Abandonment Party 2: Chapter 11 (Second Draft)

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Are you ready for more talking!? Are you ready to watch magical invertibrates roll around in numerous flames!? Yeah, I thought so!

In this chapter I use two locations from the first book: Stone Rory Refuge and Hilo Water Plaza. Like “Cot’s Bar” from before, these places were empty in the future. Desolate! Vacant! But now, to reward the three people that read the first story, I will reveal what these locations were like in the past! Yes, that’s right, Matt. No need to strain your imagination any longer. Brad his here to save you.

DRAFT START

11 – Stone Rory Refuge

 

“Accessory!” Kello announced. “Hidden accessory! That creature was not approved! Eon is disqualified! Dark Lord advances to the semi-finals!”

Darrow and Tome were the first down from the stands, climbing up onto the ring along with Mean. Dark sat beside the smoldering, wooden remains of Eon’s armor. They flat, slimy being lay still.

“Are you okay, man?” Darrow asked.

Dark coughed, holding his glove to gap in his helmet. “Yeah, I’ll be okay. I might need a drink, though.”

“I’ll get one,” Mean said, touching his shoulder as she hurried off.

A wet thump sounded as King’s emperor rory landed next to the creature that had emerged from the breastplate. King swung off the gilded shell, his eyes blazing above his scraggly, black beard. He glared over at Eon. With a jab of his finger a hexagonal array twinkled at the massive man’s feet.

“King, no, don’t use that on me,” Eon pleaded, pulling his arms to his bare chest. “Don’t use a hex door; I’ll leave. Please.”

The hexagon vanished and King swished his hand. “Get out of the ring and sit down at the table,” he commanded. Eon nodded, edging out of the ring. King turned to his rory and the injured creature, kneeling down.

“It is a stone rory,” King confirmed. “Oh–don’t touch it,” he warned as Darrow leaned in.

“Is it alright?” Darrow asked. King’s rory slid closer and bent its eyestalks over the smaller one.

“Well, I know that stone rories aren’t as pliable as other species,” he said. “They need heat–special conditions to fit into their shells. Eon must have molded it into a shape that would fit into that armor. Barbaric. Its eyestalks are pressed flat. I don’t know what to do, though.”

Tome rose his hand. “I know a place,” he offered. “It’s a refuge for this type. I think they can help.”

King looked up. “How would you know about a place like that?” he asked, then waved his hand. “Oh, never mind. Dark–will you carry it? Their slime might be corrosive to flesh, if I recall.”

Dark nodded, reaching over and inching his gloves under the slimy pile. As Dark lifted it up, the little rory crept up his arm. Mean walked over to find him cradling it.

“Wow, it really likes you,” she said. “Here’s your drink. I’ve never seen you drink before so I got you whatever.” She held up a cup with a straw, and Dark leaned over.

“Thanks,” he told her, then took a long gulp through the gap in his helmet. “We’re going to take it to the stone rory refuge.”

“Alright, let them through,” Kello announced to the spectators. “Tomorrow we will have the remaining quarter-final matches: Trisk vs. Templetine; The Beast vs. Tenny; and Me-anne vs. Parlay!”

She closed her parasol and headed off to the vendors as Parlay met up with Dark’s group.

“Do you mind if I come?” she asked. “I want to see if I can help it too.”

Dark’s lips beneath the helmet grinned at her. “I had a feeling you might.”

 

—–

 

The group materialized inside a foyer decorated with stone shells and plush merchandise that resembled smiling slugs. A lone attendant at a counter’s cash register looked up.

“Welcome to the Stone–oh, hey, I know you!” she said. “Aren’t you King?”

“Yes, indeed I am,” King confirmed, rushing over. “And we have a rory that was injured at my fair. Can you help it?”

The receptionist slid off her chair and waved everyone through the lobby without speaking again. Dark strode at his normal pace now, through the sliding door and out into a high-walled, outdoor area. A keeper with a clipboard sat near a large engine attached to a pedestal. Behind him, stairs ascended past multiple tiers. Thin pillars dotted these tiers, each holding aloft a small platform. Rories with stone and pumice shells lay on top of them.

“What do you have there?” the keeper asked Dark. His nose was pointed and the skin around his eyes sagged. “I didn’t hear about getting any new rories today.”

“It was smashed in between two plates of armor for–I don’t know. A few days, at least,” Dark told him. He held the little, slimy thing out along with his arm. The keeper set his clipboard down and donned a visor that hung on the engine from a peg. He took a paper strip from his pocket, touched it to the rory, examined the strip, then frowned.

“It’s not looking good,” the keeper said, placing the paper aside and pushing the visor up onto his brow. “Its internal organs are too compressed. We need to get it out of that flattened shape.”

“I’ll pay for the treatment,” King said, and the keeper looked at him with wide eyes for a moment.

“I just don’t think we can do it right now. Not here,” he replied. “The plants we use–I don’t know if you can see them up there–but those plants aren’t in season. They can put out the proper heat, but only at certain times during the year.”

“Want me to go back and get your flamethrower?” Darrow asked Dark. The keeper shook his head.

“Other heat sources won’t work; it needs to be those plants. I can send out the word to some of the other stations; maybe theirs are in the right stage of growth.”

King held up a finger. “I think we can handle that part. Parlay–?”

The blond-haired woman nodded. “I can try. Plants are pretty easy.”

“What do you mean?” the keeper asked. “What did you say her name was?”

King removed his crown and held it to his chest. “She is the Parlay that no doubt you have heard of. Now, she believes she can get your plant into the right state, so to speak, but she will have to manipulate it herself.”

“I’ve heard what she does,” the keeper said. “Look–I’ll let you try; that rory needs help. Just don’t go telling everyone that you were here, alright?”

King bowed. “Not a word. Shall we, then?”

He set his crown atop his balding head again as the keeper turned to the engine. It had many flat, hexagonal faces overlaid with copper wiring, edges, and hooks. After a few button presses every pillar trembled and lowered into the floor. Several of the rories retreated into their shells and took flight. When every pillar and platform had descended, Parlay pointed at one. Two small plants clung to the top: both a tangle of tiny vines light purple in hue.

“Bring it over there, Dark,” Parlay said, taking the stairs up. Dark followed her. She stepped onto the platform and knelt, taking one of the vine’s tips in her hand.

“Were these all cultivated from the same parent?” she called out, looking back. The keeper nodded. “Stay back from any other vines you see, then! These guys are all share a magical link in their patterns, so when ones goes–they all do. Okay now, Dark, hold it up above the center of the other plant.”

Dark obeyed her, kneeling as well, with the flattened rory still clinging to his arm. The vines rolled inward as he approached: wadding up into a compact, squishy ball.

“Okay. Good,” Parlay stated. She flinched back. “Now I just–”

The plants flickered and a fire bloomed on them both; Parlay winced, holding on with just the tips of her fingers.

“She did it,” the keeper said, slipping on the visor again. Small flames had ignited on a few of the other platforms, scattering the rories still nestled there. They launched upward and hovered around the jets of intensifying heat: some staying back while others dipped themselves into the fires. Dark’s arm was engulfed and he shielded the gap in his helmet with his free hand. Parlay grit her teeth and held her face away.

“We need to get inside,” the keeper told the others. “When the rories are done molding their shells they’ll scrape the magic from every pattern here. It’s how they extinguish the flame, but it will hit everything else inside the walls, too.”

The group retreated inside, watching the columns of rippling air that arose from the flaming platforms. The rories by the fires were heating themselves, smashing their rock shells into different shapes as the surfaces glowed. When each had finished they lay still, their eyestalks alert. Darrow leapt back from the glass door as the shining rays exploded outward from a rory on one of the lowest tiers. The other creatures followed the first one’s lead, releasing the rays and covering the platforms and stairs with bright light. The towering walls contained the emissions, and after a dazzling moment every ray retreated into the rories again. The smattering of fires had gone out. Dark dropped his hand from his mouth and slumped down. Parlay released the vine, wiping sweat from her reddened face.

“It’s amazing–no matter how many times I see it,” the keeper marveled.

“It’s certainly something,” Darrow said.

“I had a son that felt the same way;” the keeper laughed, “he didn’t like the rories much. Thought they were disgusting.”

Mean tapped on the glass door. “They’re done; let’s go see!”

As she stepped out with the others Dark lumbered to his feet again. The rory on his arm lifted its head up from the armor: its body full and round with eyestalks bending in all directions. Parlay had tears running down her face.

“You guys did it!” Mean said, galloping up the stairs to them. “Wow, he looks great! Parlay, you guys saved it!”

“Yeah,” Parlay said, massaging her fingers with the soft folds of her vest. “I’m glad it worked; I like being able to help things, for a change.”

Mean smiled at her as Tome and Darrow rushed up.

“Well, it looks lively,” Tome said. The rory doubled around and slid up to Dark’s chest.

“Yeah, he just kind of inflated,” Dark said. He clamped his mouth shut, holding his jaw away from the rory as it poked its head up to the broken helmet. “I think I need to rest again, though; my armor got drained again.”

As he sat on a nearby bench Mean gave him the cup that she had been holding. He took another long gulp through the straw.

“Well, I don’t think that employee wants me here long,” Parlay said. “Thanks for all your help, Dark.”

“You too,” Dark replied, and Parlay rushed off: joining King and the keeper at the bottom door. Mean sat down on the bench and Darrow and Tome gathered around.

“I can’t believe that guy doesn’t want her here,” Mean said. “After all she just did.”

Tome checked over his shoulder. “It’s not his fault. Not this time.”

“How did you know the little guy was in the armor, anyway?” Darrow broke in, extending his finger and pulling it back as the rory slithered toward it.

“I remembered something Tome said–when we first met him here,” Dark replied.

“Me?” Tome asked. “What did I say?”

“You said that Parlay came here right before everyone died,” Dark went on. “And that there was some commotion about an injured rory. We’ve been around Parlay at the fair the whole time, so I’ve been waiting for it to happen. At first I figured that King’s rory would be the injured one. But then you said that you’d seen Eon’s magic-wiping trick when you were at this refuge. That’s when I figured he had it on him somewhere.”

Tome bolted upright. “Wait! That means I’m here! We shouldn’t be talking about–oh, nevermind”–he relaxed–”the rories wiped the magic; my past self can’t see anything right now.”

Darrow nodded, folding his arms. “I guess we should leave before we change the timeline or something. I mean, more than we’re trying to, anyway.”

“That’s a smart plan,” Tome agreed, and the group took the stairs down to the engine and pedestal. The keeper was coming back out wearing a thick pair of gloves. Dark headed over to him.

“I guess I’ll give this to you,” he said, taking the rory and holding him out. The slimy thing squirmed as the keeper reached for him: popping out of Dark’s grip, slipping back across his arms, and clinging tight to his chest plate.

“Uh oh,” the keeper said, backing off. “Where did you say you found him? Inside–”

“Someone’s armor, yes,” Dark finished. “A piece of chest armor.”

The keeper clicked his tongue. “Hm, this rory might be confused–it might think that it’s supposed to live on a person. It may not even take to normal shells if it’s been conditioned to live inside armor.”

“What?” Dark asked. “What does that mean? I have to keep it on me!?”

“You get to be its dad!” Darrow laughed. “Oh, this is priceless!”

“I can give you the type of food that it eats until we figure something out,” the keeper said. He shrugged.

Dark sighed. “Wonderful.”

 

—–

 

King stood inside the stone rory reception area, looking at plush dolls and display cases lined with educational texts. Pinada appeared at the public hex door. His glass case slid against two of the six pillars as he exited.

“Over here,” King whispered. “I’m just waiting on Conneld now.”

“Oh I’m here,” Conneld said, turning away from one of the toy shelves and looking at King. He wore plain clothes and a stocking cap.

“Goodness!” King bellowed. “Don’t sneak up on people like that!”

“Oh, you’re one to talk!” Conneld said. “Popping right in front of people with your hex doors!”

“This might not be the best place for a secret meeting,” Pinada said as he squeezed his case through the aisles of rory dolls. The receptionist was staring at him from behind the cash register.

“It isn’t secret; I just don’t want to alarm anyone at the fair,” King said.

Pinada leaned up to the glass and lowered his voice. “Where are the Jesians?”

“They all left a few minutes ago with Parlay,” Conneld said.

King swept off his crown and slapped his leg with it. “I knew it! You’re spying on them!”

Conneld tilted his face away from the receptionist. “Of course not. Now what did you want? I need to not spy on them some more.”

King rubbed at a bald spot on his shaggy head. “I’m worried about the threats Eon made. ‘Purifying wickedness’ or whatever he said. I want you to spectate the remaining matches with me. Keep a watch on him.”

Conneld snorted. “Eon won’t even use magic. If you were so worried you shouldn’t have let him come in the first place.”

“I won’t exclude anyone from my fair,” King said. “Even so, I’m not going to sit back when someone makes a threat.”

“I think King might be right,” Pinada said. He fingered the turquoise scarf that hung at his coat’s collar. “Eon could be planning a conventional attack, maybe? And if his cult is backing him he could still pull off something big.”

“Gracious,” King uttered. “You don’t think the fair is in danger, do you?”

Pinada pushed up his glasses. “I’m used to dealing with Sing, remember? You’d be surprised at the damage one person can do. And here at the fair there are many, many, people. Conneld should help; something could slip past me. That is, to say, some tiny detail. It would be a shame if some preventable disaster wasn’t stopped–just because one of us wasn’t paying attention.”

“I’m not sure you’d need my help, Pinada,” Conneld said. He toyed with one of the points on his beard. “But it couldn’t hurt.”

“Good,” King uttered. He set his crown on his head again. “I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

Pinada nodded and twirled to face the other side of his cube. He lead the way out, glancing over at the pointed-nosed rory keeper as he departed.

 

—–

 

Mean, Darrow, Trisk, Tome, and Vornis appeared at a hex door carved in a paved lot. Dark stood with half of his cape drawn over his chest: the head of the rory peeking out. People in bathing suits and scant clothes wandered out of other doors nearby, heading toward a large complex ahead. Two large, wooden towers cast shadows onto the ground, and many colorful slides twisted and curled down from the upper floors. “HILO” was spelled out with giant blobs of water that were suspended between the structures.

“What happened?” Darrow asked. “What are we doing out here? This is still Hilo’s right?”

“Uh, I’m pretty sure,” Tome said, shielding his yellow eyes from the overhead sun. “The door never used to put us outside, though.”

“Maybe our usual suite is full,” Mean suggested. “Crowds, having to pay–we get the full experience this time!”

“Yay,” Vornis said, and they all began walking toward the shouts and splashes sounding from the distant towers. They followed a group of teenagers–meeting their backward glances with smiles–all the way up to an arched entryway. A line of people extended out from the gate.

“Maybe this could be fun after all,” Vornis said, winking at one of the girls and flexing his scale-covered chest. She shrieked, pressing into the people ahead of her.

“You can’t even fit in the slides with those giant spikes,” Darrow grumbled.

“I don’t think any of us will have to worry,” Trisk said, pointing. “Looks like they’re already calling security on us.”

Ahead, at the gate, a young man was speaking into a device: his eyes shifting between Dark and Vornis.

“Well, I did forget to bring sunscreen for the tiny bit of my face showing,” Dark lamented.

“I guess we do stand out,” Tome said. “I wanted to talk to everyone away from King’s prying eyes, but this clearly isn’t going to work.”

As the group of people ahead murmured and stared, a massive jet of water burst from the side of the building. The liquid rushed out and filled a small basin; a person shot out along with the water and plopped into the growing pool. He planted his feet and stood: sweeping his arms out and flinging water on everyone nearby.

“Hilo! It’s Hilo!” a little boy said, blinking through the spray.

“Welcome, guests!” the man cried. He bounded out of the water in a suit jacket and shorts, keeping a hat pressed to his head. It was woven from straw and water dripped from its edges: splattering down and rolling over and off his slick suit. “Come over here–yes, that group with the armored fellow–you’re not in trouble; don’t worry; don’t worry.”

Darrow and Tome were the first ones over, and Hilo shook their hands, moving from one to the next as they gathered.

“My name is Hilo and I run this park,” he said, bowing as he met Mean. “I know who most of you are; me and my staff have been watching you play at the fair.”

He doffed his hat as he edged over to Trisk, and liquid continued to dribble from its brim.

“I’m quite glad you all decided to visit us here–you will have to wear a swimsuit, miss–here at my fabulous park that’s just oozing with my miraculous invention: the astounding odd water!”

He swirled his hat around on his finger, and an onlooking child giggled as he was sprinkled. Hilo smiled sideways at him.

“It’s a unique pattern: You can breathe while submerged! It retains all of the buoyancy of water! And it can be molded and formed into any shape possible!”

Mean yelped as a small tendril of water swirled and engulf her foot from behind. She bounded into the air, looking down at where the water had snaked away from the basin.

Don’t sneak that stuff up on me,” she warned.

“Goodness,” Hilo said. He placed the ever-dripping hat on his head. “I was just having some fun. Let me assure you that it is perfectly safe and the flow is monitored by us at all times.” Mean glared back as she landed and her heels touched down away from the water.

“How about I let you try it out on your own?” Hilo offered. “I’ll give you guys a free pass!” He twisted around and shouted at the young person manning the gate. “Marco, get suite A ready! And the rest of you”–he gestured to the people that were gawking nearby–”you all get in free! Tell your friends! This is where the Jesians are spending the day!”

The crowds gave their thanks and wandered back to the gates; Hilo spun on his heel to lead Mean and her group back across the wide lot.

“You don’t mind if I tell people you were here, do you?” Hilo asked, walking along. “Don’t worry; the suite has private slides–even catering! Oh, you don’t eat, though. I’ll have it deactivated. How do you feel about doing commercials?”

“Oh man, are you serious!?” Darrow asked. “That would be wild!”

“Mm, yes,” Hilo said, eyeing him. “Your shirt works. Colorful–festive! Let’s put one on ‘the Beast’ too. Soften him up for the kids. And”–he pointed at Dark–”what was that you said in the ring? ‘Party with the Darklord?’ Yes, I like it. Let’s use it.”

Dark chuckled as Hilo paused to catch his breath. “No, I don’t really do things like that.”

“Oh, of course,” Hilo replied. “I’m sure you’re different outside the suit. ‘Persona’ is what you and Jelk call it, right? Here we are.”

An elderly couple wearing sun hats was exiting the hex door, and Hilo bowed at them as they stared at the group. Darrow bounded in but Hilo called him back.

“No, not yet,” he said, bending over at a toll kiosk. “Just stand around it and keep your eyes on one of the hex door spires.”

“What’s it doing?” Mean asked, looking up with a raised brow.

“Oh, right, sorry,” Hilo said, tapping some buttons. “It’s scanning your faces: the patterns that light makes when it’s reflected off them, that is. Now the receiving hex doors at my park will take you directly to a private suite! For a limited time, of course. I’ll decide how long later. Okay–it’s ready! Please step inside.”

The six did so and Hilo cheered them on. “Alright! Enjoy your stay! And remember to tell all of your friends back on your world about my park! Open for most of the year!”

He gave one final salute, spinning the rim of his hat and sprinkling off a ring of odd water. As he did so, the sky vanished and walls lined with lockers appeared. As the group stepped out of the six pillars, water lapped at their ankles and the current flowed into another sunlit room with a long table. A jaunty tune played from somewhere nearby.

“We’re in our room,” Mean said. “I mean, this is where we usually show up when we come here, right?”

“It is,” Vornis affirmed, looking up at a yellow banner. “I don’t remember that being there, but everything else matches.”

“So is that the reason the hex door sends us here in the future?” Darrow pondered. “Because Hilo decided to give us free rides in the past? That’s awesome.”

“It would seem so,” Dark said. The rory moved from his chest and slipped down his right leg, testing the water. “I discussed this with Mean the other night. That would mean that the effects of our trip here have already altered our future. That we have already seen the changes before we even knew we could change it.”

 

DRAFT END 

Summary:

Dark reveals that Eon was keeping a rory (magic snail) inside his armor. The creature is now flattened into an awkward state. Tome suggests that they take the rory to the refuge where he was found in the first book. Parlay comes along, using her ability to ignite the vines and to heal the rory. Afterward, the rory sticks to Dark’s chest plate. Since it was conditioned to live in Eon’s armor, it thinks that is the natural place to be.

After the Jesians leave, King, Conneld, and Pinada discuss the threats Eon made during his match. Conneld decides to spectate the remaining matches, with Pinada’s approval.

Then, heck, everyone goes to a water park! Because why not!

Choice edits:

“King, no, don’t use that on me,” Eon pleaded, pulling his arms to his bare chest. “Don’t use a hex door; I’ll leave. Please.”

In the first draft King just teleported Eon away in a fit of RIGHTEOUS FURY! As awesome as that would be, I decided to change it. See, King wants to unite the world with his hex doors. And that means that he tries to respect every culture and custom–no matter how he personally feels. Forcing Eon through a hex door would just be out of character here.

I also wanted to show that Eon’s fear of magic was real, not just some act he was putting on.

“Well, I know that stone rories aren’t as pliable as other species,” he said.

My auto-spellcheck keeps replacing “rories” with “tories.” As in, the political party from Great Britain.

The rories by the fires were heating themselves, smashing their rock shells into different shapes as the surfaces glowed. When each had finished they lay still, their eyestalks alert.

This description is SO much better than before. And I just love eyestalks, don’t you? I had some hermit crabs as pets when I was little, and I just loved their cute little eyestalks that peeked out of their shells. The only thing missing was LASER BEAMS!! And the ability to fly.

King stood inside the stone rory reception area, looking at plush dolls and display cases lined with educational texts. Pinada appeared at the public hex door. His glass case slid against two of the six pillars as he exited.

This is the start of the conversation between King, Conneld, and Pinada that I moved from chapter 10. Using the stone rory refuge for the location saves time, and it allows me to add a little humor to the scene. Also, with Conneld stepping out of the shadows I can reinforce the idea that he’s spying on Mean and the rest.

There is one more reason that having this conversation here is good for the plot, but I can’t tell you yet.

“I guess we do stand out,” Tome said. “I wanted to talk to everyone away from King’s prying eyes, but this clearly isn’t going to work.”

There it is! That’s the only excuse for visiting the park that I could come up with!

“I discussed this with Mean the other night. That would mean that the effects of our trip here have already altered our future. That we have already seen the changes before we even knew we could change it.”

Dark says this to end the chapter. I think it would be more tasteful to let the reader come to their own conclusions about what this implies.

Next time:

EVERYONE IS DOOMED! There is no hope to save the world! All is lost!

After that, Trisk gears up to battle Templetine. Man. I’m excited about re-writing this. This match was pure B.S. nonsense in the first draft, but now that I know what Templetine’s personality and abilities are I can make this SO much better. But you get to see the crappy version first! Have fun!

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