The Void Cow: A Tale of Dark Dairy
This comedy fantasy story is currently being told entirely Patreon through polls. Think of something similar to a choose your own adventure story but with a couple of differences: 1) it’s not written in second person point-of-view, and 2) there’s no “going back to page whatever and choosing a different path” option. Due to this being poll-based, the writing isn’t as smooth or edited as my other work. But, I hope you enjoy it all the same!
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“Does anyone have a grudge against you? Why would you think someone would curse you?”
“I’m, like, ridiculously good looking.” I repeat with a wink.
Two guards standing behind me put their hands on the handles of their swords. Queen Brandy stays their hands.
She inspects me. “So what you’re telling me is that you don’t know who cursed you or why.”
“Well, I did just say—“
“And you probably didn’t even know that you were cursed. Not too bright, are you.”
“Well, my Queen, with all due respect, your throne room is poorly lit.”
A guard behind me sighs and says, “Queen, let us take care of this idiot for you. I mean, how’d they pass the tests to get recruited into your Majesty’s royal army in the first place?”
“I did really well on the physical test.”
“And your uncle is a general.” The Queen adds.
“Queen Brandy, I’d love to keep talking about how stupid I am but I have an important letter to deliver to you.”
She holds the doctored letter in question up. “This one?”
“…Yes. That one.”
She looks at the seal. “Seal is from King Milquetoast of Auburn. You’re telling me someone rode through the Buttcrack Trail to have this delivered to me?”
“Oh my god, I call it the Buttcrack Trail, too! Captain hates it when I call it that. I can’t wait to tell her Queen Brandy, our royal Highness—“
“And this letter was delivered directly from their courier’s hands to yours, and then from my guard’s hands—while you were unconscious—to mine? No one else touched this letter, is that correct?”
- “Yup. You’re super correct on that. Like 110% correct.”
- “Who knows what your guard did with it while I was passed out.”
- “That’s a loaded question with an intricate answer,” I say before running away.
- “Captain Rancid, Captain Rancid, Captain Rancid! It was her! She did it!”
Catch up on the story
Captain hates it when I call it this, but a messenger came from the buttcrack trail between the mountains with a message from our sworn enemies. I was told to deliver it to the Queen without reading it. In the light, I can make out the first few words. I can see…
- Let’s talk peace…
- Come to my party!
- Trade wood for clay?
- Your queendom sucks! (WON)
She tosses the sealed envelope back to me. “Sucks to be you.”
“Why’s that, sir?” I ask.
Captain shrugs, “Queen’s going to chop your head off after you deliver something like that to her.” She chuckles, “…your queendom sucks.”
My eyes widen. “But cap, I…”
- Have a family…somewhere
- Have a contagious disease
- Like my head (WON)
- Have a thing, remember?
“But cap, I like my head!”
Her mouth fishhooks, “I could take it or leave it. In fact, I’m going to leave it. I order you to update your will and hand-deliver this letter directly to the queen.”
Looks like I can’t get out of this. Maybe I can make a request, “Can I have…”
- A fast horse
- Better equipment
- Soldiers for protection
- Money, lots of money (WON)
Cap massages her temples, “Let me get this straight. You want a pay raise, per diem, and a bonus?”
I look down. “Yes.”
She chuckles, “Fat chance! Unless…you’re willing to do something for me. A little job, off the books, in the Queen’s capital. No info until you agree.”
- Sure! I’m sketchy as fuck (WON)
- Do I have a choice?
- I respectfully decline
- No way!
“Fantastic! I knew there was a reason I hired you.” Cap hands me a wooden box, parchment, and a cartoonishly large sack of coin. “Deliver this box to that address. Whatever you do, don’t open the box!”
- Why, what’s in the box? (WON)
- Okie dokey artichokie!
- Deliver box. Profit. Easy
- First, I’ll tell my fam
“I know I didn’t just hand you that big ass sack of coin for you to be asking questions,” Cap scorns. I notice an inscription on the box: Money, lots of money. She watches me read it. “Just deliver the damn thing to the resident. Sealed.” “All right then!” I say as I…
- Leave en route to queen (WON)
- Open the box en route
- Open the box at home
- Immediately open the box
Without delay, I gather supplies for the journey and hop on my trusted steed. I’ll have to write a letter to my family once I get to the capital. She’s not the fastest horse in the land, but a faithful friend nonetheless. Her name is…
- Daymare (WON)
- Lady Horse McHorse
- Gassy Gams
Daymare and I bask in the sun as we trot along to the capital—providing ourselves some daycare. There’s a four-way split, all roads leading to the city. Real inefficient, if you ask me, but nonetheless I must choose a route.
- Easyborington Street
- Mediocre Terrace
- Mildsauce Road
- Toughshit Alley (WON)
“It’s all right, girl. Nothing to be scared of. This way is quickest, we won’t be here long.” I say, stroking her mane.
“That’s right, you won’t.” Someone replies. I halt. Behind the arrow pointed at my face, I see…
You can vote on this right now: @neutrinoburrito
- My best friend
- My mother
- My ex
- The Captain (WON)
“Little change of plans.” Captain says as hooded figures loosely surround me.
“We’re going to take that letter off your hands. Deliver this one instead.”
Someone hands me a perfect replica of the letter.
“What does it say,” I ask.
Cap relaxes her bow, “It says…”
- Give peace a chance
- Time for war, suckers!
- New king, who dis? (WON)
“We want queeny to visit the new king of the dirtbags to the east,” Cap explains.
“You’re not going to kill me?”
“What? No! I was agreeing with you—this is the quickest route.”
My brow sinks. “…Uruk doesn’t have a new king.”
“Ya-huh! No more questions—off you go.”
- Mo money mo money mo mone (WON)
- Why give me this now?
- Watch me open this box
- Watch me tear this letter
Cap shakes her head. “Not happening.”
I grab the box, and read its inscription aloud. “I’ll take some from here then.”
With fear in their blood, the ambushers give me some space. One of the figures pats the air gently and says, “Don’t open that, it’s…”
- full of shit!”
- going to get out!” (WON)
The air grows dense. We’re silent, but the birds keep chirping.
“Looks like a Flexican Standoff,” I say.
Cap puts a finger up. “Don’t say that. It’s prejudiced.”
She snaps her finger. Someone slings two sacks of coin tied together over Daymare. “That’s all you’re getting.”
- I smugly saunter off (WON)
- I confidently trot off
- I nod and canter off
- I smile and gallop off
As I ride off, someone behind me says, “Smug bastard.”
Buildings and suspicious people replace trees and suspicious birds. I’d better watch my back, the alley is more alley-like now. I should conceal my bountiful haul of cash by…
- writing ‘not cash’ on ‘em (WON)
- smiling and waving
- looking real mean, grr
- saying cap’s loaded
“Why are you writing ‘not cash’ on those coin bags?” A muddy alley girl asks.
“They’re clearly not coin bags, as is evident by the label.”
“You think because we live in an alley that we’re all as stupid as you?” The girl says while drawing a knife.
- Ride off, crying (WON)
- Tell her parents
- Say, “stop bullying me!”
- Slashy slashy time mofo
“I’m rich, I don’t have to take this from some peasant brat!” I egress, wiping tears away.
The entire Alley mocks me! They’re just jealous because they’re all so poor and ugly. No matter, I’m already gazing upon the grandiose structures of our capital city. It’s time to…
- spend that moolah!
- deliver that package! (WON)
- cower before my queen!
- write my family!
I knock. Moments later, a woman opens the door.
“We already paid our taxes in full,” she says.
“Oh, right. This box inscription and my uniform must make me look like a tax collector.”
What am I about to deliver? I going to…
- just open the damn box (WON)
- throw the box and run
- smile, deliver, strut off
- tell her the truth
A technicolor fog spills out into the house. A hand, wielding a blade that looks just like mine, juts out from the fog and pierces someone else in the house. The fog consolidates into a shape. My shape. This cloud just stole my likeness.
“What have you done,” the woman exclaims.
- “Nothing! Prove it!”
- I drop the box and run
- I attack the fog clone (WON)
- I call the guards
“Have at you!” I say, crossing blades with the vapor. After a fine parry, it extends its smog out and creates five long armed arms. Each appendage fatally wounds the other members of her family but spares us. With a smile and wave, it dissolves. I say…
- “What the fuck?”
- “Whoops, wrong house.” (WON)
- “Can’t win ‘em all.”
- “Can we start over?”
“You killed my entire family and you’re telling me you got the wrong house?!” The woman chants something under her breath. Did I just give a witch a reason to hate me? I’m fucked. I’d better…
- Explain myself
- Run like the wind
- Shit myself
- Stop her w/ tongue twisters
“Go maire do chos istigh rit,” she whispers in an unfamiliar language. I start to feel sick to my stomach.
I respond with, “Tell the teller to take terrible taxes!”
“Go maire do pharóiste teaghlaigh,” she belts.
“Still shouting silly spells! Stop seething sister, since soon…”
- sad salamanders salivate
- scary skeletons stand (TIED)
- serious salads satiate
- sarcastic squash scorns (TIED)
Shapes in calcium white and pumpkin orange fade in, ethereal becoming corporeal. Music chimes. Humanoid skeletons dance and candle-lit pumpkin mouths passive-aggressively insult the woman’s appearance. One pumpkin delivers a stunning blow, “Hey lady…
- witches bathe, you know
- conjure up a better face (WON)
- bet the fam’s happier now
- magically fix those rags
She paws at her face and whatever magic this lady was trying to cast fizzles out.
“How’d…Now I see—you’re one of Captain Rancid’s boots. She can’t kill me so she sends a witless idiot to kill my family.”
“It’s a vapor. Not many brains in a cloud.”
“I’m talking about you, idiot.”
- Hey, I resemble that!
- I didn’t know about foggy (TIED)
- Not dumb, brain good (TIED)
- No you are! 14.3
“I not didn’t dumb know brain about foggy good.”
“Uh, looks like someone’s got a powerful curse on you. This must be Rancid’s work. Wonder what she’s going to make you do.”
- I’m not cursed!
- I’m cursed? Help! (WON)
- As long as I’m rich
- No you are!
The witch scratches her chin and says, “As mad as I am at what you’ve done, it’s not your fault. Rancid’s the one to blame for all this. I’ll try and remove her curse but we need to tell Queen Brandy about these possessed void spirits.”
She chants and waves her arms. I feel…
- Sick; gonna vomit
- Salty like a pretzel (WON)
- Guilt I think? Gross!
- like I need to pee
“Savory vibes means it’s working!” The witch claims. “I can visualize the nature of your curse. I see a flock of birds pulling at you like a puppet, voting on how to control you. Let me try blocking their options…Got it! Did that work?”
- Yes? (WON)
Rancid appears, staring you down. “This sad excuse for a witch is trying to murder you, my precious little birds. Now’s the time. Let’s get rid of the Queen’s number one supplier of fresh Void Milk. We’ll put an end to the production of these monstrosities yet. What shall we do?”
- Torture her with polka
- Poop on her car (WON)
- Bring foggy boi back
- Turn her into a newt
“Quickly, we must warn Queen Brandy that they’ve found a way to use the Void Milk against us. We’ll take my lambo—”
Bird poop coats the witch’s bitchin’ anachronistic sports car.
“My baby!” She screams through sobs, ”What’ve they done to you?!”
I must see the Queen, but first…
- Ditch that witch
- Trap that witch
- De-turd that sweet ride
- Poop on her car and run (WON)
I pinch my last turd off and run for the castle—
Rancid appears to you again. Yes you, dear reader.
“Good work my little birds,” she says. “Now let’s make sure this turd does the job. Remember the terms of our curse?”
- Kill the Queen?
- Steal the Void Milk?
- wtf is happening rn?
- Poop on Queen’s car? (WON)
“We can do that after we seize the throne,” Rancid says. “We formed a contract, little curse birds. Y’all vote on the control spells to tweet in Buttcrack Trail’s dumb ears so they’ll do what I want. And I want the throne. Fulfill your end of the agreement. Now.”
- Wait, are we the baddies? (WON)
- What do we get out of this?
- Ugh, fine. We’ll do the thing.
- Pass. We’re impish, not evil.
“What kind of asinine question is that?” Rancid spits. “This isn’t some episodic ‘choose your own adventure’ style fantasy comedy fairy tale—this is real life. I gather that you might have a different reality, as you’re a collective sentient embodiment of pure magical energy licensed and bonded to my world by me, but I think you get the general idea.
“There is no good or bad here in my realm. There are only sides; sides carved out of our differences in political philosophy. My philosophy and that of my compatriots is that we should be treated equally as human beings. Queen Brandy thinks that it’s fine to use witchcraft and Void Milk to turn her subjects into monstrous killing machines ‘for the good of the Queendom’ or whatever.” Rancid takes a deep breath.
“Do you get it now?” She asks.
- This exposition is boring; tell us about the job.
- Fine, don’t answer us. Let’s just get this over with.
- Completely understand. But are we the baddies? (WON)
- So are we Queen killing or nah?
“No, dammit!” Captain Rancid screams into the starlight ether. “Queen Brandy is the baddy! She’s the one who employed that witch you just helped me dispose of to wrangle a fourth-dimensional bovine so she could use its milk to turn our regular soldiers into impervious super-soldiers. This was all in the contract.”
Rancid stares at a fixed point in our realm for a moment. “You did…read the terms of our curse contract, did you not?” She asks through gritted teeth.
She finds her answer in our silence.
“Great. Just great.” She starts. “I was told that the little magical blue birds were the best curse creatures to form a bond with. That you’re professionals. That if I give you a task, even a simple one—like possessing this moron foot soldier to have them kill the witch and then the Queen—that you’d do it easy-peasy. No questions asked. You’d just tweet into their dumb brain and they’d go do it.” Her motions disturb the fog of our dimension.
- Our realm doesn’t like your bad vibes. (WON)
- We just redecorated. Stop moving our gas around.
- If it’ll shut you up, fine.
- You’re going to kill a Queen over a cow? Hah!
We fly in circles around Captain Rancid and chant, “Our realm doesn’t like your bad vibes.”
“What are you doing?” Rancid asks.
“You’re kind of an asshole so we’ve collectively decided to break our contract,” we say in unison before going back to reciting our chant.
Our spell to cast her out is starting to work. Rancid spins around. It’s as if she’s being washed down an interdimensional drain. She fights against it, chanting some lame spell under her breath. It works, for a time. But we’ve got the home-court advantage. She spins faster.
Rancid chastises us while in her spin cycle, “You can’t just break a contract! There are rules! There are consequences!”
The Captain continues complaining as she sinks through the floor of our realm, “This isn’t the last of this! I’ll escalate this to the Council of Planekeepers! And the Council of Oaths! Your realm will be locked down and so devoid of magic you’ll be begging to reinstate our contract! But—“
Before she can finish, she disappears. Good riddance. Despite our contract being broken, we’re still connected to that doofus from her realm. What should us tweeting little bluebirds do about that?
- Keep controlling them but, like, only for good
- We did always want to take over that realm… (WON)
- Let’s allow someone else to control them for a change
- We should teach Rancid a thing or two…
“We always did want to take over that realm…” We chant to ourselves. “Good idea, us. Let’s continue gathering intel on that dimension for now. Figure out their weaknesses. Then, we’ll take them all down!”
We laugh in unison. Mostly. Harold laughs out of beat with us.
“Dammit, Harold, we talked about this. You have to laugh in step with the rest of us or it sounds weird!”
“Sorry,” says a dejected Harold.
“Let’s take a look at what our meat puppet, the Buttcrack Trail soldier, is doing.”
We open a portal through the eyes of the doofus human we’ve been manipulating. They’re talking to Queen Brandy.
“I…have no clue how I got here.”
Queen Brandy looks down on them—and on us by proxy—and says, “It’s simple. You’re cursed.”
“When someone is cursed, that means someone else made a contract with some powerful beings to facilitate the curse. That being, or beings in your case, do whatever they agreed upon in exchange for something…typically the soul of the person who initiated the curse. You take a dump in someone’s helmet or something?”
“Ew, no. Why would you ask that?”
“Does anyone have a grudge against you? Why would you think someone would curse you?”
- I’m, like, ridiculously good looking. (WON)
- My family is, like, ridiculously good looking.
- I ain’t no snitch.
- It’s gotta be Captain Rancid. I’ve got a lot to tell you…