Vault of the Fortunate Heir

The canary sang to the high stone wall, as if it were the maiden-bird he’d been courting. She perched nearby, of course, hoping that his golden voice would loosen the locks to a vault full of golden treasure.

One of the most prosperous beasts in the world had died, an heir to a vast and uncounted fortune. News spread that he had a vault that could be opened by a single magical utterance. The utterance was known, but the magic was in how it was uttered. No one knew how it must be done. So all were welcomed to try.

So it was that the beasts of the world made their way to the vault of the fortunate heir.

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Why Beauty Sought the Beast

She did nothing to earn her beauty. It was given to her. And as with many such gifts, beauty was both a boon and a burden to the girl whose name was Imelda.

She was doted on by some, guarded by others, coveted by still others.

Imelda’s mother, who both loved and feared for her girl, spent many sleepless nights wondering when her child would grow old enough to be passed into the protection of another. For she and her husband were humble folk, as their child too would have been. But Imelda’s beauty—while it may not have impressed in a city or even a large town—was quite surpassing in their little village. Surpassing enough to catch the eye of those with greater means. The girl wished to be learned. She wished to explore.

Perhaps her beauty could make it so could do what she dreamed of doing.

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Chainmaker

“What agency are you all from?” the sheriff asked the group of dark-suited men and women who had just entered the building.

A tall dark-haired man in a steel gray suit stepped forward and handed the sheriff a black card. The sheriff looked at the card. It was blank. He turned it over and found another blank side.

The man introduced himself as Joe Chan, then named the members of his team.

Agent Chan explained that the black card was keyed to the sheriff’s thumbprint and when pressed would show the needed contact information. “Once you verify my credentials, I’d like to have a briefing on the latest attacks.”

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