Welcome to Lady Aesculapius! For the next thirteen weeks, you'll be going on adventures across alternate realities with a bohemian adventurer, and her pals!
If you've never read her stories before, you're in for a treat, and if you have, then...well you're also in for a treat. Make sure you drop in every week for a new adventure! And if you like it, hey, why not make sure we can keep doing things like this on Patreon?
This week's story is by the amazing Michael Robertson. So without further adieu...let the journey begin! -James Wylder, co-editor.
On another planet, in a different sky, a lone prisoner marched to her grave.
A glowing purple spear pushed into her back, willing her forward. Her face was covered by a black ceremonial mask, forcing her to place her trust in the guards to guide her way. The bridge to Castle Death was suspended hundreds of feet above a sea of skulls. The history of the Ghenthar system's wars and rebellions and massacres were written in the sea's geological layers. The only thing each generation of skulls had in common was that each and every one of them had, in their final day, made the unseeing walk to Castle Death's doors.
The prisoner was marched into the castle, through its cold stone halls, and up to its tallest turret. The heavy double doors creaked open unassisted and the prisoner was welcomed by the sound of a single pair of slowly clapping hands.
"Here she is at last!" The Queen of Death rose from her throne and made her way down a small flight of stairs. Her long dark dress flowed around her ankles and disguised her legs completely, making her look almost as though she were gliding. The room as lined with a balcony filled with more guards, each pointing a high-power laser gun at the prisoner. From beneath the mask, the prisoner heard the double doors close behind her.
The Queen smiled as she approached. "You, my dear, have caused me far too much trouble. You ought to be commended. Breaking into the royal armoury. Stealing from my private vaults. Slaying my pet dragon. Ripping pages from the Secret Books of Tyrron. It's an honour to finally meet you...Lady Aesculapius."
With a flourish, she removed the prisoner's mask. Lady Aesculapius blinked a few times as her eyes adjusted to the light. She wore a deep blue frock coat and a scarf patterned with hedgehogs. She tried to reach to her head but was quickly reminded of the handcuffs behind her back. "I don't seem to be wearing my hat."
"Hat?" the Queen repeated. "Oh." She banged on the ceremonial mask a few times and a grey slouch cap fell onto the floor. The Queen of Death picked it up, made a hollow attempt to wipe the dust from it, and placed it on Lady Aesculapius's dark hair.
Lady Aesc smiled. "Thanks. I must say, Planet Death is strangely...accommodating."
"We're already going to execute you. No need to be mean about it," the Queen smirked.
"Quite! By the way, LOVE what you've done with the place. The sea of skulls? Really intimidating."
"Thank you. Given your interest in it, I shall grant you knowledge that only the dying are given access to." The Queen leaned in to Lady Aesc. "Most of those skulls out there? Imported."
Lady Aesc gasped. "Shut up!"
"It's true," the Queen nodded. "There's no way we could realistically execute enough people to fill a whole sea, even with the amount of multi-headed persons we've had through these halls. Every now and then we buy in a bunch more skulls to make up the numbers."
"You filled a whole sea with skulls JUST for the aesthetic?" asked Lady Aesc. "Ugh, slay me Queen!"
"I intend to." The Queen of Death removed a knife from her sleeve and turned to face her audience. "Behold! Upon this day, beneath the sixth moon of Zarok, I hereby sentence Lady Aesculapius to-"
The jaunty slap bass of the Seinfeld theme echoed through the room.
The Queen turned to Lady Aesc.
"Sorry about this, hold on." A small click and Lady Aesc's handcuffs fell off. The guards jumped into a readied position as the prisoner reached into her coat pocket. Slowly, she retrieved the source of the Seinfeld theme and answered the call. "Hey, it's Aesc."
A mumbled, frantic voice on the other side of the phone spoke.
Lady Aesc was enthralled. "No WAY. Oh my god, shut up! Really?"
The Queen tried to hear what the voice was saying but couldn't hear more than a whisper.
"Oh my god, I'll be there right now. Honestly, I'm coming. See you soon. Okay? Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. No, shut up! You're so bad. Okay, bye. Bye. Bye."
Lady Aesculapius hung up and slipped the phone back into her blue frock coat. "Sorry Your Royal Maj, I have to head off now. I'll have to fast-forward my escape plan."
"KILL HER! Nobody can escape the tower!" bellowed the Queen.
The guards all pointed their laser guns at Lady Aesc and pulled the trigger. The entire balcony exploded. Laser guns and bits of guard clattered to the ground, leaving only Lady Aesc and the Queen of Death alive.
Lady Aesc smiled. "Remember how you said I'd broken into the royal armoury?" She tipped her messenger bag upside down and over 200 plasma bullets fell out. "I may have been a bit naughty and replaced all the ammo with explosives."
The Queen opened her mouth in protest but was too impressed to form words.
"However, there is one tiny mistake in what you said. I didn't slay your pet dragon. I just...relocated it. Right now it's stumbling its way through the catacombs and should be in position around about-"
A deafening roar shook the ground beneath them. The Queen of Death's wrist communicator lit up. "Ma'am! The dragon is loose in the castle! It's AAAAAA-" Static.
"There's my cue," said Lady Aesc. "Looks like not everyone who crossed the bridge into Castle Death dies the same day."
She turned and walked back the way she'd been brought. Once she was outside the castle, she reached into her coat pocket and retrieved a small crystal ball. She smiled and opened a portal.
"I'm coming, Jason."
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.