Dragon hunter 2

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Find part one here.

Ari sat in a crowded tavern in the small southern village of Umbleton considering his options. The clatter of dishes and roar of voices washed over him. Umbleton was about a day’s walk from Everness and the locals had definitely noticed the smoke that had been rising in the distance for several days as the city burned. Gossip was rampant but apparently no one had been brave enough to go investigate. Ari heaved a sigh as he regarded the tankard of ale in front of him and shook his head at the cowardice and selfishness of most people. Maybe the residents of this tiny coastal village weren’t concerned, but he was. He was very concerned.

In another life Ari would have been a king. His family had traces of dragon blood in their veins. That was the story anyway. He knew he could sense things that others could not. He could track a dragon with those extra senses. And track dragons he did.

Dragons had fled the boundaries of his homeland long ago. They had flow over mountain ranges and across oceans, they had flown over forests thick and impassable, they had flown across continents. They had settled in some of those places. Mountain tops too high for people to scale, remote islands too far for people to sail to, in caves and treetops in forests too thick for people to push into. For the most part, they had left people alone. And so the legends faded into fairy tales, children’s fantasies, and stories. No one actually believed in them.

Except the Dragon Hunters Guild. The guild was small and secretive. Secretive for good reason. The secrecy wasn’t so much to protect the dragon hunters from scorn and derision as much as it was to protect stupid humans that might actually believe and go looking for one and get themselves killed.

But now people were getting killed anyway. Three villages in three months, Northern Greys in southern regions, something was very, very wrong.

He had stood facing the Ridgeback Mountains, watching the Grey until it flew out of sight and then he had used his other sight to survey that mountain range. What he found was terrifying.

Dragons, and lots of them. Many of them far from their natural habitats. What were they doing there? Why were they gathering? How were there so many? Of course, when dragons had left it was to go and grow and replenish in secret. It would seem they had been successful.

His musings were interrupted by the arrival of an older man, ancient by some measures. Poradel arrived cloaked and hooded as was his wont. Without a word he pulled the chair opposite of Ari and lowered his creaking body into it. Ari watched as the old man twisted and shifted and settled himself into the seat. Only then did he turn to acknowledge Ari, lower his hood and glance around in annoyance.

“This better be important,” he practically snarled as he glanced around the room, “I hate people. But since we are here, where’s my pint then?”

Ari motioned to the serving girl, he held his tankard up, pointed to it then to Poradel. She nodded and headed back to the bar.

Ari knew better than to try to speak to the mage until the tankard was in front of him. Tipping the girl, he motioned with a jerk of his head for her to leave. He needed privacy for this conversation.

After a long quaff, the tankard clattered to the table and the old man sighed in satisfaction while wiping away the wetness from his white and grey streaked beard.

“Now boy, what do you want?”

“Nice to see you too Uncle Del.”

“Bah! You want something.”

“Yes.”

“Well?”

Ari sighed. Poradel had no patience for the niceties of polite society. He wasn’t his really his uncle as much as he was his great-great uncle. Not that family ties mattered to Del. He was a hermit, a grouch, an anti-social asshole truth be told. But he was also a brilliant magic user, and Ari needed his help. Plus, he didn’t know anyone else in this part of the country.

“I need to contact the guild-“ he started.

“Send a letter!”

“Quickly.” He finished.

“Rent a carrier pigeon, they fly between here and all the major cities.”

“I need to contact everyone at once and I need to do it tonight.”

“Why?”

“Because the Ridgeback Mountains are full of dragons.”

Del regarded him for a bare moment, then nodded curtly.

“Ok then. My cottage, two hours, I’ll have the spell ready.”

Jayziz

by guest contributer Sian Kelly

Jayziz woke.

He instantly knew deep down in his bones that this had been a rush job, a sloppy, half-assed, and downright ugly bit of business. There was no gradual dawning of awareness, no subtle shift to consciousness.

Jayziz felt like he had been kicked out of bed by an Amazonian giantess with Sasquatch feet and had landed in a concrete tub with maybe eight inches of freezing water at the bottom- banging his head in the process- while a heart shaped nuclear reactor pumped molten lava through his veins.

Yeah, his everything hurt.

He leapt to his feet, teetered sideways, crashed to the floor. He leapt up again, only slightly more stable the second time and stared at the six robed and hooded figures standing in a circle around him.

“Awww, hell naw! Which one of you misguided motherfuckers had the nerve and unmitigated gall to resurrect me?”

The six ruling members of the mages guild glanced about uncertainly, nervously wondering who would speak for the group. Jayziz threw up both his hands in frustration. His right hand and forearm broke off and landed somewhere on the other side of the mausoleum.

“Well that’s not good.” he muttered beneath his breath. He rubbed the tattered flesh of his face with his remaining hand.

“Alright, if my elbow has already rotted out then I’m guessing I’ve been dead longer than the standard 1,001 days. That means I’ve got roughly four minutes to lay back down or this back-to-life shit is gonna be permanent, so somebody better explain quick or I’m gonna Kamehameha all of you petty, pathetic, piss-poor parlor-trick magic users!”

Cowed by his tirade, the robed mages hesitated again.

“Oh? So you sons of witches think this is a game,” Jayziz said, “Ya’ll think I’m playing, huh?”

He waved his arm and his nub around in a complex, intricate pattern and shimmering waves of angry energy crackled into existence around him. He growled the word that would end them all,

“Kaamehaa-“

“Wait!” a blue robed mage said hurriedly, stepping forward, “We all worked together to resurrect you. We had no choice, Master!”

“No choice, Saulomon? Really?” Jayziz said through clenched teeth as he wrestled with the energy. “There’s always a choice!”

“No, Master, because the freaking red robes brought the apocalypse down on all of us.”

“It wasn’t my fault! Ass-rael and the greens are just as guilty, they planted the suggestion!”

“I don’t give a flying fuck whose fault it is!” Jayziz screamed in exasperation. He flung the energy to the side, blowing a horse-sized chunk out of the mausoleum wall.

“Energy not focused is energy waster. Now give me the really short version, Saul. Talk to me quick but don’t talk to me slick.”

“Eduardo here tried to pull off a McDisney’s Rapier,” Saulomon said, indicating the red-robbed mage by pointing an incriminating finger. “Instead, he bifurcated all of reality, and in the process he managed to leave one time-stream looped and the other stream just kinda sorta convex.”

Jayziz glared at Ed the Red, “You stoopid fuck.” Jayziz waved his elbow joint and with an inverted thump the red mages atoms were scattered to the far corners of the universe.

“Okay, so did he channel somatic energy the right way or did he take the material component shortcut?”

“The shortcut, of course.” Said a gaunt woman in yellow robes.

“Did he use basilisk blood or cobras venom?”

“With basilisk blood retailing at six hundred grand for a quarter ounce? You have to ask? El cheapo used cobra’s venom.”

“Well there’s your problem: Ed the Red didn’t know his asp from a hole in the ground, nahmeen? All you got do is ride the looped time-stream back to when he first began casting the spell,” Jayziz said, “Replace his snake venom with basilisk blood. Then use a Gregorovich shunt to unconvex the one time-stream, do a south Dallas crowbar to unloop the other stream, and meld them back together by performing a bilateral agreement. Easy-peasy!”

“Master, you’re a genius! That should put things back, make it like it was before!” Saulomon said.

“Yes, so once errythang is fixed back make sure you blow Ed the Red to smithereens again, just for me.”

“My pleasure Master.” Saulomon glanced at this watch. “Sixty seconds before you get stuck like that. Anything else?”

“Tell my beeyotch ex-wife I said wish you were here.” Jayziz climbed back into his casket.

“Saul, old buddy, you aren’t too shabby for a mage. Kelby, you either.”

The woman in yellow inclined her had in acknowledgement.

“The rest of you can all eat a dick. And one of you get that wall fixed. I don’t need critters gnawing on me. And the color in here sucks. Who decorated? Granite? Really? Wow, how original. Have it redone. Rose marble or some fly shit like that.”

Jayziz stretched out and yawned. Darkness was already closing in on him.

“And next time one of you brainiacs manages to destroy life, the universe and everything- even if it’s an accident- you’re just gonna be shit out of luck. Don’t come fucking with me, because I ain’t getting back up again.”

A skeletal hand shot up and flipped them the bird.

Jayziz slept.

Lunch Break?

Popped out of my little ad hoc home office today to grab a bite to eat between clients. What did I actually end up doing? Cracking all the ice and refilling the trays, making a gallon of tea so I could have some, making lunch for my 8 year old as well and putting a diaper and some clothes on the naked 2 year old. Oh yeah, and finally inhaled some food super quick before my next appointment. This is what working from home looks like.

Currently Reading

I just finished the most recent installment in the Hollows series by Kim Harrison. It was fabulous, as always! I’m not going to say too much about it because I don’t want to give spoilers. But if you enjoy paranormal romance, and you haven’t read the series yet, then you should absolutely head to your nearest bookstore and remedy that situation as soon as humanly possible.

Sisters

She walked briskly through the chill night air, a cacophony of voices rising all around her. On one side of the road, protesters.

“Dump Trump!”

“Drumph”

“Twittler! Orange Cheeto!”

On the other side, well, that was worse.

“Fags!”

“Perverts!”

“Kill them all!”

“You all deserve to die!”

“Fucktards, losers”

“…don’t deserve to live…”

“Get out of Trumps America!”

“Misfits, don’t belong here…..”

“You’re the real deplorables!”

“Disgusting filth…”

“Animals!”

“…should be exterminated….”

She shook her head in disgust as she hurried along.  She headed toward home eager to be inside in the cheery warmth. Her sister was home from college and she couldn’t wait to catch up with her.

Her sister, Samantha. Sam was young, vibrant, and full of life. She always had a quick smile and an open, accepting personality. She was very talented and had won a scholarship to attend Columbia University’s school of visual arts. She had a bright future ahead of her.

She was smart, funny, kind and thoughtful. The kind of person anyone would want for a friend, or sister. Lydia felt lucky to be Sam’s sister. But now their family faced a threat.

Whereas no one in the entire world cared one iota who Lydia fell in love with, a huge portion of the American public had made it their mission to harass Samantha and those like her and strip them of their rights. Because, in addition to everything else that made up Samantha, she happened to be gay. Yes, her sister was a lesbian.

She shoved her hands deeper into the pockets of her purple jacket and increased her pace. Arriving at home, she fumbled for her house key, her breath making plumes in the air. She slipped inside her family’s home, the warmth cascading over her body as she entered the foyer, soft light filtering down the entry hall.

Lydia removed her jacket, momentarily sinking her fingers into the velvety softness of it as she hung it on the hook. Her shoes thumped against the wall as she kicked them off and hurried into the family room.

A fire crackled merrily in the fireplace, the Christmas tree twinkled in the corner. The room was ablaze with light and warmth, everything she associated with her childhood. This room had always been the hub of family life, family meetings, family movie night, and countless late nights huddled on the couch, giggling with her sister. Now the house was quite, silent. She couldn’t be the first one home.

“Mom? Dad? Sam?” she called as searched the house for signs of life.

There was a thump from upstairs, but no answer. Her heart leapt into her throat as her mouth went dry. What was going on up there? She took the stairs two at a time. Reaching the second floor she craned her head wildly around trying to determine where the thump had come from.

There, at the end of the hallway, a shadowy figure appeared in the doorway to one of the rooms. That would be the game room. Inside were the pool table, fuse ball, and air hockey. That room was the main reason their house had always been the neighborhood hangout when they were growing up. Countless evenings and weekends were spent in there playing board games or air hockey, watching TV or just hanging out. Now her heart pounded in her chest as she made her way quietly, and quickly, down the hall.

As she got closer, she could see the man’s face. It was Jared, what was he doing here? Jared and Sam had dated back in high school, but that had been eons ago! Obviously it was before Sam had come out. Jared shouldn’t be here her mind was screaming. He was out of place in the dark stillness of the family home. Who had let him in? Why was he here?

Adrenaline spiked through her as she realized his presence in the upstairs hallway could only mean danger. She extended her right arm and alternately flexed then clenched her fist. Her palms were sweaty and her pulse thudded in her ears as she felt the heat rush to her face. Oh no, not this again!

Lydia had been struggling with controlling her powers; she wasn’t good at it yet! It was so unfair that no one was here to help her, she might kill Jared without even trying to, and then how was she ever going to get into college?

She stalked closer to him, but Jared was complete unaware of her so preoccupied was he on whatever he was seeing in that room. She stepped purposefully toward him, trying her best to stay calm and keep quiet until she could assess the situation.

Jared continued to back slowly out of the room. Lydia could hear her sister’s voice now, “Don’t make me do it Jared, keep backing up, turn around and get out of my house!”

Jared started to turn, saw Lydia, jerked in surprise then started back into the room. He had a baseball bat clutched in his hand.

Before she could do anything, there was an explosion of light and bright drops of gold that sizzled and twirled through the air.

Jared staggered backwards into the hallway. She watched in horror as he slumped to the floor, a smoldering hole in his chest. She glanced down at her clinched fists in horror but her hands had never risen up to deliver that blow.

Sam rushed out of the room and threw herself down next to Jared sobbing, “I didn’t mean to! He came at me with that bat, he was swinging it!”

The hysterical sobbing broke the spell and Lydia rushed to her sister’s side, “It’s ok, it’s ok, it was self-defense! What the hell happened here tonight?”

Rubbing her wet face Sam haltingly got the story out. Jared had shown up unannounced, said his car broke down, wanted to use the phone, came inside with the bat behind his back. He started berating her for their breakup, for moving away without him, for being gay.

“He called me an abomination! He said we all needed to be exterminated!” She hiccupped through the tears.

Lydia felt a sense of calm descend upon her like a well-worn cloak. For once, she knew exactly what to do. Pulling out her cell phone she sent a quick text to her dad, “Please bring home pizza with pineapple.”

It was their code, her parents would come right away, with the entire coven. The adults would know what to do. Of course, she always thought the code would be used if they were in danger because someone found out their secret.

She shook her head as she shoved the phone back in her pocket. Dumb, stupid humans. This was exactly why witches were still in the closet. If they reacted this way over someone being gay, imagine what they would do if they found out witches were real.

She was right. The adults arrived and in short order, the body was gone, Sam was showered and in clean clothes, the hallway magically cleansed, and everyone was in the family room gathered around the tree eating pizza.

There would be no evidence Jared was ever there. She thought she should feel guilty about that but gazing at her sister, she just didn’t. It was clearly him or her. If it had to be that way then she was glad it was him, if she had to choose, she chose her sister, she would always chose her sister.

The Night

The need to write welling up,

Spilling over

It’s late, but here I sit

Soaking up the night

Feeling the day slip away

Stress, worries

Melt away

Along with the noise

The hustle and bustle

Of life fades away

Leaving me

Just me

My thoughts and fears

Hopes and dreams

Creativity flows here

And here alone

Poetry, fiction

Stories pour out

Only in the quite of the night

The rest of the house fast asleep

The night, she is mine

And I don’t want to share

The divine

Speaks to me here

My muse

Embedded in the dark

The quiet, the rolling away of Life

Solitude, introspection

My life plays out

For my inspection

Searching my soul,

Questioning

Everything happens

In the stillness of the night

All good things

All my thoughts and prayers

Are buried here

In the deep, dark stillness

Of the night

All the secrets of my Life

Still. Quiet. Night.

The pieces of my Life

 

 

Anger

lancebrister

When I was 19, I drove my college boyfriend home from school, and we kissed at a red light. Looking in the rearview mirror, I saw a police car stopped behind us.

“Uh oh.” I’d said.

My boyfriend laughed it off and said, “It’s not like we were sodomizing.”

At the time sodomy was still illegal in Texas, though only for gay people. After I dropped my boyfriend off and continued on my way, I noticed the police car was still behind me. The car followed me for several blocks, and then finally pulled me over.

When I asked why he’d stopped me, the swaggering, white cop had said, “Just a routine check to make sure your license and registration are in order.”

He made me get out of my car and hand him the aforementioned license and registration. After making me wait while he took my paperwork back to…

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FUCK THESE WORDS

By Sian Kelly, guest contributor.

 

Fuck. These. Words.

Uncooperative, ungrateful things.

Ink wrestled onto a page.

Stubborn things drug kicking and screaming and flailing

        From the abyss of my mind, to be

Thrown violently down on beds of paper.

Thoughts in captivity.

Words held against their will.

Bound up in ropes of what is considered safe….

Words gagged with the duct tape of

Convention, propriety, normalcy.

Fuck these words,

Shivering, trembling shapes that shy away

          From my tender touch.

My children with the audacity to snitch me out

           And accuse me of abuse.

Fuck.

These.

Words.

The Youth of Today

I don’t understand the youth of today,

You say.

How were they raised?

With this sense of entitlement.

To be what they want.

Made up things,

You think.

Gay, Bi, Transgender

Upending social norms, expectations

Not bowing, not bending

What is gender fluid anyway

What does that even mean

You inquire.

Befuddled, confounded, confused.

Consternation, aggravation.

Why can’t they just

Act right

Act like you?

I look and I see that it’s true.

I don’t understand the youth of today

How were they raised?

With this sense of entitlement?

Yes, entitlement

But not like you say.

They are entitled I tell you.

Entitled to their own lives,

Their truth, their beauty

Their freedom.

Yes, freedom.

Freedom from you.

From expectations, condemnations

Judgments and scorn.

By their own values they are bound,

Not by yours.

Yes, I ask as I watch in amazement

How were they raised?

How were they raised to survive

Through the pain,

To dance in the rain.

To be who they are?

What freedom

I admire from afar.

I wish I had come of age

With that strength,

With that fire.

With that courage

To be who you are.

Motherhood Loss

Pain rushes in, like a familiar but unwanted friend.

My heart ripped open, does this awful aching ever end

Why does motherhood strip my soul bare, it hurts so much to care

Protecting your child, an illusion. Can’t rise above this confusion

Agony, despair, drops me as I stumble
Pain, anger, hatred burns me tilI I crumble

A pile of smoking ashes from which I cannot rise

A deep ocean of pain in which all my happiness dies

No one ever told me love was so distressing, no one ever told me life was so depressing

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