Fates Entwined

Fates Divided

"Daria, pardon my French, but what the hell did you just say?" demanded Helen.

"I dropped out of college," Daria went inside and sat down on a couch.

"You… you… dropped out?" Jake looked like he had no idea what to say. "But why?"

At this point, even Quinn was looking at Daria funny. It didn't help matters that Daria had some bandages on her face.

"I… guess college just wasn't for me," Daria offered weakly.

"Daria," Quinn offered her two cents. "With all due respect, dropping out of college seems like something I would do… assuming there were a rich gentlemen I could marry and whisk me away into a romantic happily-ever-after, of course…"

"That's it?" Helen crossed her arms. "College wasn't for you?"

"More importantly, what happened to you?" asked Quinn. "You look like you've been through hell!"

"You don't know the half of it," Daria muttered.

Deep down, Daria wondered whether or not she should tell her family what exactly had transpired. The story was also so fantastical and out-there that there was no way her parents or Quinn would buy it.

"Daria," Helen crossed her arms. "Your father and I paid good money for you to go to Raft College. You don't just up and drop out like that and come back telling us college isn't for you."

Before Daria could answer, another knock was heard at the knock.

"Um, I'll go get it," Quinn offered, realizing how awkward the situation was becoming.

As Quinn opened up the door, Amy Barksdale stood there.

"Hey Helen," Amy waved.

"Amy?" Helen Morgendorffer looked surprised. "What's the occasion?"

"You were probably wondering why Daria came back in bandages," Amy told Helen, taking her aside out into the cool night air outside the house.

"An explanation wouldn't hurt," admitted Helen.

"Look, have you seen the news about that murder cult spreading across the country?"

"I've been some articles here and there on the internet," confessed Helen.

"Well, unfortunately in college, Daria got mixed up with one of their leaders," Amy told her. "We barely got out of the situation alive and Daria dropped out of college out of concern for her own life."

"What?!" Helen was aghast.

"It was a traumatic event for Daria," Amy told her sister. "Just go easy on her, okay?"

"I… see," Helen finally pulled herself together.

"Daria," Helen went back inside. "Look, I realize you may have had a rough time and I'm sorry college didn't work out quite the way you wanted. Why don't you get some sleep and we can talk more tomorrow?"

"Thanks mom," Daria got up and headed towards the stairs.

"Just give her some time," Amy told her sister.

oooo

"Daria?" a feminine voice was heard outside her door. "Can I come in?"

"Why not?" Daria laid down on her bed, exhausted.

Quinn opened the door.

"So, you want to talk about it?" asked Quinn, sitting on a chair near Daria's bed.

"Talk about why I dropped out of college and came back looking like something the cat dragged in?" Daria raised an eyebrow but otherwise didn't get up.

"Well, I wasn't going to put it like that…" Quinn replied nervously. "But I am curious. Mom was so startled by you that she forgot all about me breaking curfews."

"It's a long story," admitted Daria. "But to give you the Cliff Notes version, I got involved with some dangerous people."

"Whoa, that's… not something I expected," Quinn admitted.

"Nope," Daria turned around and collapsed on her bed.

"Well, you're probably tired," Quinn backed away, sensing that her sister wasn't up for much conversation.

"Mmhmm," Daria intoned.

Quinn left the room and closed the door, leaving Daria to her thoughts.

Reaching down, Daria took out the crossbow in her backpack, loading an arrow into it and placing it at the bottom of her bed, just in case she needed it.

Moments later, Daria took out a picture she had of herself and Ted that they had taken on a date. Sadly, she looked at the picture while resting her head against the pillow.

oooo

The next day came and Daria woke up realizing that her entire body was wracked in pain.

"Ow," she managed to get up.

Everything that had happened when she confronted Eric was catching up to her. She had taken hits she was not used to and now her body was feeling it.

As Daria walked towards the door, she realized that her leg was feeling almost numb with pain. Dragging herself to the shower would take quite an effort.

In her numb state, Daria sighed as the water ran down her back. Everything was catching up to her both physically and mentally as well. Her body felt like a wreck and there was also the fact that she had come into conflict with an ancient cult that wanted to resurrect some ancient god of evil.

And that wasn't even getting into how she had lost the one man she had grown to love, Ted.

"Guess college wasn't all it was cracked up to be," Daria sighed.

Finally, she finished her shower and got dressed. As she went downstairs, she noticed that nobody else was home. Quinn was still going to high school and both her parents were at work by now.

While she realized that some private time was what she needed, Daria still felt totally alone regardless.

Daria sat down on the couch, wondering what she should do next. Before any ideas could enter into her head, however, she heard a ringing at the door. She went over and opened up to see Jane standing before her wearing a neckbrace.

"You alright?" Daria stared at the neckbrace.

"I'm lucky I don't have a broken neck from how hard Eric kicked me," Jane sighed. "Yeah, I already forgot that other barely pronounceable name he called himself."

As Daria moved forward, her mild limp became noticeable to Jane.

"You too, huh" Jane asked. "Listen, I know everything that's happened lately has been real crazy but if you need me here, I'm here for ya."

Daria limped forward a few steps before her legs finally felt able to walk despite some pain between her joints. At the very least, she didn't have any broken bones.

"Okay, I think I can manage," Daria turned back to Jane. "Wanna go get pizza?"

"I'll drive," Jane smiled.

"Let me just go get my backpack," Daria turned back inside.

oooo

As Daria and Jane stepped into Pizza King, they looked around. So far, the pizza place looked to be as normal as always.

"Same old Pizza King," Jane commented, "which might be a good thing for us if we're going to get any sense of normalcy back into our lives."

"And that's a big if," Daria noted.

As the two walked towards their table, they saw a familiar sight a few tables away. It was Kevin Thompson, sitting there with a melancholy expression on his face.

"Is that Kevin?" Jane looked askew.

"Must be," Daria sat down. "Guess being held back must finally be sinking in for him."

"Hmm, I wonder," Jane mused. "At least Highland will still get some revenue from him being on the team for one more year."

"D-Daria?" Kevin looked up. "Is that you?"

"Uh, yeah," Daria answered, not knowing what to say to her old classmate. "You look like you've seen better days."

"Yeah, I have, haven't I?" Kevin looked down.

"Did something happen?" asked Daria.

"Brittany broke up with me," admitted Kevin. "This time for good…"

"Oh," Daria felt a slight pang of sorrow for him. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Yeah, I should be over it now," Kevin muttered. "But I just can't stop thinking about it."

"Um, if it's any consolation, I didn't have a great college year either," Daria told him. "I fell for a guy there and now he's completely gone. He sacrificed himself to save my life."

"Whoa," Kevin gasped. "Sorry to hear that, Daria. It wasn't that rich guy, was it?"

"No, it wasn't Tom," Daria shook her head. "It was somebody else."

"Well, sorry to keep you and Jane," Kevin said in an uncharacteristically sensitive tone. "Good seeing you again, Daria."

"Nice seeing you again Kevin," Daria said awkwardly before joining Jane at another table.

"Well, that was awkward," Jane took a sip of her drink.

"Yeah, who knew I'd bump into Kevin," Daria sat down.

"So, uh, what do we do now?" Jane asked uncertainly.

"Well, I'm not one hundred percent certain myself," Daria replied. "Eric mentioned that in order for that dark god to return, three things have to happen. Hero sacrifices himself. Virgin loses virginity. And… two fools drive a prince to suicide. All in all… a wholesome religious ceremony if I do say so myself."

"Yeah, really wish he would've been more specific on those things," Jane shook her head. "I'm sure there are a lot of teens getting it on for the first time as we speak."

"I think he did mention something about his cult having to bring these things about," Daria mentioned. "Not that it helps much."

"Do we know the identities of anybody in that cult besides Eric?" Jane asked.

"Um, there is Graham," Daria remembered. "That's all I can remember. And he's probably in hiding now."

"Great, we still know almost nothing about these guys," Jane crossed her arms. "They could be anyone for all we know."

"Hey you!" a voice rang out, startling both Daria and Jane.

A large college student standing arm-in-arm with Brittany Taylor towered over Kevin Thompson angrily.

"I thought I told you I didn't want to see your face around here again!" the large student said menacingly.

"Is it me or can I just not strategize with all this testosterone in the air?" Daria asked Jane.

"C'mon Chris," Brittany insisted with her new boyfriend. "Let's just go!"

While Brittany had broken up with Kevin, Daria did note that she was trying her best to not prolong any sort of conflict with her ex-boyfriend.

"Nah babe," Chris let go of her arm. "I made myself clear to this guy the last time. Listen Kevin, I told you the last time I didn't want to see your face again and here you are."

Reaching out, he grabbed a surprised Kevin by the shirt and slammed him onto the table.

"Now you're gonna have to learn a lesson in respect!" Chris raised his fist.

Before Chris knew it, he felt a sharp pain digging into his back.

"Let him go," a monotone voice stated behind him. "Unless you want a crossbow arrow through your liver."

Brittany and Jane stared in shock as Daria pointed her crossbow directly into Chris's back, threatening to pull down on the trigger.

"Who the hell are you?" demanded Chris, letting go of Kevin.

"Just a friend of his," Daria told him. "Anyways, I've had a rough couple of days so I'd appreciate it if you stopped being an obnoxious prick."

"Chris, enough!" Brittany insisted. "Let's just go!"

"I… okay," Chris said fearfully, realizing Daria could open fire any moment as she began poking his backside with the arrow even harder.

Finally, Chris left with Brittany slowly following him. Before she left, she gave Kevin a forlorn look with some semblance of regret.

Kevin got up and straightened his shirt out as Daria put down the crossbow.

"Whoa, Daria!" Kevin looked surprised. "When'd you go all Buffy the Vampire Slayer?"

"During college," Daria took the arrow out of the crossbow and placed it back in her backpack.

"Well, uh, thanks for helping me out," Kevin smiled.

"No problem," Daria put her backpack back on. "In any case, I'd probably better get going since I'm sure Pizza King has rules against weapons."

"Don't worry about it," the Pizza King manager came up to her. "That guy was a jerk. You did me a favor running him off."

"On second thought, maybe I don't have to become a fugitive from the law just yet," Daria decided.

"So you wanna sit down again?" asked Jane.

"May as well," Daria agreed. "You gonna be okay, Kevin?"

"Yeah, I… think I will be," Kevin replied. "Thanks, Daria."

"Well, the only bright side to all this is what we get to experience the early holidays," said Jane.

Something Jane said sparked Daria's memories. The mere mention of the word "holidays" made Daria realize that there were perhaps people she could consult about the supernatural threat on the horizon.

"Jane, you're a genius!" Daria hugged Jane out of the blue.

"I am?" Jane was shocked at the sudden display of affection from her friend.

"Of course," Daria beamed. "I know what to do now."

oooo

Later in the afternoon, Daria and Jane walked towards the Good Times Chinese Restaurant with a singular intent on her mind.

Daria looked around to make sure that nobody would see them.

"I almost forgot about this place," Jane told her friend.

"Can't blame you for that one," Daria replied sardonically.

"Yeah, meeting those cereal mascot holiday dudes was one of the weirder moments in my high school life," Jane confessed.

"Coast is clear," Daria walked towards the back of the restaurant where trash compactor stood.

Looking around once more, Daria once more saw no one and pushed the compactor aside to reveal a hole in the wall.

During high school, she had met several strange being called holidays who represented the spirit of whatever respective holiday they were named after. And if any of them left their realm of Holiday Island for too long, their holiday would die out in the real world.

She knew it was a stretch, but talking to some of the holidays was her only choice left. Perhaps they knew something about the threat she was facing since they were technically supernatural beings.

As Daria and Jane entered into the wormhole and emerged on Holiday Island, they gasped.

The skies had already been blackened while most of the trees surrounding the area had withered away.

The Holiday Island High School lay only a few yards away. The building was mostly in ruins, as if an earthquake or tsunami had demolished it.

"As a wise man once said, I've got a bad feeling about this," Daria shivered.

The two of them began walking towards the school.

"Think there's anyone in there?" Jane looked around nervously.

Daria opened the doors to the school. All around them were the bodies of the various holidays, some burned to a crisp while others were mangled and bloody. Blood was smeared across the walls while the smell of brimstone lingered in the air.

By now it was clear that someone or something very malevolent had been here.

"Oh no," Daria lowered her head.

"So, uh, didn't these holiday fellas represent real holidays in our world?" asked Jane.

"Yup."

"And didn't you have to convince them to come back or else their holidays would no longer exist on our world?"

"Yup."

"So now that they're all dead, does that mean—"

"Yup," Daria finished for her chillingly.

Finally, Daria heard what sounded like a groan from down the hall.

Daria and Jane headed down the hall until they reached a classroom where the noise originated.

Looking inside, they saw several more skeletons strewn across the floor. Near a desk was what looked like the charred skeleton of a man who had wings on his back.

"Cupid!" Daria's eyes widened.

"Afraid you're too late, lassy…"

Daria and Jane noticed that there was a survivor near the body of Cupid. It was the St Patrick's Day leprechaun. He too was bloodied and heavily wounded like most of the other bodies.

"Didn't think our paths would cross again, Daria…" the leprechaun told her weakly.

"What happened here?" asked Daria, clutching St Patrick's Day's hand.

"It happened so fast," the leprechaun coughed. "A creature of darkness from beyond this realm… massacred every last one of us… Cupid barely saved my life at the cost of his own."

"What about the other holidays?" inquired Daria. "Christmas? Halloween? Guys Fawkes' Day?"

"Slaughtered like cattle," the leprechaun replied weakly as his pulse grew weaker. "None of us had a fightin' chance…"

"I… I came down here because I thought I would be able to get answers to another supernatural phenomenon in my life," admitted Daria. "Now I'm too late. I'm sorry."

"D-Don't think anybody could've done anything," the leprechaun's hands grew colder. "It called itself Angra Mainyu…

"That name," Daria looked at Jane.

"This is all connected somehow," Jane agreed.

"I got nothin' else," the leprechaun admitted as his breath grew weaker. "Guess it's time… to fade… sorry I couldn't be more help…"

"St Patrick's Day!" Daria held on to his hand. "Wait! You can't go!"

It was too late. The leprechaun's hand had grown limp.

Now Daria and Jane were left with nothing but an abandoned building full of deceased holiday spirits.

"Daria?" Jane asked.

"Let's go," Daria sighed.

She put her hands over the leprechaun's eyes and closed them as a gesture of respect.

The two of them headed of the school back to the darkened beach where the Chinese restaurant stood. They pushed aside the trash compactor and entered into the hole to re-enter into their own world.

"Are you okay?" Jane looked at her friend.

"I met these guys just once in my life before," Daria admitted. "After that, I just pretended like what happened with them was only a dream I had because of digestion problems. But I still feel bad for what happened to all of them."

"So now with the holiday spirits gone, what does that spell for our world?" Jane appeared nervous.

"The implications aren't very good," admitted Daria. "Come on. Let's head to the public library. Maybe we can dig up more information there."

oooo

"What's been going on, Quinn?" Kenneth opened the doors of his house as Quinn entered.

"Oh nothing much Kenneth!" Quinn hopped in. "Just been finalizing my college selections."

"I knew you'd be able to do it with my tutoring," Kenneth smiled, hugging her.

"Yeah, I really owe you once," Quinn kissed her boyfriend.

"Anything new in your life?" Kenneth inquired.

"Well, you wouldn't believe it if I told you, but my sister came back home after dropping out of college!" Quinn exclaimed. "And she was always the smart one! Can you imagine?"

Kenneth suddenly realized that there was a lot at risk, especially now that Daria was back in Lawndale. He had heard of what had happened to Eric and he was not eager to have Daria disrupt the Death Apostles a second time.

"Excuse me for a second, Quinn," Kenneth told her. "I have an urgent phone call I have to make."

"Um, okay?" Quinn looked at him in confusion as Kenneth retreated to a room further down the hall.

Kenneth took out his cell phone and picked a familiar number on speed dial.

"High Priest Moloch?" Kenneth alerted the now-leader of the cult. "Daria Morgendorffer has returned to Lawndale."