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Not all fairy tales have happy endings: Twisted Tales from Oona's Childhood #1

Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess with long curly hair as dark as the night sky, eyes as bright as stars, lips as red as blood, and skin as pale and flawless as freshly fallen snow. Her smile was as bright as a full moon, and her laughter chimed like the gates of heaven opening. She was charming and priceless.

Sadly, her life was a different thing all together. As light and wondrous a spirt as she was, Oona lived behind tall, gilded gates within a dark, tall mansion with no windows and only doors, all barred from with. Everything in her life was silence and shadows.

Her only playmates were her mom, a beautiful, failed princess in her own right, and the pale-skinned, mute thralls. To say she was bored would be an understatement. Still, Oona skittered, skipped, and explored the locked confines of her domain. Often though, the only game worth playing was bounce the ball off the thrall. Not a very fulfilling thing to do, but they did make such silly thumping noises.

But as with all such stories, even ones as quiet and dark as Oona's was up to this point, a shadow descended upon her life. Oona's father had returned, and the world tilted. Oona's mom faded to the point it was hard to tell her from a ghost. The thralls seemed to meld into the very stone of the walls in attempts to escape notice. But Oona, she was oblivious to it all with the naïve glee of an innocent.

"Father, can I have a pony?"
"No child, we have no place for such a creature in these halls."
"But father, I am soooo bored!"
"So be it child. Thrall! You shall now be my child's pony."

And Oona had her pony. But as with all such dark gifts, it turned foul and rotted. The "pony" galloped and frolicked at first. But as the days progressed her new pet began to falter, and finally move no more. Then one day the "pony" was gone.

"Father, it so hard to see you clearly."
"Come here child, and look closely upon me. You can see into the shadows for you are mine."
"Oh father what big ears you have," Oona giggled.
"Little one," he laughed, "they are not big, but very sharp for I can hear your heartbeat, and your mother's heartbeat, and even the pretty fishmonger's wife's heartbeat down the street,"
Oona's eyes got big.
A moment later she said, "what big eyes you have father, " and she giggled again.
"All the better to see you in the dark with."
And without a pause Oona said, "what big teeth you have father."
For a moment the silence between them owned the darkness and shadows. Then suddenly they both laughed. Oona hopped away and scampered into the depths of the mansion. She hardly even noticed the tickling in her mind, like the skitter of rats beneath her skull. For the moment, she was happy.

Weeks later Oona asked, "father, I am lonely. Can I have a friend?"
In the a moment of seeming kindness, he said, "yes child."

Within a day or two, a brother and a sister arrived. Frightful, pale children they were. But Oona did not care. For weeks she played with her sullen cohort. Finally, with soft, breathy whispers, her little "friends" confessed, "he bites us, Onna."

She did not believe them, and ran off into the shadows. Oona played with no one the rest of the day. That night she approached her father with her usual carefree swagger and challenged her father, "my friends call you Mr. Bitey, father." Darkness filled the room like ink. The feeling of rats scrambled across the edge of Oona's mind again. She screamed and fled as fast as her little feet would take her.

Then there were no more friends. No more jokes. Nothing. All Oona had left was solitude and silence. Days later, her father left.

"Oona, you have offended your father," said her mother.
"Why? How?" Asked Oona.
Oona's mother looked sadly upon her daughter and said in a quiet voice, "leave it be Oona. You have done what is done. From now on, you need to be unseen and unheard. Do not tempt your father's ire, and whatever you do, leave his things and places alone. Especially, Oona, never touch the cellar door."

Within the hour, she opened the cellar door. And she saw,... the sky.

Now Oona understood. The world snapped into focus, forever.

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Between the drinking and smashing of faces, someone recommended that I take the time to write my tales before I forget. Problem being, I already can't remember who made the suggestion. Maybe it was one of those idiot, farm boys making a move, only to find himself face down in the sawdust, or maybe it was some passing merchant who thought they might have enough money to buy my favor. More than likely, it was one of my brothers. Not that they are really my brothers, but having grown up with them, that is how I think of them. Not much changing of that. It was probably Lou fearing for my soul, not that there is much left of that. Still, he cares and he tries to look out for me. Lou, the patron saint of lost causes, and that is exactly what I am.

Nothing worse than a beautiful woman, except one who knows what they are and uses it to their favor. Strike that, there is one thing worse, someone who is all those things and doesn't care at all. That's me. Look all you want, I don't care. Touch, and I get to touch back, usually with a knee to the groin followed by a boot to the head. I love foreplay, at least that is what I call it. Nothing like an opponent beaten and broken to take the edge off an evening. I know how wrong that sounds wrong. I don't care. Try being sired by some dark vampire lord, raised in the shadowy halls filled with silent, cowed, minions and see if something isn't quite right in your noggin. If it weren't for the hooligans I ran with when I was just a girl, I wouldn't be as sane as I am, much less alive.

So, back to the telling of my tale. The other day, we were down in some magical pit, portal, Hellmouth, I don't know what really. Wasn't paying that close attention. Mostly, I was just following Lou around like I usually do, practicing. Lou is good for that. He tends to find good fights in his endless, droll mission to rid the world of evil. He means well, he just lacks focus. Sure, the world might be a better place with a little less evil in it. But from my point of view, killing vampires is all that matters. Everything else is, as I said, practice. Sure, as life goals go, this is not the healthiest thing. But it works for me. Plus, I know sooner or later, I'll kick it and I am sure Lou will put me down when the time comes. No vamp-time for me! He is the best of my brothers. Can't be sure the others will bother. Maybe Vex. He is honest in his own way. Can't trust him with anything shiny, but when it comes to killin' and blood, he's your lizard.

So, we're down in this pit filled with all these wannabe blobs trying to become devils and demons, but mostly just feeding off each other and leaving us alone. Then we finally get up to the lip of this magical gateway/Hellmouth and things really start hopping, which is good because I'm getting bored, and it smells down here. A big, winged whatchamacallit springs out, and we all lay into it. Next thing I know there is some fine powder filling the air and covering my clothes and hair and everything,.. Thank the heavens it didn't get in my mouth. But, I start sprouting roots or vines or something across my hide and THAT really pisses me off! Hugh tells me later that they are spores. Still, it is going to mess up my complexion for a week or more. And I just gotta smack something, but the other creature is dead and gone before I get another chance to hit it again.

The next thing to poke its head out of the gateway is some horned devil-thing. So, I give it a kick to the head, or two, as it makes its entrance. Guess that was a mistake. Half of my brothers are pissing themselves before I know it, and Sam is trying to negotiate, or plead, or beg his crap out of what is happening. Doesn't really matter anyway because it's too late and I can't really tell what's going on cause I am too busy getting my ass handed to me. The devil rips me a new one, and I start to bleed, and bleed, and bleed. Figure I don't have long to this world, and no one seems to be hitting this thing worth a damn, so I slam a couple of potions before I die. Only thing, it doesn't seem to work at all and I know I am screwed.

Lucky for me, the devil doesn't really care about us and moves on. The upside is Lou patches me up before I slip into the deep, dark afterlife. The downside is we spend the next hour or so doing manual labor tippling rocks over to seal the Hellmouth. Sucks.

By then I just needed a beer, bath, and a bounce. Who am I kidding, I just want knock heads around. Those farm boys make such cute noises when their noses break.

What fresh pit have you all pulled me into? Such a mucked up mess, I hardly remember how I got here. Now we must close some portal. What's a portal?

Demon blood just does not match my outfit. I accessorized for a pub brawls, not blob battles on the edge of a hellmouth. Who's going to pay for this cleaning? I need a beer and a bath. If you all weren't my only friends, I'd have pounded you all senseless long ago.

Personally, I thought we were on a vampire hunt. Teach me to not pay attention. Still, a fight is a fight.

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Time has passed for me like the growing of shadows, quietly and with the promise of darkness. Has it been four years, or six? I have no way of knowing.

I used to journal often, but anything I ever wrote tended to disappear. At first I thought it was the servants silently mooning about, but now I have come to think otherwise. Truth of it is, I have to write something otherwise I will lose my mind. Where I live is as much of a home as an animated corpse is a living body. When I am lucky, I can sneak out with Nina or Felu. They are who I trust to keep the pages of my journal, such as it is. I tried trusting the Boys, but they collectively have no common sense and everything I gave them ended up shredded and rotting in Vex's "treasure horde." Boys, need more be said.

But since I have come to age, things have changed. Everyone at home looks at me expectantly. Silently. It is as if I have caught some plague and they are waiting for me to die, or worse yet, transform. Father is NEVER around anymore. At least, I never see him. There are all sorts of clues that he is actually here more than ever. It started with my bedroom mirror disappearing. Then my silver hairbrush set. Now I can't even find silver in my coin purse. Sharp implements of any kind are in short supply. I confront the staff, but they just quietly look away pretending they didn't hear a thing. I've even tried talking to Momma about it, but she just gets this glazed look in her eyes, like she can't even understand the words I am saying. It is like she is gone, or trapped deep inside her own head. Needless to say, it is all freaking me out badly.

But over the last few days, it has turned nasty. My food tastes off. There seems to be some metallic, coppery, aftertaste to almost everything the servants give me. Even the bread looks off-color anymore. I have my suspicions as to what is really going on, but I don't dare breath a word of it. All that I know is that I am STARVING. If it weren't for Nina and the Boys, I would be forced to eat that stuff. Who knows what would happen to me then. That stinky ol' "dragon" Vexarious has proven to me his worth though. He is the very best at sneaking food into me when I can't get out. Although, he has a very broad definition as to what food is. Sometimes, I have been sick for days. I guess we take what we can get.

But it can't go on like this for much longer. I find myself sleeping in the day all the time now. Not because I am more tired than usual, or because I have some dark need to. It is because there is something about the quality of the darkness at home. The shadows have a weight to them now. Sounds are muted at night. Everything is off. Wrong.

If I am lucky, and one of the servants forgets to lock a door at night (or I break the lock and blame it on one of them), I then steal my way outside and it is all gone. The world quietly and quickly tilts back to normal. I can't stay here much longer. My house is not home anymore, not that it ever was. I can't even keep my stuff there much anymore. I am going to see if the gang can help me steal away the last of my things. And then, I will run too. Because, if I stay much longer, I will end up like Momma. Or worse, I could end up like Father.

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Momma moved to Magnimar a couple years ago. At the time I had no real idea why we moved. But now that I am older and wiser, having just turned ten, I figure it has to do with the whispering. There is always whispering wherever Momma goes, mostly from other ladies, noble women, and even women from merchant families. You see the problem is that Momma is beautiful, maybe even beyond beautiful. She inspires rumors. She summons up jealousy like a witch calls their familiar. But Momma holds herself above all that, which to be honest makes it worse.

It doesn't help that father is never around. If I were to believe the rumors, he doesn't even exist. But I have seen him, late at night and only at night. Momma says that father is a great sorcerer, but I know there is more to it than that. Even the whispers in the market seem to hint there is more to it than that. I see hesitation, even a touch of fear, when talking about father. I suspect that is why everyone leaves Momma and me alone.

And that is where the problems for me and Momma begin and end. We are lonely. Momma has it worse than I do. When father is around she all but glows, but that is a rare thing. The rest of the time, she retires to her rooms for days at a time. When she is around, she is quiet and even aloof. But for me, there is really nobody. The servants don't really know what to do with me, and they don't really care anyway.

So, I get to run around on my own. I have to be careful though cause I am pretty like Momma (well, I hope I am that pretty -- I'm sure I will be that way some day). Plus, I am a strong-willed, fierce scrapper. Lately, I been running around with some boys in the neighborhood. They seem to put up with me. Sometimes, I think they are just trying to get a glimpse of Momma. But, they are closest thing I have had to friends ever, so I don't say anything about it. I'm careful not to catch their parents' attention. Not sure if they would let me hang around if they put two and two together and figured out who my parents are.

For now, I am having adventures with the boys... Let the battles BEGIN!