Bug

Words by Mike McClelland
Visual Art by Casey McClelland

bug1

As she stared at the pixelated Troll Mage aggressively prostrating itself before her, Tectonica understood that she needed to choose one of four ways to deal with the stinking, drooling creature. She understood this because of the divine force that had been whispering into her ear. The Spirit, as she had come to call it.

Her four choices for engaging the Troll Mage in the conveniently arena-shaped woodland clearing in which they stood were: Strike it with her hammer, Heal herself (though The Spirit had not recently moved her to study the healing arts and thus she worried this would be a wasteful use of energy), Blast the Troll Mage with her Earth Magic (a gift she’d had from birth, hence her name and hence why Despero, The Lord of Darkness, wanted to kill her), or she could Brace herself for attack (which would allow The Spirit more time to decide how to guide her).

She waited for The Spirit to move her. It had been suggesting action to her ever since Despero, the aforementioned Lord of Darkness, then the Commander of Darkness, had ordered the death of Tectonica and the rest of the Magic Folke.

The Spirit moved Tectonica to Strike the Troll Mage. The Spirit had been doing that a lot lately. In fact, He (she was certain The Spirit was a He) had been moving her to frequently Strike ever since He had moved her to wear the scanty mythril bikini, which she had questioned as it did not absorb nearly as much Magical Damage or Physical Damage as the dragonstone cuirass she usually preferred.

Still, Tectonica had no reason to question The Spirit. She felt strongly that He had been moving her towards her Destiny over these past weeks, that He had chosen to guide her so that she may fulfill her Grand Purpose, the true desire of all of the Magic Folke.

As she performed a Strike against the Troll Mage and instinctively knew that she had depleted one-fourth of his Life Force (one-hundred-and-four out of four-hundred-and-sixteen was her precise instinct), Tectonica pondered her relationship with The Spirit. She knew that, though Divine, this Spirit was not one of The Creators. The Spirit was guiding her, but she felt within her that it was another spirit, a group of spirits, actually, that had created her and the world around her.

This group of spirits, she called them The Creators, had certainly made her homeland of Amalgamasia, with its abundant forests, its Magic Creatures, its mythical, grid-shaped caves, and its abundant Oceans of Boiling Lava with Islands of Treasure.

Tectonica was certain in her heart that The Creators had given her not only her Divine Purpose (which was to Destroy the Lord of Darkness and Lead Amalgamasia into a Golden Age), but also her improbably large green eyes, her heavy mane of fire-red hair, her slim waist, and her heavy bosom, which by some force of Magic did not make her a hunchback despite its back-breaking weight (a sure sign of The Creators’ benevolence).

Once Tectonica had Smote the Troll Mage with a Final Blow and dutifully collected the Gold Pieces and the Downy Restorative Quills of Dragon Feather that he dropped, she and her Party (which consisted of her oldest friend, Hydronica, and her new friend who she completely trusted despite the general sense of foreboding that surrounded him, Turncoatico) proceeded towards the Inn on the other side of the forest.

This Inn was, as most Inns were, under the care of a Roguish Proprietor. This Inn’s Roguish Proprietor was named Fironico and Tectonica felt sure that he was hiding something. Surely this brawny, confident, yellow-haired man’s Divine Purpose was greater than serving ale to passersby?

The Spirit told her that there were once again four choices. She could either Engage in Carnal Relations with Fironico in exchange for Necessary Information, Battle Fironico for Necessary Information, Barter with Fironico for Necessary Information, or Leave and Return Later for Necessary Information.

Tectonica Readied her hammer in anticipation of how The Spirit would move her and was aghast when The Spirit moved her to Engage in Carnal Relations with Fironico. Surely the Spirit knew of her Undying Devotion for Hydronica?

Tectonica hesitated. The strong pull of The Spirit’s wishes guided her towards Fironico. She suddenly noticed the light streaming the trees, prancing across his perfectly styled hair, abundant muscles, and the vaguely polygonal planes of his handsome face. He was attractive, and it was The Spirit’s will.

She shook her head. From somewhere deep with herself she recalled a Spell, gifted to her at birth by a different spirit. This spirit may have been one of The Creators, but She (Tectonica was certain that this other spirit was a she) acted alone. This other spirit had given the gift of a Spell called Bug to use if ever such a conundrum were to confront Tectonica.

Tectonica closed her eyes and cast Bug.

*

Tectonica Readied her hammer in anticipation of how The Spirit would move her. She waited. The Spirit seemed to be having some trouble deciding how to Guide her.

After a few moments, The Spirit moved her to Engage in Carnal Relations with Fironico. Tectonica was aghast. Surely the Spirit knew of her Undying Devotion for Hydronica?

Tectonica hesitated. The strong, yet frustrated, pull of The Spirit’s wishes guided her towards Fironico. She suddenly noticed the light streaming the trees, prancing across his perfectly styled hair, abundant muscles, and the vaguely polygonal planes of his handsome face. He was attractive, and it was The Spirit’s will. She could sense that The Spirit’s patience was growing thin.

She shook her head. From somewhere deep with herself she recalled a Spell, gifted to her at birth by a different spirit. This spirit may have been one of The Creators, but She (Tectonica was certain that this other spirit was a She) acted alone. This other spirit had given the gift of a Spell called Bug to use if ever such a conundrum were to confront Tectonica.

Tectonica closed her eyes and cast Bug.

*

Tectonica Readied her hammer in anticipation of how The Spirit would move her and smiled at her ability to foresee The Spirit’s intentions as he moved her to Battle Fironico, feeling that their aligned intentions were a sure sign that she was on the path towards her Divine Purpose.

Like Sharon Stone and the zipper, Mike McClelland is originally from Meadville, Pennsylvania. He has lived on five different continents but now resides in Georgia with his husband and a menagerie of rescue dogs. His work has appeared in several anthologies and in publications such as Permafrost, Heavy Feather Review, ink&coda, Cactus Heart, and others. Keep up with him at magicmikewrites.com.
Casey McClelland is a painter, potter, assemblist, and all-around dreamer. Originally from Pennsylvania, Casey has studied at Edinboro University but is primarily a student of the school of life. His technique is largely self-taught and experimental and he enjoys spending his days trying new and exciting things. He lives in Georgia with his family.
Casey paints like a mad scientist, standing in his studio and experimenting for a bit. When it begins to take shape, he’ll show the piece to Mike (or send a picture if they’re far apart), who looks to see if any story ideas pop into his head while he stares at the Casey’s work. If, from there, Mike has suggestions (in the case of “Bug” there needed to be a sort of linear journey represented), he’ll tell Casey, who will experiment further. However, depending on geography and inspiration, they will also work more closely together or more independently. In some cases, a finished piece of Casey’s will inspire a story by Mike, and vice-versa. In other cases, Casey will think of the story based on what he’s painting and then send the idea to Mike, who fleshes it out. Again, that works both ways.

 

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