Superhero in an alternate reality, with monsters and magic,
Dr. Ira Horning, a respected psychologist, ushered the last patient out of his office and then heaved a sigh of relief as he locked the door. His receptionist had gone home, leaving him alone with his thoughts. Most find silence disconcerting and try to fill it with empty words. Ira welcomed it.
He rubbed the top of his head and frowned. Not only were his patients turning his hair grey, but it was also thinning. His job was stressful, but he found it rewarding.
The leather chair hugged his body as he leaned down to open the top drawer of the oak desk. Inside was a bottle of whiskey and an empty drinking glass. Ira smiled as he poured a generous amount in the cup. The first sip went down smooth as silk, and Ira slid down in his chair.
"I hope you aren't driving Doctor Horning," a distorted voice said.
Ira looked across the desk at the blue carbon fiber tactical mask with the silver bolt down the middle. The mirrored lenses made it impossible to see his eyes. A simple flick of the intruder's hand, pushed the black trench coat back, revealing the silvery blue armor. His hand crackled with electrical energy and caressed the blue steel meteor hammer.
"I see you kept my card after you rescued me from those muggers," Ira said, holding the glass halfway between the desk and his mouth.
"I needed someone to talk to, and you strike me as trustworthy," Silverbolt said. Anger and irritation, with a side of bitterness, had been mixed in his tone.
"Is this about the incident with the kindergarten class? It made the front page." Ira said. His voice was calm and even.
The man in the mask, paced rapidly, "A psychopath escapes custody and kills a teacher, and its my fault."
He grabbed the newspaper and threw it on the desk, creating a small wind. Several lined papers drifted to the floor. Silverbolt pointed top the headline, "Silverbolt accidentally gets teacher killed."
Ira downed the brown liquid and made a face, "Do you feel guilty about it?"
Silverbolt scoffed, clenching his fists, "Why should I? The police failed to secure Ragland properly. He was an escape artist, Dr. Horning. They underestimated him. Sedating him for transport would have prevented all of this."
Ira immediately poured another glass, and downed it, "I have to agree. Several of my colleagues suggested extra precautions. The Inspector was too busy showing off his prize capture to listen."
"I didn't chase him to the SPCA, the cops did. The kindergarten class just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I saved the lives of those kids. Ragland would've had no trouble killing them. Yet it is my fault she died?" Silverbolt said in a bitter tone.
Ira nodded and sat down behind the desk. He gestured to the chair in front of him, "How did he escape custody?"
Silverbolt drew the odd throwing knife from its sheath and fiddled with it, "Nobody knows because they are too busy trying to cover their asses. I was put up on the cross for convenience."
Ira smiled as he downed another shot, "Do you think you will recover from this?"
Silverbolt looked at his boots, for a few moments, "No, the police are gathering evidence to charge me with criminal negligence. The footage of Ragland's escape has mysteriously vanished. I am getting railroaded."
Ira rose to pat the hero gently on the shoulder, "So what is your plan?"
"I haven't decided yet. I may have a couple of leads on who wants me silenced. If that doesn't pan out, I might quit and go to college or something."
"At least you haven't lost hope," Ira said, with a clap of his hands.
Silverbolt looked at the man, like he was crazy, "Whatever I am out of here. I am sorry for showing up unannounced to bitch about my life."
Ira smiled widely, "Nonsense, I owe you my life Silverbolt. Listening to problems is my job. If this visit helps you in some small way, then I consider it time well spent. This city doesn't deserve you."
Silverbolt stared at the doctor and shook his hand, "Thanks for believing in me."
"I am sure you will end up exactly where you are needed, my friend," Ira said in a mysterious tone.
Ira let Silverbolt out the front door and locked it. He opened a drawer on the metal cabinet and revealed an old leather book. He flipped through the pages until he found the correct spell.
"I will make sure you end up where you are needed, Silverbolt" Ira waved his hands and spoke the mystical words. An ominous wind blew through the office, and a smile creased the doctor's lips.
Prince George Catholic Church.
Silverbolt stood next to the ornately carved angel statue, just above the Cathedral doors. He could tell whoever made it had poured their soul into its creation. The female angel's eyes seemed genuinely empathetic, and its open arms were warm and welcome. He named her Norma Jean.
"Is it worth it, Norma-Jean? I put my ass on the line so people can use me as a scapegoat for their failures. What's next, blaming me because their kids can't get into college?"
Silverbolt stared out at the empty streets and sighed. Prince George was a losing battle, and he was the only one dumb enough to keep fighting.
"Why do I believe I can turn this city around? The police put in a half-hearted effort, and don't get me started on Erasmus Ragland. He is the reason people don't trust me."
He patted the statue affectionately on the shoulder, "I wish people were more like you, Norma-Jean. Tonight is my last night as Silverbolt. I am tired of being hated. I am going to sit and stare at the moon for a while if you don't mind.
Broken Down hut
The slender man stared a the writhing creature of darkness in the cage. Its blood was the last ingredient, and his potion would be complete. His hand shook violently from alcohol withdrawal. He took a few more deep breaths to steady his hand.
The creature's bright blue eyes watched in amusement, "What is the matter, Rexword? Is the bottle empty again? Are you stumbling without your crutch to hold you up?"
Rexword brandished a knife made of iron. He reached into the cage and yanked a shadowy foreleg out and cut it. The wound hissed, and the creature grimaced, watching its tar-like blood ooze into the bottle. The warding lining the cage glowed briefly.
"You talk too much, demon. The only drink I am interested in is this one," Rexword said, holding the fiery blue liquid up to the light.
The creature shifted into a shadowy version of his daughter, "Father I am starving, please do something before I waste away," It said, looking at him with complete malice.
Rexword went pale, before shaking with rage, "What could I do? It was either pay the slimy tax collector or go to jail. Maybe if I had gone to jail, they might have survived. It may be too late to save them, but I will have my pound of flesh."
The demon shifted its form, and it now twisted the knife in Rexwords heart by appearing as his wife, "Revenge is a dish best served cold, Rexword. What if our dear Ettie's tortured soul sees you doing this?"
Rexwords thin bony fingers wrapped around an empty bottle and threw it at the cage. It shattered against the silver-coated iron bars, sending sharp shards of glass in all directions. Rexwords face was a mask of rage and anger.
"Let me go I will get vengeance in your name. Even if the potion works, you won't be able to shape-shift, or it may kill you, and all of this will be for nothing."
Rexword put a stopper on the bottle, "I am not that foolish demon. It will work, I know it. Don't wait up for me."
Rexword grabbed the tiny straw doll, his expression marked by grief and profound sorrow. He held it close to his chest before he took off into the night, bottle in hand eager to get revenge for the death of his family.
A glint of light caught the dark fairy creature's attention. A large shard of glass had landed in the cage. "Oh, Rexword, you left a little present for me. I wonder if this will scratch the warding on this cage."
Catholic Church Prince George
Silverbolt rose from the statues perch after he grew bored with sitting and watching the world go by, "I will come by to talk from time to time for old time sakes."
A thick fog had rolled in just below the statue. Silverbolt couldn't see the ground, and he could no longer smell the city. He found it strange, but the fog was harmless. He leaped off the roof and landed in a pile of hay. Golden strands were flying around him like an angry swarm of bees. It made him itchy as well.
"Since when do they keep hay near the doors?" Silverbolt asked himself.
The fog dissipated rapidly, leaving Silverbolt standing in the middle of an empty street. There was a big open space where the church once stood. The church wasn't the only thing missing from the picture. Where were the cars? Shouldn't there be powerlines? Where is that one idiot taking selfies? He, of course, didn't find any of these things.
Silverbolt could hear the nickering of horses and could smell the dung drifting on the night breeze. It was still better than the acrid scent of the pulp mill.
"Wait a minute, horses? Where in the hell did they come from?" Silverbolt asked out loud.
"I am in a place with no power, no cars, or street lights. I must be in the Fort George heritage village. Did I teleport here?" Fort George park was at least four kilometers away from his home.
Silverbolt did not have the power to fly. However, he did have the ability to call a cab. He slid the smartphone from its unique pocket and turned the wifi on. No service. He dialed 911, no response.
"Okay, maybe I traveled back in time. Its cool I have enough skill to get by. All I have to do is avoid messing up the future." Silverbolt said, desperately trying to make sense of it all.
It was then he looked skyward and saw two moons. One was full and glowed a bright blue, the other was crescent-shaped, with a yellow hue. A large winged creature flew across the sky, creating a silhouette against the glowing orb.
Silverbolt felt the blood drain from his face, "So I am somewhere in the armpit of space and time, awesome." His voice squeaked up a few octaves as he spoke.
He walked the streets and observed the architecture of the buildings he passed. Straw stone and wood were the primary components of their structure. Fancier houses sported clay tiles on the roof. Cobblestone lined the streets, and primitive lamps gave off very little light.
The streets seemed endless, and the moons provided more light than the street lamps did. Leaping between two buildings, Silverbolt took to the rooftops for a better view. The streets were just as confusing from the rooftops as they were on the ground.
"Right, towns during the middle ages were designed with maze-like streets to confuse the enemy. Fuck my life" Silverbolt said in an irritated tone.
His irritation faded as he began to move. He felt at home above the streets, armor glinting in the moonlight, wind rushing toward him. Maybe he was in an unfamiliar place, but doing something familiar eased his nerves. He found a few places with signs. The word Rathmore appeared many times. Silverbolt deduced this place must be called Rathmore.
Silverbolt felt free as he used his parkour skills to navigate his environment. He was now staring at a modest castle. He saw the guards arguing with a slender man. He didn't intervene but watched with interest.
The guard shoved the slender man back, "I told you, no invitation, no entrance."
The slender man pulled something from his belt, and then, the sound of glass shattering against stone, "I will enter one way or another."
His body was shaking violently. His forehead began to crack and tear. Blue light poured from the tiny crevices, "You work for them. You are part of the problem and not the solution," the slender man cried in anguish.
Horns grew from the lice-ridden hair. Rexword gripped his face and tore it off, revealing a distorted skull-like visage, that glowed softly. White pallid skin slid off with a squelching noise, replaced with leathery black skin. His skeleton glowed with bioluminescence and was visible from the surface.
"You can call me Rexword," he said, holding up a skeletal claw in a menacing fashion.
"Sound the..." one guard started to shout. His shout turned to a scream of terror.
The demon revealed its white fangs, and blue light emitted from the back of its throat. It grew brighter and brighter until a long jet of blue flame licked the cobblestone charring the stones as it burned the guard to nothing. Kludde laughed as he gored the second guard with claws before rushing through the gate.
Silverbolt was not fast enough to stop their deaths, but he sure as hell was going to prevent more. He took off in hot pursuit.
Rathmore Keep Dining Hall
Clara looked at Lord Beeching with obvious contempt. Why did Beeching think his bodily sounds and chauvinism would impress her? Her eyes looked at vibrant artwork decorating the walls of the dining hall. The heavenly scenes were far more exciting than her guest.
Clara pulled a lock of her copper hair away from her eyes and fiddled with her dress. It had been designed to hide her feminine attributes and curvy form. She was proud of her body but tired of men talking to her cleavage. Her attire did not prevent Lord Beeching from being a chauvinist pig.
Lord Beeching burped loudly. Clara was not sure if he was trying to impress her or call a moose, "Now, once we are married..."
Clara cut him off, "I do not recall agreeing to marry you...Do you hear that?"
Shouts and screams could be heard and then banging. A ghastly howl pierced the air, and the banging intensified. It was like thunder in the storm. The guards stood at the ready iron pikes pointed at the dining-room door. Blue flames licked the walls and floor from the cracks and crevices. The ironwood doors bulged outward, threatening to break at a moment's notice.
Both occupants had their eyes glued to the door, wondering what could be possibly trying to get in. Lord Beeching was hoping he wouldn't have to fight. Clara was relieved. Any company was better than Lord Beechings.
A final blow to the ironwood doors tore the hinges from their moorings in the stone wall crushing the guards under their immense weight. A blue-eyed demonic creature with midnight black leather skin jumped on the fallen doors with such force, the guard's blood splattered everywhere.
The skeleton glowed brightly beneath its skin. Rexword panted with excitement at the sight of Clara. Blue flame licked its long fangs. She could smell the blood on its razor-sharp claws.
Lord Beeching passed out from excitement. Clara rolled her eyes, "Isn't he so brave?"
"Lady Clara, you are guilty of killing Ettie and Darla Rexword. As are all the filth in this room. Your greed left them starving, and now I shall be your executioner."
"Many suffered under my father's rule. You must have loved them very much to avenge them in this way. I stand ready to pay for my father's sins," Clara said, with her arms wide open. She saw no point in screaming just to give this twisted horror satisfaction.
Rexwords fists were angrily hitting the cold stone, "NO, NO, NO, you must die in terror. Every day, I wake up thinking Darla will be making breakfast, and Ettie will be prying my eyes open to wake me. Each day I suffer the pain of losing them anew, now die screaming."
"I refuse to die like some helpless whore screaming her head off. You will get no satisfaction from me. Now kill me, or is talking me to the death your master plan." she asked. Clara found this creature just as irritating as Lord Beeching.
Rexword opened his mouth, "You will be nothing but ashes." Something flashed by him, followed by the clink of a chain against the stone floor. Rexword figured it was a side effect of the potion.
The blue fire crawled along the floor, burning the carpet, sucking the oxygen out of the air. Clara felt the heat on her brow, and the sweat droplets formed as it got closer. She closed her eyes, resigning to her fate. Then the heat lessened, and she was still alive.
"Run out of breath already. What are you, an opera singer?" a distorted male voice said.
Clara opened her eyes and saw the black trench coat and two gloved hands holding a shield, on the verge of melting. Kludde finally ran out of breath and was panting heavily. Clara saw the fearsome blue mask with the silver lightning bolt down the middle.
The creature rushed forward. The man in the mask already had the chain in motion. Clara could not understand why he would bind himself up. The snake-like weapon unwound from his body with greater velocity. Like a bolt of lightning, it struck Rexword on the knee with a sharp cracking noise. The creature fell face-first to the floor.
"Get going, I will handle this dude," the newcomer said.
Clara felt her heart quicken at the man's bravery, "May I have your name, noble champion?"
"Silverbolt, my name is Silverbolt, now get out of here," he said with urgency.
The beast was regaining its feet and had opened its gaping maw. Rexwords throat glowed with nova intensity, as he prepared to breathe fire. His feet had moved in a wider stance for greater accuracy.
Another cone of flame rushed towards her. Clara thought she was doomed. She was yanked out of harm's way and found herself in Silverbolts strong arms. He deftly used two fingers to put the small fire in her hair out.
"Why are you still here?" He asked, pushing her behind him. The chain wrapped around his neck. Silverbolt moved his neck rhythmically, unwinding the weight, before shooting it and striking the creature in the head.
Rexword recovered from the blow almost immediately. Another jet of flame tore through the air, threatening to end them both. Silvebolt grabbed Clara by the arm and spun her out of the way.
"Are you stupid? Get out of the way," Silverbolt said irritably. He released the meteor hammer with slower velocity, on purpose.
Rexword caught the deadly weight like it was a softball, "What's was the purpose of such a weak attack?"
The chain wrapped around the masked hero's wrist. A spark danced on his knuckles before jumping to the chain, and then a larger spark followed added to the deadliness of the weapon, "It's supposed to make you fear the thunder and flash of Silverbolt."
Rexword went rigid as the energy entered his body. His ears were smoking a little, and he dropped to his knees. The smell of burning grease and skin didn't do the nose any favors.
While Clara harbored no love for Lord Beeching, it would be unseemly to let him die. She pulled him to safety and watched the macabre dance happening in front of her. Perhaps this masked man could be useful to her.
The razor-sharp chain dart rushed toward Rexword with all the speed of an angry viper. A scaly hand caught it, and blood dirtied the deadly weapon. Rexword displayed some real power by pulling Silverbolt off his feet. A gut-wrenching sound split the air as Silverbolts shoulder separated from the socket.
Rexword was getting to breathe fire again. In desperation, Silverbolt hurled the odd knife at his glowing mouth, "Eat this."
The odd knife entered the gaping maw piercing the back of the throat. Rexword made an odd choking noise, while his fist whistled through the air. None of this stopped him from getting struck by Rexwords dense fist. Toxic looking liquid dripped from Rexwords fangs. Silverbolt was relieved his plan worked. Hopefully, there was enough time to deal with his injuries.
With clenched teeth, Silverbolt pushed his arm back into joint. The pain drove him to the ground, and stars passed over his line of vision. He rolled to his side as his stomach threatened to empty its contents. Steady throbbing pain in his ribs made them feel like they were ablaze inside him. Thankfully Rexword was in similar shape.
Rexword looked at his hands in horror. They were shrinking as was his body. The potion was wearing off, and his chance at revenge was slipping through his fingers like sand. He tried to breathe fire only to choke and spew blood on the floor.
"Next time, Lady Clara, your life is mine," he said before escaping out a window.
Sharp stabbing pain, prevented Silverbolt from giving chase. His shoulder was swelling, and the pain in his ribs was getting worse. He leaned against the stone wall holding his chest. He slumped down into a sitting position.
Clara's delicate hands pulled on a velvet rope before rushing to the warrior's side. Against all reason, he was still trying to get up and give chase to the foul beast. She gently pushed him down.
"No offense Silverbolt, but I hardly think you are in any position to be doing anything at the moment. If I can beat you with the softest of touches, you stand no chance against the creature."
Silverbolt growled in anguish, "I have to stop him."
"Well, you better start running," Clara said in an annoyed tone. Silverbolt tried three times unsuccessfully to get up. Clara got a triumphant look on her face, "Looks like you will be taking time to recover after all."
A woman dressed in a plain grey dress entered the dining hall. She saw the rooms state and let out and gasped with worry, "What do you need, my lady?"
"Have the servants prepare a room, and then fetch the Priestess. This man has serious injuries," Clara said in a commanding tone.
"It will be done at once, my lady."
"Thanks for the help," Silverbolt said, wincing in pain.
"I owe you my life. Speaking of which, I have an offer for you."
"You are going to do this now?"
Clara nodded, "Yes, we must wait for help to arrive. A distraction will serve us both well in this situation."
"Fine, I will hear you out," Silverbolt said in a dubious tone.
"My father died without a son to assume his role. Since I am his only child, Rathmore is mine to rule by default. As you can imagine, the men are quite put out with the idea."
Silverbolt grit his teeth as he spoke, "Where is this going?"
"I am tired of young noblemen coming here expecting me to marry them at the drop of a hat. I require a champion to test them."
"I don't like where this is going. "
Clara gave him her most winsome smile, "I want you to be that champion."
"Are you crazy? They wouldn't stand a chance," Silverbolt said.
"Precisely. It is well within my rights to challenge potential husbands," She said. "Rathmore is on the verge of greatness, and I will see it realized."
"Good for you, I am still not doing it. I should belong to the people, not you."
"How about I make you a special member of the city watch. It will give you a place to stay, food in your belly, and an office to work out of."
"You will be free to investigate any crime you wish. Quite frankly, there are still corrupt officials that need to be brought down. All you have to do is challenge any suitor who seeks my hand in marriage."
"How rough should I be with these suitors? Is challenging for someone's hand a thing?"
"It's a ridiculous custom. Considering you gave Rexword a run for his money, I believe you will be the victor many times over. Be as rough as you feel is necessary."
Silverbolt weighed the pros and cons of accepting this offer. He was stuck here in Rathmore. It didn't seem like he would be going home any time soon. Quite obviously, food and shelter were a necessity, and Clara was offering him a chance to be Silverbolt without complications.
"I will accept your offer, and my cover will be Sir Ethan Argent of Graybarrow from a distant land across the seas. I will have come to pledge my weapon to your service."
"Excellent, I have a feeling we shall be great friends,"
Silverbolt still believed it was a terrible plan, but what choice did he have? Here he could be Silverbolt without interference from the guards, and Rexword was still out there. He just hoped nobody would go around poking holes in their charade.