Authors: Morgan Blayde
Tags: #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction
She pointed off to the side where gold shower heads came out of a green marble wall. “We’ll start there, then move to the pool.”
“Fine.” I’d put this explanation off as long as possible, but judgement day was here and, like a banshee, could no longer be ignored.
I hobbled to the showers, no longer getting a steady flow of rekindling energy on the second floor due to the hollow space under the floor.
Since the pool served as a community resource when I didn’t monopolize it, and since frequently changing the water was a chore, we followed bathhouse custom by washing before getting in to keep the water pristine for as long as possible. I took a quick shower, finishing up as female servants in midnight blue and silver uniforms entered. They carried fluffy towels and bathrobes that went on a waiting bench.
The blonde maid turned to Izumi and asked, “Shall we bring you some wine to enjoy while you’re here?”
“No. Thank you.” Izumi’s icy voice was a clear dismissal.
The dark-haired maid hesitated. “If you need someone to wash your,” her eyes travelled to my private parts, then flinched away, “your backs, I would be most happy to—”
Izumi’s lips pressed into a thin, hard, bloodless line. Her eyes flashed like black diamonds. Her gaze narrowed as she noticed the eager expression on my face. Her lip-press turned into a cold, cruel smile as she answered the maid. “No, somehow we will manage on our own.”
“Even frozen thorns can feed a fire.
No, I don’t know what that means.”
The water had cooled despite the fact that it was piped from an underground hot spring. I was backed into a corner. Izumi’s hands were on either side of me, on the edge of the pool. Her arms formed a cage. I felt decidedly trapped. Her breath was an icy cloud. “And you’re telling me this only now?”
“Well, it never really came up before, and you know what a private person I am. Talking about safe sex just isn’t my thing. You should be grateful; I made sure there wouldn’t be thousands of kids out there I’d have to pay child support for.”
“We fey have few children. Each one is precious—”
“Except that your dark fey eat them.”
Not always metaphorically.
“The exception proves the rule. The point is, we would have found loving homes for all of them, so your
is really just for yourself, you fat-cocked weasel.”
“Now is that anyway to talk to the man who’s going to father your children?”
Maybe. One day. When Ben and Jerry’s sell ice cream in hell.
I smiled at the thought.
Try our new roadkill and brimstone flavor: it’s infernalicious!
I tried to gauge exactly how mad she was. That she was using her words instead of stabbing me through the heart with an ice dagger was a good sign.
“Wait a second!” Izumi’s eyes paled to silver, frosting over. Her hair went from black to pure, shining white. As her glamour collapsed, the rest of her remained as nakedly beautiful as ever. Where her tits bobbed in the water, little slicks of ice formed. “The last few times I slept with you, I let you keep going, long after I was exhausted, because you said you felt extra fertile, and needed to strike while your
was hot. You were just being a selfish pig!”
I stared at her. “How long have you known me? When am I not?”
She stopped cold, staring, mouth hanging open. “Damn, got me there.”
“Look.” I moved closer, my arms sliding around her corpse-cold body. I pulled her against me. “You can waste time bitching about the past, or help me plan for our future. You do know that tattoos can be removed, right? I didn’t do anything to myself that’s permanent.”
Her eyes narrowed, but she didn’t pull away. “That’s the only reason you’re still alive.”
“And here I thought you loved me for more than my huge endowment.”
She draped her arms over my shoulders, leaning in, her lips coming a breath away from mine. “Don’t you dare try to make this about somehow being my fault, you half-pint dragon!”
First time she’s ever thrown my height at me in an argument. She must be hurting.
I forced a sympathetic expression on my face and did what a man needed to in these circumstances: I lied. “I’m really sorry for hurting you.”
She pulled back, slipping out of my hold, and threw a wild punch at my head. I’d been expecting it. I leaned away, caught her wrist, and pulled it to my lips. I kissed her pulse. “How do you expect me to fuck you if you can’t be civil?”
Oddly, I clearly heard my cock speaking though he was underwater.
We’d let that stop us? Since when.
She jerked away from me, pushed off the bottom, and swam over to the steps. I watched her bare, white bottom wiggle, beads of water turning to ice. She went to a bench, grabbed a towel, and scraped off the ice clinging to her. It softly hailed to the marble tiles.
The water around me rewarmed quickly. “Izumi, where are you going?”
“I’m calling your friend Red and seeing if he can come over for dinner tonight.”
I had a bad feeling about this. “Why?”
“Why do you think? He put your tattoos on you, he can take one off.”
“He’s very busy. Probably won’t be available on such short notice.” I hoped he wasn’t.
Izumi dropped the towel and slid into a fuzzy robe. “You two had a falling out not long ago, right?”
“So what do you think he’d say if I asked him to come over and cause you intense pain, and that you’d pay him for it?” She smiled, walking to the edge of the pool so I had a better view up her robe. “I think he’d leap at the chance.”
I suddenly remembered someplace I needed to go. I pushed off the bottom and swam toward the stairs.
“Uh-uh,” Izumi said. “You’re staying here, where I know I can find you.”
There wasn’t time to reach the stairs. I stopped swimming and gathered my feet under me. I crouched low and leaped, streaming water. I left the pool—mostly—jerked to a stop by the thick ice that suddenly bound my feet, making me another statue in the pool.
“Izumi,” I called. “This isn’t funny. Enough is enough. I’m a wounded man. Have some pity.”
She scowled fiercely. “If you know what’s good for you, you will still be here when I get back with Red.”
Not likely. I never do what’s good for me; just what feels good to me.
She stormed away without looking back, stepping over the sealed threshold, vanishing into the hallway.
That went well.
Fortunately, I had options besides my tattoo magic which was still a bit erratic after my poisoning. This was fairy, a mercurial world that answers to its lords, most of the time. My land loved me. All I had to do was reach out to the tie bonding us, and a wave of power would come to break me free.
With my feet going numb from the ice, I hurried, reaching out with my spirit, calling with a flash of golden magic that flapped off my hand like a falcon, streaking toward the door and the hallway beyond. The golden fire carried my imprinted commands, a form of magical texting. The golden fire hit a wall over the threshold and burst into nothing.
Ah! The seal of Solomon that Selene put on the threshold. Intended to provide magical protection for naked frolicking, keeping threats out, it was keeping my magic in. Why? I didn’t know, but if I had to guess … the seal was designed to also conceal my presence from seers and magical scrying. Selene had been a little too thorough for my taste. Knowing her sense of humor, I wondered if she’d done this on purpose. Selene lived outside of linear time; she’d know if there was a future need to undo my
I stared up at the red jasper dragon adorning the pool’s central pedestal.
The red dragon seemed to be smiling.
I flipped her off.
Bitch! No one is messing with my balls—in a non-sexual way.
Fine. I just had to deal with the ice and walk out. Surely I had enough dragon-born strength for this. I squatted, not wanting to risk bending over and maybe flailing about, possibly breaking an ankle. Almost sitting on the ice spur, my ball-sack tightened, feeling the cold. I knew I looked ridiculous, but it couldn’t be helped. Once I got free, vengeance would be mine. Like a martial artist about to break a cinder block, I rolled my fingers into a tight fist, held it by my ribs, chambered like a bullet in a gun.
I concentrated, visualizing the blow I was about to make. In my mind’s eye, I saw the punch shatter the ice and free me. Just as I imagined, I threw the punch. A small crater appeared. The ice webbed with cracks. I smiled in triumph.
I stopped smiling as the ice healed itself, reforming even thicker. I wasn’t fighting just ice, but ice magic as well. This was a new trick I hadn’t seen before. I should have known magic was involved from the way the ice was standing up to the steaming water’s heat.
Considering my next step, I growled deep in my throat.
Fine. Let’s try some dragon flame.
Sluggishly, my magic flowed through my body. A haze of golden light swirled under my skin. I frowned. Was that a hint of sour green in the color from my poisoning?
Never mind. I’ve got to press on.
I drew that power to my
tattoo, kindling the magical ink in my skin. Pain came to pay for the spell. It felt like my body was spun—except for my frozen, encased feet. They stayed put while the rest of me violently detached. The blinding wash of agony faded out and I was left with no actual damage, just the memory of it.
Hot golden flames surrounded my hand, making it a torch. The flames whirled off me as writhing sheets, baking the air. And imploded into nothing as the tattoo ran out of magical juice.
I screamed. And screamed some more. “Izumi! Just for that, I’m
going to fuck you.”
Let’s see you have my kid by Immaculate Conception.
Harsh, I know, but you need to suffer for this.
I thought of just one more thing to try. I looked at the red dragon statue and the female form captured in the coils. “Uh, Selene, sweetie, if you can hear me, I could really use a little help. “C’mon, you love me, right? I’m suffering here.”
I waited. And waited. And waited.
“Selene, you slut! Get your ass here, now!”
The red dragon no longer seemed to be smiling.
She’ll come to kill me, or save me. One or the other. How can she not?
How could she not? How could everyone have betrayed me like this?
My inner dragon yawned, opening golden eyes that still weren’t burning at full strength. He answered my question.
“Shut up,” I said.
Watch it. You don’t have too many friends left.
“What the hell am I going to do?”
Suffer through Izumi’s plan, then use a condom like everyone else.
“I happen to like riding bareback. Condoms diminish sensitivity.”
It’s only until you knock Izumi up. After that, she won’t care if you get the tattoo reactivated again. Really, bite the bullet and be a man about this. You might actually like having a kid, since you’re not the one that has to push it out.
“I know, but all the early morning feeding, the crying and slobbering.” I shuddered from the horror of it. “And since I’ll have a kid to raise, she might start pushing me to get rid of the harem—be a
It was the dragon’s turn to shudder.
I saw movement at the door. There were three elves there. They wore midnight purple and gold. Their eyes were lit from within by a white haze that made them look like blind men, except one of them was female. She wore a tiara of silver inset with amber and had a long violet cloak. There were numerous amulets on silver chains. They hung between her b-cup breasts.
My dragon used my eyes to study the group. He said:
I don’t think they’re here to help.
I sighed. “Storm Court assassins. I thought I was done with them. The fey don’t like me being a lord Under-the-Hill, but I thought they’d at last grudgingly accepted it. I killed enough of them on the field of battle so they should have.”
My dragon sighed.
Should have killed more. Mercy never pays.
“Listen,” I said, “you got any lightning at all you can spare me?”
Huh? Oh, the ice. Let me see what I can do.
In my mind, I watched golden jags wrap around his coils, leaping, bridging the gap between his wings. I burned from the inside out. The ice exploded, shedding frozen shrapnel. Pieces of ice cut through the warm mists and splashed into the pool. Other pieces clattered onto the white marble tile. I felt myself broken free. And falling.
And then the ice was back like an ice dragon’s claw, closing around me, crushing out my breath. I was horizontal now with an ice-wrapped torso. My head poked out, and my lower body. My back to the pool, I stared up at the distant ceiling tiles, and at the red and gold jasper dragons.
Both of them were smiling.
“You know,” I spoke to nobody in particular, “living barely seems worth it some days.”
The fey lady outside the door staring in at me, her thin face an alabaster mask lacking expression, her eyes enhanced with purple shadow, her lips daubed with pink. With poufy hair, she looked like she could have fronted for an eighties glam-rock band. A silver chain crossed her torso, anchoring a scabbard behind her. She swung it around and drew her weapon. I expected a sword of some kind. What she had was a petite war hammer. The leather-wrapped shaft was ash. The head had a flat hammer on one side and a curved spike on the other.
The two fey assassins at her feet stared at me as well.
“What?” I yelled. “Never seen a demon lord on the rocks?”
She looked down and spoke harshly to them. They jerked as if lashed and returned to what they’d been doing. As best as I could tell, they held a mirror—probably the magic variety. They rotated the mirror so the glass faced the threshold, turning its power back on itself. The male fey held the glass steady as the woman stepped over.