Inviting Sun

Minerva’s heart sank with the gavel bang. The court ruled her a witch and in an instant, the gathered townsfolk rushed at her like a rabid mob.

“BURN THE WITCH!” Minerva’s own mother yelled. The young woman couldn’t blame her though; she saw the pain in her mother’s eyes. She knew she was only doing it to take the blame off herself for birthing a witch at all. Not that Minerva was actually a witch. The accusation only came because she proved herself to be stronger than any man in the village.

It was a festive day full of friendly competitions; Minerva won them all easily. The mayor’s ego was particularly bruised when Minerva bested his son in a wrestling competition.

“She has unnatural strength! It’s magic!” he shouted. That was all it took to get her on trial. A trial presided over by the Mayor himself; she never stood a chance. Then, almost as quickly as it began, the ruckus died down. A brilliant, almost warm glow entered the room. Everyone, now quiet, sat down again and turned to face the newcomer. Minerva noted the crowd seemed relaxed and guessed they felt like she did; ready to nap on a beach on a warm sunny day.

“This woman is no witch,” the stranger said. She was tall, lean, and ghostly pale.  Her hair shimmered like polished metal as did her eyes.

“And you are, Ms.?” The mayor asked. His question came in a far more polite tone than Minerva had ever heard from him in her 20 years. It only made it stranger that he was addressing a woman. The rest of the townsfolk seemed content to sit quietly and bask in her warm glow.

“You may call me Chroma,” the woman replied. She continued walking towards the witness stand at an easy pace.

“And how are you sure that she’s not a witch?” the mayor asked. Chroma smiled at him, she was now directly in front of Minerva.

“Because I am,” she replied. Minerva’s eyes went in fear for the woman. She expected the crowd to rush Chroma just as ferociously as they did her; but, no one moved. The mayor only nodded his head.

“I see,” he replied. “Though, that doesn’t necessarily exclude her from being one. Witches belong to covens. How do you explain her magical strength?” Minerva was amazed that the mayor’s argument came out so peacefully. She knew it was due to Chromas glow, and she did not doubt for a minute that the woman was definitely a witch.

“What’s to explain?” Chroma shrugged. “Your boys are just weak; they should get more exercise.”

“Hmmm,” the mayor nodded again. “I suppose they have been getting lazy.”

“It’s a beautiful day outside, why is everyone in here?” Chroma asked. Minerva felt the sudden urge to run outside, but Chroma placed a hand on her shoulder to keep her steady. Another bang of the gavel drew everyone’s attention.

“Not a witch. Case closed. Let’s get back to the festival,” the mayor said. The townsfolk all stood calmly, then filed out of the courtroom. The moment Chroma and Minerva were alone, Chroma’s golden, sunny glow dimmed and Minerva’s head felt clearer.

“Are you okay?” Chroma asked her. Minerva nodded.

“Yes, thank you. Who are you? Why is a witch helping me?” 

“I’m not a witch exactly. I do use magic, but it’s not witchcraft,” Chroma replied with a smile. Minerva couldn’t help but stare into her mirror-like eyes. They were polished enough that Minerva was looking into her own green eyes.

“I helped you with the hope of convincing you to help me,” Chroma replied. Minerva nodded immediately; she was beyond grateful at this point.

“Whatever it is, if I can help you, I will,” Minerva replied. Chroma smiled. A tall black portal opened next to Minerva and Chroma nodded at it.

“Welcome to the Chrome Court. You’re going to help me save the multiverse,” Chroma then stepped into the void and disappeared. Minerva heard her voice from the other side. “Come along, Calavera.”

Sharp Looking Chrome

“And you forgot how to knock over the centuries?” The great mirror-polished wyvern glared at Spa worker. Their uniforms hadn’t changed much over the centuries. He wore the same white shorts and white polo shirt with red trim Chroma saw when she began her hibernation. But, it seemed the service took a noticeable dive. Chroma requested a wakeup call after about a millennia. Instead, she woke to find a man sneaking into her room unannounced.

“I know why you’re here,” she added. “I’m the one that paid for the service,” she grumbled.

“Yes, Ms. Chroma,” The nervous bellboy nodded. Then, he stood patiently, unsure of what to do next. He did not need to wait long.

“Just, Chroma,” the dragon said. Her voice only carried a minor exasperation. The bellboy nodded again, eager to please her. Chroma was one of the Spa’s original founders. Ever since Greg started his job, respect and awe for Chroma was drilled into him every day. He stood at attention waiting to fulfill her every wish. She stared at him for several quiet seconds, then sighed.

Her long, elegant neck swung gracefully around the room until her face hovered a foot in front of him. Greg could see his three-day-old stubble and slightly mussed hair reflected back in each of the mirror-like scales on her face.

“Well?” She asked.

“Uh.. Well what, Ms. Chr- I mean Chroma, ma’am?” Greg stumbled over his words. He was surprised and relieved when he noticed her give an amused eyeroll.

“I need some privacy to slip into something more comfortable; if you don’t mind,”

“Oh! Sorry!” Greg spun around, then shut his eyes for good measure.

“Catch me up,” Chroma said from behind Greg.

“Your aunt continues to maintain her restaurant, Donna Chang’s. She has repaid your investment in full, with six centuries of interest.” Greg said. “Sharp Development expanded into the afterlife before failing. Dana Sharp is dead. After the company dissolved you received 30% of the sale as well as shares of Heaven and Hell. Ruby has taken over as director of the Spa in your absence. Greg bowed his head even though he faced the opposite way.

“And she’s so busy that she couldn’t come and visit her mother?” Chroma said with a playful pout in her voice.

“She’s busy…,” Greg swallowed. He worked hard to earn the right to be the one to brief Chroma. Once he earned the right, things went downhill pretty quickly. He was supposed to have nothing but good news for her, but, the universe had other plans. “The Conquistadors are free,” Greg said. He felt a small hand grab his shoulder and spin him around. He opened his eyes to see a pale woman with chrome hair and platinum eyes staring at him. She was not entirely finished dressing yet. Greg caught sight of a silver sun tattooed just under her collar bone; a red number 46 decorated the center of the sun.

“All of them?” she asked. Greg nodded.

“All of them,” he repeated. “But, Sharp Development managed to get one. La Calavera. Unfortunately, we don’t know anything about where it was kept before the company was dissolved.”

“Really?” Chroma pulled back in surprise. Then, she smiled when Greg nodded his affirmation. “Well, that’s different.” The cavern around her seemed to relax completely; Greg felt as if a great weight was lifted off his soul. The positive feeling was so sudden and intense that it bubbled up and escaped through his mouth as a light chuckle.

“Is that good? Even if we don’t know where it is?” he asked. Chroma nodded.

“Different is very good,” Chroma said. She walked past Greg toward the cavern exit with purpose. Greg smiled to himself. He felt like he did a good job; but, then a stray thought formed in the back of his head. He expected Chroma to be eccentric, but as he watched her stride away with confidence he realized he didn’t know why she was so excited.

“Different from what!?” he called out after her. She didn’t stop to answer.