Once upon a time, there was a beautiful maiden who was born from a mortal man and a servant of the gods. This maiden grew without knowledge of her mother, and she became strong-willed and passionate.
Her name was Sasha.
There was another beautiful maiden, born from a pair of wicked, wicked people. She was raised on their affluence and cruelty, but at her heart she was still a good, pure soul.
Her name was Irina.
Sasha and Irina met and fell in love. The loved in secret, for a time, but then, the Great Serpent of the Eclipse came, and struck down their home, and revealed to them their enemies.
And thus did the maidens join together and thwart their enemies, and forever ended the terrible curse that had very nearly claimed their lives. They were free from the machinations of the terrible curse-bound monsters that had tried to slay them, and they wandered off into the world, and lived happily ever after.
That is what a storybook would have you believe. A fairy tale ending to a suddenly harsh and very nearly tragically short pair of beautiful lives.
But they did not live happily ever after. For those touched by the gods, those who have danced with dark monsters and evil magics, are not so easily discarded to the pages of history.
And it is the curse of heroes that they shall never know rest from fate.
Storybook Infinite Eclipse 2
"Order up!" You hear Larry, one of the cooks, call. You glance at the clock and realize that this is probably going to be the last table of the night, which comes as a relief to you, because if one more overzealous trucker gets his hands anywhere near your ass he's going to be driving in a cast.
Your name is Irina Svoboda. You take the tray of food out into the diner, to a family of four sitting near the door, careful to avoid any route that would take you to some of the sleazier patrons.
"Alright, here you go! One cheesburger, with onion rings and a strawberry shake, one deluxe caesar salad with crispy chicken, one order of chicken fingers and fries, and a deluxe corndog and fries." You say with the most enthusiastic expression you can muster.
"No, thank you, darlin'." The mother says.
"Okay, well, my shift's about up, but that girl over there." You point to a blonde girl who is just now putting on her apron. "Is Rachel, and she'll be taking care of you for the rest of your stay. Enjoy!"
Your smile fades as you get into the back room. You let out a loud, protracted sigh as you remove your apron and dump it in the laundry bin.
Steven, one of the cooks, a portly, good natured man, walks in back.
"Hey, Irina. First of all, I'm just the messenger."
You give him a death glare. "No. No no no. Tell Ricky I am not working another shift this week."
"He told me to tell you he wants you in on the breakfast shift tomorrow. Just Five to Nine. He also wants me to tell you that he'll be hiring a new girl soon, any day now."
"I really believed him when he told me that when I started this job." You grumble.
"Well....maybe I couldn't catch you before you could leave?" He says with a smile.
"No...no, we need the money. Tell him I'll be here."
"Sorry kid. It's just because you're the newest employee."
"Yeah, I know. Have a good shift, Steve."
"Yeah. Say hi to Sasha for me."
You're grumbling all the way to the parking lot, muttering about how you'd really like to have your boss meet your girlfriend's mom one arrow at a time.
The sun's still setting on this early summer evening. Ahead of you, you see field after field of nigh endless soybeans beyond the small highway Frank's Quality Diner rests on like a knife protruding from the back of the Midwest. A handful of family cars and a pair of semis are parked out front, and you can still smell the fryer grease, but you're not sure if it's the diner or the fact that it's baked into your uniform.
Sasha's late again, but it's probably more the car than anything else. It's quiet out here, not quite hot yet, but you can tell it's definitely going to be soon. You hope the air conditioning gets fixed by then.
You're standing at the edge of the parking lot, waiting.
> Sing a little song. If we improvise the lyrics a little to include the death of our boss, all the better.
"Oh, I'd shove his head up his ass, but who-oo'd notice? I'd beat him to death but then his blood might never wash! I'd...."
You're interrupted when an ear-piercing wail cuts through the air. It sounds like a siren and a jet engine and a person all in one and it hurts so god damn bad that you hold your ears and fall to your knees.
You look up, your eyes wanting to close themselves in pain as you try to see what's making the noise.
Across the street, you see what looks to be a little boy. He looks like he's dressed in something from the 1800s, and he's wearing what you think is...a fox mask? He sees you looking at him, and then looks away, and at an angle, like he's looking at something.
"What just happened?" You ask, slowly standing up. You have a cramp in your legs, now.
"You tell me." Sasha replies, worried. She's wearing her snakeskin trench coat, still. She never really takes it off. You can see the still impressive scar where her face, what feels like so long ago, was torn by a bullet. When you almost lost her. "I've been shaking you for ten minutes."
"...what? That's ridiculous. I couldn't have possibly..." And then you stop and think about your threshold for the absurd. "Okay. I heard this really loud, really freaky noise. I covered my ears, and when I looked around, I saw a creepy little boy wearing a fox mask."
"What made him creepy?" Sasha asks as she leads you to her car. It's ancient, and half the time it doesn't work, but it's basically all you could afford with no real proof of a high school education or a valid address and a terrible income.
"He was dressed in old timey clothes and wearing a fox mask. I think that's enough." You get in the passenger's seat.
"Alright, fair." She gets in the driver's seat. "What happened next?"
"Well, he pointed..." You look in that direction.
You see, in the distance, a castle.
You're fairly certain that's never been there before.
> Damn it, it's finally got to us. We've clearly gone crazy. Let's just go home...
"I...oh, nevermind. Probably just me wanting to strangle Ricky."
She winces as you start to drive off, towards home.
"Another last minute shift?"
You nod, trying to roll down the window. You get it about halfway down when it refuses to move up or down altogether. "Tomorrow morning. Fucking piece of junk."
"And you're sure it's just nerves?"
"I don't know. Maybe I've finally snapped or something." You sigh, looking out into the endless sea of green outside the car window.
"...would you like it if I hung around tomorrow morning during your shift? Guns in the car?"
You look over at her. She's serious. She's always serious when there's a chance something could be up. So far, nothing has been. But you can't be too sure some psycho zombie with oversized farm equopment won't show up.
"Wouldn't you miss work?"
"I can call in a half day. With all the sexist comments I get there, I deserve at least some vacation time."
Do you want her to hang out during your shift tomorrow? Ricky hates it when she does, which is another selling point.
> Definitely - having Sasha around will get us some revenge and some peace of mind.
You especially like the revenge part.
You head back home, to your "lovely" apartment. It's an efficiency in a small town not far from the diner. It also contains the hardware store Sasha works at.
It's not much, but you're saving up for better. You and Sasha take your GED soon. Then maybe you can think about college, assuming you don't have another major problem, due to the fact that most of the things that prove your were ever born were destroyed by a wrathful snake goddess.
Sasha prepares dinner for you, and the two of you talk, and when you go to sleep, she has calmed you enough that the incident almost feels like a dream itself.
And so did the maidens, poor in wealth, but rich in what truly mattered, drift off to peaceful, restful sleep, unaware of the nightmare to come.
You're woken up by your cell phone going off. Sasha is wrapped tightly around you, like she normally is when she gets half the chance. She jokes that you're her heat rock, and you're not entirely sure that's not an accurate description.