The Last Draconian 53: Advice on Gaining Strength

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Michael Ryufan

We had been flying in relative silence for some time. I was uncertain as to what I should say. A simple greeting seemed odd under the circumstances. I had no interest in hearing remarks of gratitude or praise. There was no necessity for such things between friends, after all. I had tried to select my words carefully to avoid sounding as though I did, but had elected to remain silent. I would allow her to begin the conversation. I know not whether she was experiencing shock of some kind or was having difficulties deciding what to say as well. She eventually did break the silence, though.

“I was worried about you,” Illyana said. “Are you feeling better?”

“I have recovered to a perfectly functional degree,” I said. “Refrain from shifting your weight too much. Flying with a passenger is no simple matter.”

“Sorry,” Illyana said. “I’m still a bit sore from the cell.”

“I will return you to Wicadia shortly,” I said. “However, I can land if you would like to stretch.”

“It’s fine,” Illyana said. “This feels nice. The breeze is lovely and I feel almost like I’m floating.” I was left wordless. Illyana had always tended towards granting menial activities a bizarre wonderment that was somewhat disconcerting.

“Hey,” she said. “What’s it like for you? Flying, I mean.”

“It is what it is,” I answered. “I flap my wings and I fly. On occasion I use magic to make the winds more favourable and I am capable of moving more swiftly.”

“You make it sound so… unremarkable,” she said. “Most humans would love a chance to fly.”

“Some races lacking the ability does not imbue it with supernatural properties,” I stated.

“And some races having it doesn’t make it any less stunning,” she countered. She waited in silence for a moment. “Did you change your mind about facing Sadow again?”

“The confrontation will certainly happen,” I answered. “I simply heard rumours of your peril and felt your safety was more important.”

“That’s sweet of you,” Illyana said. “I don’t know how quickly Drake would’ve been in getting help.”

I came in for a landing at the outskirts of Wicadia. “Assume a direct path and you should arrive at the city gates within minutes.”

“You aren’t coming along?”

“I am not,” I said. “I must resume my mission.”

“Without a plan?” Illyana asked.

“I do have a plan,” I said.

“You aren’t strong enough!” Illyana declared. “Why do you have to rush this? You’ll just get yourself killed.”

“I am prepared for that eventuality,” I said. “I have trained my entire life. I am as ready as I can be.”

“If that were true you wouldn’t have lost!” Illyana said, she sounded infuriated.

“Excuse me,” an elderly woman approached us. Her back was hunched and she moved with the aid of a stick. Odd, that I had not heard her coming. Illyana seemed surprised to hear her voice as well. Odder still that my appearance had no discernible effect on her. “I don’t know if you want an old woman’s advice, but fighting is about more than training. If you really wanna be ready for a fight, there’s still things you’re missing.”

“What would that be?” I asked.

“Experience boy, experience and companions!” She waved her stick in front of my face. “If you really wanna win, you need to practice with some buddies.”

“I lack the time required for such an endeavour,” I said.

“Nonsense,” she said. “You have a long life ahead of you if you play it right. Besides, you can get all the experience you need quickly, if you go  down to the arena in Orontios. The cage fighters there get quite a few showings, and they have team matches.”

I was about to respond when she turned her gaze directly on me. That was when I noticed her eyes. I had seen them before… No, that was incorrect. Other draconians had seen them. Those piercing grey eyes could only belong to one being. She was allowing me to see through her disguise.

“Who would I fight beside in these team matches?” I inquired.

“Maybe someone beside you,” she said. “Maybe someone’s in the city already looking for a partner. Maybe a bit of  both.” She walked away with inhuman speed. Her laugh echoed behind her.

“There was something strange about her,” Illyana said. “I trust you noticed?”

“She was Athena,” I said.

“The Goddess?” Illyana asked. “Are you sure?”

“I am quite certain,” I said. “It is not easily explained, but my people have encountered her many times and in multiple forms. However, there are always two consistencies. Her eyes and her presence.”

“I felt the presence too,” Illyana said. “I can’t say I noticed the eyes. So, are you going to take her advice?”

“I am,” I answered. “Even though she is not the Goddess I have dedicated myself to, she has still proven herself a steadfast ally of my people and she has never led us astray.”

“Makes sense,” Illyana said. “Just let me grab Drake and talk with Professor Mord and we’ll leave.”

“We?”

“Of course,” Illyana said, smiling wryly. “After all, Sadow is trying to kill me because of you. So I’m in this too. Besides, she did say you should look for allies beside you. As far as I know, I’m the only one she could be talking about.”

I had intended to leave Illyana behind, in spite of her protests, however, what she said did have a fairly strong rationality behind it. If Sadow was trying to kill her, then she would certainly be safer. I would certainly be damned before allowing him to harm my friend as he had harmed my people. His attempts on her life may even provide me with a chance to finish him. And the only other person she might have been referencing was preoccupied and would certainly not be participating in any crass arena matches.

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The Case of the Mummified part five

Previous Chapter

Hilde and Sakura arrived at the flat of the fourth victim, Patricia Becker. It was abandoned but had clearly been kept in good order. The living area had a glass curio cabinet with porcelain dolls lined up neatly inside, a television lined up on a cabinet, some ostentatious abstract expressionist paintings and two recliners.

Hilde looked over everything carefully, not wanting to damage anything or leave signs of them having been there but also being thorough so as to not miss any potential clues. She found what she was looking for tucked underneath a doll designed to look like a traditional geisha. A card for VIP access to the Bombastic Berlin Party Room. Laminated with some bright stripes of blue & pink.

“Same as all the others,” Hilde muttered. “A hidden card for a seemingly ordinary night club.”

“So, we tell Thoril and bust them?” Sakura asked.

Hilde shook her head. “Right now we just have suspicions. Strong suspicions, I’ll grant, but suspicions nonetheless. We need to confirm them. I suggest you find something to protect your hearing. Tonight, we’re going clubbing.”

*****

The Party Room was everything Hilde hated about clubs. Loud, flashy, full of drunken idiots thrusting at the air and pretending it was a dance. One thing she couldn’t see, strangely enough, was any sign of a VIP area.

After searching futilely for a time, she finally decided to ask the bar tender.

“VIP area?” he asked. “We don’t have anything like that. Why? You someone important?”

“Oh, no,” Hilde said, waving her hand. “A friend just gave me this,” she held out one of the VIP cards. “Thought I might take advantage of it.”

He looked it over, a perplexed expression on his face. “Your friend must be joshing you. I’ve never seen one of these before.”

“Well, thanks,” Hilde took it back. “Guess she thought it was funny. I’ll get her back later.”

She casually made her way back outside. Sakura peeked her head out of her purse. “What now?”

“It seems that, at the very least, the tender we talked to doesn’t know anything about it,” Hilde said. “There might be a specific person you’re supposed to talk to. Probably even a pass code. So, what we’re going to do is you’re going to use your invisibility glamour and you’re going to follow someone if you see them with a card. I’ll go back inside and try to stake out potential locations for this VIP room.”

“Leave it to me!” Sakura declared. “If I find out anything, I’ll let you know.”

“Just watch out for those Veritas guys,” Hilde said.

“I will,” Sakura promised. She flew off. Hilde went back inside.

*****

The inside of the club was as stifling as before, but Hilde did her utmost to ignore the commotion. She moved around the area, seeing no signs of any hidden rooms. The club looked to be entirely normal.

After nearly an hour of fruitless wandering, Sakura returned.

“I’ve seen it!” she declared. Hilde looked around. None of the patrons showed any signs of seeing the fairy.

“Lead the way,” Hilde mouthed.

“It’s outside, I’ll show you,” Sakura said.

She led Hilde outside and away from the club proper. She had to duck into Hilde’s bag once, when they noticed the Veritas agents heading for the club. Hilde surmised that they’d found a clue leading here as well. To the left of the club, down an alley, was an old padlocked basement entrance.

“The guy slipped his VIP card through the middle of that door and it opened.” Sakura said.

“And then padlocked itself back up, I suppose,” Hilde said.

“Well, yes,” Sakura answered. “We both knew there was magic involved.”

“No helping it,” Hilde sighed. She slipped one of her cards in between the doors. The chains and padlock fell away. The entrance creaked open. Hilde grabbed her luger, nodded to Sakura and the pair descended into the foreboding VIP section.

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The Last Draconian 52: Returning Home

Previous Chapter

“Be careful,” Lais whispered. “Remember, we don’t want them to see us.” She gave a little wink.

“Tree dwellers!” The cry came from across the forest.

“They found Lyon’s group,” Lais said. “I guess we’d better help them.”

*****

“Look to the opposite tree line as well,” Joseph said. “They seem to be trying the same trick as last time.”

“Odd,” Selene muttered. She fired several arrows in quick succession. Three elves went down. “Normally one wouldn’t try the same gambit that failed not even a fortnight past.”

“Agreed!” Joseph said. “They must be planning something new. We will have to be on guard. Cover me.” He grabbed his spear and leapt into the fray.

*****

Thorn flew low to the ground. She hurriedly etched a magic circle into one of the trees. “Three down,” she muttered. She looked around. The next one had to go… there. She swiftly flew to the location, looking carefully around as she went. No one was looking her way. They were too busy focusing on the battle and she was pretty easy to overlook. She reached the target spot. “And one more to go!”

She hurriedly flew towards the last site when an arrow barely missed her.

“Damn,” Selene muttered, notching another arrow.

Thorn flew swiftly between Lang’s legs. “Help!” She cried.

Lang brought his shield up to block Selene’s next arrow. The arrow pierced partially through the shield, cutting his hand.

“I’ll be your opponent,” Lang said. “Or are you too cowardly to fight someone your own size?”

“Damn,” Selene muttered, unsheathing a short sword. “Someone stop that pixie!”

Thorn dodged her way easily through the surrounding trolls, who were too preoccupied with larger opponents to search the area for such a minuscule one. She made her way to the final point and etched the magic circle.

*****

“Do it!” Luc cried. Spells poured into her from all directions.

The ground glowed brightly. Trolls and elves alike dropped their weapons to shield their eyes. Magic spewed forth from the ground, blasting past elves and directly into the trolls.

“Retreat!” Selene ordered. “Everyone retreat!”

The trolls fled. Those who had dropped their weapons didn’t stop to retrieve them. Magic and elven soldiers chased them. Joseph kept to the back, trying his best to shield his comrades. Still, many fell around him in spite of his efforts. A blast singed his chest plate, but he was able to keep moving with the retreat. The elves chased after them until they were well out of the forest.

“What do we do now?” Joseph wondered.

“We return home and get reinforcements,” Selene answered. “Nothing else we can do.”

“But…” Joseph began.

“They won’t chase us further,” Selene said. “They’ll try to fortify their defences. We should have time to get back on the offensive.”

Joseph nodded. “You’re right. Let’s get out of here.”

*****

Lynai Elfblood

I watched the sun rise. I could see my kingdom, just in front of it on the horizon. One thing was bothering me, we hadn’t seen a single patrol on our way here and all of the guard posts had remained quiet. Had the trolls taken everything? Was I… I rapidly shook my head. I couldn’t let myself think like that. I wasn’t too late. I couldn’t be. I felt Callie’s slender but strong hands on my shoulders.

“Relax,” she whispered. “Everything will be okay. Trust me.”

I took a deep breath and hurriedly calmed myself. They had just fallen back to the main city. That had to be it. There was nothing to worry about.

“So much tension,” Callie said, massaging my shoulders. “It’s not good for you to be too stressed.

“C… cut it out,” I said.

“You don’t like it?” Callie asked.

“Well, I do,” I admitted. “But this isn’t the time for a massage or any…” I looked away, trying to hide my flush. “Any… other sort of touchy thing.”

Callie laughed.

“It’s not funny,” I said.

“Sorry,” Callie said. “You know, you’re really adorable when you’re embarrassed.”

“Why must you be such a flirt?” I asked.

“That hurts,” Callie said. “I may be forward, but I’m not a flirt. Fact is, I love you. Only you. I’m not going to be shy or ashamed about it. Look at me.” Her hand reached under my chin and guided my eyes to hers. Her blue eyes were fierce… No, that wasn’t the right term. Passionate was more precise. “These aren’t idle words. If you want me to back off, I’ll try to keep my distance. But, I won’t leave your side until this war is over. You’re too precious to me. I can not… will not risk you being harmed.”

“You don’t even know me that well,” I argued, knowing full well what she was going to say.

“I know everything about you I need to,” she said. “I’ve seen it in your eyes.”

We quickly reached the main gates. Sentries eyed us from the walls. Their fingers held their bow strings taut with arrows at the ready. There was no sign of the troll army. I stepped out of the carriage. The first thing I noticed were the bloodstains feeding the forest. A battle had taken place, a costly one. The sentries loosened their grips, but kept their weapons drawn.

I cleared my throat and tried to keep my voice steady as I announced myself. “The sole daughter of the Royal Family, Lynai Elfblood has returned. Please, escort me to Heltsger.”

There was some hushed whispering that I couldn’t quite make out. Then the gate opened and the guards gestured for me to enter. I got back inside the carriage and we went inside.

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The Case of the Mummified part four

Previous chapter

It was easy enough for Hildegard to get inside the station to see the evidence. She still had some pull with the police. More importantly, she had their trust. Getting them to let her into the morgue was a simple matter. Sakura waited until their escort left to look over some paperwork before emerging from Hilde’s bag.

The bodies were pale, though they still clearly had blood. Their cheeks were sunken in and they had a frozen look of ecstasy on their faces.

Hilde looked over the death reports. They’d all died of mysterious heart attacks and every single one had had an unidentified foreign substance in their bodies. Investigators were assuming a new designer drug. Hildegard was so busy pouring over the reports that she didn’t notice Sakura trying to get her attention.

Finally, Sakura had enough & pulled down on Hilde’s newsie cap. “Hilde!”

“What is it?” Hilde asked, returning her cap to its normal position.

“Something feels wrong,” Sakura said. “I don’t think this was a succubus or incubus. I know you may not believe me but…”

“Sakura,” Hilde interrupted. “You’re far more of an expert on supernatural beings than I am. Just tell me why you think so.”

“The missing energy,” Sakura said. “Sex demons steal energy related to sex and libido. This feels more… general. Like something just yanked out all their life force at once.”

“If that’s the case, why didn’t Vincento and his people notice?” Hilde asked.

“They don’t really sense these things like a fairy does,” Sakura declared, sounding quite pleased with herself.”

Hilde looked around at the bodies and checked the reports. “Then this substance may be unrelated or…”

“Thinking of something?” Sakura wondered.

“Maybe we’re confusing the cause with the motive,” Hilde said. “Maybe whoever’s… whatever’s responsible for this is trying to hide the truth behind this substance.”

She paced a little, muttering to herself. “Would have to be someone who knows about the supernatural. Both method and attempt to make it seem like the sex demons proves that. Question is, how do we find him?”

“Maybe they’ll figure out what’s in the thing and we can find out where they make it,” Sakura suggested.

“No,” Hilde said. “The ingredients are probably common enough and wherever it is sure as hell isn’t going to be advertising. Still…” she snapped her fingers. “If they were all taking the same stuff, and died for it, they had to have the same source. We just need to go find out where they were all visiting and we’ve got it.”

“We could call Bianca and have her scry the past,” Sakura suggested. “You could also tell her you love and miss her.”

Hilde shook her head. ” I still need to use my good old fashioned human skills. If I rely on you and Bianca to do everything, I might as well toss my training & experience in the bin. You and I will do this the old-fashioned way, by visiting their old flats and the people who knew them.”

“Won’t they be upset that you’re bothering them?” Sakura wondered. “I mean, they are going to be in mourning, right?”

Hilde nodded. “And that’s why we use our sense of delicacy. Trust me on this. First thing in the morning, we start checking.”

*****

Hilde booked a room for the night and got some take out before calling Bianca. She tried to ignore the fact that Sakura was watching her from above with great interest.

“Hey, Honey,” she said. “How’s the convention? Having a good time?”

“It’s pretty usual stuff,” Bianca answered. “We’re catching up. Talking about spell ideas. The council’s having noteworthy witches make grandiose speeches. Oh, I did see an old friend. She’s always had a crush on me.”

“I trust you told her you’re spoken for,” Hilde said.

“She knows,” Bianca stated. “She’s having a kid any way.”

“Far enough along to show?” Hilde asked.

“Oh, witches do things a bit differently,” Bianca said. “We basically combine genetics magically and carry the baby in a protective orb. The donor usually doesn’t even know. We also manipulate things a bit so she’ll be a girl. Assuming the donor we pick is a man. A lot of witches will just pick a woman to make things easier.”

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Hilde said. “That explains the rumour that your family has never shown signs of pregnancy.”

“I could have your baby if you’d like,”Bianca said.

“I’ll pass for now,” Hilde said. “We’re both busy people.”

“That is true,” Bianca agreed. Hilde thought she detected relief in her voice. “You on a case?”

“Yeah,” Hilde answered. “I’m in Berlin right now.”

“Be careful,” Bianca said. “And if you need me just call.”

“I’ll be fine,” Hilde reassured her. “I have my enchanted luger, protective pendant and Sakura’s with me.”

“If you’re sure,” Bianca said. “Just keep the option open, okay?”

“I will. Promise.”

“Be safe.”

“I’ll be fine. You’re worrying too much.”

“Love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

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The Last Draconian 51: Rescue Operation

Previous Chapter

Michael Ryufan

I examined the tower. There were five guards outside. Three in motion, two stationary. There were likely to be many more within the tower itself. Their formation was nearly flawless. I would not be able to approach from the air or ground without being spotted instantly. My best option was to create a diversion that would last just long enough to prevent the ground troops from alerting their comrades before I could kill them. However, the probability of such a tactic succeeding against five opponents was marginal at best. The guards in the tower would most likely be made aware of my presence early on, meaning that I would be forced to engage enemy forces constantly until they were all slain or I was.

Even though I was fully cognizant that a rescue attempt was foolhardy, there was a simple fact that compelled me to act on her behalf. She was my oldest, greatest, quite possibly only friend. I clutched my sword’s hilt. I would save her. If I could not, then I did not deserve to avenge my people. That was my thinking.

I summoned all of the strength I could. The diversion would be simple, a tornado. I would have to be cautious. Utilising too much power would rip the tower apart, possibly slaying Illyana. Using too little would not accomplish my goal. The energy left my body and swirled around me, causing a tingling sensation. I gathered a little more and coalesced it into formation before releasing the mass. Three of the guards were instantly torn from the ground and into the funnel. One of the remaining guards abandoned his patrol and fled, the remaining foe lifted a horn to his lips. A rather futile effort, I did not grant him the opportunity to blow.

It was all going well, so far. I spread my wings and flew up the side of the tower, avoiding the windows. The most likely location for a prisoner would be at the peak where an intruder would, in theory, have to scale their way past even more guards. I hovered at the side of the window and listened. There was someone within, I could hear breathing. However, I was not able to ascertain whether or not it was Illyana.

I sighed, heavily. I had little choice but to take the risk. Even if the guard who escaped chose not to bring reinforcements, those on duty would have to change eventually. Tarrying would only result in greater problems. Far better to act quickly. Steeling myself, I prepared my magic. This procedure was more complicated. I had to destroy the wall around the minuscule window in order to widen it sufficiently to gain access without causing grievous harm to whoever lay within.

I flew higher, finished gathering the energy and released it into the building through the window, where I sent it bursting against the wall. The bricks shook, slightly at first and then harder until the segment collapsed outward. Bricks went scattering into the air before falling to the ground.

I waited for a moment for the winds to fade before swooping down and landing inside.

“What was that? Who’s out there?”

It was a relief to see Illyana crouching away from the wall. She appeared to be in good health and uninjured. She was surrounded by bars. I noted that they were adorned with leech stones.

“There is no time to recount everything in detail,” I said. “We must retreat before your captors return.”

“Michael? How… Why?”

“That will have to wait,” I said. “They will have heard the commotion.” I noticed the door was starting to open. I lifted Illyana from the ground and flew from the tower. Leaving the screams of her captors behind. I turned just long enough to push a cutting winds spell down at them.

*****

“Are you sure you want to volunteer for this?” Lan asked.

“I’m one of the only ones who can do it,” Thorn said, fluttering about. “Don’t worry, I’ll get it done and come back safely.”

“Then do so,” Lan said. “And may the Gods safeguard you.”

Thorn curtsied and flew from the room.

“That pixie has guts,” Luc said.

“Is everything ready?” Lan asked.

“It is,” Luc said. “Lais and Lyon have their troops in position. They’ll move against the trolls momentarily, hopefully keeping them distracted long enough for Thorn to finish her task.” Luc rose. “If you’ll pardon me, I have my own preparations to complete.”

“Of course,” Lan said.

Luc walked from the throne room and descended to the lowest level of Heltsger. A group of mages were sitting in a circle, preparing spells. Luc sat in the exact middle.

“Once it opens, complete your spells and send them,” she said. “I will act as the conduit.”

Next Chapter

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The Case of the Mummified part three

Previous Chapter

Sakura flew back the way they’d come the moment Hilde turned the corner. Hilde grabbed the compact from her hand bag and used the mirror to look behind her. It took about forty seconds for Sakura to  rush back and hurriedly dive into her bag.

Hilde looked back to see two women running forward. One was an Asian woman with short hair, light brown eyes and pretty features. The other was a redhead with freckles and green eyes. They had modified pistols of some kind. She turned to face them, keeping her face calm.

The two of them looked around, seemingly trying to find Sakura.

Hilde made a show of examining their fire arms. “You have permits for those?”

“Oh, yes we do,” the redhead said. “We’re actually special agents. I’m Mica, this is Amethyst.” She put a hand on Hilde’s shoulder. “You didn’t see anything… strange around here, did you?”

“Strange?” Hilde asked. “In what way?”

Amethyst cut in before Mica could answer. “You don’t look like a cop. Where’s your badge?”

“I’m a private investigator,” Hilde said. “I work with the force, but I’m not technically a part of it.”

“Sorry about Ame,” Mica said. “She gets  a little cranky when I don’t sleep in her bed.”

Amethyst’s face turned bright red. “I do not!”

“Well, we’re sorry to have bothered you,” Mica said. “Ame,  the… suspect didn’t come through here. Let’s go back and check for her trail.”

The two women hurriedly disappeared. Sakura peeked her head out of Hilde’s bag and breathed a sigh of relief.

“They saw you?” Hilde asked.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Sakura said. “They were Veritas agents.”

“And those guns?” Hilde asked. “Enchanted or…?”

“Not enchanted,” Sakura said. She flew up to sit on Hilde’s shoulder. “They’d never use magic. It’s more like alchemy. They specially fortify them to be deadly to magical beings.”

“I didn’t know there was a science for that,” Hilde said. “But it makes sense, since they hunt you guys and all.”

“But why were they following us?” Sakura asked.

“They weren’t,” Hilde said. “If they had been, they would’ve likely seen you with me. At the very least they’d have been doing it out of suspicion. But they were completely unsuspecting. I got the sense that they were more interested in deflecting my attention so that I wouldn’t notice anything awry.”

“But if it wasn’t them then who was it?” Sakura wondered.

“You didn’t see anybody else?” Hilde asked. Sakura shook her head. “Then let’s go back and look over the area,” Hilde stated. “Maybe we’ll find a clue.”

The pair combed over the area. Sakura didn’t sense anything. They didn’t find any traces. “Are you sure you didn’t hear them and make the wrong assumption?” Sakura asked.

“Fairly certain,” Hilde said. “Although I suppose it is possible.” She sighed. “All right. Let’s go examine the victims. And remind me to send a message to mister Thoril warning him about Veritas’ presence.”

Sakura nodded. “We’d better sole this quickly before anyone innocent gets hurt.”

“Besides the five victims?” Hilde asked. “You’re right, of course. The faster we solve it, the better.”

They hurried off. Neither one noticing the winged figure floating in the air behind them.

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The Last Draconian 50: Edging Closer

Previous Chapter

Illyana Fensen

It was cold and wet. I could feel stone and steel all around me. I was in a cell of some kind. I tried to use magic to free myself. It was no use. Something was interfering with my ability to cast spells. Leech stones, probably.

I closed my eyes and reached out to Drake’s mind. He was there, outside the cell. I couldn’t borrow his senses, not without the aid of magic, but I could still sense him, a natural consequence of our connection. “Drake,” I whispered, standing up against the window. “Fly back to the Academy, get help.” I heard his wings flap and a quick screech. I waited until I couldn’t hear him any more.

I was all alone.

*****

Lynai Elfblood

I sat back in Callie’s carriage. The seats were covered with very plush velvet cushions. She sat across from me, polishing her rapier. She smiled at me.

“Are you worried?”

“A little,” I admitted. “I’ve always practised fighting, but I’ve only had to do it for real a few times. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to do.” I felt embarrassed as soon as I said it.

A wry smile crept across Callie’s face. “It’s understandable,” she said. “Even seasoned warriors feel anxious about going into battle. Still…” she leaned forward so that our faces were almost touching. “There’s no need for you to worry.” Her voice was almost a whisper. “No matter what may happen, I will definitely protect you.”

Looking into her eyes up close I understood a little of what she had talked about in the garden. I could see her intensity, the passion in her eyes. In that moment I believed her. She was going to protect me. No matter how I might protest or urge caution. She was actually willing to risk everything for me. Knowing that, I felt a lot more confident and determined to protect her in return.

*****

“Be at ease,” Sadow said. “I understand your concerns, and though the Magi have chosen not to become involved with this war, I assure you that I will take any actions necessary to ensure that the war refugees have a safe haven here in Strecner.” He gently took the elderly elf’s hand. “Be warned, however, I will do the same for any troll refugees should the situation reverse and I will not have you fighting here.”

“I understand,” she said. “Thank you for your kindness.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Sadow said. “In these difficult times it’s only right to help others.”

She bowed and hobbled out of his meeting room. He held the door for her. After she had gone he turned to his ghoul guards. “I’ll hear no more petitions today,” he said. “And I plan to take a journey tomorrow. I may be gone a few days, please inform any petitioners of my regrets.”

Sadow closed the door and removed Laina’s head from his cabinet. Her eyes opened. “What do you require of me?”

“Tomorrow we’re going to question the blind mage,” Sadow said. “I need to know how best to break her.”

“What happened to helping others?” Laina asked.

Sadow sent a small burst of lightning into her. “You dare mock me? I have done more to benefit this world than most. I’ve saved countless lives, fed the hungry and brought order. Don’t presume to lecture me on kindness!” He paused. “However, sometimes… unpleasantness is necessary to serve the greater good.”

“You did not wipe out the draconians to serve the greater good,” Laina said. “You were afraid and you know it.”

Sadow shot an even stronger jolt into her. “I asked your advice. I don’t need your commentary. You think their entire race was more important than me? They did nothing for the world around them. They merely stayed within their isolated community, passing quiet judgement on everyone else. Thinking themselves above the rest of us.”

“Will you release me if I tell you how to deal with her?” Laina asked.

“If I have to extract the information by force I will,” Sadow warned.

“Very well,” Laina said. “I will tell you how to break the girl.”

Next Chapter

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The Case of the Mummified part two

Previous Chapter

“What are all these marks?” Sakura asked.

“The locations of the incubi and succubi that Vincento mentioned,” Hilde answered. “I’ll use it as a reference to check them as quickly as possible. You stay here and… uhh…”

“I’ll come with you,” Sakura said.

“It could be dangerous,” Hilde said. “You stay here.”

“I’m coming!” Sakura insisted. “It’s more dangerous for an ordinary human like you than it is for me. And without Bianca, you could use some help with magical stuff.”

“Fine,” Hilde conceded. “But stay close to me and hide if you need to.”

*****

“Well, well, if it isn’t the Hexe sisters?” A tall woman with flowing dark hair approached them. She had a sling wrapped around her with a large pulsating orb nestled inside.

“Hiya, Jillian,” Bianca said. “Got yourself a baby, I see.”

“I’m sure she’ll be precious when she comes out of there,” Brenda said. “did you combine genes with another witch?”

“I had planned on it,” Jillian said. “But the witch I wanted to help mother my daughter seems to keep having short flings with mundane humans. So, I found an adept and borrowed his material.”

“Well, sorry I find those ‘mundane’ humans interesting,” Bianca said.

“No matter,” Jillian shrugged. “You’ll lose interest in this one the same way you always do. Eventually, you’ll want something long term and you’ll come to me.”

*****

The first place they checked was a cheap flat in a building that was in a small degree of disrepair.

The young  looking woman who answered the door had a pale tone, slightly pointed ears and platinum blonde hair.

“Why, hello,” she said. Her voice was very sultry. If  Hilde had been single, she would’ve been very tempted to see just how bad the drain of a succubus was.

“You must be Heidi,” Hilde said. “I’m investigating the incidents at the behest of the Sex Demons of Berlin Association.”

“Oh yes, so you know I’m a sex demon,” she said. “Still attracted to me?”

“She’s spoken for,” Sakura said, floating in front of Heidi’s face. “So don’t get any ideas!”

Heidi glanced from Sakura to Hilde. “You’re sleeping with a pixie?”

“A witch, actually,” Hilde said. “But that’s not the point. Do you have any alibi for your whereabouts during any of the incidents?”

“All business, I see,” she said. “Pity.” She held out her hand. “Let me see the sheet. I can’t recall when every incident happened.” She looked it over and pointed to one. “This one, five days ago. I was having sex with two men.”

“And if I found them would they collaborate that?” Hilde asked.

“No need,” Heidi said. “I recorded it. It’s got the date and time stamp intact. I’ll grab you a copy to confirm it.”

*****

The duo spoke with several more sex demons. All of them had an alibi for at least one incident, most of which were recordings of their sexual escapades.

“Why aren’t you marking the names off?” Sakura asked.

“I’m entertaining the notion that there could be multiple perpetrators or that one of them has a faked time stamp,” Hilde answered. “I’m not willing to eliminate anyone as a suspect without some more evidence.”

“How will you know if they’re faked?” Sakura asked.

“If I have to, I’ll send the recordings to a guy I know who specialises in that kind of work,” Hilde answered. “Wouldn’t be the worst things I’ve ever sent him. I’ll probably try to check the bodies first, though, see if I can narrow the suspects down a bit.”

They arrived at a very nice flat complex. Hilde checked her list and found the right flat.

A young woman with auburn hair, freckles and blue eyes answered. “Can I help you?” she asked.

“Miranda?” Hilde asked.

“Oh, hold on,” she said. “Mira! It’s for you!”

A tall, buxom woman with pink hair (it had clearly showing blonde roots) approached. “Can I help you?” She asked.

“You may want to talk about this in private,” Hilde said, glancing at the other woman.

Miranda put her arms around her. “You can say whatever you want to say around Courtney. She knows everything about me.” 

“In that case, I’m investigating the recent incidents,” Hilde said. “Checking in with all the sex demons, getting their alibis.”

“Oh yes, the detective,” Miranda said. “Let me see the list.”

Miranda went over it. Courtney put her head under Miranda’s arm to check. “You were with me,” she said, pointing. “Oh, that one too. And that one. That one you were at work and that one… I don’t know.”

“I was out shopping,” Miranda said. She handed the sheet back. “There you have it. I can show you my receipt from that last one if you don’t want to believe Courtney.”

Sakura flew around the pair. “Ooh, aren’t they cute? I think they’re super in love.”

“Nice  mascot you’ve got there,” Miranda said. She reached into her purse. “Would you like a sweet, Miss Pixie?”

Hilde checked Miranda’s receipt and thanked them for their time.

“You can cross her off, surely,” Sakura said.

“I’m not completely crossing her off, but I honestly don’t think it’s her,” Hildegard said. “I’m putting her on my list of people to check only if all other possibilities are exhausted.”

She froze. “Sakura, don’t look back or show any signs but we’re being followed.”

“We are?” Sakura asked.

Hilde nodded very slightly. “We’ll turn that corner, you fly back and see if you can check who it is without being noticed. Then hurry back and tell me.”

“You can count on me,” Sakura said.

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The Purification Archive

You all seemed to enjoy the Omicron Squad Archive I put up not long ago. So, I’ll do the same with my Purification story. I’ll put the links to the original content and give you guys some tidbits about the process that went into making it. I’d suggest you read the story first, if you haven’t already. The notes on it will have spoilers.

Episode 1  Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode  5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Episode 9 Episode 10 Episode 11 Episode 12 Episode 13 Episode 14 Episode 15 Episode 16 Episode 17 Episode 18 Episode 19 Episode 20 Episode 21 Episode 22 Episode 23 Episode 24 Episode 25 Episode 26 Episode 27 Episode 28 Episode 29 Episode 30 Episode 31 Episode 32 Episode 33 Episode 34 Episode 35 Episode 36 Episode 37 Episode 38 Episode 39 Episode 40 Episode 41 Episode 42 Episode 43 Episode 44 Episode 45 Episode 46 Episode 47 Episode 48 Episode 49 Episode 50 Episode 51 Episode 52 Episode 53 Episode 54 Episode 55 Episode 56 Episode 57 Episode 58 Episode 59 Episode 60 Episode 61 Episode 62 Episode 63 Episode 64 Episode 65 Episode 66 Episode 67 Episode 68 Episode 69 Episode 70 Episode 71 Episode 72 Episode 73  Episode 74 Episode 75 Episode 76 Episode 77 Episode 78 Episode 79 Episode 80 Episode 81 Episode 82 Episode 83 Episode 84 Episode 85 Episode 86 Episode 87 Episode 88 Episode 89 Episode 90 Episode 91 Episode 92 Episode 93 Episode 94 Episode 95 Episode 96 Episode 97 Episode 98 Episode 99 Episode 100 Episode 101 Episode 102 Episode 103 Episode 104 Episode 105 Episode 106 Episode 107 Episode 108 Episode 109 Episode 110 Episode 111 Episode 112 Episode 113 Episode 114 Episode 115 Episode 116 Episode 117 Episode 118 Episode 119 Episode 120 Episode 121 Episode 122 Episode 123 Episode 124 Episode 125 Episode 126 Episode 127 Episode 128 Episode 129 Finale

Okay, let’s start with the concept. Basically, the story I wrote on my blog before Omicron Squad was called Gauntlet of Zeus. For that story, I had my readers create characters D&D style and I also had them vote on vaguely what would happen next. This was a sequel to that where the surviving characters made appearances but it was about a whole new cast, one I created personally. I wanted it to be accessible towards people who hadn’t read that since, obviously writing on a new site was going to mean a lot of you hadn’t read it.

I thought about including the reader choice stuff, but I don’t exactly get many comments on my writing and I didn’t know how many of you would be interested in creating characters or even just voting on what you want to happen next. Besides, there were certainly times in the Gauntlet of Zeus where I had a really good idea for one of the options and then it didn’t win and I decided that I could probably write something a bit stronger making those decisions on my own.

I did take pains to show basically where the old characters were and to have them still be friends. Hence why Twila thinks of them all as family even though, technically, the only two related to her are Lulu and Isaac. It’s also why she talks about them all bringing her potential familiars. I had her pick a tiny dragon because her father’s familiar was a frilled lizard and I thought it would be interesting to have their familiars be somewhat similar but also markedly different.

The exception, of course, was Erron. In the initial story, the guy who created Erron was super worried that he might be described as effeminate since he’s an elf and took great pains to talk about how “manly” he was. So, I decided it would be funny to have him be a hyper masculine, ineffectual dumbass. Basically, toxic masculinity the character. Naturally, this resulted in him not getting on well with the other characters and they eventually left him to go off with his people. Which resulted in Reginald’s bitterness during this story.

I wanted the characters to largely be half bloods. Twila & Axra had made brief appearances during the end of that story, so they already were. The whole theme of intolerance and judging people because their parents “didn’t belong together” was really obvious with the antagonists wanting to purge that type because they were basically Nazis. And having a cast of these characters who were supposedly inferior helped illustrate how absurd the whole notion of racial purity and superiority is.

Bonnie was the exception. With her, I wanted a character who had some potential motivation to join the antagonists, hence her back story about losing her possible inheritance to her half blooded half siblings. And I used her to illustrate a more sane response to that kind of rhetoric with her taking responsibility for her own life and bearing no grudge over anything that went wrong, except possibly against her father for the way he personally mistreated her mother.

The love triangle was an interesting aspect. I’ve gone over this in my reviews before, but I kind of hate love triangles where all three characters have chemistry but they still force a choice either by having two hook up or by having one character step aside or somehow taken out of the picture. So, I wanted to play up the idea that Axra, Twila & Lilly all had chemistry and I knew I was going to end it with the three of them deciding they should all just be together. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to  do it until I got to Twila’s captivity. Reginald used Axra’s feelings to taunt her and the trio ended up having a conversation and working things out.

I let the elder characters face Typhon while the younger were on a quest to find a way to beat Gail. I knew I wanted to give Lulu a strong last hurrah since he was pretty obviously not long for the world. So, I had him unseal the power he had from his own artefact one last time and die stabbing at the titan one final time.

Velvet was an interesting one. The basic idea for him came from a conversation I’d had with my sister about what my dog, EJ Fuzzlebottom, would be like as a human. Kind of laid back and not particularly active but strangely energetic and strong when he got going. I had Twila name his dogs after Doctor Who companions and he ended up as a bit of a Momma’s boy. Because it’s clear that his father shares his lack of drive and his mother does most of the care giving I thought that would make the most sense.

The clash between Axra & Lulu was all about Lulu testing her. I explained it in the story, but he’d had some history with her mother and wasn’t sure whether she was out for some misguided revenge or her feelings towards Twila were genuine. After seeing her sincerity, he accepted her. It was supposed to parallel Reginald and his ultimate betrayal, but with the two characters being opposites in regards to their motives.

I would kind of like to revisit the main group of this since their ultimate confrontation with Gail didn’t have the most exciting end. Not that I regret that. I never intended for Gail to be a bad person. I went to quite a lot of pains to establish that her feelings were sincere, she just didn’t express them in the healthiest possible way. Which is why she ultimately made the choice she did. Still, I think it would be interesting to do something else with the group.

That’s really all I have to say about Purification. Next time I do one of these it’ll be Grand Pilgrimage. I wouldn’t expect that particularly soon. Since these do take quite a bit of time.

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The Last Draconian 49: Where They Go Next

Previous Chapter

Michael Ryufan

I left early and traversed the terrain rapidly. I considered not covering myself with a cloak this time since I had already given myself away. However, I realised that Sadow would likely have contacts searching for me and it did not behove me to make it simple for him to find me.

Thanks to Lynai’s interference, it would not be a simple matter to get close to Sadow. He was a very cautious individual, I would not easily catch him off guard again.

As I walked I considered methods of gaining an opportunity to mount a strong assault. I could allow myself to be captured, but his men were probably under orders to kill me. He had no reason to keep me alive. He was not likely to even approach me to do it himself. Hence such a tactic would be fruitless. I could sit outside of his keep until he exited, but there were almost certainly wards in place that would reveal my presence. A frontal assault? No, his guards would be sent to dispatch me while he remained safely inside. I did not know the strength or numbers of his forces. Therefore, I could not properly prepare a way to get past them. I considered hiring mercenaries of my own, but I dismissed the idea. It would be erroneous of me to trust such people. Besides, I had inadequate gold with which to elicit their services. I would probably be able to scavenge some from Drahaven, but there was very little of value left since it had been abandoned to looters for so long.

I sighed. There had to be a solution, one which would allow me to avenge my people, preferably without the involvement of any unrelated individuals. Unfortunately, that solution continued to elude me.

The facts all pointed to one inescapable fact. I would require allies. The elves and trolls were at war. I could join the battle and gain the gratitude of the winning side. At that point, I would be able to use them against Sadow. I had already told Lynai that I would be going on my own path, but pride was a luxury I could ill afford. I would join the elves and fight in their war. I had waited for decades already, I could afford to wait a little longer.

*****

Michael Ryufan

I eventually came across a dilapidated tavern. The multiple horses outside and cacophony from within enabled me to deduce that it was not abandoned in spite of its appearance. Clearly, it was not a reputable establishment.

I entered and took a seat at a vacant corner table. A rather buxom young lady approached me.

“What’ll you have, Sweets?” She asked while adopting a very disingenuous smile.

“I will take whatever is ready,” I said.

“And do ya want company?” She asked. Her eyes went to a row of rooms upstairs. What an annoyance.

“That will not be necessary,” I snapped.

She shrugged. “Suit yerself. One rack o lamb comin up.”

As I waited a middle aged woman approached me. “Not lookin for a good time, Pretty Boy?” she laughed. “Maybe you’re lookin to sell instead?” She plopped fifteen gold coins in front of me.

“I have no need nor desire for your money,” I stated. “Leave me in peace.”

“You’re a touchy one ain’t you?” she asked. She plopped a money pouch in front of me. “Everyone has a price, just name yours.”

“I am not a commodity to be bought,” I said. “Now, begone.”

She slammed her fist on the table. “You think you’re too good for me, you little punk? I oughta…”

She was cut off by the woman returning. She grabbed her shoulder and wheeled her around to face her.

“This ain’t that typa place,” she said. “If the boy don’t want none, ‘e don’t want none. Now go an find someone else to keep ya company.”

The ruffian glared at her for a few seconds before putting her hands up in a sign of abject surrender. She rapidly removed herself from the establishment. The woman placed a plate in front of me.

“Yer a strange one,” she said. “Most folks come ere for a bit o company or to make some quick gold.”

“I have no need for either,” I said. I began eating. It was not well cooked and inadequately seasoned, but it was sustenance.

“A pity,” she said. “Yer one o the rare ones. Pretty enough for the boys, ansome enough for the gals an so exotic.”

I scowled at her. Perhaps, I contemplated, it would have been wiser to keep my hood on.

“I get it,” she said. “No need to get defensive.” She walked away and I was finally able to dine and contemplate in peace.

Over the course of my repast I overheard a conversation from a nearby table.

“They say you finished a very juicy job just a couple days ago.”

A large barrel-chested man laughed and downed a mug of ale. “Thas right,” he said. “Ne’er a dull moment workin fer captain Femre.”

“Was it dangerous?”

He laughed again and waved dismissively. “Na at all. We jus ad to kidnap a blind girl.” He took a long drink. “She was supposed to be some kinda great mage, but we didn give er a chance to use none of that magic.”

I listened more attentively. Was it possible?

“What did ya do with er?”

“Took er to the Strecner tower and locked er up under guard.”

I had heard enough. I placed twenty coins on the table as compensation for the meal and departed the establishment.

The Tower of Strecner. It was a landmark. The first Lord of Strecner had built it to incarcerate enemies of the throne. Considering Illyana’s frail physique, she would not last long in its confines. It had not been long since I had left her and now it was imperative that I return to her rapidly. I took flight.

Next Chapter

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