The Battered Lamp
Chapter Ten: The Earthen Blade
© Copyright 2014
Story Codes: No Sex, Violence
Comments are very welcome. I would like all criticism, positive and negative, so long as its
constructive, and feedback is very appreciated. To contact me, you can leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for Chapter 9.
Note: Thanks to b0b for being my beta reader.
Wednesday, January 22nd
A raven watched the Unmei house, perched on a power line. It had been watching the house for the last two days, ever since its Master had bid it to watch and wait. A car departed, carrying away four humans clutching powerful talismans, each stinking of a different element. The raven took flight, its Master needed to be informed.
“What are you, Britney?” Kyle asked as he started his Ford Taurus. He was grounded, forbidden to drive his car, but this was an emergency, and he really could care less if it would get him in more trouble with his mom. Aaliyah was in danger.
“A what?” He put the car into reverse, backing out of the driveway.
“It’s a monster from India,” piped in Fatima.
Britney tangled mass of brown hair bristled. “I am not a monster.”
“Oh, right. Sorry.”
“Apology accepted, Fatima. My kind have lived in India, and other places. We are feline shapeshifters. Warriors. We blend in with the native populations of humans.”
“That’s why you’re White and not Indian?” Kyle asked as the GPS blared out instructions to get to the cabin Aaliyah was being held at.
“Yes,” Britney nodded.
So my best friend is a Rakshasa. And why not? I married a Genie. This isn’t any bigger of a stretch “Britney, you said you swore to protect me.”
“My kind has a…compulsion. We seek out strong individuals to serve and protect. We are the finest bodyguards in the world.”
“And you think I’m one of these…strong individuals?”
“Of course. I sensed it the day we met. I have devoted myself to protecting you, waiting for the day that your greatness would be revealed.” She flashed him a smile. “I am so glad to see we are on the cusp of that day.”
“And your mothers…they’re both Rakshasa?”
“Only Abigail,” Britney answered. “Though they both are my parents.”
“But their both women?” Fatima gasped. “You have a dad out there, somewhere, right? You know, whatever sad sack jacked off at the sperm bank your parents used.”
“No. My species are hermaphroditic.”
That sounded familiar. Something he learned in biology?
“You’re a futanari?” Fumi asked. She was so quiet, Kyle had almost forgotten his Japanese girlfriend was in the car.
“That is a word for it,” Britney answered, her tangled hair bristling.
Kyle felt his cheeks reddened. He knew that word from 4chan.
“What is that?” Fatima frowned. “It’s Japanese, right?”
“She has a penis,” Fumi answered, her words smoky and her lily perfume filled Kyle’s nose, setting his heart pounding.
“Oh,” Fatima whispered. Kyle could see her eyes widened in the rear-view mirror, and a mischievous grin exploded across her face. “Does it work, Britney?”
“Both of my sexual organs are fully functional.”
Fully functional, huh? No wonder she wears baggy sweats all the time, Kyle thought.
“Wow,” Fatima whispered. “Full functional, huh. So you jill your pussy and jack your cock?”
“Of course. I am a teenager. I have the same bursting hormones as any pubescent human. Though I have more self-control than some young men I know.”
Kyle let that slide. “So you seem to know about witches and covens? What can we expect?”
“Familiars, spirits, glamours, and enchantments,” Britney answered.
“What is this, a D&D campaign?” Kyle muttered.
“No. Familiar are animals controlled by the witch. They can be…enhanced. Greater speed, greater strength, greater lethality. Spirits are elemental beings. The primal essences of the universe. The physical essences of Fire, Water, Earth, and Air; the emotional essences of Love, Anger, Joy, and Sadness; the Abstract essences of Life, Death, Light, and Darkness. Witches use prayers to one of a number of gods and goddesses, greater spirits than the lowly twelve, and these beings direct the appropriate, lesser spirits to perform the witches desire, creating glamours, geas, enchantments, or other types of spells. The coven that Christy is apart of serves Hecate, a goddess of dark magic and enchantments.”
“So Christy used a spirit on me?” Kyle asked.
“In effect. She prayed to Hecate, and the goddess directed the spirit to perform Christy’s desire. I would surmise an Elemental of Darkness was used to hide your memory.”
“How are we supposed to fight that?”
Britney held up her katar, a triangular-bladed punching knife, the metal inlaid with a shiny, blue material. The katar—like Kyle’s katana, Fatima’s spear, and Fumi’s bow—had come from Aaliyah and had shaped themselves to fit their wielder’s fighting style. Kyle’s katana had originally been a scimitar and the katar had been a curved, Arabic dagger. “Waterclaw appears to be a talisman attuned to the spirits of Water. I would hazard a guess that I could control these spirits, with the proper practice.”
“Yeah, Aaliyah mentioned that.”
Britney turned around, fixing her eyes on Fumi. “I think it is time you revealed what you are hiding. I can smell the pheromones you are exuding.”
Fumi’s face paled.
Christy fled the living room; fled Kyle.
What have I done? Tears flowed hot down her cheeks. I cast a spell on him! I sent Aaliyah to her death!
I’m a worm. A filthy thing.
She burst out of the back door and into Kyle’s backyard. A single, large chestnut tree grew nearby. She collapsed before it, the dark soil cold against her knees. Her tears fell like rain. I sent Aaliyah to her death. I don’t deserve Kyle.
Christy sobbed beneath the tree as the sun sank, and darkness fell upon the backyard. The wind picked up, chilling her body. She didn’t care. She deserved to suffer. To freeze.
“Why did I ever join the coven?” she whispered to herself.
She had been seduced by their promise of healing her mother. And it had worked, her mother’s ovarian cancer had gone into remission. Only after she had sworn her oaths to Hecate and Ms. Franklin did she learn the true cost of power, and she had been trapped, reduced to being a plaything for Ms. Franklin’s perverse desires.
And now she had betrayed the coven as well as Kyle, revealing one of their strongholds and the location of Aaliyah. She had thrown everything away. Christy could not wait for her punishment. She deserved it for what she did blinded by jealous love.
If I ever betray the coven, may Hecate’s daughter drive me to madness and death.
The wind picked up, a faint, chittering sound carried to her. She jumped, looking around the yard. The air warped, something slithered down the fence. Almost invisible, distorting the air like the sun beating down an asphalt road. Only it was January and the sun was setting behind gray clouds.
Eriynes had arrived to punish her.
She stared at the distortion. “I’m sorry, Aaliyah!” she screamed into the wind, somehow hoping the Djinn could hear her. Her eyes closed, and she waited for Eriynes to end her life.
*Are you sorry?* a new, warm breath whispered in her ear.
The wind swirled between Christy and the distortion.
*If you are sincerely penitent, then ask for my protection.*
The distortion chittered at the whirling wind in annoyance, “She is mine! She has betrayed my mother. Step aside!”
The wind howled faster, whipping up fallen leaves.
“Who are you?” Christy asked.
“Are all the women in my life abnormal?” Kyle muttered to himself.
“I’m normal, big bro!”
“You’re not secretly some sort of succubus?”
“I need to know what you are, Fumi,” Britney continued. “I must know if you poise a threat to Kyle.”
“I do not pose a threat to him,” Fumi whispered, her voice wavering with uncertainty. “I love him. I am a Yuki-onna. A…um…succubus, as you would say in English.”
Britney bristled. “Pose no threat? If Kyle ever has vaginal intercourse with you, he will die.”
“What?” Kyle blinked.
“No, he won’t!” Fumi retorted, swelling up like an angry thunderhead. “He’s the one man for me. I just know it! He will be able to survive my full embrace!”
“I am?” Kyle had no idea what was going on.
“He is not!” Britney’s words exploded out of her lips like the surf crashing into the cliff. “You would kill him if he ever spilled his seed inside your vaginal canal. He cannot be the one man for you.”
“Yes, he is!” Fumi hissed back. “I know it!”
“Jesus, I almost finished in your pussy Saturday night! Are you saying…?”
“Yes!” Britney hissed, while Fumi gasped, “No!”
“I’m confused,” muttered Fatima.
“So am I,” Kyle nodded.
“She is a creature that feeds off men’s vital energy,” Britney answered. “I am sure you have seen how she desires your semen.”
“Yeah. She even orgasms when I cum in her mouth.”
“And it doesn’t kill him,” Fumi pointed out. “If we go slow, work ourselves up to ‘vaginal intercourse’, Kyle will be fine.”
“But last Saturday…”
Fumi blushed. “I lost control. My pheromones overwhelmed you. If Christy had not called…”
“But once we’ve had enough anal and oral sex, you will be able to survive. You will have grown accustomed to my body’s hungers.”
“No, he will not,” Britney objected. “Kyle is not one hundred percent Japanese. He could not possibly be your match!”
Tears welled up in Fumi’s face. “He has to be. I love him! I can feel it inside me.”
“He is not, Fumi.” Britney’s voice softened. “I am sorry.”
The succubus shuddered for a moment, then calmed herself, forcing down her emotions. “I do love him. I would never hurt him.”
“Then stay away from him,” Britney answered. “Your love is doomed..”
Her emotions overcame Fumi again for a moment before she regained her composure. “That’s not important,” she said, wiping the tears from her olive cheeks. “We can deal with this later. We must save your other love, Kyle.”
“So there’s no way Fumi and I can be together?” Kyle asked Britney, not ready to drop this yet.
“Fuck! Aaliyah may be dead, Christy’s stabbed me in the back, and now you’re telling me I can’t be with Fumi either!”
“Life is seldom fair.”
“What about Niqualmie?” Fatima piped in.
Britney frowned, adjusting her glasses.
“Isn’t that some Native America folktale?” Kyle asked
“Yes.” Britney answered. “She is a powerful spirit that dwells upon Mount Rainier. Perhaps she could help you discover a way to be together.”
Hope blossomed in Fumi’s face. “Who is this Niqualmie?”
“She’s like an oracle, or a spirit,” Fatima explained. “The Puyallup Indians have a story about her. Once, a boy and girl were from feuding villages, but they loved each other. So the girl went up Mount Rainier and begged Niqualmie for help. The spirit found the girl’s love to be pure, so she gave her a series of tasks to perform that would make the two villages become friends. She spent several seasons accomplishing many difficult feats. Finally, she did it, and through her actions, the two villages became friends again and she married her love.”
“Niqualmie is an elemental of love,” Britney answered. “A powerful spirit. If your love is pure, and your determination great, she could help you. Seek her at Paradise upon the slopes of Mount Rainier. You must risk much to summon her, exposing yourself to the fierce winter of the mountain and lie naked in the snow. Only on the cusp of death will Niqualmie approach you.”
Celestite’s cell phone rang.
She cursed, breaking her gaze from the circle and the Djinn bitch weakly fighting against the spell’s silvery appendages. She strode across the cabin to her purse, and fished out her cell phone. She froze when she saw the caller ID.
“Master,” she breathed, her stomach churning.
“Have you drained the Djinn yet?” His voice was cold, grating.
She froze. How did he know? “Not yet,” she carefully answered. “I was waiting to have the task completed before informing you,” she lied. Sweat broke out across her forehead. “I know how you hate to be disturbed over trivial matters.”
“You have always been so thoughtful, Celestite.”
He must be watching me. Celestite decided that it didn’t matter. Once she drained the Djinn, she could destroy her Master and take his position. He stood high in Hecate’s circle and she itched to have his power.
“Kyle Unmei and three others are seeking to rescue the girl. They have elemental talismans. Be ready. Do not lose my Djinn. I will not overlook that indiscretion.”
Her knees buckled. He knows I plan to betray him. And he doesn’t care. Is he really that powerful? “I won’t, Master. I have plenty familiars to guard us.”
The phone went dead.
“Turn left on gravel road, one-half mile ahead,” the robotic GPS voice chimed.
There was a break in the thick trees ahead, a gravel road disappearing into the evergreens. Kyle slowed his car. They were close, only a mile away, and fear squeezed his heart harder and harder. Please be alive, Aaliyah!
He took the turn, gravel kicking up in a spray. The road was narrow, twisting, and his car bounced up and down as he raced down it. The dark trees swayed, lit by his headlights. The sun had set almost an hour ago, and the thick brush seemed to swallow light. The road took a hard right, the car sliding on the gravel as Kyle slammed his breaks and fishtailed around the corner.
Fatima let out an exhilarated whoop, bouncing in the back. “Let’s go! I’m ready to kick some skank witch’s ass!”
Kyle slid around another turn, driving far more reckless than he ever had in his life. There was a straightaway and a distant cabin, glowing softly silver. He floored it; the engine roared and the car bounced down the road, hurtling towards a wooden bridge crossing a ravine.
“The bridge! Stop!” Britney shouted.
Kyle saw it. “Shit!” He slammed on the brakes.
The middle of the bridge was gone, leaving splintered edges. The brake peddle pulsed as the car slid down the gravel. They were going too fast. The rumble of tires on gravel turned to the screech of wood on rubber. The car skidded to the left, aiming at one of the bridge’s support beams.
Metal crashed. Airbags exploded. White smoke filled the car. Pain flared across Kyle’s chest, the seat belt digging into his ribs. Panic filled him, the car was on fire. He struggled to move, to unbuckle his seat belt, when he realized the smoke poured out of the airbags.
“Damn,” Fatima muttered.
“Is anyone injured?” Britney asked, far too calm.
“I’m fine,” Kyle groaned. “Fumi?”
She said something in Japanese. “I’m all right. I bit my lip.”
Kyle finally unbuckled his seat belt and almost fell out of the car. The front end was crumpled, and he could smell radiator fluid cooking on the engine block. More of the sickly-sweet, green liquid dripped down onto the wooden bridge.
“I thought you were a better driver,” groaned Fatima, crawling out the backseat.
“The bridge is out,” Kyle answered.
Fatima blinked when she saw the hole. “Shit.”
Britney stood at the edge of the hole, peering down into the ravine. The sides were steep, covered in thick, green ferns, and a brook babbled at the bottom. It didn’t look easy to climb down, especially in the dark.
“We’ll have to go around it or something!” Kyle looked up and down the ravine. It was steep and choked with ferns, a brook babbling in its dark depths. “Fuck, that’s not going to be easy.”
Britney shook her head, then stepped off the broken edge of the bridge
Kyle’s cry ended in a strangled grunt. Britney floated in thin air. He frowned; it was more like she was standing on thin air.
“A glamour,” Britney answered. “The bridge is not really out. If you look, you can see pine needles and other debris resting on its surface.”
“Then we have our way across,” Fumi nodded, opening up his trunk and retrieving her bow. It was a yumi, a Japanese longbow made of a dark wood inlaid with a bright, green metal that seemed to flex with the limbs. Unlike most bows, a yumi had an asymmetrical grip, the bottom of the bow’s limbs shorter than the top.
“Let’s go and make these witches pay!” Fatima grinned, gripping her yari, a spear tippd with a long, straight blade. The blade was three feet long and set with a pattern of red metal; the haft was tall as his sister, made of the same dark wood as Fumi’s bow. His sister pulled out his katana from the trunk, and threw it to him. Earthbones seemed to vibrate in his hands and it reminded Kyle of nothing more than a dog’s energetic tail wagging. It’s happy to be wielded by me.
“Let’s save Aaliyah!” he declared, drawing the beautiful blade from its sheath.
Kyle stepped up to the illusion of the gap, took a deep breath, and stepped forward. Even seeing Britney do the same thing, didn’t make it any less terrifying. His foot touched solid, if invisible, wood. Swallowing, he took another step, and another. It was easier to look ahead.
Fatima raced by, completely unconcerned, her feet pounding on unseen wood. She reached the gravel road, turning around, grinning. It was all a game to his little sister.
The bear rose up out of the brush behind her. Big, brutish, topping ten feet tall. Its eyes glowed bright red. Claws swiped at his sister. She just smiled, unaware that a massive paw tipped with gleaming claws raked down at her.
Green streaked by Kyle, trailing a wind that rustled his clothing. The arrow embedded in the bear and erupted in a gale that blew Fatima onto her hands and knees. The bear’s swipe missed his sister. It roared in pain, flinching from the green shaft embedded in its chest. A second arrow whizzed past, scraping across the bear’s skull. It bellowed, landing on its front legs and charged the bridge.
Britney leaped out of the way, black strips forming on her face as she hissed. Fatima scrambled to her feet, the tip of her yari trailing a tongue of red flame. Kyle took a deep breath, focusing and falling into a stance, katana held high two-handed grip. He would get one swing, and he’d need every ounce of strength to fell the beast.
Sharp claps clattered on wood, the bridge groaning beneath the awkward gait of the bear. Red eyes fixed behind Kyle—on Fumi. Wind rushed past. Green flashed by. Another arrow embedded in the shaggy beast’s shoulder. It didn’t even flinch.
“Kyle!” Fatima shouted, charging the beast from behind.
He could smell its fetid breath, and feel the heat of its growl. Kyle roared, focusing all his energy, his kai, into his stroke. Earthbones flared golden, bathing the bridge in truth. Wood appeared beneath his feet, the glamour broken by the reality of stone.
His sword bit into the bear’s shoulder, driving deep into its chest. Far deeper than it should have, cleaving through thick hide, tough sinew, and heavy bones. Blood splashed warm and salty on his face, then the hulk slammed into him. Breath whooshed, the world tumbled around him. Wood rushed up and a painful thud shot through him.
He rolled, gasping for air, staring up at the dark sky. Fumi knelt at his head, her beautiful face twisted with concern. She grabbed his hand; he squeezed.
“I’m fine,” he wheezed.
“You killed it!” she whispered.
Fatima stood over him, grinning. “Goddamn, that was awesome!”
“We do not have time,” Britney stated. “If the car crash did not alert them, then surely the bear’s roar did.”
It was getting so hard to find the energy to keep the light at bay. No matter how many she pushed back, more silvery leaches kept coming. She forced her will to lash out. I have to hold on! I have to give Kyle a chance!
“He killed the bear, Celestite,” Onyx whispered. “He killed the fucking bear with a single swing of his sword!”
“And that glow,” Opal hissed. “He dispelled my glamour.”
Was that panic in their voices? Hope blossomed in Aaliyah’s breast. She drove back the leaches with renewed effort. Kyle was here! He’s come to save me!
Five of the witches crowded at crystal ball that shown with silver light. The ball was between the thighs of coffee-skinned Garnet, drawing off the sexual energy leaking from her pussy. Jade was the only witch not with them, she stood at the circle, maintaining the spell trying to siphon away her powers.
Hope blossomed within Aaliyah. Kyle was coming!
“Tourmaline, do you still have that spirit bound?” Ms. Franklin, their leader, asked the honey-blonde girl.
“The Maniae?” She could hear fear tinging the tanned witch’s voice. “I do.”
“Unleash it. Opal, Onyx, send the other bear familiars out. I want Kyle and his bitches crushed and those talismans recovered!”
“Yes, Celestite!” the teenage witches quailed.
A new bear charged out of the brush at Britney. The Rakshasa nimbly side-stepped the charging hulk like the sea parting before the prow of a ship. Black stripes darkened her face, and she hissed and punched with her katar. The triangular blade sank into the bear’s flank; blood spurted and the hulk stumbled. Fatima roared and rammed the straight blade of her yari deep into creature’s skull.
More bestial roars filled the night air and more hulks moved through the shadowed underbrush. Kyle’s back ached, bruised from impacting the bridge, but he pushed the pain down and readied himself to face these new attackers. Green arrows flashed, zipping at the shapes. Brush rustled, burst of wind throwing debris into the air. Fur rose before him, his sword flashed. Hot blood and pained growls filled the air.
Kyle was not about to let these creatures, twisted by the witches spells, kill him. Or kill his friend and lovers. The bear drew back, its right foreleg useless. It raised up on its hind legs, compelled by magic to keep fighting, and lifted its left forepaw. Thick, sharp claws glinted. There was no time to be afraid and worry about those claws ripping into his flesh.
Bellowing his kai, focusing his strike. He sheared through the thick, raised foreleg. The beast bellowed in agony, collapsing on the ground as arterial blood pumped quickly out. It struggled to rise; Kyle reversed his blade and thrust down, putting the poor beast out its misery.
Fatima screamed her kai, thrusting with her yari at another bear. Her stabs seemed wild, undisciplined, but Kyle could see her flowing through her forms, the blade stabbing into the bears chest and shoulders, driving the beast back. Britney danced around her bear, flowing gracefully, and lashing out with her katar.
He scanned the clearing before the cabin. A hulk charged past him, two green arrows sprouting out of its shoulder. Fumi stood her ground calmly, drawing her bow back and releasing. The bear didn’t flinch. Anger and fear surged in Kyle, and he roared. Power surged in his sword.
He didn’t understand what he did, but somehow he reached through his sword into the ground. He felt a boulder, one of the Earth’s bones, and commanded it to rise. The ground rumbled and bowed. Dirt fountained and the boulder thrust up in the bear’s path. The charging bear looked its forelegs, but it was too late. The heavy beast slammed into the boulder, bones cracking.
Kyle ran towards the staggered bear. He hacked into the bear’s flank, bringing the beast down. It struggled on the ground, and Kyle dispatched it.
“How did you do that?” Fumi asked; she smelled so wonderful. Kyle fought down his ardor.
“The sword,” he answered.
“Right,” she nodded.
“Kyle!” Fatima shouted. He glanced at his sister. She pointed at the cabin.
Someone had stepped out of the cabin. A teenage girl, naked, her skin spray-tan orange and her dirty-blonde hair glowed as it was backlit by the cabin. Kyle knew her from school. Sable Purcell. He had shared English with her last semester. She threw something.
The object was red, glinting in the air. It was a gem, its faceted sides catching the dim light, and landed with a thud on the ground. Red, angry light exploded from the gem and a wave of hatred washed over Kyle. A cloud of scarlet hovered in the air, then it contracted. Long, thin limbs grew about a scaly body. A head, triangular shaped, ended with thick mandibles like some monstrous ant. It hissed, swelling larger and larger, until the monster stood over the height of the cabin.
“What is your command, Mistress,” it spat out in a hissing voice. A chorus of screams accompanied the hiss, chanting, “HATE, HATE, HATE!” Over and over, battering Kyle’s ears.
“Kill them,” Sable commanded, “and bring me their talismans.”
Its scaly fists clenched, then it swung at Kyle and Fumi. It was so fast, and Kyle tried to make his body move. A wind burst around him, the currents lifting his body and pulling him and Fumi out of the way. A boom resounded as the fist crashed into the ground where they had stood, rents furrowing the hard-packed dirt.
The wind flew him across the ground, his stomach lurching and his body twisting. It set him down gently twenty feet away, Fumi alighting next to him. Her almond-shaped eyes were wide with shock and she stared at her bow in amazement.
“Nice,” Kyle grinned at her.
“I just did it,” she whispered.
“HATE, HATE, HATE!” The chorus screeched louder as monster turned on Kyle. “I will crush your bones into powder, Mortal! I will feel your flesh squish to jelly beneath my fist.”
“Run!” Kyle shouted, giving her a shove, than taking off in the opposite direction.
“A Maniae!” Britney yelled. “An Elemental of Anger! Kill the witch! She controls it!”
“No!” a new voice yelled.
Kyle turned, and flinched.
Christy strode across the bridge. “I will deal with it.”
Kyle stared dumbfounded at his treacherous wife. The pain of their argument, of Christy’s betrayal, twisted in his gut. What was she doing here? Britney ignored Christy, dashing for Sable. Hissing, his friend charged across the field, her katar level at the witch struggling to control the hulking elemental.
“Stop, Britney!” Christy screamed. “If you kill her, the elemental will rampage out of control! I need to put it back to sleep!”
Britney ignored her, a feral growl rumbling from her throat.
“Hecate, protect your servant and deliver pain to her foe!” Sable shouted, pointing at Britney.
His friend shrieked, her katar falling from her grip. She hit the ground, writhing and spasming like she was being tased.
“I will deal with the Maniae!” Christy shouted. “Save Aaliyah!”
Kyle nodded at her.
“Ishtar, calm this Spirit of Rage,” she chanted, rainbow light flashing about her. “Bring sleep to the Maniae!”
“HATE, HATE, HATE!” the elemental screamed. Its body spasmed, its limbs struggling to move. It fought some hidden power. Sable fixed her eyes on Christy, the witch’s face red with strain, and began her own chants, fighting for control. The Maniae clawed the earth, ripped at its flesh, screamed its rage at the heavens. “HATE! I will rip every sinew from your body, witch! HATE! I will drink your blood! HATE! I will make a necklace of your bones! HATE!”
Kyle gave the writhing elemental a wide berth as he skirted around it. Fatima joined him, grinning. The tip of her yari burned with a yellow flame. Christy’s chants grew louder, more confident. The hellish, hateful chorus dimmed, the thrashing of the spirit lessened.
“She’s doing it,” Kyle said. Pride mixed with the betrayal.
Fatima spat, “She’s just trying to weasel back into your affections. Don’t let her.”
Kyle’s heart was split. He did love her as much as he hated what she had done. Kidnapping Aaliyah, wiping their memory. All those were monstrous. And yet she had come back to help them.
“It’s her fault we’re in this mess, Kyle.”
He glanced at his beautiful sister, her dark eyes burning. “If Aaliyah lives…”
“And if she’s dead?”
“I don’t know.”
They had skirted around the elemental, almost to the door. Something crashed inside, shadows moving in the windows. The log cabin wall exploded outward. Kyle grabbed his sister, turning his body to shield her. A chunk of wood slammed into his back. They fell, landing in a tangle of limbs. A bear snarled, and Kyle struggled to his feet and faced the beast.
It was all metal, its fur, its claws, even its tongue, transformed into dull, gray iron. An augmentation. “Shit.” He leaped to the side, metal claws raking the ground and sending up clods of dirt.
A naked, pale-skinned teenager strode behind it, joining Sable, and added her voice to the spell controlling the Maniae. The chorus of hate grew louder. Kyle couldn’t worry about that now. He sent a hurried blow at the beast, his sword clanged harmlessly off the beast.
“Oh, fuck!” He dived out of another claw swipe.
Fatima lunged in, her yari’s blade blazing red-hot. Sparks burst, the beast howled and spun. She raised her yari’s haft, catching the metal bear’s swipe. But she was light, barely a hundred pounds, and she couldn’t stand against a regular bear’s swipe, let alone one made of metal. She flew back and landed in a ball on the ground.
The metal bear charged after Fatima as she stood up. He reached into the earth through his katana, finding another boulder. The boulder erupted from the ground in the bear’s path. Metal crashed into stone. The bear plowed through it, chunks of rock bursting in a cloud of flying debris around the charging beast.
Wind rushed by Kyle, lifting Fatima into the air. She spun over the hurtling metallic hulk. It crashed into a pine tree. Wood snapped, the tree toppling over with a heavy thud. Fatima landed next to him, grinning. The bear thrashed around, looking, then turned and saw them.
It roared its frustration.
Kyle’s mind raced, struggling to come up with a plan. Sticking boulders in its path won’t do anything. The bear leaped over the rubble left by the pulverized boulder. An idea popped into his head. Would that work?
“Fuck it!” Kyle reached through Earthbones into the ground, willing it to split open.
The ground groaned in protest, shaking. Trees rustled. The earth opened up before the charging hulk, a great rent. The bear bellowed, dirt furrowing as it locked its forepaws and tried to stop its momentum. It couldn’t. The metallic monster was swallowed by the crack, crashing down into the earth. It snarled, clawing at the hard soil and rocks, struggling to climb up the rent.
He sealed it shut.
The elemental was struggling. Karrie Robertson, naked, her ebony skin hard to see in the darkness, had joined the other two witches. Kyle sat next to Karrie in Chemistry and she was in his Math class. The three witches were sending their voices at the elemental, rousing the spirit to new violence. Christy was losing, but she kept chanting, sweat beading her forehead as she strained to pacify the spirit. Kyle’s heart was stirred at the sight of her.
“We have to help her,” Kyle said. “We need to take out the witches so she can put it to sleep.”
“Yeah,” Fatima nodded. The metallic bear seemed to have knocked some of the enthusiasm out of her. “I’ll take the Black girl.”
Kyle nodded. “On three?”
“Three!” she roared and charged before he was ready.
He chased after his sister, leaping over a rent of disturbed soil. One of the witches, Lorrie Gore, turned, her brown hair swirling about her naked shoulders. She pointed at them, opening her mouth. “Oh, Hecate, defend your—”
A green arrow feathered her throat. Lorrie looked so young as astonishment painted her face, then she collapsed to the ground. Karrie saw Fatima’s charge at the last second, her dark eyes gaping in horror. Fatima didn’t seem to hesitate, and rammed her yari into the Black teen’s guts.
Sable was too focused on keeping the elemental under control to realize what was happening. Kyle swallowed. He couldn’t kill her. She was practically helpless. So he hit her with the hilt of his katana in the face. Her nose broke, she stumbled back, then collapsed into an unconscious heap.
“Sleep!” Christy yelled.
“Your rage is spent. Sleep, Maniae.”
The hulking spirit became still, then red light pulsed upon its skin, glowing brighter and brighter until the entire clearing before the cabin was filled with a harsh, crimson light. One last, hissing cry, then it contracted. A single, red gem glinted on the ground.
Christy exhaled, then stumbled, her shoulders slumping as she trembled. A look of amazement crossed her face and her lips wordlessly moved. Kyle thought she whispered, “I did it.”
Britney groaned nearby, climbing painfully to her feet. She saw the unconscious Sable, and hissed at her, angry as a storming sea. She retrieved her fallen katar, and stalked towards the witch. Her green eyes glowed in the dark, reflecting murder.
“No,” Kyle stated.
She froze, then gave him a nod.
Fatima’s eyes were fixed on Karrie’s corpse. “It was so easy,” she muttered. “I didn’t even think.”
“C’mon, Fatima,” Kyle whispered, touching her arm. “Aaliyah needs us.”
She shook herself, then looked at the cabin. “Bansai!” she cried out, and charged in through the open door like a Samurai, headless of danger.
Kyle followed, Britney at his heels. His sister leaped the porch steps and dashed through the open door. He took the stairs in one step. Through the door he could see Aaliyah huddled in a glowing circle. A teen with long, black hair stood at the circle, eyes closed, and chanting.
His biology teacher, Ms. Franklin, strode forward. She was naked and beautiful. Her gorgeous, fiery hair fell in curtains about her round breasts. Her green eyes flashed, her lush lips moved, and she pointed at his charging sister. “Hecate, send this girl into an everlasting nightmares.”
Fatima dropped like a marionette’s whose strings had been cut, landing hard on the wooden floor, bouncing, and rolling to a rest on her back at the teacher’s feet, her yari clattering to the floor beside her.
Kyle went cold inside, his emotions wiped away. He was stone. Hard, unfeeling, unmoving stone. He raised his sword. Ms. Franklin had killed his sister, one of his wives, and she would die. He was vaguely aware Rashawn Underhill chanting a spell beside the teacher. Britney leaped past him at the witch, katar flashing like sunlight on a rippling lake, striking straight for the coffee-skinned witch’s heart.
Kyle had hard eyes only for his former teacher.
“Hecate, protect your servant!”
His sword flashed.
“Strike down my enemy—”
Her words died. Her head separated from her body. She remained upright for a moment, before she collapsed into a crumpled heap. As dead as his sister.
“Kyle,” moaned Aaliyah, looking up at him. The silver light glowing in a circle was attacking her, reaching out with tiny, silver tendrils that kept trying to attach to her body.
The chanting girl with dark hair blinked her eyes, and her words caught in her throat. Britney stood at his side, growling, the Black teen’s blood staining her katar. The silver light around Aaliyah vanished.
“You came for me,” his Genie wife whispered.
“Please!” the witch—Phillipa Stoddard—begged, a pendant made of jade hanging between her naked breasts. “Please don’t kill me.”
“Kyle,” Britney purred, her voice thick and husky. “Let me take this one. I will interrogate her and keep her out of mischief. We need to learn all we can about this coven.”
Kyle glanced at his best friend. She actually sounded…horny. He always thought she was asexual. He had never seen her show any interest in men or women. Well, the naked witch was very attractive, with nice, round breasts and dusky, olive skin. He vaguely remembered that Phillipa was half-Korean.
“Yeah, she’s all yours.”
Aaliyah struggled to rise. He was at her side and hugged her in a crushing embrace. Fatima was dead, but Aaliyah lived. It didn’t seem fair to lose the one to save the other. He wanted to cry, but he still felt dead inside, his soul petrified.
“What happened to Fatima?” Fumi asked.
He glanced at his Japanese love. She knelt next to Fatima’s corpse. His sister looked so peaceful, like she only slept. Fumi shook her gently, an envelope clutched in her hand.
“Ms. Franklin killed her,” Kyle said, his voice empty, dead.
“No,” Fumi objected. “She’s just unconscious.”
Life exploded inside him, hope spreading green across dead soil. “What?”
“Celestite cast a nightmare spell,” whispered the captured witch.
“Who?” Kyle asked.
“Ms. Franklin,” the teen answered. “We all went by the color of our auras. I’m Jade, she’s Celestite,and that’s…” she swallowed, glancing at the corpse of Rashawn Underhill. She had been the fastest runner in his class. “That was Garnet.”
“How do you break this nightmare spell?” Kyle demanded of the witch.
“Only Celestite could…”
“So she’ll sleep for how long?”
Christy had tears in her eyes as she started her car. I’ll probably never see him again.
“Have faith,” Iris whispered.
Her guide and companion appeared in a burst of rainbow light. Ishtar had sent her own daughter to lead Christy on her journey of redemption. It was the only way to break Hecate’s hold on her and to be free. Helping to rescue Aaliyah was merely the first step.
“He won’t want me back.”
The spirit reached out, touching her hand. “Love is very powerful. It can do great harm or great good.”
“That’s so true,” Christy muttered, looking at the wreckage in front of the cabin.
She turned her car around, driving across the bridge. Fumi had her letter. It would explain her feelings to Kyle. She needed to get moving before Hecate’s daughter caught up. Eriynes was close; she could almost hear the spirit’s skittering legs.
“Where to, Iris?”
Celestite’s crystal died. The raven familiar cawed.
Irritation flickered inside him. She had been one of his most promising witches, building that delightful coven of hers. None of his other followers had ever shown such initiative. Pity she had been so stupid and rash. He would have to find out exactly how Kyle Unmei had defeated her. The youth was far more formidable than he had assumed.
Two other crystal’s glowed on his desk—Shadow and the Vicar—the other members of his coven. He would need to move more carefully against this youth. Ms. Franklin had been far too direct and she had paid for that mistake. But he was patient. In the end, the Djinn’s powers would be his, along with whatever powerful talismans Kyle and his compatriots must possess.
Then he would have the power to challenge his Goddess and cast her down.
His phone rang.
“Hello,” he answered, sounding pleasant, slipping into his mask.
“Hi, Principal Burke,” the woman answered. He smiled. Celestite was dead, but there were always other pawns to be used. “I’m free this Friday.”
“Great,” he answered. “And call me Stanley, Mrs. Unmei. If I’m taking you to dinner, you should be able to call me by my first name.”
Her laughter was rich. “I guess so. It seems a little…”
“Yeah.” She paused, then added. “I guess, I’m a little nervous. I haven’t been on a date in years. Not since my husband…”
“I understand. If you don’t want to…”
“No, no!” She sounded eager. Good. She had been widowed for years, denying herself pleasure for her children’s sake. She was ripe to be plucked by him and turned into a knife to stick at her son’s throat. “I need to move on. I loved my husband, but he would want me to be happy.”
“And how are your children going to take this?”
She sighed. “I don’t know. Kyle’s acting so weird lately. I’m going to kill him when he gets home. I grounded him and took away his car, but he and it are gone, and his concubines are not telling me where he went. And I don’t even know what he did to the front door. Alexina claims they were horsing around and somehow it got kicked in.”
“Sorry to hear that. Maybe your son just needs to have a strong father figure in his life.”
“Maybe,” she said, sounding wistful. “So what time should I be ready?”
“I’ll pick you up around seven?”
“Sounds good, Prin…I mean, Stanley.”
To be continued…
Click here for Chapter 11.
I have released the first part of the revamped Devil’s Pact on Smashwords. Read this post for more information if you’re interested!by