Fandom: Once upon a time.
Characters: Archie Hopper, Ruby, Henry, Belle; Rumpelstiltskin, Milah, Baelfire, Hordor, the Dark One.
Categories: Time travel, changing history, what if, light character study. (action? Adventure?)
Story summary: Belle's fondest wish is granted, and everyones' problems will be over -- if she can stop Rumplestiltskin from ever becoming the Dark One. What's the worst that could happen?
Chapter 1: The wish. At LJ: Chapter 1.
Chapter 2: Introductions afresh. At LJ: Chapter 2.
…Chapter summary: The day after that encounter in the bar, Rumpelstiltskin and Milah meet our heroes. And the Dark One has plans.
Chapter 3: Perhaps a change of scenery. At LJ: Chapter 3.
…Chapter summary: The problem with leaving for new lands isn't the destination - entirely.
Sometimes, its in us
Chapter 4: I put the choice to you. At LJ: Chapter 4.
…Chapter summary: Why the Dark One hates the Time Traveler... And what the Duke does to friends.
Chapter 5: Call me Ahab. At LJ: Chapter 5.
...Chapter summary: The Terminator said it best: "Come with me if you want to live."
Chapter 6: The Gathering. At LJ: Chapter 6.
...Chapter Summary: Everyone is in the same building. But who will fall on the sword, and who will save the day, now that Archie is a beast and Belle has been lost?
Chapter 7: In my end is The Beginning. At LJ: Chapter 7/7.
...Chapter Summary: The birth of a new era was not easy, but it happens.
Disclaimer: I own none of the canon characters, locations, or spells.
Feedback is always welcome.
As Hordor escorted her through the varied display rooms of the ducal palace, Ruby saw riches after riches, the sort of wealth that could have bought off everybody but Regina and Midas, Ruby suspected, maybe Mulan's emperor-regent too. In the room they were in now, he informed her how each tapestry told a story of what it meant - but also where it was from, and what it had taken to come to be on these walls.
"What's this one?" Ruby asked, looking at the cetus-and-grain tapestry. Looks like a whale or sea monster...and grain from a harvest.
"The Duke hails from a cadet branch of a line descended directly from the men of the Arthurian Round Table," Hordor said. "This and this alone was what his ancestor was permitted to take." Not lands or wealth or anything else, not even horses. And the Duke will soon be able to undo that injustice. "Pretty, isn't it?"
But Ruby's nose told her that there was something behind that tapestry. Something metalic and heavy with the spices of magic. She sneezed. "I like it," she said with a sniffle. VERY strong magic there.
I'm beginning to wish Rumpelstiltskin hadn't been born in this part of the world, Belle thought sourly as she turned yet another corner, and was faced with another set of doors. This was an age of great bloodshed for this part of the continent, with some historical accounts suggesting that as many people died from political scheming among the dukes and princes of the humandom, as died from actual combat with the ogres. Ergo, this maze of a ducal palace. Makes me almost wish for the architectural simplicity of the ducal castle I grew up in. Belle stopped for a moment when she realized what she had thought there, and then said, "Gods," with a shake of her head.
Show me a map, or give me a travel puzzle, and I could solve it easily. But I never have it easy on foot, Belle knew. And this place is horrid.
Captain Jones had been with her less than five minutes ago, him and a steady trickle of his men sliding into the ducal palace from outside. Speed getting here was an important issue, and the Captain certainly knew who were the fastest way here - and they owed him favors already. But now Belle was wandering the labrynth alone; Captain Killian Jones was somewhere in the place, but she had no idea of where...hoping its where he's supposed to be.
Hordor opened his eyes as he slowly pushed himself up off the floor. Ruby is gone, he noted with disappointment that she had not stayed with him to defend him from attacks while he was vulnerable.
Looking about the room, he noticed that many of the tapestries had been ruffled and shoved to one degree or another. But only one was missing: the cetus-and-grain tapestry.
He did not think much of the fact that the alcove behind where the tapestry normally stood, was also empty. There were things even Hordor had not been privy to.
A minute earlier...
"Enough waiting," the Duke said. "We shall begin without Hordor and the two women. They can be dealt with when they show up." Or crawl out of Hordor's bed. "Dark One, kill them all."
"All? A very inspecific request," the Dark One said. "Who would you send against the ogres?"</p>
"Very well, begin by..." and an idea crossed the Duke's mind. "Before you kill him, reveal to us what creature this man before me would become."
"As you wish, my commander," the Dark One said, and cast transformation upon Archie.
Archie pushed away from the boys and even away from the soldiers who had been keeping close to the three of them. And he began to re-become what he had been the night before, only more completely this time. Hungry mandibles clicked and chittered as the claws of his arms tore through the air, all the while whipping antennae back and forth.
In all their time with the Duke, his wife and his mistress had beheld a great many things, but this was sufficient to encourage them to duck behind the throne, only peeking their eyes out.
The Duke, meanwhile, laughed and clapped at the novel beast before him.
"What...What are you?" Rumpelstiltskin asked.
The question was sufficient for Archie to use it as a lever to slowly take back control of himself. Urges,,,urges,,,powerful,,, as he stilled himself externally, though the battle raged within.
"Now, kill him," the Duke instructed the Dark One. "Then destroy Rumpelstiltskin."
"But I thought you said -" Rumpelstiltskin said.
"I am the Duke. I am not accountable to you."
Baelfire and - to a lesser extent, Henry - didn't tear their eyes from the still form of the Dark One.
"Destroy them both," the Duke said. "Destroy both families!"
The Dark One did not move.
"That was my command," the Duke said, his tone and hand gesture emphatic.
Still, the greatest power in the land did not budge or speak.
"I am your master, Dark One! You will obey me!" the Duke said.
As if in answer, the Dark One's hands emerged from the bottom of his long-sleeved cloak, hands curled around an invisible shaft. "Yes," the Dark One said quietly, but was audible to all in the silence of the throne room. "Very good."