Chaos & Kuryo (novel 3) Chapter 18 part 2

Chaos POV

I sprawled on the floor, whining pitiably. It was cold, painful, and would have been humiliating if I didn’t know it was driving everyone else nuts.

All the nuns were lined up for prayer, their head nun reading out passages, and I was just laying there near my alter ego, being loudly miserable.

Finally, when I began to wail, the bible (or whatever book they were reading from) was snapped shut. “Demon! Enough!” barked the head mistress.

I sat up. “Are you going to free me?”


I flopped back down, banging my head onto the floor accidentally. But I didn’t care, letting out a pitiable wail. Hey, I might as well express myself.

My nun glared down at me. “Silence yourself!”

I wailed, rolling so my back was presented to her. “I’m just here to see the Sephira! You don’t need to mistreat me like this!”

“Maybe you would hear the Sephira speaking if you would shut up!” barked the headmistress, whipping a wooden ruler stick out from her skirts. She pointed it dramatically at me. “You-”

Bang! Somewhere, a door was flung open. The nuns gasped. I sat up, spider senses tingling and common sense telling me that something was happening.

Indeed, trouble had just arrived in the shape of a dozen or so guards. They were dressed full medieval style with capes and helmets and swords unsheathed. One guard who hung behind the others (in a red cape instead of the pale orange the others wore) called out. “Fiends! Worshippers of the gods! We have found you at long last! DIE!”

Well, if there was ever a ‘bad guy’ speech, that was it. But this was no coincidence! I lunged to my feet and jumped over the pews. I was damned if I was failing this test. It felt as obvious as if a videogame banner had appeared in the corner of my screen labeled ‘save the nuns’.

“Hey, idiots!” I shouted out, bursting up a glittering green magic shield around myself. Hello? Glowing green target? I couldn’t possibly make myself more obvious. With a flick of the wrists, my swords appeared in my wrists. “I’m here!”

The knights all drew to a halt. I darted around the pews, placing myself effectively between the two parties. Yeah, go me. Hero mode or what?

The red cloaked knight in the back marched forward. “What are you waiting for? Get the women! I’ll take care of this one.”

Uh, huh. Yeah, well, how about no? Jumping forward, I slashed down, setting a spell into the ground. It scattered out at my sides, a dark wave of magic that built up like walls on either side of me.

Bitch, they’d HAVE to get through me.

“Magic!” whispered one very daft soldier, as if he’d just cued in then.

I straightened, rolling my shoulders into place and taking my best fighting stance. “Come at me,” I sneered.

The red-cloaked knight stepped before me. “Who are you? How dare you-”

I took a running jump and slammed a foot in his face. There, that settled it! I landed, and swords erupted around me. I spun, slashing and kicking.

With a terrible war cry, a particular nun came barging through the wall I had created. “Demon!” she called out. “Take this!”

What? I spun and was very nearly whacked in the forehead with a thick glass bottle. I caught it, but barely.

“Holy oil!” she called out as I ducked a sword slice and rolled over the floor.

Holy oil? What the – ohhh. Oil!

Back on my feet, I uncorked the bottle with my teeth and, jumping back, tipped the contents back into my mouth.

Ohh, it burnt. But that was beside the point. As the knights rushed at me, I spat it out at them, lighting my swords on fire at the same time.

Fi-yah! Fwoosh! One slice of my blades, and knights were now erupting in screaming flames. It was ridiculously effective. Swish! Slice! I made short work of them, running around stabbing and cutting throats.

With yells and lots of scampering, the last few knights turned and ran straight back out the way they had come in.

Taking a deep breath, I let my magic wall fall down. Turning, I looked over the nuns. All safe. Heyyyy – guess who just won some Sephira points? Yeah?

I looked hopefully at the statue. No magical glimmering or anything. I looked to the head mistress. She was pale, shocked, but was starting to walk towards me.

“You did it!” yelled my alter ego, running up to me. “You saved us!”

I grinned and nodded, but the head mistress was grim. “They will return with more strength now that they know where we are. We must flee.”

“But to where?” cried out another nun. “They have spies everywhere!”

“Hey,” I said. Eyes turned to me. The head mistress nodded to my alter ego.

“Release the demon. It has redeemed itself.”

With a grim nod, my alter ego reached forward and pulled the rosary off my head. I grinned, but felt no different.

“K, thanks,” I said. “But what’s going on around here? Why-” I glanced back at the Sephira statue. “Why are you all being hunted?”

The head mistress drew herself up stiffly. “We are the last god-worshippers. They have been trying to wipe us all out ever since that god-slayer began her campaign three years ago. Since then, there has never been a moment’s respite!”

“Oh,” I said, feeling the next mission being unlocked and popping up in the back of my mind. “There’s a god-killer?”

“Yes!” “Oh yes!” the nuns chorused, nodding in tandem.

I bit my bottom lip. “Okay, I’ll see what I can do,” I said. Then, on second thought. “Where can I find this god-killer?”

There was a pause. “They travel amongst the realms,” said the head mistress. “They do not stay in one place.”\

Uh huh. I looked to the statue of Mary, Queen of Demons. “Alright,” I said. “I’ve got an idea.”

“Just More Chaos”: Chapter Six, Part One

I stood to one side of the hallway, waiting. Not because I wanted to, but because I had been asked to. Charr had stomped into my tiny room and said “He wants to see you,” and had marched out, with her hand attached to my collar. In other words, she hauled my sorry ass all the way into the medic ward, and left me here to wait. Now my neck hurt, and I felt clutzy. It wasn’t FoxFace (she wasn’t a he), but rather Conan who supposedly wanted to see me.

So I crossed my arms and waited. If I hadn’t almost killed the guy I wouldn’t still be here. But – I guess I owed it to him?

Anyways, I was there when Charr walked him out, half supporting him and half trying to murder me with her eyes.

“Hey,” I said, holding up a hand.

He managed to lift a hand, the other arm wrapped around his stomach, which was bandaged. He was wearing jeans, but no shirt. How did he still look good despite looking so sickish? I hated him more.

Charr planted him on the wall beside me, where he leaned on it with a grimace. Then she walked away with a scowl at me.

The minute the door to the stairs closed, Conan turned his attention to me. “So,” he said.

I raised my eyebrows. He continued “We’re doing this. Right here, right now. Why do you hate me?”

“I don’t,” I mumbled unconvincingly.

He shook his head. “There was five other vampires but you attacked me. Why? What have I done to you?”

I looked away, down the hall. Then I shook my head. “I don’t have to explain to you. First of all, there was three vampires, not five. Second, you were in the way. Happy? I’m done.” and I picked myself off the wall and began walkign away.

A hand on my shoulder – but I shrugged it off and kept going without looking back.

“Hey!” he called after me.

But that was it. I didn’t owe him anything else. Nope, no, his so-good-looking ass could manage fine without me.

I had a hand on the stairwell’s door when he grabbed me with his powers. It was like a giant vice over my entire body. Slowly, I began sliding backwards.

“You asshole!” I shouted, whirling around. He had one hand lifted and a smug look on his face. I stomped over to him, lifting a fist to his face. “Want me to try again?” I yelled.

He was nonplussed. As always. Where did he get that nerve from? Especially for someone who couldn’t fight! “You don’t like me,” he said. “But why?”

I shook my hands over his shoulders, resisting rattling him but that might hurt his stitches. “I don’t like you!” I said stupidly, but that was all I could manage that would make sense.

“Keep going,” he said too calmly. I wanted to punch him. Just to get a rise out of him.

“You’re so friggin’ irritating!” I snapped, shaking my hands in the air beside my shoulders, feeling ready to snap. “Just stay out of my face!”

That smug look turned smugger. “You like me,” he said nastily. I realized in a flash that he already knew it, and was just choosing now to wave it around.

So I punched him. So he fell. Big deal.

Uhm, well, I kind of felt guilty as he groaned on the floor. I stepped to his side and crouched down.

“You’re annoying,” I said half-heartedly.

He looked up at me, propped up on an elbow with the side of his face all red. “You’re such a jerk,” he said.

I snorted. “You’re the one who pulled me on, saying all ‘oh you like me’.” I quoted him in the most annoying pitch I could manage.

“You do,” he said sharply. “I can read it in you.”

I blanked. Oh, shit. “You can read minds?” It was my feeble attempt at changing topic.

“I control energy,” he said with a grimace as he sat up. “So I can read a few general signs. Like,” He brushed his hair from his face. “You like me. A lot.”

I looked away with a huff. “Alright. Now you’re just begging to be punched,” I said but there was no (hah!) punch to it.

His hand gripped my shoulder. “Help me up.”

I scowled at him. He looked back, unflinching. Rolling my eyes and cursing under my breath, I did actually help him up. He hissed, held his stomach, but got up.

“You know, you almost cut me in half,” he said.

“Still not sorry,” I said snarkily. “You talk too much.”

He laughed. His hand stayed on my shoulder. I looked at him. “You’ve got a girlfriend,” I said, not exactly un-jealous but certainly not, well, I was upset.

“We’re open,” he said in the way people do when they’re trying not to laugh at you. I gawked at him. He chuckled and patted me on the shoulder. Then he began making his way down the hallway, a hand on the wall.

I was rooted to the spot, brain trying to digest that. If he and her- did that mean -? I whirled around. “Hey!” I shouted at his retreating back. “What do want? I mean – what’s your point? Why did you?”

He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. “Don’t I talk too much?”

I cursed and stalked over to him. He smirked at me. I reached to rattle him, but stopped myself at the last moment. I pocketed my hands. “Why are you messing with me?” I snapped, putting on my best glare.

“I’m not,” he said. “But you’re the one throwing a tantrum.”

I rolled my eyes so hard it hurt. “Get over yourself,” I muttered.

“Or you could do that,” he said cheekily.

I flushed, angry and embarrassed all at the same time. “Okay, you – what do you want? You want to get me mad? Fine! I’m mad!”

“I actually didn’t want you mad; but that’s like, your default setting?”

I snorted and looked aside. Yeah, I was always upset these days. So what? Life wasn’t a cakewalk.

He patted me on the shoulder. I scowled at him. “Be less of a jerk,” he said sweetly. “And then maybe we can date. Okay?”

My jaw fell. He looked ready to laugh at me again. I fled, turning and darting away as fast as I could walk without running.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Four, Part Two

Wherein Chaos Regrets with the capital ‘R’ and Conan/Kuryo tries to literally shake sense into him. Hah! It all goes so well (muahahaha). And cue the entrance of (dun dun dunnn)-> the cat!


The tea sat between my hands, burning hot. I barely felt it. I felt numb. My mind was whirling in circles yet I barely knew what I was thinking.

On one side, I knew very clearly that my father must have collected the souls by now. He’d know I’d killed them. But would he know I’d enjoyed it?

On the other sides, my mind was just screaming, point-blank. It made no sense. I felt panic, dread, and sick all at the same time as being inconsolably numb.

One by one the vampires were trickling away. Bella sat nearby, primly sipping her tea and smugly being smug. Conan was perched on one foot and leaning against a nearby wall, arms crossed. His eyes wouldn’t leave me. I knew why. I’d just murdered people.

Okay, hell, we can argue about whether all incarnations are as valid and bla bla bla. It’s basically the same. A soul is a soul is a soul. So yeah, I’d murdered a person.

I had the urge to vomit. One look to the side and all I could think of was that Bella would be most displeased if I puked on her carpet. She caught me eye and her smile turned so pleased, so content. I looked back at my tea. What did she want?

“Hey,” Conan was at my side, hands in his jacket pockets. He nudged my foot with a toe. “Let’s talk. Outside-”

“Why?” asked Bella so sweetly yet poisonously. “Are you avoiding me?”

Conan glared at her. I shook my head, trying to defuse the situation. “I don’t want to talk with you.”

Conan looked down at me. “Let’s talk,” he repeated.

“What, are you two in love?” Bella jeered. “Sneaking away like that-”

I was up on my feet and wasn’t sure what I’d been planning. I just was now, like I’d blacked out for a second. Trying to pull it together, I scowled at Conan. He raised his eyebrows in a silent ‘what?’.

I shook myself mentally. “I’m going to get some air.”

I shoved past Conan, wanting to throw him (and his nice face) into a garbage or something. I just wanted to be alone. In a blur I shrugged into my coat and pulled the door open with only half the coat on. I’d even forgotten to put my boots on.

And then I looked down.

“Miaouw,” said the cutest black cat I’d ever seen.

I gaped. It was small, long-haired, and pitch black with these gorgeous green eyes. It was sitting as if it had been waiting, but now that I’d opened the door it rose up, tail held high. With another pointed miaouw, it walked past me and into the house.

“A cat?” asked Bella, horrified. “A black cat?”

Fear and terror pulsed through me. Poor thing! Poor, innocent- I couldn’t let Bella hurt it. Not something so innocent.

I shut the door and whirled to see the cat marching, tail crooked up, straight towards Bella. Beside my empty chair, Conan was staring.

“A cat?” Bella repeated. “I haven’t seen one of those since the werewolves arrived!” Her eyes met mine and she asked “What’s it doing here?”

As if I should know. I gaped, mind racing. I didn’t want her to hurt it! I just – no more blood today, please!

In my useless silence, Conan spoke. “It must be an omen! A- a sign!”

Bella scoffed. “From who?” and she rose to her feet, setting down her cocoa. The cat looped around her ankles, eyes glowing up to Bella.

“It likes you,” said Conan, shell-shocked.

“Lucifer!” I spluttered. “It must be a gift!” God of witches? Black cats maybe? I was inventing, but I just didn’t want that cat killed. Please!

“Oh?” Bella looked down at the cat, her smile curious. “Come here, you.” and she stooped, scooping the cat up in her arms.

I held my breath, knowing from experience that picking up random cats usually ended badly. But not this time.

As if to add even more absurdity of the situation, the cat began purring and nuzzled Bella’s chin. Bella laughed. “Oh it’s adorable!” she cooed. Squeezing the cat to her chest she crooned. “I’m going to keep her.”

I relaxed. So did Conan. Our eyes met, then quickly parted before Bella could notice. “Good, good- choice,” said Conan.

“Oh shut up,” said Bella harshly. With a jerk of the head towards the kitchen she said “Get it some food.” To the cat she said “Mistress fuzzles must be starving. Isn’t that right?”

“Miaouw!” the cat seemed to agree with her. Bella crooned and cuddled it under her chin.

As if jerking free from some spell, Conan made for the kitchen. An idea kicked into my head. “I’ll help you,” I blurted, following after him.

We made it into the kitchen, where we were finally alone. I cornered Conan. “What’s that thing doing here?”

“I don’t know!” he hissed back, wide-eyed. Then, despite being the one in a corner, he flipped the tables by taking my shoulders and shaking me gently. “But you need to smarten up. You hear me? Don’t let her get to you like that-”

“I can hear you,” called out Bella in a sing-song voice from just beyond the kitchen’s entrance. One heartbeat later and she was in the entrance, smugly cradling the cat in her arms. The cat’s eyes seemed to glow.

Conan straightened. “You’re fucking with him!” he yelled at her. To me he said “She’s turning you into-” and he searched for a word.

“Oh, a monster? Am I corrupting poor, neutral, Chaos?” Bella faked a pout but her smirk crawled out. “Chaos, do you have any comments to that?”

“She’s turning you into something you’re not!” Conan snapped at me. He shook my shoulders again, his fingers digging into me tightly. “Did you really want to kill those people? Would you have done that without her around? I don’t think so!”

“Tsk, tsk,” Bella clucked as she stepped to my side. “A couple’s fight. Are you jealous maybe?” And she rested a shoulder against mine, eyes glued to Conan. As if it was her and me against him.

He tried to rattle me again but I smacked his hands off. “Enough!” I snapped. Then, simply because I didn’t know what else to say, I said to him “You’re not making any sense.”

Conan gave me the look people get when their bullshit detector goes off. Bella cackled. “Chaos,” she murmured, bumping her shoulder against mine. “It looks like your slave is acting out.” With relish she added “You should punish him.”

Conan and I blanched. I felt ready to shake all over – if I wasn’t already doing that. I felt sick. “Uh,” I managed.

Conan turned, grabbed a can of tuna out of the cupboard, and slammed it onto the counter. “I was just giving him advice.”

“Her,” drawled Bella. “It’s a she.”

Conan looked me up and down. “Looks like a he.”

Well that’s because, you know, gender fluid?

“She,” said Bella sharply. “I should know.”

“Really?” Conan asked me with piercing eyes. I looked away.

“Really,” Bella answered. I nodded, not daring to say anything else.

“Just More Chaos”; Chapter Four, Part One

The next morning I woke to someone shaking my shoulders. I jolted, but it was Conan. Conan with a very dark look on his face. At my side, Bella was fast asleep and not noticing a thing.

Conan jerked his head. “Get up,” he whispered.

I did. And I put a shirt on. Always good. Then, when they were shoved at me, my boots as well. Conan was already dressed to go outside, jacket and all. I copied him, wondering what was going on.

He held the door open and we slipped outside, Bella still asleep in the bed. I felt guilty – but reasoned with myself that we weren’t doing anything wrong. Yet.

Besides, I told myself, I was his boss. If something went wrong, I could stop him, which uh, meant that I’d be held responsible…

That thought struck me as we stepped out of the staircase into the living room. There, to my surprise, was a whole herd, flock, murder, whatever you call a group of vampires. They didn’t seem to have slept one bit.

And they didn’t say anythign either. They just stared at us. Conan marched past them without a word and made for outside. I followed, trying to act as if it was my idea and I wasn’t following my… slave? Charge? Whatever.

Outside, it was cold. Not ‘ho ho ho, merry whatever’ kind of cold. No, this was january weather. It stuck inside your nostrils and made the lungs squeeze tight. Fucking freezing.

“So what?” I snapped as I hugged myself against the cold. My words misted out between us.

Conan stepped pointedly away from the door. “I wanted to talk to you. Alone.”

I scowled. Not at all fishy.

Conan let out a breath, looking out across the cityscape. There wasn’t much to see. The snow was turning grey, the sky was grey, the buildings were grey. Ech.

“Help me escape,” conan said bluntly. “I can guarantee that whatever you want here, you’re not going to find it. Plus, I’ll pull whatever strings I can to help you with your goals. And I have some good friends.”

“I’m the Grim Reaper’s child,” I bragged. “I don’t need strings pulled for me.”

Conan looked at me, and I realized that there was no Grim Reaper in his dimension. That much was obvious from how little he cared (I hoped). That and – I was in for a speech.

“Lookit,” he started, but I cut it short.

“No,” I snapped loudly. “You listen. Shut up and do what she tells you. You’re lucky Bella chose you. So stop being an idiot-”

“Lucky?” he hissed. “You don’t mean that! You’re just jealous. Come on, you’re not an idiot. You-”

On one hand, I meant to smack him. On the other hand… I did smack him.

Maybe I really am jealous, I thought as he staggered back, clutching at his cheek. Also, he had no reflexes. Was he even a fighter?

“Mind your own business,” I hissed as he straightened, scowling at me. “And stay away from Bella.”

He looked like he had another smart comment but he held his silence now. I stepped to the door, pulled it open, and nodded at him to get inside. He did, and if looks could kill I’d be dead. Pity, but I didn’t care.

We marched back inside – and Bella was there, sitting with her adoring vampires. “Had fun?” She asked coyly over a cup of tea.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I shrugged out of my coat, hooked it up, and padded to her side. “Good morning,” I said at her side, unsure of what to do. All eyes were on me except for hers. It made me feel both heavy yet craving. I wanted her to look at me.

“The team from yesterday is waiting for their punishment,” she announced. Her eyes flicked up, then turned to me. She was smiling cruelly. “You should do it.”

I was happy – then I hit that brick wall. “Uh?” I said dumbly.

Bella’s smile was twisting like she was trying so hard not to laugh. “As my second in command, you should. They shouldn’t have let me get wounded. They need to be punished. And you’re going to do it.”

I felt like this was meaningful, very meaningful. A sort of threshold was being pushed towards me. I wasn’t sure I understood it.

Bella smiled at me expectantly. Was I supposed to say something? I hummed, then nodded. “Okay,” I said quietly.

Was it the wrong thing to say? The whole room was glaring at me. The vampires seemed – to be remembering the time they almost ate me? But Bella had this light to her eyes. She was very happy.

“They will be here soon,” one vampire intoned as Bella smugly sipped her tea.

“Okay,” I said lamely.

Silence settled. The vampires sipped what I guess was warm mugs of blood, and Bella her tea. After a moment Bella looked towards the door, where Conan was lurking with crossed arms and a scowl.

“You’ll catch a cold staying there,” she drawled.

Conan didn’t answer. Instead he leaned against the doorframe and seemed to plant himself there. Bella smirked and returned to her tea.

Time ticked by. I wished for my own cup of hot something, but no one offered to get me one and I wasn’t sure about brewing one myself. So I just stood miserably by Bella’s side.

A whole five minutes of agonizing silence later, the door swung open. Being vampires (who liked to be all ‘I am a creature of the night’ and sneak around) we didn’t hear them arrive.

There were two groups. One huddled miserably in the middle, being escorted by the second group. I felt a pang of pity for them.

Really, I almost argued on their behalf. Charr had been fast! Smart! She- But then I caught Bella’s eye. She was furious. Yep, these guys were getting punished.

Bella tapped me on the arm and motioned me to bend closer to her. I did, and she whispered in my ear. I felt her hot breath tickling my skin, but heard no words. Instead, I felt a strange almost-emptiness within myself. It was like a phantom pain, there but not tangible.

“There you go,” and Bella patted me on the arm. She was pleased. “Now,” she nodded to the group that was hanging their heads in misery. “Do it.”

Oh. I wasn’t supposed to lay a finger on them. I was supposed to use the words. Uh, okay.

Pushing aside my wonders at why Bella was doing this, I tried to focus. TO repeat those words.

Instantly, there was a shudder in the room. Vampires lurched, holding their stomachs. Others grimaced.

I repeated what I thought the words were, focusing and repeating and repeating harder and harder –

Bella’s hands slid over my shoulders, startling me out of my focus. She was now standing by my side. The vampires, all of them, were sweating and looking puky. Also very angry. Oh, so angry.

Bella whispered to me. “Focus, Chaos,” and her words sent a shiver up my spine. “Send it to only the ones who deserve it. Just them.”

She placed a hand over my heart. I felt her work through me, sending my powers out at just the one group. The words began to flow from me.

And then, like I was plunged under water, I was in the hive mind. Yet this time, it was like a web and I the spider. I could pluck strings, send messages, and shake what I wanted. Better yet, like phantom limbs, I felt the results in the vampires I was touching. I felt their agonizing pain at the punishment. I felt their insides gnawing at them with regret, revulsion, and all consuming grief.

It was sadistically euphoric. I pushed, shook them harder through the words, and their souls gave way. They were soft like butter, molding to my command and grieving ever more.

It was like I was filling them with darkness, with pain. I loved it, watching their souls weep and squirm feebly, all the power and momentum coming into me.

I felt so powerful. I drank at their pain, wishing more and more onto them.

One by one, they collapsed into their misery. I wrung them until their souls began to break apart in misery, sheer grief and pain cutting them apart.

There was a shriek, a gurgling cry of despair as one shattered. It sent a rush of euphoria through me. I was powerful. I was in command over their very souls! I-

Bella’s touch left my chest but it was a faint sensation. I felt completely engrossed by my high, by this power. I began reaching for other souls to wring, to command. I wanted to flex my power, to feel it even stronger.

I gripped several new souls – then was slapped hard across the face.

I staggered back, mind reeling at the sudden mind-body connection. I bumped into a chair, and my body was numb. Bella was before me though, patting my shoulders.

“Good job, Chaos,” she was crooning. Her fingers caressed my shoulders and seemed to pull me together. “You’ve done well.”

And she stepped aside. Behind her was a circle of terrified vampires. The ones in the middle had collapsed. They lay on the floor, lifeless.

My mind yanked to a halt. Did I- no. no no no. I wasn’t a monster. I wouldn’t have-

“You punished them,” Bella said sweetly. “Very well done, perfect.”

The others were too terrified to say a word against that. My mind reeled, casting around for someone, anyone, to anchor me. Someone to snap me back to reality.

I landed mentally on Conan. Our gazes met, and he reminded me of my father for a split second. He was disapproving. Very, very, disapproving. Also not one bit afraid.

“You should rest,” Bella crooned, smoothing her palms over my shoulders. “Have some breakfast.”

Lickety split, three vampires went to make me food.

Ranger’s Story – Chapter Two Part One

Now in this part, we get to meet Ryo (I think it’s actually supposed to be pronounced with an ‘l’ instead of an ‘r’). No picture today because I’m tired and it’s late. But I will hopefully post a picture of him sooner or later! He’s an old character too. If we were to put everyone in sequence of age, Ranger and Mars would be oldest, followed by Ursula and Allegra then Ryo. Lenda is by far the youngest, being only a few years old, compared to Ranger being a character from my childhood (really! Parts of this story are that old!). As much as Ryo is important, I’m not sure what to say about him. He’s funky, in so many ways Allegra’s opposite, all while sharing the same core elements as her. He’s definitely nowhere on the ‘normal person’ spectrum, being way off on the horizon of weirdos that I love to write about. That being said, no spoilers! One day I would love to write the backstory of Allegra and Ryo, so I don’t want to say too much and give it all away. But ahhhh, I want to say it all!

I really hope you all enjoy this chapter! 🙂


It was the middle of the night when Allegra and her team of cronies rolled down a dusty country road that, seemingly, led straight off a cliff. Not even a warning sign!

Now, really, the lack of a sign was a sign in itself. It showed that this road was not exactly touched by the government’s meddling hyper-organizing touch. It showed that that old picket there? Well if you slowed next to it like Allegra was doing and held your wrist out, a light flashed and it beeped. Then, with a rustle and groan, a slab slid out from the cliff’s edge. It functioned like a very risky elevator, what with there being no walls and all. It always gave Lenda the creeps, being perched above the gaping maw of this cliff with no walls to hold her in.

Without a ding the platform had reached its destination. It was a hole, a cavern in the rock wall that looked like little more than a nook. Ah but it was a hologram!

Very expensive, all this. One might wonder how it came to be? Well here’s the thing. It was a pre-Ursula secret training base for special forces soldiers. Ursula had taken it over for her special force (the ‘Bats) and they, well, gave it a makeover.

It did not appear like much in the hangar where they parked their motorcycles. There, it was merely a hangar. But when they slipped through a door on the side and entered the base de facto, ah, all that grease and iron tang was left behind.

Imagine, if you will, that your esoteric aunt had joined the militia. That was sort of the ‘vibe’ of the place.

For crystals were set in nooks in the wall as energy sources. Military vows lined the walls right next to them. There was an aura of energy and magic to the air that one could sense like a crackle in the veins, amplified by the steel structures.

And yet Allegra was not pleased. The energy was not what it could be, was not at its peak performance. There was dust on the crystals, garbage in the pails.

No one noticed her slight frown of displeasure. For the ‘Bats were largely out of shape intuitively and really, they thought Allegra would be happy at how they survived without her. When Allegra reached the mess hall where the rest of the other fifty some odd ‘Bats were waiting for her, there was nothing but open joy in the air. They didn’t notice that her smile seemed strained, that she seemed largely annoyed at the fuss they were throwing about her return. She kept casting her eyes around, searching for someone who she knew wasn’t there. She, with her heightened senses (more on this later) could smell that he wasn’t in the room.

After an obligatory hour and a half of presence, Allegra excused herself. She was tired and, clapping Alex on the shoulder, announced that tomorrow was going to be a big day! Those near her cheered, thinking that she would be so pleased to know all that they had done!

And so Allegra slipped away, heading in the direction of the rooms for officers. And yet when she was sure no one was following her, she took the elevator and pressed the button for the lowest level.

The lowest level was the safest in case of an invasion, being quietly tucked away. It also had the swiftest evacuation maneouvers to do, what with a flight of stairs leading straight out into a hidden network of caves. Because here, in the lowest and most secret level, was the laboratory. It was sealed off from the rest of the base by a set of protective doors. Again, Allegra showed her wrist, and she was allowed through.

Cubicles and computers were shunted to one side. Technology and motorcycle pieces to the other. Laboratory this and that in the middle with air chutes. And, tucked as far away as could be, with a small partition to shelter him from the day-to-day bustle of the laboratory, was Ryo.

He was slim, frail and lithe. His cheekbones jutted and his brown eyes glimmered with sickness. If he were to stand, he would be Allegra’s height. But he was sitting, loosely wrapped in deep green harem pants and a brown-orange prayer shawl. Prayer beads were on his wrist.

Allegra didn’t knock, merely leaning against the partition and crossing her arms. Ryo didn’t look up. He was sitting, a needle in his arm while medication dripped in through a saline solution. A scent of incense surrounded him but to Allegra, it wasn’t enough to cover the stench of medication and sickness.

“That’s more than you used to take,” she said in a low tone.

Ryo nodded, pressing his lips together. He looked up from the corner of his eye. “Anxiety,” was all he said.

Allegra shifted. One step closer, and she reached to stroke his hair. Her fingers caressed down the scar on his cheek, then turned his chin to face her. “I’m back,” she said firmly.

A smile ghosted over his lips. “Yeah,” he said softly. He leaned into her touch, relaxing visibly. She stepped closer, sliding her arms around his shoulders in an embrace.

They stayed like that, embracing for a moment. Allegra rubbed his shoulders and Ryo closed his eyes. “I wanted to ask you something,” he said softly, so quietly others might not have heard it.

A smile curved Allegra’s lips. “Hmm?” she hummed, still holding him close.

He drew back. Took her hands in his. His smile sparkled up at her, but there was fear in his eyes. “Will you marry me?” he asked in that same, quiet, tone.

Allegra’s eyebrows jumped off her forehead. Her dangerous eyes widened. She didn’t say anything.

Ryo flustered. “Please?” he offered.

Allegra was in no mood for ‘please’. “You wanted to become a monk,” she said dryly. “That was the plan.” That some day he would leave her for solitude, peace, and inner growth.

He bowed his head over their hands. She hadn’t let go yet. “I’ve been a monk for three years,” he murmured, caressing her hands in his. “And I’ve missed you so much.”

Allegra’s face softened. Ryo took a deep breath. “I want to marry you,” he insisted. “I’ve thought about it, I’ve meditated on it,”

Allegra’s eyebrows were now amused. When Ryo said he meditated on something, that meant it was serious.

“And I-I,” he faltered, looking up at her again. “Won’t you say something?”

Allegra turned wry. She was sorely tempted to give Ryo back one of his speeches on the virtues of monastic life and its importance in one’s life cycles. But she was better than that. “Yes,” she said pointedly. “I’ll marry you, my monk.”

Ryo’s face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes,” Allegra nodded sternly. “But no more talk about leaving me again.”

Ryo grinned, ducking his head. “Yes,” he said.

“Good,” Allegra tugged on his hands. “Get up. Someone’s going to be coming along.” She nodded at his arm. The medication had run its path. “Needle out first,” she ordered.

The needle came out. She helped him to his feet, looping one of his arms around her shoulder as if to half carry him.

But first, a kiss. A happy, passionate, kiss.

Then, Ryo wobbling and Allegra smiling, they made their way to her bedroom. There, they locked the world out. And we shall leave them there.

Meet Lenda & Mars ~ Ranger (Chapter One, Part Two)

Hey peoples! You may have noticed that yesterday I said Allegra ties in for second place with a character named Mars… well you get to meet him today! But first -> Lenda.

Sweet, adorable, and Naive with the uppercase ‘N’ Lenda. Lenda is fun, and, as my wife puts it, probably the most ‘normal’ of all the characters in Ranger’s story.  Normal as in, she thinks along healthy thought-patterns and isn’t basically warped in some way. However, Lenda is a major character in the story. One of the (oh, say) about dozen times I tried re-writing Ranger’s story, I had split it into five major POV’s to switch between, and Lenda was one of those major POV’s. She’s a MASSIVELY important character, as much as Ranger and Allegra and Mars and basically anyone else. She’s not so much important in what she does, as much as that she’s there. Ooo, mysterious? That’s as much as I can tell you without it being spoilers!

Now Mars. He’s a character I love (vying for second place with Allegra, you will recall), particularly because he’s complex and fun in his evil-ness. It can be argued that Ranger’s story is essentially a story about a bunch of bad guys (the ‘Bats were originally villains in my first draft/version, and they very much still aren’t the real heroes). If this is the case, and we were to rank everyone by their evil index, Mars would probably be the direct runner-up for main villain status. He’s certainly not THE main villain, but he’s giving it a good running for. That being said, whereas I want to give Allegra everything she wants, Mars doesn’t have that pleasure. I like to make this guy suffer. You’ll hopefully see what I mean during the story. Oh, and for all of you wondering why I gave a thin guy the name of the god of war… the mythical Roman Mars could sometimes be represented as a young man. So that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Now on with the story!


But we shall now leave those unfortunates. We travel with Allegra, across space and through the channels of the sacred to reappear at an abandoned shrine to Ursula.

The shrine was shambled, red, and keeling to the left. Weeds overgrew hedges and the broken driveway was filled with bad-ass motorcycles. After all, Allegra was expected.

There was exactly five people and five motorcycles – someone was riding double home. But who were these five people, impatiently standing around and keeping an eye on the dusty road for signs of police?

Well, first and foremost was Alex. The Alex. Allegra’s right hand, she was dark of skin, Allegra’s senior by several years, and had long box braids that swung to her hips. She had a black trenchcoat and my, looked so serious.

Next in the heirarchy was Mel. She was hard to take seriously at first, what with her platinum blonde hair, false lashes, and large lips. But once she’s punched you a few times you’ll learn to show some respect. Also, don’t make fun of her crush on Allegra. Everyone knows about it.

Next is Zack, Mel’s hopeless boyfriend who knows he’ll never be good enough to replace Allegra, no matter what punk color he dies his hair. Today it looks rather like a blue skunk.

Then there was Elfernon, an angel-faced blondie who seemed rather forgettable.

And finally, not quite forgettable and definitely the lowest in the heirarchy, was Lenda. Ah, sweet Lenda. Trying so desperately to fit in with her leather jacket and sides of her head already shaved – just waiting for that branding tattoo! She’d joined the ‘Bats two years ago, meaning she’d never actually met Allegra before. Today was her initiation into the personality cult of Allegra.

I’m just kidding. She was already a huge fan of Allegra’s general charisma, having been carefully preened by the other ‘Bats.

And so there you have it, the five of them are just standing around, nervous and twitchy. A rustle of grass, and none of them lift their heads. Allegra steps out from behind the shrine. Now she is dressed in her own clothes, jeans and leather jacket. She smirks at her luckless followers. They were out of shape, she notices.

Not physically, no. But a ‘Bat’s magical senses are supposed to be so highly attuned so as to know whenever a change in the atmosphere happens. And none of these unfortunates noticed Allegra’s appearance behind the shed, or even heard her step out.

Oh but- Lenda looks up. “Eh!” she cries out, happily seeing Allegra in the real.

All heads turn. Cries go up, sighs of relief are heard. Allegra steps forward, holding out a hand to Alex.

Alex knows better than to think this is for a hug.

“Sunglasses,” Allegra says. She is not the hugging type.

Alex whips the quasi-sacred sunglasses from their case in her breastpocket. Allegra puts them on. They, being rather large aviator sunglasses, perfectly hide the scars on her face. She smirks, looking over her rag-tag team.

So many years of being cooped up may have turned her a little bat (hah!) crazy. Because she doesn’t speak at all. She just smirks, seeing the potential in the moment. Seeing the power, the skill, and the improvement necessary to be prepared for Ursula’s grand return.

“Let’s go,” she says dryly.

And off they went.

Now I shan’t bore you with the who what when where how and why of the driving. The roads were dusty and long, the wind freeing and the sun setting. Bladibla.

Instead, let’s follow an invisible current, a powerful line of horror and thrill that was running through the nation! Or specifically, through the nation’s most powerful decision makers.

Following this thread, we land in Mars Bacorago’s office.

Ah, what an office. Strict, spartan, organized. Being housed in Bellerable’s tallest skyscraper, it has a view of the entire city through a glass wall. A fairytale view that is most splendid.

Mars was not looking at the view right then. He had his back to it and was watching his phone ring on his desk while pouring himself a cup of tea. The teapot was a frilly antique and so was the cup. The tea was cold.

Counting the rings, Mars set down the tea pot and took up the cup. On the second to last ring, that was when he picked up.

Ah, Mars. What would he do without power and a way to abuse it? Probably go mad. But let us continue.

He puts the phone to his ear, not bothering to answer more than a humm. Everyone who calls him has learned to deal with this.

But apparently not the president himself. He, a wiry and balding old man full of vitriol and rage, avoids calling Mars as much as possible. But this was a call he intended to do by himself.

“Are you there?” barks the president.

Mars’ lips twist into a wry smile. He sips his tea next to the phone’s receiver. Then, he speaks. “Well of course I am,” he says in that cold, heartless, and eternally poised voice of his.

Mars was always like that. From the jet black liner around his eyes to the cut of his clothes, everything was graceful and pristine. Let me give you a picture.

He has dark reddish brown hair that falls into his eyes, brilliant green eyes that seem to shine. A skin that is one hue too dark to be of the southern invaders’, but not dark enough to be from the islands. His cheekbones are high and his eyes are slightly tilted, but with the makeup so expertly applied no one is ever sure what lineage he bears from.

Of average height, Mars is slim for a man and perhaps a tad on the short end, but not noticeably so. Really, set him in a crowd and he would blend in, if not for the dark lines around his eyes and his wardrobe. Because that wardrobe!

It starts with pants that fit just right. A shirt that appears casual, but also fits far too well to be of casual pricing. And above it all, nearly impervious to weather, is a coat of sorts. It may be light, woolen, or whatever but it is always a shade of greyish blue. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, greyish red. It is almost always ankle length like a dress and styled just so.

Many people have wondered where Mars gets his coats. Are they tailor-made on demand by some secret designer?

I know the answer to that! The secret is this: Mars has only one coat, and he makes it himself.

Oh, trust me, it makes sense! You see, every magician has an object that they imbue with power, an object that acts as a storehouse that they can shift their soul into or out of for protection. Mars’ was his coat – rather large for a magician’s object but very well disguised. On the hottest of days he could turn it into a shirt, on the coldest it would be his winter coat. But always, always, enveloping and protecting him.

And so the fashion question is solved. The coat is pure magic, shifting with his whim and will of the day’s look. Let us return to the conversation at hand. The president was raging, furious, and embarrassed. And we all know what arrogant people do when they are humiliated. They lash out.

Mars held the phone away from his ear as the president yelled that this was a catastrophe! A disaster! Why, this was certainly the doing of those pesky rebels. Those Bellerabliens! “You must declare a state of emergency! She most certainly is headed there!”

Mars set the phone back to his ear. “Oh, sorry, what was that you said?” he said, completely indifferent. The president squawked, perhaps about to have a coronary.

“I think you said that you lost, on federal grounds, your most wanted criminal. What a federal problem,” he hummed. “Can’t see what this has to do with me. I’m just provincial.”

“She is headed for Bellerable!”

Mars’ smirk took on cruel proportions. “But unless she magicks her way across the country, she must still be in Winstonia. Put them on emergency call. I’ll be on high alert.”

Which, by the way, was a Bellerablien’s version of trying to give a damn when none was really there to give. Having been the heart-center of Ursula’s rebellion, Bellerabliens were used to war and damage. They really had little cares to give for one pesky criminal.

The president breathed like a walrus. Mars sipped his tea.

And then something very peculiar happened. Mars coolly exhaled, his breath misting cold like winter into the phone. The president inhaled. The president paused, realizing that it was very stupid to argue with Mars. He realized that, indeed, Allegra must be in Wistonia. No reason to extend federal jurisdiction and force Bellerable into emergency status.

The president exhaled loudly, feeling more relaxed than he should have been. “Be on high alert. I want roadblocks and investigations happening.”

Mars raised his eyebrows. Roadblocks and, eh, ‘investigations’. Well, sure. He could blow some money on ‘investigating’ cold cases.

“As you wish,” he fairly purred to the phone, his voice misting so slightly.

The president nodded, puffing up on his end. He felt powerful, downright macho for having ‘stuck it’ to Mars, that little pipsqueak. Hah! He was the one in charge!

Mars smirked as he sipped his tea. The president curtly babbled off some minor rules, reminded Mars of some regulations, and hung up.

Mars set the phone and his teacup down on his desk without making a sound. One look to the window, and it was sunset. For those who followed the old ways, that meant it was time to pray so that the Void’s darkness would not engulf the world.

And so Mars knelt before his window, facing the setting sun. Prayer is quite a private affair, especially for a magician. So we shall leave him to that, won’t we? Let us hop back on over to Allegra’s part of the world.

“Just More Chaos/My Name is Chaos 2”; Chapter Three, Part One

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do. We go to Bella. Get Kuryo. Then, we use your sigil to get out of here to the military. Sounds good?”

Wow, she was efficient. I nodded. I could already hear the moan of skidoos in the distance. By the frail vibe I was getting from it, I believed them to, indeed, be vampires. Hopefully Bella wasn’t with them. Hopefully she was. I wasn’t sure what I wanted anymore.

“How do we free your boyfriend?” Who’s probably sleeping with Bella, I added silently. It made me grit my teeth and want to kick something.

Charr swung her arms around in a warm-up routine. “How is she holding him?”

“She uh, has this power,” I ventured. “She sort of-” I waved my fingers at my head. “Controls the pleasure sensors in your head? And she sucks you into a hive mind. So, she knows your every thought.”

“O-kay,” Charr didn’t sound convinced.

“I was freed by fox-a witch in the military. They took my collar off and somehow broke the bond.”

“Collar?” she asked.

“You’ll see,” I muttered, embarassed. The skidoos were approaching, anyways. Time to get ready.

I drew my dice and tossed it into the air. Fifteen. I scowled. It wasn’t a clear result, but I had a good chance at defeat- er, saving their souls? I frowned. Now that I was no longer in Buddha – mode, I wasn’t sure what to make of this dice.

Too late, the vampires were here.

They drew up about a dozen feet from us. Four vampires stepped off the two skidoos, mean looking as could be in parkas and helmets. Which means, they looked like angry teddy bears with guns.

“Chaos,” said one vampire, who seemed to be the leader in charge. “What are you doing here? Again?”

“We’re here for Kuryo!” announced Charr, still swinging her arms around herself to keep warm. “Take us to him!”

I nodded and pointed at Charr. “What she said. And I’d like to see Bella. So don’t shoot-”

They lifted their guns in one smooth motion. Whirr! I winced, but all their bolts flew beside me. Charr swung her arms up → and a frickin’ shield popped out of her! A grey, stone, shield that covered her entire body. What the -?

I gawked as she shook her arms and the shield disappeared, feathered bolts dropping down into the snow.

The vampires gawked for one second too long. Charr charged, bolting for them way faster than seemed humanly possibly in this deep of snow.

Wham! She kicked the head vampire across the head. Punched another in the gut! Grabbed a gun and smacked the third and fourth across the heads. Then, as the second tried to straighten, she bashed him on the head.

I felt the urge to applaud as she turned to me. Obviously I didn’t.

“Well done,” I said, trying to sound unaffected as I strolled over. The truth was – I’d seen angels and big beefy demons do way worse. And that shield – what the hell was that? Magic?

Charr didn’t seem to care for my approval, which kind of miffed me. Instead she bent over to rifle through one unconscious vampire. At first I wondered what for. But when she yanked off a coat, I got the drift.

Dressed in the vampire’s coats and matching helmets, we were probably way less recognizable, at least at quick glance. Plus, hey, it was way warmer. Bonus points for that.

Well, we got as far as getting onto the skidoos before trouble arrived, in the shape of more skidoos.

“Fuck,” I muttered.

Charr merely removed her helmet, leaving the cursing to me. “I’m here for Kuryo!” she demanded.

“Take us to Bella,” I added, holding my hands up as if defenseless.

“I’m right here,” said a cold voice, followed by a twittering laugh. My skin crawled and I was both relieved and terrified to recognize Bella (behind the other vampires) pulling her helmet off.

“Where’s Kuryo?” demanded Charr.

“You mean Conan? I’ve renamed him, and he’s right here,” she said snarkily, patting the shoulder of another helmeted person. They removed their helmet too, and indeed it was the blue haired dude.

I scowled, chewing my lip. He was handsome. He was wearing my collar, with Bella’s blood in it. She had even renamed him!

Jealousy crawled over me like bugs. I wanted to both scratch my skin off in frustration and gouge his damned eyes out. What the hell, Bella?! She couldn’t just grab any good-looking person and replace me! That wasn’t how this worked – or was it?

Charr shouted something out – in some sort of language. Conan answered in it, obviously annoyed.

“What?” Bella looked from Conan to Charr. “What are you saying?”

Vampire heads swivelled, but Conan and Charr kept talking, as if the rest of us were just dog poop. But that included Bella, and that didn’t fly.

Anger wafted off of Bella and Conan suddenly doubled over, gripping his chest. “I said, stop that!” Bella barked.

It dinged in my head that she hadn’t been able to understand them. Was the key to getting around her mental chains to simply think in a language she didn’t understand?

As if in answer, Conan straightened with a grimace. His hands were still gripped around himself but his posture was strong, confident. I was still jealous. But the look Bella gave him – they didn’t have the same relationship we used to. No, Bella looked so mad at him…

“Get the girl,” snapped Bella. Then, to Conan, she said sweetly “I’m going to show you something.”

Oh, crap. “Charr-” I tried to warn her, but she was running already. Running in the wrong direction.

Smash! She kicked a vampire in the face. Shield-bashed another in the gut. Then, grabbing a gun from one, she spun and fired several rounds at Bella.

One bullet smacked a vampire in the shoulder. But the rest thudded into Bella, who shrieked as she tumbled a step back, then straight down.

“Bella!” I bolted forward without thinking. I slammed through shoulders, elbowed my way maniacally forward until I was by her side.

At the smell, my mind was flashing full of memories of the last time Bella had been shot – but this time she was still alive.

I helped her sit up, pressing my hands over the wounds. She grimaced, one hand gripping at me and the other staunching the blood flow.

Vampires pressed around us. Cries of dismay were heard, followed by the haphazard hisses for revenge.

Bella’s fingers squeezed painfully onto my shoulder. For a second, she looked only at me. Then, as if remembering where we were, she looked around. “Take me to the center,” she said hoarsely. “We’ll catch the girl later.”

“Dreaming of Lights”; Chapter One, Part Three

I cawed for help. I shrieked. I flapped and flapped and wiggled my butt in the hopes of getting those feathers to do their job. Ingloriously, it made me think of pilates. Clench the buttcheeks! Wave the arms! Automatically, my legs paddled the air as well, and I must have looked like an idiot trying to run through the air.
Careening through the air, climbing up with no hopes of getting down, I found myself looping towards a tower.
Now, I want to take a minute to say that this tower wasn’t painted in brilliant orange with ‘forbidden tower’ scrawled over it. It just – no one went there is all.
It also just so happened to have a gridded balcony, sort of like a safety ramp, all around the top. I aimed for that, figuring I could sit up here until I got help.
With a zoom I careened towards the tower. A side draft of wind nearly bashed me into the tower, and I didn’t so much land as I flew to the floor and stuck my legs out and began to walk. Skittering to a stop, I slammed sideways against the tower’s wall.
Okay, I told myself. Okay. Ouch.
The wind whipped at me and I suddenly seemed to realize just how far I’d climbed. High, in short. Nauseatingly high. And this balcony? Not quite a balcony. More like a thin walkway that you could see through. Very thin.
I mean, it certainly was, what, five crows wide, but to me right then it was like a tightrope. I squished myself up against the wall and felt my heart pound in my throat.
Then I heard laughter. “Very well!” a man cheered.
I nearly jumped out of my skin. Whoa? Someone was here? Where? I looked all around before I realized that the voices were coming from within the building.
Help! I thought. Someone help me!
Feeling like every step was a gargantuan task, I began creeping forward, digging my fingers/claws in through the holes of the grid. Looking up, I crept my way around the corner. There, I poked my head around and up – and saw in through a large window.
Inside, from my bizarrely low angle, I saw Mister Murney and several other men I didn’t recognize. They looked like parents. Filthy rich too. They were pale like glass, wearing crisp white clothes like you saw in the magazines, and were lounging on a sofa. They were all in a sloppy ring, and at the center was someone, who was bowing to each person in turn.

Thank you for summoning me,” the person said in a feminine voice. As they straightened, shudders slid down my spine and all my feathers poked up.
The woman had slick black hair that fell into her face. Her eyes were a brilliant orange. Her features were strange. I couldn’t place her lineage by sight, which was strange. For though she had pale skin paler than I had ever seen, her features weren’t wealthy. There was something familiar to her, like she could have come from my own family. Her suit was an impeccable black and tailored to flatter her in every aspect, but it shimmered and sparkled with sequins like an evening dress. Oh, and she was wearing a little black bowtie.

We expect you to do exactly as we say,” one blonde man was saying.
The woman laughed, a strange and high-pitched cackle. She flipped a hand up and rolled her eyes to the sky. “Of cou-urse!” she laughed. “I just can’t tell you all how excited I am to be here! It’s an opportunity I’ve been waiting for-“
The men interrupted her. Typical. “We have arranged everything. You will be set to work straightaways. And,” this man, whom I could not see, added emphasis to his words. “We expect results.”
Again, that twittering laugh. She planted a hand on her hip and swung a hip out, looking down to her left at where the man must have been seated. “Don’t worry about that! I am the ah, result-maker?” She laughed at her own bad pun.
The men were not amused. Sure, they were smiling, but it was as if they weren’t seeing her. They were seeing beyond, imagining the results they so spoke of.

So!” the lady clapped her hands together twice and up high with a flourish. “Let’s do this!”
There was scuffles of chairs being scraped back. The woman began, in quiet tones that were still so nasally high-pitched, speaking to one member. I saw her place her hand on his shoulder as they walked away.
A door creaked open, and footsteps led away. I held my breath and counted to four. The business meeting was over – and now I just had to go through the window and follow them. Well! With a flap and a hop I propelled myself up to the window.
I smashed unceremoniously into the glass. Green shimmers marked it as being marked with a barrier. No souls could pass through.
With a flop I landed on the grid-like landing. My mind careened, not just in pain. This room was magically locked? How was anyone supposed to get out in case of an emergency? I thought all buildings, per protocol, had to be magically transparent to allow safe evacuations. Maybe that’s why no one came up to this tower. It wasn’t safe!
Curious and just wanting to get a look at what was surely a forbidden area, I hopped up onto the ledge. Inside, there was a dusty room, a dusty coffee table, and a few leather chairs from a few decades ago. I blinked, not even seeing a file folder or trace of the meeting.
Then, fleetingly, it struck me that this was a strange place to hold a parent-teacher meeting, or whatever kind of meeting it was. In an unsafe room, at the top of an unused tower, and in uncomfortable chairs.
Weird, but I had a bigger predicament facing me.

“Dreaming of Lights”; Chapter One, Part Two

In a catastrophic rush we ran through the building. She didn’t need to pull me anymore but she had a firm grip on me. But I wasn’t going to run away. I was by her side and was going to protect her from the sprites! Somehow, in the chaotic rush of the moment, I thought that I was going to prove that I could take care of her by… whacking sprites over the head? Yeah. Brilliant.

We crashed out the double front doors into the yard. It was full chaos. There was students in all shapes, everywhere, grabbing at sprites and battling them in the most (to my unmagical lens) epic of ways. Sparks were flying! Magic simmered through the air like ribbons!

Aaliyah let go of me, running towards the debris around the trees. “Grab a stick!” she called to me, doing so herself. Then, seeing as I wasn’t getting there fast enough she threw a stick at me, snapped one off a branch for herself, and whirled around to face…everything.

Because the school grounds were huge. The fields sprawled in all directions with preened green slopes, a little stream gurgling down among them, and trimmed trees here and there dotting the landscape. But the battle was all concentrated here, where the sprites were trying to destroy our sacred trees. We were smack in the thick of it.

Get as many as you can!” ordered Aaliyah before sprinting into the chaos. I wanted to yell at her to wait for me- but that would have sounded wimpy. I was brave! Rawwwr!

So I stood there and tried not to quiver with my stupid stick in hand. Damnit! Why?!

As they say, spirits and the bloomed ones that are so inclined can smell fear. Within seconds a sprite was flashing towards me, elemental powers in hand and teeth gnashing.

If you’ve never seen a sprite up close, their sparkling cloud doesn’t hide their shape very well. Beneath it, they sort of look like floating ghosts with evil hands and onion-shaped heads. This one had green lights sparkling around its hands and the nastiest pointy teeth I’d ever seen.

Snack- snack,” it seemed to say, clacking its teeth together as it floated before me.

I gripped my stick with both hands. Think of Aaliyah, I told myself. Think of school. You’re never going anywhere unless you bash this thing’s brains in-

Aaaand, just as I was thinking that, it zoomed in on me. I swung the stick with a yell, a sound that was mercifully drowned away by all the sounds of a battlefield around us. My stick whizzed above the sprite’s head and I lost my balance. The sprite leaped forward. Its fangs buried into my right forearm, its elemental spell sending electric shocks into me.

Okay, now I yelled.

And then something happened.

I felt a change come over me. Something rushed through my system like hot soda bubbling in my veins. I thrashed, the electric sparks suddenly seeming faint.

I’m fucking dying, I remember thinking. Good lords, this was stupid!

As the rush continued I found myself moving – and suddenly came to with my hand closed over the sprite. Both hands.

Beneath my fingers I felt the sprite pulsing. I felt the three parts of its soul throbbing with life. I heard it hissing and scrawling in a language I suddenly understood.

Let me go!” it shrieked in that tiny, hissing, voice. “You’re not one of them! Let me go! What are you? Let me go!”

Shocked, I moved my hands. Tentatively, I pulled on what I felt and the three soul parts began coming apart. The sprite shrieked – and burst one of its own parts. It killed itself.

I gaped as the body went limp in my hands. The two other parts throbbed with life still – and it smelt. It smelt delicious, a strange aroma of death and untimely consumption and decay that called to me like a corrupt song. Suddenly I knew what an addiction must feel like. What it must be like to crave the casinos, the drugs, the things you knew you shouldn’t do.

Because I knew I shouldn’t eat the sprite.

I mean, yes, everyone eats sprites. Their body is a common fall roast that mother could afford about once a year. But I wanted the soul.

Hesitant, I looked around. Maybe I was searching for a reality check. But the world felt woozy. It didn’t seem real. And somehow I just knew that no one was paying me a shred of attention, too busy searching out their own glory strikes.

So I gave in. I was lifting the sprite’s remaining two souls to my lips. Somewhere within me my rational self was wondering what was happening. I mean, can stomachs even digest souls?

But it never reached my lips. Instead, the two sprite souls sort of infused up my arms, dissolving into me, merging up through my skin.

I gasped, dropping the now thoroughly dead body. I wanted to scream as I realized that the souls were now in me. Did I digest them through my hands? Was the sprite now part of me? Did I now have five soul-parts? What was going on?

Completely freaking I fell backwards onto my butt. With a scramble I tried to get away from the inanimate body. Impulsively I wanted to flee.

That must have been the trick because suddenly I was scrambling, launching myself up, up, and flapping into the sky. It was when I was about five to six feet up, pumping my wings/arms like mad that I realized – wait a minute.

I looked down at the chaotic battlefield. I looked downer and saw my legs- now two stubby black bird legs. With a hoarse shriek I realized that I wasn’t me any longer.

With a jolt I realized I’d bloomed. Somehow. With another jolt I realized I was about to fall straight down if I didn’t do something about it.