Welcome to Book 9: Welcome to Fairyland.
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Preface from Mooderino
“Thanks very much for the offer,” I said with the requisite tone of gratitude. It’s not easy to fake sincerity when you’re known for being a sarky git, but it helps when you’re in front of someone who doesn’t know you very well. “I really do appreciate it, but what with being Gorgoth’s new Lord Protector, I don’t think I’ll have time to be King of the Fairies, too.”
A quick recap for those of you arriving late. I had managed to free the old gods as planned and had made my way out of the Church of the Shrine (the big skull shaped building in the middle of Gorgoth — most buildings of prominence are shaped like a giant penis, so a skull wasn’t that disturbing).
I was ready to disappear into the background as war consumed those parties interested in proving their dominance (i.e. not me).
My thinking was that while they were busy scratching each other’s eyes out, I would be able to sneak off and do my own thing, which mainly involved not being part of the mutually assured destruction I had put into motion (fingers crossed).
The old gods, it turned out, were a bunch of fairies (no insult intended) and had been in conflict with Elfs or Visitors or the Council of Four or someone —I wasn’t too hot on the details — for long before I arrived on the scene.
Joshaya was working with them (I hadn’t nailed down if he was a fairy, too, but it was high on my list of things I was perfectly fine never learning if it meant being left the fuck alone) and, as Pope of Gorgoth, he had prepared a selection of ambulatory corpses for the disembodied returnees.
I had to admit, it was a pretty neat idea to have the bodies up and moving around so the muscles were all limber and ready for action.
If you put your newly released spirits of the fairy-gods inside bodies that have been lying around, you’re just inviting trouble. It’s bad enough when a coma patient finally comes round and has to cope with extreme muscle loss, imagine what it’s like after you’ve been dead and stuck in a coffin for a few years.
Not only had the old gods been quickly rehoused inside top of the line second-hand bodies (only one previous owner), but it turned out there had been a number of juvenile fairies that had escaped capture who were waiting for this moment, and were now also occupying some of Joshaya’s post-life body suits (made with one hundred percent real human bodies).
There was something about this that didn’t seem quite right, but it wasn’t the right time to ask questions. When I left the temple, the entire cast of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was waiting for me. The Golden God turned out to be Queen of the Fairies, which I don’t think I should be blamed for not realising. Some women have a lot of bass in their voice like Lauren Bacall or that girl from The Exorcist when she’s masturbating with a crucifix.
The Fairy Queen seemed to be impressed with my having released her when no one else had managed it, although I wasn’t entirely sure anyone else had really tried.
You tell someone you’re going to find a way to free them from the eternal nightmare of being trapped in a dark and endless void, but then other things crop up that need to be dealt with and it slips down the list. We’ve all been there.
She had offered me her vulva and a place by her side (for quick access to the vulva, I presume), but my assumption I’d get to be the king was a little off.
“King? You think you will be my king?” The Fairy Queen’s generous mood evaporated before my eyes. “You overestimate your worth.”
Overestimating my worth is probably the one thing I should never be accused of. Good luck finding any evidence.
“Then what?” I said. Not that I was interested in any role, vulva-adjacent or otherwise, but I was curious to see how quickly gratitude would be replaced by contempt. She’d have to shift her arse if she wanted to beat the record.
“You would be my consort. Provider of my pleasure and my comfort. It would be a great honour for you.”
Tempting, huh? What red-blooded male wouldn’t jump at the chance to be gigolo to the Fairy Queen? The body she was currently inhabiting was even female, which happened to be my preference.
That doesn’t mean I denounce anyone else’s preference. People get very shirty about not including certain groups on lists, like you’re trying to minimise their potential.
They probably don’t genuinely think it’s phobic if you don’t fancy fucking a someone you aren’t sexually attracted to, I think the problem is smartphones. People are so used to letting apps organise everything, they’ve forgotten how lists work. You’re supposed to not include things, that’s why it’s called a fucking list. Otherwise, they’d call it a dictionary.
However, despite the fairy queen being female (pro-vagina, vulva-ambivalent), I was put off by the fact she was also very fat (hey, try to remember what I just said — my list, not yours) and also very grey-skinned with black pits for eyes. She was a very scary looking woman who intimidated me on many levels, and attracted me on very few. That’s not a recipe for a long-term relationship, not until you’re over forty and willing to take a knee.
I could have asked the Fairy Queen to switch bodies with someone more to my taste, but they would still be dead and I would still not be interested.
“Oh, so recently deceased people aren’t good enough for your cis male prejudice?”
That’s right. I’m a terrible person who judges necrophiliacs like they’re not as good as me.
There was also another thing I was curious about when it came to the fairies.
“It’s great that you want me to work on your vulva,” I said with enthusiasm, even though it sounded like quite a lot of work. I’d probably have to get certificated by the local vulva dealership. “Only, wouldn’t you rather have one of your male fairies do it? He probably knows more about what’s under the hood than I do.”
There was an awkward silence.
“You do have male fairies, right?” I continued, unable to let the silence linger. “You don’t eat them after copulating, do you? Haha.” No one else was laughing.
Suggesting that a powerful and dominant woman must be squeezing men dry of their semen and then killing them once she’d used them up could be perceived as a misogynistic disparagement of female empowerment, or possibly a post on Reddit (with 36.5K upvotes), but you should bear in mind that I had just escaped from an island full of cannibals. I also had a bit of a tan going which might have given my skin a gently sautéed look. It was worth checking, that’s all I’m saying.
“Enough of this,” said the Fairy Queen. “We have not time for this foolishness. You will attend me and my needs, and you will be grateful for my favours.”
Something told me I wouldn’t be grateful. Especially not for her favours.
“Hold on. I saved you, remember? What kind of gratitude is this?”
“I am allowing you to live.” She said it like this was the greatest gift she could possibly bestow.
“No,” I said. “I’m allowing you to live. You were stuck in a hole with no way out. No one else opened the door for you. They defeated you. You failed last time you tried this, and if you don’t accept that your mistakes were mistakes, you’ll just be that idiot who thinks this time all they have to do to win is make the same mistakes, just harder and faster.”
Pretty ballsy, huh? Not really.
There’s this thing people don’t really appreciate about talent and ability. We all have this special gift, all of us, that allows us to improve. It’s a gift we have since birth and it’s available to everyone. It’s simple: the more you do something, the better you get at it.
I’m not saying you bounce a ball enough and you get to play in the NBA. It’s not about being the best, just better than you were.
There is, I will admit, a small group of activities that don’t quite fit this proposition. Things that you never seem to get good at no matter how hard you try, but then one day it will suddenly click and you can do it. But they tend to be relatively stupid things like juggling, so let’s ignore them.
Humanity has this amazing levelling up skill that can be applied to almost anything by anyone. The more you do it, the better you get. The only cost is effort.
And that cost can be too much for some. And by some, I mean most.
They’ll apply it to a few things like Guitar Hero (no, it’s not impressive you stupid fuck, I don’t care how many views on Youtube you have) but they won’t use it for anything worthwhile.
I can’t really criticise (I can actually, and I’m really good at it) since I’m the same. For some reason, evolution decided effort would be a finite resource limited by mood. Not energy, not fuel, but mood. If you don’t feel like it, time to pack up and go home.
Imagine if you had unlimited motivation, all the cool things you could be good at (no, Guitar Hero in VR also doesn’t count, either, you’ll just be the stupid fuck who trips over a coffee table while wearing a small toy guitar with buttons).
My point is, if you do something repetitively, whether by choice or just because, you will get better at it. You might even get good. And the thing I’d been doing a lot of recently was bossing people around.
I didn’t set out to be a leader, but someone had accidentally set the settings wrong in this world, like when you don’t notice the toasters been moved to one by mistake.
Normally, life is unfair. The chosen few get chance after chance while the rest of us get shut out and have to make do with whatever’s left over. The ones who have the advantages, use it. If they fail, they rush back to the front of the line. They break the rules, they get a slap on the wrist and a second chance, and then a third and fourth. They hog the gamepad and won’t let anyone else have a go, so it’s not surprising they eventually get good at the game, which they then use as the excuse for why they deserved more goes than everyone else. Look at my talent in hindsight! Treat me special now!
This world had one important difference. You fail, you die. It frees up a slot for someone else to have a go, so true talent gets to bypass the favoured child (who sadly died from overdosing on self-importance).
Giving orders is easy when people decide they should do what you tell them. And if enough of them act like you know what you’re doing, people who come along later will also assume you must know what you’re doing, otherwise why would everyone else be following your instructions?
It’s a self-perpetuating lie that democracy and TV shows have relied on forever. Popularity equals good.
I had done leadership mullarkey for long enough to know what I could get away with, and also to recognise what the other people in a similar position were trying to do, and get away with.
“You dare to speak to me in such a fashion?” said the Fairy Queen.
Big mistake. The crowd behind her were ready to tear me apart on her command, but you only fall back on the ‘How dare you’ strat when you know you have nothing of substance to defend yourself with.
“You’ve been gone a long time,” I said. “Things have changed.” I had no idea if things had changed, but it seemed a fairly safe claim to make. “You need to go out there and see the lay of the land. You need to prepare for war, and you need to do it a lot better than last time. Your vulva is the least of your problems.” Not the least of mine, though. I put it in my top three undesirable holiday destinations. Oh, not so keen to be on that list, I see.
She looked at me without speaking, digesting my words. I had countered the desperate ‘How dare you’ with reasonable and thoughtful hard-to-dispute facts. They go hysterical and over the top, you counter with clear and well-reasoned suggestions. I am smarty-pants, hear me advise feasible options.
“And what will you do?” she asked.
“I’ll stay here. This city is not all ready for the destruction heading our way.” Don’t ask me what I was referring to, leadership works better when you act like terrible shit is about to go down, rubes lap this stuff up. “There is a lot of work to do, and not much time. I have been named Lord Protector of Gorgoth for a reason.” Nope, there was no reason, but if they wanted me in charge it stood to reason I had to be the best man for the job, right?
She gave me a long cold look that penetrated me deeply. It was far more preferable than me having to penetrate her deeply.
There were plenty of things I could have asked her, about Peter, about how the fairies got beaten and trapped, about Joshaya and what exactly was the difference between gods and fairies, but I held my tongue. As an experienced leader, I had learned by far the best tactic was to not get between the enemy and their own incompetence. People were just as dumb and useless at everything as you were, which meant whoever did less came out ahead.
“You speak wisely.,” she said.
I rest my fucking case.
“We will deal with these personal matters once I have a better idea of the state of my world. This land belongs to me and my people, and it is time for us to reclaim our birthright. I will come for you when our plans are set.”
“I will be waiting,” I said.
Like fuck I would. I planned to be on the first dragon out of the city, destination: not here.
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Afterword from Mooderino