Authors: Morgan Blayde
Tags: #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction
They eyed me with multiple eyes and some moved closer. I pulled two Px4 Storms out of the ether and opened fire. And still they came.
I called my sword to me, knowing I couldn’t hang around any longer. The sword streaked to me in a haze of crimson energy, turning in its flight to offer itself hilt first. I grabbed the hilt and knew at once I’d made a horrible mistake. I screamed as the sword dumped excess power into our vampiric link. Into me.
So glad to be useful
. I glowed from the inside out, my raw magic swelling like a golden nova. Lightning crackled, wreathing my arms, my torso, and legs.
Sensibly, the spiders ran away. Vibrating wasn’t going to help.
“Bringing down the house isn’t just a song.”
My dragon wings beat stridently. I rose, a hot knife through butter, the savage song of my power clearing the way as I lifted my demon sword and—like
on crack—let myself go. Well, let my power go, actually. Holding it in would have popped me like a balloon.
Yellow jags of lightning braided and unbraided, zagging in all directions, burning the webs and the too-slow spiders. Rock chunks hailed as the firestorm dug into the ziggurat. Whole block of stone fell past me.
My skin glowed gold. Motes of gold, like fairy lights, flurried around me. In counterpoint, thin curls of red lightning snarled and lashed around the sword, the scribbles bleeding off its demon aura.
Tier after tier cleared like smoke until I hung above the white-washed ziggurat, watching it crumble and implode. Dust billowed. Falling blocks thundered. A pack of komodo dragons on the ground stampeded.
And still the power filled me, screaming for release. The black sky alone—distant and aloof—remained untouched.
Padma rose on a scream of wind, coming out of the dust. Her face was tight, her eyes alight with a yellow-green flame. Her black hair uncurled and writhed, giving her a medusa look. The ruby on her chain tiara glowed with multiple beams stabbing out, spinning wildly. Her hands were reduced to shadows at the core of yellow-green balls of light as she summon her power to strike. From the waist down, her snake body rippled, wagging, snapping with frenzy.
The serene all-powerful facet of her personality had gone into storage. This was pissed.
“Hold all the power you have and get ready,” I told my sword. “This is a goddess.”
I took my own advice, closing down the firestorm flowing through me, creating a bottleneck, then corking it. My chakra points formed a constellation of golden stars within my body. A river of power connected them. My skin glowed gold, throwing up shadows where my tattoos were. The ink itself—having been mixed with dragon blood and dragon magic—burned like they did when first needled into my flesh. With my guts crawling with energy, my lungs breathing it, there was no need to hold back. I warmed every tattoo with raw magic.
Pain winged in and kissed me hard. She bit my tongue and spilled acid down my throat while kneeing my balls.
Yeah, happy to see you too
. Pain hugged me, and I thought my ribs were going to grind into powder. Then she was gone.
And I only had Padma to deal with. Crazed beyond belief, she had enough restraint to look at the changes in me and not rush in blindly. From the dour frown on her face, I don’t think she liked what she saw. The ruby on her tiara toned down its fire, and her serene mask returned with just a hint of sternness to it; a you’ve-made-mommy-angry look. A half-smile curled the right side of her lips. They parted. Fangs flashed as she spoke.
“You have surprised me, little warrior. I didn’t know you had such fight in you.”
Little? Why the fuck does everyone have to go there?
I gave her smile, letting my battle mask slide into place.
You are going to pay for that.
“She said, “You surprised me in another way.” Dramatic pause. “Surprisingly tasty. You were delicious.”
My smile widened. I smelled weakness. Instead of bludgeoning me flat with limitless power, she sought an advantage by throwing me off stride, making me angry. She was less confident. Maybe the demon aura of my sword, my raised power level, gave her pause. Or maybe the ruined ziggurat under us.
“You got another surprise coming,” I said. “I can regrow my leg. Can you regrow a soul once I fuck you with my sword? I bet it will find
Her smile grew.
Bingo. Direct hit on your worse fear.
She’s going to hit us now
, my dragon said.
She lifted both shadow hands, palms outward toward me. Yellow-green light still wreathed them. Matching lightning arced from ball to ball. She gritted her teeth in a snarl and a wall of power shivered into being between us. It touched the ground and raked the bottom of the sky. From the amount of distortion in the transparency, I thought it about four-foot deep.
Her hands made a pushing gesture. The wall came at me like a freight train.
Shadow magic: a shell of shadow swelled out from the katana leg. The darkness wrapped me. Her barrier passed around mine without touching me, leaving me inside her guard. My wings beat furiously, driving my lunge.
Her eyes widened.
Coming in, I kicked at her face with the katana.
The green-yellow ball of light around her left hand left a colored blur in the air as she blocked my stab. I had her flying backward, seeking distance. I had momentum. I had a PX4 Storm semi-automatic in my fist, spitting fire and mf-tipped bullets into her face. Her head jerked in response, though I don’t think she knew about guns and bullets. She learned as the side of her head exploded.
The crater filled in, bone and muscle regenerating, the flesh closing without a scar. She was unhurt again, but there were seeds of darkness and fear in her soul. A lesser creature had hurt her, teaching her pain.
My smile widened. Confidence is power. Doubt is weakness. Death itself was now possible for a goddess. Her knowing that made it real in her universe, another card in the deck.
I fired until my magazine ran empty and let go of the gun, sending it a universe away for reloading. The gun had done its work and become useless; she’d sheathed her body with the green-yellow radiance of her soul, making transparent armor.
But what does a goddess really know about armor. I’d forged my own before. I’d studied metallurgy. I knew about folding steel, carbon steel, meteoric iron, and all the complexities of design and range of motion.
She just knew she needed some. What she made had stopped my later shots, but she’d have been better off with a shield, depending on mobility. She moved well enough dodging my demon sword’s point. The strength and stamina of a goddess is extreme. But she lacked martial arts training.
My skills were getting me closer.
Her evasions grew more desperate.
I knew the moment she fell back on raw destructive power—I saw it in her expression. And that was the moment I struck, lunging in with my sword while draining it of every soul it had ever drained. The spirits screamed in my head.
My sword complained:
Give those back, they’re mine
I need the power
, I thought back at him.
And you need to be empty if you intend to capture the soul of a goddess
The concept of eating divinity stunned the blade into silent awe, followed by a backwash of greedy hunger I felt in my bones.
The demon sword’s tip pressed in above her heart. Red fire sputtered and sparked at the contact point. All-the-while, torrents of chartreuse energy seared the air, pounding across my body, jarring internal organs, cracking bones, burning skin.
My raw magic and the last energy of the hydra bled from pores, limiting the damage I took, keeping me in place, but that power had limits. Fortunately, there were no limits on my cunning. The red glow of the sword began to gutter out, as I knew it would.
This failure encouraged Padma to slow her retreat and stop, holding her piece of sky. She laughed, never slacking the river of power chipping away at me.
I sent my thoughts to the katana that held so much of my shadow magic. The silk rope parted, ripped away, and the katana flew with no hand on the hilt. It stabbed in point first, its point merging with that of the demon sword. Neither sword could have pierced her armor of light, not separately, but combined, my shadow magic eating the light with shadow, the demon sword went in. And once the hole was made, the rest of the blade followed. I pushed the demon sword all the way through her body, piercing heart and spine.
She breathed a word, “No.”
I pulled back the katana, its work finished, and leaned into her, my face inches from hers. “You ate my leg, whore. I’ve paid for the privilege of fucking you. You don’t get to say no.”
Her arms and legs dangled, useless, unable to respond to her brain. The power she might have used to heal herself drained into the vampire sword, a reservoir of power, awful, near endless, hard currents of it fighting to be free. My sword screamed in orgasmic release that went lightyears past pleasure into a hell of pain. But it wanted that pain, that fullness, the flavor of a goddess’ soul. It craved the ultimate feasting and I gave it, even when that power started to backwash into me, carving blood grooves in my spirit.
I channeled that power into my bad knee. The power of a goddess made the cells grow. Bone grew back, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments… These stretched down and hooked, a new ankle forming, then the missing foot. I healed myself and still the excess power poured in.
Her eyes, lit with baleful energy, focused on my face. Her glare became a double pronged assault of death rays. Like emerald lasers, her stare burned out my eyes, bringing blindness.
But my sword continued to feed on her energy, shoving much of it my way in gratitude for the meal.
My smile remained. I couldn’t doubt. I couldn’t waver, or her power would escape my control. My eyes rebuilt themselves, healing, regenerating as fast as she destroyed the tissue. There were flashes of light and darkness fed along my optic nerves to my brain. My eyebrows burned away. And my hair. My face felt sunburned, and then caught fire.
If she hadn’t taught me real pain, I might have panicked and given in to survival instincts.
To the death
, I swore.
I will not leave you alive
It’s bad enough I’m going to dream of this moment for years to come, waking up from sleep with a scream on my lips.
“Is that all you’ve got?” I gritted out.
I had more. I had the shadow-wrapped katana in my left hand. I didn’t need to see to use it. I flicked the tip at her crotch just above where the armor ended. The shadow magic eat into the armor. Swatting her pussy made her flinch.
“Feel a breeze?” I asked. “Do you know what I’m going to do to your corpse before it cools down?”
She gasped at the idea. Being a goddess, she had to know I wasn’t joking.
Yeah, I’d fuck that
, my cock said.
I feigned with the tip.
She gasped again. Maybe she’d heard that voice in my head.
We reached a point where her soul waned, expended in combat, drained by the demon sword. Her eye-beams went ragged, then failed altogether. I knew this because my eyes finally finished rebuilding themselves. The power in me fixed my face and hair, and it was still too much to hold.
The demon sword wasn’t doing much better. The black-iron blade had deepened until his darkness hinted at compressed layers of space-time continuum. His red glow was gone, becoming a muddy violent. The aura had tripled in density and had acquired an erratic pulse, as if beating to its own heart as well as mine.
, my inner dragon reminded me.
I remembered the Iron Air trick Ryella used. I remembered the unseen bands that had dragged me down to Padma’s feet when I’d been a dragon. I poured excess power into a wall of my own, a wall of Iron Air that set around the goddess like resin, hardening, compressing her from every side, stopping her from breathing. I compressed the wall of Iron Air into a sphere around her head to let her feel the weight of the universe as she’d shown me.
She’d designed her translucent face mask with slashes for breathing. She breathed. She ate. She crapped and pissed, even if it were only rainbows and ginger ale. Though a goddess, she defined herself as demi-human with a physical form and limits. She’d breathed fine her whole life. Not being able to breath was new, a psychological torture unnerving her. If she thought about, she’d know breathing wasn’t strictly necessary to what she was.
Her hands came up, moved by her divine will if not her nerves and muscles. “I will unmake you.”
I lopped her hands off mid-forearm, not wanting to risk their touch. They went spinning down toward the ground where a river flowed. I hoped some crocodile would eat them and become the Crocodiles’ God. This pocket dimension was soon going to have a vacancy on its lotus throne.
She stared at her missing hands, then back at me. Her lips moved. No sound came through the Iron Air sphere. I released it.
She gasped, taking a breath, and used it. “Don’t kill me,” she begged.
As she lost her will to fight, she lost the rest of her soul. Her eyes went flat and empty. Her upper arms swung back down to her side. The raised strands of her ink-black hair went limp. The ruby in her tiara cracked. The splinters fell out. A last breath left her lips.