Everyone have a delightfully demented weekend,
New Hebron, California
The woman sat at the corner table and peered out at the city through the large glass storefront and sighed. She collected a stray lock of hair and pushed it back, only to have it flop back in front of her eyes. She growled and entertained the idea of having it lobbed off, as so many males of this world did, but she rather liked the way her current hairstyle framed her face. Her hands slipped out, sliding over her legs to flatten the crease in her skirt, and she nearly jumped out of her skin when a voice spoke.
“Are you ready to order?”
Alexandra peered up, regarding the server, a rather attractive young woman with a wide-eyed, almost startled set to her features. Her skin was milky brown. The once-king regarded her and pressed her lips into a line. She had trouble distinguishing between human races, and Amelia hadn’t been helpful in that regard. The agent had advised her not to call attention to it, though. Which judging from the odd reactions the little blond had received seemed like sage advice.
Still, the girl’s features were appealing, even if her eyes were a bit sunken and she looked as if she could use a few solid meals. Alexandra found that she could not look away. She only regarded the other woman, mouth agape and heart pounding inside her chest. A shudder worked its way down her shoulders and through her entire body. She thought about doing rather pleasant things to the attractive woman, things which she’d long since learned were not acceptable to speak of in a public setting.
“Miss?” The girl asked, twirling the end of one of her dark locks with her index-finger.
Alexandra closed her mouth and snaked a hand over Waldere, her fingers tracing the lines of the armlet as she met the other woman’s gaze. After Leoffa’s death. The sword transformed her back into her human likeness, and she had not called up the weapon’s power since. She felt its energy pulsating whenever it touched her skin. She could not explain how the sword underwent its transformation or why it took its current form, but she knew that if she were to call upon its power, it was hers to use.
“Uh, I’ll just—” The server turned away, but Alexandra’s hand jerked out and grabbed her wrist.
The girl studied Alexandra, then peered down at her wrist, gritted her teeth, and jerked back, breaking her hold with a flick of her wrist. Alexandra blinked. The ease and strength with which the other woman had freed herself was startling. The once-king was not strong in her human form, but the girl was much more powerful than she looked.
A smile creased Alexandra’s face and her heart beat harder. God, that was such a turn on.
“I’ll have the egg-white fiesta omelet, and the house coffee,” the little blond said, a slight quiver to her voice.
The server studied Alexandra, her eyebrows furrowed, and moved away without taking another glance. The once-king watched her move away with a lump in her throat. She hadn’t dated since Leoffa’s death, and while she’d attempted to curry the favor of certain females, those attempts were only noteworthy in how unsuccessful they’d been. Human courting rituals were even stranger on this world than her own.
This woman was special, Alexandra knew it the moment she laid eyes on her. She would win this one over and they would make sweet, passionate love.
She studied her, as she fought to remember the dating advice given to her by Jen and Hailey, but such recollections escaped her. The only thing she could think of was bedding the pretty server.
Alexandra swallowed and watched the other woman move about the café. It seemed obvious that the server was aware of her attentions, and yet she refused to meet the once-king’s gaze. Among her own people, a potential mate would meet such obvious interest with an immediate reply. Either the woman she desired would match gazes and the courting would begin, or she would receive a more violent answer. Either way, things really became heated.
Oh, how she longed for the more simple courting rituals of her homeworld.
Crystalline clinks exploded from the storefront, crashing into the tiny little diner. A shower of glass reined onto Alexandra and a long dark cylinder clanked and skittered across the tiled floor before settling into place with a metallic thud. A dark cloud began oozing out of the tube like a snake slithering out of its burrow.
Though the former Assar warrior was new to this world, she recognized the weapon at once, even if she did not recall a name for it. She had seen it in use in a film of war. She sprang from her seat, hurtling herself at the cylinder, and snatched it from the ground. Without missing a beat, she spun around and tossed it back out through the shattered storefront.
Men in black tactical gear converged on the cafe, and the frontmost of them brought up his rifle to deflect the canister. It clattered back inside and landed at Alexandra’s feet.
She howled and slid her hand up the side of her arm, already invoking the power of Waldere as smoke billowed out from all around her. As a familiar bright luminescence surrounded her. She threw her head back and a booming feline growl erupted from her lips.
The dark-haired server pounced, rushing to intersect them and pushed Alexandra back several steps even as Waldere’s magic rushed through the once-king. Alexandra peered through the illumination as the girl sped forward, slamming into the foremost of the attackers with her shoulder, and he went careening to the ground.
The attackers stumbled back as the illumination around the once-king grew more intense. The girl seemed unaffected, and Alexandra gazed in delight and fascination as she knocked them around as if they were children. Clearly, there was a reason Alexandra had been drawn to her.
The last burst of illumination spun out in a circle dispelling into the air, and Kruhl son of Wurdan stood in Alexandra’s place, Waldere, now returned to its true form, clutched in his hand. His head barely cleared the ceiling, but he paid it no mind. More men spilled into the little café and he joined the fray.
Gods, it was glorious.
So, I did end up writing an epilogue for The Fall of Kruhl. It’s only about 1,100 words, but I rather like it. It’s set about six months from the ending and it takes place part way into the next story. Look forward to reading it next Saturday.
Have a delightfully demented Sunday,
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
A halo of light surrounded Kruhl, swirling out in all directions before settling on his massive frame. It shone so brightly that it forced even Ashley to look away. When the luminescence faded, the once-king, again wearing her human skin, was crouched over Leoffa’s corpse.
She held her former lover’s dismembered head against her forehead. Tears pattered down her cheeks and her entire body shook.
Amy turned, regarding Ashley with a frown, but the dark-haired turned most of her attention to the crystal still clenched in her companion’s armored hand. “Keep that thing hidden until I can figure out what we should do with it.”
Ashley nodded, and a series of mechanical whirs sounded from the suit. Plates retracted from her chest, abdomen, legs and arms, revealing the young woman within. She crawled out, and the armor, moving of its own accord, slipped the crystal inside the opening and closed back up.
Amy regarded Ashley for a moment, arched an eyebrow and moved toward Alexandra. The little woman set Leoffa’s head down, and rested one hand on the corpse’s shoulders, straightening the arms and positioning the body, which lay sprawled out on its side, so that its back was resting on the ground. The legs she pulled straight out and the arms she folded over the chest. She returned Leoffa’s head, positioning it over her shoulders and closed the eyes with her open palm, a sob escaping her lips.
“Go dígo mbealfymid le shéila arues. Bea’altene Dohan d’ynem a thraurú go sábhylt chaeig an soel aile.” Though Van den Broeke didn’t understand the words, she guessed from the reverence with which the other woman spoke, it was some sort of invocation for the dead.
Amy put a palm on Alexandra’s shoulder and the Assar warrior looked back at the agent through tear-soaked eyes. She buried her head in Amelia’s shoulder and her entire body wracked with sobs.
“You did the right thing,” Amy said, tears burning her eyes. “She would have never come around.”
The pair held one another for several moments and would have for longer had it not been for a flurry of movement nearby. Fredericks, Harris and the AEGIS task force, minus Grimes and a nameless agent, whose absence Amy only noted by counting heads.
It seemed the sorceress’s barrier had fallen with her death.
Amy put her hands on Alexandra’s shoulders, met the once-king’s gaze and nodded toward the newcomers. The former Assar seemed to understand. She nodded and pulled away, allowing the other to slip free.
Amy rose and turned to meet Fredericks, who approached, gun held ready. “Van den Broeke?”
“We have resolved the situation here,” she muttered with a long breath of air and glanced back over her shoulder. “Grimes?”
“He’s getting medical care now. He’ll live,” Fredericks replied peering around the clearing and settled his gaze on Leoffa’s staff.
Amy bent down to retrieve it and turned it around in her hands, regarding the gemstone which had turned black once again. “Fredericks, we need to focus on damage control. This town’s police force was decimated. I have reason to believe that the police forces, several local elected officials and who knows how many towns people may still be compromised.”
Van den Broeke flattened her lips, mind racing as she considered the possibility that someone within AEGIS had also had their minds twisted. Her gut sank at the prospect, but she knew she couldn’t just let her suspicions sit. Unfortunately, that meant that there were very few people within the agency she would be able to trust.
Fredericks nodded. “I’ll get a containment crew brought in.”
“You good to oversee things?” She asked Fredericks while peering back at Alexandra.
“Yeah, of course,” he replied, eyebrows shooting up.
“I… have some personal business to attend to.” She returned her gaze to him, jaw set as if expecting him to challenge her, but he just nodded again.
“You’ve had a rough time of it. I’m sure you’re tired.”
Amy did not respond, but gave him a brief smile and turned away. She gazed at Alexandra, realizing with a start that Waldere was missing.
With quick, yet furtive steps she moved back, crouching down beside the once-king and studied her features. The other woman did not take notice of her, and Amy did nothing to draw her attention. Then Amelia noted a glint of steel on the warrior’s arm and sucked breath in through her teeth.
An arm ring in the shape of a sword was coiled around Alexandra’s arm, it bore the same hilt design as Waldere. Amy understood the implications at once, but she wasn’t sure what to do about it. The former king had proven herself, and for the time being she deserved some time to rest and mourn.
“Fredericks, I’m taking Alexandra with me. You can debrief her tomorrow.”
Again Fredericks eyebrows arched, but he only nodded. Amy took a moment to help the once-king to her feet, allowing the tiny blond to lean against her, then guided her back to the car.
They say time mends all wounds, but the agent knew better. The loss Alexandra was experiencing would stick with her for the rest of her life. In time, she would think of it less and less, but there would always be an empty place in her heart.
Amy stepped out of the car and peered down at the cheap burner phone she’d purchased at a local drugstore as a temporary replacement for the one she’d discarded while on the lam to find yet another text from Sapphira.
Amy smiled and slipped the phone back into her pocket without responding. She’d spent hours speaking to her lover over the phone that very morning. As near as the agent could determine, the other woman had come awake at almost the exact moment Leoffa had met her end, dispelling any doubts that the sorceress was behind the other exemplar’s mysterious ailment.
As much as she loved and adored Liv, she couldn’t put off the task ahead of her any longer. She stepped onto the curb and approached the storefront of Phil’s her lips pressed together in a frown. Although she’d never stepped inside, she was familiar enough with the establishment to hesitate before entering.
It wasn’t so much that the place had an unsavory reputation. As bars went, it was the sort of place frequented by middle-aged men just looking for a drink and catch a game or two after work. Nor was it particularly rowdy, but there was one defining feature that gave her pause.
It had been and apparently still was her father’s favorite watering hole. She’d heard all about the ‘boys at Phil’s’ from her own father’s mouth and though it had been years, she doubted the regulars had changed much since then. It was the kind of place that resisted change.
She pushed the door open and stepped inside. Sure enough, Lucas van den Broeke sat at the counter. He looked more or less like she expected, and the years had not been kind to him. Her father was fifty-six and looked more like he was approaching his seventies. The Van den Broeke patriarch slid his fingers through a shock of gray hair and rested his palm over his bulging belly.
Amy sat down next to him and stared straight forward, her lips trembling as her insides twisted into knots. She pressed her lips together and waved the bartender down. She ordered a Shirley Temple and shifted to regard her father as Phil prepared her drink.
Lucas glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, and at last, her elder blinked. He sipped his beer, which judging from the way the foam had settled had been sitting for some time and set it down with a careless clatter.
The bartender turned to give him a warning glance, and Amy cocked her head and returned her father’s gaze with as neutral of an expression as she could muster.
Lucas cracked a smile and slipped a hand on her knee. Amy nearly lurched out of her seat, but forced herself to remain in place. The taste of bile rose in her throat and she resisted the urge to swing at him.
“Honey, are you lost?” Lucas laughed, and cast a glance over his shoulder at the barkeep who was watching the encounter between pursed lips. “Maybe, I can help you find your way. Of course, there might be a detour along the way, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate the company.”
“No,” Amy said, a surge of anger in her voice, and she slapped his hand away. “I’m not here for that, Dad.”
The elder Van den Broeke jerked back, eyes growing wide as he peered at his eldest child, understanding beginning to dawn on his face.
“Oh, God… Andy?”
“Amelia,” the agent corrected, staring back at him, her face getting redder and her expression contorting into a glower.
“The fuck, you want?” He asked, any evidence of joviality gone from his face.
“Closure,” Amy answered.
Lucas balled a fist and pulled it back. Amy was ready for the attack. She reached out with her mind and with a flick of her wrist forced his hand into the countertop. She put barely any force into it, and at worst his hand might throb for a few moments. He deserved far worse, but she would not lower herself to his level.
“Assaulting a federal office, is a serious offense, Dad. I’d hate to arrest you.”
If her use of telekinesis surprised Lucas, he didn’t show it. He continued to scowl at her, face growing redder by the moment. Amy regarded him, her features calm and collected. She snaked a hand inside her jacket and showed him her badge.
“I just need to say something and then I’ll leave. You made my life hell and I’ve spent the last decade and a half trying to forget you even existed, but I didn’t realize I was still carrying around so much baggage.”
Lucas didn’t speak, but glanced down at his fist and attempted to leverage himself against the bar to gain his freedom. He cursed, regarding her between gritted teeth.
“You’re still a man, you know that? I don’t care how pretty of a package you wrap yourself in, your DNA doesn’t lie.”
Amy smirked, almost laughing at the pronouncement, but held back her mirth. She might have mentioned that the brain structure of a trans woman was identical to that of a cis woman, or a dozen other arguments that sprang to mind, but held her tongue. Lucas van den Broeke was a hardliner and staunch conservative. He would never be swayed, even if he knew she was pregnant.
“I’m through letting your shadow cast a pall over my life. You are nothing to me, nothing.” She regarded the bartender as he approached with her glass and produced a bill out of her breast pocket before turning back to look Lucas in the eyes.
She stood, took a sip from her drink and grimaced. The agent didn’t speak another word, but set the glass back down, turned away and strode out of the bar.
She stopped outside, her heart hammering in her chest, and swallowed… hard. To some that might have seemed like a vain ego stroke, but for the agent it was her way of, at last, letting go of all the pain that had plagued her for so many years.
With a smile, she strode back into the car, slipped her phone back out of her pocket and climbed inside.
Brian van den Broeke turned the crystal in his hands, transfixed. He couldn’t say why, but the bit of Amethyst called to him in a way he didn’t understand. He should do something with it, he sensed, it would let him unleash power…
There was a knock on the bedroom door and he blinked, shaking his head. He frowned at the stone, then slipped it into his pocket and called to whoever it was to come in.
The door creaked open and Amelia stood in the doorway, arms folded across her chest. He sat up, paying no mind to his surroundings, and regarded her thoughtfully.
Before they were separated, they’d both been teenagers, and Amy had been a gangly kid struggling with her gender identity. Now she looked every bit the woman he’d always known she was. He smiled, and ran a hand through his mop of dark hair, and looked his eldest sibling in the eyes.
Amy exuded an air of confidence that he found so at odds with the troubled youth he’d known. He was happy she’d found herself, but he knew it must have been one hell of a journey to get there.
“I guess you’ll be leaving soon,” he offered, a frown creasing his features.
“No, Amy replied, dropping both of her hands.
“In light of everything, my boss is letting me take some time off. I figured I’d spend some of it reconnecting with my family.” Amy stumbled over the last word, but Brian paid it no mind.
“I mean, if you don’t mind me sticking around for a wee—”
Brian lurched to his feet, threw his arms out and embraced his sister. “I’d love that,” he said after they pulled away.
“There is one thing… though,” Amy added. “I want you to consider coming back to California with me.”
Brian furrowed his brows, but his older sibling held her hands up before he could speak. “I just want to make sure there’s no lasting effect from what that woman did to you. AEGIS has state-of-the-art medical facilities, if anyone can find something it will be our doctors.”
Brian nodded and felt a lump form in his throat. Recollections of Leoffa’s intrusion played out in his mind. He remembered very little of it, but what he recalled produced a shiver that tickled its way down his spine. It hadn’t even occurred to him that she may have messed with something while rattling around in his brain. He cupped a hand over the stone in his front pocket, but didn’t say a word.
“Y-yeah,” he nodded, his voice quivering. “That’s… probably a good idea.”
“Great.” Amy cupped his face in her palms. “Now come on, Serena said dinner’s about ready.”
Brian followed his older sister out of the room, down the stairs and into the kitchen where their mother Serena, their younger siblings Erica and David, and that odd little blond woman with the cat’s eyes waited. The second eldest Van den Broeke sibling had his own issues with his mother, but he had to admit it was nice being a family again.
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Brilliant bright light enveloped the once-king, as power rippled out from the sword in all directions. Though her opponent shielded her face and looked away, Alexandra’s eyes pierced the brightness with no trouble. She was aware of it, but it neither obscured her vision nor caused her any discomfort.
She tilted her head up, and let loose a loud, ear-splitting roar, the like of which she would never have managed with a human throat.
“How is this possible?!” Leoffa demanded through the luminescence, her voice echoing as if in a cave.
Alexandra had only ever used Waldere as an instrument of war. It was a powerful weapon that could deflect or even negate almost any magical attack, and was also more than a match for even the finest of swords. Yet, she’d long suspected she’d never managed to unlock its full potential. As the power of the sword coursed through her body, she knew she’d been right.
At last the light faded, and she glanced down at herself, the hairs along her spine stand on end. She no longer bore the form of a tiny human woman, but the one which she had worn until coming to this world, that of Kruhl son of Wurdan, King of Eirdon, and Master of Waldere.
Again, he was whole. He stood fully seven feet tall, sword of magic clutched within his hands. Here was the king of old, the warrior who had united the scattered Assar tribes, and defeated the armies of the Sorcerer Odalrik. Here was the warrior with the strength to wield a weapon of such awesome power as Waldere.
He snarled and threw himself forward, moving at a speed that belied his massive stature. He was almost on top of his opponent when she vanished with a burst of violet flames.
“Leoffa,” Kruhl said his voice low and rumbling. “Enough with these games. Cease these coward’s tactics. I know you are a warrior at heart. Face me as any warrior would.”
Leoffa answered with a shriek of rage, appearing behind him with a second fiery eruption and an accompanying blast of power directed at his back.
Kruhl jerked away, but the beam scorched his side and he growled, rounding on the sorceress, sword arching down. Leoffa rolled away and swept her staff out, slamming it into the back of the Assar warrior’s leg. Flames lanced out from the tip and he howled, again slicing his weapon down, but his former lover was already back on her feet.
She tossed the staff aside and slipped her hands inside her cloak, producing a short sword from within. The once-king snarled, already bringing his blade around to meet her, but she ducked out of the way and slipped around to his side, slashing at his exposed midriff.
Kruhl howled, clutching at the injury, and barred his teeth, letting loose an ear-piercing growl.
Kruhl was fast for his size, but Leoffa was faster. He might have had the advantage in sheer physical power and size, but it would do him little good if he couldn’t land a blow. Having trained with and fought beside him for many years, she was familiar with his technique. It gave her an edge that few would have over the once-king.
As Leoffa swirled away, the Assar warrior backhanded her, sending her reeling to the clearing floor.
Of course, Kruhl also had an edge. Not only was he familiar with her fighting style, he’d had more opportunity to practice. While Leoffa had been honing her skills with her magic, Kruhl had been training with the sword. He was an even more capable adversary than he had been when they’d last known one another, and that was saying something.
Kruhl rushed forward, blade sweeping toward the ground where his opponent lay, but again Leoffa was too fast. She twisted aside and the once-king’s blade sliced into the dirt.
Leoffa circled around him, blade slicing at his flanks, but the warrior king pulled the blade free in a shower of dirt and spun around to confront her, both of their blades clashing. Kruhl pressed forward, forcing her back and pinning her with his boot. He kicked her weapon from her grip and leaned in close.
“I’ve always loved you, Leoffa. My feelings have never changed. We can still be together,” Kruhl said, a slight quiver to his voice. He thought of their night together when he’d thought her Amelia’s sister and his heart raced. “It doesn’t have to end like this.”
The sorceress’s hand went for her neck and the amethyst crystal which the Assar warrior had all but forgotten about. A wave shot out, and Kruhl stepped back to avoid it. Although the shot landed home, nothing happened and the once-king realized his mistake at once. It had been another illusion.
Leoffa stood up, one arm stretched out. Her staff zoomed across the clearing and soared into her open palm. Power crackled from the stone and smashed into Kruhl before he had a chance to raise his sword.
The Assar warrior doubled over, Waldere dropping from his numb hands, his whole body convulsing in pain.
“You betrayed me and left me for dead! You really think I would forget that?” Leoffa shrieked between barred teeth. She stepped closer, and the glow intensified. Kruhl collapsed, unable to do anything but flail about on the ground. He wanted so desperately to tell her that he’d never meant to attack her, but even were he able to speak, he knew anything he said would fall on deaf ears.
“Now,” she said darkly, a second darker bolt of energy sizzling out and shot toward the Crystal of Ban-Sher’i. “It’s time for you to die.”
Just when all seemed lost, a dark form jerked forward, slammed into the sorceress and knocked the staff out of her palms. Amy locked her hands around the other’s wrists, planted her knees into her rib cage and glowered down at her while holding her in place with her telekinesis.
“Uh, Amy?” Ashley’s guttural growling voice asked.
Amy clenched her jaw, glanced at the other woman who was crouched about a dozen feet away, and followed her gaze. The staff was still ablaze, sending dual beams out at Kruhl and the crystal.
Leoffa took advantage of the distraction and kneed Amy. The agent rolled over, clutching at her side and groaning in pain. The magic-wielder stumbled to her feet and started for her focus, but Amelia threw a hand out, catching her by the ankle. Her adversary toppled over, fists swinging.
“Ashley!” Amelia called between blows. “Do something!”
The second the words left her lips, Ashley’s armored form surged past, rocketing not toward the staff, but toward the crystal and the violet bonfire which contained it.
Leoffa’s attacks grew more frantic. Instead of fists, she mauled the agent with her clawed hands, tearing through skin and actually drawing blood with several swipes. She struck the agent across the face with her elbow. Amelia’s hand went limp, and the magic-wielder lurched back up, dashing toward her staff.
When she was less than four maybe five steps away, a loud cwrack sounded and she froze. She spun around on the balls of her feet to face Agent Van den Broeke, who’d drawn her gun.
The agent opened fire again, and her opponent dove for the staff, her hand outstretched. When her fingers touched the polished wood, a crackle of energy burst out and the beam which had encompassed the crystal, flickered and died.
She let out a shriek and twisted around, eyes scanning the clearing. Ashley hovered above the amethyst inferno, the Crystal of Ban-Sher’i clutched in a gauntleted hand. The fiery eyes of her grotesque faceplate seemed to burn with malevolent glee.
Leoffa lashed out, sending an amethyst beam of power surging toward the armored hero, but Ashley dove forward and the attack zoomed past, dispersing into the open sky.
A roar sounded from the opposite direction and again the sorceress swirled around, realizing too late, that by attacking Ashley she’d released the once-king from her spell. Kruhl sprang to his feet and charged. She brought up her shield, but Waldere sliced right through it. Violet fire spilled out from her staff, but the sword absorbed it.
There was a glint of steel and Leoffa’s fallen sword was back in her hands. She struck out, barely managing to deflect Kruhl’s attack. She dove forward, sweeping out with her blade, but the once-king deflected it with ease and parried with an attack of his own.
Leoffa dove down, and Kruhl’s blade sliced through the air mere inches from the top of her head. Leoffa growled and rolled away as the warrior’s weapon came slashing down. Though she was an adept fighter, she could not win in a direct sword fight, Kruhl was too strong and his reach too long.
The sorceress howled and sprung back up. She dropped her sword, and instead, snatched her staff up and threw it above her head. Fire lanced out in every direction around her, burning the ground in a wide swath which consumed the dry brush all around him. Kruhl slowed eying the flames, his lips curled back from his muzzle as he emitted a low warning growl.
Seizing the opportunity, Leoffa struck out, an amethyst burst cascading around a tree. She jerked her arm up and there came a rumbling sound from the earth and a series of loud cracks as the gnarled old tree, whose trunk was twice as wide around as Kruhl’s chest, rose from the ground. With a snarl and a vicious cackle, she flung her magical focus out, and the tree hurtled toward her enemy.
Leoffa had just exposed one of Waldere’s most glaring flaws. The tree was already moving, and the sword could no sooner halt its forward momentum than it could perform a song and dance routine. The tree slammed into Kruhl and sent him hurtling away and into a copse of trees.
“Now,” the magic-wielder said, spinning around to face Ashley, Leoffa’s staff pulsating and crackling with power. “I’ll take that crystal back.”
Ashley met the other woman’s gaze, tightened her grip around her prize and raised her arm canon. The sorceress gritted her teeth, and hurled a bolt of power at the armored form, but her target spun away and the blast struck an old fir tree, splintering it into oblivion.
Leoffa brought her staff forward to attack again, but her arm stopped short. It was as if some invisible force had grabbed on to her. She turned her head and watched as Amelia van den Broeke stepped into sight. The agent threw her hands out, and the sorceress’s stomach lurched as the ground fell away and she soared into the air.
Amy spun, raised her hands, fixed her gaze on the tree which had pinned Kruhl in place and with a simple flick of her wrists sent it zooming away. Kruhl slumped over, a groan escaping his muzzle.
Sizzling power crackled and hit the agent, sending her slamming into the ground. Leoffa hobbled forward, using the staff to prop herself up. A blast of energy swirled out from the gemstone, but Kruhl pulled himself up and raised Waldere, which was still clutched in his hands, and moved forward, gaining speed with each step.
Blasts of amethyst fire followed in his wake, but his blade absorbed the only ones that came close to striking. When he drew close, the sorceress raised her staff to block a blow that would have hit her chest and sent fire rippling out in a semicircle.
Waldere blocked most of it, but even the weapon’s magic could not contain all the fire. Flames dances all around them, and Kruhl howled in pain and fury as they licked his sides.
Kruhl pulled his arm back, and his weapon swept out, slicing through her neck. She threw out more fire, but though the attack burned the fallen king, it was too late.
The Assar warrior watched her head fall from her shoulders, and her body crumple to the ground. Then, he fell to his knees, huddled over her fallen form, threw his head back and roared, tears streaming down his muzzled face. Light flared from the sword and enc0mpassed his towering from, but he paid it no heed.
It was over.
Just a quick note to let you all know that there will be a delay getting Kruhl out this weekend. I mainly just need to edit the next story part. I’m hoping to get that done either by tomorrow night or Sunday morning.
Apologies and do try to have a delightfully demented night,
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Alexandra tilted the sword straight up, hilt pointing skyward, and hunkered down, brandishing her weapon as if it were a shield. Raw power flew out from Leoffa’s fingertips and struck with a brilliant eruption of light. The former warrior king gritted her teeth and closed her eyes, summoning Waldere’s power.
Power crackled along the length of the sword as her attack struck. Waldere burning a brilliant bright white and the once-king released a breath she wasn’t even aware she’d been holding. The weapon had responded to her will.
Leoffa howled, lurching forward, and lunged at the sword, grappling each hand around either side of the crossguard.
“How are you still alive?” She demanded between gritted teeth, forcing the weapon into Alexandra’s chest. The former warrior king pushed back. Her tiny arms burned from the effort, and inch by inch she lost space to the other woman. Before long, the sorceress had forced her to the ground.
“At the very least you should be flat down in a hospital bed,” the sorceress growled, her voice coming out in a shrieking howl so guttural it hardly sounded human.
Alexandra didn’t answer, instead she squirmed, attempting to worm her way out from beneath her former lover, but Leoffa planted her knee atop her chest and leaned in close.
“It’s just as well. The crystal requires a blood sacrifice to unleash it’s power. I had planned to kill my dear sister,” a vicious snarl stretched across her face as she craned her neck around to glance at Amy, who was still struggling to return to her feet. The sorceress’s staff glowed and a ripple of power streaked out, slammed into the agent and sent her tumbling into the air again. “But what better payment than the blood of a warrior king fallen from grace?”
The once-king’s blood ran cold. That was why the sorceress had allowed them in. Alexandra licked her lips and glanced at the crystal. Before she could speak Leoffa sucker punched her in the mouth and left her seeing stars.
“Don’t worry, you’ll live just long enough to see exactly what the crystal does, but by then it will be too late.”
A low rumbling growl sounded from the tree line and the sorceress’s head snapped around to face the newcomer, lips curling back to display her teeth.
“Ashley,” Alexandra mouthed the name, eyes widening. The young woman’s armor looked as if it had been through a long campaign across the fiercest most war-torn of regions. It was dung up and dented in more places than she could count, and it seemed a small miracle that the slender blond was even able to move.
How the armor had undergone such radical damage in so short of a time the once-king couldn’t say, but her heart leapt into her throat at the mere site of her. Ashley held one gauntleted arm up. A long cylinder had extended from her wrist.
“You move and I fuck you up, bitch.” The armored girl pronounced her augmented voice, all gravel and rage.
Leoffa froze, her face an empty mask as she regarded the newcomer for several long moments. No one spoke, and still she did not move. Then Amy rose. A soft groan escaped the agent’s mouth and the sorceress acted. She raised her staff, and a bright amethyst flash resonated from within the gem of her staff before she vanished.
“Dammit,” Amy cursed. Though she was on her feet, she was hunched over and one hand rested on the small of her back as a snap and a pop sounded from her spine. She stood bolt upright, eyes wide, and called out.
“Ashley, the crystal!”
Ashley’s armored frame lurched forward, but before she’d made it halfway, a shrouded form appeared to interdict her. Leoffa’s staff swung out in an arc, and a wave of violet power rose through the air, sending her opponent hurtling away.
“Is that all you got?” Leoffa asked, planting the staff in the ground, power crackling across the soil in a broad swath.
“We’re just getting warmed up,” Amy responded, stepping forward, knotted fists glowing with power.
A clank of steel followed her pronouncement, and Amy watched Ashley step forward out of the corner of her eyes as a slow smile crept onto her face.
Alexandra came next, sword held up with both arms, and planted the weapon blade-first into the soil, holding it upright before her. No one who beheld her would ever mistake her for imposing, but none would miss the glint of determination gleaming in her eyes. For the first time, Amelia caught a glimmer of the old Kruhl and felt a shiver work its way down her spine, realizing how fearsome he must have been on the battlefield.
Leoffa cast her arms out, staff rising into the air of its own accord. Fire lanced out from it in a broad sweeping arc and molten power blew out from her arms, burning through the air toward the trio. Amy brought her shield up, arms barred across her chest. When the attack struck, the barrier flashed with a burst of bright energy and the blasts bounced back straight toward the sorceress.
Leoffa threw her left hand out, only just bringing a barrier up in time to absorb the blasts. Amy dropped her own shield and rushed forward, hands alight and crackling with power.
Ashley seized the opportunity. Leaping up and rocketing across the clearing, she zoomed through the open sky toward the crystal. The armored hero extended an arm, hands mere inches from the stone, but Leoffa was too fast. The sorceress let out a shrieking growl and whipped a hand out.
A tendril of violet energy whipped out and curled around the other woman’s greave-encased ankle. The sorceress pulled her arm back and sent her opponent soaring in the opposite direction. Leoffa’s eyes did not linger, instead she returned her attention to the agent and once-king.
Amelia was pressing the attack, glowing fists pounding on the magic wielder’s shield. Alexandra remained frozen in place, Waldere now alight with swirling pink and blue tendrils which shifted and churned around the weapon at dizzying speeds, but never quite touched the blade. The tiny woman’s eyes had turned milky white and she stared off into the distance as if looking upon something no one else could see.
Leoffa clenched her teeth, grabbed her staff from the air, and sent a sizzling bolt of energy hurtling into Agent Van den Broeke. The dark haired woman careened away and slammed into a tree less than a dozen feet away. The sorceress slammed her focus into the ground, splitting it and sending sparks of electricity sizzling out in every direction.
A blast of power shot out from her staff toward Alexandra, but before it struck, the once-king threw her head back and a rumbling, ferocious lion’s growl escaped her lips. Pure iridescent light encased her, then swept out across the clearing in all directions.
Well, I’ve taken a huge step forward in my journey of self-discover, several actually. I’ve been dressing en femme at home. I have found it to be a deeply fulfilling experience and it’s driven home my desire to transition. On that note, yesterday I had an appointment with a doctor who prescribes HRT by informed consent and I am now on my second day of hormones. I couldn’t be more excited.
I came out to my brother and sister-in-law yesterday, and while I would say they were both surprised, they are very supportive. The entire phone call actually seemed a little anti-climatic since I had built it all up in my head and they were very calm and collected about the whole thing. It really warmed my heart to have such a wonderful response. I don’t hold out hope for the rest of my relatives. They are far, far more conservative , but I suppose I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Well, bad news and good news. I didn’t make it as far along with Fall of Kruhl as I would have liked. I was sick until Tuesday (thankfully it was not covid!) and the rest of the week has been pretty eventful.
My computer suffered a small bit of hardware failure. It’s all rather complicated, but basically there is a component that caused some issues. My storage drive would show up in the file explorer, but I was getting errors like ‘the specified folder could not be found’. Some files didn’t get saved to the drive, including the files to Fall of Kruhl and I lost some of what I had written before it could be backed up. I did manage to save some of it with some quick thinking, but unfortunately I lost several paragraphs worth of text so I’ll need to rewrite that. This weekend will be pretty busy for me, so the story update may get pushed back until next week. It all depends on how much I can get done today.
While this is a total bummer, it hasn’t really affected my overall mood. I’m still super giddy about starting HRT.
Everyone have a deliciously demented weekend,
Cherry Springs Nature Trail
Amelia crept forward, her bare feet sinking into the cold soil. She wriggled her toes and grimaced as several small clumps of dirt fell between her toes, but didn’t speak a word. One hand resting on her gun holster, she glanced back at Alexandra crouched just behind her.
Rather than take the trail, as Leoffa would expect, the once-king and the agent agreed that moving through the wilderness might at least give them a small measure of the element of surprise. To keep quiet, the pair had discarded their shoes and the tiny woman had shown Van den Broeke how to move through the brush heel to toe and to select her footing. Amelia’s mastery of the technique was far from perfect, but her companion had noted that it would suffice. Alexandra moved through the woods without even so much as a crinkle of a single leaf.
Amy swallowed, staring into the empty clearing before them. She could make out no movement save for the flicker of flame and billowing of smoke. A fire blazed in the center of the clearing, but one the like of which the agent had never seen. It burned with a brilliant violet iridescent intensity. A rod, ten feet tall, crowned with a gleaming crystalline gemstone was perched within its center.
Agent and former warrior-king met one another’s wide-eyed gazes, neither speaking but both certain they’d found that for which they were looking.
The crystal? Amy mouthed the words and arched an eyebrow.
The shorter woman pressed her lips into a thin line, regarded Amelia and shrugged. Amy stared into the other woman’s eyes for several protracted moments before shaking her head and inching forward. As she moved closer to the clearing, she put a hand up to shield her eyes against the glow of the strange fire.
She was less than four feet from the tree line when she spotted movement. A form, enshrouded in a dark robe, blond tresses billowing out from her hood, stood before the amethyst blaze, staff held before her, its gleaming gem shining with violet light, a mirror to that of the fire. Waldere dangled from her back, held there by an improvised scabbard of cloth and rope.
It seemed Leoffa had reverted to her prior form, the one which her shadow had worn during its assault of Brian’s mind.
Amy swallowed, peering back. Her eyes searching for Alexandra, but she caught no sight of the other woman. The agent cursed under her breath and scanned the immediate area. A slender figure, moved toward the unaware form of the sorceress.
Biting back a warning cry, Amelia tensed, squared her jaw and waited for the inevitable. Her eyes never left the once-king as the other woman inched forward. Mere seconds spanned an eternity, and the agent licked her lips, sweat beading down her forehead in rivulets.
Something was wrong… Amelia’s instincts were screaming at her she needed to take action. She opened her mouth to warn the smaller woman, but she was too slow. Alexandra threw out a hand, snatching at the sword, but her fingers passed into it as if moving through thin air and the sorceress’s dark form vanished.
“Shit,” Amelia cursed, lurching forward after the once-king, but it was too late.
Alexandra’s slender form rose, hovering in the open for several long seconds, before shooting across the clearing and slamming into an ancient oak with a flat thump.
The true Leoffa appeared stepping out from a cluster of trees, gem-topped staff glowing a vibrant amethyst, a perfect match for the violet blaze burning less than a dozen feet away. Her eyes were ablaze with the promise of violence as she rushed toward the agent.
A rush of energy shot out from the length of wood, but the agent was already moving. She threw out both of her hands, and luminescent power cascaded from her open palms. The two blasts met exploding out with a flurry of sparks so brilliant it forced both opponents to clench their eyes shut and avert their gazes.
A soft crunch of leaves and foliage sounded from nearby and Amelia lurched aside before her vision had even cleared. She coughed, a wave of heat washing over her, and she breathed in a shower of dirt.
The agent threw her arms out, swinging blindly, and grunted, sucking in air threw her teeth when her elbow connected with soft flesh. There was a yelp of pain and Amy spun toward its source, a shimmering wall of energy forming in front of her in time to deflect a third burst of energy that cascaded toward her in a bright shower of sparks.
Blinking dirt from her eyes, Amy pulled back one hand and reciprocated, waves of telekinetic force rippling through the clearing before her. Though her vision was still blurry, the agent glimpsed the sorceress soaring away. She did not let up. Tree branches snapped, and foliage tumbled away, scattering in every direction.
Leoffa dove forward, staff rearing back, and slammed it into the ground, using it to anchor herself against the agent’s attack. A soft amethyst glow swept across her body, and she stood upright, a smile creeping across her face as she regarded her opponent. Force rippled out from her in the form of a great violet bubble that swept everything aside in its wake. This new onslaught forced aside dirt, grass, rocks and even uprooted trees.
Amy braced herself, power rippling at her fingertips, but when the rippling torrent struck, it impacted her shield and sent her hurtling away. Her barrier scattered, dissolving into nothing and the agent twirled in the air before hitting chest-first with a dull thud. Amelia gasped between gritted teeth, fighting to bring air into her burning lungs and throbbing chest.
“Such power!” The sorceress’s voice rang out, and Amelia gritted her teeth and rolled onto her side.
Leoffa hurtled toward her, stopped just a few feet away, and slammed the end of her staff into the agent’s chest. Amelia’s form flew back through the air, violent throbbing pain rippling through her body. She rolled to the ground, branches jabbing into her sides with a series of sharp stabs and loud thwacks.
“Too bad, you have no idea how to use it.” Leoffa’s voice seethed with hatred as she raised her staff to strike again, but before she could attack there came a schwing of metal.
The sorceress spun around to face a slight figure. Alexandra, blood dripping down her scalp, had drawn Waldere from its sheath and was backing slowly away, eyes never once leaving her former lover. She had little in the way of upper body strength and she dipped the weapon down, dragging it as she inched away.
Leoffa’s lips twisted into a snarl and a pair of clawed hands came up, electrical energy sizzling out from her palms toward the once-king. Amy could do nothing to help her.
Sorry folks, but I was unable to complete the serial part for this week due a rather fun migraine and several days of insomnia. I won’t make any promises for next week, but I’m optimistic I’ll be able to complete it in time.
Have a deliciously demented day,