A trumped up babysitter. I could not believe that this is the point to where my epic journey thus far had taken me. Punk One, my new name for the smallest of the trio, was a mess. I ended up having to turn Gungnir into a sword and cut through her shield and use flesh sorcery to put her to sleep. Then I put her hands behind her back and conjured stone around her wrists so there’d be no chance of fighting. “Hey!,” I yelled at the Punks Two and Three, still paddling around in the moat, “I’m taking y’all to my house and your patroness and I are going to have a discussion. Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way? Your choice.” The ice floes had chilled the moat; their teeth were chattering so hard that I couldn’t tell if those were nods of ‘yes’ or not. Eh, close enough. I banished stone until there was a rough ramp for them to climb out. “Yes, the little punk is asleep,” I said as they climbed out, shaking and shivering, “She is not harmed in any way.” Punk Two, the girl, shot her worst teen glare at me. I looked at Punk Three, the slightly older boy, “Behave, or I’ll knock y’all out too, I promise. It’s been a long day already.” Punk Three decided to keep his head down.

  I conjured a stone cart with no wheels, slapped a quick and dirty anti-gravity enchantment on it and put the sleeping kid on it. “What did you do to her,” Punk Three asked. “Are you going to make zombies out of us,” Punk Two followed up, their angry looks offset by their entertaining shivering.

  “You’re not in a place to ask questions right now, but no, I don’t make zombies. I work with water, earth, and nature,” I said, “And she’s asleep because she was hysterical. Besides, that was my bird that killed the zombie, remember?”

  “But magic is dirty and unclean!” Punk Two said.

  “Magic isn’t dirty!” I retorted, “It’s a tool like a hammer. I could hammer a nail or smash a skull, same tool, but very different uses.”

  The boy just looked at me, curiosity and confusion warring on his face. “Don’t listen to him!” Punk Two said, her hands clenched into little fists still shaking with the cold, “We’re just zombie parts for him!”

  “Okay, more craziness, joy.” I muttered, reaching out with one hand and tapping her skull. She bonelessly slumped to the ground, put to sleep by my flesh sorcery. I put her on the cart and shackled her hands with stone as well. “Alright,” I said, pointing Gungir at the last awake member of this pain in my ass trio, “You’re going to push the cart with your friends where I tell you, got it?” He couldn't nod fast enough. I conjured stone around his feet, “That’s just to make sure you can’t go anywhere for a minute.” I told him. Walking to the moat, I could see their gear spread out at the bottom. I called on the water to spit out the stuff and it obliged, delivering the bats and sports gear armor and setting the stuff at my feet. The armor was a mix of hockey and football gear. I picked up a shoulder plate, running my hand over it while trying to feel it out with my magical senses. A slick white film of power just barely covered it, rebuffing my sensory foray. “Fuck it, I’ll deal with it later.” I said, gather it all up and putting it on the cart and covering it with ice. Banishing the stone at Punk Three’s feet, I said, “Follow me.”

  The twenty minute walk home was quiet. My hoverboard plodded along at a slow pace, matching the boy as he pushed the awesome anti-gravity cart to my house. I tried to ask questions, but he gave no responses to anything other than my directions to the house. And I asked everything, what are your names, how did y’all get to be paladins, what have y’all been doing since the Ripple, how did you discover an ancient goddess, and the list went on. Nothing. Little shit. I mean, I was a little shit too at that age, but damn dude, it’s the apocalypse, a little common courtesy would be nice. I mean, I didn’t blow them all to kingdom come or encase them in a coffin of ice. That was nice of me. Honestly, I don’t even know why I’m taking them to my place. They tried to kill me and honestly believe that magic is the root of all evil, when everybody knows that it is in fact stupidity that is the root of all evil. Most of mankind’s ills, I truly believe, came from the dark womb of stupidity. And what are the bedfellows of stupidity? Youth and ignorance, as showcased by the pitiful paladins.

  The two girls woke up by the time we arrived at my house. I turned off my hearing for a moment as I banished the ice around their weapons and threw them on the ground, then buried them with my earth sorcery. Then, I banished the shackles and the cart, dropping the two of them to the ground. Restoring my hearing was also a mistake, as their whining and screaming did not cease with my less than kind treatment. The boy didn’t say anything this whole time, just looked at me with his arms crossed. I conjured a flashbang pebble, threw it up high, and detonated it, the boom silencing the children. “I am not your mother, I am not your father, I am not your guardian, and I am not your friend,” I growled, “But I am not evil, I will not turn you into zombies, and I will not do anything weird or unacceptable towards freaking kids! Got it?” All three just looked at me blankly. “What do I have to do to get it through to you boneheads? I seriously just want to be left alone and prep all of this . . .” waving my hands gesturing at everything around us, “for the upcoming war and invasion of our damn planet. Now, how the fuck do you summon your goddess? She and I are going to have words.”


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