fly!

With your challenge we bid goodbye,

To meet and greet and beat again,

In the fae Queens dismal glen,

Who the champion is I cannot say,

And how to fight, in what way...

With that the Redcap chuckles slightly, with a nasty timbre this time, before fading away from view as it disappeared (along with his two friends) into the realm of the fae...

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Siobhan glowered after the disappearing faeries, then turned to Hayley, and nodded briefly. The raccoon crawled up her leg and up onto her shoulder. "Spiti, James." In a flash of white light, the witch and raccoon vanished from the ruined landscape left behind them.


The stack of books fell to the floor with a thud as they appeared in Siobhan's apartment, displaced air scattering papers everywhere. "OK, Hayley, we're going to storm Avalon," she said firmly, kicking books and ashtrays aside casually as she carefully drew a chalk circle on the floor.

<Avalon? Like... the fairie place?> The raccoon cocked her head from her perch on the sofa. <Are we going to get shot at again?>

The witch just nodded. "Yep. So, fair warning now. DO NOT EAT THE FOOD. They will ensnare you in a deal, you will not be able to leave, and what we're going in there to do will be very, very much compromised by me having to rip their laws asunder to bail you out." Her glare met Hayley's firmly. "Do you understand?"

The furrball recoiled a little, but nodded. <No food. Simple.> Siobhan just rolled her eyes and stood up.

"O Lord Hermes, the road I must traverse,

A child is stolen, in another universe,

Open this portal, and guide me through,

Yea, open this portal and guide me through,

Open this portal, so that I may pass,

Into Avalon, to complete my task."

She bowed briefly, wand held out to one side, and... a hole in reality appeared in the middle of her apartment, causing her eyes to water. She held her left arm out to be hopped onto. "Faithful sidekick!" she grinned, Hayley hopping on without hesitation. "It's show time."

Without a second thought, she dived across into Avalon.

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GM

The land of Avalon was strange indeed. Well, at least this part was.

Haley and her human companion landed, or arrived, at a cliff face, with streams pouring endless water into the clouds distantly below, amongst long grass, stones, and stunted shrubbery bearing exotically coloured and shaped fruit - all nectar to Haley's nose.

A long rope bridge, swaying gently, passed several hundred metres to a massive island, floating in the sky, bristling with dense forestry and also with streams tumbling to the ether below.

And sitting on a stone, playing with a spinning top, was a young child, a boy of around 8 or so, with ruddy cheeks, a mop of blond hair and an attractive complexion.

Grinning broadly he waved to Equinox.

Welcome to the land of fae,

All I do is sleep and play!

Yonder is the floating Isle,

'Cross the bridge, for a mile,

The Queen awaits, and how she hates,

to wait too long, 'ere come your fates!

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Equinox involuntarily clutched at her head at the sudden rush of sensation as she stepped into Avalon. All around her, she could feel the magic in every rock, every stone, every being. The streams falling into the ether below seethed and sparkled with sparks of magical energy.

Hayley was having a similarly confusing time initially, spinning around in a disorientated fashion, and falling to the ground with a soft thump. Managing to make some sense of the confusion, she curiously approached the fruit, mouth watering and head cocked to one side.

<Dammit, Hayley,> came her mistress's voice in her head, and she curled up in a ball in shame.

Equinox sighed and prodded the furball with her foot, before turning to the child.

"Ignorant fairies," she muttered, before raising her voice.

"Turn off the glamour, no child are thee,

You think your magicks could ever fool me?

I'll dally for as long as I damn well please,

Coerce me not, or I'll drive you to your knees."

She smirked at the faerie in the rock. "Besides, when arriving in a noble court, is it not the done thing to have an announcer to go ahead of you?" Her smug satisfaction was somewhat hindered by having to flick her wand and suspend her raccoon in mid-air, jaws open and poised around a fruit which was now just an inch too far away.

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GM

The Child stamped its feet and looked very very cross.

"FIddlesticks to glamourtricks!

Sharp your nose, and sharp your eyes,

My deception comes as no surprise,

But pardon me, If I stay

As I am just today,

For I like this boy and how he plays,

And whiles away the merrie days..."

He hopped from his stone and gave his spinning hoop another twirl, before plucking a bright yellow juicy fruit, and sidling up the the duo.

He went up to Haley and patted the animal on its head in a friendly manner.

"Before we go, sweet Raccoon,

With silver fur just like the moon,

Would you like a sweet delight?

In my hand, a lovely bite!

Tis yours my friend for just the cost,

Of nothing but a promise hon'st,

To keep away from underground,

'ere blinded by the darkness found!"

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Before Siobhan could even finish her spell ("Kine-"), Hayley, still confused and disorientated by the strange goings-on, had bitten into the proffered fruit. "NO!" The cry escaped Equinox with a fury and rage. She raised her wand to the faerie's head height while darting forward to scoop up the fuzzball in her other arm.

<Sorry,> came the snuffling, bemused voice in her ear. Siobhan just squeezed Hayley tighter, and gave her a brief kiss on the head. <I didn't... I mean... I don't...>

"Ssssssh," said the witch soothingly, not lowering her wand arm for a second. "I'm here, it's alright. Nothing bad will happen." But her lips curled back in a snarl as her wand's tip burst into effervescent fire.

"Little bastard, you're a fool,

To think I'd let slide something so cruel.

So you'll do two things, I swear to thee,

Or your deal will be honoured by going through me."

She stopped to take a long, angered breath.

"First, tell me straight what your damned deal meant,

What stupid deal your words have sent,

Then get on that bridge and start to walk,

Lead me to your lady, with whom I must talk."

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GM

The child chuckled. Equinox was no doubt a powerful mage, but this was not her home turf, and it was hard to be threatened by a woman cuddling and kissing a Raccoon.

He did a few jig steps with his feet, grinning broadly.

"A harmless fruit can do no harm,

Tis not the bite that matters though,

Tis the hand that gives the woe,

But matters not, at least not now,

'Twill be revealed, you will see how,

But let us not swap angry words,

When bridge spans sky and songs of birds,

Away we must, as you desire,

Follow me, and do not tire!

And with a short hop, skip, and a jump, the young boy started crossing the enormous rope bridge to the floating isle.

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Equinox leaned on one of the posts holding up the rope bridge for a second, and called out, "Just a second!"

She whirled her wand around in a figure of eight shape. "Just remember next time you think you're so smart... I can rain fire and hell down upon you. I could call a hurricane, or a lightning storm, or a blizzard. It is within my power to shatter the very cliff I stand upon, casting the bridge and the rock down into the ether. And above it all, I would simply fly to safety."

Her countenance turned grim. "Could you comprehend that? How easy it would be to snuff out your existence with a thought and a word? You think you're so smart, yet you so casually and carelessly gave up your personal safety in your arrogance. I tell you this now to warn you: attempt to trick me, and you will suffer. Attempt to ensnare my familiar again, you will not be able to try it a third time."

But, rather than causing devastation, she walked onto the bridge and followed the faerie, still cradling the sniffling animal in her arms.

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GM

The journey across the rope bridge was long, and a little arduous, but not dangerous provided care was taken whilst crossing it. It certainly seemed a looong way down... to who knows where? all one could see below was cloud.

A few flying insects, glowing a slightly sickly yellow, buzzed around Hayley and Equinox at one point, with one of them taking an exploratory bite and suck on the poor Raccoon.

But eventually, they crossed the gently swaying bridge and where on the floating isle. Here, it seems the vegetation was denser, and the rocks and streams more plentiful and undulating.

"Come along, come along" said the young boy, pointing ahead to the dense forest...

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