“By the way,” Vanilla pointed at the time-stopped skeleton several feet away. “When you are powerful enough to stop one of Ballisea’ s skeletons…,” A tall black portal open next to the skeleton. “…she’ll notice.” Billy watched a single leg step out of the darkness. He moved to step back, but he blinked.
“C’mon, sleepy,” Vanilla said with a wink after Billy opened his eyes. She was standing next to the portal now instead of beside Billy.
“What happened?” He asked as he walked toward the portal. He could tell he was only stopped for a few minutes and was curious.
“I asked Ballisea for a favor.” Vanilla replied. She walked into the portal and Billy followed. He exited the portal and stepped into a dried, barren landscape with a dark red sky. They stood in a fenced-in hilltop over-looking a vast dried plain. He looked around the enclosure and saw a faded, worn sign with a pumpkin logo; it was easy to imagine the area consumed by a pumpkin patch.
“What favor?” Billy asked. Vanilla walked to the edge of the property and looked out over the plain and encouraged Billy to come closer. He walked to the fence and stared out across the plain. Hundreds of skeletons stood straight up at attention facing forward. They stood in a spacious formation about 10 feet from each other. “You know Ballisea?”
“I asked her to let me bring you here,” Vanilla pointed at a single skeleton. “Watch.” Billy focused on the figure she indicated. It sprung into action as he watched. It whirled in place extending its limbs at various angles. It’s sharp, practiced movements reminded Billy of the martial arts movies he watched growing up. Its arms and legs disappeared into black holes that appeared long enough to allow the skeleton’s limbs through; then they disappeared when the limbs were retracted.
“What’s she doing?” Billy asked.
“Look at all of them, not just that one,” Vanilla said. Billy had been focusing on the individual one Vanilla pointed out. Billy looked at the wider plain and noticed dozens of skeletons dancing in place the same way. They seemed to be fighting invisible attackers.Billy looked up at Vanilla.
“Who’s she fighting?” she shrugged.
“I don’t know. I asked her to pick a fight so you could see this.”
“What? Why me?” Billy asked. He noticed a look of sadness flash across her face; the same one that she’d been wearing recently. She shook her head.
“Later. Right now you’re here to learn how powerful Ballisea is.” Billy nodded and turned to look out at the field of skeletons. “Ballisea doesn’t like to fight. She can, but she doesn’t like to. She prefers to let her skeletons do the work. She can use them as quickly and easily as her own limbs. Don’t ever under-estimate her.”