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 (14 page)

BOOK: Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess
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Remembering how Deedee had been temporarily transformed, I yelled.  “Don’t let her touch you with the necklace.”

Too late

Instead of dodging, Holy looked at me in confusion, not figuring it out.  The ghost light hit her, disappearing into her chest.  The necklace attached itself, hanging from Holy’s throat.  She staggered back and screamed.

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FOURTEEN

 

“A dream will devour whatever gets in

its way.  It’s how they grow strong.”

 

                                                 —
Caine Deathwalker

 

 

Previously, the ghost child had used Deedee’s own magic to turn her.  I didn’t think Holy’s storm magic could be twisted the same way, so just getting the damned necklace off her should set things right. 

Probably.  Maybe.

I yelled at Shiva.  “Get the necklace off her.”

Reaching for the artifact, Shiva leaped after Holy.

I leaped at the naga.  I needed to take him out before Holy turned into a nagi and I had two snakes to fight at once. 

A second shadow sword formed in my hands.  Lunging, I brought the shadow blade down at the naga’s bald head, intending to pin it to the floor like a skewered melon.  Hearing my approach, the naga blindly swept his arm through the air.  A greenish haze swirled off him, a slashing wind—poison magic.  He’d aimed badly, but some of it was going to hit me.

I pivoted from the green rainbow, reshaping my shadow blade into an expanding shield that caught his attack.  The magic wind paled, losing force, but pushed past me to slap Shiva in the back.  The magic cut through the tattered ruin of her shirt, but did no real damage to her soap-stone flesh.  She hadn’t tried to evade, taking the hit to spare Holy, but the delay allowed the nagi transformation to complete itself.  Holy turned greenish-white.  Her eyes yellowed, their crystal pink glow lost.  Her pants burst off her as her lower body became that of a monster snake.  Her legs were fused into a cylinder of belly muscle and scaled back and sides.  Her lower snake length was a dull green with hazel and black markings like the naga from my dream.

The man I’d been fighting crashed through the rotten boards of the wall, escaping into the back yard.  For a wounded creature whose head wasn’t on straight, he moved damned fast.  As fast as me.  I wasn’t closing the distance. 

As I ran, I concentrated on a few slow changes to myself.  I yelled at my inner dragon.  “Wake up, stupid, he’s getting away.”

Huh?
  Golden eyes opened in the back shadows of my mind.  A yawn followed that showed many teeth. 
Who’s getting away?

He seized control of my eyes.  They went all dragony.  My view of the naga sharpened.  His form seemed to expand as I acquired a zoom-in feature.  My dragon’s yawn ended in an abrupt snap of his teeth. 
Hmmm.  Something needs killing.

“So help me out here.  I need a few upgrades.”  I wanted claws and wings, but couldn’t take time out from the chase to get them.  I thought my dragon could manage that just fine.  I’d just have to swallow the pain, as usual.  My hands and back began to burn.  Muscles rippled, flaying off the bone.  The bones of my fingers and shoulder blades felt like they melted and scraped at the same time.

The naga and I were past the chapel, moving up a little hill that hid all that lay beyond.  He crested the hill and vanished.  I remembered a lake was supposed to be over there. Back in the fey village, Thorn’s grandmother had said something about that. I pulled the comment from memory:
“There is a darkness there that will only be defeated by a greater darkness.”

Clear as mud,
I thought

“Hey, how good a swimmer are you?”

My gold-eyed dragon stared at me. 
I look like a water dragon to you? Water screws up my lightning attack.

“Hmm.  Not good.”

My back dripped blood as bone spurs grew out of my shoulder blades.  The ribbing of nascent wings formed.  My hands felt on fire, fingers thickening, scales forming.  Claw tips sprouted.  The better to rend you with.  New muscles were growing in my back.  My thighs were bulking as well.  Spasms slowed my pace.

I focused through the distractions, and changed my angle of approach on the hill so the naga couldn’t predict where I’d come into view.  If I were him, I’d pause, hunkered out of sight, and go for a poison wind ambush when I appeared. 

I went over the hill in a rush, the weight of damp, accordion wings threatening my balance. 

The naga hadn’t waited for me after all. He was gone.   The terrain was much steeper on this side of the hill.  I stared down a slope of brown, dead grass at a small weathered boathouse and peer.  They huddled at the edge of a grayish lake. The water was a leaden mirror, smooth, untroubled.  Either that water had already embraced the naga, hiding him, or the creature was hiding at the boathouse, inside it, or behind the structure. 

Too many choices.

I half slid, half ran down the hill.  The wind gathered in my wings, adding lift to my steps.  With years of instinct under my belt, I felt the atmosphere, seeking an aura full of killing intent.  I didn’t sense the eyes of a predator on me.  I didn’t hear anything.  His scent guided me on. Every sense strained as I approached the boathouse.  The walls were leprous with gray wood showing through old paint that might have once been bright red but now looked like watered-down blood.  There was a five-foot deck leading to a padlocked door.  The side windows were dark, square eyes.  I smelled snake, but the scent wasn’t close.  There was no indication of the building having been violated.

I leaped.  My inner dragon fluttered the wings to assist me.  The new skin on their expanse hit my nervous system with readings on air flow, feeding off of vibrations I couldn’t hear.  Just past the peak of the little roof, not quite looking over its far edge, I paused.  Feeling with my boot soles, I found only stillness from the building under me.

Where are you?  Come out, come out.  Don’t you want to play?

Crack!!! 

Ah, the sound of a neck being broken all over again.

It came from the pier, or more precisely, from underneath.  I think the naga had used a pier support to break his neck again.  I guessed him to be mostly submerged with his head and shoulders surfacing just under the deck.  He’d now be realigning his neck bones, and holding his head while he fled deeper into the lake. He’d lose himself in the water, knowing that by the time I found him, he’d be back to full functionality.  My vision would be clouded by water that he could poison. 

A fight in his element—where he might even now be fully changing into snake form—seemed a stupid thing to do.  Still, I was tempted.

I settled for spewing lightning, letting it explode the pier, sweeping along its length. The water would dissipate the charge, but he’d feel some of it and get my message, my challenge.  We both knew that his running meant I was the biggest threat, the top of the food chain.

Stick that in your craw and chew on it.

In the aftermath of my blast, my mouth felt hot and tingly.  My hair stiffened with static, bristling. 

My inner dragon complained:
You’re wasting my power.  Can’t you just beat your chest, or something?

“Fuck you.”

If that’s even possible, would it count as incest or masturbation? 

I sighed. “If only I could hold an intelligent conversation with myself.”

I needed to go back and check up on my people, but I wasn’t ready to give up my physical improvements just yet.  Nor did I want to freak out the reality stars.  I sent a little raw magic along my skin, warming the
Demon Wings
tattoo just above my wings.  Pain roared in like a freight train.  It felt like my new wings were being crumpled and shredded at the same time, though they took no actual damage.  The phantom sensations faded a moment later; the payment made for the spell I’d activated. 

No longer visible, I delayed my departure, staring at the water.  It still bounced in reaction to my lightning blast, its peace as broken as the pier itself.  I waited and watched. 

My gaze caught on a skull top that broke the surface well out from the bank.  Green-star eyes emerged, the rest of the naga’s face hidden.  He scanned for me, not having seen where my lightning attack came from.

Look all you like, it won’t help.

I launched into the air, beating my wings heavily for lift.  Shadow magic pooled in my right hand.  I used dragon strength to hurl a ball of darkness, aiming for a point right between his eyes.  As the ball streaked closer, it detonated, becoming a spray of shadow daggers.

The naga’s instincts seemed as honed as mine; he ducked under, sinking like a stone. 

My knives chased after him, vanishing into the lake, but I doubted I’d hit anything but water.  As the shadow magic dissipated, I skimmed the lake and climbing once more, adding a spiral on the uptake as I climbed the sky once more.  Pumping wings, I fought higher, turned, and set course for the haunted school.

Next time, snake-man, you won’t escape so easily.

My inner dragon yawned at the promise I made.  His eyes dimmed as he held off sleep. 
Next time, he won’t let you see him coming.  He’s not the type to overestimate an opponent twice.

“Then maybe we should learn to breath underwater.”

Seriously?

I shrugged.  “How hard can it be?” 

Shouldn’t there be a limit on how bad we are to our self?

“What do you mean, bad?  There’s nothing I love more than me.  I just hate letting common sense get in the way of vengeance.”

Can’t be helped.

“Maybe.”

I remember reading once that human lungs can extract oxygen from water.  What makes a person drown is that it is so tiring to breathe liquid at the necessary rate.  With my dragon strength and hyper metabolism though, it ought to be possible.  The question was how long could I keep it up, and did I really want to perfect the skill while fighting a naga?

Dragon’s yellow eyes closed to slits in the back shadows of my mind.
  What about a magical oxygenating system?

“I don’t have time to get more ink.”

I was back across the crest of the hill, looking down from several hundred feet up.  Like a model, the school slid under me, growing larger as I went into a tight, spiral descent.  The back roof’s edge didn’t have the same ornate statuary as the front. But I did find something highly interesting: the thin concrete surface had an inset area like a shallow cave, where the stone tiles supported a tarnished brass inlay a foot high.  The grillwork formed a
yantra,
a meditative pattern used in Hindu and Buddhist rituals.  These patterns employ elaborate geometry to represent god-zones, the domain of various deities.

I landed and folded my wings against my back.  Staring at the fifteen by fifteen foot recess, I did some thinking.  Since nagas and nagis are from India too, I felt it likely this place had something to do with them.  This yantra was common, a series of squares with T-shaped gates in the sides.  The stylized squares framed an inner circle.  From there on, the yantra became distinctive with an inner knot made out of one ugly, big-assed snake with three heads. That part of the pattern seemed more Etruscan than anything else, striking chords from my studies of necropolises around the world.  The bearded snake reminded me of one found on a wall in a fourth century Tomb in
Pianacce
at
Sarteano
.  Adding to the Etruscan elements was an egg at the very center of the yantra, representing resurrection and regeneration. 

Considering the architectural details of the haunted school, the presence of this yantra could mean everything … or nothing.

My phone vibrated.  The ring tone played:
“Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?”
Getting the phone out of my pocket proved difficult with my transformed hands.  I tore the pocket.  Since my phone was out, I took a moment to capture several shots of the yantra.  My phone automatically saved the images.  Most phones can’t do this while an incoming call is being neglected, but mine had been specially modified for multitasking by a techno-mancer I knew.

I killed the Pussycat Dolls ring tone.  “Yeah?”

“Where are you,” Izumi asked.

“The roof.  Why?”

“Things quieted down and you didn’t come back.  I was worried.”

Nice to hear.

There was a boom, not quite an explosion.  More a wrecking ball sound.  It echoed up from the front of the building.

“Spoke too soon,” Izumi said.  “You may want to get down here—fast.”

“You won’t see me, but I’m on my way.  Prioritize keeping Thorn safe.  The honor of my clan demands it.”

“On it.”  The connection broke.

I put the phone in the other front pocket, the one that wasn’t ripped, and half unfurled my wings.  I leaped toward the front of the building, bounding across the roof.  It wasn’t long before I reached the cherubim statues that acted like gargoyles.  A last leap took me past the winged babies.  My wings snapped fully open.  I dropped earthward, curling through the air. 

Thorn and Malevolence rode in Shiva’s truck. Teresa drove it toward the highway.  They were ether running off, or just getting some distance from the threat. 

BOOK: Demon Lord 6: Garnet Tongue Goddess
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