Authors Note: This started as a 2004 Halloween treat for the members of the Yahoo! The_Wizards_And_Warriors_Club at the suggestion of the moderator Galen Blackpool. (LarenW-Heirs Apparent)

Die, Die, Die

By DH Kitty

Geoffrey Blackpool stole away from the group touring Kateia's largest cheese factory. A new magic called auto animation meant that most of the processing could take place without human supervision. It freed up more men to fight in his brother's war and left him to get a snack without anyone to either hinder or help him. Geoff snuck onto the walkway over the huge tanks of curds and whey and bend down for a sample. His foot slipped, and he fell, crashing onto the catwalk and then flipping into the vat. Disoriented, Geoffrey thrashed around trying to find a way to get air instead of whey into his lungs. Vainly he tried to reach the walkway. Every time he stretched his hand up, his head went down. Growing tired, he floundered toward the edge of the tank. His armor and whey soaked clothing were dragging him down. His hand slipped off the side of the tank, once, twice, three times. As he sank into the milky mixture, he thought that this was a cheesy way for a prince to die.

"Get me a cheese sandwich" Geoffrey Blackpool-Caverns of Chaos

Justin Greystone was enjoying his "fact finding" trip to Kateia's vine country. He was supposed to be investigating the new blood-red wine that was said to make Blackpool's troops even more vicious, but he was spending more time studying the beds of the ladies of the vineyards. He was finally going to learn some of the finer points of wine making, by stomping grapes with some of the more attractive women. As he admired the ladies' hard work, someone tripped him, and he fell on his backside into the grapes. This was an even better view of the shapely legs of the hard stomping workers. Or so Justin thought until a foot came down on something that definitely wasn't meant to be squashed. With a high pitched cry, he curled up in agony. He was helpless to avoid being stepped on and kicked several more times. This was defiantly turning into something the Greystone Prince wasn't enjoying. Every time he tried to stand, the jostling crowd of women knocked him back down. His pleas went unheeded. The ladies didn't seem to care if they stepped on him or the grapes. He scrambled toward the edge of the tub and was greeted by a large man bearing the familiar look of an angry father / brother / boyfriend / husband. The fellow grinned as the foot of his daughter / sister / girlfriend / wife came down to mash Justin's hand. The prince struggled toward the opposite side of the vat and was met by more unfriendly male faces. As more and more feet came down to break his bones and crushed his juices into that of the grapes, Justin realized that he was going to be drunk.

"I'm fine as wine" Justin Greystone-Caverns of Chaos

Vector was fuming. The roof of the aviary containing his lightning hawks had leaked. There were puddles of water on the floor, and some of his favorite pets were ill. As the wizard reached to tend to a sick bird, the feverish hawk mistook him for an enemy and fired off a lightning bolt. The wizard was shocked. He'd trained and trusted his pets and hadn't thought to protect himself from the possibility of them turning on him. The noise and confusion caused several others of the delirious creatures to also go off. As electricity surged though his body, the wizard did a strange little dance in the pool of water in which he was standing. He was dead before his smoking corpse fell into the droppings of his beloved pets.

"No one has ever escaped from my lightning hawk" Vector-The Rescue

Marko did not get many chances to go dancing while being Erik's vassal and was trying to make up for lost time. He'd danced every dance so far and had worn out several partners. He felt a pain in his chest, probably heartburn from that last helping of dinner that Cassandra had served him. Perhaps he should go on that diet that Erik was always nagging him about. He noticed an ache in his left arm. He must have been too stressed out on his latest rescue mission to notice pulling a muscle. Marko's breath was getting short. He hadn't done this much dancing in years. Unfortunately for the overweight, overworked, out of shape vassal, no one had invented a Camarand version of CPR, and his uncle, Traquil, arrived too late to help him continue living up to the title of "twinkle toes."

"I'm gonna do me some dancing" Marko-The Kidnap

Dirk Blackpool finished the entry in his book of enemies and closed the newly started volume. His hand lingered over the black leather cover. He'd just gotten the books hard-bond. He'd considered having them use human skin but decided it wasn't sturdy enough. He picked the book up and put it on the packed shelves holding the rest of the list. As he turned to leave, he heard a low groan. He cried out in alarm has the overloaded shelves collapsed on top of him. Pounds and pounds of books broke his legs and crushed his chest. He couldn't move. He couldn't call for help. He couldn't breathe! As he sank into death, he tried to remember if he had put the name of the carpenter who had built his bookshelves on his list.

"I was just adding a name to my list of enemies" Dirk Blackpool-Night of Terror

Erik Greystone thought that this had to be the messiest rescue ever as he killed the last of the slime demons that had threatened Princess Ariel. His sword and armor were covered with green goop. He looked around for something to wipe the gunk off. What a time for Marko to be taking the day off. Ariel forced herself to swallow her disgust, and offered to help Erik clean up. She'd been advised to be "nice" to Erik to get him interested in her, and she was going to do it even if it killed one of them. While Erik stripped off his chest plate, Ariel used one of her scarves to wipe off his sword. Suddenly, Erik was entranced as Belldonna appeared before him. She warned him that deathly force was moving though Aperans and that honesty was not always the best policy. With uncharacteristic insight, Ariel noticed that Erik seemed to be talking to and about some woman and was gazing with the kind of rapt attention that she would have given up her favorite hat to get. Then Ariel heard Erik call this mysterious Belldonna person "the most beautiful woman in the entire world." Here she was cleaning his icky sword and trying to be nice, and Erik was mooning over another woman who he thought was prettier than her! In blind fury she thrust his weapon back at him and stomped away. Erik came out of his trance and tugged at the blade sticking out of his chest. His magic sword could indeed kill anything alive, including a prince who couldn't tell a lie to save his life.

"I've got my sword, forged by magic, blessed by three generations of book readers; it can not be broken and has the power to slay any living creature." Erik Greystone-The Rescue

Ariel had found the greatest treasure in all of Camarand. How she ended up alone in the laundry/sewing room of Madam Sally's Tadmon Ranch didn't matter. What mattered was that it was filled with lace and leather made into the most interesting of garments. Some of the lace items were barely bigger than her handkerchief. And, the leather pants seemed to be missing some curious parts. Wearing these would make her desirable in a way that she'd only read of in the "not for an innocent young lady's eyes" books that she'd once found. Even though she didn't have the servants who usually helped her in and out of her clothes, Ariel couldn't resist the chance to engage in dress up, especially with the leather thingies that she was so passionate about. Fortunately for the princess many of the "ladies" of the house were as petite as she was. (King Tronin had been a frequent visitor.) As Ariel was admiring herself in a three way mirror, she heard people coming. While she had a lot to learn about royal etiquette, she realized it would cause a scandal if she was caught wearing nothing but lace stockings, and leather underwear. Besides like another famous blond burglar, she had to try out everything until she found what was just right. And, then she'd find a way to gain ownership of the best pieces, particularly the leather ones, sneak them into Castle Baaldorf and hide them from the people who thought a "good" princess shouldn't have such naughty clothes. Her dress was not made to be put on quickly, especially without a handmaid's help. Moreover, she'd lost track of it among the other garments. While a pile of dirty laundry was no place for a lady, it seemed to be her only option. Her hiding place turned out to be directly under the laundry shoot, and the staff began stripping the beds. The first sheet that landed on top of the princess was leather, and Ariel thought she was in heaven. Beddings of silk and satin and lace and leather and various other types of fabric poured down onto the princess. And, as more and more coverings piled up, the princess found it was getting increasingly stuffy. She decided it was too much. Ariel tried to struggle and cry out, but it felt like a giant hand was pressing her down. As she died, Ariel realized that she'd been smothered by those she loved.

"Lace is my favorite thing in the whole world. 'Cept for leather." Ariel Baaldorf-The Kidnap

Bethel sat dressed in an ample black robe as the Council examined the deaths of Geoffrey Blackpool, Justin Greystone, Vector, Marko, Dirk Blackpool, Erik Greystone, Ariel Baaldorf, Sarris Blackpool, Ariel's parents, Richard Greystone and others. The witch had found it simple to trick, trip and trap Geoffrey Blackpool in tank of his favorite treat. She'd lured Justin to Kateia's wine country, fueled the men's fury at the prince's peccadilloes and suggested they force their females to kill him. Loosing a few shingles and exposing his hawks to a nasty flu had lead to Vector's demise. Bethel had been more direct with Marko, actually slipping poison into his food to bring on heart failure. The vassal hadn't been her main target. She'd cast a spell which would have caused any attempt at healing to backfire on his Uncle Traquil and destroy him. But, the wizard had arrived too late and hadn't used his magic. Bethel actually was remorseful about sabotaging Dirk's bookshelves to kill her lover. The witch had used Belldonna to play Erik Greystone before, but she hadn't expected his death to be so easy and an angry princess to be so lethal. Ariel hadn't remembered getting into Madam Sally's because she'd been zapped there while blinded by tears. Bethel had briefly considered disguising herself and accidentally strangling Ariel while they got "friendly", but smothering her in leather and lace had been simpler and safer. Killing Sarris had been an unexpected, but welcome, side-effect of murdering Vector. Weak from his long illness, the monarch succumbed to the shock that had surged though the connection forged when the wizard tried to kill the king. By blocking the exits and starting a fire, Bethel had turned the memorial service for the heirs of Greystone and Baaldorf into a funeral pyre for their parents and relatives. Again, Traquil's tardiness had prevented him from either saving Bethel's victims or becoming one of them. Although she couldn't be forced to testify without some proof, Bethel freely confessed to her part in all the murders.

The Council members were staggered. Bethel admitted to practically wiping out the royal bloodlines of both the North and South! While some of Justin's lovers had had children, the extent of his philandering and the marital status of many of his conquests made the question of inheritance impossibly complex. Even though magic could be sense the presence of royal blood, the loud and vocal male support for the "Great Kateia Grape Stomp" made few women willing to risk the questioning of their offspring's paternity. And, if an illegitimate successor was to be recognized, he or she had to be more than the product of a casual fling.

The Council members were even more stunned when the witch stood and dropped the loose robe she was wearing. Her nudity was less shocking than her thickening waistline. The witch shouldn't have been able to conceive unless she gave up her monocle, and Bethel still had hers. Bethel explained that Dirk Blackpool had possessed surprising abilities and had managed to mix magic and royal blood in an unexpected way. Now she was expecting his child. She'd had a vision she thought was of Dirk as king, but it was his son who would rule not only the north but all of Camarand. And, as the future Mother of the only heir to Kateia and Camarand, she declared that she was Queen. Bethel's pregnancy had obviously driven the witch insane.

The Council could have easily sentenced the multi-murdering witch to death or worse, but chose imprisonment. Although she was crazy and homicidal, Bethel was carrying the tri-kingdom heir. Their decision turned out to be less than kind. Mixing magic and royal blood had its consequences. After suffering though a painful pregnancy and a long, agonizing labor, Bethel died giving birth to strong, healthy and princely baby boy. Although aged and sleepy, the wizard Traquil was elected to raise the child and serve as regent.

Traquil looked down at his new ward, the king of Kateia and Camarand. When Bethel had seduced him about nine months ago, he never thought that this might be the result. She'd wanted the wizard's help cast a spell to "aid the joining of a man and woman." Traquil imagined it would help their lovemaking. Bethel believed it would make Dirk marry her. Neither of them had ever expected it would cause the witch get to get pregnant. While the child definitely had Blackpool blood, old wizard couldn't help wonder if there was a little of himself in the boy. But, no matter how he'd been conceived, no matter who his parents were, Prince Dirk Blackpool the second was a cute little bastard.

"And, when will I be queen." Bethel-Unicorn of Death