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Fantasy Romance Adventure

The flash of the nearby lightning lasted for only a fraction of a second, yet the images that Piper and Decker saw were temporarily frozen behind their retinas. Blinding white and oppressive black were the only colors to be seen, each finding its rightful place according to the properties assigned to them by the laws of physics. Thunder cracked, sending a shiver through the countryside, and then tailing off to a pleasant grumble.

The nightmarish snapshot of the graveyard revealed a lone figure standing before them. An old lady, attired in a black dress, staring implacably at the couple. Decker shuddered at the sight, feeling a fear that was hard to squelch. Piper, though, stood up and spoke to the apparition.

“Agnes! So good to see you, darling!”

**************

Decker often commented, much to Sage’s and Juniper’s consternation, that living with actual witches was a challenge for him. He also added that being married to one of them presented unique difficulties.

Attending the more important of the coven meetings was one such trial. He would be the only mortal in attendance, and the witches and warlocks would stare and point at him like he was the freak, not them. That didn’t bother him much. Neither did the menu, usually consisting of raw toads and strangely-colored roots. It was the clothing optional thing that bothered him. Witches and warlocks, he mused, had no problem prancing around in the nude. Decker didn’t know where to look during these soirees. Butts, breasts, and hairy torsos dominated the scenery, leaving Decker feeling awkward and out of place.

And now…well, now he was in the local graveyard with his wife, sipping tequila (a good thing) and waiting for a deceased relative to show up (a weird thing) so she could help them get rid of the witch hunters (a bad thing).

Agnes smelled like wet dirt and rotten leaves. She had nice teeth, though, and long, shiny black hair. Decker didn’t know how a dead witch managed good dental hygiene and lustrous hair, but he had learned not to question these sorts of things. Piper’s aunts, for instance, remained trim and fit despite never working out and having atrocious diets.

“Three trolls showed up, Agnes. We need the knife,” Piper said. Decker wondered what ‘the knife’ was. A knife, of course, but did it contain magical powers? Was it the only one in existence? Did Agnes have access to this knife? A whole panoply of questions bombarded Decker’s mind, but he didn’t ask. Piper would tell him what he needed to know. Probably.

“The knife is lost. You must use the sword,” Agnes said. Her eyes stared through Decker. Piper looked back at Decker and then returned her gaze to Agnes.

“My husband. Yes, he’s a mortal. No, I didn’t cast a love spell on him.”

Agnes stepped forward and held out her hand. In it was a knife with a ruby-studded handle. The handle seemed far too big for the smallish blade attached to it. Piper looked askance at Agnes.

“Well, dearie, it used to be a sword. It has been ground down over the years.”

Piper took the shortened sword from Agnes’ hand and tucked it between her belt and her jeans. The ease with which she did this suggested to Decker that his wife had done this sort of thing before. Not surprising, really. She was almost 300 years old, and witch hunters used to be plentiful. Decker wanted to know how many witch hunters she had actually killed but he also didn’t want to know. Although it was becoming increasingly more difficult to do, Decker wanted to see his wife as that cute, funny, woman he met at a rare-book convention in Boston a few years ago.

“It’s raining,” Decker said. Both women looked at him and frowned. They then immediately ignored him.

“Your children will be mortals, dearie. The other witches won’t like this,” Agnes said.

“I don’t give a fu – I don’t care what they think. It’s what I want.”

Agnes shook her head while giving Piper a severe look.

“You are rebellious, child. Back in my day, you would have been burned at the stake.”

“The rain is getting worse,” Decker said, pulling his jacket tighter around him. It was true; the rain was becoming stronger, and more lightning dotted the sky.

After a few more minutes, Agnes and Piper hugged each other and parted. Agnes melted into the ground; to Decker, it looked like the earth swallowed her whole. That was a little unusual, he thought.

“So,” Decker said as they walked back to the house, “you have to kill the witch hunters with that little thing?”

“Trolls. We call them trolls.”

“I see. Why not ‘witch hunters.’ That’s what they are.”

“Connotation and perception, sweetie. We like to avoid bad connotations. And we are perceived as the bad guys when the term ‘witch hunter’ is thrown around.”

“I see,” Decker said, but he didn’t.

‘Why aren’t you wet?”

Piper turned to Decker and kissed him softly. Her eyes twinkled in the porch light, both the hazel eye and the green eye.

“Do I really have to answer that?”

Decker smiled and shook his head.

“Sometimes I forget that you’re a witch. But you look good for your age. I guess sleeping with a mortal keeps you young,” Decker said.

Piper slapped his butt with the flat part of the sword blade. Decker didn’t find this weird at all.

**************

The law firm of Daniels, Jameson, and Walker was located on the outskirts of the town. They had spacious offices, wore expensive suits, and had almost no clientele, though they seemed quite prosperous. All three men had bellies that were expanding, slowly but inexorably, towards rotundity. They did not look dangerous: quite the opposite.

Piper smelled them immediately as she passed by their offices last week. Witches have the fortunate ability to catch the scent of trolls. Rather unfortunately (for the witches), trolls have the ability to sniff out witches. Decker didn’t smell anything but the bread from the bakery across the street.

Piper stopped on the sidewalk, causing Decker to bump into her. She sent out a text to her group:

---Being trolled by lawyers. xoxoxo---    Code for three witch hunters.

A meeting was set for that night, at their house. The aunts prepared green drinks that bubbled and smoked. Hors d’ oeuvres of peppered night crawlers and lizard ceviche were prepared quickly. Decker munched on chips and salsa while the meeting took place.

“I have the sword. The knife is lost, apparently,” Piper started the meeting.

“I bet that stupid bitch Griselda has it,” one of the other witches spoke up. She tamped out her cigarette and belched. The other witches nodded.

“Selfish is what it is,” yet another witch spoke up. All murmured in agreement. Griselda was only 75 years old, not nearly old enough to be entrusted with using the knife. Her mom should have known better, they all agreed.

“We don’t have time for anyone to fly to Armenia and get the knife from Griselda. The sword will have to do. They’ll be coming for me and my aunts on Halloween night,” Piper said grimly. Decker was somewhat uncomfortable with his wife having to face three witch hunters by herself, but he had seen her take down a bear with her bare hands. The aunts gorged on bear meat for a month. He and Piper ate nachos and chicken wings. It was football season, after all, and the couple were Patriots fans.

“Their powers are strongest on that night,” Sage said.

“Our niece is also strong on that night. As are we,” Juniper quickly added.

The aunts longed to be in the fight, but there was only one sword. Sage had suggested trying to kill one or two of them before Halloween night, maybe ambush them on the way home. Juniper thought they should grind up tiger whiskers and slip it into their food. Trolls get violently sick from this, and they would be vulnerable.

In the end, none of this happened. A tiger couldn’t be found anywhere except a zoo, and they were all well-guarded by bronzed, mustachioed men (and a few non-mustachioed women) who took their duties seriously.

The ambush never materialized because the lawyers never left their offices. That was telling, Piper thought. Decker didn’t know what to think. As with most of his dealings with witches, he relied on Piper; she would tell him what to do and what to think. She always did.

This time, though, he didn’t heed her advice.

**************

---They’re on their way---

The text message flashed across dozens of phones. The witches stayed away from the house where the trio of witches (and one slightly confused mortal) lived. But they watched as three well-clad trolls made their way to the house. It wouldn’t take them more than ten minutes to get there.

During this time, Decker and Piper argued. Piper suggested that Decker vacate the premises with all due haste. Well, commanded it. Decker stubbornly refused to do so.

“I’m not leaving my wife!” Decker’s voice was loud and strident.

“Everyone else is gone. You’ll be in the way.”

“Too bad. I’m staying, and damn the trolls. They don’t scare me.”

“They scare me! You haven’t seen them in their natural form, Decker. They’re big and mean and have teeth and claws that can tear you to shreds. Plus, they stink. It’s an unholy smell, and you know you have a weak stomach,” Piper said. She took a few experimental swings with the sword. She jabbed at the wall a few times. It felt good in her hands, just like the knife had in centuries past.

“My stomach will be fine. And I’m not sure I’ll get in the way. I think…”

And here the conversation ended, for the front door was smashed in and three giant beasts lumbered in.

With a yell, Piper leaped at the first one through the door and slashed its face. The beast recoiled, but regrouped quickly. It came towards her, flanked by the other two beasts. Piper backed up. This was going to be a tough one, she thought.

Decker decided that he would be in the way and ran upstairs.

**************

The fight raged on. Piper slashed and thrust, drawing blood from all three beasts. She had also been marked by their claws. She rubbed her ribs with her free hand, wincing in pain. She had been slashed deeply by the first beast, and the blood seeped through her shirt. Her cheek also bore the mark of a slash, but it had been a glancing blow. Her quickness had saved her so far, but it couldn’t last. She was almost out of maneuvering space; the beasts were getting her in a corner.

Decker decided that enough was enough. Piper had done her best, but now he was angry. He raced down the stairs and yelled at the beasts.

“Hey assholes! I got somethin’ for ya’!”

Decker had a Mossberg pump-action shotgun levelled at the beast closest to his wife. The beast turned slightly, curious as to where a voice was coming from. It blinked and stood still. The figure before him wasn’t a witch, so it had no desire to attack him. Big mistake.

Decker unloaded two 12-gauge blasts at the beast at close range, more because he didn’t want Piper to catch any stray pellets than any other reason. It went down with a resounding thud, grabbing its chest and wheezing. Decker then put two blasts each into the other two beasts, who had been stunned by their leader’s reaction to the loud sounds coming from the object in the human’s hands.

All three beasts were clutching their chests and wheezing. Decker walked calmly up to each one and put another round into their necks. He reloaded adroitly and continued to shoot the beasts in the neck until their heads were completely severed from their bodies.

As soon as a head was detached from a body, a blood-spattered, smelly monster instantly turned into…well…

“Colored sand,” Piper said softly. She looked at Decker and smiled. Decker put down his shotgun and held his wife gingerly; he wanted to hold her much closer and kiss her deeply, but she was definitely injured.

 They both turned and looked at the scene before them. The lead beast had turned into sand the color of bright pink. One of the others had gone the color of slate blue while the remaining one had transformed into canary yellow. Sand was everywhere, although most of it was in three irregular piles near Piper.

“What do we do with the…uh…remains?” Decker gestured towards the three piles of colored sand. It had been a weird night, even by his standards.

“Let the aunts clean it up,” Piper said, leaning in and kissing Decker deeply. He smelled so good right now, she thought. Gunpowder should be his go-to fragrance.

**************

“Who knew?” Sage shook her head in wonder after hearing of Decker’s heroics. Juniper had to agree.

“This has to go in The Book,” Juniper said.

“Well, we have a meeting in three weeks. Get Zinnia to bring The Book. I’ll get Decker to write down the name of the gun and all the details. And you two,” Piper pointed an accusing finger at her aunts, “need to quit making fun of Decker for using a gun to hunt. Just because we do it unaided by weapons doesn’t make him less than us. Especially now that he took out three trolls.”

The aunts nodded unwillingly, but they agreed to abide by Piper’s edict. The man did save her, and probably them. The entire witch community was abuzz with the mortal’s exploits and could hardly wait until the next meeting.

Decker came downstairs and sat down to a breakfast of bear chili and eggs. He was hungry this morning, and no wonder. Killing trolls can really work up a man’s appetite.

“We have something to tell you, sweetie,” Piper kissed her husband’s cheek and sat down beside him. The aunts stood, facing him across the table.

“The community has decided, because of your actions and service to our kind, to make you a warlock of the realm. You’re the only human – any being, really – that has this honor. Oh! And it comes with a free robe and staff.” Juniper finished. All applauded Decker, who looked a little embarrassed. The aunts left the happy couple to themselves.

Decker looked at his wife and grinned. He would be a warlock!

“So, does that mean I’ll live a long time like you?”

“No sweetie,” Piper said.

“Ah. Well, will I have warlock powers?”

“No.”

“So…”

“It’s ceremonial, Decker. You’ll still die in five or six decades, an old man. I’ll still be young.”

“That sounds depressing when you say it out loud.”

Piper held his hand and stroked his chest.

“Just think. You’ll be an old man sleeping with a beautiful, young wife. Isn’t that what all mortal men want?”

“Well, sure, but…”

“Don’t worry. As long as you give me a couple of kids and keep on protecting me from trolls, I won’t remarry. No pressure, though.”

**************

Ready?” Decker came into the bedroom to check on his wife. True to her nature, Piper was not ready and they would be late. She had her underwear on and was looking at a pile of robes on their bed. Every imaginable color and style were strewn across the bed and even the two chairs in the room were laden with female attire.

“I don’t know which one to wear, sweetie. They all seem so, so…last decade.”

“Well, that’s because they are. I didn’t know witches’ robes went out of style.”

Piper gave Decker a pitying look.

“Oh Decker! You know so little,” she said. Sighing, she resumed her search for the perfect robe. It was a special occasion, after all: the tenth anniversary of Decker becoming a ceremonial warlock.

Decker sat down and waited for his wife to dress. Instead, she sat on his lap with an arm around his shoulders.

“The twins will be proud of you, sweetie. Their daddy is a real hero.”

It took Decker a few seconds to realize what Piper was saying. When he did, he jumped up and grabbed Piper by the shoulders, his eyes feverish with excitement.

“You mean…you mean…”

“Yep. Found out this morning. And don’t ask how. It’s a witch thing and not at all pretty.”

“I’m gonna be a…”

“Father. Yes. Now sit down because I have something else to tell you.”

Decker sat down, stunned and happy.

“You’re also a warlock. I just found out this morning when I discovered I was with child. Uh, children. You see, only warlocks can sire twins in a witch. It’s that simple. And, no, I don’t have the answers to any questions you may have about it. We’ll just have to wait to ask Zinnia.”

“Zinnia?”

“The keeper of The Book. She knows everything.”

“So that means…”

“Yes. We’ll both live around a thousand years. Our kids will be full-blown witches. And I have to drink pomegranate juice until I give birth. I hate pomegranate juice.”

Decker nodded, only hearing half of what she said. If that.

Decker reached down and grabbed the first robe that came to hand, never taking his eyes off of Piper, handing it to her. She looked at the robe and shuddered slightly.

“Kinda ugly, sweetie,” she said.

Decker held her in his arms and kissed her.

“Doesn’t matter. Our robes are coming off when we get there.”

October 27, 2022 08:57

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20 comments

Graham Kinross
23:45 Nov 23, 2022

The way you packed all of that story into so few words is amazing. Your descriptions are very rich, told with character and humour that uplift the whole thing.

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Delbert Griffith
01:36 Nov 24, 2022

Thanks so much, Ross. I appreciate the nice review and the kind words. It was definitely a fun write. I guess when you combine a mortal, a few witches, and a bunch of blood-thirsty trolls then you have a decent chance of writing something decent. LOL I'm glad you liked it, Graham. That means a lot to me.

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Graham Kinross
02:12 Nov 24, 2022

No problem.

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Chris Campbell
00:09 Nov 04, 2022

Delbert, that was a mini-series in one episode. I actually felt sorry for the troll staring down the barrel of a shotgun not knowing what was to come. The line, "She had nice teeth, though, and long, shiny black hair. Decker didn’t know how a dead witch managed good dental hygiene and lustrous hair..." made me laugh. I've met people like that. Well done!

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Delbert Griffith
00:37 Nov 04, 2022

Thanks so much, Chris. It feels great when a good writer like you actually enjoys my work. Cheers!

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Chris Campbell
00:41 Nov 04, 2022

A great compliment, thank you. Keep on creating!

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Michał Przywara
21:11 Nov 03, 2022

A good POV for a fun modern-witch tale. This story gets a lot of mileage out of the muggle's behaviour, confusion, and reflections, and it leads to some funny moments. But Decker's not entirely passive either, and in the end he makes decisions and takes actions, fighting the trolls himself. And this leads to the moral of the story, "shotguns solve problems." Or something like that :) "Daniels, Jameson, and Walker" :D

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Delbert Griffith
23:31 Nov 03, 2022

Thanks so much for seeing so much in the story. And it was quite a good catch on the whiskey names for the trolls. I always look forward to your critiques because they are so thoughtful, and you see so much of what I have in mind when I write.

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Tommy Goround
15:15 Nov 03, 2022

I'd kill first section and start with 'my wife is a witch'. Clapping

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KarLynn Erickson
02:46 Nov 03, 2022

Such a smart and funny story! I smiled all the way through it. I can't wait to read more from you!

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Delbert Griffith
11:28 Nov 03, 2022

Thanks so much, Kar! I appreciate the kind words. Truly.

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Ela Mikh
18:24 Oct 31, 2022

What a great insight into the lives of the creatures in your fantasy world. I caught myself thinking I wish I could come and meet them. And some of the small phrases could easily become catchphrases - Killing trolls can really work up a man’s appetite - that was my favorite. Really great story telling and I happen to be a fan of any type of fantasy. Thank you

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Delbert Griffith
19:44 Oct 31, 2022

Thanks so much, Ela. I'm glad you thought enough of my work to consider some of the lines catchphrases. I'm smiling right now from that tremendous compliment! And thank you for following me. I will reciprocate. Cheers!

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Sophia Gavasheli
17:21 Oct 28, 2022

A very creative and interesting fantasy story indeed! The culture of the witches really pulled me in and I love the humor and understatement you sprinkle throughout(decker munching on salsa/chips, "confused mortal", belching witches, "free robe and staff", "Killing trolls can really work up a man’s appetite"). My favorite line: "Decker often commented, much to Sage’s and Juniper’s consternation, that living with actual witches was a challenge for him." I think one way you could improve this story is by showing instead of telling in certain ...

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Delbert Griffith
19:29 Oct 28, 2022

I read your critique of this story and decided that I had better sit down and give this writer's suggestion some serious thought. So...I made myself a cup of hot tea and poured myself a shot of bourbon and re-read my story (pro tip: don't mix the tea and bourbon; it ruins both of the lovely liquids). Color me unsurprised that you were correct in your critique. I know what I was trying to say and I was sure I had said it properly. But I didn't. Your suggestion would have made the story better. As I re-read the tale, I saw what you were getti...

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Sophia Gavasheli
20:09 Oct 28, 2022

Definitely expand this story (maybe into a novel)! You could start at the beginning, detailing how Piper and Decker meet; then, something really serious shakes up the witch world, and Piper and Decker must save the day. The urban fantasy element of the witches living day-to-day lives among humans would make it really unique. I would also add for "Gunpowder Cologne": the sentence structures in the part where Piper fights the trolls are a bit repetitive(a lot of the sentences begin with "she" or "her"). I feel like they don't fully convey the...

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Delbert Griffith
20:29 Oct 28, 2022

I totally agree with you about the fight scene. I know that Edgar Rice Burroughs (of 'Tarzan' fame) was known for writing really good fight scenes, so I think I'll research his works a little more to improve in that area. I'd like to make a serious run at this Piper-Decker dynamic because it feels like a rich field to mine. I hadn't considered an urban fantasy genre for this; I was thinking more of a cozy mystery genre. They could solve crimes in a small town. However, now that you have tossed out this urban fantasy thing, I see that as per...

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Sophia Gavasheli
02:23 Oct 29, 2022

Yeah! Take the characters and run with them. You also don't have to stick to one genre. A cozy, urban fantasy mystery story has a nice ring to it! Hmm. I've never thought about being a beta reader. Maybe I will look into that...

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Tommy Goround
15:22 Nov 03, 2022

People here state that a novel takes 2 years to edit edit edit and edit again. Serious writers spend about $6,000 on average they have a professional third party editor. Maybe we look at this suggestion in a few months

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Tommy Goround
15:20 Nov 03, 2022

1) find a way to listen to your stories on audio. Example "@reader" on playstore 2) try to retell your story as an Irish plot. That would be nearly eight sentences to summarize the story. Imagine an Irishman in a bar completely drunk that can summarize your story in eight sentences. 3) what a lovely attitude you have. I expect you will find very good results from the way You are attempting to hone your craft.

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