Issue #27: Beyond Good And Medieval

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

Part 2

Keeping her cool glare on the prelates, the new arrival glided down the stairs like a queen reviewing her subjects. Her mannerisms indicated someone used to people doing as she said to the point where her only response to events happening to the contrary was anger.

When she reached the door, she gently pulled Charity aside so that she was between the Descendants and her younger sister. “Glory Duvall, my father’s eldest. While he’s away, I’m in charge here. I’m going to give you one minute to explain why you felt you had any right to barge in here and start ordering my sister around.”

Beneath his visor, Chaos glared. “For one thing, we didn’t barge, ma’am. We’re still outside, actually. For another, we’re not here to give anyone any orders, we’re here to warn and protect you. See—“

“We don’t need protection.” Glory cut him off.

Chaos ignored the interruption and soldiered through. “Your youngest sister, Joy; she attended the Academy last year, right? I’m sure you heard what happened.”

“Yes, and I would like to know where in the hell you got that information.”

“We’re superheroes.” Facsimile shrugged. “We get to do that kind of stuff.”

Chaos gave her a look that told her that now wasn’t the time and in a rare moment, she quieted down. “That’s not important, Ms. Duvall. What’s important is that the same people who were kidnapping students from the Academy are on their way here right now, and they want Joy.”

“On the contrary, I think it’s very important.” Glory struck back. “Because your source could be unreliable, or even someone trying t push you into taking an action they want you to take. Has it occurred to you that maybe they didn’t even know where we were until you came straight here?”

“We found out you were coming here for the summer from Joy’s website.” Zero said helpfully. “And the summer house is public record. Anyone could find you.”

Glory glared at her. “In any event, I think—and my father would agree—that after being shuffled around private schools for the last six months because of the Academy’s problems, Joy deserves a normal summer vacation and a normal birthday.”

“Birthday?” Alloy queried.

“Yeah.” Charity said, tucking her fingers under her arms in an agitated gesture which was at odds with her casual tone. “That’s why we’re going to the Faire; Joy’s always wanted to go to one with my friends and me.” She gave Glory a sidelong look. “Speaking of which, Glo, you’re not in costume.”

Glory sniffed, actually turning her nose up at her sister. “I said I would pay for this trip and promised Father I would keep an eye on you, but there is no way that I’m wearing that ancient torture device and showing off all of my assets to the world.”

“Oh come on!” Charity exploded, forgetting the current situation entirely. “What’s the point if you’re not going to have fun with it?”

“Can we please get back to the problem at hand?” Chaos asked, exasperated. “Your little sister is in danger. We can protect her, but we’re kind of going to need your cooperation.”

Glory left her sister’s protests hanging to jump on the comment. “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe there are people who don’t want or need your protection? Do you ever ask before sticking your visor in people’s business?”

“Then why don’t we ask her?” Charity asked, finding a way to both diffuse the situation and get back at her sister.

“That’s insane.” Glory insisted. “She’s a child. She doesn’t understand—“

“Still, she’s got a right to know, right?” The Descendants all looked back; shocked that Hope had joined the confrontation. “I mean, you’re about to drag her out into danger just to spite Chaos here without even telling her that she’s in danger?”

“May be in danger.” Glory corrected.

“Yeah, ‘may be’, “Chaos mocked her tone. “But sure, let her decide. She’s the one who’s at risk, after all, not you.”

“It’s settled then. I’ll get her.” Charity announced.

“It is not—“Glory snarled, reaching out to stop Charity.

She didn’t need to, as Charity had no intentions of moving. Instead, she simply screamed up the stairs at the top of her lungs. “Hey Cryptid! Get your fuzzy butt down here!”

Clapping her hands over her ears to muffle the din, Glory ground her teeth. “You don’t need to do that!” she admonished. “We have intercoms. And I really wish you wouldn’t call her that.”

“Why? It’s her Academy handle.” Charity shrugged.

“It’s immature and tacky.” Glory said venomously. “We’re Duvalls; we don’t need to hide our names behind childish nicknames.”

There was a beat and following it, Charity gave the Descendants an apologetic nod. “Present company excluded of course.”

“Are we ready to go?” A childish voice chirped. Joy Duvall appeared at the top of the stairs. She was, in many ways, a normal, healthy, fourteen year old girl. In other ways, she was a fourteen year old girl with a fine, tan pelt, bat-like ears, a leonine tail, elongated feet that seemed a mishmash of some sort of dinosaur’s claws and a cat’s paws, overly large eyes, and a second pair of arms, which supported a wing-like membranous structure instead of normal fingers. The sight was made even stranger by the pseudo period garb of homespun breeches and a burlap tunic (adjusted to fit someone with her unique physiology).

Without looking to see who it was at the door, she leapt off the top stair and let her wings catch air enough to glide directly into Charity, who, being used to such antics, didn’t even flinch as her sister crashed into her for a hug. “Thank you so much, Charity. And I promise not to be annoying in front of your friends. This is going to be so…” Her rapid fire thanks slowed to a halt as she pealed herself off Charity and saw who was really at the door. For a few seconds, there was no sound coming from her mouth, which formed a surprised ‘O’.

Finally, her brain managed to send something to her mouth that wasn’t gibberish. “Th-th-these are…” She looked to Glory for confirmation. “Are they real? I mean the real thing?”

“Unfortunately.” Glory sneered.

“Oh my god, this is way beyond!” Joy squealed. “You guys got the Descendants to come to my birthday?”

“Uh…” Chaos started.

“This is… wow.” Joy gasped. “It’s really you?” She slowly inched toward Zero. “Zero? Oh my god, you’re like my favorite on the team.” She quickly looked around. “But you’re all great. Huh, where are Darkness and Codex? Do you guys know Infinity?” She looked back to Zero before any of her questions could be asked. “Hey, would you mind doing the Icebreaker for me? I’m sure there’s stuff around here Glory wouldn’t mind us breaking…” She gave Glory a pleading look. “Please? It’s in the name of science!”

“Icebreaker?” Zero asked, confused.

“Joy!” Glory had to grab onto her youngest sister’s shoulders to calm her down. “Joy. They’re not here for your birthday, sweetheart.”

Joy’s eyes went liquid. “They’re not? Then why are they here?”

Alloy took the initiative. He’d had experience breaking bizarre news to his own sister. “We’re here to protect you, Joy. There are some really bad guys out there. The same ones that got your school shut down. And they want to use you for their general badness.” He held up a finger in an assuring gesture. “But we’re not going to let that happen. After all—we’re prelates.”

“But.” Glory butted in, spinning Joy around to face her. “If you let them protect you, they won’t let you go to the Ren Faire with Charity.”

Joy looked back at Alloy with a look he knew all too well; the pout that all little girls know that universally destroys the resolve of any fathers or older brothers worth their salt. Even through long exposure, he had no resistance built up. Isp and Osp, who had been quietly watching events unfold, hid behind his back.

“The thing is, Joy.” Chaos stepped in. Being the youngest of two boys, he’d never had any experience with the look, but knew enough not to stare directly into those liquid eyes. “We need to stay close to protect you. The bad guys are plenty sneaky.”

Joy mercifully cut off her pout to mull that over. She’d heard the news and her sisters and father talking about what had gone on at the Academy and truthfully, it scared her that she could have been kidnapped right out of her dorm room and disappeared without a trace.

But she’d had her heart set on getting to hang out with her favorite sister and her friends. She didn’t know anything about Ren Faires except the bad ‘olde English’, but the outfits were fun and the real point was spending time with Charity, who wasn’t around as often as she used to be. But somewhere in her thoughts, she saw a logical solution where all the adults hadn’t.

“Why can’t you come with us?” she asked. Everyone looked at everyone else, bewildered. “Come on, it’ll be twice as fun that way.” She looked to Charity for back up. “Come on, Char, how cool would it be for Reeny and Les and everyone to show up and you’ve got the Descendants with you?”

“That would be pretty cool.” Charity pondered.

“And invite too much trouble, Joy. I’m sorry; we can’t just go there in our costumes. We’d attract too much attention.”

“But everyone will be in costume anyway.” Joy whined.

Glory smirked in her victory. “Sure, the one in the armor could pass if he didn’t have those… tendrils… and maybe the girl in the mask and cape, but the rest of them certainly won’t fit in.”

“You’d think that wouldn’t you?” Facsimile asked, still half in thought. “Hey, Charity, did you make that costume?”

“Yeah,” Charity nodded. “And the one Glory says she won’t wear.”

Facsimile nodded slowly and stepped back to look at Chaos and Hope. “Really, if Chaos keeps his cape closed like a cloak, he’d just need a mask to replace his visor and gloves for his gauntlets.”

“I don’t like where this is going…” Hope started.

“And we can make a few quick alterations of your stick in the mud sister’s outfit for Hope.” Facsimile said. As she did, she shifted away her wings and made her skin a rosy hue, while her hair went straw blonde. The ‘body suit’ that covered Facsimile became a dress and corset like Charity’s only in white and black instead of grey. Grinning, Facsimile rubbed her hands together and regarded Hope. “Time to get creatively anachronistic.”

***

Mike Samuels looked down the hill from the staff parking lot, taking in the fairgrounds spread out below him. He’d been doing this for twenty years, traveling to exhibition to exhibition to share his life’s passion with others. He wasn’t especially interested in the other activities that went on at Faires; he wasn’t one to try and reenact history or court life, or take part in the kitsch, touristy activities. For him, it wasn’t about romance, but about keeping an ancient art form alive.

Stretching to work out the kinks from his long drive, he trudged around to the back of his van to get his equipment.

Parking lot gravel crunched nearby. “Excuse me.”

Mike looked back to see a man in his late twenties standing there. He thought it a little strange that he hadn’t seen him earlier, but banished the thought instantly. “Yes?” Mike asked. He didn’t recognize the other man from any of the staff meetings and thought he would remember those striking Mediterranean features.

“Mike Samuels, right? The weapon master?”

“That would be me.” He nodded. “What can I do for you?”

“Not much.” The other man nodded absently, sidling over to Mike as he pulled out his case. “I’ve seen a few of your demonstrations. You’re a remarkable swordsman. I saw you over here and, well, I just wanted to shake you hand.”

There were the occasional sword play fanboys that would harass Mike and beg him to give them lessons, or impromptu demonstrations, but this man didn’t seem to be one of them. It was both heartening and flattering to think that someone finally appreciated his work that wasn’t wholly unprofessional in expressing it.

Setting his case down carefully, Mike extended his hand. The stranger’s grip was firm, and he thought he felt a shock of mild static.

“Well, I won’t bother you anymore.” The stranger said with a polite wave. “I can’t wait to see your skills in action today.”

“Thank you.” Mike said, nodding happily. The day had started well; now if only everyone who came to watch his demonstration was so polite and appreciative.

“That was it? I expected something more… well more, Colt.” A voice said over the stranger’s shoulder once he was out of earshot of Mike Samuels.

Josiah Colt, also known as the ex-Enforcer, Avatar shrugged. “Not everyone’s power is flashy, White Shadow. Yours, for example. We can’t all be as vulgar as Impact, not can we?”

“As long as it works, I’m not especially picky, to be honest.”

“It will work.” Colt assured his unseen accomplice. “At any point in the next three hours I need him; Weapon Master Samuels’s skills will be at my beck and call.” He smirked. “Now, let’s go have a word with the knights.”

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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