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Urban Arcana Story: Rated R

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#21 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 27 March 2005 - 10:49 PM

“Excuse me,” a male voice penetrated both Danica and Jeremy’s concentration as they double checked the order of books that had just been delivered on the loading dock.

The university where Danica was employed, the Institute for Continuous Education, combined their classroom bookstore and student library in the same building because the school itself was fairly small.  Danica was in charge of both facilities and the employees under her.  She’d been in her office most of the morning and had just come into the quiet bookstore section to help out.

“Hi, can we help you?” Jeremy answered in a friendly tone.  Danica stood upright behind him and smiled as well.

“I’m new here,” the student explained nervously.  “I can’t find Dr. Allison’s Guide to the Mystic Arts.  I’m probably looking in the wrong section or something. I wanted to have my books by classes this evening.”

The two employees could tell this young man, a mundane, was nervous because of the nature of the school’s curriculum: magic, monsters, and species from beyond the veil of Shadow.  The school hoped to educate the small percentage of mundanes who were receptive to Shadow creatures and magic, in order to make them understand at least the basic facts.  Classes were held in the evenings and on weekends, but the bookstore and library were open most of the day as well as during class times.

Danica put her hand on Jeremy’s shoulder as he began to rise out of his chair.  Her golden claws sparkled against the man’s black shirt. “I’ll help.  You stay and finish,” she offered.  Smiling to the young man, Danica motioned him to follow her.

As they headed down the correct isle, the student’s shoes squeaked on the linoleum floor.  Modern shelves lined the room and bright lights over head chased ordinary shadows from every corner.  

“The school doesn’t look like what I imagined,” he said hesitantly.  “I mean…well…,”

Danica laughed understandingly. “I know.  We get that from new students.  You expected dark wooden cases, spider webs hanging from the corners, dim lights…perhaps even candles all around, and people walking around with wands, right?”

The sandy-haired student laughed sheepishly. “Well, sort of, yes.  This is all new to me.  I saw my first…….well, it looked like what is called an ogre in fairytales…a couple of weeks ago.  One thing led to another and now I’m here to learn about what I heard are called Shadow creatures.”

Danica nodded and wondered if the student could see her claws yet.  Probably not, since he’d not said anything.  For wanting to blend in with humans and keep a normal life, this was an odd place for Danica to be working  But it had been the first job she’d secured once coming to the Los Angeles area and had decided to remain here as she moved up.  She also spent part of her time consulting with museums on their acquisitions, and so kept herself involved with artifacts from different cultures.

“Here you go…..one Guide to the Mystic Arts.”

The dragonblooded human picked up the primary text for all courses taught at the school and handed it to the young man.  “Welcome to the school, too.  It’s important that people understand what’s really going on out there, so it’s always good to see new students arrive.”

The student hefted the book on top of the others in his arms, then thanked Danica and wandered toward the checkout counter.  The manager slipped through a door and back to her office upstairs.

#22 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 10:06 AM

After having decided to stop in at the youth club on his way back to West Los Angeles, Zane ended up having lunch with the owners.  The Alonso’s were eternally grateful to the Church of Pelor for their financial support, although the couple did not participate in the beliefs of the church. Zane had taken a liking to the Alonsos and began to volunteer at the youth center in working with the children and teens who made it their after school and weekend hang out. Eventually, Father Mitchell had offered to include the work at the center as part of Zane’s job. If Zane needed the extra money when he helped out on weekends or evenings, he could include the hours for pay.

The mundane Alonsos, who had no idea whatsoever about anything related to Shadow, and Zane spent a pleasant hour together just talking and eating homemade Mexican food in the office.

#23 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 10:10 AM

“Damn,” Adam remarked, watching as part of his tofu wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla with shredded vegetables and sauce dripped onto his desk.  Luckily it missed the file he was reading by a good quarter of an inch. “Do we have extra napkins?”

“I’m not cleaning up after you anymore, Adam,” his secretary, Lorelei, remarked jokingly from her desk in the front of the long office.  A hand with long, red fingernails appeared in front of him holding a wad of paper napkins.

Adam grabbed the offering and grinned as he looked up. “Thanks.  And I’d be happy if you just answered the phones once in a while instead of doing those nails of yours all the time,” he added with a grin.

“Ha ha,” Lorelei stuck her tongue out at her boss and returned to her own desk.  She tucked a wisp of blond hair behind her ear and went back to working on typing up reports for the files.  The phone rang several times during the next hour, but Adam and his secretary were able to catch up on a lot of work.

Taking a break to stretch his neck and back, Adam glanced over at the photo on his desk.  He smiled tenderly at the little girl in the picture—his daughter Kira. Dark brown hair and blue eyes that matched his own, yet she had her mother’s beautiful, refined features.  Adam frowned as he realized how long it had been since he'd seen the little girl.  She was seven now, and it had been two years since the divorce. Although he’d tried to get back to Chicago to see his daughter in the beginning, his wife had made the task that much harder by moving to England with her new husband.

Adam had loved being a father and husband, having a family to work and provide for, and especially to protect….

#24 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 07:22 PM

Lunch was even more fun than Rhianna had expected. She and Phoebe were sitting at a quiet table in their favorite Chinese restaurant near the popular Angels Walk Mall in Century City. The decor of live plants, soft, muted colors, and Asian inspired furniture and wall treatments enveloped the diners in a peaceful atmosphere. The owner was preparing a special vegetarian meal for the two women after he'd spotted Rhianna come in. His favorite actress rarely left without a meal prepared by him personally.

"So, London ended up being a longer trip than you thought?" Phoebe asked inquisitively as both young women dipped fresh vegetable egg  rolls into the special plum sauce both loved so much.

"Oh it did! I loved doing Shakespeare, but the tickets just kept selling despite the notices the play was ending. But it was a great experience--all the performers were incredible." Rhianna had recently returned from across the sea after finishing up a movie and agreeing to perform Shakespeare with a dear director friend.

"What about you, Phebes? I can't believe it's been a month since we’ve seen each other. I've missed you so much!" Rhianna smiled at her friend and sipped hot green tea from a small white cup.

"Well, I’ve acquired another large project for my business! You should see this house, Rhi! Huge! It's going to bring in millions the way my new clients are talking. Thanks to the Church of Pelor and you, I'm going to be even more successful now," the petite, slender woman with long, silky blond hair winked at Rhianna as Mr. Chin personally began to bring out the first course. Phoebe’s new clients were members of the church and elf friends of Rhianna's.

Phoebe was a successful interior designer with her own company, started back when Rhianna was just beginning her own modeling career. The two women had met and become fast friends--both recognizing someone they could trust for a lifetime. It took Phoebe about a year to become aware of Rhianna's true self, and after that she quickly became somewhat attuned to the world of the Shadowkind all around her. Both women attended the Church of Pelor when possible and, due to their fortunate financial situations, gave a great deal to various charities and beneficial organizations.

A comfortable silence was interspersed with conversation between the two best friends as they ate their lunch.  By about 2 PM, the friends were hugging in front of Phoebe’s car and promising to call each other soon.  Once she waved goodbye to her departing friend, Rhianna decided to take a walk around the Angel’s Walk Mall across the street.

* * * * * *

Absolute Spirit was Rhianna’s favorite shop in the mall, after all the clothes shops of course.  The New Age store was filled with fascinating items such as jewelry, chakra wands, pentagrams, candles, Wiccan jewelry, incense, books, tarots decks, witchcraft, Celtic, and unique pagan treasures, along with other metaphysical, astrological and new age gifts promising “magic” of some sort to those who purchased them. Rhianna knew in the hands of the mundane, these items were mostly harmless and held power only in their minds.  But to Shadowkind and Shadow creatures many of the articles here were very useful.

The sales girl with lavendar-dyed hair, a half-elf who had the appearance of a 25 year old young woman, greeted Rhianna.   The half-elf saw immediately that her customer was a full elf, which meant she’d come from beyond the veil at some point.  But the girl remained behind the counter, as she wasn’t sure if Rhianna would look down on her for having one human parent.  The half elf knew that elves from beyond Shadow could be very aloof.

But Rhianna spoke back in Elven to the girl in a friendly manner and then continued poking curiously around the shop.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:01 PM.

#25 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 07:29 PM

It was nearly 2 PM when Danica realized she was starving and hadn’t had lunch yet.  The  rumbling of her stomach was loud in her quiet, upstairs office. She decided to take a long lunch and drive out to the Angel’s Walk Mall and pick up her package from Absolute Spirit, the New Age shop from which she’d ordered some special incense.  After informing her assistant of where she’d be, Danica took the elevator down to the underground parking structure and headed out for lunch.

The mall was crowded with shoppers and those just wanting to window shop and escape the heat outside.  Winding her way between slower moving bodies, Danica stopped by the New Age shop before going for food.  Stepping over the threshold of the store was always relaxing for Danica and she enjoyed the smell of the burning incense and the mystical music in the background.  Once inside the shop, the echoing sounds of the mall seemed to nearly disappear, leaving Absolute Spirit with a spiritually nurturing atmosphere.

The only other customer in the store was, to Danica’s surprise, a female elf.  Usually elves kept to themselves, so seeing one obviously enjoying herself out shopping surprised Danica.  She tried not to stare at the dark haired elf, but had to take a second look when she realized who the elf was: Rhianna Sheridan, the famous actress.  

“Hi, may I help you?” a soft voice broke through Danica’s surprise at seeing Rhianna Sheridan actually shopping in the mall and being an elf.  She turned toward the young woman behind the counter but could feel the actresses’ eyes on the back of her head.

“Um…oh, yes, I came to pick up an order…of incense that I ordered,” Danica replied, handing over her receipt to the young lavendar-haired half-elf.

“Oh sure!  Let me go in back and find it for you.  Just a moment, please.” The sales girl smiled and walked to the end of the counter, then headed through a door to the right which led into the store room.  

Danica occupied herself with looking at the Tarot cards on the counter so she wouldn’t have to turn around and embarrass herself again by staring at the actress that the mundane world saw as human.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:03 PM.

#26 Raeven


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Posted 29 March 2005 - 12:27 PM

just to let you know - I can see Adams hidden stuff now - thanks Nikki - keep writing :D your faithful reader

Taking advantage of mod abilities :wink:! Thank you!! :D I'm glad you can see the profile now; it was probably EI's fault!

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 29 March 2005 - 11:09 PM.

It's very complex. If the pizza man truly loves this babysitter, why does he keep slapping her rear? Perhaps she has done something wrong ~ Castiel

#27 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 29 March 2005 - 11:08 PM

Still full from a too-large lunch, Zane drove slowly back down the freeway.  On the way he thought he should finally stop by the mall and buy those new t-shirts he needed.  It was only about 2:00 PM with plenty of time left to get back to the church to finish up his work day. The Angel’s Walk Mall had the one store that carried the brand of shirts that fit him better than even those found in the department stores.

Parking in the structure across the street—Level 5-blue—, Zane walked across the enclosed catwalk linking the mall with its parking to enter on the top floor.  The busy mall and its noises faded for Zane as the bald-headed man tuned everything out.  As he made his way quickly down the stairs that matched the escalators, a New Age shop caught his eye. Zane shook his head dismissively and intended to keep walking.  Zane’s interests didn’t lie in that direction, and had no need or reason to enter the store.  

Suddenly he found himself entering the strange smelling business.  He blinked when he caught sight of the back of a young woman with gold and copper hair, wrapped neatly in a bun, who was standing at the counter.  Zane was positive it was the same woman from Neil’s office earlier this morning; although, the tall ex-soldier had no idea why he cared.  Shrugging, he decided it wouldn't hurt to have a look around in case something that his boss might like caught his eye.

Walking in the opposite direction from the young woman at the counter, Zane bumped into another customer with his large frame.  

“Are you alright? I’m sorry about that,” he began as he steadied the much shorter woman from falling over.

The woman glanced up calmly, and Zane realized that she was a full elf.  The force of her Shadow being hit him hard for some reason, and he had a difficult time blocking out her sharply pointed ears, slightly triangular face, and luxurious brown eyes.  Finally, she appeared as a human woman in his eyes, and he quickly mumbled another apology, let go of the woman’s shoulders and moved quickly away.  He thought he heard the elf laugh quietly and speak in what sounded like a foreign language, but he couldn’t be sure.  Zane decided he didn’t particularly need or want to be here and quickly turned to exit the spiritually focued shop.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 29 March 2005 - 11:09 PM.

#28 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 29 March 2005 - 11:14 PM

“Oh no,” Lorelei exclaimed, sighing in frustration at the fairly small office copy machine.

“What? What’s wrong?” Adam tore himself out of his memories and into the present. He glanced up at his secretary.

“Darn it, we just ran out of toner.  I thought I had another box of it, but I don’t.”  Lorelei was searching through various boxes next to the copy machine.

Adam stood up quickly and reached for his gun on the desk.  Sliding it into the holster strapped under his arm, he secured the Baretta 92F in place.  He smiled broadly. “Never fear.  I’ll drive out to the office supply store in the mall and pick some up to last until you can order more.”

Lorelei laughed as she turned to face her boss.  With her hands on her hips, she mock scolded him.  “You’ll do anything to not stay in the office, won’t you?  But alright, we do need toner anyway.  So you go, and I’ll hold down the fort.”

Escaping the office was a relief for Adam, and he yanked on his lightweight jacket to conceal his gun.  Soon, his gray van was cruising along toward the Angel’s Walk Mall, the hot summer sun beating down on the windshield and held at bay inside the vehicle by the air conditioner blowing out its cold air.

#29 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 09:40 PM

Peering down the well-worn, polished wooden counter and toward the open door through which the half elf had disappeared, Danica absently tapped her claws on the counter a couple of times.  She wondered what was taking the girl so long to locate the special ordered package of incense.  Well, perhaps it was misplaced, the dragonblooded woman decided, but it wasn’t wise to leave the store unattended in this manner.  Tired of reading and rereading the sign on the counter which advertised the various astrological services the shop offered, Danica changed position in order to lean her back against the counter.  As she swept her eyes across the table of aromatherapy oils, Danica observed Rhianna Sheridan, the seemingly ageless actress, who was directly on the other side of the table.  If Danica wasn’t mistaken she remembered, at age seventeen, watching the actress in her first movie.  This must have been at least ten years ago.  Being an elf had its advantages, Danica mused silently. Glancing up at that moment, Rhianna gave a curious nod to the exotic-looking young woman.  

Zane was heading out of the strange shop with long, determined strides, his eyes set straight ahead toward the door.  It seemed the only sound in the shop was the quiet, mystical music and his tennis shoes thudding on the floor. All the activity outside the mall was muffled and far away.  Zane’s only thought at the moment was to vacate this shop and return to where he could more easily avoid the awareness of anything to do with Shadow.  The tall, black man was struggling to not glance over at the girl with odd copper and gold hair.  But despite his determination, Zane’s gaze was drawn to her face as she tore her eyes away from the familiar looking elf and stared straight at him.  Danica opened her eyes wide in surprise, and Zane froze for a moment, staring back at her. His gaze traveled down to her obvious golden claws, and Zane attempted again to leave the store.  He only managed a few steps before he couldn’t help but dart his eyes between the young woman and the elf. Danica sensed immediately that he was a Shadowkind of some sort but which one she couldn’t determine.  She continued to stare at him with her almond shaped eyes.

From across the artfully arranged table of bottles of scented oils, Rhianna curiously watched both the muscular, bald man and the beautiful girl, who had Asian in her features.  The strangers remained frozen for a split second in some sort of peculiar connection with none of the three capable of breaking free.  They were jarred abruptly out of their hypnotic-like states by a piercing scream from the back room.  The small group jerked toward the sound and stared at the half-open door, the darkness inside black and motionless.  Unmoving for what seemed an eternity but in truth was mere seconds, Rhianna, Zane, and Danica responded suddenly and bolted toward the scream.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:07 PM.

#30 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 09:41 PM

Being closest to the storage room door, Rhianna ran the short distance on slender, strong legs.  She grasped the door handle and pushed the open door—painted white to match the wall—open to its widest.  Zane had been right behind her, forgetting his almost dire need to escape the store.  A soldier, even an ex-soldier, didn’t just leave someone behind who’d screamed as if her life were being threatened.  He towered over Rhianna as he came up behind her.  He maneuvered passed the elf as he physically moved her aside and was the first to step into the bedroom-sized storage room.  Rhianna followed on his heels, and Danica entered last but was forced to move to the far side of the small room across from the door.  

The small, rectangular room was barely 105 square feet—with even less room to move around.  Tall shelves lined three walls of the walls.  They were filled with everything from the ordinary—such as candles, tarot cards, and incense products—to the more unusual healing crystals, chakra wands, and pentagrams.  The merchandise was stored in and out of boxes, with larger boxes stacked on the stone-colored, ceramic floor.  As if to keep with the atmosphere of the mystical nature of the store, the room was lit by only two light bulbs out of the four that were mounted in the ceiling fixture.  No one had bothered to replace the two burnt out bulbs. Shadows lingered in the corners and in between boxes on the shelves.

The lavender-haired girl was standing in the middle of the small room, her arms held stiffly at her sides with her fists balled up.  She seemed frozen in place, staring downward.  The three strangers standing across from her followed her gaze to the inside of a round box on the floor, the size of a lady’s large hat box. It had been dropped hastily.  The lid was lying upright, propped up against the box.

The silence was deafening until Rhianna gasped harshly and backed up into a short, narrow table next to the wall.  Her purse dropped from her hands, landing clasp side down on the floor with a slight click.  Shrieking in surprise, Danica tried to press herself against a shelf and clutched onto her purse so tightly that her knuckles turned white.  Zane just shook his head as the veil in his mind lifted further up than ever before--so far that had Zane not been so mentally and physically strong the assault of Shadow into his mind would have driven him crazy.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:09 PM.

#31 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 09:43 PM

Outside in the bustling mall, Adam passed by Absolute Spirit on his way to the office supply store located at one end of the large mall.  He stopped mid-whistle and caused the two ladies walking behind to nearly crash into him.  They made small noises of displeasure and maneuvered around him, walking quickly away with heels clicking on the tiled floor.  Adam paid them no attention as he frowned, sensing something wasn’t right in the New Age shop.  The shadow hunter’s ability to sense trouble was suddenly tugging at his mind, as was his cop’s instincts that something was very wrong.  Quickly unzipping his jacket, Adam reached in to unsnap the strap on his gun holster.  The hair was standing up on the back of Adam’s neck, and he didn’t like it one bit.  He walked quietly into the store and stood still, waiting.  There were no customers currently inside, and the activity of the mall seem to dampen within the store.  The private investigator had a suspicion that Shadow was involved somehow, as Adam was getting the same feelings he had when out shadow hunting.  

The empty store was quiet—a quiet which was far from peaceful. In fact, it was unnerving and heavy with the unknown.  Spotting the open storage room door, Adam moved silently toward the dark wooden counter and approached down the length of the counter.  He took great care to stay out of sight of the open door.  Drawing his gun cautiously and releasing the safety with a soundless click, the ex-cop put his back up against the door.  Lightning fast he pivoted until he was facing the inside of the room with his gun pointing straight ahead.

#32 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 30 March 2005 - 09:44 PM

Behind Adam, the front door of the store swung silently closed and latched itself shut with a soft click of the bolt.  The lights in the store dimmed, making it difficult to see in through the glass windows from the mall.  Most of the shoppers outside didn’t really notice anything unusual; and, indeed, several who were passing by immediately blocked anything out of the ordinary from their consciousness.  The store had just been closed all along as far as they were concerned.  Of course, there were those few who shuddered knowingly and decided to put a great deal of distance between themselves and Absolute Spirit.

#33 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 10:33 PM

“What the hell….?” Adam frowned and kept his Baretta steady.

Adam suspiciously regarded the players in the strange scene before him.  Closest to him stood a tall, bald, African American man who appeared as if he could do some serious physical damage; and mostly likely military or ex-military, Adam surmised, taking in the man’s bearing.  To Adam’s right, and nearly sitting on a narrow table, was a slender female elf with dark hair. There was a vague familiarity about her, an actress or some such celebrity.  Over near the far wall across from the door was a young woman with the most unusual colored hair.  She was trembling slightly and not staring at Adam as the other two were.  Adam followed her gaze to a box on the floor in front of the final person in the small room.  

Rhianna sensed this stranger with the darkest blue eyes she’d ever seen wasn’t going to actually shoot them.  She relaxed slightly.  “We don’t know,” she answered his question, although he had never completed it.  “But look there, a magic stamp of delivery. That’s the god of Hermes, the messenger,” she added absently.

The elf pointed with a manicured finger to the ornate postage stamp—about the size of playing card—that was adhered to the lid of the round, cardboard box.  

“A what?” Zane asked sharply before he realized he didn’t really want to know.

Danica gasped. “I’ve only ever seen one before in my life,” she whispered.  “The package is instantly transported……but usually it goes to the front door or a mail slot.”

Indeed it had been delivered exactly as Danica explained.  Except the UPS delivery person had noticed it sitting by the front door and had loaded the round, sealed box onto her cart as she brought the morning delivery just today.  The half-elf hadn’t even noticed the strange package until she went to retrieve Danica’s special order.  She’d made a terrible mistake in letting her curiosity get the better of her as she had reached for the package.

“No…..,” the half elf finally spoke, her voice quivering with fear.  “No, it can’t be.  I……I never even thought about…..oh why did I open it? Why?” Her face paled considerably more than it already was.  The lavender-haired girl tried to back away but there wasn’t any place to go except against a large crate sitting on the floor.  She glanced up at the strangers in front of her as if seeing them for the first time.  

“Well, what’s that in there?” Adam asked, confused at just exactly what was going on.

Zane spoke up before anyone could say something to make this situation worse.  By his tone of voice he warned he would accept no contradictions. “A giant, fake spider or something.  Or a dead one as a sick joke.  I don’t know…..but it’s nothing to get worked up about,” he tried to convince himself.

Adam stepped a few feet further into the room to peer closer into the box, keeping his finger resting slightly on the trigger of his gun.  

“We just over-reacted when we first saw it.” Zane continued and nearly scowled at the two women who’d come into the room with him.

Without warning the glossy, black spider—about twelve inches long—rose up on thick, hairy legs and shook itself violently.  The UPS delivery person had accidentally dropped the box and stunned the spider—otherwise, it would have attacked the moment the half elf opened the box.  Everyone stumbled back as much as they could in astonishment and disbelief.  As if on cue for a special effects stunt, the spider’s six eyes on top of its black head opened and began to glow a dull topaz color.  Before anyone could react, it launched itself in a blur at the salesgirl who’d been unfortunate enough to open the mysterious box.

The four strangers yelled in surprise.  They could only watch in horror as the spider latched itself onto the girl’s upper body.  With its head raised in victory, the spider sunk needle-sharp fangs deep into her skin.  The smooth, glimmering body concealed the girl’s entire chest as its segmented legs wrapped part way around her torso   Flailing backwards and then sideways, the half elf tried to push the thick-bodied spider away as she screamed in utter pain.  In seconds the venom was injected into her body and began its journey through her veins.  The spider jumped sideways off of her torso and landed with a thud on the floor.  The storeroom erupted in chaos.

#34 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 31 March 2005 - 10:39 PM

Danica shrieked again and brought her hands up to her face, frozen,  She could only stare at the convulsing half elf on the floor.  The girl had knocked three boxes of candles over on herself and was half hidden from view. The venom was already starting to take effect.

“She’s been poisoned!” Adam yelled.  “The damn spider bit her!”  

He quickly aimed his gun at the venomous spider with threads of venom dripping from its fangs.  It was crouched low to the ground searching for a way to escape, its only movement a slight vibration from the recent attack.  Adam was planning on having it soon be splattered against the shelves.

“No!” Rhianna shouted.  “You can’t shoot in here!”

“What? Why the hell not?” Adam didn’t take his eyes off the spider and started pulling the trigger back.

Zane grabbed Adam’s wrist.  “She’s right, man.  You don’t know what’s on the other side of the walls.  Could be other stores.  That piece looks like it’ll send a bullet right through the walls.”

Zane felt naked being unarmed, but he never carried his gun with him—not since he left the military.  They would have to find another way to destroy the creature in the room.

“And it’s too enclosed in here,” Rhianna added, not wanting to get shot by a ricocheting bullet.

“God d*mn it!” Adam said through clenched teeth as he replaced his gun in the concealed holster.  “Then what the hell are we supposed to do with it?  Just let it walk out into the mall?”

Meanwhile, Danica had quickly come out of her shock and was attempting to pull the boxes off the girl without getting close to the seemingly frozen spider.  Perhaps it was dead, she fervently hoped , as she managed to pull the girl closer to her by the feet.  Danica felt someone begin to pull with her and glanced up quickly.  The slender actress was pulling with a strength not apparent from her appearance. The girl’s ragged bite wound was dripping blood and a black goo.  The two women could only see the whites of her eyes and foam was forming from between her slightly parted lips.

“I don’t know how long she has,” Danica said worriedly.  “But I might be able help her.”

Just as the two women pulled the half elf away from the spider, it suddenly rose up on its long, bristle-covered legs and hissed at Zane and Adam. The men jerked backwards and tried to move.  There was no place to go more than a few steps.  Zane attempted to block the door should the giant spider attempt to escape. Adam reflexively pointed his gun again but there was no time to shoot. The spider, its sharp fangs dripping with red blood and black, sticky venom, jumped with a speed unknown to normal spiders toward the nearest man.  Zane was strong and instinctively shot his fist out to hit the spider, but he wasn’t as swift as Adam.  

The martial artist delivered a smacking blow to the spider so fast that Zane only saw a blur of Adam’s arm.  The deadly spider was hurled against the shelves and slammed hard into one of the supports.  It lay on its back, stunned and motionless.  The back of Adam’s hand dripped blood where the barbed bristles on the spider’s legs had come in contact with it.  Before anyone could stop the spider, the black creature dragged itself groggily away behind a group of heavy boxes on the bottom of a shelf.

“Now where did it go?” Zane said in horror.

The thought of that giant spider still alive meant the situation was no where near being under control.

“Over there…somewhere,” Adam pointed to the darkened shelves.  At least they had a moment to figure out what to do.  Leaving the room was not an option—the spider had to be killed first.  “Watch for it, “ he warned. “It could be using the shelves to move around.”

The ex-Navy Seal and the shadow hunter stared hard into where the spider had fled, attempting to see if he’d moved.

“It’s a monstrous spider…sent to kill, apparently the half elf,” came a voice behind them.  

Both men turned their heads slightly to stare at Danica.  She was now holding the sun medallion which she wore around her neck: it was also her holy symbol.  “I remember reading about them at work. Of course, this is just a small one.”

“Where you work?” Zane echoed. “I really don’t want to know where you work if you can find out about giant, venomous spiders and magical stamps,” he declared.  All Zane was interested in was killing the deadly spider and forgetting about this whole incident.  And that’s just what the ex-soldier was going to do.

“Shhhhh, I have to concentrate, otherwise I can’t work the spell,” Danica whispered as she began to breath deeply, trying to focus and draw on the higher power of the universe in order to link into the magical source and belief she had deep within her own being.  This unshakeable belief in her abilities, unlocked through meditating to the higher power of the universe, allowed her to cast divine spells.  Danica focused on tuning out what was going on around her—she had to concentrate even if there was a deadly spider loose in the store room. The acolyte had to prepare spells ahead of time through her morning meditation, but in special circumstances she could cast a spontaneous curing spell so long as she’d meditated at some point beforehand.

“Is she for real?” Adam whispered to the elf as they watched Danica place her free hand on the half elf’s chest and being to speak in what sounded like a foreign language.  

Although she rarely did spells in front of others, Danica recited her spells in Draconic in case a mundane ever overheard what she was saying.

“I think she’s an acolyte,” Rhianna answered, glancing up from where she was kneeling on the floor, to look at the brown haired, blue eyed man.

Zane was trying not to listen.  Instead, he was attempting to track the large spider without physically moving.  Suddenly Rhianna shot up and pointed above the men’s heads. Her eyes opened wide.

“Look! There!”  She backed into the shelves and knocked over a box of ornamental but still sharp knives.

Danica was deep in her trance with her eyes closed and didn’t notice as one struck her arm, ornate handle first.  Rhianna bent down quickly and grabbed the knife from the floor.  She took aim carefully, narrowing her eyes.

Both men wrenched their heads up and swallowed hard.  Clinging to the ceiling above them was a black mouth with needles for fangs and six glowing, topaz eyes.  Shadow creature eyes with hatred and murder in them.  This hunting spider was out to kill.  Just as the spider was about to leap onto Zane, a knife came whizzing across the small room and lodged itself into the ceiling.  Three of the spider’s jointed legs dropped from its furry body, and the creature toppled unevenly to the ground with a dull thud. It tried in vain to bite Adam’s leg, but Zane delivered a powerful kick and sent the spider spinning across the floor.  His ankle came in contact with a the barbed bristles, but Zane didn’t feel the gash or the blood begin to seep through his sock.  

Inhaling deeply and letting out a low growl of anger, Zane hefted a large, heavy crate in his arms.  He carried it over and stood above the spider.  His muscles bulging with the extreme effort, Zane aimed and let drop the wooden crate.  Something inside rang with a heavy metallic sound as the crate landed directly on the creature.  The spider died with a sickening squishing sound.  Black goo oozed out from underneath the crate and began to spread, while two of the black spider’s segmented legs stuck out, twitching reflexively until the spider died for good.

“Get back,” Zane nudged Adam out of the way with his shoulder as the goo formed a puddle near their feet and then stopped moving.

A heavy silence ran through the air of the store room.  Danica had succeeded in her spell, but the poison would only be delayed for an hour.  Any damage done before the spell took effect wouldn’t be reversed.  Danica only hoped the poison wasn’t fast acting.  The four strangers remained silent.  The stared back and forth at each other in amazement.  Danica broke the link by looking down at the half elf and stroking her short, lavender hair.

“Oh!” Rhianna suddenly exclaimed.

The others paid scant attention at first as the elf darted out of the store room and into the main part of the dimly lit shop.  But she returned instantly to explain.

“I thought maybe we’d drawn attention, the store’s locked up tight,” she announced, curious at to why but having no answers.  “And the lights are mostly out as if the shop is closed.”

As Zane was moving to check this information for himself, the lights flickered back on, the doors unlocked and swung wide open.  He and Rhianna could see two mall security guards approaching self-importantly.  The two ducked back into the storage room.  With merchandise knocked over, a knife stuck in the ceiling, three huge spider legs laying on the floor, an unconscious girl on the floor with a large bite in her neck, two eight inch spider legs sticking out from under a crate, and black goo on the floor, the situation appeared about as far from normal as it could get.  

“Here comes security,” Zane reported, wondering how all of this could be explained.  He was focusing intently on bringing back down his mental curtain against Shadow, so he didn’t even have to try to explain to himself.

“We’ll tell them--,” Adam began, almost gleefully.  His adrenaline was racing. A strange tingling sensation of excitement at having helped protect and save these people was coursing through his body.

“No, I’ll take care of this.  Just let me do the talking,” Rhianna insisted, smiling almost mischievously at the other three who’s names she still didn’t even know yet.

Two mall security guards, dressed in crisp white shirts, blue pants and shoes with their walkie talkies clipped to their chests near their shoulders, entered the back room with authority.  

“What’s going on in here?” one asked harshly, his hand on his gun.

One of them had noticed the shop was closed up tight and the lights turned nearly off. Suddenly the doors had opened on their own and the lights had switched on again.  This particular guard was more in tune with Shadow than he realized; although, what he saw mostly confused him.  He often wondered there was something wrong with him.  His partner, the one doing the talking, had no idea what was going on.

Rhianna moved in front of them to conceal what she could of the room.  Zane and Adam both moved up behind her after realizing her intentions.  She gently touched the guards' arms with feather light touches.  They both visibly relaxed and turned their attention to the beautiful woman in front of them.  

“This young woman here,” she gestured to the half elf on the floor, “had an unfortunate accident.  We just happened to be in the store and heard her fall.”

Both security guards glanced over at the salesgirl on the floor.  Danica was still kneeling next to her.  It was obvious that the girl had a large bite on her neck and the blood, although no longer flowing, was readily apparent.  Both men looked for a moment, blinked, then nodded agreeably.  If the beautiful woman said it had been a fall, then the girl had most certainly fallen.

“Now, if you two would help us out by calling 911, we can get her to the hospital,” Rhianna suggested encouragingly. For some reason men responded to Rhianna’s charms but women were harder to convince.

“Right.  I’ll call emergency.  You stay here,” one said to his partner.

“Oh, well, you both should go.  They might need help finding the store or carrying in their gear,” the elf suggested, smiling.  

“You know,” the guard who had planned on staying said to his partner,” I should probably go with you.  But all of you stay here, understand?” he turned to the four people in the room. “We’ll have questions and reports to fill out.”

The snakeblooded human, the elf, the shadowkind human, and the dragonblooded human all nodded agreeably to this command, and the two security guards walked out to call and wait for emergency help.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:20 PM.

#35 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 10:52 PM

“Now what?” Adam said from across the small room, his hands full of Band Aids, antiseptic wipes, and a few paper towels.  Once he saw the elf could handle the guards, he’d moved off to search out a First Aid kit. His hand was still bleeding as was the bald man’s ankle, from what Adam could see.  Plus the girl should have her wound bandaged.  Adam intended on doing this while security called for help.

Before anyone could answer, a door that led to the service corridor slammed opened into the storage room.  Three male half elves came rushing in, frantic expressions on their slightly triangular faces.  The four rescuers in the room stared in the direction of the service door, intrigued and amazed that the strangeness of this day didn’t seem to want to end.  The three half elves’ expressions turn to horror as they took in the scene in the storage room without speaking.  The silent rescuers could see the information about the recent events going through the half elves minds as they looked from the unconscious girl on floor with the bite on her neck, to the empty box with the magical delivery stamp, and finally to the spider legs sticking out from under the crate.

“Hey!” Zane called out, shattering the silence, and pointed to the spider’s legs that had been cut off by Rhianna’s knife throw and dropped to the floor.  

Rhianna, Zane, and Danica watched in amazement as the spindly, bent legs began to waver in their solidity.  They slowly began to diminish in visibility, as if made of a clear substance.  The legs slowly began to disappear right before their eyes.  Rhianna noticed that the legs sticking out from under the crate were also disappearing and pointed in surprise.  Adam had seen this strange event several times before during his hunting ventures.

“Yes, Shadow creatures are reclaimed by Shadow,” the blond half elf remarked matter-of-factly as the other two rushed over to the girl.  

The tallest one easily picked her up from where she lay.  His long, dark hair was held back in a ponytail.  The shorter one, about 5’5”, checked her pulse, then injected her from a syringe containing an orange-colored liquid. They rushed toward the service corridor door.

As Adam put his hand out to help Danica stand and steady her while the feeling came back into her legs, the blond half elf motioned the four to follow the other two who were quickly disappearing.  Without thinking further, the women gathered their purses, and with the two men exited out the service door.  

“What about you?” Danica asked as she passed the blond half elf who didn’t seem to be moving.

He shook his head and smiled grimly. “Damage control,” he remarked as he gestured around the store room.  “I can hear the emergency team coming now.  You’d best hurry.”

He ushered Danica out the door behind the others and shut it firmly. She shivered in the corridor, although none of the others seemed to notice the cold.

#36 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 01 April 2005 - 11:15 PM

With the four strangers walking quickly behind them, the two half elves hurried down the empty service corridor.  All their footsteps echoed loudly on the hard floor.  Adam was certain they would be heard all through out the mall as the group passed the doors leading back into the mall itself.  

The four wondered where they were headed, and, more importantly, did they really want to be going “there.”

“We are in your debt,” said the shorter half elf as he finally spoke to the four people following bewilderedly behind.  “We had information that a monstrous spider was being sent to kill Neda. You saved her life. You won’t understand, and I won’t explain, but she’s very important to our people.  We were hiding her away.”

“Well, I must say you didn’t do a very good job,” Zane interjected, becoming annoyed with this whole situation now.  He was ready to just leave.  “She was rather out in the open there in the shop.”

Danica stared at him be quiet and not be rude, but Zane just scowled and ignored the girl with the claws.  

The half elf looked rather dejected.  “You’re right….that was our mistake.  We never thought they’d look for her out here.  We’ll take better care in the future.  And thanks to you,” the elf stopped quickly in front of a set of EXIT doors leading back into the main mall while his friend continued on with Neda,  “there will be a future.”

He reached into his pants pocket and took out four business cards which he handed to Rhianna, Zane, Adam, and Danica.  “I don’t know who you all are, but you could be of invaluable help to……well, you have talents it seems or else Neda would be dead, and all of you as well.  Take these. If you’re willing to meet at this address this evening…say about 7:00, you can have any questions you might have answered.  If you sign on, you could be of even more assistance than today.  Not just to us, but everyone.”

With this mysterious statement, the half elf turned and ran down the corridor after his partner and the unconscious girl.  Adam wanted to follow and investigate further, and Rhianna was curious herself.  But Zane already had his hand on the door.  His military training was warning him this was no place to be trapped.  He pushed the door open in a hurry, and they all piled out into the mall near some potted plants, standing a bit uncertain near the wall.  So far, no one had said a word, although Adam looked as though he was eager to talk.  

The private investigator absently handed Zane half the paper towels, antiseptic wipes, and Band Aids he held in his hand.  Both men were still bleeding somewhat, leaving drops of blood along the way; although, neither one felt any pain at the moment.  After taking the medical supplies, Zane just shook his head as if to dispel all that had occurred between the time he walked into the New Age store and this moment.  He turned abruptly, without saying a word, and walked with long strides away from the group.  The other three watched his broad back, held straight and strong, grow smaller as Zane moved further away from them.  Soon he had turned a corner and disappeared.

Danica, Adam, and Rhianna all looked at each other, wondering who would be the first to speak.  Seconds later Rhianna just shrugged—she was curious, but given who she was in life, she wasn’t sure she should get involved.  Giving a small wave, the elf, with light steps, turned and left.  Finally, Adam opened his mouth to say something, but Danica shook her head.  She had decided she wanted to keep her normal life. Before long, Adam was alone, watching the young woman—she definitely had Shadow blood in her, they all had, Adam had observed—leave as well.

People were starting to stare at Adam as they made their way along the mall’s walkway.  He soon noticed their stares and glanced down to see spots of crimson on the floor.  He shoved Band Aids and wipes in his pockets, then covered his hand with a paper towel to staunch the trickling blood.  Turning quickly, the Shadowkind human made his way outside.

It was now 4:00 PM on Friday. In the greater city of Los Angeles, four lives had been forever changed. It was only a matter of time before this knowledge became inevitable.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:25 PM.

#37 Raeven


    Having a Mads moment

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 07:37 AM

oooooooooooo *can't wait to see what happens* :)

*invading the post again  :angel:*  It's been fun to write this...more coming up!  I know my writing is mediocre to fair at best, but I'm going to keep reading my book on writing and practicing.  But I *am* having fun and appreciate that you're reading :D!

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 02 April 2005 - 11:23 PM.

It's very complex. If the pizza man truly loves this babysitter, why does he keep slapping her rear? Perhaps she has done something wrong ~ Castiel

#38 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 11:46 PM

In the parking lot across from the Angel’s Walk Mall, Rhianna stood for a moment next to her car.  The warm rays of the sun, the bright blue sky, and the afternoon winds blowing through the tops of the palm trees made her wonder for a moment if it had all been real.  But, it had, Rhianna knew. She, of all people, should understand that Shadow existed in this reality—after all, she’d unexpectedly fallen through ten years ago from another dimension.  

The slender actress unlocked her sports car and slid gracefully onto the expensive leather seat.  The summer wind outside had swept through her hair and left it tousled.  Rhianna opened her purse in search of her brush, then decided she liked the wild look and started the purring engine.

“You’re not really thinking of visiting this bookstore tonight, are you?” she asked herself aloud as her mind kept replaying the afternoon’s events with the monstrous spider and the three intriguing strangers.

Rhianna wasn't prepared to answer herself just yet.

Soon her expensive sports car was flowing smoothly along with the rest of the traffic along Santa Monica Boulevard until she reached the exclusive and expensive Vous tes Beau, her favorite beauty spa in Beverly Hills.  Deciding a massage and facial would help her think, Rhianna wandered into the luxuriously decorated spa in search of Rachel.

Rhianna had every intention of enjoying the rest of her afternoon being pampered, then heading back to her luxurious home, extravagant lifestyle, and enjoyable career.  After all, she had responsibilities to her fans, her agent, her staff, and herself.  Rhianna Sheridan--as she lay covered with only a sheet, having her slender shoulders and back massaged by expert fingers--couldn’t just go traipsing around doing……well, whatever the half elf in the mall had been referring to in his little ‘you can help save the world’ speech.

Her muscles manipulated, her face exfoliated, and now her entire body being cleansed out in the sauna, Rhianna did what she could to fight her eleven curiosity—but, as usual, she failed. Rhianna smiled to herself as she finally yielded, and the elf felt an exhilaration that she’d never experienced before flow through her magical body.  This, whatever this turned out to be, could finally give her a purpose in life—a true reason to exist in this reality.  Contrary to elven nature, this particular 80-year old elf wanted to be a part of something beyond just herself—although she was quite fascinating and exciting in her own right.  

As she stepped out of the cool shower in the private room, she thought of the limited Shadow creatures and magic she’d come in contact with already in the past ten years. While drying off with a thick, soft, blue towel, Rhianna decided she’d known there was good and evil Shadow in this world but now wondered just how deep it went.  She smiled again when she realized she might be finding out this very evening.  A quick turn around in front of the three-way mirror showed her beige slacks and dusty-green tank top had been neatly pressed and freshened up.

Nodding to herself, her mind definitely made up, Rhianna headed out to sign the bill for the expensive hours she’d just experienced.  Ashley would write the check at some point. It wasn’t long before the actress was backtracking toward the address on the bookstore, zipping in and out of the late evening traffic—her heart light and her senses tingling.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:28 PM.

#39 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 11:53 PM

Danica was sitting cross-legged in the sand, elbows resting on her knees and hands cupping her chin.  All around her, families out for a late afternoon at the beach still played in the sand and the water, and the health-conscious plowed through the sand for the ultimate walking or running experience.  Although heading toward the horizon, the late afternoon sun still hovered in the summer sky.  Life went on as usual for the mundanes.

Danica had truly meant to go straight home after leaving the mall.  She’d even called into work to let her assistant know she wasn’t feeling well—just a small untruth to give her time to think.  Although, Danica hadn't intended to think so much on what had transpired earlier; she already knew she wasn’t going to involve herself with those three strangers and whatever was at the bookstore.  She had to think about her family, for one thing.  They’d been less than pleased about her discovery of a divine talent for spell casting, imagine if she turned into some sort of fighter of evil.  That would not go over well with her mother. Not that she could actually ever tell her mother, or anyone for that matter, the dragonblooded human concluded.

Unfortunately, as she watched the ebb and flow of the flat waves and tried to convince herself she wanted—and needed—her normal life, the universe had other plans.

“You’re just not going to give up until I say yes, are you?” she whispered to her inner self, her spirit guide—what could also be called her intuition—as it demanded more and more loudly that this was her destiny.  Whether she liked it or not.

The young woman could have sworn she heard a small laugh in her mind.  Sighing and shaking her head, she would only give in just enough to return all the way to the bookstore to see what whoever was there had to say.  Then Danica was leaving.  Dangling her shoes from one hand, she walked barefoot through the sand back to her car.

#40 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 April 2005 - 11:59 PM

Like a kid at Christmas or a birthday, Adam could hardly contain his inquisitive nature regarding this meeting at the bookstore; although, his calm outward appearance belied his inner emotions.  He was acquainted first hand with the evil of Shadow and its creatures—he spent part of his life fighting, or rather hunting which usually turned into fighting at some point, creatures and things of Shadow.  But he did it alone.  Now it seemed as though Adam would finally have the opportunity to work on a larger scale, as well as combine forces with others of the same mind.

Adam entered the Dojo where he trained and bowed respectfully.  He placed his soft shoes on the shelf, tightened the belt around his white uniform, and quietly entered the training floor.  There was always a spare uniform in the gym bag in his car since Adam frequently came to work out when he could find time.  The other students saw his black belt and bowed as he passed, as was the custom, then returned to their own training.

Having no decisions to make, no soul searching or thinking to do, Adam focused all his attention internally on his ki as he began.  Tuning into his inner energy, or spirit, calmed the shadow hunter down.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 30 May 2007 - 06:30 PM.

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