by Cynthia Li
Art by Sophie Lin
Issue: Solivagant (Winter 2018)
The Official Bestiary of the Bells Society.
CLOPYDRA: A monster from Greek mythology, a clopydra is a horse with nine heads. If one head is cut off, two more grow in its place, making it virtually impossible to defeat.
Kai muttered an obscenity as she dismounted her giant lizard and stared at the wave of destruction the clopydra had left in its wake.
The lizard hissed. Her name was Remy, short for Remembering All The Ways I Can Beat You Up. She was a very pleasant lizard.
Kai followed the swath of trampled trees with her eyes. Judging from its width, the clopydra was huge.
She sighed. She texted Danielle.
A unit wasn’t supposed to engage a clopydra alone — the monsters were notoriously difficult to defeat, even if they were half the size of this one. But Danielle was her ex-girlfriend of two months. They were regularly assigned together, since Danielle was a fire mage, which all hunting units required, and an excellent one to boot. Sadly, there were not all that many fire mages out there. It was massively awkward.
The Bells Society: the elite monster-hunting force making breakups the most horrible life experience since 1958.
Her phone buzzed. danny: “k”
Kai put her phone back into the pocket of her uniform and started playing with the knives in the belt she had strapped around her waist — the belt also, incidentally, had a bag of smoke bombs next to the ton of nice blades she’d collected over the years.
She sighed. She lamented her single status. She rubbed Remy’s scales. Remy stuck her tongue out and flicked it lazily.
Danielle dropped down from the sky on Quinn, her majestic dark purple dragon. She was a black girl with her hair in tied-back braids that reached her shoulder blades, and a lesbian. Without talking — without even looking at her, really — the other girl knelt to inspect the tracks. She took a picture of a hoofprint with her phone, then looked up, then looked away, and said, “Let’s go.”
They followed the path of broken branches and torn up earth in silence, Remy ambling behind them and Quinn flying above.
“So I realize that we haven’t chatted in a while.”
Danielle kept walking and didn’t answer.
“You… you wanna hang out sometime?”
Danielle didn’t answer.
“Like I realize I’m annoying but I’d really like to…” She trailed off. Danielle looked straight ahead.
Kai shut up.
They’d broken up because they didn’t fit together. Dan had just become more and more distant until one day she blurted “I can’t stand you anymore” and they hadn’t really talked since besides for work. So arguably it was her fault.
(More likely it was Kai not wanting to face that she was the one who couldn’t bear talking about her problems. She was the one who couldn’t even mention that they should break up, couldn’t fathom the thought, tried to drag out their relationship hoping that it would get better but. It didn’t. And that was uncomfortable.)
The sound of the clopydra got louder. Kai put a hand on one of her knives and took out a smoke bomb with the other. Danielle twisted her hands and fire burst from her palms. Kai was a huge, huge bisexual.
They fought the clopydra. After losing about half of her knives, three smoke bombs, and a lot of fire, Kai watched the nine-headed horse monster dissipate into dust. She crouched to retrieve her weapons and just sat down in the dirt. Wiped a hand down her face.
Dan stood panting, hands slightly smoking, and looked up at Quinn, who dropped down with a thud. She got on. She flew away.
Kai watched her go. Then she laid down on her back in the ground for a long time.
Eventually she got bored and stood up, placing her hand on Remy’s scales. The lizard hissed.
Okay, she supposed, alright. At least they got the clopydra.