Longest Lando story ever. It hit 11,745 words in all. More than twice as long as any of the others. Yayyy. I'm very excited about that actually, because I've had these stories partially happening for the last few years.
Aaaaand I'm just going to stop waffling on and let you get on to the ending of the story!
We cornered Zana in the spare bedroom.
Whether she’d been in there already, or if she’d chosen that place to tactfully retreat to, I have no idea, but she was in there, and waiting for us. Except I didn’t know it to start with because she was hiding.
I pushed the door closed, taking a deep breath and stepping forward across the room, glancing around. Thomas mumbled something about sandwiches under his breath, following right behind me.
When Zana flipped out from beneath the bed, she sent me flying back with a popping spell. Thomas hit the wall first and I hit him just after, almost ending up on the floor from Thomas’s scrambling to keep himself upright.
Titus grabbed his arm. “Are you trying to kill my brother?” He flashed a furious glare at Zana, looking ready to jump-tackle her.
“Of course not.” Zana’s sweet smile twanged on my nerves.
Enough was enough.
“Come on.” I nodded at the twins. If we all went at her at once, then she won’t stand a chance, surely.
May as well try anyway.
I charged across the room, vaguely realising after about three steps that I had no idea what I was actually doing. Luckily —or not, depending on one’s point of view— I never actually reached Zana herself.
She flicked her wand once and a surge struck me in the center of the chest, shocks jolting through my limbs. I grabbed forward at the last minute, snatching her wand and jerking it free at the same time as she released another spell, sending me staggering back again.
The cute popping sounds were going to start getting on my nerves soon too.
Sweet tongued fairies, little pops as spells that could take my head of were cast. It was all a little bit down-played and childish really. Why not a couple of explosions?
Sadly I didn’t have dynamite. But I did have a fairy wand.
So I snapped it over my knee.
It exploded in a cloud of burning embers, and I yelled aloud, dropping it and jumping back, blinking my eyes rapidly to try and clear them. Ouch. Not doing that trick again.
Zana screeched something incomprehensible and an orange glow puffed up from the wand, surging a strange sort of humming through the room. The twins doubled over, suddenly gasping and heaving like they were being strangled.
I jerked my gaze up to Zana. “What are you doing to them?”
“Oh.” There came that sweet smile again. “I’m afraid they’re not so good at handling the heat.”
Come to mention it, my headache had started throbbing horribly again. “Heat? It’s…not that bad.” I grabbed Titus’s arm, shaking him. “Ti?”
Titus choked in another breath, pain straining across his face, apparently unable to reply.
Okay then. Zana was being serious this time.
I spun back to her. Up to me then. Time for Lando to save the world. Problem was, how?
“I’m afraid they might die if they can’t breathe. They’ve only got a bit longer before they pass out.” She tsked under her breath. “Humans are such petty creatures.”
“Yeah so that’s a reason to kill us all, right?” I stepped forward, trying to ignore the fact that my hands were shaking like crazy. With luck, Zana would ignore that too.
“Pfft. There’s always reason to annihilate an entire race.” She shrugged, waving one hand carelessly.
It was impossible. How could anyone be that cold hearted?
“I don’t think so,” I replied, glaring at her.
My headache was growing steadily worse, and I realised that if I hung around talking for much longer, it wasn’t going to be just the twins affected.
I punched toward her face, hoping that she knew less about martial arts than I did. She caught my fist and twisted, exploding pain up my wrist. Then her other hand came up and slapped me full across the cheek.
Reeling back, I gasped for breath, everything darkening around me from the force of her blow. I am never going to say ‘hits like a girl’ ever again. That fairy wasn’t just giggles and may-I-chop-off-your-head-please? She had plenty more strength than it looked.
I clasped my hand to my burning cheek, trying to regain my footing properly. Just beside me, Thomas collapsed to the floor, curling into a ball. Panic threatened to flood everything else out, but I held it back with an effort.
Cold fire. I gulped in a deep breath and tried to focus on some cold element inside. Nothing. Nothing at all. Just hot. Very hot.
Plan C. Or was it H by now?
Bending down, I grabbed the two pieces of snapped wand off the floor by my feet and threw them at Zana. She ducked back, giving me enough time to snatch a book off the shelf along the wall and swing it into the side of her head as hard as I could.
It smacked her hard enough that she went sprawling across the floor.
I dropped the book, almost following her down as my vision swayed. But the throbbing in my head improved instantly, and Titus staggered to his feet, heaving in huge mouthfuls of air.
I’d done it.
Crouching nervously beside Zana, I picked up her wrist gingerly and felt for her pulse. Phew, I hadn’t killed her completely then. With luck it would be a case of concussion. Amnesia would be perfect, but maybe too much to ask for at this stage.
“It’s okay,” I managed, my mouth dryer than normal. “She’s out.”
Titus gripped my shoulder, and I twisted, looking up at him. “You saved our lives.”
“Yeah.” I staggered to my feet. “No problem. Anytime.”
Thomas pushed up onto his hands and knees, wincing but otherwise looking considerably better than a few moments before.
“Now what?” I broke the moment of silence, staring uncertainly down at the unconscious fairy.
“I got a plan,” Thomas mumbled, standing.
“Mhm?” I turned to look his way. “Good plan or bad plan?”
“Duct tape.” Thomas wrinkled his nose at Zana. “I think we should duct tape her up.”
I glanced down at her, then at Titus and nodded. “Sounds fair enough to me.”
Then something jumped at me from behind.
I yelled aloud, flinching in panic, desperately grabbing at the thing that had landed on my shoulder. A moment later I realised what it was. The hybrid rabbit-bird Fluff Ball perched just by my ear, watching me with an offended air as I prised it away.
“What on earth—?” Titus gaped.
“Skvader,” I said, completely butchering the correct pronunciation. “The critter that started this whole thing in the first place.”
The twins both just stared as I placed it firmly in the center of the open book on the floor and pressed it against the pages before slamming the cover shut.
“Did you just—” Thomas stammered in disbelief and I lifted the book and shoved it beneath another book —even though I knew it was useless. “Did you just squish that thing?”
“What? Oh, no. It teleports through books, sorta.” I shrugged. “Where do you think we’d find duct tape?”
The twins both stared for another moment before Titus lifted one should halfway. “No clue.”
I grunted. That made for three of us then.
Two seconds later and the rabbit-bird bounded in through the door, carrying a roll of duct tape in its mouth.
Blinking, I crouched and grabbed for the tape, only to have the creature bounce back out of reach. I narrowed my eyes slightly, glaring at it and lunging forward. Successful only in landing my face into the floor.
The creature dashed from the room and I followed, scrambling along behind. I almost lost sight of it, but sped up, and ducked around another door, almost yelping again as it dropped onto my shoulder. I pulled it away, dumping it in the sink of what seemed to be a bathroom. All along one wall were stacks of duct tape rolls.
Why did Zana keep her duct tape in the bathroom? I haven’t got a clue.
A few moments later, the twins appeared, dragging Zana between them. Thomas grunted at the sight of the duct tape and heaved the fairy over to the ornate looking bathtub and dropped her in.
Reaching over, I tossed Thomas and Titus each a roll of duct tape. “Go ahead,” I offered, my voice squeaking at the end as the rabbit-bird dropped onto me, misjudging and landing on my head instead of my shoulder.
I reached up, thoroughly annoyed, and dragged it off, wincing as it pulled at my hair. “Okay, be right back.”
I grabbed the creature, carrying it outside until I found a book on a low table set against the hallway wall. I flipped a couple of pages, shoved the hybrid in and slammed it shut, lifting one of the legs of the table and jamming the book beneath its weight.
That should about do it.
A scampering came from the hallway behind me and I spun, dreading what I might see.
The creature stopped mid-scamper, sitting upright and staring up at me, it’s tiny nose twitching slightly, wings splaying out across the floor.
“Fine,” I growled, turning on my heel.
A moment later and it was sitting on my shoulder again.
“I said ‘fine’ not ‘sit on my shoulder,’” I protested, pushing it away as it tried to eat my hair. “That’s not grass.”
It just shuffled sideways until it wasn’t right up next to my hair and sat there, wriggling it’s nose disdainfully at everything and nothing.
I wasn’t sure how much longer I was going to be able to take this, but on the other hand it was slightly cute…I pulled it off my shoulder and dumped it —gently— on the floor, ignoring it as it started tagging along right beside me as if my ankle was its personal travel buddy.
A movement whizzed past the window, grey and blurred with speed and I ran forward, ducking into the bathroom again. “Hey guys, Mum’s here—” I broke off, staring at Zana. Or more, what I could see of her past the duct tape half cocooning her. “Wow. You’re not doing this in halves are you?”
Titus looked down at their handy work. “Hmm…nah. May as well go all the way.”
“And I had an idea.” Thomas waved a magic Net ReLocator vaguely. Or rather, four of them duct taped together at the corners. “I thought we could ReLocate this whole island. That way, not only is Zana duct taped, she’s also abducted. And so is her castle!”
“But wouldn’t that ReLocate her onto Dragon Island?” I pointed out.
“Ah…yes.” Thomas bent over the Nets again, fiddling with something I couldn’t even see. “Still working on that.”
“M’kay.” I shrugged and turned back to the door, tripping over the rabbit-bird and almost falling flat on my face. I only just managed to stop myself from falling, catching hold of the sink and stumbling several paces. “Oy, get out of the way,” I complained, stepping over the creature and going to wait at the door while Thomas finished his work and Titus idly started juggling used up rolls of duct tape.
It was only a few minutes later when I led the twins back outside. We met Mum in the main hall entrance and she slumped in relief.
“You’re all okay?”
“Yep.” I nodded.
It had been close, but in the end it hadn’t turned out too awfully.
She nodded us over to the grey dragon, hauling me up first, followed by the twins just behind. “Okay. You’d better be ready to go, because we’re going now even if you’re not.”
“I am.” I nodded quickly. “Would you mind flying up first so we can be over top of the island first?”
She narrowed her eyes in my direction but then nodded. “Okay.”
The wind roared in my ears as the ground dropped away unexpectedly, and I grabbed at Mum’s shoulders to stop myself from falling off completely. Thomas grabbed me from behind, almost breaking my shoulder with the tightness of his grip. I didn’t particularly mind.
He could’ve died. And Titus. And me. I could’ve died.
Not mentioning annihilation of the entire human race.
The dragon soared upward and a moment later I saw a blur of gold as Thomas dropped the Net. It spun downward, slipping from sight as the dragon banked to the side and tipped its wing down, sending us in a streaking line toward Dragon Island.
I craned over my shoulder, watching Zana’s Island.
It was gone. One moment there, the next nowhere to be seen.
I felt relief flood through me. That was it. The end. No more Zana Bradford stalking my birthday parties. No more duct tape kidnappings. Phew.
Admittedly I was a little disappointed for a moment, realising how boring it might get without Zana.
Haha. Ha. As if one little ReLocation was going to stop her from ever finding me again.
In the end, all I did was give her more reasons to annoy me.
I’d just bought myself a quick little break before things really started.
- end -
And that brings us to the end of this story! It's been an interesting ride, and jeez it doesn't look like Lando is getting out of this completely. But he's going to get a little break hopefully before Zana pops up again.
In the meantime...I have no idea what I'm doing. As per usual. I'm just bumbling on and hoping there's a story happening by the time I next need one.
Although on that note, I may have found a story idea that I could use for a new serial...
Should I stick with Lando for longer, or are you interested in hearing about this possibility for a new full story?
(possibility. Not necessarily realistically doable.)
Does anyone have ideas/inspiration/requests for other Lando Stories?