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Unread 04-30-2016   #4
clovis
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 116
Re: New Story "Take It All In" by Clovis

Here's the next part which is still mostly character and world building. I put it out quicker so that it wouldn't be such a long wait until Chapter 3 which will see the process begin. Hope you still enjoy it, and I would love any feedback or criticisms you may have.

Chapter 2

“Oh my gods you are insane!” Lydia shouted at Dawn the moment Amber got them inside the modest dorm room. Dawn took her sister’s bag and coat which Lydia offered up with enough force to nearly knock her over. That spent the last bit of energy Lydia possessed and she collapsed onto Dawn’s bed, exhausted from an exceedingly long and bizarre day. “What, what, WHAT were you thinking?”

Amber, having read the tone of the room, swiftly turned around and went back to the door. “Ah… I’m going to Holly’s to- you know- commiserate. She’s usually got a sunnier take on things.”

“Tell Holly not to worry,” Dawn said with a reassuring smile as she hung up her sister’s dripping coat.

For a moment Amber said nothing- she just looked at her roommate with profound dumfoundedness. Then the moment passed. “Don’t worry! Don’t… What am I supposed to tell Holly exactly- that Miss Vesuvi- a human FOOD TRUCK- is going to be out done by a girl who thinks that a can of soup really is two whole servings?”

“It says so right on the can!” Dawn didn’t hold up well under attack from the her closest confidant. As small as she was she seemed to shrink within herself as she clutched Lydia’s bag like a huge stuffed animal for protection.

“Dammit Dawn, when we go out to eat, you order off the kid’s menu!”

“It’s all I can afford!”

“You NEVER FINISH!” Amber was unrelenting. Stepping forward she emphasized their height difference even more as Dawn cowered. “How is a girl whose freshman fifteen was measured in GRAMS going to out grow that prehistoric beluga?” Like Lydia and Etna before, Amber seemed winded by Dawn’s apparent obliviousness to the whole situation. “Oh… oh man… I can’t… I can’t even deal with this.” Amber went to her dresser and took out a small bag. “Two days… oh man, I am dreading what’s to come.”

“Honestly, just wait and you’ll see there’s nothing to worry about.” Dawn exhaled with relief at the conclusion of Amber’s tirade. “Besides, I’m actually looking forward to it.”

“Then you are insane!” Amber yelled as she slammed the door behind her and marched loudly down the hall.

“Hmm… “ Dawn said looking genuinely surprised, “I’ve never seen her like that.”

“Well, buckle up sis, because it’s about to get a whole lot worse,” Lydia sat up as she regained some focus. “This is serious Dawn. I was going to set up a meeting tomorrow with the Dean, but now I’m thinking I should take you to the psychology building and see if anyone needs a good subject for their thesis. We all love what a spitfire you are, but you’ve crossed EVERY line today including the one that divides reality from fantasy. Do you have any idea what you’ve done? In front everyone! You’ve probably lost your two best friends, not to mention…”

“Lydia…” Dawn said calmly as she stood still hugging her sister’s weekend bag. “Lydia, I know.”

Lydia was a bit thrown by her sister’s rare admission of guilt. “Oh… well good- at least that’s a start.”

“No,” Dawn said staring intently into Lydia’s eyes. “I know.”

Lydia stared back confused by how her sister’s tone had become somber in the middle of what should have been a classic Morrigan sister’s shouting match. “You… you know what?”

“I know,” Dawn repeated, her voice reassuring.

“Again,” Lydia straightened up, concern in her eyes. “You know what exactly?”

“I know about you, sis,” Dawn said. “The only thing I don’t know is where you hide it. I’ve searched your apartment top to bottom, so I can only assume you keep it on you at all times.”

“Keep what? Wait… what?” Lydia’s head was spinning. “Why have you been snooping? Wait…” she then realized Dawn had never put down her bag.

Dawn unzipped Lydia’s luggage and promptly dumped all of its content onto the floor. Not seeing what she was looking for, Dawn began to root around the bottom of the bag. ”No… I’ve looked everywhere… there must be a false bottom to this thing.”

“Dawn… Dawn please stop.” Lydia felt tears welling. “You are really starting to worry me. What could be so important?”

“A book. An old book. I think it’s in Latin- I’ve never gotten a good look at it,” Dawn said tossing the bag away in frustration.

“Why?” Lydia cried, fearing the answer.

“Because it’s your spell book,” Dawn replied.

Lydia felt as if she’d been dropped into a frozen lake. All her senses relented as her brain tried to absorb the shock of Dawn’s reveal of her most secret of secrets. Lucky to already be on a bed, her body went limp and her head fell against the wall with a thump. Her eyes lost focus and went impossibly distant.

Dawn sat down next to her sister and gave her a hug. “I know you’re a witch,” she whispered.

“A… A what?” Lydia whispered back in faint protest from her haze.

Dawn didn’t say anything else. She sat with her arms entwined around her catatonic sister for a good long time, until she passed very nearly into sleep. Eventually she felt Lydia stir back into the present and they both sat up. Lydia looked at Dawn ever so briefly. Sighing, she then turned, and from a spot just outside of Dawn’s view, produced the large and ancient volume in question.

“What?” Dawn said practically going cross-eyed in her confusion. “Wha- where? It can’t possibly have been here the whole time!”

“Well…” Lydia said her voice still thin like gauze, “it’s hard to explain. In a way, the book has been here all along, but it’s also sort of everywhere at all times. I keep it outside the physical realm- whenever I need it, I just pull it from the astral plane.”

“O…k…” Dawn murmured as she reached out to confirm the book as tangible.

“Careful!” Lydia sparked back to life as she pulled the book away. “It’s dangerous.”

“Dangerous huh?” Dawn said. “It says ‘Family Recipes.’ These must be some particularly spicy recipes.”

“Well,” Lydia said, “as I guess you know, they’re a very unique kind of recipe.”

“Sure,” Dawn agreed, “but it does say ‘FAMILY Recipes.’ We are family aren’t we? Why have you been withholding my half of our birthright?”

“Oh- well that’s actually a false cover I put on to disguise the book for when the likes of you are around,” Lydia said, “you know- just in case.”

“So putting it in another dimension didn’t seem like enough?”

“Clearly it wasn’t,” Lydia bemoaned as she peeled away the false front to reveal the faded and time worn original whose ancient script read: INCANTATIONIBUS QUIA DIGNI SUNT, NON ENIM QUI MALEDIXERIT.

With cautious wonder Dawn traced her fingers over the lettering that seemed eerily to have been written in blood. “What does it say?”

“SPELLS FOR THE WORTHY, CURSES FOR THOSE NOT,” Lydia translated in hushed reverence.

“So, you didn’t get this from Nana?”

“No… and never ask me where I did get it.”

Dawn saw from Lydia’s expression that it was well within her interests to comply. Still, she couldn’t leave it there- her whole plan hinged on her sister’s supernatural assistance. “Look, I really need your help. Where there’s a will there’s a way, I know- but the only will I have going up against Etna is my last will and testament. Amber wasn’t exaggerating. I was the only girl who was hoping for her freshman fifteen- and I really put in the effort. Needless to say, the other girls got theirs- Holly most spectacularly- while I ended up dressing in layers just to fit in. I need help- the kind only you can provide. I know you don’t have a mean bone in your body, but you know first hand what a vindictive monster Etna is. Our lives may not be in danger, but our livelihoods certainly are.”

“No,” Lydia said placing the book on the nightstand. “I’m going to fix this like an adult. Tomorrow- first thing- we’re going to talk to the Dean. I’m sure this can be worked out- Etna was way out of line and grossly unprofessional.”

“And she’s rich,” Dawn reminded Lydia. “You heard her- what does a college value more, a rich benefactor, or an overachieving little twerp? But sure, we have two whole days, so why not waste one on bureaucracy first.”

“But that’s your strength Dawn- all your letters and debates, all you’ve gotten done.”

“I’ve saved a tree and got a stop sign put up,” Dawn said dismissively. “Both of which took hundreds of hours of time and effort.” She pointed at Lydia’s book. “But you can do so much more can’t you?”

Lydia, seemed swayed by her sister’s plea, but refused to commit. “Dawn, sweetie, you have no idea how dangerous this stuff is. How even the simplest of spells can have disastrous and unintended results. I can’t take such a risk with you.”

“Oh, but you could for Ally? And Millie and Cass? What about Gwen and Connie?”

“Geez, has it been that many?” Lydia said embarrassed.

“Those are just the one’s I know about. Your exploits haven’t exactly been subtle.”

“Which is why…” Lydia started but Dawn interrupted.

“Which is what I’m in need of. You’ve always been supportive of my causes and you think I’m a bleeding heart, but you’re just as guilty. Any girl who’s been bullied or belittled has had a champion in you. You helped them all in your… well, unique way- and many were girls you had only just met. What greater cause could you support than your own blood?”

“I still don’t think you understand what your asking.”

“Oh, I do,” Dawn smiled sheepishly. “Believe me I do. It was your old dorm-mate who I got to spill the beans. Ally’s story… what you did… the sheer scale of…” Dawn turned away in embarrassment then confided, “it’s been a fantasy of mine ever since.”

“You manipulative deviant!” Lydia said as her brain pieced together the events of the afternoon. “You’ve just been waiting for an opportunity to do this.”

“Yeah, so what if I did,” Dawn said turning back to her sister. “Little brat, pipsqueak, twerp, twiggy, shrimpy- all names you’ve never been called in adulthood. How many times have I endured your jokes about the growth spurt that’s never coming.” Dawn began tearing up, her bottom lip quivering. “I’m a full grown woman but everyone treats me like a child. I’m smart and I’m capable but no one cares. Heck, sometimes I even wonder if we really are sisters. It’s not like we can ever borrow each other’s clothes. When the puberty fairy came for you she must have knocked herself out so hard that she forgot our address.”

Lydia often scolded herself for mistaking Dawn for less than she was because she was small. Dawn was and would always be her kid sister and they were both guilty of acting more childish when together. But Dawn had matured into a wonderful woman if not a woman fully grown. Would her size even bother her if not for Lydia? Surely seeing a flower bloom so fully in her own garden gave Dawn every right to expect the same for herself. Lydia reached out and ran her fingers through her sister’s incredibly long hair- the one thing she could grow, and a clear over-compensation. “I’m sorry if I ever made you feel less than you are,” Lydia said pulling Dawn in for a hug. After a few sobbing minutes and several tissues the girls got themselves composed enough to get down to business.

“Fine, fine, I’ll help you,” Lydia conceded with a final sniffle as she pulled her sister’s hair behind her ears so she could see her red puffy face. “But Etna had one thing right- you really are a brat.”

“And you’re going to make me the biggest brat ever!” Dawn cheered as she grabbed the spell book and plopped in onto her sister’s lap.



They didn’t see Amber at all during the two days leading up the event. Holly came by- polite but brisk- as she gathered some things for her.

“I know you two must be freaking out, but we are going to make this work,” Lydia said.

“Oh… I’m sure,” Holly replied with a wide grin as she nervously maneuvered around Lydia, keeping her at a distance before leaving as swiftly as she came.

It took the full two days of searching, but Lydia was certain she’d found a spell that would get her sister the needed victory, and yet wouldn’t lead to some spectacular disaster in the process.

RIVAL MEA, ME IPSUM- PER SUPRA SICLI. Lydia had Dawn study the line repeatedly so she’d be ready when the time came. “MY RIVAL, MY SELF- OVER BY AN OUNCE.” Lydia translated its meaning. “Once you recite the incantation, you should be able to not only match Etna, but trump her by just a bit.”

“Yeah, by one measly ounce. Hardly impressive,” Dawn sulked. “Who can even tell an ounce from hundreds and hundreds of pounds?”

“It will be enough,” Lydia said exhausted and bleary eyed. “I know Etna, just being her equal will shatter her ego. Besides, pounds could be interpreted as money and stone could mean, well, actual stone. You don’t fancy turning into a statue, do you? An ounce is fine.”

“But…”

“Dawn, there just aren’t any good spells for what you’re trying to do. Gluttony spells are always curses- and before you ask, no, I’m not going to curse you. Curses lack all the protections of a spell. We don’t want you suffocating under your own weight, having a heart attack, or even rupturing for goodness sake.” Lydia winced at the mental image. “I was able to find a few enchantments made to assist in digestion during the feast of Saturnalia, but nothing to the extent you need. My gods, as it is I still can’t imagine you turing into a giant fat blob like Etna. And keep in mind, even if it all goes to plan I can’t guarantee the effect won’t be permanent- I’ve been extremely lucky with reversal spells, but that’s a whole other can of worms.” Lydia sighed heavily as she asked Dawn for the umpteenth time, “Are you really sure you want to do this?”

“You know I do. But I just think some of these other spells…”

“No.”

“Yeah, but there’s still other ways of getting big. It doesn’t have to be all gross and sweaty. What about some of those others you mentioned earlier?”

“They’re all too vague. Just the word ‘all’ is too vague. We can’t think about what we’re thinking a word or phrase means, we have to think about what the spell thinks it means- which is always deceptively different. ‘All,’ does that mean food and drink? Does that mean physical possessions? Back in the time these were written there were those who not only laid claim to, but taxed the very air their subjects breathed in. Heck, even the idea of ‘in,’ is dangerous. And does ‘in’ mean no possibility of out. You might not be able to speak. You may never be able to go to the bathroom again. Who knows what kind of control you’ll have- what if you become some kind of endless black hole? Not to mention there’s no cap on most of these spells. Believe me, I am speaking from experience- we need a spell that is simple, specific, and indicates when the spell has done its job or else things get blown all out of proportion.”

“But isn’t that the idea,” Dawn pleaded.

“NO!” Lydia said one final time and slammed the book shut.
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