A Journey of Black and Red

by

Mecanimus

That One Time I Was Involved In The Summoning Of the Selective Justice League Of Blood-Ash-Mango-

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A note from Mecanimus

Bread-Bunny-Dragon gentlewomen, Part I

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:

Candle, a girl who definitely has a soul and might be part-dragon

Enjoys: flying, her friends staying alive, chocolate.

Dislikes: Undead, necromancers, cold iron.

 

Elaine: a healer and part-time radiant flamethrower.

Enjoys: healing, the sun, mangoes, mango-based desserts.

Dislikes: hurting people, sexism, ants. Scared of dragons.

 

Ilea: a battle healer that mostly battles and heals little.

Enjoys: gourmet food, gourmet battles, making the world better.

Dislikes: politics, songs about her, child-killing death robots.

 

Ariane: Master vampire.

Enjoys: blood, the hunt, high-yield explosives.

Dislikes: the sun, pigs set on fire, being set on fire.

 

Eve: A runner on a Legendary quest for a loaf of bread.

Enjoys: Strawberry scones, exp, fancy dresses--not that she ever gets a chance to wear them, ale, banter, puns

Dislikes: Poppyseeds, falling on her face, illusion magic, the stench of cities, puns

 

Broccoli: a good-natured battle bunny.

Enjoys: making all the friends, seeing them grow, and go on adventures together!

Dislikes: bad things happening to people who do not deserve it!





***







A tiny island floated in the infinite expanse of some indeterminate void. It was a rather nice island, with a few trees, green grass, and a pretty pond filled with fresh water. Some astute observers might have noticed a few inconsistencies and told themselves: why, it looks like someone mashed together tourist brochures of what they thought a meadow should look like! They would have been entirely correct.

 

Now, time only had a tenuous grasp on the place on account of how very little matter was actually involved, but it was also of the essence elsewhere, and so things got a bit rushed from then on.

 

Portals started to pop up from all over the place. They came in a variety of scripts and formats to reflect their universes of origin. Some were young and aggressive, while some others had already seen it all and only consented to release their traveler after a proper please and thank you. It was all very messy.

 

The first to arrive was a muscular, lithe woman with free-falling raven hair and piercing blue eyes. She popped out of her gate before it could fully form, and the ritual petered out after the magical equivalent of a “Eh, whatever, less work for me.” She materialized a sort of rock made, of all things, from ash, and sat down. She grabbed a hot cup of something out of thin air, then patiently inspected her surroundings while the rest of the guests arrived.

 

The next to pop in was a teen with brown hair and a cheerful expression. Besides her medieval clothes and blue brigandine, her most surprising features were a pair of mostly straight bunny ears jutting up though her kettle helm. Her portal had been rudely pushed up by the others, and the poor lass was coughed out six meters into the air. Fortunately, she managed to twist on herself after a little yelp, and landed gracefully on her feet. She brushed herself and looked around a bit, ears turning left and right, just in time for the next guest to arrive.

 

Like a gust of wind, a woman in light leather armor and short dark hair came to a stop on a shower of newly-made earth and gravel. She immediately grabbed a massive bone club from her back and searched for whomever had caused this entire bullshittery. Said culprit had wisely decided to wait a bit until the situation settled down, as it were.

 

The rest of the eclectic group came out more or less at the same time. There was a blonde woman in a renaissance dress and a strange black gauntlet that was propelled mid-curse against a boulder. A young woman in chainmail, who had clearly been too close to a fire, landed ass-first into the pond. She had dark skin under all the grime and two blue eyes that immediately followed the others wearily even as she sat up to her waist in chill water. Finally, a short, slender woman in Roman lorica flew through her gate on a pair of winged sandals.

 

When no other portals formed, the different members took a moment to check that all their limbs had come with them (they had, it was not the portals’ first rodeo) and steal glances at each other. All, except the blonde woman in a Renaissance dress. She walked directly to the one sipping her tea.

 

“Hello again, Ilea.”

 

“Ariane.”

 

“I would not go through that thing again sober if I can help it. May I convince you to help me?’

 

The dark-haired woman, Ilea, considered the question carefully, then disappeared within a mist of ash. She came back out, throwing her own disembodied head at the waiting woman. There were a few gasps.

 

The limbs extended the head towards the blonde woman. She stared at the bloody offering, then at the headless body. Her decision made, she grabbed the decapitated torso like a giant bottle and latched on the neck. She then started chugging blood.

 

The dismembered head rolled her eyes and a brand-new body appeared from it in an explosion of flesh, immediately covered by a white shirt and dark pants combo.

 

“You know, I think this counts as sexual harassment,” Ilea noted.

 

The vampire shrugged and kept drinking. The other witnesses to the gruesome spectacle were not given time to react, as the next act of their adventure had started!

 

Before them, the master of the domain appeared in all his glory.

 

Chimes and horns roared a mighty fanfare, complete with an otherworldly chorus that seemed to come from everywhere at once. The apparition expanded from a central point in a four-dimensional canvas, with carefully chosen fractals of alternating eyes, white wings, and fingers. Crimson bands with five sides each (or seven, depending on how many strings of reality bothered to show up) formed nice little flows like eldritch bowties, and there was even a pair of trousers somewhere. As far as first impressions were, the being decided, you could do worse. Unfortunately, the result was poorly received on account of being madness-inducing.

 

“AAAAAAAAAH!” everyone screamed, except the woman with the ashed tendrils and furniture. She had taken out her cup again, and sent the being a mental message.

 

Tone it down, and stop messing with space.

 

A great blast like rock-flaying wind across a frozen planet rolled over the islet. It was celestial for ‘sigh, if I must’.

 

A second later, a tall man with a handsome, clean-shaven face and carefully combed pale hair stood before the assembled women. He wore a white costume and a winning smile, and he was the spitting image of a toothpaste commercial. The freshly made body took a great breath to address those before him.

 

“Blarb flub pfthththttbt.”

 

An awkward silence descended upon the group.

 

“I think he’s trying to communicate,” the woman with the bone club said.

 

“I find his argument unconvincing,” the vampire noticed.

 

“It’s okay, sir, take your time! I know you can do it!” the bunny-girl said, her voice filled with genuine conviction. She gave him a thumb’s up.

 

The small dark girl sneezed and turned into a dragon. She now covered the entire pond.

 

Instead of answering, the man closed his eyes and focused on something out of view. A transparent cube emerged from out of nowhere and encased him, then his entire face moved like a video being fast-forwarded at max speed. Eventually, the cube faded and the man returned to normal, for a certain, rather lax definition of normal.

 

“I think I got the hang of it now. You creatures of flesh make it seem so easy. Anyway, sorry about that. Ahem.”

 

His voice suddenly turned solemn and very loud.

 

“Welcome, heroes of a distant land!”

 

“Heroines,” the woman in Roman armor corrected.

 

The man stopped and glared.

 

“Look, I was just reading the traditional text okay? It accounts for all genders. Could you cut me some slack?”

 

“Looks to me,” the ash woman said as she checked a nail, “that you’re going to ask us for help.”

 

The man opened his mouth and closed it several times in a moment of intense emotional distress.

 

“Welcome,” he continued between greeted teeth, “HEROINES of a distant land. I have called here for only you can stop… THE END OF THE WORLD!

 

Distant horns made a token effort at an ominous pwa pwa pwaaaa.

 

The being expected a bit more of a reaction. The bunny clearly felt sorry for him because she belatedly gasped and let out a tiny ‘how dreadful’ of sympathy, but it was too little too late.

 

“Which world are we talking about anyway?” someone asked.

 

The man frowned, then his eyes grew distant.

 

“VLX-079, middle-size planet. Pretty unremarkable. Enough magic for a basic system but they mostly use it as a cheap ID card and Resume replacement. Heathens. Anyway, ahem. Behold the world of… whatever that was I’m not repeating it, the time of the prophecy is upon us!”

 

“Oooh, prophecies! Is there a prince to be kissed? Princess? I’d rather a prince really. A handsome one. With a good, firm chin?” the bunny asked, ears quivering with excitement.

 

“Well… maybe?” the man answered.

 

His gaze turned glassy again.

 

“Ok so I checked and it’s not technically part of the deal but nothing precludes it.”

 

“Let’s just hear it,” the vampire asks, swaying a bit.

 

“Ok, here goes. AT THE END OF TIMES, WHEN A BRILLIANT LIGHT HITS THE TALLEST MOUNT OF THE WINTER’S TEETH, THE FORCES OF GOOD AND EVIL SHALL CLASH ACROSS THE LAND UNTIL THE VICTOR SLAYS THE LAST OF THEIR FOES, AND REMAKES THE WORLD IN THEIR IMAGE!”

 

The celestial being nodded to himself. It was a nice delivery, ominous and all. Very apocalyptic if he dared say so himself. Several of the girls were clapping. The dragon lifted a claw and a small ‘10’ made of silvery light popped at its end. Several clones of the ash woman appeared around her and added their applause to the heap.

 

“Thank you, thank you. Now, the reason for your presence is that we hit a little bit of a problem here at management level. See, due to a clerical mishap, the entity assigned to the champion of good got waylaid, and we only noticed too late.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He was reincarnated into a cat.”

 

Everyone pondered that for a bit.

 

“It’s not exactly conducive to good training for said champion. Now, to the matter at hand.”

 

The celestial being took a step to the side and promptly fell on his face.

 

“Me dammit,” he bellowed into the ground.

 

Before anyone could decide what to do, the transparent cube returned and the humans and ex-humans glared as the man reappeared at his original position and promptly fell again, and again, and again, at increasing speeds. It was like watching a training montage of the Boston Dynamics robot. Plus sounds.

 

“OwouchowoofowawFUCKowowouchoofowowouchouch”

 

And so on. Eventually, his practice paid off and a slightly less immaculate incarnation managed to shuffle his way to the side of the island. It was now noticeable that the man had a stubble, his hair was scruffy, he was sweating a bit, and his eyes were bloodshot to hell.

 

“How do you flesh beings manage to focus on anything? I have spent only a few hours in that thing and I want to pee, scratch myself, move, sleep, eat, and drink. And I’m horny.”

 

“I don’t manage!” the shiny Roman girl answered helpfully.

 

“Maybe,” the ashen woman suggested, “you’re just bad at it.”

 

“Hey, we have to be supportive,” the bunny objected, “it’s his first time. I am very proud of you Mr. Celestial Being! You can do it. Maybe we can help? I volunteered at an old folk’s home once.”

 

Said celestial being was at a bit of a loss.

 

“Errr. Thank you. Sorry, we are on a schedule, let me just get on with the briefing.”

 

He moved towards a rock that looked exactly just like any other rock around.

 

“So, this is Larry, the champion of Good.”

 

The air shimmered behind him, and a strange scenery appeared. It was… the interior of some cheap retail place. The shelves were stacked with rows of off-brand crackers, and the kind of cookies that only people off their tits on weed could enjoy. Dim light shone on a painfully thin youth in a horrid green uniform. He had a haunted look, and a sinister cap showing a smiling, cartoonish monkey. From there, brown locks freely flowed.

 

“Larry is working as a clerk in a gas station, trying to save enough money to move away from his helicopter mom.”

 

“That’s just so sad,” the Roman girl said.

 

“Good for him!” the bunny added.

 

“Wasted potential,” the vampire noted.

 

“Better than fast food,” the ash woman murmured.

 

“I know a shit fate when I see one,” the bone-club woman added.

 

The dragon said nothing, but she did feel sorry for the poor lad.

 

“And now,” the man continued, “the champion of evil, Maximilian.”

 

Another youth appeared. This one was tall and confident. He had a handsome face, and he rippled with muscle under tight-fitting military fatigue. A cadre of other youthful warriors followed him with a mixed air of protective instincts and admiration. He stopped inside a large office, where a man in a general uniform stood in front of a portrait of himself, still in a general uniform. There was a cute little brass plate under it that read ‘El Presidente’. The older man turned and looked at Maximilien.

 

“My son,” he said as he raised his arms in welcome.

 

There was a collective groan from the girls.

 

“Yes, yes, those are indeed stacked odds. And errr, to get it all in one go, those are the celestial advisors.”

 

Another image appeared. This one showed, on the right, a mighty winged demon succubus person the size of a bodybuilder. She had the perfect mix of lean muscles and curves to make heads turn. She also had nasty claws.

 

The picture on the left showed a fat tabby cat.

 

“Surely, this is a joke,” the blonde vampire said.

 

“Alas, no. To reward you for your assistance…”

 

He stopped mid-sentence.

 

“Please note that you will be rewarded for good efforts. Success is not required.”

 

The others breathed more easily. Those who still breathed anyway.

 

“To reward you, you will receive the non-resurrection non-immortality object of your desires, including but not limited to, better ways to make friends, a lifetime supply of mangoes...”

 

The celestial being got increasingly puzzled as the list went on.

 

“good fights that level your third class skills, a weapon that kills necromancers for good, the blood of a mighty dragon…”

 

The dragon girl in the pond shuffled away from the group, casting wary glances. The vampire licked her lips.

 

“And a loaf of unstealable, undisappearable, soul-bond, definitely-there-bread. Wow that’s uuuh, not the usual fare.”

 

“Those are unusual times,” the dragon girl huffed, “very unusual.”

 

“Quite so,” the man replied with a frown as he expected a sort of jab. Somehow, things were not exactly going according to plan. They had told him back in HQ, they had said, ‘beware the fleshly beings who cross dimensions, weirdoes every last one of them,’ but he had been sure he could handle it. Well, the joke was on him now, but hey, you had to get out of your comfort zone sometimes. No pain no gain, as they said. Besides, no one had tried to kill him yet.

 

“Alright,” he continued, “now the reason why you are all of the female persuasion is because the succubus demon on the other side can freely manipulate the hearts of men.”

 

Again, there were a few seconds of terribly awkward silence until the ash woman spoke.

 

“The hearts of men, or the hearts of folks attracted to women?”

 

“If some of you, what was the term again? If some of you hail from Lesbos…” the man tried.

 

“What’s a Lesbos?” the woman with the short air asked, replacing the bone club on her back.

 

“If a girl likes another girl very much...” the ash woman said. It didn’t help.

 

“He is asking if any of us finds attraction in the fairer sex,” the vampire replied, out of patience, “I find this line of questioning entirely inappropriate!”

 

“Mr Celestial, you have to learn just a little more tact!” the bunny reproached. “Some people are very sensitive about things like that.”

 

“No no no!” the man said as he flapped his arm and tried, in vain, to dodge the water the dragon girl was spitting at him, “I promise that I do not care, errr, mind. Listen, please!”

 

He faced the rebellious crowd with obvious concern.

 

“It just happened that the arch-evil here created demons when he only had a very, err, vague understanding of sexual intimacy. So, the succubus can corrupt the hearts of men regardless of preferences. Old school types, you know the deal ey? Haha. Ahem. It has led to some surprising platonic relationships over the years, so it was not exactly bad, unless you count as bad bad demons acting in a good way and destabilizing...”

 

He realized that he had lost them.

 

“Ok it’s not important right now. Terribly sorry but I can’t stay and, you are, uh, contractually obligated to at least try something as heroines. Terribly sorry for the bother! Oh, one last thing… you have three days! Bye! Toodaloo!”

 

The man disappeared in a puff of rainbow smoke and the hesitant sound of distant trombones. A massive portal appeared. Adventure beckoned.

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Mecanimus

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