Authors: Morgan Blayde
Tags: #Dark Fantasy, #Horror, #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction
He did. The portal closed behind him. I waited, alone, listening to the crackle of flames from the burning school. Smoke tainted the damp wind and the sky. I’d spent hours in the altered space, but very little time had passed here. I was glad it wasn’t the other way around.
I held very still. I knew eyes were on me. Those watching wouldn’t come to me until they were good and ready. Well, ready anyway.
One last loose end to tie up.
A few minutes later, three naga in completely human form walked around the left end of the charcoaled ruin. They came toward me in a line, abreast of each other. I felt like an Old West gunfighter about to slap leather.
They stopped five feet away.
I stared some more.
The center naga said, “You have our leader.”
“We want him back.”
The naga said, “How much do you want?”
“And here I thought I’d be sleeping alone.”
It was late when I reached Malibu. I’d shed the wings, a necessity before driving back, and had put on a shirt from a stash of clothing I kept in the trunk. I visited my secret vault in the basement and deposited the ransom given me by the naga. The Old Man would be happy with the rubies. He’d wanted me to pay more attention to clan finances.
On the first floor, past my bedroom, the magic door took me to my treehouse in Fairy. I kept an eye out for Leona. She’d gone out of her way to provoke me. That called for payback. Fortunately for her, I didn’t find her. The treehouse was quiet, as I expected, since no one was using it now but me.
I went to the deck and took the root-staircase to the ground. For once, the hour here and back in my world matched up. I strolled the garden, enjoying the night-blooming flowers. By a bare orange tree, I knelt and sank my hands into the ground. For once, I didn’t need the land to charge me up. Instead, I poured a lot of the goddess’ power from my chi into the soil. The grass grew several inches higher. The barren orange tree flowered. The land drank my gift, its heart growing stronger. I lingered in silent communion, receiving the love of the land, returning it in my own limited, sociopathic way.
Leaving the grounds, I passed through the gate and followed the stream toward the mountain keep. I had to wait and be recognized before the double portcullises were raised, allowing me access. The Captain of the Watch wore silver chainmail, a silver helm, and had a silver sword at his side. It was the metal of choice for fey. He saluted with a black leather glove—with silver spikes embedded over the knuckles. His other gloved hand was at his belt, a thumb hooked near the silver buckle.
I said, “I prefer you don’t salute. That identifies me to lurking assassins as someone of importance. If I get stabbed, I will definitely hurt you.”
“Yes, my lord, I will remember. Are you staying the night?”
“Down at the treehouse, not here. You can reach me there if trouble comes along.”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Do something for me. I left a prisoner last time I was here. Bring him out.”
“Yes, my lord.” The Captain nodded.
One of his aides took off at a run.
“Seen Izumi lately?” I asked.
“No, my lord.”
I nodded. I waited. I waited more. Clumping boots announced the return of the Messenger of the Watch and a number of guards as well. They had Arnav with them. He’d been given warm, woolen clothing—and chains to wear—but he still looked cold. Well, he
a snake, essentially cold blooded. He looked happy to see me.
I said, “So, you didn’t slither off while I was gone?”
He spread his hands, rattling a chain. “Where would I go? This is Fairy. There are monsters here that even naga fear.”
“You’d have done better to fear
from the very beginning,” I said. “By the way, your people need a new goddess.”
“Yeah, I sort of killed the old one. She was a bitch.”
“You sound serious.”
“I am.” For some reason, the guards listening in stared at me with disbelief edging into fear.
Arnie said, “You are formidable. So, am I getting a firing squad, or skinned for a new pair of boots?”
“I’m sending you home,” I said. “Your people paid your ransom. Next time, don’t mess with someone else’s zombie-apocalypse suit.”
“I shall not make that mistake again.”
I looked at the guards. “Take the chains off him.”
“Yes, my lord.” They hastened to comply.
Arnie and I left. The keep locked up behind us. We didn’t try to talk until we got farther from the waterfall. We strolled along the river. On the far side, I saw a red furred wolf come out of the woods. She was female. I waved at my lawyer. On all fours, she paused and lifted a paw that raked the air: a wolf version of a wave. She went on, on the trail of dinner, some poor hapless rabbit, no doubt.
“I like this place,” Arnie said. “This is your land? Under your protection?”
“Yep.” I pointed downriver as we pushed on. “There’s a nice lake that way, just outside the valley. Much nicer than the one your family lives in.”
“That sounds like an offer.”
“It is. I have no one to fish it. Fish are tasty. We could use fish at the keep. There are probably things the local fey make that you’d like to have, too.”
“There’s more; you’re a demon lord.”
I nodded. “I have enemies, stupid people I have yet to kill. If they have to get by you to get to me, it’s an extra layer of protection.”
We moved in silence for a while, mulling our thoughts. We reached the gate to my garden. I opened the gate and led the way in.
“How long until the human world intrudes on your lake?” I asked.
“It is something to consider.”
“Talk to your people and get back to me.”
I brought him to the treehouse stairs. We climbed to the upper deck and went in. He studied everything with great interest. “Very nice.”
“When we have a deal,” I said, “I can grow one of these for you.”
“You are indeed a demon lord; you leave me horribly tempted.”
I laughed at that, and showed him the door to Malibu. He went through. I stayed in the treehouse and called after him. “Don’t take anything that’s not yours on the way to the front door. I know where to find you.”
He laughed raggedly and hurried from sight. I listened and soon heard the front door open and close. I listened some more and made sure there was no beating heart in my mansion.
I pulled my head back in and closed the magic door. I went to the master bedroom, shed the clothes I wore, and flopped on the bed. Bouncing, I reconciled myself to spending the night alone. The room was dark when I fell asleep.
The room was softly washed in a muddy green glow as I awakened sometime later. I sensed another presence. I listened. No heartbeat. No breathing. No movement disturbing the air. Lifting my head, I looked toward the source of the greenish light and saw my demon sword. “Aren’t you supposed to be in my armory?”
I don’t like it there.
“That’s where I keep my weapons.”
I’m not just a weapon; I have a fragment of a goddess’ soul in me.
“The light makes it hard to sleep.”
You’ll get used to it.
“Why should I have to get used to it?”
The sword went silent.
Curious, I waited for an answer.
It’s dark in the armory.
“It’s dark here.”
But I’m not alone—here.
I understood. I’d damaged the sword, leaving it so long in that dark dimension. It could be alone, or in darkness, but not both. I rolled over and closed my eyes.
“Try to dim the glow a little more.”
It wasn’t that I had sympathy for a bar of edged demon-metal that had once betrayed me. I intended to conquer all time and space. To do that, I needed the support of minions. Minions need proper cultivation.
“Don’t read too much into this,” I warned. “I am horrifically evil.”
BLACK BLOOD BROTHER
(A Demon Lord Novel)
Las Vegas—City of Sin—was a major
to the supernatural community. Mostly under human sway since Sinatra adopted his trademark fedora, there was a struggle between humans and non-humans for control. That tension had brought death to this place. A location I had borrowed for my own use.
Setting is everything when it comes to drama.
From a window in the dark office, I studied the never-resting city. Beyond the pane, casino lights flickered, luring the stupid and drunk to thicken the ranks of the stupider and drunker.
y kind of place.
I turned back to the office, my dragon sight making it bright as day. Three bodies on the oversized, mahogany desk turned the wood much darker. The gray-tone walls had dark red splatter dripping down them. The smell of blood added a tang to the air.
The charcoal carpet was part of the sterile, industrial look. The black-leather-on-metal furniture had managed to avoid the blood spray. The smoke-gray glass table matched the smoke-gray mini-bar that I’d ravaged.
Thirst is a terrible thing.
Finally, I heard the elevator down the hallway
open. Three sets of footsteps came towards me. The walker in the lead spread his weight perfectly. The closer he got, the harder it was to hear his steps. The other two sounded light as well, but untrained compared to the first man.
I put my glass down on the smoke-gray coffee table and reached down to the floor. I opened the huge duffel bag. The hot platinum blonde inside stared at me, her pupils large and black. She was a twenty-something that I wouldn’t mind fucking under other circumstances. The ball-gag muffled her protests. The chain wrapping her shoulder-to-ankle had tiny hexes engraved on each link. I flicked the ball-gag and smiled at the girl.
They’re going to love you.
I turned to the wooden office door and let my eyes change. The right eye went dragon: yellow fire with a black vertical pupil. The left went slayer: black iris and crimson pupil. The door looked normal was reinforced with protection spells. The bookcases to each side held law books, human and other, corporate and international. It looked like Selene’s information was right on.
The steps in the hall stopped in front of the door. The door opened slowly, spilling hallway light into the office. The man on the threshold smelled like magic, and metals with an undertone of poison. His navy blue suit didn’t do little to hide his compact muscle. He had short black hair, black eyes, and stood a six feet. He could have just left the set of an action movie. The truth was far worse. This was a
nothing even close to human. Part of me felt like screaming and running like hell.
An older woman stood behind him. She wore an azure pantsuit that didn’t quite hide two guns under the vest. A teen boy stood at the man’s left. The three resembled the woman I’d stuffed in the duffle bag.
The man’s gray suit had woven spells in the cloth. I felt their oppression directed at me.
I put my foot into the duffle, on the girl’s throat. She squealed in a muffled way.
The teen boy lunged but was halted by the big man’s arm. The man grinned without pleasantness. “Young man, release my daughter and we can discuss this like gentlemen.” His silken voice had magic too, the kind that compels.
“You think I’ll trust a Villager
Magic rushed in from the hallway, burning my skin like acid. The smell of burnt orange filled my nose and lungs. Blue magic cones came out of walls, ringing me from every corner.
“Do you think you can kill a tough bastard like me before I dragon-stomp blondie here into the afterlife.”
He waved a hand. Poison magic mist and floating cones retreated. He came into the room, and waved a hand. The couch dragged itself closer to him. He sat. Another wave of his hand and a bottle of bourbon floated out of the mini-bar, a glass in hot pursuit. He snagged the bottle and glass out of the air and poured a drink. The bottle he sent floating to the coffee table, offering me a drink.
The woman and teen outside the room stayed there, tension in every muscle. Their eyes burned holes in me, figuratively speaking.
“You have me at a disadvantage, young man. You know who I am.”
I let a soft, gold glow surround my right hand. Jags of electrical fire crawled over my fingers. “You know what this means, right?” A standing order existed among Villagers to watch out for me, and my magic.
I have wanted to meet you for many years. Not this way, of course. What do you want?”
“Information, who in the Village is working with the silver dragons hunting me?”
Unspoken question hung in the hallway. The two out there looked wide-eyed at the big guy. He looked just as shocked.
“I don’t know. Anyone working with the draconians would be put to death unless under the royal banner, and our lords are above reproach, well, not your father.”
“The sperm-donor. He’s no father of mine. Okay, that answer is beyond you. Why don’t you tell me about the portal to the village?” I slightly nudged the blonde in the duffle. She squealed encouragement to her dad.
“You won’t survive entering the Village, so I’ll happily tell you how to get there. One of the canal bridges near Venice Beach has an out-of-place, dark brick. It is a key. The portal there will take you in.”
“Great. Don’t do anything rash. Slowly, I’m going to release the girl.”
I removed my foot, bent down, and pulled away the fragile chains.
Blondie removed the gag and struggled out of the duffel bag, exposing a silver-scale dress that fit snuggly, delightfully. She looked at me through veiling lashes while stretching her arm towards the ceiling.
She smiled. “Caine, can we go to dinner now?”
The shimmering blue cones were back.
The guns from the dead men’s bodies floated up into the air. They came over to threaten me as well.
And a knee-high mist of navy blue billowed in from the hall.