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"It fucking sucks we had such a fucked up meeting." Our mutual memories flare. "I was so sure of myself then, so sure I was doing the right thing. How fucking stupid I was." Before I can even counter she winces. "Fuck, loud much? I can hear you just fine." I laugh a little and feel her smile. "I know it wasn't my choice, but I still feel like shit."
"Welcome to my world." She laughs a little.
"We really are twins." She sighs. "Alright, let's go to your girls." She shrugs away from me and stands up. "Don't look at my ass." She looks down at me.
"I am not." I stand up next to her and flatter out my shirt. "But it is a nice ass if I were to look at it." I smile at her and she nudges me a little.
"76 enemy combatants dead, with 2 captured alive. Mostly." Willow looks at me and I shrug. "We lost 46 of our own, and have another 23 in wounded. I expect to loose at least 6 or 7 of those in the next few days." The whole room seems to collectively get pulled down a bit at that. "Far less than what we were expecting, though."
"Yes." Marion nods as she leans on the giant mirror topped table in the center of all us. "Now, these are all the realms still free." a massive map appears on the mirror, showcasing dozens upon dozens of realms. Only about 10% are glowing blue. "And these are taken over." She swipes a finger across the glass and the other 90% glow red. "We...we are the razors edge of loosing." I look at the map, seeing a majority of the free realms are Fae and Faery tale. In fact nearly none of those realms have fallen, leaving only a scant handful of non Fae like realms still free.
"We've lost, Marion." A gruff looking man who looks like a post apocalyptic version of Santa Clause barks from his seat at the head of the table. He's the United Realms Council Leader, and fuck do I have no idea what he is. He's not human; I know that, humans don't have two sets of eyes. "We might as well negotiate."
"Negotiate for what? Better treatment as their slaves?" Marion glares. "No, Council Leader, negotiating will do nothing for us."
"We have not even tried." He adjusts himself and I hear the clinging of coins. "It warrants an attempt at least. We need to keep all options open." He looks to me. "What do you think, Red Rumple?"
I look at him with confusion. "Emma is the only one who's called me that." He steady stares at me and I get no instinct off of him, at all. It's creepy. "But I agree with Marion. As much as I loath to say that." I sigh. "The Briarwoods are absolute fucking monsters and they won't stop until they've taken us down. They didn't stop last time until they had no choice, and to be honest you all should have executed them all then." Everyone just kind of looks at me, shocked. The girls most of all. "Yeah, I know. I'm the one who has advocated for less drastic means this whole campaign, but let's face it. They won't ever stop. Once we beat them back all they will do is wait, build their armies back up, and try again. They are like a fucking cancer and we've been stopping just shy of removing their tumor." Most people just kind of look at each other confused. "Right, cancer isn't a Uhhh... they're are a weed we keep cutting the stalks off of but not the root."
"So what do you suggest then?" He crosses his arms and stares me down.
"Cut the head off." I shrug. "An elite team of magicians hit the main compound and kill their leadership. After that? The realms will rise up on their own in the chaos." I look to Marion. "Do you know where Godfrey and the rest of his family are?"
"Yes." She shakes her head. "They're on earth, Winston. We can't touch them. There are rules. Divinely enforced rules. The only reason The Briarwoods get away with it is that they act upon the realms and not earth."
"Fuck the rules. They are using them as a shield, hiding behind a wall they know we can't get passed. Well I'm from earth, I was raised there." I stare down on its point in the map. "That makes it my domain, and I say that they can get the fuck out."
"Me too." Sarah walks up beside me. "I'm human; Earth is where I was born. It's my home realm. I wont let them destroy all that I love while hiding from the consequences. If the gods don't like it, they can fuck off." She looks up. "You hear me! You can fuck off!"
"They're not....up there." I place a hand on her shoulder. "The Divine inhabit a realm."
"You know what I was doing, shut up." She shoots me a dirty look and raise my hands. "So? Anyone else going to join us?"
"I can't let you guys go without a healer." Valerie steps up next to Sarah.
"And where my twin goes, I go." Emma steps up next to me.
"I guess we have our elite team then." Marion nods. "Any objections?" She looks around the room at council members and realm leaders. No one says a word. "Then that's settles it, you four are going to be our saviors." I watch her jaw clench and feel her worry. She may be cold as fuck, but she really does love Valerie.
"Huzzah." Emma sighs and we all laugh.
"I've made improvements to this based on how I saw you fight with it." Sarah hands over a new version of her magicians riffle to Emma. "You moved fast with it, so I've improved the grips, added a scope in case you need to, and added in a few crystals you can preload a spell." It looks more threatening now with its brass fittings and glowing crystals. Emma holds it in her hands and the waves of emotion that she's riding through are insane.
"Tha...thank you." She holds it to her chest and sniffles.
"You..." Sarah stops and just hugs Emma. "You're welcome." She pulls back smiling and Emma just nods. "Now for you." She walks over to me and takes off the bracer she gave me before the last battle. "I noticed you didn't really use the riffle as much, and did far better casting. So..." She slaps a new bracer on my arm that looks far improved to the last. New sigils, a few crystals, thicker leather. I can feel the intense buzz of power coming from it.
"Holy shit." I look at it as she snaps another on my other arm. "I...thank you babe." I lean down a bit and give her a kiss. "You better have made cool toys for you and Vivian as well."
"I did." She smiles. "I've got our girl protected to the best of my ability so she can keep us all safe."


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April 2017


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