“I’m back… your trusted reporter, the fly on the wall, Orlow Fabricatum (story: the Stone #8). The Last time I spoke (some might say “squealed”) I was in the corridor spying on Daniel and Ann (aka Aaron), the star crossed lovers. Such ludicrous nonsense. Aaron Keepx was ensorcelled, disguised as a girl to keep his true identity secret so he could spy for his master, Rufus Thyme. Rufus wanted information concerning Jupiter Fogg’s progress activating the Philosopher’s Stone. The two Alchemists are powerful enemies. In the interim, events have been unraveling, disclosing a compendium of possible futures, a veritable encyclopaedia of misdirection.”
“Splat!” Jupiter Fogg wiped the stain left by the fly and chuckled to himself. He was well aware of Rufus Thyme’s infiltration by means of the enchanted Ann Anon. He forced himself on Ann and discovered she was a boy. It was an awkward moment that Fogg covered up with a counter spell to disenchant the boy. Aaron Keepx woke up in a panic. His world was unraveling and he ran off to find his friend, Daniel Ot. Fogg admired Thyme’s attempts at deviousness, but his schemes were laughable.
The machinery that comprised Red City roared like a prehistoric giant. The City was bloated with the grief and blood from recent upheavals. Buildings were crumbling in the wake of hurricanes and earthquakes. People were gobbled up by the iron jaws of the underworld. The screams and cries of despair echoing in the catacombs were like music to the blind nemesis, Red City — It had a voracious appetite for blood that was finally being sated in the throes of catastrophe. The City demanded a celebration, a Masquerade ostensibly to celebrate Jupiter Fogg’s solution to the end of the world. Anyone who was not dead was required to attend the masked ball, but no one was allowed to be themselves. Avatars were freely available. Masks and costumes were required. Several layers of obfuscation were essential in order to survive the ordeal.
Daniel Ot tried to reassure Aaron, “It was never sexual. I mean you are pretty as a girl, but I knew something was not quite right.” Aaron sniffed. He wasn’t sure it was the answer he wanted. He was still confused — he knew he was sexually attracted to Daniel. Both boys were caught in a swirling embrace of mixed emotions and devastating revelations. Life and death hung in the balance like crystal icons about to be crushed. They were best friends now, on the verge of an unknowable and mysterious future. Soon, Jupiter Fogg meant to sacrifice Daniel Ot in an attempt to awaken the power of the Philosopher’s Stone. Soon, Rufus Thyme meant to disembowel Aaron keepx because he failed as a spy. Daniel and Aaron were thrown together, brothers in their resistance to fate.
The Harlequin-beat Angel lived in the Red Desert on the outskirts of the City. She was broken, but she survived the onslaught of destruction that was unleashed by the Black Cube, an artifact sent from the future to destroy the past. She survived along with the first settlers of Red City (when the place was an ordinary western town on the edge of nowhere). She saved everyone. That was the past… no one has seen the Harlequin-beat Angel for many years, but she has become a legend, a myth. Stories about the Angel have been embellished through the decades. People claim to have seen her perform miracles, but there is never any proof. No photographs of the Angel exist. Nothing is truly known about the authenticity of the stories. Some time ago, a reported incident took place in Red City on Stolemock Street (story: Harlequin 3). A whirlwind rushed through the area and destroyed several buildings. As a result, many slaves were released from their bondage. People claimed the whirlwind was the Harlequin-beat Angel. Legends say she will return to free everyone from the jaws of Red City.
(to be continued)