Mistica Chronicles

Welcome to Issue 34

Red Winning Entry

He arrived at as dusk was settling, pleased little by the climb and less by the view.

"Cliffside Inn," he huffed, squinting to better read the sign above the door. "Disappointment Inn would suit this place more aptly."

Who was he to know the pamphlet that bird Maury threw on his head would lead him here? I should have cooked the fool when I had the chance. He does nothing but send things where they're not meant to go. In this case, me.

He'd planned to go to Bamboo Beach from the start. Two days of the year were his, and he could think of no better place to spend it than the warm sands of an acclaimed resort.

At least before the brochure had arrived, with its promises of warmer sand and higher acclaim. It was not the most auspicious start to things, but the matter was out of Volcan's hands at this point; the best he could hope for was exceptional room-service.

He heaved the door open and found the lobby to be in a worse state than the exterior. Unsurprising, he thought with only a smidge of disappointment, picking his way past an overturned coffee table and nearly slipping in a puddle of rank brown liquid oozing from the floorboards. Above him he heard the faint scratching of claws on plaster; after that his steps were measured. Slimzies, he thought distastefully, a shiver going through him.

After some difficulty, he reached the counter, a weatherworn thing that looked as though it hadn't been dry in years. "Is that moss?" Volcan marveled, reaching out almost to touch the growth of white protruding from behind the counter. He hesitated when it quivered, , and shot up to become a sleep-dazed face and slackened maw.

"Glad you're here, Volcan," the figure muttered, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, "but couldn't you have chosen a better time? Even goddesses need their beauty sleep."

"And you so ravishing," Volcan said in a voice steeped with sarcasm. He knew it was probably not the wisest choice to speak to Pandoria in a such a manner, but he was in no mood to play the game of courtesy. "I'll have you know that this is my vacation, not yours. Don't you have to go break up the Imps and Sprites? It's around that time of year."

Pandoria gave a yawn, rising up on her toes to stretch her arms. "They've put aside their misgivings for now -- it's a rather long story, and I won't be here much longer."

Good, Volcan thought. "Didn't you want to finish your nap?" he said.

Pandoria raised a brow. "I would have liked to in the comfort of my hollow, but someone took longer to arrive than expected." She spread her hands, and a set of keys appeared between them. "It wouldn't do to have some vandals wreck the place before you even arrived."

"They haven't?" Volcan snatched the keys from where they were floating. "Chief goddess of Mistica, and you choose this particular inn. Any... reason?"

"At first I thought it would be a breath of fresh air to watch you struggle through ownership of the oldest inn the Quarry had to offer, but after some counsel from Rae, I came to realize that while fresh air is nice on a hot day, it's better to put your trust in things you have control over."

"How poetic," Volcan said in false admiration. "Would you like me to send you out with a carpet of rosepetals, or does the moss on the floor not disturb you?" His humor was lost on Pandoria; the Braenon had already dispersed in a swirl of cool air. Apparently she had better things to do than sleep now that he was here.

"Well," said Volcan heatedly, glancing about to see if the goddess was still in presence. After finding no evidence of her, he retreated to a moonlit alcove and curled up in on an oversized sofa. It was soft, at the very least giving almost the feeling of his lava pool back home. This could go either way, he thought, the stiffness in his body fleeing all at once. I could get used to this. Maybe.

When he opened his eyes it was to daylight, filtering through the window in rays of gold and pink. In the Terrain the smoke blots out the sunrise, he recalled, crawling closer to the window with a sigh. Perhaps this vacation won't be too bad. I've done worse than own an inn.

At the counter a bell rang.