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Burn, like I did.

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Almost a year after the day of story and song, the demon Kravitz made a deal. He came to the Raven Queen in her dark castle and asked two simple favors. One was for the magical litches, Lup and Barry to not be punished for defying the laws of death, and the other was to allow Kravitz to bring a soul up to the mortal plane, for just one day. The second favor was granted almost instantly, the Raven Queen trusted Kravitz, and what was one soul coming up for a day. As long as Kravitz brought it back and kept it from escaping, it would be fine. The first favor however, took some compromises. The pair of litches would be allowed to live outside the laws of death, if they worked for the Queen and Kravitz. There job would be to assist Kravitz in the reaping and collection of souls, and also to keep the natural order of life and death in check. Essentially, the pair would become undead bounty hunters. To quote the litch Lup, “Sounds like, fucking baller man, when do we start!”

“Right now,” Kravitz said, in his human voice, preferring the form of the sharp dressed business man over the hooded reaper at the moment. Him, Lup and Barry were sharing a drink on a particularly ornate couch as Kravitz’s boyfriend, Taako, cooked up a meal in the kitchen, the beautiful smells wafting over the trio as they talked.  

“Well, I don’t know if we should agree that fast babe,” Barry questioned, turning away from Lup to look at the reaper next to him. “What's the catch? What do you get out of it?”

“I don’t get anything out of it.” Kravitz said truthfully. “If anything, you get more out of it than me. The only downside I could think of is that you both would have to stay in your litch forms when we go on missions, and that, well, means dying.”

Barry pondered it for a moment, before speaking up. “Ah what the hell, sounds like fun!” and extended his hand to the reaper for him to shake.

Lup immediately jumped up from her seat and called out to her brother in the other room. “Hey Taako! Barry and I just made a deal with your boyfriend to hunt souls for all eternity!”

The muffled voice of her brother sounded off over the sound of sizzling steak and boiling sauce. “Sounds fuckin’ rad Lu-Lu! Tell Kravitz I approve!”

Lup walked over to Kravitz and shook his hand as well. “A deal's a deal, my dude! Me and Barry will get down to the business of dying right away!”

She leaned up Barry and kissed him on the cheek before spinning away,shouting as she ran out the door. “Have fun dying babe! I'm going to go pick a fight with a tarrasque!”

Barry chuckled as he saw the last of her red cloak disappear behind the threshold. Kravitz watching in awe as Barry didn’t try to stop her.

“You know a Tarrasque is literally unkillable right?” The reaper questioned.

“Yep. But thats Lup for you! You asked her to die, do you think shes gonna go out not doing something fun?”

“Good point. What are you going to do?”

Barry reached into the pouch around his waist and pulled out a small vial of greenish-brown liquid. It was only the size of his thumb and glowed with a faint light. “This is a potion that will stop my heart. Unlike Lup, I don’t find the prospect of getting squished by a tarrasque very appealing. So, if you’ll excuse me, I'm going to die now.” With that, he pulled the cork off the bottle and downed it in one gulp. It took a few seconds to take effect as Barry grimaced and pounded his chest harshly. “Wow,” he said, between coughs. “That tastes like shi--” He wasn’t able to complete his sentence, as his eyes rolled back in his head and his knees buckled, sending him crashing face first into the ground.

Taako popped his head out of the kitchen door. “Hey babe what was that?”

“Just Barry crashing to the floor. He's dead.”

Kravitz tapped Barry's midriff lightly with the tip of his boot. “How long does it usually take him to come back?”

“I don’t know man, usually only a minute.”

Suddenly, a spectral form emerged from Barry's motionless body, it was clad in a blood red robe with gold trim, black smoke billowing out the bottom as he moved to hover beside Kravitz. Slowly, long skeletal hands emerged from the cloak, almost blindingly white as they moved upward to remove his hood.

So... Who are we killing first?” Barry spoke. His voice no longer the voice of a mild mannered man in his 40s. No, it was the voice of a being of pure power. It rumbled out of him, both loud and silent at the same time. Kravitz was sure, even though Barry did not have a mouth or eyes anymore, he was beaming brighter than he ever could in his human form.

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Magnus Burnsides finally had a normal life. He had traveled the stars for 100 years with  people he thought as the closest of family, fought countless battles, saved countless lives, made a Grand Relic, lost his memory, destroyed that relic, lost 20 years of his life, got his memory back by having his story broadcast to the ends of the universe, fought a grand battle with a world eating demon, and saved the world. Now he lived in his old home of Raven’s Roost, where he commandeered his father-in-law’s old shop called The Hammer and Tongs, he specialized in training dogs for service and sometimes helped train the wayward adventurer who wanted advice from the retired warrior. He took a deep breath as he sat down in the rocking chair on his porch, the late afternoon air carrying a smell of sawdust and freshly turned earth to his nostrils. Settling  down, he looked out onto the landscape of his abandoned home, admiring the sun just starting to set over the hills, the faint orange light cascading downwards to rest on the soft black fur of his two dogs. It was a beautiful black oak chair, imbued with lavender polish so Magnus almost fell asleep as soon as he settled in. It was his pride and joy, second only to his first ever carving, a small wooden duck. He had found the chair in the rubble after he returned to Raven’s Roost when the Hunger was finally defeated. It was halfway to sawdust at that  point, sitting in a far corner of the old Hammer and Tongs, along with a destroyed leather bag crawling with all kinds of bugs. Magnus remembered leaving it there, almost 11 years ago, just wanting to run away from the house where his beautiful wife once stood. He refurbished it with delicate care, making sure that everything was in place, and when it was done, he placed it on his porch and made a promise that he would sit out there and watch the sunset every night, to honor her memory. He still seethed with anger every day at the fact that she was taken from him, and was even more angry at himself for letting himself forget about who killed her. But he would not be angry for much longer. No, Magnus Burnsides would find peace, by any means possible.

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Barry floated leisurely besides Kravitz, scanning the pockmarked land for any sign of Lup or the Tarrasque. Large footprints marred the landscape, along with pockets of fire that was spreading onto the dry grassland around it. They kept walking, or in Barry’s case, floating, for at least 15 minutes, until they came across a surprisingly large crater blown into the ground. At least 10 feet wide and 15 feet deep, inside it lay the bloodied body of Lup, and the charred, smoking form, of a dead Tarrasque.

“I can’t believe it!” Kravitz said  in astonishment. “She actually managed to kill one!”

Barry smiled to himself and started to float down to his girlfriend's body, his heart seizing up as he approached her crumpled form. He had seen her die many times before, and knew, without fail, that she would come back. But every time he had to see her get stabbed or crushed or slashed or poisoned or die in any way, he was afraid. Every time, he thought, What if she’s dead for real? What if she doesn't get up? But, to his barely concealed relief, as he got closer, she rose up. Lup’s lich form was not much different from Barry’s, save for one simple detail. Lup was not a person who was content with being generic, oh no, when she did something, she did it with her own personal style. Her power radiated off her form in waves, alighting the ground around her as she floated higher above her body. That power, her magic to conduct flame in any way imaginable, bled into her lich form too. The crimson robe around her was wreathed in fire, parts of it falling of and flaking onto the ground. Her hood completely burned away to reveal an ash covered skull adorned in a crown of glowing blue flame. Her hands caught fire as she shot a bolt of flame at the tarrasque’s body, turning it into a giant bonfire of flesh. She floated out of the crater, following Barry up onto higher ground. They met back with Kravitz, who was now cloaked in his reaper form. A large ebony black scythe was gripped in his bone hands and a black cowl adorned his head. White runes snaked up the bones of his fingers and face, and his two canine teeth were replaced with gold fangs that gleamed brightly. Lup and Barry came to a stop near him,.

Oh damn Kravitz,” that's like, fucking badass, did you get tooth implants?”

Kravitz laughed, a deep demonic tone that sounded like it was coming from more than one person.

Yeah,” He said, starting to walk around the crater, the two liches hot on his heels.

Taako thought they would look cool and be more intimidating, so I got a blacksmith to custom make them for me.”

Lup made a noise that sounded like a snicker but it soon faded as her voice fell into a more serious tone.

So. I hope I didn’t just turn into a lich for nothing Kravitz. What sack of crap are we reaping today?”

The reapers footsteps slowed as he turned his scythe over in his hands a few times, clenching his teeth as he said softly

Do you know a man called Governor Kalen?”

Oh yeah, we know him.”


Chapter Text

Magnus knew he had forgotten something. He knew when too. He kept replaying the scene over and over in his mind. Magnus stood in the dark cavern of wonderland, pain seeping through every inch of his body. He grabbed the thick prong of the multicolored wheel, feeling his sore muscle stretch as he pulled it downwards. It spun around  once, twice, three times before stopping on a green tile with the words ‘ MIND’ written on it in big block letters. Magnus stepped back from the wheel as Edwards voice sounded from all around, permeating his very bones.

“Magnus!” the high pitched voice spoke with a hint of  controlled mirth. Magnus only grunted in response, not wanting to waste his words on the elven sadist.  Edward prattled on, taking no notice of the fighters disinterest.

“You have someone that you... loved once, right? And they were taken from you by someone who you now hate. I wonder which one would be worse to take from you: the person that you loved or the person that you, hate. I think we’ll go with… the latter.  Edward paused, letting Magnus take in what was just said.

“If you accept this sacrifice, you’ll forget Governor Kalen. You’ll forget all about him. You won’t be able to track him down— you just won’t know anything about Governor Kalen. You’ll forget what— you’ll remember what he did to you but you will not remember who did it.”

A thick silence filled the room, thicker than the black smoke that escaped from his mouth regularly. He thought of Julia, of her final moments in this world, Did  she think of Kalen as she fell into the sea, burning as she went? Did she curse his name with her final breath? He had no time to think, he just had to choose. Magnus was snapped out of his reverie by Taako’s voice whispering softly in his ear,

“I don’t know who that is but that sounds...chill as hell!

“I mean, right? Like…” Magnus’s voice was a hushed whisper, barley rising above Taako’s voice as the elf spoke.

“Just let go, let go, my man. Finally, you can get your mind— That’s what, uh, that’s what this pers— whoever the person is, that I’m sure that’s what they’d want, right?”

Merle piped in from across the room, joining in to the debate

“Yeah! Get on with your life!” he was joined by Taako, who began to pace the length of the room, the flashing colors of the wonderland wheel alighting his face as he passed.

“Get on with your life! What a gift!” He said, gesturing in the air

“You know, here’s the thing—” Magnus was cut off by Taako holding a finger to his mouth, smiling smugly

“Wait a minute! So those are the terms?” The young elf said, yelling to the endless void of the ceiling where somewhere, the leaders of wonderland perched.

“Uh, Magnus.”

“ Uh-huh.”

“ Tell me what happened?”

Edwards lilting voice drifted down to their ears, mocking them “I— I’m sorry, I see what you all are doing here, and we’ve been running Wonderland for long enough. He won’t be able to remember no matter what. You can tell him the story or whatever but uh it’s— that would be a shitty sacrifice, don’t you think?”

Magnus took a deep breath “ You know what? Here’s what I’m going to say. Merle, Taako— Don’t try to remind me of it. But if in your journeys, you ever meet a slimy asshole named Governor Kalen, kill him on sight. Don’t talk to him. Don’t let him talk to you. Kill him. And tell him it’s for Julia. That’s the one thing I want you to say to his face before you kill him. This is for Julia, then you end him then and there. Understood?

Taako smiled and bounced on the balls of his feet, clapping his hands together

“And then loot— and then loot him for Julia!”

Magnus sighed through gritted  teeth. “ You do whatever the fuck you want after that.

Merle popped up with a laugh, walking over to lay a hand on Magnus’s shoulder, standing on his tiptoes so he could reach. “Yeah, well, listen. We kill most of the people we come in contact anyway.”

“Yeah yeah! Statistically speaking we were probably gonna kill him eventually.” Taako intejected. Taako walked up and stood next to Merle. Magnus turned and looked in his eyes, giving the pair a firm nod.

“Deal made! “

“Yeah, deal confirmed.”

Magnus closed his eyes. He imagined Julia, her beautiful blue eyes looking into his own when they first met. He remembered their first kiss at her father's shop, she smelled like saltwater and wood shavings and tasted even better. He remembered the madman, the Evil Governor controlling the town, leeching its resources with everything he had. Magnus remembered rallying the people, Julia holding his hand until the final stand as they picked up arms and crashed into the town hall, breaking down the doors and subduing Kalens men. Magnus clashed

with the Governor, beating him back and stripping the sword from his hands. Kalen was soft, fat, an easy beat. But he was not to be trifled with, his manipulative powers soared over Magnus’s and the people of Ravens Roost. Magnus had his knee on his chest, the blade of his battleaxe at his throat. He was going to kill him. He would slit his throat and spill his blood on the stones. He would have, he should have killed him. But  she stopped him. He tried to memorize Kalens face, his beady eyes and dirty white beard. He held the image of him in his mind as he opened his eyes.


And the memory was gone.