Le nuove storie sono in alto.

Personaggi: Leo, Annie, Adam, Blaine
Verse: Leoverse: RPG
Genere: Avventura
Prompt: Written for COW-T #9 (prompt: spirit)
Note: It was supposed to be a flashfic. IDEK

Summary: The head of the North Merchant Guild has asked them to retrieve a very important box from the necromancers who stole it from him, but they keep it inside an impenetrable fortress, protected by a very complicated spell. It seems an impossible task until Annie has an idea.

The head of the North Merchant Guild comes to them at the beginning of spring. He seems to think this is a matter of extreme secrecy, so he shows up at night unannounced, forcing them all out of bed, which is never a good way to start a business partnership. The man has two big front teeth and his hair has seen better days. He is, like most of the merchants, a man of significant girth, who believes in showing his wealth by wearing as much jewelry as he can, and so he almost seems to glint under the light of the candles they have to light all over the living room to prevent the meeting to turn into a secret society reunion of sort.

The merchant, who goes by the name of Gideon Talorcan, has a beef with another merchant, the head of the South Merchant Guild, who apparently stole a cargo from him. Or, as it is more likely, had it stolen by someone else. Now, Gideon addresses the whole matter as if it was something exceptional that had never happened in the history of merchants before. They have worked for enough merchants to know that this is pretty much standard procedure. The main cause of beefs between merchants are stolen cargoes. And the main reason for merchants to come to them is a beef with another merchant. Fighting with each other must be second nature for a merchant because it's written in their job description.

Blaine accepts the job almost right away because it seems pretty easy and Talorcan is willing to pay good money for it. They shake hands with the man, get half the payment in advance, say goodbye and go back to bed. In the next few days, they find out that stealing back the cargo won't be as easy as they thought it would be, though. After a little preemptive scouting, Leo finds out that the cargo has been stolen and it is currently being guarded by a group of necromancers, which instantly turns the job into a high-risk one. Magicians and warlocks are tough nuts to crack – and Blaine usually prefers to avoid jobs that involves them as, even with Annie in the party, it's hard for them to face a group of spellcasters – but necromancers are even worse than that. They don't have a code of honor to stick to, which makes them ruthless, and they deal with death, which makes them really dangerous and, in many cases, practically immortal. There's never a good reason to face necromancers. Nothing is worth that much pain in the ass, unless it's a lot of money. But it has to be a lot.

So, Blaine calls Talorcan and tells him that, because he forgot to tell them the little detail that the cargo is in the hands of the necromancers, their price goes up and up. He expects the man to refuse such a request and he's ready to give back the down payment, but the man accepts his conditions. Facing the prospect of receiving an amount of money they have never seen in ten years, Blaine can't help but go on with the plan. Leo is sent scouting again. His job is to assess the situation and come up with a plan that allows them to get to their target and take it away.

Leo stays away for three days straight – the longest he has ever been away from home scouting, or in general – and, when he comes back, he doesn't have good news. “It can't be done.” It's the first thing he says, unbuckling his belt, from which hangs pretty much everything he usually needs, except for the bow that he keeps on his back. “The necromancers' safe house is basically a fortress.”

Adam is used to his tendency to dramatize, so he tries to get some practical information from him. “How many people are there? How many guard shifts? And how long are they?”

“No, you don't get it,” Leo says, lying down on the couch, his head on Blaine's legs. “There are, like, four guards in total. The point is that they don't need them. Seeing that they were so understaffed, I investigated further. Getting inside the walls is complicated, but perfectly possible. In fact, I did it. But once inside, I felt that thing Annie taught me to detect, that vibration in the air.”

“The magical trace,” Annie nods. They boys don't need to know magic – that's her specialty – but she's been teaching them tricks to at least feel magic when it's involved, so they can avoid traps and call her to fix the problem, instead of running head on into any kind of spell. The magical trace is a residue of magic that you leave behind after casting a spell and it can be sensed with a little training It took Annie several weeks to get the boys to focus enough to feel it, but apparently it worked.

“Exactly, that thing,” Leo nods. “I felt it, so I followed it, thinking that it could lead me to the cargo, but it didn't. In fact, I walked around for, like, hours without going anywhere. No matter where I went, I would always come back to where I started. And another thing. There's something in that place, something that growls and gives you the heebie-jeebies.”

“It's possible they cast a shield around the cargo and ordered some demonic creature to guard it,” Annie muses. “It wouldn't be the first time. But I think I can dispel something like that. It's not gonna be easy, but it can be done. I only need to get inside.”

“That's the problem,” Leo keeps going. “I can't get you inside. The place has no door nor windows, only a small passage at the top. It took a lot of grapnel work to get up there. And, once inside, it's like a Cursed Temple scenario in there. There were traps everywhere. I actually risked my life,” he adds to Blaine's benefit.

Blaine promptly strokes his head affectionately. “You were very brave.”

“Can't we just magic our way in by blowing something up?” Adam asks.

“It might not be the best idea,” Blaine sighs. “We don't want to draw the necromancers' attention because we wouldn't be able to deal with it. We need to get in and get out as silently as possible. If we need to blow things up, we will while running away, not entering. Leo, there's no way you can teach us how to get inside the way you did?”

“Do we have a few years?”

“I'm afraid not.”

“Then no,” Leo shakes his head. “The first part I might be able to teach you quickly, but the trap looks like one of the hellish training obstacle course you used to build for me. It's been already hard for me, I don't know how could I lead the three of you through it. I told you, it can't be done. Not right now, anyway.

The right thing to do would be refusing the job once again, but Blaine decides to give themselves a little time to think of a better plan. They will all think about it and, if nothing comes up in three days, he will go back to Talorcan and tell him they can't do it. It's the night of the third day when Annie comes up with the solution. Blaine is about to leave for the merchant's house when she comes running downstairs, waving a piece of parchment in her right hand. “I've got it!” She screams, in her I'm-definitely-the-genius-of-this-party voice. “I know how I can get inside the fortress.”

Blaine looks at her with affection. “I'm all ears, princess.”

She takes a deep breath in preparation of her speech. “Alright. Leo said that entering the fortress is complicated if we all have to do it. But you can still enter by yourself, right?” She asks.

“Yes, but once I'm inside, I can't go anywhere because magic makes me going in circles.”

“Exactly,” Annie smiles. “But if I could break the spell, could you get to the cargo and take it out? I mean, physically.”

“I... guess? I told you, I haven't seen it.”

“Talorcan said it was only a cart,” Blaine butts in. “Besides, when I spoke with him the second time, he said he only need one box. He didn't say why, but I'm guessing it's the usual precious artifact he bought illegally and that it's worth way more than he's giving us.”

“Isn't it always like that?” Adam snorts.

“Exactly,” Blaine nods. “So, I think we can reasonably say that Leo would be able to take the box out of the fortress if you could break the spell hiding it.”

“Great!” Annie pumps her fist in the air. “That means we'll only need to work together. Leo, you will get me in there—“

“But I just told you that—“

“Eh pa-pa-pa. Let me finish. You're gonna bring me in there in spirit,” she says.

Leo frowns. “Come again?”

Annie chuckles. “You are going to enter the fortress as yourself and once you're in there, I'm gonna possess you and make magic through you,” she explains. “Then I will leave your body again and, from outside, I'll blow the wall down. Adam and Blaine will fence our enemies off while you come out and then we will run.”

Leo frowns even more. “Wait a second! You can possess people?”

“Well, in theory I can. I've just never tried,” she shrugs.

Blaine looks pensive. “Mh, it sounds pretty dangerous,” he says.

“Actually, no, it's not. It's way safer than what we usually do,” Annie keeps explaining. “As you always say, one of us is less likely to get caught than the whole group and Leo has already been there once, which is a first as we usually enter places without having any idea of what we're going to find. If we calibrate the explosion well, it's going to be a matter of seconds. They might not even get to us in time.”

“But you will have to perform two seemingly powerful spells in a matter of minutes,” Blaine insists. “Are you sure you can do that?”

“That's the funny part,” she answers with a smile. “When I cast a spell, what really gets tired is my body, not my spirit. I use energy to shape spells and I have plenty of that, but the weight of that energy on my body, that's a lot and my body can't take too much of it. But in this case, Leo's body will be affected not mine, which means I'll still have all my strength when it'll be time to blow up things.”

“And how am I supposed to drag a possibly very heavy box out of that if you drain my body of all my strength?” Leo protests.

“I won't. First, you're physically way stronger than me,” Annie explains. “Secondly, when I'm too tired to cast a second spell, it doesn't mean I can't do anything else. Casting a spell will still leave you able to run away with our box.”

Once reassured about this little detail, Leo seems to actually consider the possibility. “It doesn't sound so bad. I mean, we've never done something like that, and it's usually never a good idea to do something we've never tried before, but considering the situation, I don't think we have much of a choice.”

“I'm still worried,” Blaine says. “It seems incredibly complicated and you said you've never tried.”

“That's true, but I'm pretty sure I can manage,” Annie says, looking at him with determination. Annie never does something she's not 100% sure she can pull off, so Blaine knows that he can trust her instincts. Still, he has doubts. “It'll be Leo alone for a long time, and if something goes wrong, we won't have any way to extract him from there.”

“If something goes wrong, we blow up everything and take him out,” Adam intervenes. “I know we don't want to face the necromancers, but that's still an option in case of emergency. We're not totally defenseless. Besides, I don't think Leo will mess up this time.”

“Aw, Adam, that's so nice of you!” Leo exclaims, genuinely surprised that Adam would say something good about him for once. “Why do you say that?”

“Because you suck at fighting and making plans, but sneaking inside places, detecting traps and jumping and crawling through obstacle courses, that's your jam. This is the only case in which you're actually useful.

Leo frowns. “You could have just said, because I believe in you, Leo,” he mutters.

“How much time do you need to prepare for this?” Blaine says, before the boys can start fighting over Adam's words.

“I would normally need more than a month, but I've known Leo all my life and that should make the connection between us easier to establish,” Annie says. “Give me a week, I can pull this off.”

“Can I pull this off?” Leo asks, confused.

Annie grins. “Oh, I'll make you.”


To allow Annie's spirit to pass into Leo's body, their bodies have to be synchronized. That kind of harmony, Annie's book says, is usually achieved through deep meditation. Now, Annie knows that forcing Leo to do meditation exercises is pretty much as useful as throwing a sheep out of a window to teach it to fly. The sheep is not designed to fly and, even if it was, you wouldn't teach it how to to do it by murdering it.

Leo finds those exercises boring and he gets constantly distracted. His mind simply is not designed to be at peace. In fact, his mind gives its best when it's challenged with two or more things at the same time, that's why he's so good at detecting traps and avoiding them. So, Annie skips the meditation and decides to play a game with him. They are gonna live in symbiosis for the next seven days. They will eat, sleep, wake up and get to the bathroom at the same time, they will walk at the same pace and learn how to do simple movements in perfect synchronicity.

It takes them a couple of days of run-in, but the morning of the third day they wake up, get down the bed and come downstairs moving like automaton twins. By the fourth day they already are creepy. “So, how is it going?” Blaine asks as he sips his coffee at the breakfast table.

“Good,” Leo and Annie say in unison, reaching out across the table to grab some toasted bread. “It's gonna be a piece of cake.”

“This is so weird,” Adam comments.

“You haven't seen the weirdest part yet,” Leo and Annie say.

The weirdest part comes at the end of the week, when they decide to make a test-possession to make sure everything is going to go the way they have planned it. “What do you need us to do?” Blaine says.

“Nothing,” Annie replies. “Just watch. Leo?”

“I'm ready.”

At first, Annie thinks of just hijacking Leo's body for as long as she'll need to break the necromancers' spell, but during the first two attempts she quickly realizes that it's hard to maintain herself inside Leo's body when he's still in there too. Kicking him out is going to require a little more effort on her part, but it's going to be better on the long run, so she is now going for that. Strangely enough, Leo's mind (or his spirit) grasps the concept of finding Annie's body and descending into it quite easily. Now it's only a matter of getting the hand of it.

From outside, nothing really changes, they don't even flinch or anything. They remain seated on the ground with their eyes closed for an awful amount of time. So much so that Blaine almost starts to worry. But, eventually, Annie opens her eyes and grins in a way she has never done. “That's weird,” Leo says with her voice, amused. “I feel smaller and I feel bits I didn't have up to a moment before.”

“Tell me about it,” Annie groans in Leo's voice.

“Has it worked?” Blaine asked, confused.

Annie stands up. “Yes, it worked,” she says, groaning again as she tried to get used to Leo's body, which is bigger than hers.”

“Is it normal that I feel in two places at once?” Leo asks, looking at himself in Annie's body. “I mean, I know I'm in your body, but I kinda still believe to be in mine.”

“Yes, it should stop in a few minutes. Your conscience is slower than your spirit and you're still kinda here too,” Annie explains opening and closing her new hands.

“Oh my God, you're so light!” Leo says, happily as he jumps a little on the spot. “Actually, let me try something.”

Suddenly he starts somersaulting back and forth, with and without hands as he would usually do in his body, but twice as agile in Annie's. Until, of course he miscalculates a landing and he ends up with his face – Annie's, actually – in the dirt.

“Ouch,” Annie comments, looking at herself on the ground. “Try not to break any of my bones, alright?”

“Sorry. I'm just not used to be so much lighter, and you have longer arms than I do,” Leo mutters, massaging his head.

“Why don't you try and cast a spell?” Blaine suggests, “'cause if you can't, there's no point in doing all this.”

Annie nods and closes her eyes, focusing on her magic, which has moved body with her. A moment later, they all see Leo's hands coming together, then face forward and then release a fireball that incinerates a tree a few feet from there. The giant yew tree basically disintegrates under their very eyes. “Ah! I made magic!” Leo screams in joy.

“You didn't do anything,” Adam comments, annoyed. “It was Annie.”

“But it was my body, so shut up. I did magic.”

Blaine sighs. “I say it was a success. Go back in your bodies, you two. You need to rest for what's ahead of us.”

“No, no! Wait!” Leo instantly says. “Wait, I need to do something. Annie, can I—?”

Annie frowns. “You want to touch my boobs, don't you?” She says like someone who already knows the answer.

“I have to know how does it feel when they are on yourself,” Leo says.

Annie sighs. “Alright, go on. It's not like you haven't touched them already, anyway,” she says.

Leo places both his hands on his boobs and gropes at them with such devotion that he's almost poetic to look at. “Oh, my God! They are so rounded and so soft and so nice! How do you not spend the entirety of your time touching them?!”

“I don't know, because I'm used to them? You have a penis, I don't think you spend your day with it in your hand.”

“Uh, you don't want to know the answer to that,” Adam says.

Blaine clears his throat. “Come on, you had fun, now go back. We need to fine-tune the plan.”

The reverse spell is as silent and uneventful as the first one. One second of silence and they're both back in their bodies, safe and sound. Blaine allows himself to smile, it almost seems like they're going to make it.


Luckily for them, the first viable night there's no moon. The night is as dark as they come and they can easily reach the Necromancers' fortress without being seen. As Leo told them, there are only four guards outside – and pretty bored or sleepy too – but there's no entrance. The place is literally one block of stone in the shape of a pentagon with only a few opening about fifty feet from the ground.

“Are you gonna enter through those?” Annie asks.

“Yes, that's the easy part. The guards walk around the fortress and cross twice every hour. I only need to climb fast enough while they're looking away. Without moon, that's going to be easy,” Leo confirms.

“How will she know when to switch?” Adam asks.

“Once I get inside, give me fifteen minutes,” Leo says to Annie. “I should be already done by that.”

“And if you're not?”

“Well, stand wherever you are and don't move as you will probably be in the middle of the obstacle course,” Leo reasons.

“Great,” Annie groans.

“But it won't happen,” Leo smiles, confidently. “It took me five minutes last time. I'm allowing myself ten minutes more to be sure. We're going to be fine.”

There's nothing more to say, so he goes. Climbing the wall is a piece of cake as he expected. He waits for the guards to move away and while they yawn, he is a shadow among shadows that moves quickly to the top of the building. Once he gets to the closest opening, he gives his partners in the shadows a thumb up, just to make sure they know he's up there.

“Oh my God, he's so stupid,” Adam grumbles.

The trap inside is not very creative, just incredibly long to go through. It's like the obstacle course from hell for someone who's got no stamina. Luckily for them, Leo lacks a lot of things, but not stamina. It's easily one of the two things he actually posses an endless amount of, the other being lust. There are a few complicated jumps to make, a sequence of deadly pendulums made of giant axes – Yes, for real –, two big boulders rolling out of their slots in the wall the moment he lands on the ground after leaping over a spread of pointy sticks, flames, the shrinking room with the moving walls and, of course, the inevitable hall with the poisonous darts. All in all, a useless display of obstacles where a few armed guards would have easily done the job.

Crouching on the floor, Leo takes a deep breath as the familiar creepy vibration of the magical trace gives him goosebumps. If he closes his eyes and listens closely, he can already hear the faint growling of whatever creature coming from between the worlds is guarding this place. The magic here is strong, it almost seems to weigh on his body like a physical thing. It doesn't surprise him that there's no one inside patrolling the place. Leo sits down, waiting for Annie to do her own magic.

Two minutes later, he feels the familiar tugging of Annie's magic nudging him out of his body. Annie has taught him how to follow that request. He relaxes and unhooks himself from his body, letting the flow of magic that started from Annie pull him away while it takes her inside. A few seconds after, he's looking at the night through Annie's eyes. “Did it work?” Blaine asks in a whisper.

“Yes, she is inside,” Leo says in her voice.

The magic is powerful – way more than she was expecting – and it's instantly clear to her that the spell has a mechanism she hadn't thought of. A tiny detail that makes all the difference in the world. Breaking the spell will release the beast – a demonic creature without any doubt, she can smell it – which she'll have to beat with magic. That could put a strain on Leo's body. He might not be able to make his way back, let alone carrying a box in the process. She either risks it or goes back and tells everybody they have to give up the money.

Leo's body seems okay. He's strong and the effort to come up here was barely non-existent for him. If she keeps the use of magic to a minimum, he might be able to come out of here on his own legs and with their box. On the other hand, if she keeps the magic to a minimum, the beast could eat her alive. Choices, choices...

“Alright, Leo, I believe in you,” she says eventually. It's a lot of money, after all.

Taking down the spell is a matter of seconds, no more than a snap of fingers. Then, the power of the beast washes over her, almost forcing her to her knees. Its growl makes her bones rattle and when it appears, at the end of the hall, Annie knows it's either she kills it on the spot or it kills her. She can't escape. The beast is huge and it vaguely resembles a lion, except that it's black with red eyes and it looks like it's made of smoke. It walks slowly towards her, growling loud enough that the guards could hear it. “Alright, kitty, bring it on,” Annie growls too.

She doesn't waste any time trying smaller spells – they would be ineffective and they would only serve to drain her magic. She goes for the big guns. The biggest she has in her arsenal, to be precise. She closes her eyes and she focuses on the center of her being, where her magic is and she draws strength from it. A white sphere starts to forming around her. It flickers at first, but then he becomes stronger and brighter. She waits for the demon lion to be close enough and then she takes that sphere and throws it at it. It's not just a spell, this is herself, her essence, all that she is, crashing against the huge beast. At first, the impact seems to have no effect on the demon, but then the smoke-like substance it's made of starts to crackle. The creature seems confused. “You're way stronger than me, buddy,” Annie says as the body of the demon starts disintegrating piece by piece, making it howl in pain. “But you're dead and my life force is poison to you.”

The black lion starts trashing around, the excruciating pain bending his spine in two. He tries to claw at Annie twice, but her energy is literally burning it alive. In one last explosion of light that illuminates the whole corridor, the beast is gone but the soldiers are coming. Leo's body trembles, so she doesn't waste anytime. She ejects herself from it, going back to her own. “We don't have much time!” She screams with her own voice, catching both Blaine and Adam by surprise. “The soldiers are coming! I bring down the wall, you go get him!”

Leo takes a deep breath. Reentering his body is like coming up to the surface of the lake after diving for a long time. He looks around, trying to get a sense of where he is and what he's supposed to do. The obstacle course is behind him, but in front of him there's a part of the fortress that simply wasn't there when he came the first time and, right at the end of the room, a series of boxes. “Alright, let's find the right one and let's go,” he says to himself as he hears the soldiers' footsteps approaching. Then an explosion makes the whole fortress shake. “ You didn't leave me much time to work with, Annie. But thanks for the fireworks.”

The boxes are numbered and he's supposed to find the number 45. It would be an easier task if these people had put things in the right order. “Three... Seventy-five... Fifteen,” Leo reads on the boxes. “Are you kidding me right now? Ah! Forty-five!”

He climbs over a couple of boxes with a certain difficulty. His muscles are sore and he feels very sleepy. It's weird. It's like having done something he has no memory of, like some nights out with Adam and Annie when Blaine had explicitly told them not to go. Except that this time he was waiting next to Blaine in Annie's body. The more he thinks about it, the weirdest it is. “Okay. You come with me,” He says to the box, hoisting it up on his shoulder.”

“I don't think so,” a voice says.

“Are you sure about that?”

Leo turns around with the box in time to see the guard go down like a sack of potato. Behind him, Adam with his sword still raised. “I like when things start and finish before I can even understand what's going on,” Leo says.

“You never understand what's going on, so what's the difference?”

Leo follows Blaine towards the exit. “I love you too, Adam,” he says, leaving him to guard the rear.

“I swear to the Gods I hate when you say that,” Adam hisses as the three of them comes out the fortress, running towards Annie who's got a cart ready for them. “One of these days I'm gonna kill you.”

“And yet here you are, saving me.”

“Don't try me.”

Blaine rolls his eyes. “One of these days, I will kill you both and run away with Annie,” he snaps.
But that day is not today.
Today they are rich.