Nasty Pixie Tale – Again.

I should be working on NaStySumo but before that, I wanted to get this chapter out of my system, lol. It’s been in my head for weeks… J

Enjoy guys.

Alyss

Nasty Pixie Tale Part 11

When Alyssa approached the ship again, she was a lot more cautious, coming at it from above instead of below and making sure that nobody saw her. Her landing wasn’t exactly graceful as she knocked the wind out of herself for the second time that day, but the blimp was soft and – after a moment’s consideration, she decided that she had made it undetected. Keeping her wings tightly wrapped around her, Alyssa crawled forward to the edge of the blimp, using the ropes that held it to the ship to get as close to the edge as she could.

“Darned ugly to!” she heard a high pitched voice that could only belong to Jenn. “Stupid flying monkey. If it comes at us again I’ll have to move quickly. It’s huge, much bigger than the last ones! I don’t think poking out an eye will stop this one.”

There was a pause and then a gentle, “Oh dear. I had hoped that it would be sufficient to scare them off but I had been mistaken. How do you suggest we carry on from here?”

The pixie’s reply was lost on Alyssa as the blimp jerked in a sudden breeze, almost making her lose her grip. Gasping, she quickly pushed her way back up to the top of the ship and stood up, puzzled by Jenn’s words. “Flying monkey?” she muttered. “I’m not a flying…” She reached up to run her hand through her hair but realized suddenly that she still wore the mask.

“Ag stupid,” she berated herself and reached back to pull it off. “Of course they won’t…”

She ducked suddenly, spurred to movement by instincts much older than she was, and felt something burn across her arm, a faint humming sound her only warning. “Come back for more eh?!” Alyssa heard as she tried to see her assailant. “I’m not going to hold back this time!”

Shouting protest, Alyss just managed to see the bright light of flying pixie again before it came at her. “Wait!” She yelled as she ducked again, holding up her hands in defence. “Wait just…” Jenn was moving too quickly, the moonlight glinting dangerously from her tiny pixie sword. “Bloody well Jenn!”

If the NaSty heard her, she didn’t let on but continued coming at her, clearly aiming for her face, shouting profanities as only a pixie could. Struggling to maintain her balance, Alyssa desperately tried to shield her face from the pixie. She tried to catch her, but the effort earned her another burning cut across her palm to join the one on her arm. Fumbling, feeling as if she was assaulted by the killer fly from Mars, Alyssa backed up several steps and quite suddenly lost her footing, falling backwards off of the blimp. Momentarily forgetting about her wings, Alyssa gave a loud yell and threw her arms around wildly, trying to catch something to break her fall. She managed to grab a hold of a rope and the momentum swung her into the ship where she landed on the deck in a jumble of wings, limbs and attacking pixie.

“Uncle uncle uncle!” Alyssa yelled as she got off of her wings so that she could fold them around her. “I surrender! Jenn I surrender!”

“It’s a trick,” the pixie said fiercely. “Careful Suzanne!”

A heavy, cold pressure rested on Alyssa’s shoulder, forcing her to look up slowly.

“If you can grasp what I say, I advice you not to move too quickly,” Suzanne said coldly. “Unless you would like me to sever your head from your shoulders.”

The cold touch came from a long thin steel blade that Suzanne held in her hand, it’s edge shifting to touch Alyss’s throat as she looked up. She could tell immediately by the way the young woman held it that she knew how to use it. Jenn was flying above her shoulder, her wings a bright red colour.

It made quite a sight, one she would’ve appreciated if she wasn’t at the wrong end of a sword.

“Speak your peace demon,” Suzanne said and applied more pressure to the blade. “Why are you attacking us?”

Alyssa swallowed, fighting her instinctive urge to move away from the blade. “I’m not a demon,” she said slowly. “Please, I ah… am quite fond of my head exactly where it is.” She swallowed and spared a glance at Jenn. “I am going to remove my mask…” She started to sit up so that she could use her arms but Suzanne shifted in a way that told her the petite woman wasn’t comfortable with her movement. “Or you can take it off if you want.” Alyssa added quickly. “I won’t hurt you. I just need you to see me.”

There was a pause as the two armed women glanced at each other. “Who are you?” Jenn demanded from her position just above Suzanne’s shoulder. “Why are you attacking us?”

Alyssa took a steadying breath and swallowed. “I wasn’t attacking you,” she said, still keeping her voice slow and level. “My name’s Alyssa. You might know me.” Please please please know me…

Again the two women glanced at each other. Slowly, after making sure to give her a look that warned her not to try anything, Jenn approached her and grabbed the mask on top of her head, pulling back with all her strength. When the close fitting material slipped free of her face, Alyssa couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief and looked up at the woman holding her at sword point.

“Hello Suzanne,” she said and smiled with what she hoped was a friendly smile as she brushed an offending blond strand of hair out of her face. “Ah… Nice dress… And goggles.”

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Nasty Pixie Tale Part 10

Hello people,

And – here we have another instalment of my Nasty Pixie Tale, quickly drabbled out this morning as I psyched myself up to try and get dressed. Lol, I think my mood was imposed on the Nasties. I apologize for my lack of humour. 😉

Enjoy!

Nasty Pixie Tale Part 10

As they watched the dark shape of Alyssa disappear into the night, Antonio clapped his hands together with a satisfied grin and turned to Marsha.

“Our work here is done,” he said and started heading towards the cottage. “If we had coffee or something stronger, I’d have said that we should celebrate.”

Marsha smiled at him and dropped down to all fours. “Hopefully Suzanne will have some supplies in her airship,” she glanced behind her. “Are you coming Phil?”

The green haired Nasty was still staring up at the sky, at Marsha’s call, he turned to them, his features strangely troubled. The two older Nasties saw it immediately and frowned.

“What’s up mate?” Antonio asked and took a few steps towards Phil. “You don’t look too happy.”

Phil waved off Marsha, who had come closer, and shrugged, putting his hands into his pants’ pockets. “I’m just thinking that…” He hesitated. “Well. I’m happy for Alyssa but she’s not the only one who’s been kinda trapped.”

Marsha frowned at the young man. “What do you mean Phil?” she queried to which he shrugged again and motioned to the cottage where they could just see Mud and Tiffany standing on the veranda. “Tiffany’s trapped in the house,” Phil pointed out. “Think about it, we go out and explore the world and she’s there… Forever. I don’t know how much I like the idea that she’s a ghost. And I really don’t like the fact that she’s trapped in the cottage. Whenever we go, she will be left behind.”

His words made the two shift awkwardly as they looked at Tiffany in a new light. Antonio dropped to all fours beside Marsha and motioned to Phil to start walking. “We’ll have to talk to her about it.” He looked at the trees. “I hope Alyssa finds Kylie and sends her back, I don’t want her to stray off too far.”

Marsha chuckled warmly and wagged her tail when Mud started lumbering towards them. “Don’t let her hear you say that,” she said. “Our Kylie’s very independent. All good Mud?” She called to the zombie who patiently lumbered towards them.

“Now that was entertaining,” Mud said as she joined them. “I had my doubts for a few moments and my heart in my hands, but luckily I managed to pop it right back in there and she managed to get herself out of the tree.” She smiled her zombie half smile. “So what’s our next task of the day?”

Antonio motioned to the cottage where Tiffany was waiting for them, her ghostly light a shining beacon that could guide them there. “We need to find a spot for Suzanne to land,” he said. “And put up some lights. We don’t want Suzanne landing on the roof.”

Mud smiled amused and looked around them, trying to determine how much space they had around the cottage. “That would be disastrous,” she said. “Tiffany! Do you have those lamps?”

The spectre nodded and motioned beside her, the ghostly light spreading out to illuminate a couple of lamps that was on the porch. As they watched, another one drifted out of the house and went to rest beside the others. When she saw the three Nasties’ expressions she smiled ethereally and shrugged. “I don’t have to throw things around. They can be put down gently as well.” She paused. “If nobody’s trying to break in.”

“And the light?” Antonio queried.

Tiffany paused and shrugged. “Don’t go towards it?” she offered. The tiger huffed a laugh and shook his head.

“No,” he said. “I mean, the light that you just made appear. How did you do that?”

Tiffany raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “Same way I haunt the house?” she offered. “I don’t know. One of those things.”

Phil stepped forward enthusiastically. “Do you think you can make more?” he queried and motioned to the porch. Tiffany misunderstood him and gave him a dry, blank stare.

“I’m a ghost, not a lamp maker Phil,” she said and flicked her ghostly hair out of her eyes. “I think there’s two more somewhere in the house.”

The Nasty quickly shook his head and motioned to her. “No,” he said. “I mean, the light – can you create more? We can use that to guide Suzanne here. It’s pretty clear.”

Mud clapped her hands together lightly. “That’s an excellent idea!” she said. “Tiffany, you can indicate the spot in the clearing where Suzanne can land.”

“And we don’t have to bother with the lamps,” Marsha added. “I was worried that their light might not be bright enough.”

They waited for Tiffany to respond but the ghost just looked at them, her pale face frozen with a look of serene puzzlement. Phil made a sound and went forward smiling enthusiastically.

“Come on Tiffany,” he said. “Come with me, I’m sure you can do it.”

The ghost looked to him, the little heart on her cheek becoming more visible. She looked as if she wanted to speak, then abruptly vanished, her ghostly light fading.

The gathered Nasties looked at her, puzzled by her sudden disappearance. “Tiffany?” Mud called as she lumbered up the veranda. “Tiffany? Where are you?” There was no answer, the cottage feeling emptier. Marsha frowned as she joined Mud’s side, sniffing the air to see if she could trace the ghost.

“Think she’s avoiding the subject?” she queried and looked at Phil who was frowning. He didn’t answer, but they could see that his thoughts were troubled.

There was a dull noise close to them as a shadow leapt from a nearby tree and ran towards them, barely visible in her dark attire. “Dude, it’s dark here!” Kylie said as she ran her hand through her hair, surveying the group with a small smile on her face. She quickly sensed that something was amiss and turned to the one she could read the best.

“Phil-kun, what’s wrong?”

Her friend looked at her and sighed, raising his hand in greeting. “Tiffany disappeared when I suggested that she try and leave the cottage,” he pointed out. “She’s not answering.”

Kylie frowned and looked at the dark house. “Well, she’s still here,” she said. “You can feel it. Tiffany?” When the ghost didn’t make an appearance, Kylie frowned and looked at her gathered companions. “She won’t like the idea of leaving the house you guys.” She pointed out softly. “She haunts this place, it’s what she’s tied to. She just can’t leave when it suits her.”

Antonio sighed and went to pick up the lamps, his previous high spirits dampened a bit by Kylie’s statement. “And in that we have a problem don’t we?” he pointed out. “Come on you guys, we better start lighting these. Does anybody have any crazy NaSty fire lighting skills?”

Mud made a dry considering sound and picked up a lamp of her own. “I do,” she said and put her hand into a hole in her rotting chest cavity. “They’re called matches…”

To Be Continued…

A NaSty Outline – Character Grid.

Being a writer can be compared to being a sportsman. Every person has something that he or she is good at, and then – they have something that they struggle with. I like to believe that I’m pretty good with dialogue but, my weakness is number of characters. I never put more than three main characters in a story, and use no more than five as back up cast. It’s therefore quite a new experience to me to write a story that has 10 main characters. After completion of the last two Nasty Pixie Tale chapters, I realized that I was slowly but surely coming apart at the seams. Some characters were falling back and becoming back up characters were as others were threatening to become quite monotonous. I had to stop this immediately and try to pull back what was threatening to become lost.

So, today I did something I have never done before. I started planning and outlining, two words which have never been associated with my writing up until this moment. I’m a fly by night writer, sitting down in front of my computer and just letting the words spill out as they come. It’s worked pretty good up until now, but things were changing. I’ve been rethinking my style and process the past couple of months and it’s become clear that I couldn’t write this way anymore. The length of my fics and the strength and unpredictability of my characters didn’t allow it.

I needed help and luckily, I knew where to get it.

During November, the urban fantasy author Kim Harrison had posted a series of blog posts detailing how she planned her writing and her books. Among her hints, one thing stood out namely her character grid. This concept pulled at me immediately, but at the time I didn’t have any use for it. Now, when I desperately tried to regain order in my story, I realized that it might just be the thing to bring what might be a potential mess in order.

This is what I came up with (click on it for a bigger document):

 

The layout is quite simple. On the far left, you have a list of the characters, alphabetically listed. On the top, you have the location, day and the part of the story which it was posted in. At the bottom, you have a brief description of what’s been happening in the set location. And then, you have the colours.

These are my own initiative with the character grid. I needed a way to see how active the characters have been and this seemed to be the best method. I believe it’s quite simple.

The PURPLE blocks are ‘introduction’ blocks which basically say when the character stepped into the story. BLUE blocks are general blocks. This is when a character doesn’t take up a main conversational role or when all characters are general even in their actions. Blue means balance. Then, the GREEN blocks are ‘absent’ blocks. They count as indicators when a character hardly had any conversation or lines in a part. They are mentioned and might have one line, but in general, they do not hold a conversation. The RED blocks are active blocks. They indicate intense reaction between characters, when their plight/conversation/role in the part becomes the main focus, ie – Mud having a feisty dialogue with Tiffany when they needed to enter the club house.

By using this, I get a very good perspective about what’s going on in my story, and whether I’m maintaining a balance between the characters. I can see through this for instance that two characters, Phil and Marsha, need more main interaction as they are acting mostly like supportive characters than main characters at the moment. Mud’s not there yet, but threatening to slip down to their role. Kylie’s an interesting character, because although she doesn’t take a lot of main action, she’s constantly in the general action, more so than any of the others. She does this through her dialogue and her actions so, although she doesn’t have a lot of red blocks, she’s pretty well settled in the story.

I am pretty pleased with myself as this grid produced the result that I wanted from it. I’m hoping that eventually, I’ll be able to incorporate it into all of my fics. The layout is there, now I just need to use it accordingly.

You can find the original Kim Harrison post here:
http://kimharrison.wordpress.com/2009/11/10/character-grid/

NaSty Pixie Tale Part 9

We’re continuing with the Nasty Pixie tale. I discovered today that you can time set your posts. I think it’s a very cool feature, but I didn’t need to use it for this one because I ‘posted’ this one on a different day than my last post, lol. Anyway, enjoy! Two more Nasties will be joining us shortly…

Nasty Pixie Tale Part 9

There were a few shocked moments of silence, then Phil started running, his eyes wide as he yelled.

“Flap your wings Alyssa!! FLAP THEM!!”

Antonio and Marsha broke into a run with Phil, and before long all three of them were running underneath the large, gliding shape. They couldn’t see Alyssa’s face as she glided from the roof, but they clearly heard her curse as she started to flap her large wings.

“Shit!” she yelled and started beating them strongly, gaining a little bit of altitude. “Shit, shit shit!”

Phil laughed heartily and flapped his arms in demonstration. “Don’t curse!” he yelled. “Flap your wings! Focus!”

“Backseat flyer,” Marsha barked with a laugh as she looked up at Alyssa, who was gaining more altitude, then in front of her to see where she was running. “Oh… ALYSSA! TREES! WATCH OUT!” They were approaching the tree line and unless Alyssa turned out or pulled up, she was going to fly straight into them. There was a strangled gasp from the sky as Alyssa noticed the green barrier coming her way.

“Pull up!” Antonio yelled as he raced next to Marsha. “Pull up now!”

Alyssa made a desperate attempt to change direction and fly higher but her reaction time was too slow. With a loud yell of something that could only be rude in her own language she disappeared into a tree with a loud crack of branches and a shower of leaves. The three Nasties raced to a stop below it and looked up, Phil leaning forward to catch his breath before he too peered up.

“Alyssa!” Antonio yelled as he reared up against the bark and peered into the dark depths of the tree. “Are you alright?” He shook his head to get rid of the leaves that fallen on his face.

“Bloody awesome!” The Nasty’s yell came down.

Marsha peered up and just managed to spot a dark shape clambering towards the tree trunk. “Come down slowly!” she yelled. “We might have to change the direction that you start off in next!” There was a pause followed by the alarming sound of a branch cracking.

“Look out below!” Alyssa yelled as the branch which she had broken started dropping down. The Nasties scattered but the branch got caught halfway down and stayed put. The three gathered around the bottom again, trying to determine whether Alyssa was coming down. It looked more as if she was climbing up.

“Alyssa!” Marsha yelled again. “Are you coming down?!”

“Not enough time!” Came Alyss’s breathless reply. “Gonna jump!”

A feral grin spread over Antonio’s face as he moved out from underneath the tree. “Knew she’d get into the swing of things,” he said to Marsha and Phil before looking up again. “Don’t break your neck! Tell Suzanne we’ll clear a landing patch!” His holler was met with silence as the other two joined him. “Alyssa?”

Without warning, a black shape launched itself from the tree yelling. “BATMAAAN!” Alyssa plummeted to the ground at an alarming rate but managed to spread her wings quickly enough and did an almost 180 degree turn as she flew up at the same speed she had been falling. The three looked at her surprised and then, a zombie “WOOT!” from the cottage spurred them into a wild chorus of celebrating cheers with Alyssa disappearing from their view in pursue of the tiny light in a fit of manic laughter.

&&&

Kylie was of the firm opinion that Ninja’s could do anything, but even she had to admit that they didn’t have limitless strength and stamina. She was getting very tired but she pushed herself onwards to make sure that she didn’t lose sight of Suzanne’s airship and through that let down her Nasty friends. She could deal with a lot of things in her life, but that wasn’t one of them.

Taking a breather in an old, burned tree top she stood up and rubbed her brow. She had long since taken off her mask, but she debated putting it on again as the air was getting colder as darkness fell. The light was getting depressingly small in the distance and Kylie knew with a bitter certainty that it was only a matter of time before she lost it completely. She took out her mask and was about to pull it over her face when someone whistled to her. Kylie turned surprised to see a dark mass fly towards her.

“Kylie!” The mass yelled. “Mask! Please!”

Kylie blinked and yelled joyously. “Alyssa! You’re flying!” She punched her fist into the air but almost lost her balance. Luckily, she managed to steady herself with her super ninja balance.

“I am batman!” The flying Nasty laughed as she made a quick circle around Kylie. “I’m cold too! Mask, please!”

She snatched the piece of material from Kylie’s hands as she held it out with a laugh. “Fly my pretties, fly!” The ninja yelled and almost lost her balance again. She hunched down this time to watch Alyssa fly off towards the airship with a grateful; “Thank you!”

“Well,” Kylie said to no one in particular as she looked back in the direction which she had come in and where she judged the cottage should be. “My work here is done.”

&&&

Alyssa rarely admitted that she was wrong or rarely believed that she was really. But on the odd occasion, being proven wrong wasn’t as bad as it could be and in this moment, with the wind howling in her ears and nothing but air between herself and the dark landscape, she was quite happy to admit that she had been terribly, rudely and stubbornly wrong.

Flying was incredible and with every passing second she could feel her perception of her surroundings increase as her muscles remembered an act she had never done before. She ‘remembered’ turning, diving, flying higher and lower and, she hoped that she ‘remembered’ landing. But that wasn’t really her concern at the moment as she gained ground (or rather air) on the airship. It was a magnificent flying machine, much larger than she had originally anticipated. There was a cargo net hanging from the one side, strapped down securely to the bottom of the ship to form a ladder of sorts on the side. Alyss decided to aim for that instead of attempting to navigate between the ropes and cables keeping the blimp and ship together. She flew quickly until she was right next to the cargo net and reached out to pull herself closer. In the wind and with the limited space that she had she couldn’t fold her wings immediately and rather just pulled herself up, keeping her wings at such an angle that prevented the wind from pulling her away from the side. She just managed to get her arm over the side of the ship’s railing when a bright light suddenly exploded before her eyes, followed by a very loud, very angry, battle cry.

“Féroun ti̱ maïmoú!”

Startled, Alyssa barely had time to see a tiny sword flash mere millimetres from her face before the wind jerked her away from the ship because she had moved her wings in the wrong position. She plummeted several feet before she managed to get her body in order again and make the transition from falling to flying.

Cursing to herself as she once again tried to get close to the airship, Alyss knew with certainty that Suzanne wasn’t alone…

&&&

To Be Continued…

NaStyPixie Tale Continued once more

Hey everybody,

I haven’t been writing a lot lately because I’m studying for a module in Financial Management. I haven’t opened a book properly in three years, and I have to admit, starting up my brain took more effort than it had taken to start my old car up in the winter. I tend not to write when I’m studying (force of habit, stopping myself was the only way that I could keep myself in the books) but I had a strong need to do so tonight. Mostly thanks to Antonio because of his great post in Online with Ivy. 😉 You can find a link to this at ‘Antonio’s Place’. It’s great – featuring Kim Harrison’s character Ivy Tamwood as she goes through her electronic life. Anyway, reading it made me realize that I really wanted to just write something, and this story is the easiest.

This post is dedicated to our Rock Chick/ghost friend Tiffany who celebrated her birthday yesterday (16th of June). I hope that you had a great day my friend. Thank you for your friendship and I hope that this year will bring amazing things your way. 😉

So, without any further delay (unlike South Africa’s public services…) I give you:

Nasty Pixie Tale Part 8

When Marsha and Antonio raced into the club house’s clearing, Mud and Phil were already there, their eyes wide at the excited state of the two.

“We heard Kylie hollering something,” Phil said as Antonio raced to a stop in front of him. “What’s up?”

Both Nasties reared up to their hind legs as Marsha joined Antonio. “Where’s Alyssa?” Antonio queried, looking towards the porch where Tiffany had made her appearance. “Tiffany?”

The ghost glanced behind her and shrugged. “In the bathroom,” she said. “Looking for something.”

Marsha blinked. “What?” she asked to which Tiffany smiled amused.

“Hair dye.”

Marsha and Antonio shared a look. “Get her,” Antonio said and looked to the sky where he could still see the moving light. “Quickly.”

Tiffany raised a ghostly eyebrow and disappeared. Mud lumbered closer to Antonio and Marsha and gave them a puzzled look. “What’s going on?” she queried. “Where’s Kylie?”

Marsha smiled at the zombie and motioned towards the moving light. “Following the airship,” she said. “See that light? We think its Suzanne.”

Phil also came closer and frowned up at the sky. “She’s not coming this way,” he pointed out to which Antonio nodded as Tiffany appeared in the doorway with a bewildered looking Alyssa. “That’s why we need her,” he said and trotted closer. “Alyssa, come quickly.”

Alyssa blinked and quickly ran down the porch stairs. “What’s going on?” she queried and did a head count. “Oh gods, what happened to Kylie?”

Marsha came forward quickly and made a soothing gesture with her hand. “Kylie’s fine,” she said. “But we need your help.”

The young woman frowned and pulled her braid over her shoulder so that she could fiddle with it. “With?”

Antonio took a deep breath and pointed up towards the sky. “We found Suzanne,” he said. “But she hasn’t found us yet. We need you to go and get her.”

Alyssa blinked and mouthed Suzanne’s name. She looked at the assembled Nasties and then the forest then in the direction that Antonio was pointing. All at once, his meaning dawned on her.

“No,” Alyss said sharply and took a step back. “I can’t fly.” She could feel everybody look at her, and then at the wings that she kept wrapped around her shoulders. She could tell that they didn’t believe her.

“I can’t!” Alyssa protested again. “No. Guys. We can make a signal fire or something. I’m sure she’ll see that.”

Marsha stepped closer to the South African, who gave her a fierce look and took another step back, away from them and against the porch of the cabin. “She’s already gone past Alyssa,” she said calmly. “You’re the only one who can reach her.”

Alyss’s wild eyes snapped up to the sky and then back at Marsha. “Then none of us can because I can’t!” she said. “I told you lot from the beginning!” They weren’t sure whether it was anger or fear that brought the pitch to her voice.

Marsha took another step to her but Tiffany appeared over Alyss’s shoulder and shook her head at the wolf. “Don’t force her,” she said calmly and rested her ghostly elbows on the railing that surrounded the veranda. “Can’t you see she’s scared?”

Alyss turned around sharply and glared at the ghost. “I am not scared,” she said. “I am being realistic.”

Tiffany shrugged mildly and gave her an encouraging smile. “Fear is very real,” she said. “There is no shame in admitting it. The fear of heights is especially daunting. You are right, we can attempt to make a signal fire. There are some matches in the house.” She started to fade. “Somewhere.”

Alyssa’s face was stark white as she balled her fists. “I am not scared,” she said. “And, I am not afraid of heights. I just…” She swallowed and clenched her teeth. “I just can’t.”

Tiffany raised her ghostly eyebrows and smiled gently, though there was a sharper, mischievous glint to her eyes now, the poltergeist threatening to come forth. “We know you can’t and it’s alright. We can understand that you don’t even want to try. It’s daunting and we’d hate to see anything happen to you.”

Alyss looked at her and then at the assembled Nasties. She closed her eyes and shook her head before shaking a fist at Tiffany. “Don’t feign concern when you are manipulating me,” she growled and pushed herself away from the cottage porch. “Bloody ghost.” She pushed past Antonio and Marsha and moved to a clear spot on the grass. When Mud and Phil stepped closer to her she held up her hand and pointed at Mud.

“You stay right there. I don’t want to take a piece of you with me.”

The zombie smiled and rather lurched over to the porch where Tiffany was standing with a very self satisfied smile. Mud gave her a sideways look and shook her head ever so slightly. “Where you a piano player in your previous life time?” she queried as they watched Alyssa close her eyes and take a few deep breaths.

“Why do you ask?” Tiffany queried amused to which the zombie grinned.

“You know exactly which keys to push to get a workable tune.”

With a look of deep concentration and irritation, Alyssa managed to snap her wings open. Not looking at the Nasties, she looked at her wingspan and frowned, clearly worried. After another steadying breath she flapped them experimentally, spending up a cloud of dry leaves. Seemingly happier with the result, Alyssa swallowed and flapped her wings a couple of times, jumping up in an attempt to get some height.

It didn’t really take her anywhere.

Phil joined the group watching her with a small, worried frown on his face. “She’s going to need to do it quicker,” he said.

When she realized that she didn’t get anywhere, Alyssa frowned and looked at her wings again before looking up at the slow moving light. She bit her lip and flapped harder this time. She managed to remain airborne for a second longer than before but once again dropped down to the ground.

“Maybe we should try and throw you up in the air,” Phil offered when Alyssa looked at them, frustration clear in her face. All at once, her irritation returned and she shook her head sharply.

“There will be no throwing this Nasty,” she said and marched towards them, her wings settling around her shoulders again. “You can however give me a boost up onto the roof.”

Antonio and Phil glanced at each other and quickly helped Alyssa scramble up onto the roof. There the young woman flapped her wings experimentally and perched herself on the edge. Tiffany appeared beside her, not caring that Alyss’s wings went right through her as she moved them.

“Maybe you should flap them before you jump,” she offered. “Or take a run up, get some rhythm. Rhythm is everything you know.” She smiled suddenly. “Maybe think of a song to time yourself with.”

Alyssa sighed softly and closed her eyes, pretending not to hear her. None the less, she flapped her wings harder and leapt off of the roof. This time she didn’t exactly crash like a stone, but she didn’t come down lightly either. Marsha groaned as Alyssa half crashed, half rolled into the ground, knocking out the wind right out of her. When she stayed down coughing, the older Nasty quickly went to her side and helped her up.

“Don’t kill yourself,” she said as Alyssa coughed, trying to get some air back into her lungs. “Please, if you can’t do it then you can’t. I’m serious, a broken neck won’t get us or you anywhere.” When she got her breath back, the Nasty made a growling sound as she stepped away from the wolf.

“Onkruid vergaan nooit,*” she muttered under her breath and went back to the roof. Without waiting for Phil and Antonio she jumped up with a strong flap of her wings, grabbed the side and scrambled up, much like she would’ve onto her horse. Marsha looked after her and then at Antonio who was also frowning. They stepped back as Alyss went to the furthest edge of the roof, her wings spread for balance. It had become so dark that they couldn’t clearly see her face. Clearly visible was Tiffany though, her face serene and ghostly as she stood next to Alyssa with her ghostly hand rested on the young woman’s shoulder. When she let her hand drop away, Alyssa rubbed her own hands on her pants and started running forward. She almost slipped but managed to catch her balance and leap off of the roof…

To Be Continued…

*Tranlated as: Weeds never die.