The Plains of Angst and Sorrow, Part 2

Dear Vera,

I’m finally out of that cavern. Took me long enough! Anyway, let me first explain a few things about the mail system. Any time I make a ritual for mail that I send to you, I get a tracking number, which I can then use to see if you’ve received my letters. I’m telling you this to clarify some stuff I told you last week: time seems to pass very differently ever since I came into the Plains of Angst and Sorrow. The interval between my last two letters should have been of several months, yet, apparently, there was only a week in between for you. I also noticed that there were two months between the reception of the letter about the government. From what I’ve calculated, if time keeps bending, you will receive this letter before I send it!

Anyway, remember how I went to the cave a couple of months back? It was very nice of the bear to show me that shortcut, and I really thanked him. I think he was pretty moved, because he then extended his long sharp claws and tried to give me a surprise hug in the darkness. However, the floor was pretty slippery, and I was a bit taken aback by the suddenness of the whole thing, so I fell back. The bear advanced towards me, but it was so dark in there that he tripped and fell, with the extremely bad luck of meeting a stalagmite, which wasn’t supposed to be sharp. But the bear’s eye and a part of its brain were crossed by the rock, fatally injuring him.

The bear obviously panicked, and almost mauled my arm while I was trying to free him from the rock. I think the brain damage must have been quite severe, because he started talking about murdering me and my whole family, even when I helped him lie down on the floor, his arms weakly flailing towards me. I used a calming spell to make his last few moments more bearable (pun not intended), and then gave him a proper funeral service.

Of course, the problem with all of these things was that I was in the middle of a dark cave with a dead guide, so getting out of there was quite a challenge. Luckily, after many days of walking in the darkness I found some gorgeous murals that glowed with strange characters and figures that moved in every direction. I followed the moving men and women from the walls, and got to a dead end. I looked around, and saw that it was a room full with bones and skulls ordered neatly. It looked fairly similar to my own bedroom in the headquarters of the Illuminati, and I was glad that they offered a place for sleeping the night. I do have to say, there are some really nice people here, I don’t know why they would call it the Plains of Angst and Sorrow.

The next morning, the figures were impatiently looking at me from the wall. Apparently, I hadn’t noticed a sacrificial dagger that had been lit when I arrived at the chamber (so that was that light that had disturbed my sleep!). It looked quite dusty, and was full of cobwebs, so, trying to be a polite guest, I cleaned the place up to leave it in a better shape than when I had arrived here. Not to be arrogant, but I have to say that I did quite a good job about it. I even managed to clean some dirty marks from the floors, along with some blood marks in their centre. Apparently, the previous guest was rude enough to leave a blood mark in there.

Anyway, the moment I did that, the fiery figures from the walls started to scream. I think they were cheering for me, and thanking me for my help. They started to do some weird dance, frantically moving around, moving their arms up and down. But I had to fully clean it, so I kept scrubbing until all of the marks were gone. At that moment, the figures disappeared, and, for some reason, the cave started to collapse. Using a protective spell, I managed to navigate my way up and out of the cavern, but I think the figurines didn’t make it.

A figure with the skull of a ram then sentenced that “A civilization had been lost in that cavern”. It took me a bit, but then I recognized the thing! It was the one that appeared some months ago, when your letter turned into this forest! It started to walk away from me, but I decided to follow it. Let’s hope it can give me directions to the headquarters of the Freemasons!

Give my regards to mom and dad.

Jan

The Friday Supervillain Meetup

Alissa flew towards the skyscraper, and got into the penthouse at the very top. Marcus had left the entrance open, for any of the other arrivals, as he usually did. When Alissa entered the living room, Jane was already there, working on a painting. She said that, due to her mental powers, she worked best when she was around others like them – people who had not been affected by the Enlightenment. Jane raised her eyebrows, noticing Alissa’s mind in the background. She blushed a little, and her painting became noticeably more intense. Alissa didn’t want to interrupt her, so she greeted Jane just by thinking of her. She then went straight towards Marcus and the others.

So, what’s new?” Alissa asked.

Marcus turned to greet her. “Hey, Alissa, glad to see you” he smiled. “Lin was just telling us about this new suit of armour that she is building”.

Oh, that sounds interesting” she responded.

Lin, can you do a quick recap for Alissa, please?” Marcus asked.

Sure. I’ve told you guys on many occasions how I’ve been working on functional armour that was responsive to our powers” Lin explained. “Well, I finally have the blueprints and the first prototype for a hand piece that can optimize and even improve my abilities!”

That’s really cool” Alissa said.

Will you please make a demonstration? I want to see the difference”.

Well, Marcus, I wouldn’t be telling you guys about this to then keep you in the dark, would I? I’ve left my things next to the entrance, I’ll be back in a sec”.

Jane joined them.

Are you done painting?” Alissa asked her.

No, but I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to see that glove at work” she said. “Also, I’m working on quite a complex piece, so I’d like to take my time to complete it” she explained.

Before Alissa or Jane could say anything else, Lin got back into the room with two small potted plants that looked quite similar to each other. She was also holding a glove, and some measuring equipment. Before saying a thing, she placed one plant in the centre of the room, and set up the measurement equipment around the plant. She left the glove on a coffee table on the side.

So, I’m going to make a demonstration. I’m going to output about 2000 calories of energy each time, and make the plant grow” Lin announced. “The meters are going to make sure that my power output is the same in each case. You will see how different the results are”.

Lin started to concentrate her power. Alissa noticed how she was struggling – Lin had never been the strongest member of the team, which was, in part, the reason why she had geared her efforts towards innovation, in order to catch up with her teammates –, but did not say a thing. Jane took a hand to her temple, which Alissa knew was Jane’s way of closing her mind to her surroundings. Lin’s struggle seemed quite off-putting mentally for Jane.

Seems like a lot of effort for not much results, am I right?” Marcus murmured.

He was right. The plant had barely grown a few leaves, and looked greener than before. The meter had hit 2000 calories, and Lin looked quite tired. She showed the rest of them the plant, and left it aside. She then placed the second plant in the same position, and put on her glove. Without saying a word, she started to concentrate once again.

The change was immediate. The plant doubled in size, and its leaves were much thicker than before. Everyone in the room was very surprised, and gave a round of applause. Lin thanked them with a nod of her head, and took off the glove.

As you can see, the amount of calories spent has been the same in each case” Lin said, pointing towards the monitor.

That’s incredible” Daniel commented.

And this is only the first iteration” Lin answered. “It’s not been optimized, and could perform much better”.

I think you should take it to the next meeting of the League of Supervillains” Marcus said.

Now that you mention it, I received a notification” Alissa interjected. “The League has called for another meeting next week, I think”.

Marcus seemed pretty surprised. “I haven’t received any notifications” he stated.

I have, too. But I think it is a top-level-only meeting” Daniel explained.

Oh, I hadn’t had the time to read the whole notification” Alissa said.

Alissa noticed her anxiety going up a bit. The power-level classification was a sensitive topic for Lin and Marcus (even though he insisted that he didn’t care). Alissa herself didn’t really care much, but she noticed that their expressions had mutated, and felt some awkwardness continuing with the topic. She was looking for a way out of that situation when she started to feel relaxed again. Alissa knew that this must be Jane, softly tapping into their minds, helping them relax the tension.

It’s just some admin stuff, quite boring, really. The meetings involving the whole League are way more interesting” Daniel said.

It’s probably just Chairman Patil announcing some changes, right?” Jane added.

Alissa nodded, mentally thanking Jane for the assistance. “Yes, I think so. We’ll tell you guys all about it when we’re back”.

Yeah, cool, that way we get the summarized version. I mean, come on, Chairman Patil can sometimes go on about stuff that nobody cares about!” Marcus said.

I don’t think she is that bad. Sure, she is quite repetitive, but at least her message tends to be clear. I think the Secretary, Salman, is way worse. Every time he talks it’s as if he is dictating a conundrum for us to solve. I cannot make out any sense of what he means, not even with my telepathic abilities!” Jane followed.

God, you’re right. He’s the worst” Marcus agreed.

From there, the conversation derived into other topics, gossip about other supervillains, future projects that they were working on, jokes… In the end, the Friday Supervillain Meetup ended on a light note.

The Plains of Angst and Sorrow, Part 1

Dear Vera,

It’s been a long time since I last wrote a letter. Well, at least it has for me. I am still trying to understand what’s going on with time and space, ever since I entered the Plains of Angst and Sorrow.

So, as you might remember, back in March I sent you a letter telling you about a mission I had brainwashing some cabinet members in Washington. The following week, when the Freemasons noticed that we had replaced the members of the president’s cabinet with golems, they declared war on the Illuminati. As I already told you in that letter, I was going to try to negotiate with the Freemasons.

So I sent you the letter and went to the Plains of Angst and Sorrow. The headquarters of the Freemasons are on the other side of the plains, so I just needed to cross the plains to get there. Easy job. Except the region has now been covered by a thick forest (I think this is my fault?), and is almost impossible to navigate, even on foot. I summoned a hatchet to open my way through the vegetation, yet the moment I entered the forest, it melted in my hands. Like, even the wooden part of it, turning into some weird sludge that dropped to the grass.

The moment this liquid touched the floor, it exploded, sending projectiles in the direction of the Occult Neighbourhood, and throwing me to the floor. Luckily, I wasn’t harmed, because I fell on a bed of unusually comfortable grass. It was pretty cold in there, and, in fact, I was quickly trapped in a block of ice, yet it was soooooo comfortable. Dad would have loved it, because it had great support for the back (and you know how picky he can be when choosing a mattress).

Anyway, from the directions I had gathered before leaving the Occult Neighbourhood, I had to travel north, while the grass was taking me somewhere towards the west, so I lit a small fire in my hands to slowly melt the ice enclosing. The problem was that drawing Dark Runes for spells is quite hard in such a cramped space, and so I made a small mistake and used the superlative imperative to create the fire, instead of the common imperative (I know, I know, this is some Dark Rune linguistics gibberish), thus setting literally everything in a five kilometer radius on fire. Every single atom of every single molecule in a sphere around me was on fire.

Everything happened in a quick succession from there. I think that, because the ground was below me, there was a lot more stuff on fire below me than above me (because air is very thin when you compare it with five kilometers of Earth’s crust), so the massive amounts of energy lifted me, the only object that was not on fire (thanks to the extremely handy fire resistant Illuminati cloak), high towards the sky. The lift was enough for me to see the circular blast spreading in every direction and a mushroom-shaped cloud forming just below me.

As I was up in the air, I noticed how far I had travelled from the edge of the Occult Neighbourhood. The Illuminati Headquarters was barely visible as a dark tower in the skyline, and the yellow triangle on the top was not discernible against the sky. It would seem that the grass had taken me miles away. However, I did not have much time to look around, because my imminent fall and the shockwave of the explosion were more urging matters at the time. I deployed the handy parachute that the Illuminati cloak has in it (I could sing the praises for that cloak, it’s truly a great tool for the job), and landed safely, not as far from the blast site as I would have liked.

The gigantic hole was being filled with superhot materials from the crust’s lower layers, which, added to the radiation, created an extremely dangerous combo. I fled the place, always followed by that wave of destruction, and ran towards the north. Days passed, and I eventually reached a calm area, from where I could start to travel like a normal person.

Sorry, I can’t continue writing. A very friendly looking 6-meter-tall bear is telling me that I need to go through a dark cave to continue my travels. At least, that’s what I’ve understood. The bear says that it will absolutely show me the way to my destination, and definitely not lure me into a dark cave to kill me and steal my organs. Sounds pretty trustworthy!

Regards to everyone at home. Love,

Jan

The date

“You know, I don’t intend to be hurtful…”

“But you are going to be anyway”.

“Well, yes. This coffee is not very good at all”.

“Do you know how many people have died for this coffee?”

Jane looked around at the rest of the Starbucks. “I’d estimate around 35 people?”

In a sudden arm movement, Alissa destroyed the bathroom. There were screams inside, which finally faded as the rubble and humans inside were compressed to a small cube the size of a trash can. “That makes 38” she said.

“Look, I’m not saying it’s your fault. I really appreciate the effort it took to kill these people. It’s just that the coffee here has never been great, and since there is no incentive for improvement…”

Alissa sighed. “I know. Things have been pretty stuck ever since humanity found Enlightenment”.

Jane held Alissa’s hand, and smiled at her. “Hey, don’t feel down. This is the best date I’ve been to so far”.

“So far?” Alissa did not like those words.

“Yes, so far, because I’m sure our second date is going to be even better” Jane said.

The response took Alissa by surprise. She smiled at Jane, held her hand, and pushed her up “Let’s go. We’ll find a better place”.

As they were walking out, Jane stopped for a moment. “Do you think we should… I don’t know, destroy the place, or something?”

“I guess we should? I don’t know, I’m just not very good at this ‘being a supervillain’ thing”.

“Same here” Jane answered, while looking at the shop. “Maybe I can infuse these corpses with artificial minds, and use them to terrorize the city?” she suggested.

“That sounds villainous” Alissa conceded. “But only the ones that are in a proper condition”.

Jane concentrated her psychic powers, which made a small bright circle appear in her forehead. Several rays of light emanated from the circle, and hit the corpses in the Starbucks. The dead bodies rose back up to their feet, and exited the shop. The two women walked out, and looked at the policemen who had gathered outside.

“Please, we ask you to stop your criminal activities” one of them shouted.

“I’ll take care of them” Jane said, and she telepathically commanded the dead that she was controlling to attack the policemen.

The twenty or so corpses that were under her control attacked the agents that had surrounded the coffee shop. These men and women, shooting courageously, were not phased when any of them fell, and, without letting their emotions cloud them, they dealt with the dead effectively. Alissa looked extremely annoyed when she had to stop the stray bullets that flew towards them in the fight.

“Don’t you get angry that your comrades died?” she asked the policemen.

“No. We are going to miss them, but anger goes against Enlightenment. The best thing that we can do to honour their memory is to give them a dignified goodbye, and to try to stop you to the best of our power” one of them said.

Everyone seemed to agree.

“I can’t believe this!” she yelled. She then turned towards Jane. “Not even the slightest reaction!”

“Do you want me to…?”

“No, no. You must be tired. Let me do this”.

Alissa advanced towards the police agents. They warned her not to walk another step, but she did not listen. When they started shooting her, she deflected the bullets back towards them. Some of them were injured, but others were still trying to fight her. She pushed the ground open, and an enormous crack surrounded the police cars and agents. A nearby building started to sink, and Alissa pushed it to the ground, and down into the crack.

“I think that qualifies as supervillainous?” she said.

“I hope so. I’ve killed several police agents, and all of the innocents in that building. Plus, damaged a lot of infrastructure”.

“Anyway, what now?” Jane asked.

Alissa thought about it. “Let’s go find a coffee shop where we can get some decent coffee”.

She held Jane and started to fly away.

***

The next morning, Alissa was reading the news on the computer, looking for any sort of information about the destruction that they had provoked. She found a small piece of news. “Destruction in Clover Street” it read. The news report explained that a crack had opened on the ground, and that it had produced important destruction. No mention of Jane and her producing the destruction, and fighting and killing the policemen. It had all been deemed a part of a natural disaster.

“Damn it!” Alissa cursed.

War

Dear Vera,

Get ready for this, because this week I have some sad news.

My boss, the sub-Lieutenant Third of the American Branch of the Illuminati, has passed away. I never got to know him, because he wasn’t my boss before, and because he was in hospital the whole time while he was my boss. In fact, I have never seen his face, because it got terribly disfigured by that giant fiery bird that everyone keeps talking about. Now that I have taken his position, I hope the best for him in the afterlife, and I hope to honour his memory by fulfilling my duties as sub-Lieutenant Third of the American Branch of the Illuminati.

Now that I’ve given you some good news, it’s time for the actual bad news.

The Freemasons have declared war on the Illuminati. Apparently, as our forefathers predicted, the Illuminati and the Freemasons would eventually fight on the greatest war on all of history, which would be fought in the Plains of Angst and Sorrow and would decide the destiny of humanity as it moves on a speck of dust through the vast infinity of void that is the universe. During this war, one will destroy the other, and the winner will shape the world to its image.

This makes me extremely sad. I mean, I have read some of the pamphlets that the Freemasons give out in the streets, and they are very similar to our own. Most of them involve luring people to restaurants, bars and clubs with special offers and to kidnap them, to brainwash them later on so that they acquire the company values. The Freemasons and the Illuminati have so much in common! I think both companies would benefit from collaboration instead of competition, and I’ve tried to explain this to the warring leaders of the Illuminati, but all explanations have been met with tribal dances of power.

As the Illuminati are preparing for war, I feel the urge to try to negotiate with the Freemasons. I think I’m going to try to go pay them a visit on my own, just to see what I can manage to do with dialogue. It’s probably going to be extremely dangerous, and the Freemasons will think that this is just a strategy for me to distract them. But I need to try. I think peace is the only way for us to manage to make this a better world.

Hope it goes well!

Jan

Anniversary!

I have not been posting anything recently. The last couple of months have been pretty busy with work, my studies… Oh, well, I guess that’s life.

However, I’m taking the anniversary of this blog (- It’s been 1 year since you started sharing stories here? You’re getting old… – Shhhhhhhut up!) to get back to writing here a bit more regularly, with weekly updates, and new stories to entertain you. If these can make you smile, I’ll be happy to share them.

And, as always, thanks for taking the time to read all of these, if it wasn’t for you readers of this blog, I wouldn’t have had such enjoyable writing experiences!