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Antidote Bear submitted 2009.06.02 10:53 AM by Thornicus viewed 2041 times


Another dream-based (yes, really) fictional piece that I wrote several years back, and would like to rework with some helpful input from all of you pH writing freaks. Many thanks in advance!

(Editor's note: I sure do have some strange dreams now and then, for not being a 'shroom or pot user.)




Prologue

"You're dead meat, dweeb!"

Napoleon sprinted furiously down the hall away from his assailant, towards the safety of the principal's office. Jeebums, he thought. Why the hell did Mark have such a vendetta against him? He was nowhere near his plate in the cafeteria when the tainted food was discovered on it. Far be it from Mark to find the real perpetrator though. They were only in seventh grade, was all of their innocence really that far gone?

The pounding of Mark's feet grew more intense and deafening in Napeolon's ears, then disappeared for an instant as Mark leapt into the air and body slammed Napoleon from behind into the row of lockers. The force of the blow jarred open several nearby lockers, spilling textbooks and gym shorts onto the floor.

Napoleon's blood pressure began to steadily rise. "Mark, what the hell's wrong with you! I told you I didn't touch your plate!"

"Bullshit," Mark snarled. "I spent four hours puking in the bathroom last night and now you're gonna pay."

"I TOLD you, it wasn't my fault! I didn't do it!"

"Well, who fucking cares. Someone's gotta pay, and it might as well be you." With that, Mark began relentlessly pummeling Napoleon's chest and abdomen with his fists.

"No...dammit, that hurts! Stop!" His cries of pain went unheard, though. The principal's office was a good 500 feet down the hall, and all of the students and teachers had already left for the day. Napoleon cursed Principal Weaver for keeping his office door shut to obscure the daily distractions of the student body. "I mean it, Mark! Please! You'll regret it later!"

Mark laughed, a deep evil cackle for a twelve-year-old boy, and continued to beat on him with his hands and feet. When he was through, he thought, they'll be cleaning him off the floor with a putty knife in the morning.

Then the noise came from seemingly nowhere. A deep, guttural growl.

Mark stopped for a moment and looked around for the source of the noise. "What the hell was..." He was interrupted in mid-sentence by a blur of movement from behind him that grabbed Mark and tossed him across the hall head-first into the concrete wall.

Mark crumpled into a pile on the floor and gingerly turned himself around to see who had intervened in the fight. His gaze falling on the floor, he saw Napoleon's clothes in irregular shreds laying in a heap. To the right of the pile was a pair of large, hairy feet with sharp black nails emerging from what appeared to be a cross between toes and paws.

Mark shifted his focus upward and couldn't believe his eyes. Standing in front of him was a grizzly bear on its hind legs, about Napoleon's height but with a very muscular build, wearing denim overalls with the insignia "A/B" embroidered on the chest. There was something unsettling, even almost human, about the bear. Why the fuck was it wearing bib overalls, Mark wondered. It turned out to be the last conscious thought he ever had.

The bear growled again and spoke. "Don't say I didn't warn you. This hurts me more than it'll hurt you." Its voice had a strange resemblance to that of Napoleon's. Without warning, the bear jumped on top of Mark and mauled him to death quickly and efficiently, using its teeth to rip off his limbs like al dente spaghetti and then snapping Mark's neck with a single swipe of its arm. Blood seeped from Mark's body into the gymnasium underneath the adjacent door.

Seeing that Mark was dead, the bear muttered to the lifeless corpse, "He'll never mess with Antidote Bear again," and then grabbed Napoleon's clothes with its teeth and ran out of the school.


Chapter 1 ? Awakening

Napoleon's full bladder brought him back to consciousness. Still groggy, he lifted himself off of the ground in an attempt to determine his surroundings. As he pushed his palms into the ground, a pair of thistle plants hiding under a brush pile pricked his fingertips.

"Damnit!" Napoleon said out loud, more to himself than to the weeds. He was HERE again. How the hell did he get here? The last thing Napoleon remembered was Mark pummeling the crap out of him. Now, for reasons unknown to him, he woke up in the woods on Ratcliff Bluff just northwest of the marina. An eagle quietly soared above in a solitary hunt pattern. It paid no attention to Napoleon and continued its search for the smallmouth bass that spawned in the river.

Napoleon stood up, pulled the thistles out of his hands, and regained his bearings. He estimated that it was about 4:00 pm in the afternoon, given that the sun was still fairly high above the horizon. His grandma wouldn't have dinner ready until at least 6:30, so that gave him some free time to hang out at the marina. Napoleon began walking towards the docks, and with his long stride, it wasn't long before he reached the river.

"Hey, Napoleon! Wanna hang out with us?"

Napoleon's head swiveled. Holy shit, he thought. That was a *girl's* voice! As fate would have it, Napoleon was gifted with a large brain, a large head, and rather plain facial features, which was not exactly eye candy for the females at school. Most of them tried to avoid him, some because of his god awful haircut, others because he was simply viewed as "the dork."

"Na-POH-leon! Come ON! We need your help! Please?"

He located the source of the voices and sported an instant boner. Good freakin' Lord! It was Holly and Jessica, the lead eighth grade varsity cheerleaders. They were adorned in extremely randy bikinis, Holly in white, Jessie in blue. Coincidentally, they were much more developed than their other female classmates. Both of them were already in B cups bras and approaching the C cup size line rather rapidly.

"Umm, hi," Napoleon stuttered. "What's up?"

"Well, we need your help," Jessie flirted. "We just got some new water skis but we don't know how to use them. Can you show us how it's done?"

Napoleon hesitated. He'd never water skied in his life but he didn't want to lose this once-in-an-eon opportunity to be friends with the most popular girls in school. "I guess so," he said. "But who's gonna drive the boat?"

"Me, silly!" Holly responded. "Who did you think?"

"Well, you're supposed to be at least sixteen to operate any motor vehicle," Napoleon replied.

"Oh, piss on that!" Holly said. "I've seen my dad drive the boat plenty of times. It can't be that hard. Now come on over here and strap on the skis." Holly threw the skis toward him and started digging out the tow rope.

"Heh, she said strap-on," Napoleon thought as he stepped into the skis on the dock. He tightened the bindings around his feet and stood up carefully as the boat motor roared to life.

"All right! Hold on tight!" Jessica hollered as she threw the tow rope handle at Napoleon and the boat tore out of the dock at a speed well above the no-wake limit.

"Hey, wait a sec!" Napoleon screamed over the motor as he grabbed the handle. "Don't I have to get in the water before you take offghwwoooaaaahhhh!!!!!" The boat sped toward the middle of the river and dragged Napoleon straight off the dock into the water. "Holy crap!" he yelled as the ground disappeared from beneath his feet and he plunged into the unexpectedly frigid May weather water.
Napoleon's whole body disappeared into the river for a few seconds, and moments later, Antidote Bear resurfaced on the water skis with tow rope in hand and began pulling himself toward the boat.

"Hey Napoleon, how ya doin!" Holly giggled as she gunned the boat motor to full throttle. She knew she was being a bitch, but she didn't care. "Hey, Jess! How's he doing?" No response.

"Jessica! How's Napoleon doing on those skis?" Still no response. Holly slowed the motor and turned around to see why Jessie wasn't answering her. Jessie was curled up in the back of the boat, having turned a pale shade of white and shaking with tremors. "Shit! What's wrong?!" Holly cried. That was when she noticed Jess's gaze. She lifted her eyes to follow the direction of Jessica's gaze and saw Antidote Bear. He was still pulling himself slowly toward the boat with the tow rope.

Holly paused for a moment at the absurdity of the sight, then yelled, "What the FUCK?!" and turned the motor so sharply that the engine died, capsizing the boat and dumping both girls in the water. Antidote Bear sailed over the boat from the inertia carrying him and sunk underneath the water due to his weight.

Jessica and Holly resurfaced several seconds later by the side of the boat, coughing and sputtering water. "Jesus, Holly!" Jess cried. "What the hell was a BEAR doing on the tow rope?"

"And why the fuck was it wearing overalls?!" Holly retorted as they uprighted the boat and clambored back into the vessel. As she reached for the ignition switch to make a getaway, Napoleon's head emerged by the motor, his curly hair soaked like steel wool in a sink.

"Hey, nice tits," Napoleon stated as he treaded water and stared at Holly and Jessica's topless torsos, holding the bikini tops that had fallen off in the capsizing in his left hand.


Chapter 2 ? Embarkment

Holly and Jessica glared at Napoleon as he continued to tread water in the icy river, dangling their bikini tops in his left hand. Their nipples stood out erect and firm like an Air Guard soldier at attention in front of a commanding officer.

"Give those back!" Holly cried. "It's fucking freezing out here!"

"Well, it was YOUR bright idea to go boating today," said Napoleon as he reluctantly handed them their breast coverings. "How about giving me a hand back into the boat now?" Jessica silently reached down and extended her hand to Napoleon's, pulling him into the bow of the vessel. "Thanks for scaring off that bear," she muttered.

"What bear?"

Jess blinked twice and opened her eyes wide. "You mean, you didn't see it?!"

"Um, no," Napoleon said.

"It was pretty crazy," Holly chimed in. "One minute you were back there on the water skis and the next minute, I don't know where YOU went, but this big bear in overalls was on the skis pulling itself toward our boat. If I hadn't cut the motor and made it sink underwater, God knows what would have happened. "

"Yeah, no kidding! What if it was that same bear that those fifth graders said had attacked Mark at school earlier today?" added Jessica. "They were hiding in the gymnasium and claimed they even heard it TALK. Said a line about ?never messing with Antidote Bear again', or something to that effect."

"Sounds crazy to me, but whatever you say, ladies," Napoleon smirked. "Glad you're both okay. Now then, since we've established that the water skis work quite well, are you both up for some real adventure?" Holly and Jess looked at each other, then at Napoleon, and nodded. "Okay, good. You two get some clothes on while I drive this boat upstream." Napoleon started the motor and began to expertly manuever the boat out of the no wake area of the marina.

"Where are we going, Napoleon?" Holly asked as she pulled her waterlogged jeans on over her curvy hips.

"To the island at the end of Ratcliff Bluff," he shouted as the boat raced along the river.

"But it's already 4:25 PM!" Jess hollered. "We have to be home for dinner by six!"

"Don't worry about it," Napoleon replied. "What we have to do won't take long." Suddenly, a phantasmagoric dream that Jessica had experienced a few nights ago came flooding back into her memory. "Dammit, no! Please tell me you're not taking us to Trewyn Island!" He smiled at her in reply. "God, NO!" she wept. "That place is supposed to be haunted, or cursed, and all sorts of weird stuff happens there."

"Weird stuff happens on Ratcliff Bluff, too," he said. "Trust me, it'll be okay. I just thought that we should check it out for ourselves and see what truly happens there. But, if you'd rather stay behind with the so-called bear..."

"No!" Holly and Jess both screamed and grabbed each other in fear. "We'll go," Holly said. "Just get us back by nightfall."

"Like I said, don't worry about it," Napoleon answered. "From what I've heard, time stands still on Trewyn Island, so we should have all the time that we need." He was no longer shouting as he cut the motor off and let the strong undercurrent carry the boat for the remaining half mile into the island inlet.

"Jeezums," he whispered as the boat came to a stop on a sediment bank. Looking upward to match his gaze, Holly and Jessica immediately fixated their eyes on the old, dilapidated mansion in the middle of the island. A murmur whistled through the trees as three dragons emerged from behind the mansion and silently flew overhead in alpha formation towards the teenagers. In the distance, near the spire of the house, a large key with three hovered in midair, its shaft radiating brighter than the late afternoon sun through the dense fog that was rapidly encircling Trewyn Island.


Chapter 3 ? Revelation

Jessica shivered, not so much from the damp clothes clinging to her body as from the sight of the triune dragons speeding towards them on the island. The wind rippled with the sound of leathery wings announcing the reptilian aviaries' descent. "Don't move a muscle," Napoleon whispered, eyes transfixed on the gargantuan beasts now standing in front of them. The lead dragon was adorned with fiery red and gold scales, black-tipped white horns and claws, and a set of teeth that rivaled those of an allosaurus. The other two dragons were covered in gray and black scales, and were much smaller in stature, only standing about two-thirds of the size of the other dragon, which was towering over Napoleon at three times his height. The teenagers eyed them with a look of trepidation, which was met with a stern gaze from all three creatures.

After an awkward silence, the lead dragon opened its mouth and spoke. "Greetings, travelers," it uttered in a deep rasp. "We have been expecting you for some time now."

"But..." Napoleon began.

"Silence!" the dragon screeched, a short flame emanating from its throat. "Hear me out and you will come to understand." Napoleon shut his mouth and retreated three steps. "Now, then," the dragon continued. "My name is Genevieve, and these are my two associates, Edmund and Simeon. As you know, this island has been enchanted for many years, centuries in fact. But it was not always like this. Four hundred years ago, the three of us lived here, just like you, and sought to incorporate this island and the adjacent property into the growing village of Chenoweth beyond Ratcliff Bluff. We saw great potential for its use in the river transportation economy as home for milling factory. This is how the building of the great mansion that you see behind us came about. It was to be our residence as the mill owners and operators."

The dragon paused for a moment, and lowered her head. "But alas, it was not to be. For not long after we had finished building the mansion, a great and powerful warlock named Trewyn who lived in the alcoves of Ratcliff Bluff was enraged at the thought of Chenoweth annexing the isolated island. He arrived without warning one day and cast a spell on the three of us, transforming our bodies into their current forms. Trewyn also cast an enchantment on the mansion and himself that prohibits us from destroying the property or him, lest we curse ourselves to immediate death. He resides in the mansion and has thus far successfully destroyed all attempts from those who have sought to nobly infiltrate and overthrow his domain. This is how the island came to be known as Trewyn Island."

Holly raised an eyebrow and spoke. "So then, what good is it doing for you to tell us all of us?"

"Because you are the chosen ones," Genevieve replied.

"Ch....chosen ones?" Jessica stuttered. "But how do you know that?"

"The answer to that is rather simple," the dragon responded. "Although Edmund and Simeon cannot speak as I, they have been blessed with not only the gift of telepathy, but the ability to see visions. Ever since our imprisonment in these reptilian vessels, they have known the faces of our deliverers as well as the solution to our rescue. There is no doubt in their minds that you three are the chosen rescuers of us and this island."

Napoleon raised his hands in exasperation and argued, "But how in the hell are we supposed to defeat a warlock that has killed other humans? We're only kids!"

"Don't you know, Napoleon?" Genevieve sighed. "You have the supernatural gift of shapeshifting. Do you not remember using that ability several times recently?"

"Wait a minute," he replied. "Shapeshifting? You mean, taking on another form? I have THAT power?!"

"Yes," the dragon responded. "In fact, not even an hour ago, you invoked that ability. I saw you on the river."

"But...that would mean." Napoleon went pale as he realized the truth. "Oh, my God. I'm Antidote Bear?" Genevieve nodded in answer. "But that means...no! That means I killed Mark!" Holly screamed and fainted. Jessica barely caught her as she looked at Napoleon in horror.

"Don't worry about that," the dragon stated. "Mark was a descendant of Trewyn, and a quite evil descendant at that for such a young boy. Better that he is dead now than interfering with your mission. Besides, you have been blessed with a great gift, passed on to you from an ancestry of good wizards, and you must use that gift to defeat Trewyn and restore things to their rightful place."

"But how?"

"You will know when the time is right. Before you can reach Trewyn, however, you must retrieve the key to the mansion. You undoubtedly saw it radiating in the sky by the spire of the building. It, too, is enchanted, and only you three possess the ability to obtain it. We will transport you to the top of the mansion in order to assist you, but we cannot touch the key ourselves."

Jessica squeaked, "But if it's enchanted, how do we get the key?"

"Well, Simeon became privy to a clue that holds the answer to that question," Genevieve answered. "Climb aboard now and we shall go retrieve the key. Hold on tightly to our necks as we take off."

"And that clue is?" Napoleon asked as he and the girls clambored on top of the dragons, struggling to mount the giant creatures.

"Flip the limerick," she responded, and began soaring towards the mansion.


Chapter 4 ? Descent

Genevieve flew effortlessly toward the shining mansion key in the sky, with Napoleon grasping her neck tightly and praying under his breath that he wouldn't fall off. Holly and Jessica tailed behind on top of Edmund and Simeon, following them at a safe distance.

"What the hell do you mean, 'flip the limerick?'" Napoleon shouted over the howl of the wind.

"You'll see," Genevieve replied as they approached their target destination. As the dragons began to circle the key in a wide elliptical pattern, it crackled and emanated miniature lightning bolts. "This is as far as we can go, lest we doom ourselves to eternal death from the enchantment on the key and ourselves," Genevieve stated. "Our fate lies upon your shoulders from this point onward." After placing the teenagers safely on the rooftop, she whispered, "Godspeed, Antidote Bear," and flew away with Edmund and Simeon in retreat towards their hidden alcove on the northeastern side of the island.

"Great. Now what?" Holly asked.

"I guess we go get the key, and find the door to use it on," said Napoleon. "Let's go." He began to climb the spire of the mansion, and the girls quickly followed after him. Just as they began to draw near to the bell tower at the top of the spire, a deep voice boomed from the tower, which seemed to envelop the air around them. "HALT!" The teenagers froze in place. There was no visible indication of anyone - or anything - near them besides the key. The source of the voice was a complete mystery, but then, so was the enchantment placed upon the key and the people-turned-dragons.

"If you wish to have the key that you be near, you must solve this riddle," the voice continued. "Answer correctly, and the key is yours. Fail, and you shall die." Holly nervously bit her nails and fidgeted with her hands in response to the challenge. Jessica looked at Napoleon and quivered, "Um, are you sure you want to do this? Maybe we should go back. I'll make it worth your while, if you know what I mean."

"I know what you mean," Napoleon replied, "and I may take you up on an offer for some head later, but I know better than to stick my dick in a box that every member of the football team has had unlimited access to for the past year. It's not worth it. This quest, however, is worth something." Jessica scowled and reached out to slap him, but drew back her hand in surprise as Napoleon boldly replied to the voice, "We accept the challenge!"

"Very well then," it replied, and continued:

"The resident spirits are glad,
for they tendered the thoughts that I had,
cruelly unsexed me down,
and filled me toe to crown..."

The deep voice trailed off, waiting for an answer.

"What the FUCK does that mean?!" Holly whispered to the group. "Beats me," Jessica replied, turning to look at Napoleon, and placed her hands on her hips. "Got any bright ideas, genius in France?" Napoleon's blank expression indicated that either he had no clue, or else his brain was furiously working to solve the riddle. She hoped it was the latter. After a couple of minutes passed by, Napoleon sprang up in excitement and loudly proclaimed, "Damned I am as a maiden, mad!"

"You are correct, young one," the voice replied. "Very impressive. The key is yours." And with that, the key slowly drifted down from atop the spire to Napoleon's extended right hand, and the voice disappeared. The girls gazed at him in astonishment. "How did you KNOW that?" they asked in unison.

"Obviously, you haven't been paying attention in literature class," he replied. "The riddle was a paraphrase in limerick form of a famous quote from MacBeth: 'Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruely.' I knew that the last line of the limerick was the answer that the voice was waiting for, but it had to rhyme with the end of the first two lines phonetically. That was the tricky part. I knew there only had to be one correct answer, and it couldn't just be any off-the-cuff rhyme that I made. Then I remembered the clue from Simeon - 'flip the limerick.' That clue was referring to a line that was omitted from the Scottish play transcription of MacBeth by Shakespeare - 'Damned I am as a maiden, mad!' - which not only phonetically rhymed with the rest of the limerick, but is also a palindrome! That's what Simeon meant by 'flip' the limerick - the end of it had to be spelled the same forward and backwards, so it was the only possible correct answer."

"Damned you are as a nerd, is more accurate," Jessica stated. "Only you would know obscure omitted lines from Shakespeare. Now let's hurry up and find Trewyn so we can destroy him and go home."

"Sounds good to me," Holly agreed. "But how do we get down from the roof? The dragons left us!"

Napoleon slipped the key into the right pocket of his jeans and surveyed the area. "Well, there's no lattices or ladders by the roof. I guess there's only one option."

"What's that?" Holly asked.

"Go down the belltower," he replied as he hoisted himself into the narrow space and began climbing down the rickety wooden ladder fastened to the bricks, the sound of chirping crickets and a low moaning wind increasing as he descended further into the dark void below him.


Chapter 5 ? Confrontation

Napoleon lowered himself down the bell tower ladder with an agility and speed that surprised Holly and Jessica. The wooden rungs creaked beneath their feet and threatened to buckle as the teenagers made their way down the dusty, dark shaft into the mansion below that had lain undisturbed for the past four centuries. A cold wind rose up the narrow opening and blew around them in a swirl of noise and dirt as they continued downward.

"I'm scared, Napoleon," Holly's voice echoed from above him. "Can we go home now?"

"Too late for that," he replied somberly. "We have to find Trewyn and destroy him if we have any chance of making it home alive. There's no way off that roof without the dragons coming back, and Genevieve said they weren't able to come back to get us before we complete our mission." Besides that, he thought, he was really enjoying the view of Holly's ass above him on the ladder. If push came to shove, maybe he could talk her into exchanging favors later. At least she wasn't nearly the slut that Jessica was with the high school jocks.

Jessica's voice brought Napoleon back to reality. "What's that noise? It sounds like music."

Napoleon tilted his head and continued climbing downward. "I think it's a cello. Wonder where it's coming from?"

"I don't know, but that's really weird," Holly said as they approached the bottom of the bell tower. The sound of the cello continued to increase and enveloped them in a mixture of slow, somber low notes and overtones, as if it was warning of an impending doom. As they stepped out of the bottom of the bell tower onto hardwood flooring, a faint ball of bluish-white light began to manifest itself three yards in front of them, the wind dying down simultaneously. The light grew in size and intensity quickly in conjunction with the cello music that seemed to emanate from its center.

His eyes adjusting from the dark to the new light source, Napoleon saw that they were in a large room containing a simple stone altar with an incense pot centered on top of it, which emanated gray smoke and the bitter smell of myrrh. Other religious artifacts were strewn around the room, including strange symbols and markings on the floor and walls. Looks like we're in a sanctuary of some sort, he thought.

Without warning, the ball of light suddenly elongated vertically and transmogrified into human form. "Greetings, travelers," the being spoke in a deep voice. "My name is Trewyn. Why have you entered my lair?" The warlock's gray eyes pierced theirs, his white hair flowing around his shoulders and mixing with the glints of gold that shone from between the folds of his deep purple robe. A dark wooden staff knurled at the top was grasped in his right hand, with remnants of the light's aura surrounding the staff.

"If you are the powerful warlock Trewyn, then you surely know why we are here," Napoleon replied. "Do you not?"

"Indeed I do," Trewyn answered. "At least, I know why YOU are here. It is time to destroy you and put an end to your lineage of wizardry."
"What do you mean?" Napoleon stated.

"Oh, come now," Trewyn barked disgustedly. Anger grew in his eyes as he continued, "It was YOUR ancestors that sought to annex this island and property into Chenoweth. It was YOUR ancestors that built this mansion and mill. And it was YOUR ancestors that I had to stop from following through with their development plans by cursing them."

"Wait a minute," Napoleon stuttered. "You mean, Genevieve, Edmund, and Simeon are my relatives?"

"That is correct," the warlock replied in a hateful voice. "Curse them and the rest of their lineage for what they did to the area, milling about the village posing as common folk. A lucky stroke for you that they chose to procreate with the humans, otherwise you would have never been born."

His face flushing with fury, Napoleon argued, "Fine. Let's settle this between us. Just leave Holly and Jessica out of this. Let them go back to town."

"I'm afraid I can't do that," Trewyn said. "I need them for my rituals and sacrifice after I destroy you. Well...to state it correctly, I need them to perform certain acts with me for the appropriate ceremonial rituals before I sacrifice their bodies to Beniweil." Holly and Jessica looked at each other in horror, turned pale, and fainted, collapsing onto the floor.

Napoleon clenched his fists in rage, shouted, "Damn you, you evil...demon!" and began to shape shift into Antidote Bear as he charged at the seething Trewyn, with the intensity of the aura around the warlock's staff growing stronger by the moment.


Chapter 6 ? Resolution

"You will die before you sacrifice the girls to Beniweil!" roared Napoleon as he shape shifted into Antidote Bear and charged towards the malevolent Trewyn, the denim overalls with the embroidered "A/B" insignia sprouting from his body as his human clothes fell to the ground during the bizarre transmogrification. Holly and Jessica lay behind him on the floor, groaning in shock and slowly recovering from their fainting spell.

Trewyn glared, growled "Enough games. DIE!" and thrust his glowing wooden staff towards Antidote Bear. A bolt of blue light surged from the staff and connected directly into Antidote Bear's sternum with a force that knocked him ten meters backward through the air and slammed his body against the sanctuary wall, shaking the entire room and causing pieces of the ceiling to fall from the resultant shock wave. His body slowly slumped to the floor in a large heap.

Fully awake and seeing Antidote Bear passed out against the sanctuary wall, Jessica and Holly rose to their feet and confronted the smirking warlock. "You're gonna pay for that, Trewyn," said Jessica. Holly glared in silent agreement, her hands on her hips.

"Oh, really?" laughed Trewyn. "And who's going to stop me?"

"We are," snarled Jessica as she stepped towards him. "All those terrible dreams that I've been having since a few nights ago finally make sense now. I'm surprised that you don't know the truth about us."

"He doesn't know because we're not in Napoleon's immediate bloodline," Holly explained. "Too bad for him. At least now he can't use our bodies for his sexual rituals."

Trewyn hesitated, bewildered. "What truth?"

"That we're descendants of Edmund and Simeon," Jessica stated as the girls shape shifted in front of him, their clothes dropping into a pile on the floor along with Napoleon's garments. Standing in Jessica's place was an extremely tall panda bear boasting large mammary glands. In Holly's spot was a slightly shorter, slender female mangabey monkey wearing loose pants with a drawstring cinched around the waist, a long tail emerging from the back of the pants and flailing around angrily.

The evil warlock staggered backward in surprise, shocked by the revelation of the girls' lineage and by their shape shifting, his eyes transfixed upon the beasts' supple breasts. Before he could snap out of the stupor, Hanumani hissed, "Now, before it's too late!" and leapt at Trewyn, who screamed and dropped his staff as she dug her nails into his face and abdomen and began to bite and claw at him, using her tail to keep her balance. Mitohskae charged at him from the side and knocked him to the ground, then grabbed the staff and broke it in a swift motion against the stone altar. As Trewyn fell to the floor, she circled around and placed herself on top of his legs to prevent him from getting him, then lifted his robe to expose his shriveled genitalia, which she promptly removed with a quick swipe of her paw. Trewyn howled in pain as blood surged from the gaping lesions in his crotch and upper body.

"Thanks for saving me, ladies," uttered Antidote Bear from behind them, fully recovered from the blow dealt by Trewyn. "But this is ultimately my battle. Let me finish him." Mitohskae and Hanumani stepped aside to expose the trembling warlock, his once magnificent robe now torn to shreds, his grey hair tangled and matted with spittle and blood. Trewyn's eyes acknowledged his defeat as the hulking form of Antidote Bear towered in front of him on two legs for what seemed like eternity, but in actuality was only a few seconds.

Raising his enormous right paw, Antidote Bear declared, "Never again will you hurt the people of Chenoweth," and swung it at Trewyn's head, knocking it cleanly off of the torso and into the air, coming to rest on top of the altar. As the head settled into place, the mansion began to shake with the force of an earthquake. "We have to get out of here, now!" cried Antidote Bear as the three of them stood over Trewyn's lifeless corpse, the sanctuary crumbling around them.


Chapter 7 ? Termination

Antidote Bear bolted towards the tapered stone arch at the far end of the sanctuary, rocks and plaster falling from the ceiling and crumbling around him as he ran. "That evil warlock Trewyn must have put a curse on this mansion enabling its self-destruction!" Hanumani shouted as she followed Antidote Bear, Mitohskae running closely behind her.

"Must be! No time to talk about it now though! If we don't find the exit soon, we're doomed!" shouted Antidote Bear in reply as they ducked through the arch and entered the foyer by the staircase. He stuck his head over the banister by the stairs and cursed. "Crap! We're on the fifth floor of the mansion!" he exclaimed.

Mitohskae turned her head and looked back towards the sanctuary as the remaining stones in the ceiling of the sacrificial chamber collapsed in a heap around the arch. "Too late to turn back," she said. "Guess we have to find another way out of here." As trepidation overtook the stunned trio, they transmogrified back into human form, Mitohskae and Hanumani shape shifting back into Jessica and Holly first, and then Antidote Bear back into Napoleon.

The floorboards moaned and creaked beneath the teenagers, threatening to give way at any moment. Dust filled the air from the cracking cypress baseboard moldings that ran throughout the perimeter of the landing and foyer. "Now what do we do?" exclaimed Jessica in a panic. "Nowhere to go but down to the main floor," Napoleon replied as he ran toward the staircase, leaping over the steps ten at a time. Equally agile, the girls followed in suit and they all arrived at the bottom of the staircase in less than a minute. The main door to the mansion stood ten meters in front of him, beckoning salvation to the flustered group as the house continued to collapse around them.

Holly dashed to the door and pulled on the ancient handle. "Damn it! The door's locked!" she cried. "Who locks a door from the inside anymore, honestly?" Flushing between frustration and fear, her body shape shifted back and forth between her human form and Hanumani, as if it couldn't decide which appearance to retain.

"Shit," said Jessica. "Her body can't handle that much transmogrification. We have to get out of here fast or she'll die from the stress." She looked at Napoleon and said, "Can you break the door down if you shape shift?"

"I don't think so," he replied. "That door's eight inch solid core oak. It isn't going anywhere." Suddenly, his eyes lit up as he remembered the events on the rooftop from earlier. "Hey! Wait a minute," he exclaimed as a smile crossed his face. "I forgot all about the key that we got from on top of the bell tower's spire." Napoleon thrust his hand into his right jeans pocket and fished out the key, which was glowing with a blue aura.

"Hurry up and put it in!" shouted Jessica. "Holly's getting weaker by the minute." Napoleon ran to the door and shoved the key into the lock hole. Quickly turning the key a full turn to the right, he gave the door handle a hard tug. The old doors creaked open slowly to reveal the setting sun peering through the fog surrounding Trewyn Island. In the distance, they saw Genevieve, Edmund, and Simeon up in the sky, flying back from Ratcliff Bluff towards the mansion.

"Ladies first," Napoleon said with a wave of his left arm. Holly and Jessica ran through the exit to greet the fresh air outside, which seemed to instantly cure Holly's condition. Napoleon dashed after them through the double doors. As they ran towards the sediment bank and their shored boat, the fog began to slowly lift from around the mansion, dissipating as it rolled out from the center of the island towards the river. The cold wind gradually increased in temperature and diminished in velocity until a warm breeze that smelled of lilacs was all that remained.

Jessica shouted with joy as the dragons drew close to the banks of the shoreline. "You have done Chenoweth an invaluable service," screeched Genevieve as she and the other beasts descended onto the island. As the mansion disintegrated behind the group, the entire island shook and a stray stone from the remains of the sanctuary flew through the air and struck Napoleon in the back of the head, knocking him to the ground facedown.

Holly rushed to his side to inspect the wound. "Oh, my God!" she howled as blood poured from the substantially sized wound, pieces of bone piercing his scalp. "He can't be dead! He saved us!" Jessica looked at the dragons with sorrow and echoed Holly's sentiments, crying, "Please tell us he's not dead."

"No time to save him now," said Genevieve. "We have to get off this island before it sinks into the river." There was no arguing with the creature. The island had not stopped shaking since the mansion's collapse, and the water level was rapidly rising over the shoreline. Edmund and Simeon motioned for the girls to climb onto their backs.

"I'm not leaving without Napoleon!" argued Holly and glared firmly at their rescuers. "Neither am I," said Jessica with her arms crossed. Genevieve sighed in exasperation. "All right. I'll take Napoleon myself, but it may be too late for him," she rasped. Pacified by this statement, the girls clambered aboard the other dragons' backs, and as Genevieve gently grasped Napoleon's lifeless form between her teeth, they took off towards Ratcliff Bluff, with Trewyn Island disappearing beneath the water behind them.


Chapter 8 ? Resurrection

Genevieve, Edmund, and Simeon flew rapidly toward the safety of the alcoves on Ratcliff Bluff as the remains of Trewyn Island sank beneath the churning water of the river. Holly and Jessica held on tightly to the dragons' necks in solemn silence as they kept an apprehensive eye on Napoleon's blood-drained body, whose limbs dangled like a rag doll from Genevieve's teeth.

Settling down inside of a recess on the northwest face of the bluff, Genevieve gently laid Napoleon's pale body on the ground, his clothes slightly torn from the events of the day. "Is he...dead?" Holly asked, afraid of what the dragon's answer would be.

"No, not yet," replied Genevieve. "But he doesn't have much time. You must take him into the woods above this alcove. Directly in the center of the grove is a healing spot that should be able to cure his wounds." Looking upward towards the forest, she continued, "Unfortunately, Edmund, Simeon, and I are too large in our current form to enter the dense woods, so you and Jessica must carry him on your own."

"Shouldn't be any problem if we transmogrify," stated Jess. Holly nodded in agreement and said, "Let's do it." The girls quickly shape shifted into their alternate forms, picked up Napoleon, draped him around Mitohskae's shoulders, and began traversing the steep trail from the cave towards the woods.

Hanumani bounded up the path with quick leaps and was the first to arrive in the enchanted grove. As she crossed over a small stream and hopped over a large felled tree, a wave of intense warmth and pleasure washed over her body, signaling the healing spot. She brushed away the many fallen leaves and twigs beneath here to expose the dirt, which bore a deeply rutted circle about six feet in diameter. "Over here!" she shouted, jumping and dancing with relief at having found the location.

"I'm coming," huffed Mitohskae, now struggling to keep from dropping Napoleon's body after the arduous mile hike. She stepped over the tree and gently laid him on his back upon the ground within the confines of the circle, fully extending his arms and legs. "Better step away so that he can obtain maximum healing," she said, stepping backward out of the healing spot.

As Hanumani stepped out of the circle, Napoleon's body began to glow with a golden-white aura and then started levitating within the confines of the healing spot. The aura expanded to fill the circle and grew in intensity until the bright light masked the entire forest. Napoleon unconsciously shape shifted into Antidote Bear, still suspended two meters in mid-air, and then without warning, a shock wave ruptured from the center of the light that enveloped Antidote Bear, expanding with a tremendous explosive force across the entire bluff that immediately knocked Hanumani and Mitohskae unconscious on the forest floor. The light quickly dissipated and Antidote Bear collapsed on the healing spot, his body motionless.

Minutes later, Jessica and Holly awoke to find themselves sprawled across a bed of dry leaves in the floor. "Where are we?" asked Holly, slowly getting to her feet and surveying the grove.

"Looks like we're on top of Ratcliff Bluff," replied Jessica. "But how did we get here?" Then she saw Napoleon's body stretched out over the dirt circle and her memory came flooding back. "Oh, no...he can't be dead! Not after all that we've been through today!" Holly looked at Napoleon sorrowfully. He'd saved them from the evil warlock Trewyn, and now this was his fate, to be killed from a wound by a small airborne stone that even this healing spot couldn't mend? It just wasn't fair. She wouldn't forgive herself for all of the times that she'd made fun of him in school. Holly fell to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Jessica turned her back and also began to weep.

"Hey now, why are you both crying?" Napoleon's groggy but firm voice pierced the air. The girls turned in disbelief to see Napoleon leisurely sitting up in place and orienting himself. As he stood up, Holly rushed at him and threw her arms around him. "Thank God you're alive!" she choked out between tears. "After that stone had hit you in the head, we thought that you were dead."

Napoleon stood still, stunned that a girl was hugging him, not quite sure what to do. "A...stone? What stone?" he inquired. "I feel perfectly fine." He reached behind his head to feel for the injury, but found none.
"The healing spot must have worked!" Jessica exclaimed. "We had to bring you here after leaving Trewyn Island with the dragons because you got hurt," she said, trying to jog Napoleon's memory. "Don't you remember Holly and I shape shifting?"

"Yes, in the mansion," Napoleon recalled. "You turned into Mitohskae and Hanumani to help me defeat Trewyn. But I didn't know that you two could transmogrify also. Does that mean that...?" His voice trailed off.

Holly nodded and replied, "Yes. We're descendants of Edmund and Simeon. So I guess that means that we're all related, at least distantly." Darn, thought Napoleon. That threw out any chances of him getting some action with her later. As if reading his mind, Jessica approached him with a sultry look, said, "Lucky for us, there's nothing wrong with distant relatives dating one another," and fiercely pressed her lips to his mouth in appreciation for his heroism, pulling herself into his body. The action took Napoleon completely by surprise, his knees buckling from emotion.

Holly pushed her aside with a glare, said "Hey! You took my idea," and also proceeded to wrap her arms around Napoleon and plant a passionate kiss on him. Prepared to return the favor this time, Napoleon's tongue had barely crossed his lips when another flash of light and sound enveloped the three teenagers and seemed to permeate their skin. Blinded and deafened, Napoleon and Holly pulled away from one another in shock. When the light and sound disappeared, the group found themselves no longer in the woods, but in an alcove on the bluff, surrounded by three adults dressed in eccentric, yet vaguely familiar, garments.


Chapter 9 ? Reunion

Napoleon, Holly, and Jessica stood still in the middle of the alcove, stunned by the strangers surrounding them and by the unexpected flash of light that had instantaneously transferred them from the woods above to the cave entrance carved in the outcropping of Ratcliff Bluff. "Wha...what happened? How did we get here?" stammered Napoleon. "And who are you?" he asked, eyeing the unfamiliar adults that were gazing serenely at the teenagers.

The two well-built men with rippling muscles and the strikingly beautiful woman with long, flowing blond hair that stood before them remained mysteriously silent, as if contemplating how to answer the questions. There was something familiar about the three, Napoleon thought, but he couldn't quite place it. Something about their clothing. Both men were dressed in simple gray shirts and black pants made of cotton, wearing woven hemp ropes for belts and dark leather moccasins on their feet. Tied to their belts were several small pouches full of unknown substances. Though rough in appearance and keeping a watchful eye on the teenagers, it was evident that they intended no harm to Napoleon or the girls. The female, adorned in a shimmering robe of red and gold and a white stole with black tips, bore a stark contrast to the men in both appearance and countenance with her soft, alluring features and bright clothing.

She stepped forward, her long hair and robe elegantly moving in the gentle breeze, and spoke. "Why so fearful, Napoleon? Do you not recognize me?" Her voice was as soft and smooth as silk. As the words permeated his eardrums, Napoleon recognized her voice and instantly realized why the foreigners' clothing was so familiar to him. "Genevieve!" he exclaimed. "And Edmund? Simeon? Is it really you?"

Genevieve smiled and replied, "Yes, it is us. Because of your noble efforts to defeat Trewyn, the curse that he placed upon my brothers and I centuries ago has now been removed. No longer are we confined to our reptilian forms. Our gratitude and debt are forever extended to the three of you." She fell silent, pleased with them and with the events of the day that had transpired.

With a confused look on her face, Holly asked, "I don't understand. If Trewyn cursed you three centuries ago, how is it that you are still alive? Shouldn't you have been dead a long time ago?"

"No," replied Simeon. Hearing him speak for the first time stunned the teenagers. "Fortunately for us, as wizards, we are unaffected by age, as well as death from natural causes. Only another wizard ? or warlock ? can conjure up the magic necessary to kill another wizard. Although Trewyn could have ended our lives many years ago, he chose not to and instead confined us as dragons in hopes that our appearance would scare off any possible intruders. That was his grave mistake, for we knew that the chosen ones would not be so easily shaken by our forms."

"Luckily for us, we were able to pass down our ancestry and abilities through our relations with the townspeople," Edmund added. "Despite the inherent rules forbidding relations with common folk, we knew that it was necessary in order to prevent the decimation of our lineage once we had first heard of Trewyn's arrival. Although our spouses have long since passed away, their children, and their children's children, have continued to have relations as humans do. And that is how the three of you eventually came to be."

"So why didn't our parents or grandparents try to stop Trewyn, then?" inquired Jessica. "Why us?"

"The time was not right then," answered Genevieve. "You know as well as I do that the great Aelyon has a special time and place for all things. Besides, abilities such as shape shifting tend to skip several generations, especially in dynasties of mixed bloodlines with humans."

Napoleon contemplated this statement for a minute, scratching his chin gently. "But there's still a lot that I don't understand," he exclaimed. "Why do we have the forms that we do? I mean, why am I Antidote Bear? And why is Holly Hanumani, and Jessica Mitohskae? And what's the deal with those denim bib overalls that appear on me every time I transmogrify? And why do I always wake up in the woods northwest of the marina every time after I shape shift?"

"One question at a time," chuckled Genevieve. "Your forms are a gift to each of you, determined long ago by Aelyon, just as ours were also assigned to us. Holly and Jessica's vessels are unique to each of them based on their personalities, talents, and human likeness." That's for sure, thought Napoleon, remembering how Mitohskae's massive breasts mirrored those of Jessica's, her half-naked image burned into his memory from when her bikini top had fallen off in the river after capsizing the boat earlier that day.

Genevieve continued, "You, on the other hand, are the chosen one that was to ultimately defeat Trewyn, and were thus given the special form and namesake of Antidote Bear by Aelyon ? because you were the antidote, or cure, to the curse that Trewyn had over us and the island, and because of the strength and valor that is symbolized by a bear in the natural world." Napoleon silently reflected on this statement for a moment, and then said, "Okay. But why the denim bib overalls?"

"The overalls are merely a symbol of your human roots in a line of what was to be mill operators before Beniweil planted the seed in Trewyn's heart to ravage the island and take over the mansion," replied Simeon. "Since they were the required working garments for your ancestors, they are manifested on your form simply as a reminder of your heritage."

"And the reason for me waking in the northwest woods?" asked Napoleon. Genevieve gestured at the back of his head and inquired, "Surely you noticed the healing spot in the center of that grove? It is a source of energy and renewal for our powers and abilities as wizards. Had we not transported you to that spot after each transmogrification, you would have been too weak to confront and defeat Trewyn, nor would you have survived the stone that struck you when the mansion collapsed."

"Now is not the time to reflect on that, though," replied Edmund with a broad smile on his face. "Now is the time to celebrate!" As Napoleon, Holly, and Jessica sat down on a large boulder to ponder all that they had just learned, the setting sun poked through the entrance of the cave and settled in a small ray of light by their feet, reminding them of the time. "Shoot!" cried Napoleon, jumping to his feet. "I'm going to be late for dinner! Grandma's going to kill me!" Holly and Jessica also scrambled to stand up, squealing in concurrence as they remembered their parents' warnings to be home by six o'clock.

Genevieve looked at the trio of teenagers with a puzzled look on her face. "What do you mean?" she asked. "Don't you remember that time stands still on Trewyn Island and Ratcliff Bluff?" Napoleon looked at his watch, saw that it was only 5:00 PM, and sighed with relief. "So the myth is true," he sheepishly acknowledged. "I'd always heard that was the case from the stories my grandma told me."

"Hey, can we come over to your place for dinner if my parents don't mind?" Holly asked him. "I think we have a long future ahead of us and we have a lot to talk about." Jessica echoed, "Me, too! My folks won't care as long as I call them."

"Sure thing," answered Napoleon with a smile on his face. "My grandma always makes too much food anyway, and she loves visitors. But we'd better get going soon just to make sure she has enough for all of us."

As they got up to leave, Genevieve said, "Thank you once again for your servitude to us. Any time that you are in need of counsel or assistance, return to this alcove and you will find us." The teenagers exchanged embraces with the wizards, and then Napoleon, Jessica, and Holly headed up the bluff and back towards Chenoweth hand in hand.


Epilogue

The old man wandered down by the marina, gazing thoughtfully at the river in the early morning light. Maybe tomorrow he would bring his fishing pole back here and try to catch some smallmouth bass, he thought. Like most residents of the village, the river held a lot of memories and meaning for him.

As he continued to walk along the shoreline, he suddenly came across a large carved stone that had washed up on the beach. Could it be...? He stooped down to feel the smoothness of the stone, and as he touched it, memories of many decades ago flooded back into his mind.

"You're dead meat, dweeb!" His recollection dissipated and he was brought back to reality as a teenage boy darted by him, another boy chasing after him in pursuit and shouting threats at the fleeing young man. As the old man reached out to grab the assailant and attempt to redirect him, he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder and a voice in his ear. "Let it go, Napoleon. They'll handle themselves."

Napoleon turned around and saw Jessica and Holly standing behind him, side by side, Jessica's hand on his shoulder. Though now over eighty years of age, they still shone with the same beauty to him as when they were teenagers. Holly added to Jessica's statement, "He's our grandson. He can handle whatever comes his way."

"Yes, I suppose that he can," replied the aging Napoleon, remembering his now ancient encounters with Mark and Trewyn as his gaze returned back to the fragment of the sanctuary on the sand in front of him. "Shall we go visit Genevieve and the others now?"

"Never thought you'd ask," answered Jessica with a grin, and the three of them resumed their walk. As they headed northwest to the edge of Ratcliff Bluff, with the sun rising behind them, a breeze carrying the faint scent of lilacs gently blew along the river towards the village of Chenoweth.



rating: 7


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