Read Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess Online

Authors: Morgan Blayde

Tags: #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction

Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess (13 page)

BOOK: Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess
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“I don’t care,” I said.  “You’re not my kid, not that I know of, anyway.”

Rooster called over to his daughter.  “Mal, honey, I don’t think that’s a good idea.  You’re in therapy as it is.”

“Whose fault do you think that is, anyway?” she yelled.  “Honestly, aging rockers are so needy.”

I went with Teresa toward the hallway.  Izumi, Thorn, and Malevolence followed in my wake. 

“Thorn?” I called.  “You didn’t see this coming?”

“I did, actually.”  Her voice was dead calm, without emotion.  “But I didn’t think he was important.”

“Shiva will be heartbroken,” I said.

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THIRTEEN

 

“Death is my gift, but not every

corpse is one of mine.  Unfortunately.”

 

                                                  —
Caine Deathwalker

 

 

I stood out front of the haunted school in the late morning sunlight, staring at the body.  “I’m going out on a limb and assume that Shiva’s truck did this.”

Malevolence was fascinated.  The Goth-rocker hung over the body like a vulture with black lipstick. Thorn, her faithful fey companion, stared with more of an abstracted interest, head tilted like a crow contemplating the aging of roadkill.

I glanced at Thorn.  “Need a stick to poke it with?”

She kept her gaze on the corpse, answering quickly.  “No, I’m good.”

“Anyone feeling hysterical?” I asked.  “I’m good at slapping faces.”

In death, Crusher looked smaller than he had in life.  It didn’t help that his ribs were shattered, pieces of them puncturing his lungs.    There were tread marks across him and blood everywhere.  An ankle looked broken and at least one arm.  Coming and going, the same tire tracks had gouged the dry, brown lawn, leaving a trail from and to the circular drive.  The body looked like a badly conceived lawn ornament that had fallen over and couldn’t get up.

Teresa turned away from the body and spewed a little on the lawn, fortunately missing my boots.  I expected more iron in a TV executive.  She spit, straightened, and wiped her mouth with a sleeve. 

“How can you joke over someone we knew?”  Teresa demanded.

I shrugged.  “A gift really.”

“Want me to keep him on ice?” Izumi asked.  “Or are we going to get rid of the body?”

“Police won’t like that,” Malevolence said.

Teresa straightened, turning back our way.  “I’m pretty sure it’s against the law to tamper with a crime scene.”

“It’s not a crime scene until the yellow tape goes up,” I said.

Teresa groaned.

I moved back, mindful of my boots.

She said, “Oh, God, this is going to play havoc with our filming schedule.”

I glanced at her pale face.  “Tampering is only a crime if you get caught.  And if you were really concerned about police procedure, you’d have called 911 already, instead of getting me.”

I walked toward the red International CXT.  A moment later, a mass exodus occurred as the girls followed me to the monster truck.  I stood at the curb, studying the big tires in front of the vehicle.  There was blood in the treads and on the grillwork.  “Yeah, that’s the murder weapon alright.  I wonder who was driving.”

“Sorta obvious, don’t you think?” Malevolence asked.  “Shiva and Crusher went at it and it’s her truck.  She has the keys.”

“Un-huh.”  I walked around to the driver’s door and checked for fresh scratches that might indicate tampering.  Nothing, but that only proved the one who’d borrowed the truck wasn’t clumsy.  “Thorn, come here.”

The elf girl came over. 

“Open this door,” I said.

“Why?”

I looked at her.  “I like magic tricks.”

“My magic is weak on steel.”

I kept my stare on her.

“Fine.”  She closed her eyes a moment.  As they reopened, a small blur of blue arrived.  My first impression was that a ghost light was back, but there was a tiny person inside the light, a lady wearing a dress of iris petals.  The winged fairy hovered, bobbing a little.  Thorn waved gloved hands at the door. 

The fairy darted through the window as if it were open.  She landed on the inside of the door, just out of sight.  Abruptly, the door clicked open. 

Thorn went, “Poof!” 

Malevolence came over and draped an arm across Thorn’s shoulders.  “You and I need to go boost a few cars.”

Teresa called over, “Bad career choice.”

“Just joking.”  Malevolence winked to Thorn, indicating she might be serious after all.  “Hey, ever play Grand Theft Auto?”

I gave Malevolence my serious-as-a-speeding-bullet stare.  “Don’t corrupt my seer.  I’m responsible for her safety.” 

I opened the door.  The tiny fairy inside landed on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, watching me.  I checked the adjustable bucket seat.  It was pulled forward a bit.  The last driver had been human sized.  I was pretty sure Shiva needed the seat all the way back.  That left almost everyone else as a suspect.

Time to think like a bad guy, like more of a bad guy.  If I’m a naga and want to whittle down the odds before the main event, I’d distract the most powerful opponents and attack the weak first.

I pulled back from the driver’s seat.  “Izumi, keep them all here and keep them safe.”  I leapt flat-footed onto the truck roof.  A few steps and a leap, and I landed on the brown, crispy lawn beyond.  The world blurred as I ran for the haunted school.  A vampire could have done it faster, but few other preternaturals. 

Now I’m not only going to have get the show footage, but bring in a fey Jedi knight to sanitize memories around here.  I’m not going to be able to hide as a human for much longer—not that I was trying too hard anyway.  I think I knew it would come to this.

I ripped open one of the front doors, breaking it off a hinge in the process.  I flashed inside and followed the screams to the cafeteria.  As I burst in from the hallway, I magically pulled two Storm PX4 semiautomatics from the ether, filling my hands.  Skidding into a low crouch, I panned the room with the muzzles, taking in the situation, letting my dragon sense of smell do the rest. 

The acid stink of fear was fog-thick.  I smelled fresh arterial blood. In the kitchen, Lillian was probably curled up in a tight trembling ball, waiting for the nightmare to end—so she could write about it.  That’s where my nose placed her. 

Clifford was slashed and dead, throat ripped out.  He was draped across a tabletop, his body kinda blue-black, bloated with poison. 

Rooster—the fearless rock-and-roll front man—huddled under a table, eyes closed but squeezing out tears.  The front of his pants were dark with piss. 

Still in human form, not yet unleashing his inner snake, the naga from my dream-walking guarded a far corner.  Dressed in khaki pants, boots, and a black tee shirt, he had the build of a dedicated weight-lifter.  His bald head looked polished.  He had Deedee pinned in but unhurt.  He was taking his time, relishing her fear.

Between the naga and the kitchen, laying on the floor, I saw Holy.  She’d been bitten in the shoulder but hadn’t yielded to the poison; lightning shone in her eyes, and just under her skin, boiling her blood clean of venom.  She’d live, but be weak for a while.  I counted her out of the current fight.

Standing over her protectively, Shiva’s clothes were acid burned.  She’d been sprayed with snake toxin.  The goggles had protected her eyes.  I thanked my cunning foresight for that.  She pulled off the goggles and flung them away.  The plastic was deformed, getting melty and gooey.  They wouldn’t survive another hit of venom.

That didn’t stop Shiva from throwing herself into an all-out run for the naga.  Before she could block my line of fire, I rapid-fired half a clip into the naga’s back.  The dragon strength in my body countered the force of recoil so the gun stayed motionless.  This allowed a tight grouping of shots into the naga’s back, to either side of his spine.  I was hoping multiple heart shots might slow him down.

He whipped around, saw me, then Shiva as she hit him like a landslide: her legs thrust against the floor, her hips pivoted, and she swung both arms from the shoulder, her fingers interlaced to make a club out of both fists.  She screamed rage, putting all her stony power into the blow.

The naga’s face took the blow.  His head slammed hard left, his neck breaking with a brittle series of cracks.  The tall black man crashed to the floor and writhed, flopping like an epileptic with a grand mal seizure. 

I yelled, “Shiva, back off.”

She did, but looked at me with confusion over the urgency in my voice.  Her attack—and mine—would have killed many demons.  However, this was a shape-shifter. Many of their species had hyper-active regenerative powers. 

As I moved in, the naga flopped onto his stomach and the slugs I’d pumped into him popped back out, rolling on the floor.  I knew those wounds were now closed, probably without any scars.   

Even dead vipers can inject venom for hours after death.  I hadn’t wanted to risk Shiva.  Even if her stone skin gave protection from injected poison, this naga had a magical weapon—the poison wind attack it had used in my dream.  Such an attack might yet be triggered, fed by its own death.  I’d once been hit with such a death-curse from a mountain giant with mud for blood.  Death magic is seldom fun, even when you have such a spell yourself—which I did. 

My butt sported a Kiss-Your-Ass-Goodbye Tattoo. It existed so—in the unlikely event I got killed—I could go all nuclear with my raw magic and lifeforce, taking my murderer with me to hell, along with everything in a ten mile radius.

What, me vindictive?  You bet.

“Deedee, move your ass!  Get out,” I yelled.  “It’s now or never.”

My voice jolted her out of the grip of paralyzing fear.  She managed to follow the wall and get clear, circling around behind me.  I listened to her run for the exit, and heard her choked sob over Clifford as she passed him.

One lost, one saved.  For me, that’s not a bad score.

I waited, watching the naga, sparing only a quick glance for Holy as she came up to stand between Shiva and me. 

The naga thrashed less, growing more focused in his motions.  He’d managed to struggle onto his knees and was in the process of gripping his head, trying to realign his broken neck bones.  If he didn’t do something fast, his hyper healing would work too fast; his neck would heal wrong and need to be broken again to be reset.

Wonderful idea, actually.

I called over to my Holy.  “Got any juice left in you?”

She threw me a molten, pink-tinged stare, blue lightning crawling over her pale, clenched fists. White clouds forming around her legs and waist.  She said, “Try me.”

I pointed at the naga.  “Fry his ass.”

Holy thrust her fists forward. As her arms straightened, her fists splayed open, her palms and fingers lost in silver fire. A ragged, jagged bolt of incandescence arced between her and the shifter.  He was lifted, the floor under him blasted into smoky cinders.  I smelled burnt snake.  Plumes of smoke trailed him as he hit a wall, flattened against it, and slid down to the floor, his tee shirt all but burnt away—along with a lot of flesh. 

He’d stopped trying to realign his head, which was my immediate goal.  Healed badly, he’d be at a major disadvantage.  The naga seemed to realize this, slamming his head into the wall, trying to keep his neck damaged enough so it didn’t heal at a weird angle.

Now, that’s cheating.

I yelled.  “Hit him again, Holy.  Less voltage this time.  I just want his nervous system overloaded so he can’t fix himself, you don’t have to melt him down.”

She looked from the naga, back to me, and smiled in grim pleasure as she realized my plan.  “Cool,” she said.  A web work of fine, electric jags danced off her fingertips.  Tendrils of lightning crawled over the naga, wrenching a scream of pain from him.  His body flailed without purpose.

“Keep that up!” I yelled.  “Don’t give him a chance to fix his head—or to shift into snake form.” 
Which might fix his head for him.

“I want to do something too,” Shiva said.

I frowned at her.  “If he turns into a giant snake, you’ll have a lot more to do than you’d like just to stay alive.  Let’s do this my way for now.”

I concentrated on my shadow magic, feeding it with my lifeforce.  I envisioned a great broadsword of darkness and it appeared in the air above the naga, pointing down at him.  I gestured.  The sword dropped like divine judgment, piercing his lower back, cutting into the spine.  A lot of dark, acrid blood splashed around him.  The floor burned and smoked from the blood.

A real sword would have chopped him in half.  A weapon of shadow lacked complete substance.  If only I could trust my demon sword to behave, I’d be using it instead.

Holy hit the naga with another net of lightning.  His pants were burning now.  The blood on the floor steamed away and the boards themselves caught fire.  The smell of roasting snake intensified.  His screams reached a shrill crescendo where they became nearly inaudible.

I had my enemy pinned, suffering, and his neck was now healed wrong, screwing with his line of sight.  I needed to end this decisively. 

But his ghost child had other thoughts.  The yellow-green ball of spectral energy came whizzing into the cafeteria, taking up a defensive position between Holy and the naga.  Baby-ghost was a spiky blob of light, but not a real barrier to Holy’s lightning attack. 

But the ghost had the necklace.  Carrying the artifact, she plunged at Holy. 

BOOK: Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess
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