"The Catalyst, Part One: Homecoming": Amy Winston stopped trying to blend in after the sixth grade. Now, she's in high school, and with her hair dyed colourfully and living in a trailer, she is not especially popular. Having just moved to a new town, the other students ar
- I had to train my entire life just to go home and meet some family? That is the weirdest thing you've ever said to me.
- -- Amy Winston
Appearing in "The Catalyst, Part One: Homecoming"
- Gracie Winston
- Lady Mordiel
Synopsis for "The Catalyst, Part One: Homecoming"
Amy Winston stopped trying to blend in after the sixth grade. Now, she's in high school, and with her hair dyed colourfully and living in a trailer, she is not especially popular. Having just moved to a new town, the other students aren't interested in inviting her to their homecoming parties. As the weird new girl, she is just as much a pariah as the geeky Beryl, whose unusual name has won her the nickname Berry and the derision of her peers.
As it happens, Amy and Beryl's lockers are close to each other, and Amy witnesses firsthand as a football player named Tyler invites Beryl to meet him for a date behind the bleachers at nine after the homecoming game. Gleefully, Beryl accepts. Amy seems happy for her, and they introduce themselves, with Amy showing off her knowledge of gemstones, and the derivation of the word "beryl." Happy to hear her name used in a positive way, Beryl invites Amy to the Homecoming game after school.
It's Amy's 17th birthday, and her mother has big plans for it. Gracie Winston is quitting her job, and her boss Sharise has kindly made Amy a carrot cake, and amicably sees Gracie off. That night, though, Amy is disinterested with eating Sharise's cake. Just like every other year of her life, Amy is spending her birthday alone with her mother in their trailer without any friends in attendance. Her mother had promised that on her 17th birthday, they would go back to their real home - to the place she was born, and the place her father was buried. Gracie assures Amy that she will take her home that night, when she finally turns 17, in just a few hours. In the meantime, they would train. From a young age, Gracie had been training Amy in sword-fighting. Amy is exasperated to have to do it on her birthday, and becomes upset at the fact that she has been raised to be what the other kids would consider a freak. Frustrated, she throws down her sword and runs away, hoping to do something normal for once by going to the homecoming game.
Meanwhile, at Amethyst Tower on the world of Nilaa, Lady Mordiel has tracked down yet another member of the Amethyst bloodline. Mordiel is herself the heir to the Amethyst house, and yet she has the girl killed, absorbing her power. She orders the girl's family paid their bounty, and urges her men to find any other stray members of the Amethyst bloodline.
Unfortunately, Amy arrives too late for the game, and the stands around the football field are all empty. Even so, she has a bad feeling about Tyler's intentions for his date with Beryl, and decides to investigate. Beryl, meanwhile, waits behind the bleachers, and is surprised when Tyler arrives with two friends. Suddenly, the three young men grab her, and plan to rape her, until Amy sternly warns them to let her go. They boys rush her, but Amy's training is more than a match for any football player, and she sends them running with bloodied noses, screaming threats of litigation. When Amy reaches out to Beryl to help, the girl is too shocked, and runs away from her in fear. Sadly, Amy calls her mother and asks for a ride. Unseen by Amy, a shadowy figure watches her from the top of the bleachers, smoking heavily.
Back at the trailer, Gracie decides that it's time to leave for home, finally. However, they will not be able to bring anything with them. Amy becomes suspicious that their leaving is not what she thought it would be. Driving out into the wilderness, Gracie explains that since she was young, she had trained Amy for this moment and what would come after. Where they are going, they will have enemies within their family - Gracie's sister in particular - who would wish to kill them both.
Meanwhile, at Amethyst Tower, Lady Mordiel is desperately preparing for the moment she has predicted will occur soon. Her sister Graciel will soon return, and she must strike quickly if she is to gain the half of the Amethyst bloodline's power which Graciel and her daughter possess. Mordiel considers herself to be the only one worthy of wielding the Amethyst bloodline's power.
Gracie uses a strange gemstone to open a portal before Amy's widened eyes, explaining that so long as her friends are still waiting on the other side, the portal crystal will bring them back home. Taking Amy's hand, she leaps into the portal, and the women find themselves on the other side in a strange new world.
Waiting for them is an army of warriors, kneeling before them and speaking in an otherworldly language. This is all overwhelming for Amy, not to mention the fact that she is somehow wearing armour instead of clothes, and her hair has changed from its dyed colours to blonde. Gracie explains that they are in the world of Nilaa, but she has little time to say much else, because they come under attack by warriors dressed in black armour. Desperately, Gracie orders Amy to go to safety with her friend Ignvie's guards. Rather than go, Amy steals a sword and shield, and rushes to her mother's side.
Meanwhile, back in the wilderness, John Constantine picks up the portal crystal, puts it in his pocket, and walks away.
Appearing in "Beowulf, Chapter I: The Perfect Soldier"
- King Hrothgar
Synopsis for "Beowulf, Chapter I: The Perfect Soldier"
Young Wigstaf, son of Weostahn, has been chosen to send a message to the mythical warrior Beowulf, along with a retinue of King Hrothgard's finest warriors. As far as they know, Beowulf is merely a legend. He is believed to be the perfect soldier, bred by ancient sorcery, and fiercer than any man who ever lived. Supposedly, he was born in a cauldron with steel for bones and lightning for veins.
As the approach the ruins where Beowulf is said to reside, the ancient warrior rises from his cryochamber and sees the intruders on his video screen.
One warrior, intent on proving the legend is merely a legend strides confidently toward the door of the facility, and is near instantly cleaved in two by Beowulf's sword. Wigstaf watches as his protectors are slain, one by one, and realizes that if he wants to live, he will have to do it by wits, not brawn.
Nervously, the boy pretends that he is a prisoner, and thanks Beowulf for saving him from his captors. The warrior relents, and begins returning to his home when Wigstaf calls out again. He explains that he has come with a message from King Hrothgar, begging Beowulf to come north and slay the Grendel that plagues his mead hall nightly. Beowulf is disinterested until Wigstaf explains that the King is a great general.
The boy explains that the Grendel seems to be drawn to the mead hall by the sound of merriment inside, but no matter how they fortify, it breaks in and makes a feast of those inside. The king will not set aside his nightly ritual of toasting victories past, and so every night, the Grendel comes and turns every weapon brought against it. So, the king sent for Beowulf. The ancient warrior grins, because the Grendel has not met a weapon like him before.
- This book was first published on September 19, 2012.
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