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Thread: The Power of Advil (a writing challenge entry)

  1. #1

    Post The Power of Advil (a writing challenge entry)

    <Backstory: So I shared some of my creative writing on Facebook for Lexie. One was a review of a perfume, in story form. There was some joking about 'now, don't shackle me to a bed and break my ankles with a sledge hammer', and she agreed with an author friend of mine (Mike Lyons, who once upon a time also played TFC) that baked goods are a much better inducement to getting people to write. She then posted, "Holding a plate of freshly-baked, still-warm fudge brownies, I am standing outside on your porch, waiting ever so patiently for your upcoming reviews of Gas-X liquid gel caps and Advil PM...."
    Well. Okay. Challenge accepted... >

    The Power of Advil

    Waking, Lexie blinked groggily as she lifted her head from where it had lolling over the back of her wooden chair. She reached up one hand to surreptitiously wipe away evidence of the small amount of drool that had trickled down her chin. The afternoon sunlight streamed in the windows of the Loth Lorien Inn, piercing her aching head with lances of perfect, golden, elven radiance. Instinctively, she gestured and mumbled a quick spell – one she usually reserved for the presence of Portobello. Or Venom. Or for when she had teleported somewhere worrisome. Or for ghosts. Come to think of it, it was one of her absolute favorite spells, one she pondered whether or not she could actually cast it in her sleep. The crash of breaking glass and the Innkeeper’s annoyed protest of ‘Thrice-damned mages!’ was clearly heard in the comforting blanket of darkness that filled the chamber. She may have smirked at that point (though if accused of it, she would have protested innocence).

    She tried to recall how it was she had come to fall asleep in the Inn. Her throbbing feet hinted at some sort of travel. Her throbbing head was more worrisome. She patted herself down, relieved to find she wasn’t naked as the day she was born. So... no death, then. Another wave of pain washed through her head. Leaning forward a bit, she folded her arms and prepared to rest them on the table. Something shifted under her tunic, tickling her skin. Reaching into her neckline, Lexie drew out what felt like a small square of paper – one of the calling cards found in the Delving, if her guess was right – that had been tucked into the edge of her underpinnings. OMG!! Who would have done such a thing?! She hmm’ed, debating. If she dispelled the darkness, then her head would hurt more. If she didn’t dispel the darkness, she wouldn’t be able to see what she’d found and figure out who had been sticking things in her brassiere. Curiosity won. (Really, it was no contest, as much like the Elephant’s Child, Lexie had insatiable curiosity.)

    The piece of parchment was an elegant, bone white, pale as pale could be. Pale as moonlight, one of her bard friends would have said. Pale as.. Well.. The hand of the person who had undoubtedly written it. The sanguine ink showed up quite beautifully. She took a moment to admire the contrast of hues and the grace of the penmanship, turning the card to catch the distressingly bright sunlight. In Elvish, it read, “Nicholai was here, and got a ribbon for it.”

    Lexie let out another exclamation. Her favorite-est Daddy-vampire-to-be had been naughty, and she’d slept right through it?! She momentarily pondered the complexities of just how he’d gotten the card there without her waking. Like all elder vampires, he could transform into mist, but how exactly would ephemeral mist hold a calling card? She did rather like the mental image of his long, elegant fingers sliding over the fabric of her tunic, pale paper held between them. Oh. Well. Yes. That would be nice. A ribbon… she chortled at the thought of being an official destination. Or was he implying she was a land mass?!

    She barely suppressed a small shriek of potential outrage out of consideration of her poor head, but did allow herself a stamp of her foot. It simply wasn’t fair that everyone else had so much energy! All of these ribbons and awards and gold and such that they gathered so prodigiously gave her quite a bother. They should know better than to dismay her so. First she’d lost her place with mobhunts to Sami, then Zhou flew past her on another ranking, and now there was this whole new thing that involved running about and tromping Precious-knows where. It was just so exhausting. All this vexatious activity was, she was quite sure, the cause for her headache. (It was also terribly unfair that Nicholai steadfastly kept avoiding the topic of making her a Kindred. She just knew he’d make an awesome Daddy.)

    Her head throbbed again. She fancied she could feel her eyes bulging out, and THAT was a distinctly unattractive mental image. Inspired by the rectangle of paper, she decided to head for Kharad-Delving. It wasn’t just known for its office supplies, after all! Gathering herself up with an only slightly exaggerated groan, she ducked out of the Inn, through the portal into the Guild Hall, then stepped out into her home town of Kuroth. A jaunt to the west through a gaggle of unusually irate Ranger Guards, then a dash up the stairs, and she gained the wild chaos of the Vortex. It was only a blink of an eye to move through the maelstrom to the hobbit town. She liked being taller than everyone there and made a point of nodding graciously to each of them as she passed by. Short as they were, the halflings were excellent cooks. It was positively lovely when someone else did the cooking, as she knew from personal experience. (She firmly set aside the memory of the thorough teasing she’d gotten for accidentally setting her kitchen on fire by using the oven to reheat some food still in its paper container. ) Excellent though their culinary skills might be, the halflings’ hairy feet were not an admirable quality and were difficult to overlook. So she moved quickly through their town and out into the forests to the south, heading for the vast mountain that skirted the forest.

    Instinctively ducking her head, even though the tunnel entrance wasn’t low enough to cause any real difficulty, she moved past the dwarves milling in the corridor. An off-duty guard called out an improper invitation to ‘blow on his dice,’ which she ignored. Even succubae had standards. Up the stairs and down the hall she went, reaching the Chapel at last. Although the urge to stick her whole aching head in the holy chalice was strong, she held back her hair and sipped at the cascade of water in a more ladylike fashion. Its magical properties were usually just the thing for those distressing, late-night difficulties, but this time, it barely scuffed away the edges of the pain. She did, however, get a good look at her reflection in the water. A large bruise colored the side of her face, the imprint of the ring always worn by Sendres creating a clear impression in her skin. So that’s where the headache had come from! She hoped his corpse had been eaten by the cats while she slept. Letting loose a long-suffering sigh, she perched one hip on the edge of the altar, then guiltily slid off. It wouldn’t do to be found sitting on such things. If anyone saw, though, she knew she could blame her headache. It was monstrous, really, and made even thinking quite difficult. She simply had to find something that would help.

    Holding her breath just in case, she twitched her fingers and whispered the words that would magically transfer her to a new and random place. She generally had good luck with such things, though nowhere near as accurate as the landings Belsambar claimed to enjoy. When the world stilled once more, she was deep in the Ulrich Forest - which was pleasantly close to where she wanted to be. Glaring at the obstinate and snooty Unicorn as she passed by, she headed for the Great Western Road, and thence to the Bazaar.

    Brigands, schmigands, she thought, dispatching them quickly. (Though, technically, that wasn’t really what they were called, but ‘Highwaymen’ was quite impossible to rhyme.) Past Vilsons and Wicktors, past the bar and Lumiere’s, she sought out the comfort of Ladislaw’s tent. Stepping under the canvas threshold, she paused, eyes drifting closed to better concentrate on the heavenly smell of chocolate that filled her senses. The shop-keep quickly approached his favorite and most loyal customer, frowning as she explained her predicament.

    Doubt colored his voice as he promised to do his best, taking three small stones from her extended hand. It was the work of only moments before the perfectly tempered chocolate was drying to a slick, glossy surface. She whispered her thanks, then tossed the first into her open mouth, biting down. The thick coating of sinfully wonderful dark chocolate made eating a rock ... well… slightly more pleasant, but it wasn’t as nice as a chocolate heart or bunny. She ate another, wrinkling her nose at the gravel gritting between her teeth. Even the potent strength of the pebbles sold on the submarine barely touched the pulsing agony of her headache. This earned both a foot-stamp and an OMG and both made her head hurt even worse. She repeated the OMG in a barely audible whisper. What was she to do!?! Just then it struck her. “Julienne” or “back again” would both rhyme with Highwaymen! Though julienne reminded her once more of the kitchen disaster, and that was just sad and depressing.

    “Allo!” Belsambar’s voice rang out loudly as he greeted the world. She clapped her hands over her ears in pain, whimpering. It simply wasn’t fair. He could – and did – fall asleep anywhere, and she wagered he never wound up with such dreadful headaches or calling cards in his underthings… though, she mused, that might not actually be the case. Strange things did tend to happen to, and around, Belsambar, what with his tendency to travel the planes. He was an odd duck, for sure. And she was positive she did not want to know what might be going on in his underthings.

    Quaffing a shimmering elixir, she instantly found herself in the Guild Hall – though the barest hint of a Maurice-snicker ticked her ear. Not this time, you big meanie, she thought. Moving carefully down the stairs so as not to jostle her noggin any more than absolutely necessary, she found the mage lounging next to Mish.

    “Bels! I have the *worst* headache. I swear it’s going to explode! And Nicholai left a note in my bra. But seriously... My head!” she wailed.

    The scarred and colorful mage chuckled as he lit a cigarette using the candle in Mish’s grasp, blowing a smoke ring shaped like a dragon biting its tail.

    “Did you take something for it?” he inquired.

    She didn’t dare nod, but did a little chin bobble. “I drank from the chalice and ate two chocolate pebbles. Ooh. That sounds like that should be a delicious cereal, even if it really wasn't.”

    “Well, then take some Advil or Tylenol or something.”

    She stared at him with a blank expression. “Are those shoppies in some new place I haven’t found yet? If you’ve already got the ribbon for it and I’ve not even heard about it…” she protested hotly.

    He waggled his hand dismissively, pausing her outburst, and retrieved a white bottle from one of the deep pockets of his trench coat. It had a deep blue label and the contents rattled a bit. Twisting off the lid, he shook three dark blue ovals into his hand. They looked squishy but were glossy, like candy. Lexie was moderately intrigued.

    “Here. Swallow – don’t bite - these. They’re liqui-gels, and go down a bit easier than rocks do. They’re from a skerry I like, called the Hollywood Boulevard Walgreens.”

    Lexie looked them over suspiciously, but finally tossed them into her mouth and swallowed them down with help from several large swigs of Marel’s Best. The hint of cherry and oak in the wine paired well with the … no. It really didn’t. A few more swallows helped wash the medicine-y taste of the gels from her mouth.

    Smirking, he helpfully suggested as she lowered the wineskin, "Oh. Yeah. By the way, you shouldn’t take them with alcohol. It can make them hit a bit harder.” Belsambar seemed to shimmer for a moment, and when the blurriness stopped, the candle in Mish’s grasp had burned down almost a finger’s width.

    “OMG! Is it bad? I mean.. how bad is it?” she gasped. "I swear, if this is going to kill me, I'm going to murder you first!"

    “I tremble at the thought,” he teased, noting the dilation of her eyes, and turned the label on the bottle towards her. “Advil PMs. I usually take two. Three plus the wine should really do the trick. You'll be fine, but you're going to go night-night here pretty quickly.”

    She looked owlishly at the wineskin and then at the bottle he held. She wiggled her fingers in his direction.

    “Did you do that… timey.. wimey… sparkly thing..?”

    His response was as much smirk as it was nod. “You can thank me later. Just gave you a quick time jump of fifteen minutes so the meds would kick in fast.”

    Lexie’s head was starting to feel a bit wimey and sparkly, now that she thought of it. Maybe laying down would be a good idea… Her head was already feeling so much better…


    Belsambar looked at the snoring succubus, a faint smile of relief curving her lips. “Behold, the power of Advil PM!” he chuckled.

    The stairs didn’t look like a very comfortable resting spot, and while he did like to tease, he wasn’t cruel by any stretch. (Besides, Karma was too close of an Aspect to Fate to risk irking his Goddess) Scooping her up with relative ease, he paused a moment to think of where to bring her. Somewhere safe, yes, of course, but not entirely without fun…

    Up he went, continuing past the Pit, his long legs covering the distance quickly. The woman’s weight was no problem, but dear Gods, all that baggage she toted around did make keeping balance on the staircase a bit interesting as he headed up the third flight to the Upper Courtyard.

    Heading through the silent marble corridors, he wistfully reminisced on days long ago that such a journey would have been fraught with danger, with foes leaping out of every doorway to steal away what he carried. DarkClaw’s Temple was in the far north-west side, and it was there he headed. Eyeing the three caskets, he muttered a cantrip, causing the lid on one to raise before he got to it. Alas, Nicholai was bedded down for the day – and unlike the others, his resting place wasn’t built for two. Muttering at the lost opportunity to tease them both, he shifted his grip on the slumbering succubus, repeated the cantrip, and laid her gently in DarkClaw’s empty coffin. It was, he reasoned, the lesser of the two evils. Waking up in Venom’s sarcophagus would be genuinely unpleasant and distressing, rather than a tease, and the Kindred Goddess would surely welcome the company of the one who called her ‘Precious.’

    Whistling, he wrestled her into the plush velvet coffin and turned to go. Rummaging in another deep pocket, he extracted a different bottle, lacking the last two key letters of the first. He tucked it in next to her, and brushed back her hair from her face with a light hand, the touch affectionate but not lecherous.

    “Onieros guard your dreams,” he murmured, then vanished from the temple in a flash of light, a few sparkly bits of glitter wafting down in his wake.

  2. #2


    After reading Cordir's perfume review on FB and now this great Advil promo she whipped up, I'm positive she could convince every gas-breather in the Realm to happily buy cases of Gas-X. As far as Mercury is concerned, it might take a little more convincing but I'm confident she could show him the benefits of such a product. I believe it could even lead to a complete revitalization of Og. More importantly, it gives me another bedtime story!

    I'm also thrilled Belsambar was the savior of the day in this story, super excited that *I* was a new location for an Explorer Ribbon AND that Nicholai was the first to find me *swoon,* OH and that I got to sleep off my headache in 5-star luxury accommodations.

  3. #3


    I stumbled across this today, whilst looking for something else, and it amused me.
    Be on the lookout for notice of a Creative Writing Day coming soon.

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