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The First Days - Mal

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Home on the Isle of the Lost
The First Days

Part 1:

My name is Maleficent Emory le Fey, I’ve live the entirety of my life in captivity.

Mind you I am currently six years old and recounting my days as I count down what very possibly could be my end in twelve months.

I can even pinpoint everything started to change just three years ago.

And I can thank my oldest sister Malefactress for it.

In case you are wondering I have three older siblings in total. My two sisters, Malefic and Malefactress, who both would rather see me dead, and Malevolent, the third born, and my Mother’s pride and joy, who raised me from infancy to the age of three when I was enrolled at Dragon High.

Malevolent and I are a lot a like, sometimes to much. Someday’s, he’s the person I want to be around, other days I’d rather subject myself to spending times with Malefactress or Malefic. Which explains why I hide around the Jolly Roger, and close to the butcher shop in the main market to avoid all them on those days.

Not that they don’t have their uses. The main one being how to avoid the overseer of the Isle, the second Warden, Maleficent Alice le Fay, of the Moor, our Mother.

Mother’s favorite would always be my brother, the deviant he is. If he was half as sly, and a third as evil as he was now, she wouldn’t look twice at him.

Malefactress, the oldest of us, was a diva. When she was a student she attended all classes for fashion, plays, dance, everything. When she came of age, graduating from school at seventeen. She didn’t follow the traditions of the Isle, she didn’t find work, didn’t earn here keep. Really the only thing that changed, was her ‘passion’ was not longer excused as school work, she could use ‘free expression’.

This led to the one of the first decree that led to the countdown of my days in Bargain Castle.

Mother could only take so much. I had just started attending school that year at the age of three, but I could remember Mother’s declaration, like it was yesterday.

All four of us had been gathered into Mother’s ‘hall’ once classes released for the day. She’d been pacing again, and the papers thrown about her mad scribblings leading up to this meeting, meant only one thing, Mother was making a decree. The last one, made it possible for me to attend school, so she didn’t have to look at her failure.

Like Malefactress, Mother had a thing for dramatics, but we all did, at least a little bit. “Children!” She cackled, clapping her hands before her throne. “It has been decided, since your all in school we need to make plans for afterwards. God know Maleficent will need it.” Her dig at my expense, was sadly a very normal occurrence.

Malevolent rolled his eyes, making me almost smile, we both knew it was because Mother didn’t like having Malefactress under foot, and making her work was like asking to have your head bashed in, over and over again.

“When you become adults, you each get to stake claim on your own business on the Isle!” She seemed so pleased, and even grinned at most of the surprised noises that we couldn’t contain. “Any property but my castle. You could take Hell Hall for all I care, but you have to do it alone. Though if you can convince Goblins to help you, take them.” Her cackle was nearly infectious.

Malefactress was nearly giddy. “Can I choose one now Mommy?” I withhold my urge to roll my eyes, something I’d started picking up from Malevolent.

Mother sighed, “Let me get there. You can take your pick, but before any of you can make your move on your establishments, I have to approve them. If you fail, there are no redos you come back and you work for me.” Malefactress looked reluctant to take it, even though she had been excited prior. Seeing it Mother was quick to add on to her new plan, unwilling to put up with her anymore, “And you have upto one year to make your choice after your an adult before that becomes default.”

Malefactress, nodded slightly discouraged and grim, “I’ll let you know soon.” Was her only response. Stupid was not something I could ever call her, nor my other siblings.

A week later, in her usual dramatic fashion, Malefactress made her claim on the higher end entertainment house the school sometimes utilized for their dance and acting facilities when the main hall was being used for ‘standard training’, or what might better be described as the worst class in hell.

When the beatings at home weren’t enough, the teachers beat us back as well. With the entertainment house and stage gone, ‘standard training’ was canceled.

And maybe Malefactress’ stupid obsession wasn’t all useless.

With the aid of goblins Malefactress seized the stage and the house baring out the rabble and common folk. Inside her small stronghold, none of us heard from her for 48 hours, exactly as dictated by the customs rules and regulations.

Mother had her sane moments, rare they were, when she first seized control of the isle certain customs were put into place. One was for those who come to want a property, to avoid even more conflict and discruction to the shambles we populate, you must make your claim to Maleficent. To do so you would have to pay your claim barter, one of two things would happen next. One you would either get 48 hours to hold fort and defend your new lot, or two you would be beaten and thrown out.

Once a place was established, it could only be taken two ways.

The first option was by a claim approved by Maleficent, after its made you’d have to secure and guard the establishment, if you could not handle the current owner, or kill him, your claim was forfeit, and you would be forced into Maleficent’s employment.

And the second option, if the established claim is left unaccounted for by any persons under employment of the sanctioned claim for ninety days, the claim is invalid, and they are not able to counter the claim without killing or beating to surrender the new holder of the claim. If the new holder loses, the old claim is renewed.

With Malefactress’ claim established and the house secure. No one was able to counter her, and no one would win a claim on the property as one of the Isle Heirs.

Now for Malefic, she was a potioneer. After coming of age at sixteen, just half a year later, Mother let her take her pick of anywhere on the Isle to start her business. Being the studious child, and clearly well aquitted for the position. She gained Mother's approval, asking for permission to take over one of the family properties, the Apothecary.

She likely should have waited for a better day, as Mother clearly wasn’t all there as she cackled with amusement at her words, “You’d fight me for the claim?”

“Of course I would not, it is your business.” the way Malefic spoke always felt like I was selling my soul, but then again, you should never thank a fairy, or make a deal with one. “However I just feel so bad, you have so much work to do around here, and the goblins and little silly Maleficent to look after, I thought I could help you out taking control of such a tedious task.”

Mother laughed, slapping a hand on the edge of her throne. She startled the poor goblin by her feet. “Good girl, it's yours for a fee!” Malefic and Mother spoke for a few minutes as the rest of us sat around. Trying to not roll our eyes at Malefic’s smug smile.

As the meeting came to a close and we began to leave, Mother’s voice stopped us at the throne room entrance, “And remember, family doesn’t pay.” Malefic nodded, it was the same for when Mother controlled it.

Mother didn’t want grandchildren, and sick kids meant weakness in the castle, and weakness in the castle is weakness on her hold on the isle. With two children out of her castle, she only had to wait for Malevolent and myself to come of age.

Based on the fact I could walk circles around my teachers, and my classmates were trash at the age of four was showing good signs that Mother would be child free soon. Malevolent himself had slowed down his graduation to work on his claim, he knew it was going to take a lot, or at least that’s what he’d told me when he sat me down to ‘help’ me with my work.

And maybe I was a bit like Malefic but hey, at least half truths were still truths. The pains of being Fae.

It took another two years just before the school holiday that Malevolent made his move. Mother was impressed at the timing, thinking not much of it she approved his claim.

And with in 48 hours Serpent Hall, Witches School, Dragon High, and fourteen small brick buildings in their respective facilities were within iron fencing. No one even realized the schools were taken until the teachers came back. The three schools were all banded together under the name Dragon Hall.

None of them were happy, and when they got re evaluated and courses overhauled to encompass more material and trades. But they kept their mouth shut on the matters. No one crossed Maleficent or her laws.

And every teacher in the school knew better than to try and best Malevolent.

If Malefactress got her dramatics, Malefic her silver tongue, Malevolent got her obsession.

There was nothing Malevolent couldn’t accomplish if he wanted to.

Honestly his plan was by far my favorite, and the pact would work well in my favor once I graduated. We just had to play a waiting game while he paid me to help him out.

So when Malefic went to Mother demanding his claim undone, he made his move.

Like I said earlier, brother has always been Mother’s favorite. He was twice as cunning and three times as aggressive than most villains subjugated to the Isle, he had more ambition than he could use at home, and he had her favor simply for raising me.

Malevolent could only grin at her anger. “What’s the problem with me running the school dear sister, scared you’ll be out of business.” He pushed her shoulder, causing the calmer sister to lunge, because we all knew it was true, part of the course changes included potioneering, not a lot of kids were interested, and only I was in the class, for his arguments sake, but we didn’t say that.

“Enough!” Mother snarled at long last, “Malevolent made his claim, and I am not refuting it. Malevolent get rid of the class, I will not have idiots brewing death to kill us all!”

See her favorite. I grinned into my potioneering textbook that Malevolent wrote up for his mock class, exactly where she was glaring. I was technically learning to brew from her as well, being a skill that is a must for the family if we’re in a pinch, but never for sanity sake.

Malevolent glanced at me with a smirk, “I’ll consider it, but since I do have a class currently taking it, I think I need a little something for my troubles to do it. After all it is technically an act against my claim to make me do anything in my property, Mother.”

Mother scowled before easing into a smirk herself, “That is the law. Name your price, I’m sure Malefic would rather not have to revert back to my lacky.”

Malevolent waved off her offer, “Nothing so extreme, I just want this behind us. A promise as fairies will do, between the five of us. Once a claim in the families made no one in the family can refute it, nor can they demand a change.”

Malefactress who’d been flipping through her latest drama she’d been preparing for the stage nearly ripped the pages, “What!” she snapped papers crinkling, “Why on earth would I ever--”

“I see no issue in the pact.” Mother cut her off, “I bind you and you bind to me, a claim by blood is a claim by blood.” Malefactress broke eye contact with Mother, we each did as she met our eyes. “Mob, my chalice and my book!” A grumpy goblin near the entrance nodded, scurrying away. They no longer waited on her feet, several outsiders were now her property bound by contract, unable to leave.

The chalice was something we were all familiar with, Fae were Fae by blood and by blood we’d always be. The barrier was a hindrance, but magic still existed on the isle. True it was the stronger magically inclined could tap into it, for moments at a time, but they were all the same, all like my mother.

Villains, are predictable, the same could be said about the rest of the residents, they look for comfort in any place they can.

Owning a business allowed you control and power over others, having a home, gave you safety others can’t have, food was to be taken by the strong, while the weak lost. It was all about survival of the fittest.

Anyone who could use magic here, wasted it on stupid whims, looking for comfort.

The barrier trapped us all here, cut off from the magic of the world, but it didn’t cut us off from the magic of life.

Every person that lives and breaths gives of magical essence, the essence of life. This can be harnessed into magical powers and spells, or binding contract between Fae with a blood chalice.

For us, a blood contract is much more than just our Fae lineage tying us together, it ties the contract together by the magic of life within us all, anyone to break the contract, or to false seal the pact, will perish.

Mob hobbled back in with the chalice, and the book of Fae Mother sent for. Gor, one of Mother’s slaves, came in behind him, hobbling with the wrapped bag filled with the ceremonial knives.

Shooing them and the rest of her staff and slaves away. We all moved to stand in a circle around Malevolent, whom had taken the chalice from Mob, placed it in my hands.

Mother rolled her eyes. “Mal is the only one without claim, there for the magic can’t favor any one of us, nor herself when she makes her claim.” was he only response, it was enough to keep all our mouths shut.

One by one each of my family members from oldest claim to newest sliced their palm from heart line, to fame line, as we were tying life's blood to pact and pact to claim.

When it's my turn I don't remove my hands from the sides of the chalice, doing so would break the pact, I simply have to wait for Mother to continue the ritual for me. Malevolent may have suggested the pact, and chosen me to ground it, but Mother was the leader of the Fae in this room, and the leader of the Moor once long ago.

I can’t help but watch as she moves towards me, Mother has always had a look of grace and power in her features, one that’s amplified beneath the lull of magic around us, the heavy scent of blood, and essence of magic weighing in the room. Only the iron in the castle taints the air.

And yet another bad thing about the isle is that over 90% of the materials here are iron. So for the fae, we’re in hell, we burn on contact and when in close proximity for too long to metal we can contract iron sickness.

Unfortunately for the rest of the isle, the Fairy fucking Godmother of Cinderella didn’t think about that, the rest of the royalty who joined together to make the United States of Auradon, didn’t think about that, and all the other fuckers out there didn’t think about that.

Why is the fact fae are allergic to iron important. Simple, when you lock people under a magic barrier cutting them off from the outside world, and trapping them in a large cloud of life's magic, mutations happen. And every single inhabitant on the isle is allergic to iron, barring one exception.

Goblins are immune to the barrier and the iron poisoning. The only difficulty is, when we hit the barrier were held in. When a goblin does, they are torn to shreds.

Choosing to ignore the stench of Iron I tilt my chin up exposing the soft flesh of my neck and the zipper of my jacket. From the heart line to the fame line on your palm, works the same as from the center point on your throat straight down to the middle of your heart.

Mother, is quick, but it is far from painless, but I’ve learned to endure worse in my six years. I feel the blood more than I see it before bringing the cup to my heart as the blood spills from the wound. Letting the blood flow for a moment I breathe, then move it back to the original height I had held it at.

My jacket is left open, my shirt still cut from where Mother had sliced, but the ritual continues. It takes binding words, and thoughts. And I follow in line, voice strong despite the blood that's beginning to pool around our feet. There hands are still dripping as they hold the wound open with their fingernails, the crimson pool under our feet grounds us together.

When the words are spoken the chalice is raised to their lips and then to each person following them accepting the pact, until each member has spoken and in turn been accepted to the pact.

In the hours afterwards, I dream of drowning in blood, and the feeling of magic in my veins.

The days after my brothers claim was complete, and the ritual done, I prepared for what was to come.

It was inevitable and considering I’d gotten into yet another courtyard fight with Carlos de Vil.

And really if only Lady Trumaine didn’t feel the need to make us partners again for class. Historically the two of us have never gotten along since he joined school when we were four.

Graduates of Dragon Hall can only graduate after passing the required criteria set by the founding of the school. Malevolent may have added things, but he couldn’t remove the requirements.

The system was flawed, big time.

See there were two levels of classes, Henchmen and Villains. Even with the new over hall the average age of graduation still remains at seventeen.

My siblings all met or beat that average.

The Henchmen courses, focused primarily on the support roles. They had weight training, combat training, basic literature, basic math, basic evil history, basic scheming, and finally basic villain aid.

Really they were treated like fucking idiots.

And the only reason mother didn’t place me in with them, no matter how much of an idiot she thinks I am, or how useless she claims me to be, was because it would look bad to have a le Fay as a henchman, she’d lose her credibility.

Unlike the Evil Queen, whose daughter did attend the final henchman course year after being homeschooled. No child can come of age without attending one of the schools on the isle. Gwenevieve Yavvon Royal, was a bitch, but she knew how to sow from what my brother had told me.

The Villain classes were set to function in two tiers.

The First Tier was you standard Classes, Weight Training, Combat Training, Evasion Training, Pain Training, Evil Statistics, Evil History, Statistics on Henchman, intermediate or advanced Scheming, Selfies and Me, intermediate or advanced Mathematics, intermediate or advanced literature, calligraphy, intermediate or advanced trapping, intermediate or advanced logic, intermediate or advanced strategy, and intermediate or advanced planning.

Like I said they treat henchman like fucking idiots. But don’t worry that was only tier one, it gets better.

The Second Tier is what normally appears as a breeze, only these classes you must be partnered with another Villain level student of the opposite gender, in some cases groups of three may be made if one gender has more students. At the start of each year partners for all Tier 2 classes are assigned for the year. No trading.

What the heck class does ential, well... agony.

Lets see there's eight course with twelve years of work, and graduation requirements I simply don’t agree with.

You’ve got, Ballroom Dance, with fourteen standard dances memorized, and eight dances prompted under evaluation to be learned in an hour.

Then Choreographed Dance, needing six original pieces, and two pieces made on the go during evaluation based on the music provided.

Plus Foods class, both parties must know how to cook, together in the same space, they have to cook four meals and set the table three times in the settings casual, formal, and picnic, each party for settings will be tested separately, and both parties setups should match exactly.

Lets throw in Language class, which is centered on the nineteen common languages of the isle and their memorization. Both parties must memorize and match speech patterns, accents, and fluency. The group will be tested individually and expected to hold a conversation on their partnership. Both stories must match, or the group fails.

Okay and Acting, the pair/group must create three plays, musicals, or stories told through dance to be acted on stage. Their supporting roles will be the Villain Aid class. If the Plays, musicals or Dance stories are not completed by the time the Villain Aid class arrives for the first rehearsal, the group fails.

Of course adding Art, well you’d think it was ais simple class, four original art projects must be completed by the pair/group under supervision, they are to listen to art lecture in class and take notes, half way through class the parties are assigned to compare and discuss notes.

For some reason, Fashion class is a thing, both parties must make clothing designs together while learning the history and different fashions of history and the isle. And for their final project they both will be assigned the same topic of style and expected to make an outfit design for their partner, both outfits and color pallets should match for the team to pass, parties are tested separately.

I don’t even know why, but finally Courting, is a class on customs of courting and proper etiquette expected of ladies and gentlemen. The final test is for the pair/group to show proper courting during evaluation which is made at the discretion of the teacher. A paper exam on the history of courting and proper techniques will also be administered. Proper etiquette is a requirement to be used in ballroom dance, if you fail one you fail both.

Which all in the long run mean, Carlos and I fail every year, because every year without fail since I was four years old the little Devil has been my partner.

And we’d have been on track to fail, if it wasn’t for my nosy brother.

Mother was pleased to see Malevolent by the doors to her office, she’d been looking forward to graduate time, new henchmen, and new blood were always fun. Lots of spirits to crush.

I wish I hadn’t been present when he’d showed up, Mother and I’d been speaking yet again on what she’d expected of me when I saw the look of excitement as the door opened.

“Mother, Mal, I hoped we could all sit down and talk.” Mother frowns bemused, and rightfully so.

With a grimace and a sigh I sink lower into the chair I’m occupying.

In seconds Mother’s eyes fill with anger and disappointment, her eyes burning, “What's this about?” She doesn’t pause for long before turning on me. “I’ll pull Mal from school, you fucking embarrassment.” I can’t hold back my groan of pain as I unite my head with the surface of the table covering it with my hands.

I see Malevolent rolls his eyes as I glance up, “Oh don’t pull her, she’s tied for the highest ever graduating score on the entire island. The issue is she’s also been on the evaluation books for graduation for the last two years.” his drawl was enough for me to know he wasn’t angry at me, more so confused, and hurt that I didn’t trust him with this.

Mother actually looks at me, the anger is simmering, but she’s studying me like she isn’t sure I’m real. “Explain, Maleficent.”

Mother was one of the only ones to ever use my full name, and it never bodes well for me. She’d named me after herself when I was born a carbon copy of her. Every year she tells me on my birthday how much she can’t wait to have the chance to steal my life, my youth, and my body. When she uses my full name, she’s found another thing she wants, I’m not meant to be useful, I’m meant to be her chance at a second life, like suddenly I could grow her wings back, and return her to the Moor.

No my full name was never a good thing. “Doesn’t really matter, can’t pass tier two classes, I’m partnered with the fucking Devil again, same as the past two years. So, we’ll fail again because he’s a fucking idiot prick and they know he would rather gut them then listen to them on tier two garbage.” I sound like my age for once, I was more than a decade younger than the graduate average. Considering I was ready to graduate my first year, only not signing up due to my partner dying a week before exam time.

Carlos is always the one signing us up, mostly to piss me off, but sometimes I get the feeling he just doesn’t want to go home, not when his cousin is now gone out working late at the butcher shop, had been for a few years now.

Malevolent’s answering laugh held no humor, “Fucking de Vil’s are useless, but they have the brains for Villain work, and the scare the Henchmen teacher. I got partnered with his cousin several times, we never worked out, not saying Gilly was much better, but I could find common ground with him, he talked.” He commented, “But that's the difference, your de Vil talks Mal, and he has grades that are on par with yours, there is no way you two won't be partnered unless one of your grades tank, and at this point we’re out of material to teach you in Tier One, we’ve had to relegate those to Trade school and supervised study.” He snapped. See some days I want to talk to the asshole, others I don’t. This is a perfect example of when I clearly don’t.

I can feel Mother’s eyes on us, calculating all out comes as I lean in to respond, if she isn’t interrupting, I’m not waiting. “Do you realize how many times we’ve been relegated to the infirmary because the fucker has a god damn short fuse. We’re more likely to kill each other than complete even one assignment for tier two together. If they’d fucking passes us on solo work or give us fucking henchman we’d not have this goddamn problem!” my words are bitten short, my anger from that morning made me wish I’d punched Carlos, it would have been better than this.

Malevolent is more hyped than I’d seen him in years, his hands are white wrapped on the edge of the table. “Tradition, I can’t ever change that. Not ever Mal!” His words are hissed between his teeth his chair clatters backwards with his quick move to stand.

“Then don’t expect me to go die for this stupid tradition, the dick says two words max, I fucking tutor henchman, and work in the entertainment houses for bonus credit, I complete every assignment outside to the T, and all the ones they assign I have mastered, it's their problem if I don’t have a partner who actual works with me, or just shuts up and follows. Hell, if he’d lead I’d fucking take it, if it meant never having to see him again!” I’m not sure where in my tirade that I stood but my chair at least stayed standing as my hands laid splayed out on the table.

Mother’s chuckle at our outburst, popped the silence that had descended, “We’ll make a pact the three of us. Mal has to graduate partnered with the de Vil boy this year, or I will pull her from school and we will sign a work contract together.” The sugar sweet voice screamed for me to run, but the idea was already made, and I still wasn’t an adult in anyone's eyes, I had no out.

Malevolent, finally realized what he’d done, his eyes widened marginally, my siblings didn’t know why I was named Maleficent, nor did they know the promises my mother made for the day I became hers. But he knew enough to know that belonging to Mother was a fate worse than death, a fate worse than the Isle, or a life completely lost from magic.

He knew because we’ve all lived our lives in captivity, he found freedom, in a small place his own, but he might have just sold my chance. “If Mal doesn’t graduate, I would still like her to assist with classes, she is right, even with my temper tantrum, she does a marvelous job preparing the henchman.”

“For the pact, she can help when I don’t need her.” was her only response.

Thinking quick, there is no out, even if he secure some out of freedom for a moment, to be relegated back to the hell called school for it, but I wasn’t a princess, or a free fairy in the Moor, no one was going to save me, and I was not going to follow the failed protector of Fae. “When I graduate this year, I get my claim, no arguments, I’ll still follow customs to complete it, but you Mother, can’t say no to it, no matter what it may be, barring I do not try for you castle. During the school year for this graduating year, I am allowed free passage at any time through the isle and to the castle gate so that I can meet with my partner to accomplish twelve years of tier two course assignments, and complete the prerequisite to graduating.” My words come out slightly faster and breathy than I like, but they’ll be enough. “My time out of school is to be unsupervised.” I add for an afterthought, when working with a Devil, be prepared to break even the most basic isle customs.

“It’s a pact.” Mother smiled, hey eyes show she’s already thought she’s won.

And the three of us write the contract word for word for the next four hours, and with chalice and blood, word and right, the pact is seal.

That night as I lay in my room gazing at the plants lining the sill of my window, I can help the hope in my chest.

My claim had always been a long shot since the first time I set eyes on it when I was three, my brother taught me to not be stupid, to not be naive, but there was hope.

And if dancing with the Devil, quite literally, gave me even just one of my dreams, then so be it.

I know I’m not good.

I dream of an empire.

I dream of freedom.

I dream of Fae Lands, and Magic on the air and in my bones.

I dream of bathing in blood, and magic on my tongue.

And in the morning I awake long before sunrise, something I have always done.

Curfew on the Isle doesn’t permit any none adult to be out two hours from sundown without obtaining a permit.

After classes at Dragon Hall, all students must return home within the one hour allotted time, to receive a signed pass from their Warden. Without the signed pass or a permit allowing access to the Isle without escort, students are confined to their homes and usually forced into labor of some sort by their Warden.

The same could be said for Mornings unfortunately.

Students are only allowed outside one hour before classes begin for the day.

Today would be the start of something different for me. I finally had the means to obtain a curfew pass, something students dream about.

Most passes are single use, but Mother wasn’t stupid, while she wanted me to fail, she also knew if I did her hold on the Isle would weaken, even just the slightest bit worried the old reptile. So she’d given formal permission for an open pass.

As the day began, and I waited to leave and head for the old crocodile herself.

Madame Medusa, worked for my mother in the Isle permit office, she is the only person who can give permits upon word of Maleficent of the Moor, and falsified permit claims, are brought to mother, and for record sake, any certified claims, are kept on file, locked in one of the biggest, most difficult safes to reach on the Isle.

Security on the Isle, outside of Auradon’s influence, also fell to my mother. In most cases her businesses were run by Goblins, leaving the people in her employment to work as enforcers, people whom make sure no one is breaking mothers law. They check up on the Madame, and the Madame on them.

The enforcers consisted of Amos Slade, Gaston, The Big Bad Wolf, Shere Khan, Kaa, Isaac who was the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and Shan Yu and the Hun, and some other sissy ants mother put there to keep her updated. Mother still knows everything they say and do without them of course. She had eyes and ears everywhere, it made being her daughter hard, it made freedom hard.

Most cases I’d stay in my room after school, she couldn’t reach me here, not since the old stairwell to the tower collapsed, if I wasn’t so determined to find my space away from her, I might not have been so willing to climb one hundred feet up crumbling castle wall.

My only saving grace was when the stairs fell, the tower tipped onto the mountain of Iron. It supported the remaining stairways, and rooms of the upper tower, but to leave you could only go down, outside was toxic, the land covered in iron bars, and wreckage left behind after the first great iron sickness, no one traversed the mountain, and I was as close as you could get before the sickness could reach you.

Leaving my room, I walked up the rest of what had been left of the stairs, there were three rooms above mine, ones I used for my own projects.

The first room couldn’t be accessed from the hall, but through a small hole in the wall of room three.

It wasn’t much, but the small agricultural farm inside produced enough food for one person to eat comfortably on the isle. Something I’d need to be able to copy no matter what I’d make my claim on.

Room two contained every book, and written word I’ve found on the isle, particularly in the dump called the harbor. Knowledge, was not something to take lightly. Not here on the Isle, it could mean life or death.

The only person who really gave me a challenge was the Devil in that department. He had more knowledge on some of the subjects taught than the teachers. Something that shouldn’t be possible, when they had all the knowledge available to them on the outside. Only they didn’t because they took it for granted. They thought, once I win this, all of it will be mine. What idiots. Get the knowledge first than take over, emotions are the end of all evil and good, too much heart, not enough brain.

Though, I can’t say I’m much better, but at least in my efforts to get away from mother, and keep away from family, I’ve only run into issues when the Devil is involved.

I still choose knowledge first over beating his face in, and I could still see that since the incident yesterday.

Rubbing the palm of my bandaged hand against my knee, room three, I push open the old wood and iron door, its hinges protesting to the motion. It was one of the few places even when she could reach it mother didn’t go. The door was braced with iron, the handle and lock always engaged, even the windows were barred with iron. It was a place she avoided with at all costs, she even forbids the goblins from it, evil knows what they could do without constant supervision.

Or so Mother thinks.

Her tirades are a bit winded, and a far bit stupid.

But considering she’d died and was magicked back to life by an idiot named the Fairy Godmother and the moron Merlin, brain damage was expected.

Let’s not forget the torment and tortures of the Isle, and the iron poisoning we breathe daily.

Room three held the most important things of all. Every single blueprint and plan I’ve found, and every single one I’ve made or modified.

Room three held the answers to how I would survive when I graduated. And if all went right this morning.

I don’t dilly dally grabbing my bag, coat, and staff I’d left in here late last night after the ceremony. I had places to be today, with only an hour of freedom before class to get the permit I wanted.

Tying the worn cloth black jacket around my waist and slinging my bag around my body to rest protectively near my dominant hand, where I held my staff, I take off back the way I’d come locking the third room behind me. The way down the tower, is tortuous and long, but I’ve made it several times in the last year I moved up to the room, that it doesn’t provide much challenge anymore.

Auradon had some odd ideas to helping the villains.

They put up inspirational posters, and send newspapers of news on the mainland, the run constant commercials on the main square tv’s about being good.

TV’s that are indestructible and unmovable due to binding eternal magic not even the barrier can stop.

They also put clocks everywhere, including the top of the barrier. And with each clock an inspirational quote about goodness. I’ve defaced most of them, and the posters, and the TV’s, but every night at midnight they are sparkling clean.

For a place that isn’t supposed to have magic, we sure have a lot.

Note my sarcasm.

Magic isn’t rare, powerful magic that isn’t ritual or blood based, now that’s rare.

Glancing at the sparkling clean white clock, I tap my foot. I may be getting my permit today, but I still had to follow curfew laws for now. As the clock hands hit five, I’m already down the front path of the castle making my way to the permit house.

The old crocodile’s eyes zero in on me the moment I enter her building.

It was an old one level brick home, one of the very few places with no iron on it. It didn’t have an actual roof when she’d began working in the building, but the goblins fixed that, aluminum sheet metal from one of the falling warehouses was moved and fastened down for the protection of the pass office.

Protection from storm season mostly, but thefts too.

“What do you want.” Madame Medusa had seen better days, most of the Isle’s original inhabitants had, but to be fair they weren’t born in captivity, nor with wardens breathing down our necks like we’re the reason they are here. “Your Mommy send you to check up on me. I know how to do my goddamn job better than a little girl!” Her mellow dramatics, have only improved in magnitude now. No diamonds or riches to find in her shop. Just a steady flow of food to keep her happy.

Madame Medusa didn’t show skin and bones like most, or muscle like others, she was one of the biggest people on the isle with actual fat on her bones. All because Mother kept her fed, and Medusa did her job to the T for it.

Pulling out my papers, I hand them to her, ignoring her screeching. Medusa snatched the papers reading through them several times before grimacing. “One open pass for the princess it seems.” She drawls out, disgust dripping from her words.

I was fully aware a pass like this would get me no friends, but considering most of the school assumed I already had one and never used it, well, I already didn’t have friends. What six-year-old needs them, let alone a child of a villain for that matter.

Now enemies, I really could live without.

A quarter to six Medusa finally pushed me my pass and completed paperwork to file with the school and with mother that night. “You got what you came for, get out of my sight.” She snapped.

Checking through the papers quickly, I nod before moving out the door. Medusa may be angry, but she isn’t stupid. Mother doesn’t like me, but attacking me is still an attack on her. She won’t risk losing her food source, not over something like this.

I made it to Dragon hall, five minutes later and up to filling in two.

I didn’t have class per say until closer to eleven, but like my lovely brother said last night, I was scheduled for supervised time with the Devil. Which really means being crammed in a tiny room with one table and two chairs, and no way out. The one door will be locked until we’re released.

Unsurprisingly, my nemesis was already in the room as the door swung shut and the lock clicked in place.

I wanted to get the conversation done, I really did. But the fact I was in school, under supervision, made me pause. I would get him to cooperate, but not now, or more like not here. Carlos was already seated on the table eyes closed, clearly trying to forget he’s in a four by four box, I am not. While most assume that the rooms are inescapable, they forget how small I am.

It would be a tight squeeze, and uncomfortable for the healing skin to rub against, but it was definingly better than this room. And if this twisted plan I had forming in my head was going to work, I was going to share this little secret. Glancing one last time at the other boy, I sigh, moving to the first chair dragging it across the concrete, once the chair Is snuggly in the corner. I move back over to the other chair.

Every other time I’d have just sat in silence by the small crack in the wall I’d tugged the chair to when he was in the room, something he’d clearly been expecting.

Carlos de Vil didn’t talk much, and when he did it was only when he wanted to, and when it was necessary, or what he deemed necessary. That often got him in trouble in school, if he wasn’t as smart as he was, he’d have been tossed out. And the same could have been said for Diego de Vil his cousin. The two were often seen together on the isle when the older cousin didn’t have to work, and if Carlos skipped no one tried to stop him, I didn’t call them Devils for nothing after all.

Clayton, Cruella’s longtime partner, had put a knife in Carlos’s hands at the age of three, while attended my first year of school, he was being taught how to hunt alongside his cousin. Clayton would have just taken Diego, if the boy could just speak up. Carlos was the only one to really understand the silent boy, hence the reason he got to come along.

The two were ruthless, and a pair of the best fighters on the isle, several of the Hun met their end when they had gone to capture Carlos when he skipped class. Class was tortures, especially to the Hun kids, all of our parents thought we deserved hell like they did, they didn’t think we could understand living here with them. We didn’t know any better.

And maybe they were right that we didn’t know better, but they were wrong to think they knew worse.

With my approach back to his table, I freeze when the glint of metal reaches my eyes. I wasn’t the only one armed, but I stayed still only moving to grab the edge of the other chair.

The knife was still in his hand as he rolled off the table on the other side, his silver eyes burned. He was ten pounds lighter, and seconds faster than me in close quarters. Carlos was one of the smartest people I knew, but that didn’t change the fact that he was more in tune with the baser instincts than almost anyone on the Isle, I’m not even sure Shere Khan, Kaa, or even the big bad wolf would survive against him. Some people think power alone is the most dangerous thing, but I know better. Power backed by intelligence, and skill are terrifying.

Breathing softly, I pull the chair out lifting it up to keep from dragging it too long on the ground.

It didn’t matter that I had a predator watching me, I still turned my back to him, not for the first time. He’d come close to killing me once, a surprise attaches too, but I still had enough of my own power, knowledge, and skill to keep me alive, or take him down with me.

We’d both missed the following week of school due to our injuries, that was the last time we fought with weapons. Survival of the fittest, even a small monkey can kill a cheetah, because one bite is enough to poison anyone.

And keeping Carlos alive had benefits, just as he knew killing me had cons.

Lifting the chair, I place the back two legs on the seat of the other chair before I wedge one into the back and the other into the crack on the wall. Ignoring Carlos would be a bad move, even still, he surprised me slightly when he comes up to my right. “Don’t know about you but I am not sticking around another four and a half hours for class, and unless you actually intend to work on our monstrosity project, I’m out.” My voice doesn’t waver as I hoist myself up on the chairs, the wall doesn’t even crumble beneath my weight.

On the adjacent wall, just above the iron candle holders is a small tunnel. The mortar was worn away by heat and humidity, and hidden in the shadows of the flames. There were only a couple places for foot holds, but I still found enough to push my way through.

Ignoring the pain in my chest I turn around slightly in the tunnel. Sticking my head back out into the room. His eyes snap up from where he’d been studying the wall and my foot holds. “If you do come, be back here by a quarter to eleven, I do not feel like having those cranky bats poking about for my tunnel, ‘k bye!” I scramble back. Its two feet from the room that a drop appears. It leads down to the dried-out irrigation system bellow the school. Its relatively easy to climb down, if you missed the ledge it was a hundred foot drop to the bottom.

Reaching the bottom of the wall I let go dropping the final nine feet, as my feet hit the ground I let my body fold and roll, breaking the impact tension.

It isn’t long before I hear a soft form landing to my right where I’d been working on one of blueprints. I was glad he’d followed, even if the way back will be harder to explain. But right now, that wasn’t what had me worried, no one comes down here, it was my hiding place, and sanctuary, I’d just willingly led one of the few people who have actively tried to kill me to it. I was at least fifty meters from where we dropped. Rolling up the papers, I cram them back into my bag as I lean back into the cool damp stone. “No one else knows about this place.” My voice is barely louder than a whisper, but the hollow passage carries it a small distance, “But we need to talk, and I’m not about to have my entire family and the Isle in on it.”

I’ve always been drawn to Carlos’ eyes, and it wasn’t because they were silver.

Nearly every descendant was born with silver or gold eyes, one of the mutations here. There are a few with bronze and copper, and several with very, very pale blues and greens, but those are the descendants of Cecaelia.

No, the reason his eyes always caught my attention was because of the look in them. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had Fae blood at this point, the look in them was one I saw in the mirror, if we didn’t get along like oil and water, we’d likely have been good partners. The two of us simply wanted separate things, and were way to competitive for our own good.

Carlos really should have a bell, I muse as he startles me for the second time appearing from the shadows by my side. You would think a boy with bright white hair would stick out of the darkness. “You got me here. Now what.” With how rough his voice sounds now I can only imagine how long it’s been since he’d last talked. Yesterday wasn’t some much an exchange of words as it was heated glares, and anger in our veins.

“I want to make a bargain.” Carlos would never take a deal, but a bargain means he has a shot at screwing me over, “I need to graduate before I lose all of my sanity. We both know trade schools a joke, and tier two is an even bigger joke. Please do not get me started on the possibility of being relegated to Villains Aid.” I grimace, even Carlos looks disgusted at the idea. “You give me your solo assignments for the classes on all material, and I will see to it that for Trade Class’s live assignment, we get put to work at the Giant Butcherboy’s shop alongside your cousin’s work hour.” Step one, get the assignments into one direction. Even passing just barely would be enough to graduate, that means any score above 50% with proven work, and documented hours of work under supervision, would be enough.

Carlos’ eyes watch me, “Every live assignment.”

“Every single one.” I confirm, not that I’d show up, Butcherboy and I don’t get along, for a fee I have no doubt he’d let me do what I want out of sight, and away from him.

Carlos nods once, “I’ll bring the papers, you get them once we’ve got our assignments.” He doesn’t wait for more before heading back the way we’d come.

Dancing with the Devil, was as exhausting as I remembered it being before we nearly killed each other.

Once the both of us were back up in the room, Carlos had already moved the chairs back to the table. Jumping down was easier than up, once you got past the candles.

Glancing through the whole in the wall, to see the barrier outside I sigh, “An hour left.”

Before dropping into the unoccupied seat. Somehow the bargain lead to a semi agreement to at least appear civil, even if we’d yet to say it out loud. I’d set an Arabic text between us with parchment by the time Madam Mim let us out. “Finally, you two!” Were her only words, if only she’d known the truth. Seriously I’d stolen the book on my way here, and that the pages belonged to some poor second year.

Once Carlos and I had left her far enough behind and at least had three other supervising teachers exclaim the same thing, he broke the silence, “You know half the papers there were garbage right, your grammars awful.”

“This trash, I swiped from a second year, dumbass should be thankful with how poor this shit is.” I mutter back, “Who the hell taught them Arabic sentence structure should be gutted.” Throwing the revolting papers in the trash I stash the book, “But I got a free book from it, so fuck it.”

Carlos’s mouth quirked up, “Hold up your end of the bargain and I’ll handle mine.” Was all he said before splitting ways, pretending to be civil might just be the death of me. Aggressive Carlos and Angry Carlos I knew how to handle, this one, not so much.

I still had a free period as ‘potioneering’ was canceled, and Malevolent has originally planned to tutor me, which was trashed last night. Making a right I headed for Trade School building.

Edgar Balthazar, the overseer head teacher of Trade School. Taught basic trades and oversaw active hour sheets. Convincing him to let Carlos and I, who he’d been told must work together by the tier two teaching staff, work with Butcherboy, was a cake walk. Most students avoid nine children eating giants, even if they no longer ate them seeing how we are all to boney, and much too bad for their health to ingest.

It took forty minutes with the dim fool to have every active session booked for the butcher shop, and every lesson scheduled in a fashion that would make skipping easy and unnoticeable.

By the time we were done, his midday lull was over and I had a Devil to catch. With our work copies in hand, I made my way towards the hall.

Carlos slowed down when he spotted me going away from the trade school, right brow raised. “We have our first active lesson at Butcherboy’s meat house in five minutes, I’d advise not standing around.” I call, keeping his paper in my hand, he can see it after we arrive.

“Maleficent.” The giants were among the only ones who’d insisted on calling me that,

“Boy.” To be fair it might be because I insist on degrading their names. “Let’s have a chat.” I smile handing him both papers.

The giant nods. “de Vil, go find the other one, help him.” The large giant ordered gesturing we go into the office. “You ain’t staying, I reject form.” Boy grumbled.

“Now that’s rude. You can’t take one and not the other, we are a paired deal, as the papers said.” I say leaning back against the doorway.

When the giants were being sent here, due to space, the good folk shrunk them down, now they only stood a towering eight feet tall, not four times that. “Then he goes to!”

They still should learn how to talk like people, “But then you lose your Diego Whisper. You want the two best hunters on the isle, who aren’t going to destroy the meat and work best together, you take the contracts. Carlos works, I don’t and we say I did. And I stay clear of your shop except on review days.” I smile folding my hands.

Boy groans hands on his head, “Hate fae.” He straightens, “I sign papers for today, you leave, I give de Vil the finished paperwork by end of shift. No coming back unless purchasing goods.”

Pushing off the wall I hold out my hand, “Pleasure doing business.” I smile walking away.

Boy’s voice carries as he bosses around Carlos.

I didn’t have anywhere to be, Trade Class Active assignments override Tier Two lessons, and we’re expected to catch up on our own time.

Heading over to the garbage dump, known as the harbor on the Isle, I scrap dive, pilling gear, and objects into my bag. The garbage pile is a gold mine, somethings still contain magic, runic magic, but magic.

My bag was an example of it, no matter what I put in it, it could still fit more, no matter size shape, or content the bag was never full. Nor did it weigh anything, which was a plus when you’re out running monsters, and wardens on the isle.

When the sun started to set I took a seat up on one of the highest piles of rubble thumbing through the book I’d just found when I heard it.

Or I should say them.

Both Devils were at the base of the mountain. From my limited contact with the older de Vil, Diego looked exactly as I’d remember him, even if the last time we met wasn’t the best.

After all, I’d nearly died by his hands. I was very close to it actually, even if I had injured him somewhat by the end. If I hadn’t been in so much pain, I might not have asked him why Carlos wanted me dead that he couldn’t just wait to try again. It’s not like I’d asked to be his partner in class, or was lording anything over him. I just wanted to survive long enough to graduate.

Diego had stepped back, from me, he couldn’t talk, I’d known that from Malevolent, but his eyes told me enough. It wasn’t until I’d seen Carlos again that I knew why he left, even if I knew what made him stop.

Diego never did tell his cousin what I’d stupidly revealed that day. I showed my weakness, and my card, but I’d seen his too, since he left me alive.

“Devils, what a surprise.” I call down, hoping for nothing else but to get my hands on actual material to save my ass. Carlos holds up a stack of papers, very much what I’d been hoping he’d bring. Passing my new book into my wrapped hand, I begin my climb down the heap, jumping the last feet to avoid an iron bar. “You came through. Can’t say I was expecting it so soon.” Or for them to come find me, though they did track me down twice before with less information.

Carlos pulls back the papers, clearly not happy with being ditched “You saw the schedule yourself, lessons are set up so you can skip and Edgar would never know, Boy and I came to a lovely agreement he doesn’t trash the contracts as long as I don’t step in his shop unless I’m paying or its review day. And I am literally only asking for concrete writing, not even practical applications here. I had to put up with forty minutes of Edgar in addition to the ten minutes with a giant who’d told me if I bothered him any more he’d eat me when I was four. So, if you want to add to the bargain add, I just want the writings we agreed on.” I look to him exasperated.

Diego stands watching the exchange, neither showing aggression or interest, simply waiting for his cousin. Such is life here on the isle, he might have almost killed me a year ago, but now it was water under the bridge, or it is until either of us bring it up, which isn’t likely in this case.

After a few moments Carlos extended the papers back. It only takes a second for two cassette tapes to be placed on the papers produced from his shorts pocket, something I hadn’t even been hoping for without having to work more for it.

“Concrete.” he says amused. “See you round, Fairy.” he smirked walking away. Diego nodded to me, before following the smaller boy off towards hell hall, Active Work still got an hour after completion to be out, but not even Carlos is willing to push the night security.

Once they’re both out of sight, I place the papers and cassette C120’s into my bag, before I yawn. I had another four hours to hangout before heading home myself. Enough for me to at least manage a form of thanks back for the extra material he’d brought me. Things were looking better than I could have hoped.

While I couldn’t outright lie, even as a half blood, but I had slightly more leeway than someone like my mother. And I was going to use it to my advantage, anyone who says fairies are selfless need their heads examined, fairies are selfless when they have a death wish, and only when they have a death wish.

Walking towards the Iron Mountain, my mind kept going back to the past, in my lone six years of life, the past two weeks have flipped it all on its axis. I thought I’d have at least four more years to prepare for graduation, and finding a way to work with the Devil or around him for it. I also thought I’d never seal away my freedom on a twenty-five percent chance at one of my dreams.

Gambling my life all on the next twelve months to graduate alongside the youngest of them wasn’t even close to how I planned my life going.

Maybe I still was naïve like Malevolent always said.

To be fair, when Prince Ben’s twelfth birthday party aired last month, well. If they still act like there three-year-old’s at twelve, they don’t grow up until well after twenty. Malefactress is better than them.

Ducking under the first iron bars I shiver feeling the iron cloud descend on me as I walked through and over the metal structures making up most of the Iron mountain. About thirteen meters in thick foliage of trees spring up twisting and grow around the metal, the wilds cage. If you don’t burn to death on iron, or die of the poisoning, the wild life out here would kill you.

Alright when I said no one goes to the Iron Mountain or near it, I meant no one but me. It was a thirty-minute hike to the small clearing I’d found two summers ago, when Malefactress was bragging about her claim’s success over their sisters, and about how wonderful she was for building the business all on her own.

Sure, Malefic picked the family business to get Mother’s praise, and to stick it to all the rest of us, we wouldn’t be so lucky.

And while Malevolent had just finished the overhaul, his success would rely on the next class of graduates on the second turn of his curriculum.

When I make it through the thickest part of the mountain and woodland, you wouldn’t expect the bright light clearing filled with critters and fire bugs, nor the flowers and clear water pond.

Life’s magic would always find a way, it was the life’s blood of Fae Lands. Here, surrounded by iron poisoning, and heavy darkness, a small sliver of land thrived.

Dropping my bag and staff, I quickly shimmy out of my clothing, ignoring the small critters, and diving into the pound. I was one of the dew people on the Isle who could swim, no descendants had ever been taught, and most villains didn’t have a clue, surprisingly enough neither did the pirates.

Cecaelia, knew how to swim, when they were still in their natural form, tritons magic, sealed that away, forcing them on to two legs. Many had drowned that year. And many died unable to swim away from the barrier. Their bones stir restlessly at the edge.

I’d taught myself in the flooded dungeons of the old castle belonging to king Stephen, a castle which had been magicked onto the for some unknown reason.

I still wasn’t sure how Auradon made their choices on who kept what. Hell Hall, Ravena’s Castle, Gothel’s Tower, my mother’s first castle and the forbidden fortress (which were bound to be somewhere on the isle), The Queen of heart’s castle (which is the size of a teacup), the Jolly Roger, Ursula’s belongings. It was like whenever they found something that reminded them of us, it got thrown here. Oh, dangers magical artifacts, priceless Fae history books, priceless magic books, ruins of an old world, iron palaces dump them on the isle. There are bound to be many other magical places and memorabilia on the isle and the many smaller islands around it floating thousands of feet above the new world.

This wasn’t an ancient land, or the healing waters of the Moor. But it was Fae Land, born of the Life’s blood of us all, absorbed by the iron palace around it. The burns I gathered on my walk, and the cuts incurred in the palace healed over, leaving behind pale scars. Scars joining the many that are scattered across my body.

I still dream of Fae Lands, even if I’d found my own, but now I dream only of here. When I get my claim, I’ll finally be able to protect my home, more than I already am.

The way out of the Fae Land is easier than coming in. Which had meant climbing through iron and breathing in the cloud of illness. To leave, there is a fast running stream to the outer edge by the harbor can carry me all the way back. It was a tight squeeze, but only a short walk from the pond, it is much better than the burns.

I rolled over floating on my back as I stared at the darkening sky, things could end very badly for me. Very, very badly.

Really, I was dancing with Devils, both I had been fighting with since the moment I met them.

I knew I would have to leave the water soon to go through the papers, but it was the C120’s that had me moving now and swimming to the edge. I smile as the fire lights land on me as I leave the water, their fire licks my skin as I rise, steam coming off my body as they eat away the flaking skin left over the freshly healed wounds.

The fire lights here weren’t normal, they didn’t match the books, or the stories, these bugs were made of a hard membranes that are alight with fire they burned each night, in the darkness alight with so many colors, and by day they’d find their way under water, protected from the daylight.

Shooing the bugs from my arm I collect my discarded clothes and bag heading to the cave where I’d set up a second farm and stored my more sensitive materials. And my treasure.

Yanking out a bottle of sickly sweet oil made from hemlock from my bag, I hesitate before pouring it into a bowl in the center of the table. The bugs wouldn’t die, but they’d get drowsy, and would at least keep them from burning up Carlos’ work.

Bringing out my notebook, I started copying all of his work, studying his speech pattern and stylization of languages and scripts.

It was closer to sunrise by the time I was done, and the straggling firebugs drunk on hemlock were making their way to the pond. Scooping up the stragglers along the way I helped them to the healing water.

The ecosystem depend on each other, the bugs and the water went hand in hand, so I took special care for more than one reason to get them home, they helped me more than anyone in my family ever had.

Watching the bugs all piled into the pond I smile as the lay on the surface a light with all the colors of the spectrum. However when the sun touches down, the magic leaks away leaving a husk of a place, the pond turns to stone, and the grass shrivels up as the other critters hide in the light turning the once beautiful fey land to stone and death.

I’d found out quickly the defense mechanisms of this small fae land, and how by day they slept hiding from the elements and the world when it woke.

I can’t help but feel grateful even with the chance of losing my life to my mother, I now had a better chance of exploring the rest of the land here. I smile before dressing and sliding the papers and my notebook back into my bag.

Time to find a way to swindle my mother and swing a thank you for the Devil I don’t need to say. Mother of mercy how the hell do I make it out of the year alive. To be honest I don’t think I’m going to, but hey if I can fuck with the hierarchy here before I die, then it's at least a win against my family.

Tightening my bag I jump into the stream letting it carry me back to the harbor.