About Vaal

Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter. You can also purchase his books from all major platforms from the bookstore

Smoke, Shadow and Shade

“–brings to five the number of Chicago police officers injured while off duty just this month. CPD spokesperson Micheal Howie denies any connection between these incidents and the ongoing crackdown against the terroristic Corbin Street Gang, which has been described as open war since the near fatal torture of CPD Sergeant James Lawson late last year. Howe also denied that last night’s assault on a presumed Corbin weapons cache was the work of the vigilante known as The Shade. If you will recall, the assault left eight alleged members of the notorious and brutal gang hospitalized, some in critical condition.”

The television clicked off.

“He’s getting worse,” Candace McCartney murmured to herself as she dropped the remote on her kitchen table and shifted her attention to what was taking up most of said table’s surface. She’d placed a paper map of Chicago, marked in red where confirmed reports of appearances by The Shade had taken place and in green where possible sightings had been reported, front and center. Next to it was a bowl of water scented by various herbs with a silver cross pendant at the bottom. There was also a small baggie of white sand, the lid off … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.6

This entry is part of 49 in the series Current

Of course, Kura wouldn’t recognize the little monsters that boiled up out of the grass as velociraptors. Even after more than eighty years removed from the source material that introduced them to the mainstream, Hollywood insisted on using the name for a strange mash-up of utahraptors and deinonychus. Adding a few feathers and changing their arm position didn’t make up for the fact that they were twice the size of the real thing.

No, the creatures attacking her didn’t come from her mind but more likely from Tink or Melissa who had more accurate information.

The size of turkeys, the raptors had skeletal faces wreathed by blood red feathers that stood up and out as they charged. Their vocalizations were like loon calls which were in turn like women screaming bloody murder. The pack numbered eighteen, and the moved in odd synchronicity, breaking up and regrouping for a pincer attack like a school of predatory fish or starlings.

With on hand firmly on the unicorn’s horn and her other arm wrapped around its neck, Kura used her floating power combined with the faerie’s wild thrashing to swing around until she was on its back. “Listen, if you stop trying to … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.5

This entry is part 48 of 49 in the series Current

Lisa acted quickly, drawing on not what she’d learned from the Orrery of Worlds, but the work the Magi Club had been doing with spell augmentation. With staff in one hand and a glass marble in the other, she concentrated on drawing the energy from deep within herself and drew it out in precisely timed bursts as she cast the main spell. “Globo de fuerza!”

Arcs of white lightning flew from the head of her staff, tracing into being a sphere of force that surrounded herself and those closest to her: Kay, Tammy and Kura. These three had been close to her just for this purpose and that plan bore fruit as moments later, the thundering herd tore through the first trees. While the big animals did have the wherewithal to try to dodge the obstacles, there were simply too many of them and the larger ones forced the smaller into the trees where some shouldered them down.

One big tree fell right on top of Lisa’s globe of force and broke in half rather than damaging the globe itself.

Juniper in the meantime grabbed onto Melissa and flew straight up, putting herself above the trees, and Cyn shucked off … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.4

This entry is part 47 of 49 in the series Current

No one had to say it. It was obvious that the object of their quest could be in no other place in than the grand ziggurat clearly visible to them from across miles upon miles of landscape infested with ancient reptiles.

“How far do you figure that is?” Warrick asked Tink, who had pulled her goggles down over her face to get a better look using their magnification mode.

She shook her head. “My rangefinder says thirty-two point six miles. We’re… not making that walk in a day. And Occult’s platform moves slower with the more people who ride on it. It’s going to take… days. Days out there in the wild with monsters when most of us have never even been camping.”

“I know a few things,” Juniper offered, shyly raising a hand.

Cyn smirked at her. “I keep forgetting that you know about this sort of thing.”

The other woman shrugged. “It doesn’t come up much.”

Warrick gestured to the land before them. “It’s totally coming up now. Back home, camping out for us was draping a blanket across the backs of a couple of chairs in the living room, so anything you have to say… well it’s … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.3

This entry is part 1 of 49 in the series Current

“Anyone surprised Big Bird flew behind a waterfall?” Cyn was standing at the edge of a jutting rock outcropping overlooking another of Kukenán’s minor waterfalls. This one dropped about eighty feet into a deep pool with no visible outlets as its edges disappeared into the crowding jungle around it.

The team had landed the Karasu no Yūrei in a clearing a quarter mile away and walked to the top of the falls to make their way down.

“Not only that, but the chances of it just being a little cave with a mama pterodactyl and her chicks is rapidly approaching zero.” Tink agreed, crouching at the edge rock. Looking over her shoulder, she addressed the others. “So we have a ton of ways, but how are we going to get down?”

Lisa smirked and took a piece of glass from her spell reagent satchel. “Well take the elevator of course. Levante este pared!” She cast the glass into the space just beyond the waterfall and in a ripple of scarlet energy, it reformed into a translucent, pentagonal tile that then began to expand and subdivide until it became a platform about eight feet to a side floating about two feet … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.2

This entry is part 46 of 49 in the series Current

As it happened, Kareem had already made an appointment for a therapy session with Dr. Lauren Masters on the same day the mission to South America was to take place. Warrick had no intention of interrupting that, so he moved to the next person on his list: the Descendants’ resident healer, Melissa.

To his surprise, she didn’t take much convincing once he explained to her that she’d be subbing in for Kareem.

Even as leader of the mission, Warrick had no idea how, but Tink had been sent a special transponder code via the ROCIC that would inform Venezuelan air traffic control that the team were allowed in their airspace. With that and plenty of gear for a multi-day trip if need be, they left Mayfield at around seven in the morning on an eight-hour flight south.

They spent that time pouring over satellite maps of the Kukenán region, searching for likely landing spots for the jet and locations for the artifact’s hiding place. It originally appeared to be a simple task: the tepui was less than two miles at its longest side, but at the same time, it was two thousand feet high with densely forested flanks, any of … Continue reading

The Descendants #103 – Power and Responsibility Chp.1

This entry is part 45 of 49 in the series Current

After months, the Descendants and the loose alliance of heroes under the semi-private banner of Life Savers, Inc had still failed to bring the former ROCIC installation they had been gifted as a headquarters to full operational capacity.

Nonetheless, Laurel had taken one of the higher level offices for her own even if she rarely used it and it was here that she was holding a meeting that she knew would change a lot of things when it came to the team.

“I get that you’ve got a lot to do,” Warrick Kaine was saying, sitting across from her with his palms on his knees as he leaned far forward in his seat, staring at the floor, “And I get that Mr. Smythe and Miss Keyes have to go to California for the thing with Mr. Smythe’s mom… but can’t we wait until they get back? I mean, we’ve waited all this time to go after these things.”

Across from him, Laurel’s expression was not unsympathetic. She knew she was putting a lot on his shoulders, but in order to move forward, she knew this was for the best. “We could, but they’re also going to be visiting Alexis’s family … Continue reading

Descendants #102 – Tales of Consequence Chp. 6

This entry is part 2 of 49 in the series Current

“I apologize for taking so long getting back to you.” Laurel took the seat offered her opposite Vincent Liedecker’s in his main office at the Westinghall Building. The man himself was pouring measures of brandy into snifters at a sideboard near the window.

“Nothin’ of it, Miss Brant,” Liedecker said, delivering one of the drinks to her before pacing back to the window to look out over Westinghall Plaza. “I think you can be forgiven for bein’ busy this week.” His expression grew dire. “I hear they attacked your house. Any of yours hurt worse than the news says?”

Laurel took the accepted drink but found herself staring into it rather than drinking. Even now, she was tense, trying her best to conceal just how stressed and tired she was. “Nothing we can’t handle. Injuries come with the job, and thankfully we have a healer among us.”

Liedecker sipped his own brandy, still watching the people below. “Good to hear. Good to hear.”

At length, Laurel finally heaved a sigh. “At this point, should I play coy and wonder aloud about how you’re taking this all so well, or do we respect one another enough for me … Continue reading

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