The Battered Lamp
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Choice of the Mother
© Copyright 2014, 2015
Comments are very welcome. I would like all criticism, positive and negative, so long as its
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Click here for Chapter 23.
Note: Thanks to b0b for being my beta reader.
Cast of Characters
Kyle Unmei Jr.: Half-Japanese/Half-Kurdish owner of Aaliyah and wielder of Earthbones..
Aaliyah Unmei: A Jann sent to marry the prophesied savior of the Djinn. Kyle’s First Wife.
Fatima Unmei : Kyle’s younger sister and wife, wielder of Fireheart and has woken up from her coma.
Christy Unmei nee Leonardson: Kyle’s long-time girlfriend turned third wife. She was a member of Ms. Franklin’s dark coven and betrayed Kyle and Aaliyah. Christy has found redemption from Ishtar and serves the goddess. She is returning to Kyle.
Fumi Unmei nee Nakamura: Kyle’s girlfriend and wielder of Windfeather. She has returned blind from Japan, able to lie with Kyle without killing him.
Britney Kingston: Kyle’s best friend since elementary school. She is a Rakshasa and has sworn to defend Kyle. She is a hermaphrodite and has claimed Phillipa as her mate. Wielder of Waterclaw.
Principal Burke: A man posing as the principal of Kyle’s school and a powerful warlock who desires Aaliyah and her power. He has dominated kyle’s mother.
Sultan Rashid ibn al-Marid: The despotic ruler of the Djinn and leader of the Marid clan. Wants Aaliyah dead to thwart the prophecy.
Zaritha: An Ifrit serving the despotic ruler of the Djinn and sent to kill Aaliyah. Captured by Burke, she was freed fighting Fumi in Japan. Joined Kyle’s harem to cement her alliance to attack Burke.
Detective Donnar: The homicide detective investigating the deaths of Ms. Franklin and her coven. Killed by Britney.
Shadow: A member of Burke’s coven. Killed fighting Fumi and Fatima.
The Vicar: Another member of Burke’s coven. Masquerading as Mr. Skinner, a teacher at Kyle’s school.
Erinyes: The vengeful daughter of Hecate hunting Christy for betraying her oaths to the Goddess Hecate. Since Christy serves Ishtar, Erinyes can no longer hurt her directly.
Braiden Smythe: yle’s former friend. Braiden is in love with Christy. Turned into a familiar by Burke.
Frankie/Zane: Two students turned into familiars by Burke.
Ms. Franklin: The deceased servant of Burke and leader of the coven. Also known as Celestite.
Chyna Unmei nee Coel: Kyle’s first concubine. Ms. Franklin cast a spell on Kyle and Chyna, forcing them into a slave/master relationship.
Shannon Unmei nee Coel: Chyna’s hot mom and Kyle’s second concubine.
Alexina Unmei nee Kendrick: Blonde concubine.
Carla Unmei nee Tyler: Redhead concubine.
Antonette “Toni” Unmei nee Buckley: Cheerleader concubine.
Daniella “Ms. Capello” Unmei nee Capello: Kyle’s English teacher and concubine.
Lois Unmei nee Smilingfox: A lesbian Domme that serves Kyle as a concubine.
Ann Unmei nee Weaver: Fatima’s friend and strawberry-blonde hair.
Kayleah Unmei nee Peterson: Fatima’s bleached blonde concubine and former rival.
Teleisia Unmei nee Otis: Aaliyah’s African American concubine.
Phillipa Kingston nee Stoddard: Former member of Ms. Franklin’s coven where she was known as Jade. Captured by Britney, Phillipa submitted to Britney and became her mate, discovering that she is a masochist.
Mindy Unmei nee Stoneking: A nurse at the hospital where Fatima is sick and Kyle’s newest concubine.
Sable Purcell:Also known as Tourmaline, she was a member of Ms. Franklin’s witch coven. While fighting with Christy, she was hit by a Love Elemental’s attack and now completely loves Christy.
Faiza Unmei: Kyle and Fatima’s widowed mother. Was dominated on her date with Burke.
Corey Derrickson: Kyle’s friend and master of Aleah, his concubine.
Iris: The daughter of Ishtar and the spiritual guide of Christy on her path of redemption through the Spirit Realm.
Wednesday, January 27th – South Hill, WA
Kyle held the shivering Christy on his lap, her wet, naked body pressed against him. He was so happy to see her again. He had missed her this last week, fearing he would never see her again after she fled in guilt.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered when she broke the kiss. “I was such a cunt for what I did to Aaliyah.”
“It’s okay,” he told her, stroking her damp hair.
“It’s not. What I did was so terrible.”
He held her tight. “You’re back. You helped us save Aaliyah. You just saved me. That’s all that matters.”
“I don’t think this is the time,” Britney said, peering down into the back of the cop car. “More police are approaching. We need to clear the scene.”
“Right,” Kyle nodded.
Cradling Christy, he climbed out of the cop car and looked around. Phillipa stood with Mindy and—
“Is that Sable?” Kyle blinked. Last time he had seen the witch, he had struck her in the face with the pommel of Earthbones at the cabin the night he had rescued Aaliyah.
“She’s my concubine,” Christy whispered. “I, um, attacked her with a Love Elemental and she’s going to be besotted with me for the rest of her life.”
Kyle laughed. “What have you been up to?”
“A lot,” she admitted as he carried her to the SUV.
“Master,” Mindy smiled, peeling bloody, surgical gloves off her hand.
“What’s going on?” Kyle asked, looking around.
“The police, bewitched by Burke, arrested you,” Britney answered. “While you were incapacitated, Burke moved on Aaliyah.”
“What?” Fear beat in his heart. “Is she okay?”
“I do not know. Fumi went to her aide but I chose to rescue you.”
“What!” he growled, rounding on her. “Aaliyah was in danger and you didn’t help her!”
Britney was unfazed. “I protect you, Kyle.”
“You protect us all.”
“But you first.”
Christy shivered in his arms and he turned and walked faster to the SUV. If Aaliyah’s hurt… He would deal with Britney if that happened.
Shannon climbed out of the SUV as he strode up, the MILF concubine smiling in relief. Kyle gave her a nod and ducked into the back of Shannon’s vehicle. Christy gasped at the extra-dimensional space.
Aaliyah! Kyle sent, his heart hammering.
*Did Britney free you?* his Genie wife sent back.
Relief flooded Kyle. She was safe. Yes. With Christy’s help. Are you okay?
*Christy is with you?* Her sending was full of confused emotions.
Is that a problem?
There was a pause. *If she saved you, then there is no problem. I am with Fumi and Fatima and the concubines. We’re in the room. Burke is after us.*
That was easily fixed. I wish for all my wives and concubines in the room to be in the SUV!
*Done!* Relief spilled through her thoughts.
In a flash, the back of the SUV was filled with his concubines and wives. Kyle was greeted by a great chorus of, “Masters!”
“We were so scared,” Toni said, clutching Alexina.
“There’s blood! Are you okay?” Chyna asked.
“I’m fine. Christy healed me.”
Britney and Phillipa piled in. They weren’t part of the harem.
“What’s she doing here?” Fatima growled, standing in the center of the concubines, leaning on her yari.
“She saved me,” Kyle said, pulling her tight.
“And I’m thankful for that,” Aaliyah said, sitting on Kyle’s right, hugging them both and kissing Christy on the lips.
“You forgive me?” Christy whispered. “What I did to you was so wrong, I…”
Aaliyah touched Christy’s lip with her finger. “You saved our husband.”
“Thank you,” Fumi said, her bow transformed into her glasses and she hugged Kyle and Christy from the other side.
Kyle savored the feel of his three wives and looked over his shoulder at Fatima. “She made a mistake.”
“Yeah, and I almost spent my life stuck in a nightmare because of her mistake.” Her yari vanished in a flash of fire and she fell into the midst of the concubines, pulling Kayleah and Ann to her. “You can cuddle with the nasty bitch, but I want no part in it.”
“Maybe I should go,” Christy whispered. “I don’t want to—”
“No,” Aaliyah said. “You’re part of the harem.”
“Yes,” Kyle agreed. “You’re my wife. You’re the first woman I loved.”
She smiled and kissed him, her lips hot against his.
“Where are we going?” Shannon asked, pulling the SUV away.
Kyle knew he should answer, but Christy’s lips were so hot and it was so wonderful to kiss her again.
“Home,” Britney answered. “We need to bunker up and plan our next move.”
“There’s a lot of police heading this way,” Shannon called from the driver’s seat.
Christy shifted on his lap, her legs straddling him, her pussy grinding into his growing bulge. This really wasn’t the time, but Kyle’s blood was boiling and Christy was so wet and lithe on him, her tongue wiggling into his mouth.
“Can you cast a spell, Phillipa?” Britney asked
“Let me think. Perhaps veil. I could cloak the car in invisibility.”
“That does not sound safe.”
Kyle broke the kiss with Christy, turning to Aaliyah. Her dusky face was flushed and she leaned in, kissing him. Christy’s lips nuzzled at his neck and cheek, joining Aaliyah’s in a three-way kiss. I wish I was naked.
His clothes vanished, his hard cock pressing into Christy’s wet pussy. She moaned, grinding harder, sliding her wet silk across his girth. Her hips shifted, the tip of his cock nuzzling her hole, and then she engulfed him. It was so wonderful to be buried inside her and he let out a deep groan.
“Does her pussy feel good?” purred Fumi.
“Yes,” Kyle groaned.
Christy turned her head, looking at Fumi. “Hi!” she purred, her hips rising up and down. “So, you’re Fumi?”
“Yes. We didn’t have time to properly meet last week at the cabin. Does our husband’s cock feel good inside you.”
“So good,” she panted, leaning back, her perky tits bouncing before Kyle’s face. Aaliyah captured one pink nipple, Christy’s pussy squeezing down on his cock as she let out a pleased squeal.
“You guys are having fun without me,” pouted Fatima.
“You could join us,” Fumi purred. “Come squeeze between me and our husband.”
“Come suck on Christy’s nipple,” Kyle said. “I know how much you loved to do that.”
“She’ll just betray us,” Fatima said.
“I won’t!” she moaned. “I’m all Kyle’s! I love him! And you, Fatima! I was just a jealous bitch. But I get it now.”
“Come join us,” Fumi smiled. “I’ll finger you.”
“Fine,” Fatima said, then wormed her naked body between Fumi and Kyle.
He had all four of his wives in his arms. Fatima’s lips latched onto Christy’s right tit, moaning as Fumi’s hand wormed between her thighs. Christy’s hips rose faster, her pussy tight and wet on his cock. Kyle let his hands slide down Fumi and Aaliyah’s backs, cupping their supple asses, pulling them closer together.
“All mine,” he groaned. “Finally.”
“Yes! Fumi moaned, her lips nuzzling at Fatima’s neck. “You finally have all of us.”
His cock erupted into Christy’s pussy.
“Master, you should finish up,” Shannon said. “We’re getting close to home.”
“Yeah,” Kyle panted, Christy gasping and moaning, her pussy cumming, milking the last of his cum out of his cock.
“I’m so close,” Fatima panted.
The SUV turned the corner onto Kyle’s street. Shannon hit the brakes.
“What’s wrong?” Kyle asked, his thoughts heavy with lust.
“Get your weapon’s Master!” gasped Shannon. “The front of the house has been ripped open!”
Christy slid off of him, gasping for breath. Kyle stood up, walking forward and peering out the front windshield. Through the driving rain he could see the front of his gray house smashed open, splintered lumber dotting the lawn. “Aaliyah, clothes!” In a flash of yellow, Kyle was clothed.
“Step on it, Shannon!” Fatima shouted, her yari appearing in a burst of flames.
Kyle reached out, remembering how Earthbones felt in his hand, bearing the strength of the very earth. His weapon appeared in a swirl of golden light, the katana glinting as Shannon sped forward. He held onto her seat as she slammed on the brakes. The SUV skid to a halt on the wet road.
Britney was the first out, her katar in hand. Kyle followed her, Fatima on his heels. “Stay in the car, Aaliyah.”
“Phillipa and Sable with me,” Christy said. “We’re going to hang back and provide support.”
Braiden, his former friend, stood in the wreckage of the house. Only there was something different about him. His skin had a gray pallor and was waxy, his legs and arms long and gangly. His head twisted almost all the way around to look behind him.
“Kyle,” he hissed. “And the lovely Christy.”
“What the fuck happened to you?” Kyle gaped.
“The same thing that happened to Zane,” Aaliyah called from the SUV.
“He’s been enhanced. Burke made him a familiar,” Christy shouted. “That’s really not him anymore. Burke…despoiled him.” Disgust was thick in her voice.
“I’ve wanted you for so long,” Braiden hissed, his eyes focused on Christy. “Once Kyle’s dead, we’ll finally be together.”
Anger burned inside Kyle. His mom was inside the house and he could hear something huge and hulking crashing through the house. Piles of dust, Aaliyah’s homnoculi, littered the living room. Braiden turned, facing Kyle and his women, his body moving in a strange, jerky fashion.
Kyle didn’t have time to mess around with his former friend. His mom was in danger.
He reached through Earthbones and commanded the ground beneath Braiden’s feet to open and swallow the monster. Braiden leaped as the ground ripped open, soaring straight at Kyle. A green arrow flashed out and Braiden twisted in the air, barely dodging the missile, then landed at Kyle’s feet.
Kyle shouted out his kai, focusing his attack, and swung at Braiden. The spindly creature writhed and wiggled, sliding his body around the blade and attacking Kyle’s face with sharp claws. Kyle ducked the swipe and Britney hissed and charged in, her katar punching at Braiden’s guts.
“I’ll protect mom!” Fatima shouted. “Come on, Fumi!”
“Go with her, Christy!”
“Right!” she nodded. Kyle saw Fatima charge into the breech followed by Fumi and the witches.
Braiden danced away, laughing. “Christy is going to moan and cum on my cock. I’ve wanted that saucy bitch for so long.”
“You can’t have her!” Kyle roared, Braiden nimbly dodging another sword strike.
Britney hissed and stabbed, her face darkened by black stripes.
Braiden slithered out of the way. “I’ll devour her cunt. She’ll never remember you after she’s had my pleasure.”
Kyle let the words roll off of him. He found his center, focusing on his movements as Britney’s katar stabbed, spraying water. He was fast and nimble. Britney was faster than Kyle was and she couldn’t keep up with Braiden.
But they had the elements on their side.
“Bind him, Britney,” he shouted, swinging his sword.
Braiden went to weave around Kyle’s attack, but the rain falling about him caught him, wrapping around his body, Britney’s katar shining with blue light as she controlled the water. Braiden’s silted eyes widened as he thrashed in the rain’s grip.
His sword cut Braiden in half.
Fire roared from inside the house, exploding windows, black smoke pouring out.
“Your sister is getting carried away,” Britney said, already loping to the house.
“Yeah, she does that,” he agreed, running after her.
Fatima roasted the monstrosity that had been Frankie, her fire consuming the creature and catching the wall on fire. Greasy smoke filled the air. She didn’t care if the house burned down. Her mom was in trouble.
“Let’s go!” she shouted, racing up the stairs.
“Let me deal with the fire!” Fumi shouted. “It’s distorting the air. I can’t see.”
“I’m with you, Fatima,” Christy shouted, her footsteps echoing behind her.
Fatima still had mixed thoughts about Christy. But she was following her into danger, so that counted for something. She reached the top of the stairs and turned into her mother’s room. The door was smashed open and a pile of dust from one of Aaliyah’s homunculi lay before it.
A man stood inside her mom’s room, his arm held tight about her mom’s throat. Fatima gaped at the placid look in her mom’s eyes. She didn’t struggle at all in the man’s arms. Her eyes narrowed at the stranger dressed in a black robes, a pendant carved of some clear crystal flashing about his throat, a staff carved of a black wood in the other.
“Let her go!” she snarled, dashing forward. The man turned, placing her mother between them and Fatima stopped her charge, keeping her yari leveled at him.
“We will exchange your mother for the Djinn,” the man said, his voice booming loud, a grin crossing his craggy face. He looked ancient, with tufts of white-gray hair circling the bald crown of his head.
“Fuck that! You let mom go or I’ll gut you.”
“Be careful,” Christy said. “He’s got a celestite aura. He has power.”
“Doesn’t matter. There’s only one way out and that’s through us.” Fatima fixed her fiery gaze on the man. “So do the smart thing and let my mom go.”
“You think this is the only way out of here? How limited your imagination is.”
“Ishtar,” Christy chanted, “protect your servant and put to sleep those that threaten her!”
The man’s pendant grew brighter. “You need more power than that to bewitch me, child.”
“Your time’s running out. Fumi’s putting out the fire and Kyle and Britney will be up here soon. You can’t fight us all.”
“True. You children have dangerous toys.” His flinty eyes narrowed. “But so do I.”
His staff crackled with black energy. The air warped around the man and her mother, bending and distorting like Fatima was looking at them through a the bottom of a coke bottle. Then the air sprang back to normal and they were gone.
“Fuck! Christy, what the hell was that?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “It was that staff. It must be an artifact like your weapon.”
“Well, fuck, where’d he go?”
Foot steps crashed nearer and Kyle burst into the room, his katana held before him. “Where’s mom?”
“Some guy just took her.”
“Aaliyah!” he cried out.
The Genie popped into view in a swirl of dust. “Yes?” she asked, looking around.
“I wish my mom is back here.”
“I cannot affect her, remember,” she said, placing her arm on him. “Not without her permission.”
“Right,” Kyle muttered. “Fucking Burke. Then where is she? I wish to know.”
Aaliyah closed her eyes. “The principal’s office at your school.”
“Then let’s go. The police will be here any minute. The neighbors are already gawking.”
Aaliyah could feel the cold anger in Kyle as she pressed up against him in the back of SUV. His hard muscles were all tensed, his knuckles white as he gripped the hilt of his sword. Fatima let out a constant hiss of curses, each more vile than the last.
“Did everyone place their dildos?” Kyle asked. “Is the magic circle complete?”
The concubines all nodded their head. “We did, Master,” Teleisia answered.
“Then we can still do the plan.”
“We do not have the element of surprise,” Britney said. “The enemy has retreated to a stronghold. Burke must have defenses at this school that—”
“He has my mother.” Kyle’s voice was a low rumble. “I will tear that school brick by brick if I have to. We are going with the plan. The witches will power the circle, drawing on Aaliyah’s power funneled through Zaritha. Burke will be cut off from Hecate and we’ll destroy him! Aaliyah, I wish Zaritha was here.”
The Ifrit appeared in the center of the SUV, her dark eyes flashing with anger. “Why have you summoned me early?”
“We’re attacking now,” Kyle answered.
“Now? What has gone wrong? Has Burke learned of the plan?”
“Then we need a new plan. We can’t attack now. This is stupid!”
Insolence danced in the Ifrit’s eyes and Aaliyah narrowed her eyes. “You forget your place, Ifrit,” she said, jutting her chin out. “You are one of Kyle’s concubines. It is not your place to question your husband and master.”
The Ifrit opened her mouth, a fiery retort on her lips, then her eyes bulged. She had sworn the oath to be his and that was a powerful act for a Djinn. “Sorry, Master,” she muttered, her face twisting as she spat out the words. “We will attack. Are there any changes to the plan?”
“We have three witches to power the circle.”
“Three…” Zaritha worked her lips, her eyes narrowing. “Very well.”
Aaliyah peered at the Ifrit. Why does that displease her?
“We’re approaching the school!” Shannon shouted.
“Once we get out, you keep driving. I don’t want you or any of the concubines caught up in this. Park in that empty lot we met with Zaritha this morning.”
“But…” Mindy objected. “What if someone is hurt. You’ll need my first aid bag.”
Kyle reached out, cupping the nurse’s face and peering into her green eyes. “I do not want any of you hurt.”
“Yes, Master,” she whispered, a tear spilling down her cheek.
The SUV screeched to a stop. Britney was the first out, followed by Kyle. Aaliyah went out last. The rain hammered down on the red brick buildings of Rogers High School. The three witches stopped at the entrance to the parking lot and a silver line flared up, reaching out in a curving arc—the magic circle they had drawn around the school.
“Good luck,” Christy said, hugging Kyle. “Get your mother back.”
Britney was hugging Phillipa as Aaliyah walked up. She embraced and kissed Kyle, Fatima, and Fumi. “You will be triumphant,” she declared, fighting at her fear. “And we will be waiting for your safe return.”
“We’ll come back,” Kyle nodded. “I finally have all four of you. I’m not losing you now.”
Aaliyah watched as Kyle, Fatima, Britney, and Fumi strode towards the school, their weapons in hand. She clutched herself, the rain beading down the slick material of her jacket and hiding her tears.
“Let’s begin,” Zaritha said, seizing Aaliyah’s hand. “Open yourself up to me, Jann.”
“Mistress,” she reminded the Ifrit. “And your future Sultana.”
“Right.” Fire danced in the Ifrit’s eyes as Aaliyah opened herself up, then gasped as the Ifrit seized the vast power brimming inside her and directing it to the three witches. Their chants began, one praying to Ishtar, the other two to Hecate. The silver circle burned brighter, the air crackling with energy.
Aaliyah swayed, struggling to hold on to her senses as she poured her power into Zaritha.
The man who called himself Burke felt the magic circle powering up. The connection to his goddess was severed. He had expected this. There was no avoiding it. But he was more than a sorcerer. Burke had dabbled in every form of the arcane. Kyle would think him helpless.
He would disabuse the boy of that.
His eyes flickered to the Vicar and his black staff. “You would not survive challenging me,” Burke reminded his follower.
The Vicar’s flinty eyes held him for a moment. “Perhaps not.”
“Split them up.”
Students piled out of the school as they approached. Their eyes were all vacant. Their hands clutched makeshift objects, wielding them as weapons. The metal frames of chairs and desks, the broken wood of flagpoles, heavy textbooks, and whatever else the students could find.
“Burke,” Kyle groaned.
With a roar, the students charged.
“Kyle?” Fatima asked, giving him a nervous glance. “Do we…?”
“No.” He reached into the ground he stood on with Earthbones and commanded it.
The earth rumbled and split, then thrusting out of the depths of the earth was a wall of bedrock, clods of dirt and the parking lot’s asphalt spilling off of it. The students crashed into the wall, yelling and screaming. More of the earth groaned as he encircled them, pinning in the hundreds of students in a prison.
“That should hold them for a short time,” Kyle said. “Let’s go and deal with Burke.”
“There might be more,” Britney said as they ran around the wall of stone. “That may have been half of the student body.”
“We’ll deal with it,” he said. “Burke’s office is by the main doors anyways. Let’s just hurry.”
The wall was wide, covering most of the parking lot. He glanced at the sword and wondered what the limits of its power were. He had commanded all that stone to rise up and he barely felt winded from the effort.
Fatima outdistanced them as they reached the doors. Fire blossomed from her spear and crashed into the main doors, blowing them open and spraying the hallway with glass. Fire alarms squawked, and water sprayed down from the sprinkler system. Britney used Waterclaw to stop the spraying water.
“You always have to be flashy,” Kyle muttered as he strode into the hallway.
An old man stepped out of the main office.
“Bastard! Where’s my mom?” Fatima snarled.
“The terms are simple,” the man said. “Your mom for the—”
The air warped about the man and he disappeared and then reappeared five feet away as one of Fumi’s arrows streaked through the air. The man smiled, his staff crackling with black energy. “I was so glad that was your answer.”
“You can’t cast spells in here,” Fatima shrugged. “You can just teleport about with that staff.”
“Witchcraft is hardly the only form of powers. The very air is alive with power. The natural world is all around us, and it brims with energy.”
The air around them danced and rippled. Kyle tensed, holding his sword up.
“It remembers what had once existed here. Before men had bulldozed this land and built this building. Nature remembers.”
The building began to dissolve around Kyle, trees sprouting up from the ground, towering up and up, the ground rippling as curves and mounds appeared. The school faded and Kyle stood in a pristine wood.
And everyone else had vanished.
He looked around, trying to see anything but thick ferns and towering pine trees. Birds chirped in the trees, a deer and her fawn walked past in the brush, and mosquitoes hummed in the air. Sunlight streamed down through the dense canopy.
He stepped back and something brushed his shoulder. He whirled to see a tree branch touching his arm. He took two steps back, his entire body tensed. He reached into the earth, trying to sense where every had gone through the vibrations they made.
He sensed only animals.
The blow struck him from behind, cracking across his back and driving him to his feet. Pain flared and he coughed. His sword went skittering into the underbrush. He threw a look over his shoulder. No one was behind him.
The second blow caught him in the side. His ribs cracked and pain flared.
Fumi watched in amazement as Kyle, Britney, and Fatima all whirled about in confusion, then stumbled about in different directions. “What the fuck is going on?” Fatima demanded, whirling about, her spear almost cutting into Fumi’s side. “Where did all these trees come from?”
“Trees?” Fumi asked. They were still in the hallway, the currents of air painting the walls bright green. Britney drifted down a different corridor, her body in a low crouch as she hissed and swung.
Kyle was nearby and she reached out to touch him. He jumped at her touch, whirling around and backpedaling.
“What is going on?” she demanded.
The man’s struck Kyle with his staff, knocking her husband to the ground, Kyle’s sword falling from his grip. Then the man cracked the staff into Kyle side, throwing him back. Kyle didn’t seem to defend himself, looking around in bewilderment.
He cast some sort of illusion. Fumi drew her bow and fired an arrow at the man.
The air distorted and her arrow passed through nothing. Then the man was standing down the hallway. She change her aim, firing a second time but he teleported again before her arrow could reach him.
“You can see through it?” the man asked in surprise.
“I’m blind. I can’t see anything.”
He vanished. She looked around and—
His staff cracked into her back and she fell forward with a grunt, clutching her bow. She landed on her stomach, ignoring the pain, and rolled over. He stood over Kyle, raising up his staff to crack it down on her husband while he scrabbled around on his feet, his hands running across the floor like he was searching for something—his katana.
She sent a gust of wind out, striking the man, knocking his staff to the side so it landed harmlessly beside her husband. The man vanished again, appearing above her. She caught his staff slamming down at her with her bow, pushing back, then sent a violent wind down the hallway, pushing the man away.
“Little bitch,” he growled, righting himself.
She gained her feet, whirling to face the man and firing an arrow. He vanished. She spun about, aiming directly behind her and firing as he appeared. He grunted in pain, her arrow embedding in his shoulder.
“You are going to be a problem,” he grunted.
“Thank you,” she smiled.
He vanished. She spun about and fired. He didn’t appear behind her like she expect. She whirled around.
He was right in front of her.
His hands seized her and then everything distorted about them. She felt compressed, every inch of her flesh drawn down to a single point. And then it all popped back into normally. They were in a classroom, desks painted in green all around them. He pushed her away and she tripped over a chair, sprawling onto the ground.
He was gone by the time she regained her feet.
“Where am I?” She had never been to this school before. It was big, with several buildings, and she could be in any of them.
Her husband was in danger and she had no idea how to get to him.
Kyle scrabbled through the underbrush trying to find his sword. The ground was wet and covered in dried pine needles. A thick, loamy scent filled his nose as he searched. He shoved his hands into the ferns, trying to find his sword.
The attacker returned, cracking him in the side.
“Fuck!” he coughed, his sides aching as he breathed.
He couldn’t see where the attacks were coming from. His foe was invisible. He peered around, hoping for some clue and wishing he had his sword in his hand.
The blow struck his left arm, numbing pain flaring up to his shoulder.
“I need to do something! I need my sword back!”
Then why don’t you summon it, dummy!
He reached out and summoned his sword. It appeared in his right hand in flash of golden light.
The invisible attacker struck his right wrist. The pain was so intense. He wanted to drop his weapon, but he held it tight, pushing to his feet. He had to stay moving. He dodged around the trees, trying to stay out of the attackers reach.
His body hurt so bad.
How do I fight someone that’s invisible? There has to be a way to sense him or make him appear.
He had dealt with an illusion before. The night he had rescued Aaliyah, the witches had glamoured the bridge and made it appear to be broken. When he had unleashed the power of his sword, the power of solid, real stone, it had banished the illusion.
“Yes!” he shouted, turning and swinging his sword down at the ground. He had to be in some sort of illusion. Yellow energy flared from his blade as he slammed it forward. The blade slammed into the pine-needle-strewn soil Yellow energy surged around him, whipping into the brush. Trees and brush vanished, replaced by a swath of the schools hallway and the startled expression of the old man and the black staff, an arrow embedded in his shoulder.
Kyle swung at him and he vanished in that ripple of light. Kyle let his swing carry him around. The man liked to teleport. If I could teleport, where would I appear? Behind my enemy. He spun about, his sword slashing through the air.
The air rippled, the man appeared, raising his staff up with one hand.
Those flinty eyes widened as Kyle’s blade cut the man open.
The hallway was empty. Fatima, Fumi, and Britney were gone, split up by the illusion. Kyle was at the far end of the hallway from the main office. Ignoring the pain in his side, he strode forward. He was going to kill Burke and rescue his mom.
The forest vanished. Britney blinked in surprise, looking around. She had wandered into a classroom. Her hair stood up and she hissed, racing for the door. She burst into the hall and nimbly avoided colliding with the sprinting Fatima.
“What the fuck happened?” the younger Unmei asked her, leaning against her flaming yari.
“An illusion befuddled us.”
“I thought magic wasn’t supposed to work in here.”
“Our weapons are magical and they work. We only cut off external magics. Whatever the illusion was, it was internal. He drew on the power already contained within the circle. I suspect it was shamanism.”
“So Burke may not be as powerless as we thought?”
“Yes. Let us find your brother and Fumi.”
“Right!” Fatima raced ahead towards the front of the school. Britney easily caught up.
The office was ahead and Kyle strode through the doors. They slammed behind him, a purple energy springing up around the door. Fatima slammed into it, bellowing with all her fiery passion.
And bounced off, flying back into Britney. The Rakshasa caught the girl, the pair falling onto the hard floor. Fatima rolled over her, regaining her feet. Britney hissed as she flexed her back, popping out into a crouch.
“Holy shit,” the smaller girl gasped. “What was that?”
“Burke has activated some sort of barrier. I am afraid your brother is on his own.”
Energy roared up behind Kyle. He glanced back at a purple barrier, wavering in and out through the door and walls. Fatima crashed into and bounced back into Britney. If Burke wanted to fight Kyle alone, then he was more than happy to give the bastard that.
Kyle kicked the flimsy door open to the principal’s office. The hollow door splintered in, the cheap door frame ripping apart. He strode in, his sword held before him, ready to kill his principal. Burke was waiting, a dagger to his mom’s throat.
“Hello, Kyle,” he grinned, his brown eyes hard, narrowing.
“Let my mom go and I won’t kill you.”
“Threats, Kyle? Do you even know who you are dealing with?”
“Nope. And I don’t give a shit. You let my mom go and this can end here.”
“Did you kill the Vicar?”
“The man with the staff? Yeah. I cut him almost in half.” Kyle grinned, the man’s blood stained his blade. “And I won’t hesitate to do the same to you.”
The knife tightened at his mom’s dusky throat, pressing in just enough for a bead of blood to run down to her blouse. His mom didn’t react to the pain. Instead, she pleaded with him: “Kyle, you have to cooperate with him. He’ll kill me.”
“Then I’ll kill him.” Kyle said, trying to sound as hard and cold as he could.
“Now, now, Kyle,” Burke purred. “Why be so blase with your mother’s life. I know how much you love her. I watched the two of you last night. I could see how much you loved her body when she was gasping beneath you.”
Kyle’s grip was sweaty.
“Just give him what he wants, and I can be all yours,” she husked. “You are an amazing lover. The best. So much better than your dad. I can be all yours.”
Burke grinned, almost friendly, almost the kind-hearted principal. “Just hand over the Djinn and your mother can walk away.”
“I can’t,” Kyle said. “I won’t. I won’t give you my wife.”
“Then your mother dies.”
“No!” His arms trembled, his stomach clenched. He needed to do something.
He reached into the earth below their feet. He could cause a small earthquake, jostle Burke and free his mom. It was dangerous, but he couldn’t just sit here and let the man kill her. He commanded the earth to shake.
Never before had the earth failed to obey him. He put all his will into the sword, channeling it down into the earth. Shake! Rumble! I command you! Obey me!
Another will prevented him, ordering the earth to be still and calm. The will was far stronger than his own.
He caught Burke’s eyes, saw the smirk on his lips.
“How? Your magic can’t work in here.”
“I have long studied shamanism. You may have cut me off from my witchcraft, but there are more…primal powers that can be used. Now, lay down your sword or I will kill your mom.”
He looked his mom in the eyes. He couldn’t just stand here and watch her die. What choice did he have? He wouldn’t hand over Aaliyah, but he could hand over himself. He lowered his blade.
“N-no!” his mom shouted, her face suddenly contorting in pain. She was fighting Burke’s domination. “Y-you ca-an’t. H-he’ll kill…”
Burke snarled as his mom’s body shook, trying to move in his grip, like her limbs were bound by invisible chains.
“Mom! Fight!” Kyle shouted, his spirits buoyed. He pulled his sword up.
“Drop that sword or I’ll cut her throat!” Burke hissed.
“No!” his mom shouted! “I-I love…you!”
He stared into his mom’s eyes. She shoved her body forward. The knife cut into her throat. Her blood was a dark flood pumping out. A numb horror came over Kyle as she let out a gurgling gasp.
“I love you, Mom.”
She smiled for a moment, then she fell limp in Burke’s arms, blood sheeting down her body.
“Stupid bitch!” Burke threw his mom’s body to the floor, then pointed his dagger at Kyle.
Kyle attacked, swinging his sword. His anger was a cold fire that drove his blade. He would avenge his mother. He would cut Burke into a thousand pieces.
Burke shimmered, his body melting like wax into a blob on the floor. Kyle’s swing went through where Burke’s chest had been. The blob became a gray-furred wolf that snarled and leaped, striking into Kyle’s side. Teeth snapped and blood spurt from his arm.
He stumbled into a bookshelf, the wolf-Burke snarling at him.
“You killed her!” Kyle snarled, swinging at the wolf.
Burke shimmered into a small cat, leaping nimbly out of the way. In mid-air he melted into a cougar, snarling and swiping his claws at Kyle’s legs, raking through his jeans. Kyle stumbled, catching himself on the desk.
He swung at the cougar as it advanced. The office was too small for the big cat to move effectively. Burke shimmered into a wolverine, launching at Kyle’s wounded leg as Kyle sword swung over Burke’s furry body, the blade crashing into Burke’s desk.
Kyle ignore the pain of the wolverine’s razor teeth biting into his calves. He reversed his blade, stabbing down at the wolverine’s head.
Burke became a serpent warped around his thigh. Kyle’s blade missed by an inch, stabbing into the floor. Fangs sank into leg. Venom burned, shooting pain up into his groin. Kyle stumbled back, dropping his sword, tears blurring his vision.
“No! You’re not going to beat me, Burke!” The pain swelled with every beat of his heart. He reached down and grabbed the serpent’s neck, prying it away from his leg, squeezing with every ounce of his strength. He would see the man dead even if it killed him.
Burke shimmered and flowed like wax. Kyle’s hand squeezed harder, but the serpent’s neck grew thick. Burke stood before him, Kyle’s hand gripping the man’s shoulder. The dagger, red with his mom’s blood, stabbed into Kyle’s side.
“I do not know why I was so fearful of this confrontation,” Burke said, standing over him, the dagger stained with both Kyle and his mom’s blood. “You were far weaker than I gave you credit for. Celestite must have been a fool to have been defeated by you.”
Kyle struggled to hold on as his vision swam with black.
Burke knelt down, the dagger poised over Kyle’s heart. “I guess it’s just old age. I have lost that recklessness of youth. When you’re young, you think you are immortal. That nothing you do can ever go wrong. But the older you get, the more you realize that you can die. And when you’re as old as I am, well, you become too cautious.”
I can’t die. He’ll kill my wives. He’ll drain Aaliyah. I have to fight.
Kyle reached out his aura to his discarded sword, holding his hand before him, pointed at Burke’s chest.
“Is this some last, desperate attempt at life?” Burke asked, amusement tinging his voice. “Humans always struggle to the bitter end. I love it. I’ll make sure your wives fight—”
With a flash of golden light, Earthbones appeared in Kyle’s hands, the blade thrusting right through Burke’s chest. The principal’s brown eyes widened in shock. He struggled to speak but the katana had ripped right through his heart.
“Your heart’s not beating,” Kyle croaked. “You only have a few seconds before your brain consumes all your oxygen and you black out. I’m the last face you’ll see.”
Burke gurgled, then his body collapsed forward atop Kyle.
Blackness threatened to overtake Kyle. His blood pumped out of his side and the venom burned through him. At least I protected my wives.
Something changed inside the circle. Zaritha could feel it. A great power had been snuffed out. Burke was dead. The bastard was dead! She wanted to laugh for joy.
But she had her mission to accomplish.
She ripped Aaliyah’s powers away from the witches. The three of them stumbled, breathing heavily as the silver circle vanished.
“Kyle did it,” Christy breathed.
Zaritha gathered her fires. It was time to kill the Djinn and fulfill her true master’s orders. She lashed out with her fist, flames wreathing it. Aaliyah turned to face her and…Zaritha hesitated. Her fist stopped right before it burned through the little houri’s throat.
Why did I hesitate?
“Zaritha!” Christy gasped. “What are you doing?”
“You serve Rashid ibn al-Marid.” Aaliyah eye’s widened. “You were sent to kill me?”
Zaritha didn’t understand why she hesitated. She had dispatched her Sultan’s enemies for two thousand years without mercy, betrayed her own Sheikh for Rashid. But she couldn’t bring herself to kill this little waif. The witches were spreading out. They would beginning to cast binding spells. She had to act.
She seized Aaliyah and pulled them both into the Unseen Realm. If she couldn’t kill the bitch, she would drag her to Rashid and let her Sultan deal with her.
The crow watched its Master die through the window. The crow didn’t care that the man who called himself Burke had perished. The crow didn’t even care that for the first time in almost a thousand years, it was free of the man’s control. The crow ruffled its feathers, flicking off the drops of water that penetrated through the pine trees boughs.
The Goddess seized the crow.
The crow had felt the Goddess’s touch once before, that day in the crows distant memory when it had come across the drowned corpse of the knight on the lonely strand—Alphonse of Toulouse. The Goddess had reversed the knight’s fate and had set the crow to serve him. And now she seized her servant back.
The crow took flight, landing on the window sill of Burke’s office. The glass was enchanted by Burke to allow the crow’s passage and it stepped through, hopping on it’s black-scaled legs. It cawed once, savoring the smell of blood in the air.
But the Goddess wouldn’t let the crow indulge in its hunger.
The crow alighted down on the woman’s body, peering into her sightless eyes. The crow opened its mouth and swallowed the soul escaping her corpse. Its task complete, the crow took flight as a girl cried out in horror and pain, and phased through the window and out into the downpour.
To be continued…
Click here for Chapter 25.
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