The Painter’s Tale
Mike Thomas

The dark fog began to lift from her mind allowing the pain to register. Her body was filled with bruises and covered in dried blood, but it was a broken leg that got her immediate attention. All looked normal until just below the kneecap where her right leg bent outward at an unnatural angle. Waves of heat traveled up her body, leaving her in a cold sweat, as the world seemed to tilt and spin in her vision.

Relm closed her eyes to block the sight of her twisted leg and the ensuing nausea. In a few moments, her slow, deep breathing began to have its calming effect. Her emotions quickly switched from panic to hopelessness as the tears began to flow freely from her closed eyes. "Grandpa," she sobbed. "Where are you? Don’t leave me all alone.

Relm allowed herself to drift in the flood of emotions that were raging within her, and through her need, began to draw upon power that she had never known she possessed. Her exposure to magicite had awakened the blood of the warrior magi that flowed in her veins. That spark of magic was now being fanned into a roaring fire.

The surge of power brought a calming peace with it. Relm opened her eyes and began to chant the cure spell she had learned only yesterday. As she finished the chant and released the power that she had focused into herself, her leg began to straighten. She stifled a scream as the bones grated across each other and snapped back into place. "Oh, dear goddesses!” she panted. "That was a CURE spell?! I thought it would at least feel good."

She sucked her lower lip between her teeth and held her breath, waiting to see if any more pain would accompany her healing. After a short wait, she released her breath and lay back on the ground, allowing her leg more time to finish knitting back together.

Alone for the first time in her life, Relm began to think back on the events that brought her to this place. She remembered the attack on the Floating Continent. She remembered staying onboard the ship with Setzer and using some magicite he had given her to practice with. But, something bad had happened while the team was away on the continent, and they had barely gotten back on the airship before the real nightmare had begun.

As the continent came apart, Setzer gunned the airship. It looked like they were going to make it, but then she remembered him screaming "HOLD ON" right before the concussion hit. In the mayhem that followed, it had been Locke who had the presence of mind to start casting the float spells. She knew he had managed to cast at least four of them before she was violently thrown from the deck of the ship. The float spell must have slowed her decent to the earth since she was still alive, but she was also the lightest member of the crew. Looking at her surroundings for signs of the others, she silently prayed that they had made it to ground at least as safely as she did. Unfortunately, the only sight she was greeted with was a small trail of debris heading west toward the setting sun.

A distant roar shook Relm from her thoughts. Her predicament sunk in further as she realized that she was solely responsible for her own protection. She would have to kill any monsters that she came across or risk being killed herself. Scared to move but too scared to stay still, she began traveling westward, keeping the southern coast to her left side.


Hours of walking had, more or less, gotten her nowhere. The once-fertile hills were now a desolate wasteland with only the dunes remaining along the ocean. Relm found very little life on the plain, even the grass only remained in sparse patches. The lack of life seemed eerie, but she was thankful that there were no monsters to contend with.

Relm was tired and getting very hungry. Food options seemed very meager on the plain, so she crossed the white dunes to walk by the shore. Walking was harder in the shifting sands, but at least she could look in tidal pools for fish that were trapped by the receding water.

Before long, she came upon a rocky area with a large pool of knee-deep water. She could see several fish swimming around the pool looking for a way back to the deeper ocean. Relm took off her cap and slowly waded into the pool. As she stood still waiting for the fish to become accustomed to her presence, she thought how ironic it was that her grandfather used to take her to the beach near Thamasa to catch fish for fun and now her very life depended on it.

She eased the cap into the waters and waited for a fish to swim beneath it. After only a few moments, one of the smaller ones swam close by. With lightning quick reflexes, she pushed the cap down, pinning the fish to the rocky bottom. She wrapped the cap around the fish, brought it up out of the water, and carried it away from the pool. Laying the fish on a smooth rock, she pulled her fire rod out of her pack and began the incantation that brought fire out of the stick.

When her eyes readjusted, Relm saw a sooty outline around the charred remains of the fish. After realizing what she had done, she threw the rod to the ground and cursed all the way back to the pool. "Might be a good idea to stand back a little further next time", she said bitterly to herself. "Well, at least there's no one to stand around and laugh at the 'little girl'," she said out loud. But before she even finished the words, she was already wishing, with all her heart, that someone else were there.

Three trips later, Relm had gotten the hang of cooking with the fire rod. She had eaten her fill and was now looking for a place to lie down and sleep for the night. She didn't relish lying in the sand, but thought that it would be better than using a rock for a bed. She left the remains of her dinner and walked to a sandy spot a few feet away. Pulling a drop cloth from her bag, she spread it over the ground. The smell of the old paint on the cloth helped put her at ease as she drifted off into a fitful sleep.

Hours flew by like minutes and Relm woke to a crunching sound. Her heart skipped a beat when she realized that she forgot to dispose of the remains of her dinner. The smell had, no doubt, attracted some wild animal. She slowly eased onto her side to get a look at the beast that was finishing off her scraps of fish.

Clinging to a rock four feet away was the largest scorpion Relm had ever seen. It looked to be about half as big as her. The moonlight glinted off of its black carapace as its long curved tail swayed back and forth. The wicked looking barb on the end of the tail seemed to bob with the rhythm of its crunching jaws. In its left claw it held the last of the fish scraps, and Relm watched as the beast put it in its mouth and quickly finished it off.

The creature crawled down the opposite face of the rock and began looking around the base for any more tasty remains. Relm got to her feet, pulled her rod out of her pack, and began to back away from the monster. As the scorpion rounded the rock, it saw the girl for the first time. For a short moment, the two stood like frozen ice sculptures, each sizing up the other and waiting for the first move to be made.

Finished with the waiting game, the scorpion raised its pincers and charged forward coiling its tail and readying for a strike. Two feet from its intended target, the world erupted in flame. The monster screamed and tried to sidestep the flame, but the fire continued to follow it. Finally, the scorpion was able to back away from the inferno and reconsider its prey.

Minutes seemed to pass as the two waited for their eyes to adjust to the night sky and then without warning, the scorpion leapt forward and with a large claw flung sand into the face of the young girl. Relm nearly dropped the rod as she franticly tried to wipe the sand from her eyes. She began wildly casting the fire spell as she fell to her right. Brushing her sleeve across her face while scooting backwards, Relm was able to recover her sight. Not a moment too soon as she rolled to her left to narrowly avoid being pinned down by the barbed tail.

Unfortunately, the scorpion was now close enough to grab her with a pincer, and it held her tightly by the ankle. Relm batted multiple tail strikes away with her rod, but knew that she couldn’t keep it up forever. If she cast another fire spell at this range, she’d be hit with it too. There was only one option left. As she batted away another strike, Relm thrust the rod forward into the scorpions open mouth. Releasing the power of the rod into the scorpion, she incinerated its insides. As effective as the move was, it had cost her. In the time it took her to perform the maneuver, the scorpion had managed to graze her arm and infect her with its poison.

Relm freed herself from the grip of the dead creature and hobbled over to her pack. Quickly storing her drop cloth, she gathered her fire rod and headed off down the beach. It was still dark, but she knew she had to find help somewhere. She could still use cure spells to keep herself alive, but sooner or later she would become too exhausted to cast anymore and would then run the risk of dying in her sleep.

As dawn broke, she could make out the form of fishing boats on the beach. Men were at the shoreline gathering their nets in preparation for the days work. Relm quickened her pace to reach the fishermen before they launched their boats, and a cry of surprise rang out as she stumbled into their camp.

“Just who do you think you are running into camp like that when it’s still dark?!” yelled one of the fishermen.

“Stung…scorpion…so...sleepy,” she mumbled. And with that Relm’s vision faded away as she crumpled in a heap on the sand.

“She’s been poisoned!” shouted the leader. “Get her in the cart. If we can get her back to town, maybe Doc Brownfield can do something for her.

“Maybe so,” said another. “But we gotta’ hurry. Her entire arm is black, it’s a miracle she ain’t dead yet.”


Relm opened her bleary eyes and tried to figure out where she was. Though things finally began to come into view, they didn’t quite seem in focus. “Hello,” she said tentatively. She heard footsteps from another room approaching across the wooden floor.

The figure of a man appeared in a doorway on the opposite side of the room. “Mornin’,” said the cheery, older voice. “How’re you feelin’?”

“Like I’ve been trampled by a pack of wild chocobos," she managed to reply through the fog in her mind. “Who are you, and how long have I been out?”

M’ name’s Doc Brownfield, and I’ve been taking care of you for the past three days.”

The haze suddenly cleared and a hundred questions popped into her head. “Where am I? Are there any others? I was traveling with a group! Have you seen any of my other friends?”

“Now hold on young lady. One thing at a time,” said the aged doctor as he raised his hand. “I’ll answer all of your questions in turn, but you’ve got to help me finish treating you, first. Can you describe the scorpion that stung you?”

“What do you mean finish treating me? Have I not been healed yet,” she asked.

“I’ve been able to counteract most of the poison, but without knowing exactly which type of scorpion it was, I can’t fully rid your body of the venom,” he replied. “So if you can just describe what type of scorpion it was, then I can mix the proper anti-venom.”

“I can do better than that,” she replied. “If you’ll bring me some paper and something to draw with, I’ll make you a picture of it.”

“That would be most helpful,” the doctor said as he hurried off to find the items she requested.

Relm swung her feet off the bed and reached up to touch her arm where the scorpion had grazed her. If she hadn’t known better, she’d have sworn that the arm was broken. The pain seemed to throb up and down the bone beneath the wound, and it didn’t take her long to decide she was ready to get rid of the poison.

The doctor returned moments later with the drawing utensils, and he gave them to Relm. “Here you go young lady.”

“You can call me Relm,” she said as she began feverishly drawing on the paper.

“Very well, Relm. And to answer a few of your questions from before, you are in the city of Albrook. I’m sorry to tell you that you are the only newcomer to our city since the earthquake a few days ago.”

Relm ceased her drawing momentarily, but then set back to the task. She knew that she was probably the only survivor since no one else had come looking for her, but to hear news that confirmed it just seemed to drain more of her spirit.

“Don’t give up on your friends,” said the doctor. “We’ve got men out on the plains looking for earthquake survivors and trying to make contact with the other towns.”

She gave a small nod and then turned the sketch around for him to see. Doc Brownfield nearly jumped out of his chair when he saw the drawing of the black scorpion.

“Wow!! That thing looks like it could jump off the page!” he said in amazement. “I’ve never seen such a realistic looking drawing in my entire life! Well, that solves the problem of which antidote we need to get into you.”

Relm turned the drawing back around as the doctor scurried off to the other room to rifle through his bottles and potions. She had to admit that even though her eyes were still blurry from the venom in her blood; this was probably some of her best work. She wondered if maybe using the magicite had heightened her senses and brought her artistic talents to a new level.

She didn’t get to wonder for very long since Doc returned with a concoction for her to drink. After choking the bitter tasting sludge down, she quickly fell asleep, and for the first time in many nights slept deeply and peacefully.

The next morning, Relm awoke to the sunlight streaming in through the windows. The smell of breakfast was floating on the air. She could smell eggs and bacon cooking somewhere in the house, and she was too ravenous to wait and see if any would be brought to her.

As she walked into the kitchen, the lady at the stove nearly jumped out of her skin. “Oh my goodness,” she said. “We didn’t expect you to be up until later this afternoon. You must have been able to fight that poison off much better than we expected. Oh, but listen to me go on! You’re probably famished! Take this plate of food; I’ll make Doc another one.”

Relm was more than happy to take the food off the lady’s hands. She also took some warm bread from a basket at the table and smothered it in fresh butter. Food had never tasted so good.

“I’m Doc’s wife, Erin. He had to step out to make a house call, but I expect him back soon. You let me know if you need anything else, Hon.”

Just as the lady began putting together another plate, Doc Brownfield walked in. “Something sure smells good in here,” he said as he made his way toward the stove.

“Thanks, Hon! How are the Morgan’s twins?” she asked as she handed him the plate.

“Aww. Just a case of the sniffles, nothing that some bed rest and a lollipop couldn’t fix,” he smiled as he reached for a fork.

"Gerald! You’ll rot their teeth out if you don’t quit that.”

“Oh, relax, Erin,” Doc chuckled. “Rotten teeth are good for business.”

Doc turned around and saw a sheepish Relm on the other side of the table with a fork full of eggs in one hand and a piece of bread in the other. “Well, well, well. I didn’t expect to see your bright eyes out of bed until later this afternoon, but you seem to be up and have a healthy appetite to boot!”

Relm swallowed her mouthful of food and smiled. “Thanks, Doc. I’m feeling better than I’ve felt in days.”

“Glad to hear it,” he said chuckling. “As your doctor, I do feel obligated to warn you to be careful when out in the wilderness. That sting you got was a very nasty one even though it only grazed you. I’ve seen grown men die from less than that. The goddesses must really be watching over you.”

“Believe me, Doc. I’ll be avoiding those scorpions like the plague. In fact, I don’t even know if I should head back out in the wilderness or not. The truth is, I don’t know what I should do,” she said setting her food down.

Relm stared at her half finished plate, for a moment, before Doc spoke up. “Well, there’s no hurry in deciding. I’d like to keep you here for another day of observation just to make sure that the poison is completely gone.”

She slowly nodded as she continued to stare at the food. “I don’t have any money to pay you for the care you given me.”

“I didn’t expect that a young girl, like yourself, would,” Doc said. “But I’ll tell you what. If you really want to repay me, I’ve always wanted to have one of those family pictures painted like the rich people in Jidoor. I’m just a simple country doctor, though, and could never afford such a thing. I think you’ve got more than enough talent to do it if you’re feeling up to it.”

Relm thought about it for a few minutes and then said, “Well, if you really think that it’s a fair exchange, I’ll do it.”

Relm felt all grown up by working off the debt she owed the doctor, and she poured herself into making the portrait of the couple. She had never taken on a project of such a grand scale and was finding that she really liked it. Two weeks went by before she finished her rendition of Gerald and Erin, but the results were well worth the wait.

When she presented the portrait, Doc beamed with pride and promptly hung it in his office so that everyone coming through the door could see it. “Thank you so much, Relm. For the life of me, I never dreamed I’d have such a thing!”

“Well, I think I owed you at least that much. I just wish that my grandfather could have been here to see it as well.”

Doc’s face turned solemn. “Now don’t you give up young lady. The scouts still haven’t found all the other cities, yet. I expect that we’ll eventually hear something from your friends. You can just stay with us until they come to get you.”

“Will that really be alright?” Relm asked anxiously as she looked toward Erin.

“Of course it will, dear,” the matronly woman replied. “Our children moved away a long time ago, so we have plenty of empty space.”

Relm gave a small sigh of relief and set to the task of finishing her breakfast. Fatigue soon began to overtake her, though, and she had to retire back to bed for the remainder of the day. The effects of the last remnants of the poison along with the extreme mana drain that she went through while attempting to stay alive in the wilderness, was exacting a toll on her body.

The very next day, Doc Brownfield proclaimed her cured, and Relm decided she needed to get out and see the town. She walked down the streets of Albrook familiarizing herself with the town but also looking for a place that would be willing to hire her. She had every intention of paying the Brownfields for keeping her, and she needed money to do it. As she passed by the “Flailing Dragon”, the town’s only inn, she noticed that they had an opening for a waitress. “Hmmm,” she said to herself. “It seems like Edgar had a thing for serving girls. If he comes through town, surely he’d stop in here.” And with that, she went in and got the job.

Week after week went by with only townsfolk coming through the doors. If it hadn’t been for the local patronage of the restaurant, they would have had to shut down the old inn. No one seemed to be traveling between villages anymore. Then one day Doc came in and asked Relm if she could sit and have a late lunch with him. Since things were slow, her boss said it would be all right, and she sat down after placing their orders.

“Relm, how do you enjoy waiting tables here?” Doc asked with a smile.

“Not very much, but I’ve looked everywhere for work, and this is the only place that I can find,” she replied.

“Well, I think I might have found you an alternative,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me where I got my beautiful portrait, and after finding out about you, a few have even asked if you’d be willing to paint one for them! I know that you could make better than you’re doing here,” he whispered.

At the thought of painting portraits, Relm's heart ached to be using her brushes again. It didn’t take long for her to decide to leave the table waiting business and apply her artistic talents. “I’d kill to be painting again!” she squealed.

“I thought you’d say as much. I’ve got a list of names right here in my pocket.” And with that Doc handed her a list of eight names.

“A list?! Dear, sweet, goddesses,” Relm exclaimed. “It would take me months to do all of these!” she said while hopping from one foot to the other.

“Well, do you have anything better to do?” Doc asked jokingly.

Relm gave him a sarcastic smile and replied, “Don’t you have a chocobo to go put to sleep or something?”

“Relm!! How many times do I have to tell you that I’m a doctor, not a veterinarian!” he calmly countered. “Although I did once cure a ‘pest’ of black scorpion poison,” he said thoughtfully.

Relm could only smile at having been outwitted by the good doctor. She gave him a quick smile and hurried off to tell her boss that this would be her last week of work.

The portrait business took off like Relm had never imagined. Orders continued to come in and the months quickly rolled by. As time marched on, foreigners began to travel to Albrook again, but none of them seemed to know anything about her friends and family.

As she reached the one year anniversary, Relm decided that it was useless to continue hoping that someone would show up to get her. Life in Albrook was treating her well, and she had almost made up her mind to stay there. Then, one day an eccentric man named Owzer came through her studio door. The rotund little man was on holiday from Jidoor and had seen her work around town.

“Ms. Relm,” he said with a flourish. “I desperately need your help. I have commissioned a painting to be done for me, but after seeing your work, I realize that I have hired the wrong person for the job.”

“Seeing as how you didn’t hire me, I’m sure you’re correct about that Mr.?”

“Owzer, my name is Owzer Adair the Third,” the flabbergasted man said.

“Well, Mr. Owzer, I’m afraid you’re going to have to get in line. I’ve got five clients ahead of you that I haven’t even started on, yet.”

“But you simply must, I’ll double whatever they are paying you if you’ll come to Jidoor and create this one masterpiece for me.”

Relm was stunned. “Travel to Jidoor?? I can paint here just as well as I could in Jidoor. I see no need to leave my home and head off across the sea to do one painting.” That’s funny, she thought. When did I start calling this place home?

“No, No, this simply won’t do. I must have the painting done under the protection of my own roof so that no harm can come to it in transit. This project is more precious to me than anything. I’ll triple the price.”

Maybe I should, thought Relm. I’ve waited long enough. Maybe its time I started looking for them and Jidoor is as good a starting place as any. It seems like Setzer used to live around Jidoor somewhere. There might be someone who’s heard from him.

“Please!” said Owzer, almost in tears. “I beg you. Come to Jidoor and do this one painting for me. I’ll quadruple the price and pay you half up front.”

“Alright, Owzy. I’ll agree to your terms if you can give me until tomorrow to finish this painting.”

"Agreed,” he said as relief washed over his face.

The next morning, Relm delivered her rendition of the Morgan twins and then hurried back to bid the Brownfield’s a tearful goodbye. She had grown close to them over the past year and although she planned on being gone for only a short while, she had no idea what events would take place if she ran into one of the Returners.

Owzer and his wife picked Relm up in their chocobo drawn carriage promptly at 10:00 a.m. and they headed toward his yacht, which was docked at the coast. Over her shoulder, Relm watched her home sink from view. She had feelings of apprehension at leaving with this well-to- do family, but was also excited about traveling across the ocean to see the rich city of Jidoor.

As they reached the dock, Relm was amazed at the size of the yacht. She hadn’t seen a ship this big since General Leo’s vessel pulled in close to Thamasa. The group quickly boarded the ship and got underway in less than an hour. Relm moved to the bow of the ship and smiled as it rolled through the waves and splashed her face with the salty spray. If only she had looked over her shoulder, she would have seen the harsh Light of Judgment, from the Tower of Kefka, fall on her beloved city.


Traveling by boat was so much slower than traveling by airship. Relm decided that if given her choice, she’d pick flying any day. But finally, the yacht pulled into port and they began the short carriage ride to Jidoor.

Upon arriving in the city, they traveled straight through the lower and middle class sections and drove up to the most opulent house in the high society neighborhood of town. Relm now realized that she was traveling with the richest of the rich. A servant opened the carriage door and a second servant opened the front door to allow the family into the house. Relm was humbled by the magnificence of the mansion and was sure that her old house from Thamasa would have fit neatly in the entry hall.

Owzer wasted not a single moment but headed upstairs to the makeshift studio that his hired artist was working in.

“Ah, Heinrich, there you are,” said Owzer. “I’ll thank you to gather your supplies and leave. I’ll have payment sent to you by days end.”

“But, Master Adair, I’ve not yet finished my work!” Heinrich exclaimed. “Surely you don’t intend for me to leave this masterpiece half finished!”

Owzer’s face turned red as he shouted, “What I expect, is to throw this piece of rubbish in the garbage as soon as you’re gone! Now, out of my house you charlatan, I’ve brought a true artist! She’s the only one that can do justice to my work of art!”

Heinrich’s face turned white as he bowed and quickly headed toward the stairs. He stopped only once to turn and look at Relm, and then he continued on.

A bit shaken, Relm walked around to the front of the painting to get her mind off what just happened. On the canvas, she saw what looked to be a lovely lady dancing on the clouds, her blond hair streaming behind her.

“You’re right, he was a hack. This doesn’t look anything like your wife,” Relm stated.

“No, no, heaven’s no!” replied Owzer. “He was commissioned to draw someone more beautiful than all the lights of heaven. This painting was to be a portrait of the goddess Starlet!”

“Well, Owzy, why don’t you start by describing to me what you see in your head, and I’ll see what I can do,” Relm suggested.

“Very well. Let’s begin,” said Owzer as he sat down and pulled a small stone from his pocket.

Heinrich stormed off toward his home incensed that some philistine, like Owzer, had the nerve to degrade his art and then have the nerve to hire a child to take his place. This would never do. Somehow he would find a way to get revenge on Owzer, but for right now there was only one thing that could soothe his troubled mind, and that was a trip to the auction house to see what kind of goodies he could get his hands on.

The auction house was fairly empty for midweek, and the bidders that were there seemed very lethargic. He couldn’t blame them though; the items that had been up for bid were useless, trifle at best. As he stood to leave, the next lot caught his attention. It was an old book of art recovered from a cave up north by some treasure hunter. As he looked at the dusty tome, he could almost feel it calling to him. Heinrich decided that he simply must have that book, and while he was at it, he’d go ahead and put it on Owzer’s tab.

After two hours of watching Owzer rub the stone and babble about Starlet’s beauty, Relm had heard enough.

“I know exactly what you want,” she said. “It’ll take me a few weeks to finish, but I can do it. In the meantime, I need to know where I can get supplies.”

“Just make me a list, Ms. Relm, and I’ll have everything brought to you. Order only the finest. Nothing is too expensive for my Starlet,” the giddy old man said as he stood to leave.

“What a weirdo,” she muttered under her breath as Owzer left the room. “Before I make that list, I think I’ll take a quick look around town first just in case someone’s here.”

It had been a week since Heinrich’s humiliating discharge from Owzer’s house. His fury over the whole incident had not seemed to ebb in the least.

“One of my most beautiful works, and Owzer just wants to throw it in the garbage! All I got was a measly payment and this stupid book!” he screamed as he threw it across the room.

As the book slammed against the wall, the pages ripped loose from the cover.

“Great, now I’ve got a destroyed book to go along with my destroyed painting,” he said as he walked over to pick it up. But, upon retrieving the tome, he noticed that there was a scrap of folded paper hidden where the pages were glued to the cover.

“What’s this?” he said as he unfolded the paper.

On the sheet was written the following:

Beware to he who reads this book,

To he who frees the Chardarnook.

This beast will do what you command,

And make of you just one demand.

So if your need is more than dire,

Turn ‘round three times and face the fire.

Throw in this page, throw in the book,

And chant the name of Chardarnook.

Heinrich stood in utter shock holding the scrap of paper. This was his chance to get revenge! He could simply call this Chardarnook thing and tell it to go and ruin Owzer’s painting. Owzer would never know what happened, and it would show that little upstart girl that she wasn’t the one in control!

It was decided. Heinrich closed the paper and the book, then turned three times and faced the fireplace. After throwing them both into the flame, he closed his eyes and began to softly chant, “Chardarnook, Chardarnook, Chardarnook…..”

The fire suddenly died and the glowing embers changed to black coals. Heinrich began to tremble as a shadow slowly grew from the ashes.

“G’fu, fu, fu,” said the shadow. “Who has awakened me?”

The frightened man answered, “I..It was I, great spirit. The humble artist Heinrich.”

“What is it that you wish me to do?” boomed the dark voice.

“I wish you to go to the house of Owzer, the largest one in the northern part of town, and ruin his new painting,” stammered Heinrich.

“This is an unusual request, but I will do as you ask. However, I require one thing from you before I go.”

“You may have anything you need if it is within my power to give it,” replied Heinrich.

“Very, well. I will require your life,” the demon said as it pounced on the screaming man.


Relm got a sudden chill and decided to go shut the window. The afternoon air seemed warm, but she decided to go ahead and shut the window anyway. Besides, she needed a little break. She had been painting her little heart out over the past week, and was way ahead of schedule. A woman of unparalleled beauty stared back at her from the canvas, and Owzer had become more and more excited every time he came in and saw her progress.

“Well, that’s probably enough work for one day,” she said. “I think I’ll head out and see a little bit more of the town.”

As Relm was heading to her room to change, she passed Owzer in the hallway.

“And how is my masterpiece coming along today?” he asked with a cheery smile.

“Beautifully,” a tired Relm responded. “I’m going out to take a break, but you’re more than welcome to take a look at it.”

“I think I’ll do just that,” he said as he skipped off down the hall.

Relm had just finished changing out of her paint-spattered smock and was on her way out of the bedroom door when she heard a blood-curdling scream. Quickly, she headed off down the hallway toward the studio and was met by Owzer running the opposite direction at full tilt.

“A monster!! There’s a monster in the painting!”

“Hold on now!” Relm spat angrily. “You saw her yesterday and said she looked exactly like the picture in your mind. Now you’re calling her a monster?”

“No! Not the goddess! There’s a literal monster in the painting! And it’s talking!”

“This I’ve got to see,” she said as she ran back to her room to grab her trusty fire rod.

Running through the doorway to the studio, she saw exactly what Owzer was talking about. Embedded in the painting was a set of glowing eyes.

“You will remove yourself from that painting,” Relm said brandishing her fire rod. “Or I will remove you from it.”

“G’fu, fu, fu. It’ll take more than you to do it little girly,” replied the dark figure as it faded into view on the canvas.

Just as Relm raised her weapon and prepared to attack, the door to the studio burst open. In shock, she stared at the four smiling figures that she hadn’t seen in over a year. Though she had given them up for dead, they had arrived at a moment when she needed them most.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” she said. “I could use a little help over here!”

And the five companions dove into battle.