Usual Disclaimers: 1) Slayers and its characters belong to Kanzaka-san and his posse. 2) If it's not in the anime, it's not in the canon I work from. Won't be repeating this for every chapter; both are always true.

Notes: This story started as an experiment in style, just to try something new. That would be this prologue; the rest isn't like this. At all. It was fun to write, but not sustainable.

Wash the Windows, Sunshine
by Nightfall

Grandma he say, Beware wolves tonight, my love. Full moon tonight, blue moon coming, red moon arising.

And Riding Hood all innocence, face screwed tight suspicion, Okay, you fruitcake, she say, what are you up to now?

And from beneath the bonnet's lacy shadows, wolf he laugh, he sob, O precious darling, not me this time. But he gobble she up anyhow, hold her deep in he belly.

Woodcutter's flaming blade it cut him bright, cut him open top to bottom. Wolf, he only laugh til he eyes leak bloody tears, till he step out his fur. Step out from himself, black creature, he armor so heavy he feet no lift, black mailed arm wrap tight around she lily throat, he say, If you do not curse this blade and kill me with it before I bless it, you will surely die. The world will be your escort into hell, for my name is blackened before God and the Master of Games, and my blessings go all awry.

Then, he say, simple woodsman, simple simon, Don't.

But don't you see? ask he old spook, smiling, crimson tears run free from slack sockets he empty eyes, lift he wrists in jointed gauntlets, show woodsman he chains, and she fanged shadow on the wall loom nearer, inch close. Don't you see the strings?

But Maid already curse she blade, curse to shatter she world, and when the lights fade away, Mother look out Her eyes. Simple jack gape and She, She mourn, O Beast.

Beast say to golden fairy, Sweet lady, my choices are gone, or you would never have felt my claws.

Then, say Beauty to monster, I Will Free You, And You Will Have All The Choices In The World, For In A Thousand Years And Twelve I Have Never Had Such A Jester. She make herself he ox, he coat gold red like she blood sand, and from he belly pull white dog he howl, he eyes blue like northest deepest ice, and from it she pull spitting grey cat, he acid eyes eat she moon, and from it soot-blue goose, she bite Her with she golden beak. From she goose's feather breast She draw he hard lava ball, he smooth and black and dressed in she cream silk. He ball shatter and comes he rose, all crimson dry with he black blood, and with rose She pierce he chest, She press it close till thorns swallowed and he scream, he scream, he scream.

Then black armor crack, break and thunder, and when he dark dust fallen, unenchanted he rogue he sit quiet and naked in she dust, he fool, he face still stone with they salt tears stream down. Sweet lady, he say, O best beloved, how can I live with grave shadows all around me, or with this blood I have shed when I did not know myself?

It drip from he hands and mouth, from he tips of he vanished claws and fangs, and pool on the floor until he near to drowning.

But she God Mother she frown down, she answer, I Gave You All Choices, Priest. You Have Only To Make One, And That Is How You Will Live.

But Fool he bow his head and say, A jester must be heartless or heart-whole, and the wolf ate my innocence in the moonlight.

I Will Return It If You Wish, she say, For Your Heart Was Ever Mine, And A Child Should Mend Her Own Toys.

And then she gold, and then she gold.

When it done, and woodsman he scratching his head at they two sleeping in she dust, that gleaming dragon he step out from they shadows, he say, It is the end of the nightmare, and we return to the waking world. See you to your maiden, and I to the child, and in the end it may yet be well. And he fly away with he small bundle in he golden talons to they howls, they thousand thwarted wolves.

And when she wake again her own colors hurt he eyes so pink so black, and she say to woodsman, What the hell happened NOW, and where did that scheming purple nutjob go, all he can answer be, Gee, Lina, I forget.

And Red Cloak she growl like she wolf, and sigh, Typical, yogurt-brains.