Authors: Katherine Sparrow
The Demon's Revenge
The Fay Morgan Chronicles: Book Four
Copyright 2015, Katherine Sparrow
All rights reserved.
This novel is a work of fiction. All characters, places, and incidents described in this publication are used fictitiously or are entirely fictional.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, except by an authorized retailer, or with written permission of the publisher. Inquiries may be addressed to [email protected]
Editing by Erica Satifka.
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Riding a White Horse
Every breath was a chore I had no interest in. I lay in my bed, in my Seattle house that I had called home for so many years. But I wasn’t really here, not for long. Months ago I’d decided my long and ancient life wasn’t worth living, not anymore. And so I’d made a to-do list of all the things I needed to do before I left, and then ticked them off one by one. For the neighbors who left their dogs penned up in small cages? I’d found good homes for the dogs and then filled up their house with bedbugs. For my own wealth and possessions? I’d named Merlin my sole inheritor in my will. He didn’t need it, but knew my heart and would use it as I would. I’d decimated the careers of a couple of public figures I found particularly loathsome.
And now there was just one thing left on the list, one driving force, and then it would be over. This long life had been interesting at times, yes, but ultimately hollow. An immortal should earn her years, and what had I done? Nothing, but let my own addiction dictate my life for century upon century. And when Merlin had destroyed my addiction, my Holy Grail, and left me to dry out on Avalon? That was when I discovered I was thin and ragged without the Grail. I’d searched, but found no reason to live without it. And so I’d returned to Seattle to set my house in order. To do what I had to, before I left.
There was just one thing left to do, and if I could help Lila before I died, perhaps as I died, I would. If I could help her become a free creature, and not one of servitude, then all the better that my life could have some meaning to it at its very end.
And the end would be soon. I sensed Lila’s change approaching in her smell, and in the way that she grew distant and dreaming at times. I had been waiting weeks now for her to change. My mind fluttered quickly away from the thought.
Without lifting my head from my pillow, I took my ancient tarot deck in my hands, the cards turned soft by years of use, and shuffled them slowly. I closed my eyes and ran the tips of my fingers over them until I felt the card that called out to me.
I flipped it over.
It was the card I’d been waiting for. Finally the right card.
My champion was riding a white horse and carried a black flag with a white rose upon it. At his feet lay a body, bleeding. And children, weeping. A priest stood near the white horse, praying and holding rosaries. The card was death. Death at last. Today would unfold, however it was going to, and at the end of it I would die. All I had to do was follow the day, because today, death rode. The edge of the tarot card slipped and gave me a paper cut on my pointer finger. Blood welled, bright and hopeful.
I laughed, a strange and strangled sound coming from me as I sat up and sucked on my finger. I placed the card upright on my dresser. Sunshine streamed in around my blackout curtains. It looked like a nice day out. What day was it? What month?
It hardly mattered. Today would be my last on this indifferent earth. Today I would cast aside my mortal coil. My finger was still bleeding. Strange. I usually healed within seconds, thanks to my immortality. Not that it mattered. Not that anything mattered.
I found myself humming, some old Welsh dirge about plagues and storms. I found myself smiling. The first smile ever since I’d lost my Grail and all pretense that my life had any meaning fell away.
Someone rapped on my door, and a moment later I heard a key opening the door. That would be Lila, letting herself in. Perfect. I would help her through her change, and then it would be over.
“Morgan. Get up,” she yelled from the front room. I heard her shoes stomping on my hard wood floors. “I don’t want to see you in bed again. The Morgan le Fay I know and love does not lie around all day long.”
My bedroom door was flung open a moment later. “Hey, what? You’re up? Wow. Good morning,” she said.
My young shop assistant stood squinting into the darkness of my room. She wore a tight t-shirt that read,
Eye of Newt, Toe of Frog.
Large hooped earrings framed her round face. Her eyes were outlined in black kohl, her lips nearly as dark. A smell came off her, like burning wax and a campfire, so strong I wondered if she noticed it. Her skin had a slight sheen to it. Others might assume it was sweat. I knew better. The creature within her was starting to emerge.
“Good morning, child,” I said.
“Woman. Totally grown woman. Twenty-five. And look at you, lady. Sitting up and all that.”
“Witch. Crone. Commoner. Never say that I was a lady,” I said.
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, dude. I’ve brought you breakfast.” She held up a paper bag. “I’ll make coffee. And then you are taking a shower. You really need to take a shower.”
She went to the kitchen to grind some beans. I heard her yelp as she touched my coffee maker.
“Really? The coffee maker?” she yelled. “A hive spell?”
I heard her whisper something, and then a pulse of heat emanated from the kitchen. “It’s really great how you are training me in defensive spells every time I come over here,” she said. “And it’s not at all like you are being mean to the one person who is still trying to hang out with you.”
I almost apologized for all the booby trapped spells I’d set across the house in the last month. I’d grown tired of her coming every day and trying to convince me to engage with the world. But I held the apology back. She wasn’t wrong: it did help her magical abilities. I tightened the silk strip that kept my robe closed and walked into the kitchen. I took the warm mug of coffee Lila handed me with a scowl.
“I should have put a kick-your-butt spell on it,” she said.
I ran a finger down her arm. “No sores. Good girl. You made a defensive spell before the hives had time to set into your skin. Reacting quickly is useful for any and all skin spells.”
She clinked her glass against mine. “I know what you went through was horrible. I know it must really suck to be all ancient and having a mid-life crisis and not knowing what your purpose is but
“Not a crisis. Not mid-life. End of life,” I murmured and sipped the coffee. It was good. Bitter and black. “There is no shame in knowing when it is time to leave.”
“Don’t you dare leave. I need you. I have a huge headache and haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’ve been feeling so ragged. Probably because I’m worried about you.”
Because you are changing
“And I haven’t even told you why I was coming over today.”
She always came to my house with some excuse. Some fabricated Wiccan supply emergency taking place at Morgan’s Ephemera. Or some spell she needed me to teach her.
Her tenacity might help her after she changed. It might help her find ways around the rougher parts of her knew identity. A pang of sorrow hit me that I would not be there to aid her in the harder time.
“Earth to Morgan,” Lila said. “Jeez, you’ve gotten so spacey. And pale. And stinky, did I mention stinky? Anyway, why I’m here. Something really strange is going on with all the unders in Seattle.”
Unders was the blanket term for any and all of us who did not quite fit the definition of human. “Well, we are a strange lot,” I said.
“No. Not strange-strange, bad-strange. There’s this thing that’s been going on that’s like a story here and there, but then I was talking with the Spaniard
“You go walking with Diego?”
That was good. When I was gone, he could help her and she could help him. Diego was another ancient, cursed to never stop walking.
“Anyway, I was talking with Diego and when he told me some things he’d heard and I told him what I knew and we were both like whoa. What the hell is going on in the Emerald City? I mean, it’s like….”
Lila kept talking but her words slipped away from me as I watched her sweet, young face. When her mother had found me and asked me to look out for her daughter, I was reluctant at first. But now… I had never had a child of my own. I wondered what she would think of me, when I was gone.
I sighed. Whatever she thought, it was a concern for the living. I would be gone.
“Oh. My. God. Are you even listening to me? Did you even hear what I just said?”
“What?” I asked, blinking slowly and taking a long sip of my coffee.
“The unders of Seattle are all turning wicked evil.”
Evil and Strange
“Evil is such an interesting word,” I said softly, for I had long ago been called evil by many a powerful man.
“What would you call the ghost of the Harvard Exit pouring blood down the walls during a showing of Fifty Shades and scaring the crap out of two hundred horny women? Or how about the bridge troll smashing every Volkswagen in Fremont? Or the gingerbread witches opening up a childcare center on Beacon Hill?”
“Evil,” I agreed. “And strange.” I knew all of the unders she spoke of personally. We were a tight knit group in Seattle. It wasn’t that we all liked each other or got along, but we watched out for each other and made sure that such things like Lila discussed did not happen. For if any of us were discovered by normal humans, we would all be in trouble. I knew firsthand the world’s thirst for a good witch hunt, and the trail of bodies, innocent and not, it could leave behind.
“Who has been asking them what the hell they are doing?” I asked, caught up in the puzzle despite myself. It was not my fight. Not my world, not for long.
“No one so far,” she said. “Everyone is so used to you protecting and keeping everyone in line, they don’t know what to do.” Lila opened up a plain white bag on my cutting board and handed me a bagel sandwich with a scrambled egg, a thick slice of cotija cheese, and basil. My favorite.
I bit into it. It was the first food I’d eaten in months that didn’t taste of ash.
“But I’m going to. And I could really use your help.”
“Stay with me today,” I said. “You could tell your coven to look into it.”
“Yeah right. I’m by far the most powerful of them, and anyway, Sally is on vacation, Maria is pregnant which makes me nervous doing spells around her, and the rest of them are more posy than anything else.”
“What about Merlin? He could take care of this. Perhaps we should go see him and tell him about it,” I said lightly. I had not seen him since he’d come to my house three weeks ago telling me I was a fool and we had to talk. I’d thrown a death spell at him. He’d fended it off easily. The spell had done the job I needed it to and I hadn’t seen him since. I couldn’t spend time with him: the last person I needed was Merlin getting in my way and stopping me from dying. If anyone could do it, he could. However, now that today was here, I liked the idea of seeing him one last time. “I’m sure he could end all the mischief soon enough.”