A goddess gets mad at our shiny friend.
| The All-Mother stared down at the sleeping mass of kevlar and chrome. She paced in front of him and scowled at the mask with lightning bolts around the eyes. Her cowl seemed to frown with her, and the jewelry banged together with each movement.
"I offer you a great gift, and you refuse. Worst of all, my choice is ready to give up on you. I gave you every chance to listen." She touched his head and examined his memories. "This Hexfist twisted your mind in knots, and it will take a lifetime before you relent. All you had to do is acknowledge how you felt. You wouldn't go in good faith. Now, you'll go kicking and screaming."
She picked up the sleeping warrior and carried him to the chapel. All-Mother laid him in front of her statue. She touched the dented metal and pulled at the patched fabric. "How are you still alive? I've seen retired veterans with equipment better than yours." She examined the mask. "You designed this yourself? I commend your innovation, but it strengthens the walls between you and others. Not to mention, it's terrifying to behold."
The All-Mother pressed her hands against the bright metal, and it glowed for a moment. "As long as I am here, evil can't come on these grounds. That looks much better." The mask crumbled in her hands, "Whoops, how did that happen? I have a replacement for you, something more pleasing to the eyes." She smiled down at Silverbolt. "Don't go anywhere. The best is yet to come."
The goddess returned several minutes later with a young black-haired woman. "I know he vexes you so, but this is for your good as well." She laid a sleeping Constance in front of the statue, and she kissed Silverbolt's cheek. A trio of spirals appeared in the wake of the All Mothers lips. "I promise both of you things will be different in the morning. You can't punch this problem, Silverbolt."
Constance awoke with a smile. The day seemed a little brighter, the bird's song a little more clear and joyful. She inhaled the scent of her flowers and chose vibrant colors for her hair. She hummed a tune as she put on the red Tudor dress. She felt different. It was hard to explain why. The air seemed a bit sweeter, and the bird's song seemed more pleasant.
"Now for the Finishing touch." Constance opened a velvet lined jewelry box and drew the ruby choker from it. Tonight is the night of Clara's party. Where did that come from?" The crystal blue eyes stared at a plain gold ring on her left hand. In the center lay a single diamond.
She opened the door and looked out in the hall. The chair Silverbolt was unoccupied. "Where did he go?"
The sun drifted through the chapel's open window, and golden rays teased the eyelids of Silverbolt. A flowery scent drifted across his nose, and birds sang louder than any alarm clock. I haven't slept like that in never. His hand felt the padding beneath him. Didn't I fall asleep outside Constance's door?
A single eye opened to a red carpet and rows of wooden pews. My left-hand hurts for some reason. Why is my cheek on fire?
He pushed himself up with his hands. He noticed a mirror ten feet away. He raced to get a glimpse of himself. The rough welded plates were now smooth and evenly riveted. The tattered kevlar was now supple and durable leather. On the chest plate, two lightning bolts formed an X. I look like a paladin. Not that I mind. The old suit needed replacing anyway.
He slid the mask on and clapped his hands to the side of his head. "What the hell?" The face cover was now heart-shaped, and two lightning bolts formed an X over the eyes. He looked inside. No voice distorter? The LED lights are gone. What is going on?
The batons and the meteor hammer remained unchanged. Who did this and why? I better check on the Damn Girl. He pressed the button on the Mp3 player, "Lost in the sound." The music started, and Silverbolt walked through the door.
The smell of eggs and fresh bread caused Silverbolt's stomach to growl on reflex. The rest of him stood frozen in the middle of the dining room. The heavy metal guitars reverberated off the stone and only drew more attention to his presence. When I think of this moment in the coming years, I shall call it: the grand celestial, fuck my life moment. Why is everyone staring? Oh shit, the music. Gauntleted hands fumbled for the Mp3 player to shut it off. "Shhh," Silverbolt hissed. After thirty seconds, the music stopped.
I have to get out of here. Now. Silverbolt wall jumped over a group of girls and rushed through the doors. His feet hit the carpet, and he hunched over to catch his breath. "Okay, this is a bad dream. Why do I still smell fresh bread?" The steel grey eyes surveyed the area. The dining room again? Maybe I took the wrong door. A metal-clad fist smacked the kitchen door open. The hero entered with eyes closed. When he opened them, he stood in the center of the dining room. I'm going crazy. Maybe the window.
"You seem panicked," Madame Cuttles refined voice observed from behind him. "Are you wearing a new suit?"
Silverbolt turned and saw Frizzy haired headmistress and pointed to the center of the room. "It's a long story. Watch the center of the room." He started to climb out of the window. He pointed to the center of the room, and the headmistress shifted her attention.
Two seconds later, he was standing in the center of the dining room. Madame Cuttles face was alight with humor and laughter. "How did you do that?"
"I don't know. My left-hand hurts, my cheek was burning this morning, and my armor had changed as well. I have zero context for what's happening."
"Silverbolt," Constance's voice cried out.
The hero clapped his hands against the metal mask and groaned. "This day sucks out loud at full volume."
Constance stepped forward with the grace of a true lady. The parasol hung on her arm. The armored hero looked like he was about to meltdown. Why is Silverbolt pacing like that?
The metal baton spun around his fingers rapidly. "I don't get it. I fell asleep outside the door. I woke up in the chapel. Now I can't leave this room. Why can't I leave this room? One more attempt." He bolted towards the door.
Madame Cuttle strolled over to Constance. "Good morning. How are you feeling?" She asked in a mild and amused tone.
"Is Silverbolt okay? He does not seem like his usual grumpy self." Constance watched the hero race toward the door. What spooked him?
"He'll be back sooner than you think, watch. You're going to love this." Madame Cuttle pointed to the center of the room. As soon as Silverbolt hit the hall, he reappeared in front of Constance.
The young noblewoman jumped back. "Silverbolt?" What just happened?
Silverbolt was desperate to rationalize the situation. "Why can't I wake up from this nightmare." He looked over at Constance. "I can't leave this room. I tried the window, the kitchen, the door. What the fuck is going on?" He resumed pacing and ignored her.
Madame Cuttle patted her on the shoulder. "I think our shiny friend finally found a situation he can't bend to his will. " She pointed to the ring. "When did you get that?"
"I woke up, and it was there. I can't say it was an unwelcome surprise." I felt like I could fly when I saw it.
"Perhaps we should talk in my office. Silverbolt should come with us as well, providing he can." Madame Cuttle headed toward the door after she tapped the confused hero on the shoulder. "Come on. We'll figure this out, I promise."
Constance watched Silverbolt's hand scratch under the mask. I hope he's okay. He needs to be at full capacity for tonight's festivities, assuming he can leave.
Silverbolt winced as he passed through the door and then clapped in excitement. "I'd love to stay, but the streets are calling, and I aim to answer. See you at the party."
Madame Cuttle massaged her temples and sighed. "Looks like it's the two of us..." A distressed Silverbolt appeared next to Constance.
A deep growl echoed behind the mask. "Not again."
I'll have to cancel with Lord Wickham. I know of no man who would tolerate a tag along. It's just as well. I didn't have an interest in him anyway.
On the way to the office, Silverbolt tested the distance he could get from Constance. After several tests, Silverbolt glared at Constance and said, "One hundred and fifty feet give or take a few."
He's acting like it's my fault. I am just as clueless as he is. "I'm sorry you can't punch your way out of this situation, but I didn't do this." The meteor hammer flew upward, and in a flash, the armored figure walked along the rafters. Why is he being such a child? "Nice talk."
"I should talk to each of you alone. Since our angry friend needs time, you'll go first," Madame Cuttle gestured to her office.
The heart-shaped mask with the crossed lightning bolts stared longingly at the world outside. Constance waited outside for him. He twirled a baton around his fingers and tried to steady his heart.
Madame Cuttle leaned back in her chair and steepled her delicate fingers. "I know what's going on. Constance knows what's going on. Do you?"
A deep breath of mint and pine soothed him a little. "Yes. I am the Damn Girls bodyguard." I panicked for nothing.
Madame Cuttle massaged her temples and sighed. "Are you sure about that? Can you think of any other explanation?"
"No. I'm right. I know it." I'm so smart. The hero crossed his arms in satisfaction.
"I happen to think..."
"You're wrong? Yes, you are."
"You believe this is temporary?"
"That is the theory. Once the party is over, things will go back to normal, and I will return to the streets." Silverbolt holstered the baton and stretched out.
"If you say so." Madame Cuttle sounded defeated.
Silverbolt chuckled and electrified his fist. "After tonight, no more Damn Girl."
The carriage ride was quiet on the way to Clara's estate. Silverbolt had little choice but to ride on the roof. Clara was all smiles as per usual. She was eager to see Lord Midgely.
"What's on your mind?" Clara asked.
"Silverbolt. If I showed you something, could you keep it a secret?" Screams of panic came from outside. A flash of silver passed the carriage window. Powerful arms knocked out two would-be purse-snatchers and expertly tied them up. A familiar thump came from the roof.
Clara shook her head. "That's four. Does he ever turn off?"
Constance pulled a lace glove off her left hand and showed off the ring. "I woke with this on my hand."
A soft squeak came from Clara, who looked like her head was about to explode. "Isn't that?"
"Doesn't that mean..."
"Does he know?"
Constance made a face and crossed her arms. "No, he chooses to live in denial. Silverbolt thinks he is my bodyguard and believes the situation will resolve itself."
"What are you going to do?"
"Right now, I am more concerned with getting through tonight. I'm not exactly happy with the situation myself."
Two hard thumps came from the roof. "We're almost there. I can't wait to see who our mysterious friend is."
"Your shiny friend is itching for a fight," Clara observed.
Why can't he get excited about me like that? "Why is he, my shiny friend? He knows you too."
Clara tilted her head to the side and pointed to her hand. "Need I go on?"
Another pair of thumps came from the roof. "The footmen are coming."
A guard wearing ruffles stared at the mask. "I know you by reputation, but you are not on the list. I can't let you in. Lord Schaefers orders."
"Silverbolt is my bodyguard. I am allowed a guard am I not?" Constance said in a regal tone.
Is Lord Schaefer in on the kidnapping plan? Why else deny me entrance. He stared at Constance. Why are you so beautiful to me? I never asked to feel the way I do. Even you think your life is better without me in it. You'll be free of me soon enough.
Silverbolt gently pushed Constance out of the way and raised an electrified fist. "How many men are you prepared to lose? I am having a bad day and need a good scrap."
The doorman turned around. "If I didn't see you, it's nobody's fault."
"That's what I thought." He looked over at Constance, "Coming? we don't want to keep our friend waiting."
Constance gave Silverbolt a look of approval. "You didn't knock them out. I'm impressed." She made sure Clara stayed close. "Midgely got here before us. Maybe he saw something or got some information?"
People dressed in their best attire made idle conversation. Many of them looked at Siverbolt with distaste. Lord Midgely waved at them from behind a pillar. "Over here."
Blood rushed to the young lord's face the moment he saw Clara. He went to kiss her hand, but silverbolt blocked him. "There will be plenty of time for that later..."
Four guards tackled Silverbolt from behind and held him down. "Constance, run. No matter where you go, I can find you." He shouted. His mask kissed the carpeted floor.
A terrible voice filled the foyer. "Everyone, due to unforeseen difficulties, I must cancel tonight's frivolity. Please leave in an orderly fashion." Feet began to shuffle out the door. "Make sure the ugly one goes to a nice cell. Imagine being related to that gargoyle. Lock my daughter up with her mother."
I could free myself, but the power required would kill them. I have no choice but to see where the road ends. "I'll get Clara out, Midge I promise."
Lord Schaefers's cruel laughter filled the empty hall. "Honestly, Silverbolt, I hold all the cards. Lord Tuxley will be so happy, he'll gift your powers to me, and you'll occupy a space in my crypt. I think your armor will make for an excellent trophy in the audience chamber don't you agree?"
The guards forced the hero to his feet. Constance was still in sight. "Tear the place apart when you get free."
Silverbolt grinned behind the mask. "Your wish is my command."
Lord Schaefer ignored their words. "Take him to the dungeon, and prepare him for the gifting. Nullify his powers as well. Once I've dealt with lady Constance, I'll be down to claim what is mine."
The hero pretended to struggle against his captors. Does nobody know about my super strength? How did they miss that? I would pay money to see the guard's faces once I reach the 150-foot mark.
The guards paused to get in a few free shots to keep the armored champion dazed and confused. A few more feet and..., "See you later. Run and be spared my wrath." Silverbolt waved and vanished. A millisecond later and he stood in the audience chamber of Lord Schaefer.
A man wearing black leather attire and a ridiculously huge hat Silverbolt had ever seen stood next to Constance. A silver guitar adorned his back. "She is beautiful, like the first day of spring. Lord Tuxley wishes this one to be his wife," The large hat said.
Lord Schaefer chuckled and stroked Constance's hair. "One cannot blame the man. She is Sophie's daughter, after all. He couldn't have the mother, so he decided to take the daughter instead." He paused and growled. "What is this?"
"Are you referring to the thunder and flash of Silverbolt?"
The large hat shook. "No, but it seems..." The silver guitar turned, and a grotesque face spat venomous words at the hero. "You were supposed to be in the dungeon. I will not be insulted a second time."
Why does that voice sound familiar? A minute later, it came to him. "Rexword? Is that you?"
Lord Schaefer pressed a button on his fireplace, and a secret entrance opened up. "Rexword, leave the girl behind. We'll have to make another attempt later."
The goblin-like face growled, "But I have to finish this.."
"Lord Tuxley said to leave if things went awry. He will want to hear about this right away."
Rexword growled and followed. "Next time, you shiny bastard."
Silverbolt held up his fist as he rushed to Constance's side. "Better practice until then. Your previous performance sucked." He looked over at Constance. "We should find Midgely and Clara."