Eighteen 6-01 (Heretical Edge 2)

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Author’s Note, for people who are potentially sensitive about issues revolving around Fossor, I have included a very brief summary of the events in this chapter at the bottom if you would prefer to scroll down and skip over reading details. That said, I can say right up front that there will *never* be any on-screen depictions of sexual assault in this story, nor will there be any ‘fade to black’ moments where the act is implied. It will not happen, at all, whatsoever, in any kind of present tense/current events thing in-story. There have been and may be implications of *interest* in that regard as well as possible character histories that involve it, but you will never see it happen, nor will you ever see a moment where it is clearly going to happen and then the scene cuts away. There will be nothing like that regardless of what any villain may imply at any point.  

That said, for those who are still sensitive about how creepy and nasty Fossor as a villain can be, feel free to scroll to the bottom to read the quick summary (marked in bold and underlined) of the events in this chapter.  Thank you very much. 

“No… no,” I spat the words, starting to scramble to my feet as a blinding rush of panic enveloped me. “No, you’re not–I still have a month! I still have a month!” 

“Correction,” the man in front of me replied. “You had a month. After all, I did say that I would cause no harm to come to you until the day you became an adult.”

Fossor smiled, most of his face in darkness with only a bit illuminated by the glow surrounding me. “And what better way to ensure that no harm comes to you in the weeks you had left than to make you skip over it entirely with a short time jump?” 

“Happy birthday, Felicity. And welcome home.” 

The next thing I knew, I was on my feet, a wordless scream escaping me as I threw myself at the necromancer. Not that it did me any good, because he simply exhaled and shook his head before two ghosts popped into existence and yanked me back to the ground. I struggled, but they held me there while the man stepped forward and reached out. His finger found my chin and I snapped at him with my teeth. But he was too quick, pulling his finger back while giving a soft, amused chuckle.

“My girl,” Fossor began simply, “I would have thought that, precarious situation aside, you would at least be happy for the prospect of seeing your mother again. I know she’s been so… excited by the prospect of having you with her. You wouldn’t want to make her feel bad, hmm?” 

My mind was spinning completely out of control. No, no, no! This couldn’t happen. Time travel? He’d cheated me out of the rest of the time I had to prepare by using time travel to send me  straight to my birthday? I wasn’t ready! This was wrong! No, no!  I struggled even harder, tilting my head back to spit at him. But it wasn’t just spit. I’d summoned my nausea-inducing liquid with it and spat that into his face, hoping against hope that it would make him lose his control over the ghosts for just a second. Long enough for me to use my own power to force them to let go.

It did not. Actually, it didn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever. The man simply produced a handkerchief from his pocket, flipped it out a bit, and used  a corner to wipe the saliva off his cheek. Then he folded it up and calmly tucked it away before regarding me with a raised eyebrow. “I have given you most of a year to prepare this, Felicity. Most of a year to be ready for my move, and the best defense you can mount is the equivalent of a toddler throwing food? I’m honestly disappointed. Please tell me you have something more interesting than that in mind.” 

My eyes narrowed at those words, and I threw all my focus onto one of the ghosts holding me. Its cold fingers let me go and it suddenly grabbed the other ghost, knocking it away. I came to my feet, staff appearing in my hand from its storage place. Hitting the button to summon a cloud of sand that superheated as it flew into Fossor’s smug fucking face. At the same time, I used the staff to launch myself past him. One second of distraction. That was all I needed. My pass through even magically locked doors power would let me escape the room. Then I could find my mom and the two of us could work on getting the hell out of this place together. I just had to stay a tiny bit ahead of him. 

It didn’t work. No sooner had I gotten within a couple steps of the door, than half a dozen more ghosts appeared, grabbing various parts of me before bodily pushing me to my hands and knees in front of an apparently unbothered Fossor. There was a puddle of blood around him in a circle. Belatedly, I realized that he had actually summoned the blood from somewhere and used it to catch the sand before allowing both to fall to the floor. 

I didn’t just give up then, of course. I fought like a wildcat being taken to a bath. Nothing I did worked. I wasn’t ready now, not for something like this. I was already tired from the fight against Kwur’s minions, from the entire Kwur thing in general. Yes, I had almost endless stamina. But the key word there was almost, and I had been going for a long time by that point. Too long. There was no gas left in my tank. It was all I could do to keep getting back to my feet and throwing myself against that brick wall. I tried my powers. I tried my magic. I tried attacking Fossor and I tried avoiding him. I tried focusing on contacting Tabbris. Nothing worked. I might as well have been a fly repeatedly throwing myself against a car windshield in a futile effort to bully it into submission. Nothing I did, nothing I tried, had any effect on the man, who continued to stand there without much care. Occasionally, he would offer some light words of advice. And that was the single most humiliating and awful thing about all this. He didn’t care that I was fighting him. He was even a little bit amused by it. Because he knew that it wouldn’t matter. I didn’t have my friends or anyone here to help me. I was tired, and he knew that. He knew I was wiped. This whole thing was even more of a foregone conclusion than it already had been thanks to all the effort I’d already put into dealing with Kwur. On my best day, with a full night’s sleep (or as much as I ever really needed), weeks more training and preparation, and everyone who wanted to help protect me, I might have stood some sliver of a chance. Might. But like this? No. 

Finally, I stood there, leaning on my staff to keep myself up while I stared at the man. I hadn’t even managed to make him budge at all. He’d simply stood there calmly through all of that, letting me tire myself out even more. Nothing worked. Nothing hit him, and none of my efforts accomplished a damn thing. Spitting on him and making the man wipe it off with his handkerchief was basically the most direct effect I’d managed. For all the good that actually did. And now I just couldn’t do anything else. I had to pause. I had to breathe, my panicked, terrified mind working a million miles an hour. But it wasn’t working toward anything. I wasn’t thinking of anything productive. My brain wasn’t a bird in flight, it was a bird in a cage throwing itself against the walls wildly, doing more damage to itself than its prison. I accomplished nothing with all of my wild flailing. The cage was here, it was already around me, and I couldn’t escape any more than that bird could have.

“You,” I snarled the word while glowering at the man across from me with every ounce of hate I could summon. My breath came out in a shuddering gasp, partly from my own exhaustion and partly from that bottomless swelling of rancor. “How… how much of all of that was you?” 

In contrast to my own voice, Fossor’s was quite casual and conversational. “Oh, just about all of it, I would say. You forget, Felicity, I’ve known that the time would come for me to collect you for quite awhile now. I’m not one to sit idly by and simply… hope for the best. It’s my nature to stack the deck, as it were. Come now, don’t look at me like that. I did warn you that I would be coming for you. I gave you nearly an entire year to get your affairs in order. I dare say that’s more of a courtesy than I extend to most. But then, I do like your spunk.” 

At a vague gesture from him, the ghosts all disappeared. Though I knew that meant nothing. With a thought, he could bring them all back. And more. He could flood this entire room–hell, the building we were in– with zombies, ghosts, and any other kind of dead creature that he wanted to throw at me. He could drown me in corpses without breaking a sweat. Dismissing them like that right now was nothing but a show. Still, I watched as he continued. 

“To be specific, several years ago, I procured a piece of the… creature known as Kwur. That was an adventure in and of itself.” Smiling faintly at whatever memory he was reliving, the man eventually shook it off. “In any case, we made an arrangement, and I ensured that the piece was given to a man who lived in an isolated area with a large family. A family in a house that would make an excellent site for hauntings.” 

“You set them up,” I managed, my voice cracking a little at the realization that everything that had happened to Dakota and her family was just one step in Fossor’s plan to capture me. “Why?” I spat the word. “Why did that entire family need to die? What did that even gain you?” 

“Plausible deniability, of course,” came the response. “Felicity, if all of this had started up just now, you and your minders would have immediately seen it as one of my machinations. You would have been on your guard. But this? Something that apparently began three years ago and was connected to some other massive threat? It blinded all of you.” He paused then, his eventual next words thoughtful. “Ensuring that you and your friends found out about that situation was as easy as a few whispered words here and there arranging for the farmhouse to be used as a shelter for your wayward lambs. I wasn’t certain at the time of the original deaths how I would bring it to the attention of the people watching over you, but this… underground railroad they’ve been running was a great help. I pointed the strays to it and then gave the ghosts a little bit of a poke to attack them, while ensuring they found the hidden basement holding our plant friend. After that, it was a simple matter of making certain someone close to you was given the job of checking that out. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed that the whole… ghost thing didn’t give away the game, to be perfectly honest. Not to mention the coincidental timing of someone who happened to be close to you finding that information right when they did.” 

Swallowing hard, I shook my head. “You just… this whole thing, all of it, was just to catch me and the others off-guard. You made us exhaust ourselves fighting Kwur and his minions. Azlee, he was a zombie the whole time. You were the one controlling him, and you planted that.. that time travel spell in him, ready to go off as soon as he saw me. As soon as you saw me through him. All of that, all of it, just to grab me? How did Kwur feel about being your distraction?”

“Careful,” the deceptively normal-looking man idly warned me. “You don’t want to get a big head. Not everything is entirely and solely about you. Yes, this did allow me to, let’s say, acquire my property. But it was far more than that. It also lured many of Gehenna’s people to a place I knew they would go. A place which I could prepare ahead of time for their arrival, when they were quite distracted. They were prepared for a threat from Kwur, not from me.” 

The calm mask on Fossor’s face twisted for just a moment into an ugly expression of hate and loathing beyond anything I had seen from him, or almost anyone for that matter. “Gehenna was my hell, Felicity. Do you honestly think I’d allow them to operate here, in my own backyard? Let’s just say, Azlee Ren wasn’t the only dead puppet I filled with a very powerful spell before sending him on his way. When those who went to Vegas returned to their home, they carried enough destructive power within them to level that outpost and destroy everyone and everything inside.

“Which is precisely why Kwur didn’t care that he was used, in your words, as a distraction. If he succeeded in his own mission, he would gladly have spread across this world. If not, plan b still resulted in his imprisoned core being destroyed, leaving him free to grow back from one of his many scattered seedlings. Either way, he escaped. Which, in my case, has the added benefit of ensuring that Gehenna is quite occupied at the moment. They won’t be coming back to reestablish their outpost any time soon.” 

Talking, I had to make him keep talking. Something would occur to me. I would think of something. Or Tabbris. Tabbris would contact me. Surely they would have realized I was teleported into the future, narrowed down how long it would take me to reappear, and my little sister would be letting me know what was going on any second. Quickly, I blurted, “What about Vanessa? Were you the one who erased her memory of Harn? Wait, what did Harn have to do with all this?” 

“Honestly?” Fossor sounded amused. “Nothing, at least originally. He was just an old man who was helping that poor little girl. It actually took me by surprise when I went to the facility to check on the girl, as Kwur requested, and found Harn and the Moon girl leaving her room. Harn recognized me and… things grew complicated. In the end, I was forced to wipe their memories of the encounter, and of the girl herself. One moment, please.” 

As he said that, I found myself suddenly grabbed by several more ghosts. They held me completely still, one forcing my hand out. Before I could even react, Fossor’s hand snaked out with a little scalpel, and he cut my finger with it. It was little more than a nick, but it did draw blood. Fossor immediately made the ghosts disappear, examining the scalpel curiously while I held my finger. “Ah, good. It seems my guess that the oath preventing me from harming you was tied to this date rather than your physical age was correct. Good to know.” Finished with his test, the man seemed to realize he’d interrupted himself. “What were we saying? Oh, yes, Harn and the Moon girl’s memories. You’d be surprised how skilled in such magic you can become after spending so much effort learning ways of combating it so that your own memory is never erased.” 

“And you needed Dakota alive and ready to tell her whole story so the distraction would work,” I muttered, watching my finger heal up as though nothing had happened. “But if anyone remembered seeing you at the hospital around her, the entire thing was pointless.” Pausing, I frowned. “But you said you were checking on her because Kwur wanted you to. Why would Kwur care about what happened to her beyond your fucked up plan?” 

He offered me a shrug. “Apparently, the diabolical plant has taken something of an interest in the girl. I think he sees her as a wayward child, one with great potential should she only be… molded properly.” A thoughtful brief pause came, then, “I suppose he and I do have that in common, after all.” 

“What,” I snapped, “that you’re both utterly amoral pieces of shit who deserve to be thrown into the sun? Cuz yeah, you’re definitely pretty fucking similar in that way.”

“I do enjoy these chats,” the man informed me in a voice that was just as casual as ever. “And we’ll have time for many more now that you’re home where you belong. But I should probably inform you that if your curiosity happens to be fueled by a hope that your Seosten tagalong will be connecting with you soon, you should set such thoughts aside. An aftereffect of the… particular time-travel I happen to have put you through breaks down the connection those bodysnatchers use to send themselves back to a previous host. She can’t contact you, or come back to you, until she physically possesses you again. And that, I’m afraid, just isn’t going to happen.” 

He knew. He’d known the entire time what I was doing, and it was all pointless. Tabbris couldn’t recall to me, she couldn’t help me. Nobody could help me. We had plans and defenses, of course. But they all revolved around how to stop Fossor from taking me once he tried. But I was already here. He’d completely bypassed everything by–by skipping me ahead weeks ahead of schedule. There was nothing that any of our training or plans could do about me already being here. We weren’t ready for that. We weren’t ready. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t… I… I was afraid. I was more afraid in that moment than I’d ever been. I was here, I was alone with the worst monster I’d ever met, I didn’t know what to do. 

I didn’t know what to do. 

Seeing the expression on my face, Fossor gestured. “Now, let’s not dwell on the bad things. After all, this is your chance to see your mother. Wouldn’t you like that?” 

“What I’d like,” I snarled at him, “is to see you turn inside out and fall apart.” Yes, I wanted to see my mother. Of course I wanted to see her. I was desperate to see her, to touch her, to really talk to her. But him taking me to her right now was just… it was him ruining that, marring it and putting his own twisted stink all over it. Just like he did to everything he touched. Seeing her now wasn’t going to be the reunion we wanted. It was going to be him gloating about taking both of us.  

And maybe part of me didn’t want my mom to know that in the end, I had failed. Fossor took me just like he said he would, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was exhausted, I was alone, I was out of ideas. One of the biggest chances I’d had, Fossor’s dead sister, hadn’t panned out because she still hadn’t shown up again. Was that my fault? Was I just that bad at being a necromancer? I had Manakel’s powers, so I should have been able to summon her. I didn’t practice enough. I didn’t work enough. I didn’t try enough. I fucked up and now I was here.

What was I going to do about that? Fossor won. He pulled me away just like he’d said he would, had taken me from every bit of support I had. And now he’d proven he could hurt me if he wanted to. Mom’s oath didn’t protect me anymore. Next to Fossor and the power he could wield, I really was a child throwing a tantrum. That was the fact of it. That was the cold truth. So what was I going to do? 

I didn’t know. I had no idea. I had… nothing.

“Take me to my mom,” I finally managed, swallowing hard after forcing the words out. 

Like a gracious host, Fossor turned and gestured to the door. One of his ghosts appeared to pull it open. “Come, my dear,” the vile necromancer piece of shit urged. “I promise, in time, you will come to accept these new circumstances. You, your mother, and I, are going to be one big happy family. Maybe not right away. But now that you’re here, we have time to work all that out. 

“And I am nothing if not patient.” 

SUMMARY

Flick tries to fight Fossor but can’t harm him, considering his own power and her exhaustion. He tests that he can physically hurt her now with a tiny cut to her finger, and explains how he manipulated the situation with Kwur to end with the destruction of the Gehenna outpost and her brought into the future straight to her eighteenth birthday. He also explains that the specific time-travel spell he used erased Tabbris’s recall connection to her, leaving the Seosten girl unable to come to her aid until she physically possesses her again. Left with no allies or choice, Flick agrees to have Fossor escort her to see her mother. 

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12 comments

  1. Eeesh, well, that’s certainly one way to start a birthday, huh? Here’s hoping Flick and her mother can get out of this before things get too bad. Thanks for reading anyway! Hope you all have a wonderful day, week, whatever. If you’d like to hit the Top Web Fiction voting, you can do so by clicking here, and your tags are: Felicity Chambers, Flick, Fossor, Honestly‚ Fossor‚ If You Call Her ‘My Girl’ One More Time‚ The Collective Willpower Of Every Reader Wishing Your Head Would Explode Might Just Do The Trick., I’m Pretty Sure The Audience Could Come Up With Better Words For You Than Patient‚ Fossor., Well That’s Not A Confusing Arc Title Or Anything.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So next chapter we’ll finally see Joselyn through Flick’s eyes. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. The details Flick takes notice of will say a lot. Will she be fooled by Joselyn’s brave face? Is she going to be surprised that they’re probably close to the same height after Joselyn’s been figuratively built up in her head for so long? Etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My best guess is that Josselyn has either had some help from a certain boogey’man’ to prepare for this moment, she is likely going to either do something to create the situation we saw ages ago, sending Flick forward in time a number of years.

    I don’t think any one is gonna die, Joselyn is obviously very important to Fossor’s plans, likely because of her previous council level connection to the Edge.

    Fossor has also created a span of time in which Flick isn’t in this time stream, meaning that with Nick’s help, she can travel back and forth between the present and future of this timeline, so long as she doesn’t go to the same place twice. Likely giving her the ability to co-ordinate the attack on Fossor to facilitate Josselyn’s rescue.

    She will need to be circumspect about it, because if Fossor finds out, then he will know that his plan has failed before it Flick’s 18th, which may lead to a deviation in events that makes whatever sent Flick to the future no longer occur, which might lead to a paradox, which is… Undesirable.

    Well that’s my wild speculation out of the way, I honestly have no Idea how Flick ends up back in Seosten space, especially in the future, rather keen to find out though!

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  4. Before I get into the rest of it, I just want to say how much I love both of your stories and really enjoy reading them.
    That said, im extremely unhappy with the way this development of the story was executed. Not the end result, I always expected Felicity to get captured at least briefly, but the method in which it happened.
    You gave Fossor plot armor. I understand he is suppose to be this crazy powerful Necromancer that plans ahead for everything, but this felt super unrealistic. Gaia might be gone, but Felicity is still surrounded by people several thousand years old, many of which have dealt with Fossor before. So I find it EXTREMELY impossible that none of those people had prepared for a situation where she gets taken before they can defend her.
    Seriously, think about this in reverse. If a protagonist was trying to accomplish what Fossor did, they would hit endless snags and possibly fail. Fossor just conveniently had everything fall in place every time he acted, at every stage of his plan. No snags, no hiccups, even Ammon dying wasn’t any hindrance, and in the story he feels like a separate villain anyways.
    I’ll keep reading, but this section of the story destroyed my immersion. Hoping there’s something better coming that proves me wrong.

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    1. Hey, I’m glad you’re generally enjoying both stories so far. I’m sorry you didn’t like this, and you make some good points. But I disagree that it’s that unbelievable. The fact that Fossor planned his attack early, involved time travel, and used someone as dangerous as Kwur for a distraction were all huge points that allowed this to blindside the people around Flick. Remember, Flick spent all last year dealing with these huge threats that popped up, so no one actually thought ‘Hmm, this incredibly dangerous supervillain monster is making waves three weeks before Flick’s birthday, I bet he’s working with Fossor.’

      They did prepare to protect Flick. But there’s not much they could’ve done at this point. They were prepared to lock her down when the time came, but Fossor made his move weeks early. And he is also several thousand years old, with an entire planet full of resources to throw into the fire to fuel his magic. It’s not that he conveniently had everything fall into his lap, it’s that he planned everything to end up this way. He had Kwur for a distraction, stepped in when needed to nudge things along, and then just blew a bunch of power into a time travel spell to yank Flick to him. Hell, the time travel spell even disabled the protection spells they used.

      Please, feel absolutely free to feel how you like. That’s totally fine. I’d even be perfectly willing to talk it through a bit more as to what specific points you feel were unbelievable. What parts of what happened feel unreasonable or impossible to believe? What parts broke your immersion, given Fossor has thousands of years of experience and set his plan in motion ten years ago, while the people opposing him have had less than a year to prepare?

      That’s absolutely not me dismissing your thoughts, not in the least. I would genuinely enjoy seeing what you think and perhaps answer what I can.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First, I’m sorry I had such a hard edge on that, I wrote it immediately after reading the chapter. After thinking about it a bit, there’s two small things that I think added up to a big break in immersion.
        A. Out of necessity, we were kept so in the dark about Fossor’s movements that we didn’t see all the work he put in to make this happen. There were some side stories somewhat alluding to him moving behind the scenes, but at least to me it didn’t feel like enough to back this kind of big move. While a ton of crazy strong people have him actively on their radar. We had far more show of how Gaia led up to casting her spell, and in many ways it wasn’t as major(didn’t need sacrifices). I’m not really sure how this could’ve been improved without giving too much away to make the act a surprise,
        B. The scene where the spell goes off, sending Flick forward. Everything about how that happened felt wrong. First, Larees picked the dude up, and she’s a servant of Ghenna(loosely). But she doesn’t have any way to know he’s dead? There’s already been a character publicly known to have been dead and controlled for months, but this isn’t an active check done around Flick? They just bring dude right into the room without ANYONE checking him out? Even though he is already suspicious as hell? It just feels like everything concerning her safety has been put off, which doesn’t track with the characters we know. I think it would have felt a lot more natural(and more surprising) if Flick had basically just walked around a corner and ran into Azlee. Like, SURPRISE I found the dude I was looking for at a gas station and he turns around and BOOM. He was already in the wind to begin with, and him getting caught was obviously intentional(which feels like poor planning on Fossors part considering the earlier mentioned).

        Side note, the part with the Ghenna base exploding was a nice touch, and convincing as he managed to get everyone in one go. Shame on Ghenna for bad re-entry practices though xD

        Like

      2. Afterthought:
        On point B(and somewhat addressing point A), I think a really cool way to spin it would have been scenes of Dare, Wyatt, etc prepping her with anti-teleportation spells, but when Azlee grabs her it’s him teleporting and her going for the ride. Fine print being that the protection only prevents her from being targeted by teleportation spells.

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      3. Oh yeah, you have some interesting points. And no worries about having a hard edge, it’s completely fine. I understand. Like I said, you have some interesting/good points. I still stick by what I had happen as making sense, but I totally get your feelings. Just a difference of opinion, and that’s fine. Thanks for giving me your thoughts, and how you would have made it better. That would’ve been quite interesting to go with too.

        The one thing I will say is that they have no reason to run a full, super in-depth check someone for being undead when they have no way of knowing Fossor was in any way involved in the situation. Larees tracked him down at a motel on the edge of the strip and dragged him back there specifically to be taken back to Gehenna, there was no real reason for her to think ‘he’s undead and I’m taking him to where Flick is.’ To me, *that* would have been an unbelievable leap of logic for her to make. She found him hiding out in a rundown motel, what reason does she have for ‘Fossor trap’ to even pop into her head? As far as they knew, Kwur was the problem and he had been dealt with.

        But again, that’s just my opinion and why I think my way is still appropriate. You are absolutely free to disagree.

        Liked by 1 person

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