25 Beatinest Deliverance


A/N I’d like to give a shout-out to a very loyal reader, and belly-busting funny as hell FF writer, Czar Thwomp with this particular chapter. His reviews on my stories often included not-so-subliminal comedic gems within, and often make their way into my works, and the last chapter was no exception. Check out his sidesplitting comedy, story on fanfiction.net, The Imperial Daddy, for the full scoop of where the Royal Palace humor came from!

 Kingdom of Khura’in – May 3, 2026


Maya Fey’s palpitating heart was thudding a mile a minute.

The footsteps on the creaking floorboards drew closer, warning the young woman that imminent danger was looming.

With trembling fingers, she scurried to click shut the chat window in which she’d been exchanging messages with BurgundySamurai, only nanoseconds before the familiar clacking of wooden sandals entered the small room that’d long been her proverbial penitentiary, and her oppressor manifested at last.

The appearance of the captive’s tormentor was not formidable in itself. Diminutive in stature and more jimp than even the sylph Maya herself, the most charitable thing the otaku medium could say about her nemesis was that in the seven years since being held hostage, the barracuda hadn’t changed in the least. Familiar consistency, if nothing else. It was as though the universe had decided The Wretched One reached the natural plateau level of homeliness and there’d be a scant point in further beating this long-dead horse with an ugly stick.

As if nature itself wished to spotlight the dramatic moment of the old hag’s entrance, the early morning sunlight from the side window touched the despised phizog of the rattled spirit medium’s jailor as she strode towards the ancient desktop PC at which Maya was seated.

And if anyone thought decrepit beldam was a slightly too harsh term, BurgerMedium001 was more than willing to argue it was no unjustified conjecture!

Said harridan was not overly old, but her body had aged past her prime years so much that she wore the wizened features of an archaic hag. The occasional strand of what’d once been black hair could scarcely be seen through the lifeless grey mane limply framing that craggy, aging countenance. Her forehead was wrinkled by many peaks and trenches – caused by years of consistent scowling – with unflatteringly crowned orbs that permanently harbored a disdainful glower, shadowing their serpentine hue. Her entire mug seemed drained of any signs of joy and amusement; instead, her frumpy cheeks told a tale of regular displeasure.

Despite her small, somewhat frail exterior and generally stoic expression, Maya knew what sort of black heart and diseased, rotted soul lay behind that facet of wrinkles. The Xanthippe standing before her was as stubbornly unyielding as a wild boar, with a forked tongue so sharp, one could nearly be sliced in two if she believed you to be worth her time in the very least, let alone bothered to utter a word to you at all.

Over the years, the Kurain Master had had the misfortune of continuously falling victim to the witch’s caustic, debasing remarks. Always a belittling comment here and there, about her detainee’s supposedly unkempt hair or the way she acted or walked or talked. It didn’t matter if she’d practically worked her fingers to the bone and bore practically chafed hands from performing her enforced Cinderella duties. Nonetheless, the old battle-ax always managed to find some fault with something she did, from the way Maya held her chopsticks right down to the way she apparently couldn’t cook a decent, palatable meal to save her life.

The village leader hadn’t been quick enough, however, to shut down the tell-tale window of the entire Plumed Punisher fansite, noting the sharp ochroid eyes zeroing in on the computer monitor. To Maya’s great relief, however, rather than seeming suspicious, there was merely the customary look of contemptuous scorn on her warden’s withered features.

“I can see your dumber than snake mittens self has yet to tire of fangirling over that asinine Plumed Punisher show, all this time later.” The raven-haired beauty was subjected to a supercilious leer by her captor. “How is it you haven’t tired of that juvenile drivel as of yet? Or would it be expecting too much for a woman who’s a quarter-century old to act accordingly to her age, rather than her shoe size?”

Immune to such disparagements by now, Maya raised her chin defiantly, while trying to mask her relief that, despite being in French, the wretched creature hadn’t spotted the final, all-too revealing message she’d sent Edgeworth.

“I haven’t much choice with how to kill time here, now, do I? The limited choice of fun time diversions in this hellhole has been strictly limited!”

“Well, I suppose you’re a victim of Stockholm Syndrome to some degree since you’ve so wholeheartedly embraced what little entertainment there is to offer.” A cruel smirk played on the beldame’s thin, dried lips. “Regardless, I suppose you regularly thank The Holy Mother for whatever Internet usage, regardless of how restricted it may be, which you have access to!”

As much as I beseech for the daily inner strength not to kick your tits off! The necromancer replied silently, struggling to keep the placid smile on her face. And this is on top of praying to be bequeathed the intestinal fortitude not to regurgitate my innards – bearing the meager amounts of fodder I’m allotted to feed upon each morning!- when I’m coerced into rubbing your foul, jumentous stench, bunion infested, plague-ridden feet!

“I reckon since beggars can’t be choosers, nor can prisoners be selective about their recreational allowances, limited though they may be.” Maya forced lips were stuck in such a taut upward motion, her cheeks were beginning to ache. “Who is the person that sets the country’s restrictive online perimeters, so that it only allows access to the Plumed Punisher fan site and sites spouting cat memes and kitten wars?”

“That would be Inga Karkhuul Haw’kohd Dis’nahm Bi’ahni Lawga Ormo Pohmpus Da’nit Ar’edi Iz Khura’in III,” was the haughty retort, as if the spirit medium were daft for not already knowing this information, conveniently disregarding that her captive had been barred from leaving these four captive walls all this time. “Her Eminence’s sovereign must ensure everything is child friendly and suitably appropriate for their impressionable young daughter, Her Benevolence. Princess Rayfa is most partial to all furry and feline creatures.”

“By the Power of Greyskull!” Maya’s jaw dropped open in disbelief. “Whoosit now?! Inga?! That’s a male name?! One man’s name?! I thought Inga was the female name for some blonde bombshell on the Swedish Bikini Team! What in the name of Eternia did you just say the whole name was?”

A fiendish gleam flickered in the reptilian eyes.

“Our Minister of Justice, otherwise known as Queen Ga’ran’s husband, is generally referred to by the shorter version of his name, which is simply Inga Karkhuul Khura’in. I’m surprised you’ve so quickly forgotten the title of the man responsible for bringing our nation the Plumed Punisher,” the imprisoner said slyly. “Considering the little …mishap that occurred when I first tried to introduce you to the show.”

Maya visibly flinched as the words triggered recollections best left forgotten, and her adversary’s smug smile widened.

“Don’t tell this dotard’s brain has already forgotten just how well you’ve become acquainted with the royal family, even though you’ve never laid eyes on them in person, while they have yet to be aware of your pitiful existence?”

Despite her best efforts not to let her enemy further see her break down in any way, Maya’s forced smile wavered ever so slightly.

Thanks for the reminder, you sadistic, putrid, fart-eating hemorrhoid!

She barely repressed a shudder as harrowing memories of things that could never again be unseen zoomed through her mutilated mind.

For the past three years, I’ve been desperately trying to obliterate those traumatizing images from my mind by watching so many fluffy kitty videos, I may as well have my own ball of yarn and flea collar! Never before in my life have I ever wished for eye/brain bleach more than I did on that fateful night…


Kingdom of Khura’in – 2023


“Oh annoying, witless main family girl!” Natasha Ayasato trilled in a sing-song voice as she walked in the front door of the modest bungalow where she resided that evening. “Guess who’s home from a long, hard day of waiting on Her Eminence and needs a foot rub?”

Jerking sharply on her bed, Maya recoiled at the shrill sound of the nerve-rating, high-pitched, raspy voice.

By the Hairy Balls of the Gods! No! Not those narsty Hobbit feet again! Anything but that! How in the name of fire and brimstone does she get that hircine stench from only ten toes?!

Her skin prickled from just envisioning the situation, which could only be described as a blood-soaked nightmare hellscape.

I can’t take it anymore! I’m going to tell her no matter what she does to me, I’ll flat out refuse! I’d rather have my blood sucked out by leeches. Shove an icepick under a toenail or two and then kick a coffee table. I’d rather slam my fingers in a door again and again and again and again and again…

Surely, this latest degrading chore request was far worse than her poor, allergy suffering behind already being forced, from dusk till dawn, (on top of a litany of other household slave chores!) to dust off the countless knickknacks and ornaments decorating the musty hovel belonging to the wicked pythoness who’d enslaved her the past four years! How many miniature gnome figurines and creepy porcelain dolls could one crazy old loon possibly possess?! And why did they all have to be resting upon crocheted doilies, which only compounded the wheeze-inducing, dust bunny situation?!

Heaving a long-suffering sigh, the psychic reluctantly put aside the book on Khura’inese culture and customs she’d been pouring over to kill time and went out to meet the bane of her existence.

Apparently, from what she’d read, bludgeoning Natasha to death with one of her prized gaudy gewgaws wasn’t a viable option. It seemed Princess Rayfa possessed spiritual powers that could conduct a very damning Divination Séance, a ritual that utilized a “Pool of Souls” to reveal the sensations experienced by the victim’s final moments. Undoubtedly, this would incriminate Maya as the Kyboshing Killer Via Ceramic Kobold and the Court of Resignation in this merciless, defense lawyer-free country would thus swiftly decree the spirit medium’s head on the scaffold.

She couldn’t help but wonder, for the umpteenth time, just why she hadn’t simply thrown caution to the wind, risked attempting the ultimate exercise in futility, and made a run for it while her wicked captor was away at her day job as the Queen’s royal shoulder rub lackey.

Well, technically, she was painfully aware of why she hadn’t – and why she never could.

However, it still didn’t stop her from feeling a huge wave of resentment – or her flesh from crawling at the notion of having to contend with those fetid calloused heels and vile, fungal infested toenails which required a blowtorch to cut through…

Natasha was by the front door, and as she spotted Maya coming towards her, shrugged out of her cloak to reveal her plain cotton dress, carelessly dropping it to the ground with a dismissive huff, leaving her makeshift maid no choice but to pick it up, as was tradition.

“No, no don’t worry, I’ll get it,” the diviner muttered as she retrieved and hung up the item on the coat rack which had been right next to her lazy, miserable slave driver. “Dinner’s ready, by the way.”

“I imagine even your cooking is better than nothing after such a long day.” The ingrate gave a disdainful sniff. “And what will be on today’s menu?”

“Tonight’s meal will consist of local dishes, Hahtin’supaise and Mehl’tenmoht,” Maya replied dully. “Made freshly from scratch, of course, since you refuse to eat any leftovers and make me dispose of them.”

Far be it for you to save me the burden of cleaning this place from top to bottom, and then having the grueling task of having to cook over that cauldron you call a potbellied stove in these scalding temperatures!

“It’s about time you finally learned how to cook our fare! I hope tonight’s hot and spicy fare is more melt in your mouth than yesterday’s slop you made!” Natasha’s face twisted into a moue as she rubbed her concaved belly. “My stomach is still recoiling from your Bahlgilpo’kon! Another special hell in itself! If I didn’t know better, I would think you are trying to poison me via indigestion.”

Don’t tempt me! Maya grimaced. If only it were that easy! Curse that Royal Priestess and her stupidly infallible Dance of Devotion…

“It’s a work in progress, trying to decipher linguistics I have no previous knowledge of, while mentally converting the measurement of ingredients in recipes written formatted in the metric system because, in the States, we use Imperial.” She gritted her teeth. “I imagine being born and raised in this country, you couldn’t possibly grasp just how difficult it is to teach oneself to read a foreign language.”

“I suppose you could be commended for teaching yourself how to read our native tongue.” Natasha conceded grudgingly. “Although considering you have your nose stuck in a book like some sort of blasted bluestocking every time I turn around, I’d assume you were fully versed by now!”

“Of course, I read!” Maya’s tone grew slightly defensive, momentarily forgetting her vow not to let the hateful woman get to her. “What else is there to do in a country that has no online access, while being holed up in a house that has no cable?!”

“Funny you should mention that!” Natasha waved a VHS tape in her hand. “Her Eminence informed me today that not only is her husband working on getting some sort of dial-up Internet connection soon, but he’s also in the middle of creating this new TV show, aimed at young children. Some sort of samurai theme. The Queen was in a generous mood, so she allowed me this sneak preview of the pilot episode on this tape, which I retrieved from her library. I thought perhaps you might be interested in seeing it too, seeing as how your supposed grown woman self insists on wearing that childishly ridiculous Steel Samurai watch!”

Maya pointedly ignored the editorial on her choice of accessory and felt her interest piqued somewhat.

A local television show? About Samurais? It was better than nothing, and definitely would be a welcome distraction, as at this point she had read almost every book in the house twice and was going out of her mind with boredom!

“Would we be able to watch it now, before dinner?” She tried not to sound too enthusiastic or eager. “I’m not very hungry just yet.”

“That would be perfect,” Natasha purred, walking over to the VCR in the living room and popping in the tape. “You can go ahead and watch the Plumed Punisher with me while rubbing my poor feet. Just let me use the bathroom first. I’ve had the worst case of Montezuma’s Revenge thanks to that slop you served last night, you evildoer wench!”

Maya cringed, both at the grotesque oversharing, as well as the fate she knew awaited her as She of Miasmal Feet Incarnate, which were assuredly created from the Fiery Pits of Abaddon, left the room. She should have known better! Naturally, the unexpected generous offer had to have come with some sort of torturously excruciating stipulationone suitably decreed by even Hades Himself!

Moaning inwardly, she settled onto the ugly, hard-backed, paisley floral settee nevertheless and listened with slightly subdued anticipation, which quickly changed to confusion, as the video proceeded to start by zooming in on a large banner on the mahogany panel wall which read “Happy Birthday Inga.”

Standing beneath the banner was a young blond man in dark sunglasses that Maya immediately recognized from his YouTube acclaim, known simply as “Epic Sax Guy,” who then proceeded to begin vigorously enthused hip gyrations in time to his hypnotic saxophone solo!

She frowned in concentration as she listened to what suspiciously sounded like the beginning of George Michael’s classic mood maker anthem, “Careless Whisper.”

The beginning scene appeared to be taking place in some sort of luxe, opulent-looking bedroom. Then the screen slowly zoomed in on a middle-aged man with black hair and a goatee, wearing what appeared to be an expression of resignation and weariness on his face while his green eyes widened at whoever was ascending upon him.

The approaching figure’s back was to the camera, but Maya could make out it was a slender female form in royal-looking robes. Suddenly, the woman removed the outer garment and faced the camera, revealing a skintight purple dress and a necklace of magatamas, with a bindi head jewel, large hair clips, and mascara, giving her face what could only be described as a seemingly perpetual sneer.

The man began to sweatdrop as the woman’s lips curled into a lascivious grin, and with a flick of one wrist, she undid her hair buns, allowing her dark mane to fan out into stiff coils and bangs that resembled a spider’s legs and mandibles!

She advanced upon the man, who was visibly panicking now. He fervently scooted backward, only to find himself in the corner of the room as she held up a well-manicured hand, showing that within her lengthy scarlet tipped talons was what could only be described as a paddle of some sort in one …and a huge purple … eggplant-looking contraption in the other, which was attached to some sort of harness!

The virtuous, and up until then, untainted Master’s eyes morphed into the size of saucers.

Holy shit-balls! What fresh hell is this?!

The sheltered and still quite innocent Maya Fey had been born and raised into an all-female village, which was just as, if not more, backward than the Kingdom of Khura’in, in terms of cultures, customs, and technology. Up until she’d come to live with and work alongside Phoenix, during the three happiest, most exciting years of her life, she’d never previously been exposed to any man, nor been in the know of anything involving Parking The Beef Bus in Tuna Town!

In LA, she’d had access to high-speed internet of course, but had maintained her youthful, simple ideals, preferring children’s action shows and burgers without much thought to any sort of adult action or any other sort of meat!

Up until that moment, the spirit medium had never been exposed to any sort of graphic carnality – although she had recognized the warm flush in heat that’d had naught to do with mere embarrassment which had surged through her the one time she had unintentionally walked in on Phoenix changing and had seen him shirtless! Blushing furiously, she’d quickly blurted her apologies and yanked the bedroom door shut, and never again had barged in without knocking. Who would’ve known her dorky best friend was rocking the kind of abs you could’ve washed a T-shirt on underneath that blue suit?!

But other than that one time, she had never seen her boss even remotely indecent. Even with the eventual addition of little Pearl moving in with them after Morgan’s incarceration, there had never even been any childish accidental “oopsie” moments whatsoever!

Great gobs of goose shit, the necromancer also hadn’t ever unsuspectingly walked in on Phoenix in the john while he taking care of the call of nature and thus gotten an idea of what male plumbing resembled, never mind the actual act of Going Crab Fishing in the Dead Sea!

However, Maya had been privy to access cable TV and had seen movies.

Lots of them.

To this day, she remained petrified over memories of the infamous Deliverance scene, with Ned Beatty and the slack-jawed yokel in the woods, where the poor man was forced to “squeal like a pig” and was unwillingly subjected to Harpooning by the Salty Longshoreman!

The traumatized psychic had immediately turned off the TV and then watched a marathon of The Pink Princess episodes afterward until sunrise to erase the mondo disturbia images from her poor mind.

Why did such an eye-raping abomination exist on the silver screen in the first place?! The acolyte had screamed, full throttle, into her sofa cushion, trying not to awake the then slumbering Phoenix and Pearl. Who wants to watch a sweaty, fat, middle-aged man be a struggling recipient to a toothless, inbred hillbilly launching the meat missile whilst being made to emit sounds like Babe the Pig on his way to the Slaughter House?

Maya wasn’t purposely remaining jejune, nor was she completely unschooled in all matters relating to Playing Peek-A-Boo With Your Vein Cane in the Flesh Pipe. She’d read books, of course, and was well versed in what parts went where. Hence, she wasn’t so naïve that she remained unknowledgeable of the fact that in today’s day and age, the Lust and Thrust acts of Rumpy-Pumpy weren’t just limited to men and women. The art of Schnoodlypooping clearly applied to same-sex pairs as well.

But nothing could have prepared her for the horrors awaiting her on the small screen that fateful evening.

Except for the dueling banjos in the background, as they were replaced by the perversely inappropriate saxophone medley which kept playing on and masking the high-pitched porcine squeals of the emasculated, very piggy-pink Inga, it was like reliving the harrowing, infamous film scene all over again!

Just like with Deliverance, Maya remained helplessly frozen; too paralyzed by the crippling dreadfulness of the scenario to even make a move or peep as the horror continued to unfold with the “royal gratification treatment!”

Jesus Christ on a trailer hitch, it’s like a train wreck! I simply can’t look away, even though my tormented mind is internally screaming at me to do just that!

Her Eminence, now having donned what could only be described as The Purple Scepter of Evil strapped to her pelvic area, was jauntily savoring the act of Jerking It Where She Was Twerking It against the squirming, squeaking “Birthday Boy” Minister of Justice.

The camera zoomed back on the still engrossed, sax-playing, “air-humping” musician who was making it nigh impossible to determine, between him and Ga’ran, who was performing the heartier pelvic thrusting! The Queen was in her element, cackling triumphantly from her position as the instigator of Shooting the Meat Rocket into the Sausage Wallet … with the latter being that of her squirming, bucking, and thrashing husband!

All the while, to add to the bizarre obscenity, there were actual live spectators within the chambers! The militant, uniformed men, who could only be the palace royal guards, were uproariously egging the Queen on, loudly and repeatedly chanting: “Pleasure him, Ga’ran!”

Maya’s scarred reaction was similar but separate in the manner of the shivering Inga himself, who was presently alone on the screen, post celebratory birthday activities, lying on the floor and curled up into the fetal position, loudly wailing at the death of his manhood.

By the time Natasha had returned from her lengthy homage to the porcelain god, she found her captive with a hand over her mouth, the other rigidly clutching the fabric of her long robes. The Master’s eyelids were shut so tightly, they began to fidget and shudder from the bullish force – as if the very corner of her eyes were being pricked with a needle. She was crying silent, horrified tears that ran past her swollen cheeks and over her knuckles until finally dripping onto the floor without as much a sound.

“What sort of filth is this?!” The old woman screeched upon seeing the normally imposing Inga on-screen, presently dehumanized and with his pants down around his ankles. Her eye twitched ever so slightly as she then moved with surprisingly spry steps to the VCR.

“It’s from that sordid tape that you brought, you…you monster! How could you succumb me to such disturbing acts of debauchery, with zero warning?” Maya cried, still shuddering violently as the old woman speedily hit the eject button. “You win, OK? I’ll do anything you want! I won’t balk or fuss about anything you ask me to do! Just…no more of that ophthalmic barbarism and overall violation to my senses!”

Natasha gasped, genuinely bewildered as the spirit medium reached out to clutch her gnarled hand and peered up at her with stricken, red-rimmed eyes.

“What in the name of the Holy Mother? You say this iniquitous ungodliness was on the tape that brought home?!”

“If you were trying to break me to the point where I no longer put up any sort of objections to the backbreaking slave labor you make me do, then congratulations, mission accomplished!” Maya cried. “Henceforth, there shall be no resistance from me! I’ll – I’ll polish your silverware daily – even in those stubborn spots between the fork tines! I’ll scrub the floors by hand with the full power of elbow grease! I’ll spit-shine your shoes! Just never subject me to such horrors… ever again!”

The modern-day Cinderella began rocking back and forth on the couch, a haunted look in her eyes.

Nothing could be as bad as being made to spectate that sort of… depravity! I’d rather accept a drink from Bill Cosby! Listen to Gary Busey read 50 Shades of Grey! I’d rather dive into a swimming pool filled with double-edged razor blades! I’d rather rip my heart right out of my ribcage with my bare hands and then throw it on the floor and stomp on it till I die! Nom d’un nom d’un petit cochon bleu … I’d rather rub your feet!”

Natasha blinked, not realizing her slave had just uttered the French exclamation for “name of a name of a little blue pig,” and instead stared down at the offending VHS tape in her hands. She was still too stunned with the proceeding laundry list of atrocities Maya had just listed as a preference to watching whatever had been on the film to fully grasp the fact that she and her feet had been most grievously insulted!

“What kind of deviants do you have living here in this alleged holy country?!” The raven-haired brunette rubbed her hands up and down her arms, which were covered with goosebumps. “This is your idea of children’s entertainment?! What kind of depraved freaks would enjoy seeing this Plumed Punisher?!”

Her trauma somewhat abated, she indignantly snatched the VHS out of the startled Natasha’s hand and stared down at the title written in black marker on the front of the tape.

“Hey! Wait a second! This doesn’t say Plumed Punisher! It says Primed Punishment!”

That’s what it says?!” The crone gaped at her captive. “The Queen told me to grab one of the tapes from the library! Now I’m wondering if she meant the main palace library and not the one from her bedchambers…”

“You grabbed this tape from the Queen’s private library?!” Maya was now fuming. “Heavens to Betsy! What in the name of all that is holy is wrong with you?! Can’t you even read?!”

Her eyes lit up then, as though she’d just solved a great mystery, and she happily clasped her hands together against her chest.

“Wait, you can’t read, can you? Is that the real reason why you make fun of me for all the reading that I do? There’s no shame in being illiterate, even at your age! My little Pearly never learned how to properly read until she was eight years old because she didn’t have traditional schooling, either.”

Her tone was rife with enthusiasm at the idea of having a new project to occupy her time.

“Obviously, illiteracy does not pay! Tell you what – I’ll teach you how to read; so long as you swear to never to make me endure such horrors again! You know what they say: open up a book and open up your mind!”

“Oh Holy Mother, will you quit your nonsensical jabbering already, you mealy-mouthed … flibbertigibbet!” Natasha’s cheeks flamed with humiliation and ire, and Maya grew accordingly subdued. “I can
read perfectly fine! It’s just that I was running late for my duties at the palace this morning because my stomach was so upset by that gruel you served last night, so when I rushed out the door, I forgot my glasses!”

She clapped the wire-rimmed spectacles, which had been dangling on a chain around her neck, against her face and examined what was written on the front of the VHS tape.

“Ah, so it does say Prime Punishment… volume XXI! I need to sneak this back into Her Eminence’s chambers tomorrow morning before she realizes it’s missing …”

Gack! Volume 21?” Maya goggled at the harridan. “Mystic Ami help me – does that means there are 20 previous editions of similar… footage?!”

“Who am I to judge what the Queen and her husband do in their private time?!” Natasha’s withered cheeks turned even redder, then she narrowed her eyes at the younger woman. “This was simply a shamefully grotesque error on my part… which ultimately was your fault, for serving such subpar fare and throwing my entire digestive system into general disarray!”

Easy for you not to judge! Maya thought sullenly. Whilst you were conveniently occupying the latrine, I was aching to gauge out my eyeballs with a fireplace poker!

“For your sake, I hope tonight’s meal is an improvement over last, you incompetent ninny! Otherwise, I very well shall take you up on that hysterical list of preferences which you cited a few moments ago … such as making you scrub the floors by getting on your hands and knees… starting with the one in the bathroom!”

Natasha seated herself at the kitchen table and pointedly looked at her makeshift serving wench.

“I’m ready to eat my dinner now, by the way!”

“You’re dining alone tonight, lady!” The spirit medium growled as she trudged over to the stove. “I never dreamed the day would come when of all people would say this … But I’m not at all hungry!”

“Surely, you cannot be serious!” Natasha derided meanly, eyeing her captive skeptically. “Doth first mine eyesthen my ears both deceive me within the very same day?! You are jesting, are you not? You, the bottomless pit, doth not hunger?”

“I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley!” The Master grumbled. “Thanks to my impromptu voyeuristic glimpse of the hedonist, and dare I say, sadistic proclivities of the Queen and her relentless, foot-long… aubergine in action, as well as the comparatively modest…gherkin of the Minster of Justice – whom I sorely hope I don’t ever meet because I’ll never be able to look him in the eye after this! – Maya Gilligan Fey has completely lost her appetite!”


End Flashback

Kidnapper Headquarters – May 3, 2026


After Natasha had gone off to work at the palace, Maya found herself reflecting on her history of loving children’s action shows while being immersed up to her elbows in sudsy water as she washed the dirty pots and pans from that morning’s breakfast – Banu’puun, another local dish.

Her rocky segue notwithstanding, while it was no Pink Princess or Steel Samurai, she truly did like The Plumed Punisher show – the real one – when she’d eventually laid eyes upon the authentic show that Inga had produced.

She was still trying to obliterate all memories from its similarly-named titular other action videos! She’d had to threaten Natasha to never mention it again – unless the old bag wanted yet another splurting bout of dysentery from Maya’s cooking – and this time it’d be on purpose, not because she’d accidentally used too heavy a hand with the Guhljaama!

The village leader had been hungover for a day and a half after the unanticipated viewing, due to the copious amount of fermented yak’s milk she’d had to chug in order to annihilate those images from her mind! The swill was beyond revolting, but it was also the only sort of alcoholic libation within a 10-mile radius!

Also, she had been irrevocably turned off any sort of pork-related product ever since that unforgettable day as well! Visualizing Inga while munching on her bacon was a guaranteed appetite suppressant!

Ergo, if the sadistic Natasha dared mention The Unmentionable ever again, she’d been warned that she would suffer for the reminder! It’d be worth any sort of punishment Maya would have had to endure afterward!

How pathetic is it that the culinary torturing of my subjugator – whom I continue to despise, even though time has softened our previous, openly hostile relationship into one of guarded neutrality – is the only way I get my amusement nowadays? Once upon a time, in another lifetime, this sudden Cinderella spent her days merrily investigating alongside her best friend, or dragging him to take her out for burgers or to the latest Steel Samurai movies!

A gusty sigh.

And here I am now, in a country I don’t belong, with people I don’t know, going on with my life and trying to be someone I’m not sure I want to be. I can’t recognize the person I am today. I know it could be worse. I could be exposed to worse tortures than viewing the royal sex tape – wait; are there any?!

Maya laughed humorlessly. True, things sucked harder than a Hoover, but they could be far worse. She was hardly a prisoner of war, after all. She hadn’t been abused or tortured in the traditional sense; not unless you counted crippling boredom and loneliness.

I should be grateful that I’m not imprisoned in a moldy, rat-infested cell, or imperiled to any sort of physical cruelties, aside from dish-panned hands and constantly exhausted limbs from all this domestic drudgery. It’s a miracle I’ve learned to assimilate myself into society. That I’ve been easily accepted by locals and other tourists as this alleged, wide-eyed wanderer who is here under the ruse of gaining spiritual enlightenment in Khura’in! Not that I can do anything with my learnings even if I were, in reality, being trained! It’s illegal for anyone non-regal to channel here, and the Queen has ensured the royals are the only ones who can do so, by placing protective Wards to prevent channeling everywhere, save for at the palace and in the courtroom. And the fiendish Natasha has ensured I’m never allowed near either one. Or else…

Well, she needn’t dwell on the or else. She fully knew what the inconceivable alternative was if she ever disobeyed – the real reason that even though Maya was left to her own devices for eight hours a day while Natasha was gone to work, and despite having neither her passport nor one red cent to her name, she didn’t just make a run for it.

Henceforth, her resignation to this current fate stemmed from her new life as the world’s most reluctant addition to Western Asia.

Sometimes, though, accepting her providence wasn’t so easy.

I’ve had seven years to accept this as my lot in life. I try to remember to be strong, and that I shouldn’t let these treacherous snakes ever break me! But when it’s three in the morning and I can’t sleep, I start missing the old me… the old life, once again. Even if I hate the way I used to be at times, I miss myself. I miss the place I called home. I hate it, I hate myself for this! I don’t want to keep missing those days like there was nothing wrong with them.

She missed those days. She missed her old life. Her old home. She missed everything.

So why do I keep missing it? Am I honestly so fucked up that I miss the crying days, the empty nights, the feeling of never being good enough? Or is it that I’m too scared of the future and being alone that I keep getting back all the good feelings I can rescue from my memories of those years? I don’t know. The only thing that seems clear to me is that I’m missing the person I was, even though I often hated that hopeless girl I’d become back then. Things weren’t perfect, I know that. I suffered a lot of hardship and pain and loss. There’s a lot of things that weren’t how they should’ve been. Things I’m glad are finally over.

A tear rolled down her cheek.

Nevertheless, there are days like today, like having a twist of fate allow me to bump into Mr. Edgeworth online, that I get a renewed spark of hope that I can be rescued. That I can believe that logical genius and fellow otaku somehow deciphered my SOS cryptic message, meaning perchance I won’t be forever yearning in vain for the people and the feelings I had back then. My Pearly. My villagers. Him.

In the end, it always came back to him.

They say that in French there is no literal translation for ‘I miss you’ – instead they say  “tu me manques” which means more along the lines of ‘You are missing from me.’ And is that not the aptest description of losing somebody? Because if you miss a person, you wish they were there with you – but if a person is missing then something is deeply wrong because they are not where they are supposed to be. So when I say that I miss you, what I mean is the French version. Because I do not simply wish you were here – you are missing from me. There is a hole where you used to be and I am incomplete because of it… My world is no longer right because you are meant to be here and you’re not.

As much as Maya loved and missed her darling cousin, in the end, it was Phoenix who haunted her waking thoughts and nightly dreams. Try as she might, the overwhelming sense of Saudade; of the deep emotional state of melancholic longing for an absent person, never fully abated.

No, I haven’t had an easy life. But when you were with me, Nick, somehow…the pain stopped, or at least lessened. You were my hero – my gallant knight in shining armor; your comfort and friendship were like soothing soul medicine. Some days I can see the image of your face in my mind so clearly that the agony ebbs at first sight of you, then multiply and I want to flee this place.

“Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?” She whispered aloud. “How else can I call refer to this cruel paradox? That the only man I’ve ever loved, and always will love, is also the ultimate reason why I have no choice but to remain in this purgatory, all alone?”

I’ve always been an act first, think later girl. This time though, that’s not an option. If I were to attempt to escape this prison, I’m more than aware of what consequences such actions would bring. So I’m forced to shove the memories of your face from my mind and resume missing you with a pain that sits in my guts like a slow-burning fire. Those flames belong in my heart, in my soul, yet no more. And in this hurricane of my soul, amid the endless winds that scream, I make no move. I can protect me, or you. I will always choose you, Nick, until there is no more of my mind or my body, whichever comes first. This is my solemn vow. It is my sworn oath upon the song of the birds, the light that scatters on still water, and the sun that rises each new day.



Filling The Void Copyright © by JordanPhoenix. All Rights Reserved.

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