Authors: Morgan Blayde
Tags: #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction
I hung in the sky, staring at her corpse, not quite believing the battle was over. I listened. She had no heartbeat. But her eyes weren’t dimming. She opened her mouth, disjointing her jaw, and her garnet tongue extended, all snaky. A second set of fangs appeared, a larger set swinging down from the roof of her mouth. She embraced me, sinking those fangs deep into my shoulder.
Venom burned into the muscle, into my veins. She held me in a death-grip, determined to share her death with me as her armor crumbled away like glittering fairy dust, jeweling the breeze.
I took a lot of the extra energy raging in me and forced it into the demon sword, making it a battery of divine power.
The sword protested.
No really, I’m full
“Shut up and take it, you bitch.”
The sword didn’t argue any further. Once I was done, and my body no longer glowed like a lighthouse, I released the blade and let it go back to my armory, wishing I could send myself as easily.
Hands free, I turned my attention to my lover-in-death. “One good stab deserves another.” I returned her loving embrace, shredding her silken wraps off her still-warm body. I let them fly away on the night winds, falling where they would.
She was a little more woman than the other nagi I’d seen. Where they’d gone snake from the waist down, her tail began where her thighs joined her torso. There was a valley where a human vagina would have been exposed were it not for a delicate chain caressing her hips, a chain with a gold flap that hung strategically to guard her modesty. It took less than a second to rip the chain away.
Is this really necessary?
my inner dragon asked.
“She’s hurting me. I have to return the favor.”
Her nakedness rubbed against my own. Her venom coursed through me, but the energy of her soul also filled me, healing the damage, neutralizing the poison. I bounced her up a little, her firm ass in my hands. “And I made her a promise, remember?”
A dry fuck is better than no fuck at all
. Mr. Cock slid into her dark depths. She wasn’t dry, and was quite ready to be fucked. Apparently, trying to murder people got her wet.
My inner dragon sighed and closed his golden eyes in the back shadows of my mind.
Wake me when we get home. If we get home.
“Uh, sure. I’ll put my mind to that … as soon as I’m done. I bounced her on my cock, working her fangs out of my shoulder, watching her tits jiggle. I watched her lax head roll around as I used her. “See, this is what you get for playing with your food.”
“I’m back; where are the hookers?”
As my wings tired, Padma grew heavier and heavier. Still I pounded into her. Eventually, Mr. Cock took care of his business and I was able to dispose of the still twitching body by dropping it to the ground. That’s when I noticed the rich ebon sky had dimmed to a flat, charcoal finish.
A webbing of pearl-toned cracks appeared at zenith and radiated slowly in all directions.
I checked the horizon. The gray-green fields were darkening, losing phosphorescence. The land under me remained bright, but the trees shuddered. The albino long-legs were freakin’ out, running around the tops of the ziggurats, as if hunting down the last fly in a post-apocalyptic world. The ziggurats themselves shook badly.
I had a bad feeling this was something worse. If the pocket dimension had been linked to its goddess, and its goddess was dead, I wondered if the dimension itself were about to have a blow-out and die. Chances were, I’d not only fucked the goddess, but myself in the process.
Gliding, I rested my wings. My brain grinded gears.
Think. Think. There’s a way out. There’s always a way out. Selene will kill me if I let myself get killed so easily. Thorn had no problem with letting me come here. She had to have seen how I get myself out of here. She knew something, but what did she know?
I rolled my memories back to when I’d had my paw stuck in the ghost-yantra. I saw her child’s face in my mind’s eye. We’d talked.
What did she say?
It came back to me. She’d brought up the garnet knife I thought I was done with. Thorn had said,
“It needs to stay where it is for now. I just want you to remember it. The knife is keyed to you by magic and blood. Don’t forget that. It’s important.”
A clue. Keyed by blood and magic.
Thunder reached me. The gray horizon wisped, tendrils of dirt and dying vegetation rose, blurring the sky’s rim. I wondered if the sky’s edge was eroding as well. The darkening of the land grew, a contracting ring closing in on me.
I’d hoped for hours. Now I longed for minutes.
. I closed my eyes. I had the key. I just had to find the lock for it.
Wherever this altered space was, the doorway—the ghost-yantra—lay between me and the knife. I imagined the garnet blade, its length, the leather wrapped hilt, the feel of the poison energy collected in it. In my thoughts, I made the weapon real enough to grasp. And in my spirit, I felt a tug. A direction came to me. I oriented on that vector and beat my wings, hoping this wasn’t an illusion brought on by my need to hope.
The winds blew across my path, making escape harder. The thunder of the dying world increased. The whole sky was a cracked egg-shell. It didn’t matter. I’d break through. I’d break out. I’d break whatever I had to.
It is my destiny to win.
Air columns spun, snatching at everything. Mounds of earth, ragged trees, rocks, and broken ziggurats went airborne. The funnels scooped up river water, crocodiles, and komodo dragons, making a stew. Fragments of black shell flaked off the sky and were sucked into the columns as well. The world brightened as more of the pearl underlay revealed itself.
Maybe this world had layers of shells, black, then pearl, then what? Plaid? After the black sky fell, would the pearl sky endure? It seemed like the world under me was down to only a few thousand miles, most of it dimly flickering.
To be, or not to be… Focus,
I reminded myself.
Keep course. Feel your way.
The sky held a last inverted island of darkness on a pearl sea. That patch had glowing lines that brightened as I got closer. These were the lines of the ghost-yantra, but mirror reversed, as if seen from the backside.
Here’s my door.
But the winds were utter chaos, flying a straight course was a fantasy, so I flew into the winds, letting them sweep me toward my goal. It was the same approach used to crossing a swift river; swimming diagonally into the current so you are carried to the far bank, not carried away. I was nearly there, dragging in each breath with mounting effort. My lungs strained as hard as my wings.
The dark sky patch looked like the size of a house, the ghost-yantra like so much graffiti.
Two twisters combined, then three. Then all of them. The currents shifted, throwing me in a wild tangent. I spun sideways, fighting for control. I forced my wings shut and managed convoluted contortions to kill the spin and right myself. Such flexibility and instinct was born from countless orgies with multiple partners. The training paid off, but I’d lost track of the black patch I needed.
To make matters totally abysmal, the mega-twister roared up behind me, riding my ass like a t-rex. There are times when the word
is completely inadequate. This was one of those times.
And then the mega-twister sucked me into a hell of wind and debris. Rocks rattled off me, a branch slashed across my chest. A chunk of rock the size of a car tumbled at my face. I extended my hand and called upon my dragon’s lightning. It leapt from me and scored the rock. The boulder burst. I fell between fragments, folding my wings to protect them from damage. All the new aches promised fresh bruises in time.
And then the damn twister smacked me with one of the fuzzy caterpillar-trees. I sank into the tree which felt like a soggy cotton-ball. No, more like quicksand. It covered my face, then sucked in my flailing arms. I swam in the fuzz, fighting to breathe, until the tree hit something very hard and I flipped out into the wind-stream.
Coming to the center of the funnel, sense of balance and direction failing, I snapped open my wings and beat them furiously. The storm bled off its energy, the winds slacking, the walls closing in. Somehow, I felt the dimension around me wasn’t much bigger now than the twister now, with an all-consuming pearl nothingness close enough to piss on.
I spiraled upward, racing to the top of the twister. And there I found a ragged blackboard with ghost-fire lines etched on it. I reached out. My hand vanished to the wrist. My arm followed. I fell into the writing, into cloying darkness and eerie, welcoming silence.
Had I made it in time? Would this darkness break into the world that was mine?
I’d had a quick impression of a crowd on the ground, the colors and clothes blending. Faces blurred. Unfortunately, I also had momentum; crazy velocity that tossed me high into the air. Gray and white clouds were separated by fields of blue. A shaft of sunlight dazzled my eyes, warming my flesh. There was a moment when I hung in freefall, then gravity reclaimed me. As I fell back, I glided, letting aching, bruised wings return me to the fire-ravaged school, the shattered fountain, and a horde of admirers.
As my bare feet scraped the brown grass, Teresa danced in celebration. Christie stared at me through a TV camera. Ryella stood there with her two fey friends, a conflicted look on her face, her many amulets glinting in the sun. Holy and Shiva closed in as I folded my wings. Shiva draped a blanket over me, hiding my nakedness. The Old Man stood off to the side with Osamu. My combat butler came forward with my apocalypse suit. “Here, Caine-sama, you will want to look good for the cameras.”
I took the gear for the lower body and dressed quickly. The top part of the suit needed to wait until I did something about the wings. I noticed that the garnet knife back in the thigh sheath. One face I looked for in the crowd was gone. That would have hurt, if I weren’t such an uncaring badass.
“Where’s Izumi?” I asked.
Thorn came up with Goth girl Malevolence who couldn’t stop poking my folded wings with a finger. After that, she tried to unfold one for a better look.
Osamu said, “Miss Izumi had a long conversation with Christie concerning your sexual interests.”
I considered a spinning backfist to take Malevolence’s head clean off.
Thorn said, “Time to stop, Mal. You’re about to get hurt.”
I grimaced. “Dammit, you warned her.”
Thorn shrugged. “I need Mal looking good for a photo shoot. I’m her official publicist now.”
I looked back at Osamu. “So, Izumi got pissed and left?”
“No, Caine-sama, Ms. Izumi said something about buying a
costume. She was quite enthused, especially when informed there was a white ranger version. She said that she hadn’t realized you were into cosplay.”
I had the very distinct feeling Osamu was quietly laughing at me somewhere deep in his Japanese soul, but nothing showed on his face. Sneaky bastard.
Malevolence said, “I think I’d look good as a black ranger.”
Thorn said, “That would totally rock.”
I opened my mouth to say Mal could wear it to her father’s funeral.
Thorn lifted a warning finger, pointing at my face. “Don’t say it.”
“But it’s funny,” I said.
Thorn continued to glare.
I figured I wanted to keep on the fey’s good side. “Fine. This is me, shutting my mouth.”
The Old Man joined the party. He looked me over. Then looked closer. “There’s something off about your magic channels. What happened? Are you still poisoned?”
“I don’t think so.” I looked at Thorn.
Thorn held up an approving thumb.
“Guess not,” I said.
I held out my hands and pulled on power. The right hand bristled with golden fire. My left hand was swallowed in shadow that fluttered like flame. The manifestations felt effortless. I had the sneaking suspicion that my lifeforce had gone through purification and amplification being exposed to divine energy for so long.
Christie shoved the camera lens closer.
“Get it all!” Teresa yelled. “This is gold. Pure gold.”
Alright, enough is enough
She looked at me.
I cut off the magical display. “I have a proposal. How about I put you on retainer as my publicist, too? You keep me out of the media, all my secrets suppressed, and I will pay your way through college.”
“How much is the yearly retainer?” she asked. “I’ll also need pocket money.”
I just looked at her.
Her eyes bugged out. “That much?”
I smiled. “I’ll have Angie write up the contract when she’s done chasing bunnies. Meanwhile, you’re on the clock.” I looked at Teresa, nodding that way, conveying a silent message.
Thorn nodded. “Don’t worry about it.”
I leaned into Thorn and whispered. “She’s got stuff on the
Thorn said, “Not a problem.”
Teresa, savvy exec that she was, grabbed Christie. Together they ran for the van.”
“They’re getting way,” I said.
Thorn said, “Mal and I unloaded the camera before they started shooting.” She looked at me, a sharp, piercing glance. “I’ve been on the clock since we first met, in ways you don’t even know.”
I lifted eyebrows. “I’m impressed.
Thorn smiled, suddenly looking even younger than her glamoured age. “You ought to be.”
The Old Man opened a storm-edged portal with a shadow magic core. “Can I give anyone a lift back to L.A.?”
I nodded at Ryella and her boys. “You guys go back with Osamu. He’ll get you settled at the Clan House. You can help the Old Man plan the wedding.”
Ryella shrugged and followed Osamu into the vortex. Dhal and Silf went next. Shiva went in. Holy paused, staring at me with puppy dog eyes.
I sighed. “Fine, keep your job. You probably wouldn’t be any good at making beds anyway.”
She smiled, flashing all her teeth. “No I wouldn’t. Thank you.”
I hate being thanked. It usually means I’ve done something selfless. “You better leave before I change my mind.”
She ran into the portal. It swallowed her.
Thorn and Malevolence headed for the portal next. Thorn made Mal stop. Mal turned toward me, drew my car keys from her pocket, and tossed them to me. I caught the keys out of the air.
Mal said, “I love the Mustang. I’m going to get me one of those.”
“Does it come in pure silver?” Thorn asked.
The girls went through.
Last, The Old Man lingered in the maw of the portal. “You’re driving straight back, right? I need to get you fitted for a tux. You’re my best man.”
That was news to me. I nodded. “Go!”