Originally Posted 23 Mar 2018, 14:38 by Scott Humphrey


"But I'm not tired yet!"

Braum grumbled and tried to make a big show of turning around just as he was at the door. "Aiden, it's way past your bedtime. You have to close those eyes and go to sleep now, young man."

"Dad, I can't sleep! I'm like totally still wide awake! Look!" His son squeezed his eyes open.

Braum paused briefly to consider this. "Well, Aiden, you're old enough now to know how important sleep is for growing up big and strong… but I know what it's like to not be tired at bedtime. How about this: if I can make up an awesome story about anything you tell me, you have to try your best to sleep. OK?"

Aiden narrowed his eyes at his father. "Anything? … OK, deal."

Braum sat down on the edge of his son's bed, the bed-springs groaning in protest. He glanced at the drawings above the head of the bed: knights fighting dragons, giant snakes coming out of tree trunks, many-limbed creatures threatening cities. He had an active imagination and an eye for detail, and even if he was a little obsessed with monsters, Braum was still proud.

"I want a story with blood in it! And guts."

Braum raised an eyebrow and stifled a laugh. He reminded him so much of himself at that age, before his Chrysalis, before his adventures, before his tragedies. "Alright, blood and guts it is. But don't blame me if you have some… scary dreams." Aiden's eyes widened a bit, and Braum knew he was listening.

"There was once a group of friends that worked together, solving mysteries and helping people. That was their job: if there was a mystery that needed solving, or someone in need, they would be there, quicker than you could even think 'I need help!'. Everyone knew that you could count on them if you were in trouble. Even if it seemed like you were totally alone, these friends were always nearby… if you needed them.

"One day, a young woman was walking down the street after dark. She had her phone out to light the way, because it was dark. She tripped on a little stone, and her phone fell out of her hand, and down into a sewer. She heard it bounce down the sides and land in the sewer with a little splash. It was dark, and she was scared. She thought she heard a voice behind her: 'Better start running if you want to get home in time!' The woman was so scared that she couldn't move. Who was it behind her? What did they want?

"'You're not moving yet… You're running out of time….' The woman couldn't even breathe. She reached out a hand behind her, and felt something a little squishy and hairy. Suddenly, a flash of lightning, and she could see it, right behind her. Towering over her, with huge hairy thick legs, four arms, and a thousand claws all up and down its hands, its huge green eye looked down.

"'I GOT YOU!!!' The woman screamed, and just as the beast was about to grab her, the friends appeared! Two of them kicked the beast in the shins while the little one scrambled up its back and pulled its hair.

"'Leave her alone! What did she ever do to you?' one of them shouted.

"'She looks so tasty!' the beast yelled, opening its mouth and showing off three rows of teeth."

Aiden had pulled the covers up to his nose, but he hadn't taken his eyes off Braum.

"Just when the beast was about to swipe down and cut off the woman's head, one of the friends stepped up and grabbed it. 'You refuse to use this for peace? Then you can't have it!' And he tore the arm right out of its socket!! Blood spurted all over the wall and ground, and the beast howled.

"'Run,' they told her, and the woman took off into the night.

"The friends felt like the beast had enough for one day, and they let him go. But if you're ever out alone at night, sometimes, if you stand really still, you might just feel a bit of breath on your neck, and smell a little bit of dried blood."

Aiden shot straight up in bed. "NO! DAD! That isn't the end of the story!!" His eyes began to glow a deep red, coal-dark and dangerous. Smoke erupted from his eye sockets as he began to twist and grow. "Your stories never end with the bad guy getting away! That's not how it works!" He leaned in dangerously close to Braum, and the troll heard Talus' voice in his ear. "Tell me another story, Dad!"


Braum awoke from the dream. "Tell me another story, Dad!" The words rang in his ears. "The bad guy doesn't get away… He isn't allowed." Braum gritted his teeth and rolled over. "He can't be allowed." Braum thought of his wife and sons. They would never know why he had to leave them all those years ago, or the dangers that he fought so that they could be safe. But thinking of the drawings above Aiden's bed, Braum knew that he wouldn't have it any other way.

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