17.5k to 40k words

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Hunger Pangs: A DarkRealms Story
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Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder

Hunger Pangs: A DarkRealms Story

Archie was an orphan who never suspected that there was anything out of the ordinary about himself. After bedding a beautiful stranger, he soon finds a strange hunger has awaken within him and learns he is anything but ordinary.

Author’s Note: This is my first and likely only entry in the DarkRealms Universe. The DRU was quite popular for a time on BigCloset Topshelf, but it seems to have dwindled in popularity in recent years. Mainly this tale deals with creatures like Vampires, Succubi and Weres, but DarkRealms also encompassed fairies and other mythological creatures. I’ve been told by a few readers that there are some similarities between this story and the Canadian TV series Lost Girl, but I don’t hail from up North and I doubt I’ll ever watch it. So whatever resemblance the two may have is purely coincidental.

 

It was dark and damp, an altogether unpleasant night, but Leena didn’t notice. She walked through the streets seemingly unaware of the rain that had soaked through her clothing. In her arms she held a child, her infant son. He let out a high pitched wail of pure misery and she did her best to sooth him.

The child continued screaming despite her best efforts and she wept that he would have to experience so much pain. She moved through the streets thinking perhaps she had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but felt relief flood through her when she saw the red-brick building with the covered stoop porch. She wished there was another way, but she knew there wasn’t. The child would be far better off in the hands of humans until he awakened.

She was one of the Unseen, beings believed to be nothing more than a myth by the humans who populated the world. Vampires, weres, and fairies, they were all real and the human world knew nothing of their existence. Her particular breed of unseen, were wanderers by nature,never staying in one place for too long. In ancient times her kind had been called demons and monsters and nearly hunted to extinction. Memories of these times were so deeply ingrained in their minds that they dared not ever trust a human. Humans feared that which that they didn’t understand.

She was old for one of her kind, she remembered those times, if somewhat vaguely, so she was especially wary of humans. Leena sobbed and gently placed the child down on the doorstep. This was not the first she had placed on a doorstep, and she doubted it would be the last. She kissed the boy on the cheek, rapped loudly on the door and ran for it. She turned around the closest corner and watched as the door swung open and a woman wearing a nun’s habit stepped out onto the porch.

The nun looked down at the weeping child and lifted him from the porch. A piece of paper, a note Leena had scrawled hours before fell to the ground and the nun bent over to pick it up. Leena didn’t stay to watch for the Nun’s reaction; she turned her back and walked away. She couldn’t bear to watch anymore, each time she abandoned a child it only seemed to get harder.

Leena walked a few more blocks then returned to the battered old Ford that she had left parked on the street. Once inside, she sat and stared blankly at the steering wheel then she wept for what seemed an eternity. When she was finally able to blink back the tears she started the car and put it into gear. Then she drove off her thoughts on the child she knew she would never see again.

“Goodbye my dear,” she whispered as she merged onto the freeway. It was time to move on…

The wall next to me came alive with the most ungodly noise and I groaned irritably at the sound of my roommate Daniel Corday’s snoring. I sometimes thought that he shook the whole apartment. Shit, it was fucking unearthly! How could that inhuman sound come from the throat of a human being? The closest I could come to describing it was rocks grinding in a blender, but this was worse, much, much worse. I stumbled to my feet and grabbed the pillow off my bed. Maybe I would sleep better on the couch. At least I didn’t have class tomorrow since it was a Saturday.

I stumbled into the small living room and collapsed on the ratty sofa that occupied almost an entire wall. I closed my eyes and was almost asleep when I heard Daniel’s damn snoring again. God, I wanted sleep! I let out a deep sigh and suppressed the urge to sneak into Daniel’s room and smother him with the pillow in my arms. Instead, I sat up on the couch and groaned, running a hand through my hair.

If he weren’t one of the more tolerable roommates I’d ever had, I probably would have tried to find another apartment months ago. Daniel was always respectful and never ate any of my food, or touched any of my things without asking. Not that I had many possessions. We had hit it off almost immediately and had become fairly good friends in the short time that we had shared the apartment. He was the perfect roommate, well at least when he wasn’t shaking the whole goddamn apartment with that unholy snoring.

As great as Daniel was, sometimes I couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous of the guy. He was born and raised in Ravencrest and knew nearly everyone in town. His mom and dad were always stopping over to bring him food or just to visit. I didn’t have that, hell sometimes I thought I’d kill for that. I had spent my entire childhood drifting from orphanage to orphanage and from foster home to foster home. I didn’t have ties to anyone or anything.

It sounded like some stupid clichĂ©, but when I was just a little baby I was left on the doorstep of an orphanage, in Virginia of all places, with a note that said simply, “Please find my child a loving home, he deserves far better than I could ever hope to provide.” Whoever wrote the note didn’t ever bother telling them my name, if I had ever been given a name. So instead the nun that found me stuck me with the name Archibold Tucker. Yeah, that’s my name; I took a lot of shit for that such a freaking weird ass name growing up, so I go by Archie which is only slightly more tolerable.

Despite being bounced around from school to school in my teen years I did pretty well. I figured my only way of making a future for myself was getting good grades in school. I did well, not spectacular mind, but pretty damn good nonetheless. I spent a lot of time, studying on my own to keep myself from falling behind and even convinced one of my foster parents to let me take the SAT. I scored well enough to get a scholarship to Ravencrest University and that’s how I ended up in this shit hole of a town.

Daniel’s snoring continued in the other room and I sighed, and sank back down into the sofa. Even though I could still hear that damn racket I was too tired to go back to my room. Shit, I really needed to get some earplugs or something. I closed my eyes and eventually managed to drift off to sleep despite all the noise.

“Crap man,” Daniel said as I stumbled over to the small card table that passed for our kitchen table. “You look tired.”

“Yeah, well who could sleep with your snoring,” I said with a grunt and collapsed into the chair opposite my roommate.

“Sorry man, I can’t help it,” Daniel said with a sheepish grin.

“You should really see a doctor or something. That sound you make… It’s unnatural,” I said with a shake of my head.

Daniel chuckled. “It can’t be that bad can it?”

I glared at Daniel but didn’t say another word. Instead I got up and stumbled across the room to the single cupboard that housed all our dishes as well as what little dry food we kept in the apartment. I grabbed a bowl as well as a box of Loco Kokos then nabbed the milk out of the small black mini-fridge and sat back down at the table.

“So there’s this club, everyone’s talking about, called The Pit. It’s supposed to be pretty sick. I was gonna check it out tonight. I hear there’s usually a lot of hot chicks hanging around the place. You want to come with?”

“Shit no,” I said after pouring cereal and milk into his bowl. “I need to study.”

“Oh, come on man! You hardly get out at all except to go to classes. You can study tomorrow.”

“You know I have to work tomorrow, and those places are always so crowded and they probably won’t let us inside anyway,” I said after swallowing my first bite of cereal.

Truthfully, Daniel rarely had trouble getting into those places. He was six-foot-three and was packed with solid muscle. He wasn’t exactly handsome, but that didn’t seem to bother the women who dated him and were usually pretty hot. Conversely, I was five-nine, had a long hawk-like nose, red-hair, and a face-full of freckles. I had never had much success at night clubs or girls in general. Most girls usually had eyes for much better looking guys. Let’s face it I’ve never been much of a looker.

“The doorman is my cousin. I can guarantee I can get us in. Tell you what. We’ll go for two hours if you don’t want to stay after that we’ll leave.”

“Thirty minutes,” I said flatly. “That’s as long as I’ll stay.”

“An hour,” Daniel countered with a grin on his face.

“Fine, an hour,” I said feeling for all the world as if I had just been handed the raw end of a stick. Shit, how did Daniel do it?

“God Damnit,” I said when the can of chili I had been holding fell to the floor. I reached down and brushed it with the tips of my fingers, but it rolled away before I could get a hold on it. Still bent over, I watched it spin clear to the end of the aisle. With a sigh I walked over to where it settled and bent over to pick it up, but before I could reach it, some freaking asshole with boots that were so well polished I could see my reflection in them came by and kicked it. I don’t think it was on purpose, but shit he should have been paying attention.

I growled under my breath and chased after the can snatching it off the floor just before it could roll into the bakery. I worked as a stock boy at Kona’s a small market in Ravencrest. The pay wasn’t great, but it was enough to cover rent and a few other things my scholarship didn’t cover. Maybe if I got that specialist position that had opened up, I’d have a little extra cash.

I absently looked over into the bakery and noted two men facing each other. Normally, this wouldn’t have caught my attention, but there was something about the men that seemed just a little off. They held themselves stiffly and they stuck out like a sore thumb. I moved a bit closer and started to pull forward some bags of sliced bread that been pushed to the back of the shelf. I didn’t know why, but those guys really put me on edge. Then I noticed that both men wore polished black boots like the one that had kicked the can of chili.

The first, a tall gray-haired man with an unlit cigarette in his mouth spoke, “Son, you didn’t find what we are looking for, did you?”

“Not yet, but I think I will find it in town,” the second younger man said.

“Good,” the father said. “I’ll plan everything for tomorrow morning, I’d hate for your sister’s surprise to be spoiled if you can’t find it.”

The son grinned, “Trust me, si- uh, Dad. I’m confident I’ll have found it by then.”

The father smiled coolly, “Very good then. I have things to see to, if you need any assistance I’m sure your brothers will be willing to help out. If there are any problems call me.”

The older man pulled a lighter out of his pocket and made as if to light it. “Sir,” I said. “You can’t smoke that in here.”

The older man ignored me and lit the cigarette, damn what a fucking asshole. He turned to leave and blew smoke into my face as he passed by. A few seconds later the gray-haired man left the store. Thankfully, the smoke didn’t seem to have any effect on the fire system.

The younger man glared at me for some weird reason and shook his head, “If you know what’s good for you kid. You’ll stay home tonight,” he told me then followed his father out of the store.

What the Hell? Stay home tonight? Somehow I got the feeling these two assholes were knee deep in some pretty scary shit. I shook my head and laughed, yeah fucking right. For a minute I had even convinced myself that the men were speaking in code like they did in those over-the-top spy movies, but that was just ridiculous. Nothing like that could ever happen in Ravencrest, nothing interesting ever happened in Ravencrest.

With another chuckle, I remembered the can of chili I still had clutched in my hand and turned away to go put it back on the shelf.

“Dan my man!” The giant mass of muscles that was the doorman said bumping fists with Daniel.

“Hey man,” Daniel said. “Archie, this is my cousin Stu. Stu this is my roommate Archie. You know the guy I told you about.”

Stu gave Daniel a hesitant look. “I’m sure your friend is cool, Danny boy, but you know this place has certain rules about who can enter.”

“In other words I’m too big of a loser for you to let me in,” I muttered bitterly, fucking asshole. “I might as well go home.”

Daniel clamped a big hand on my shoulder and pulled me close before I could take a single step. “No, you’re not going home man. Stu let us in. Come on, I promised him, man.”

“Fuck, Mr. Breem is going be so pissed if he finds out I let him in. Go on get in before I change my mind,” Stu shook his head motioned us both inside.

Before I could mutter a single freaking word of protest Daniel clamped down even harder and dragged me into the club. “This is for your own good, man. You spend too much time alone. You need to get a girl.”

“Shit I don’t know, man, I don’t belong in a place like this. All these girls are way out of my league,” I said looked around at all the hot girls.

“Dude,” Daniel said. “It’s all in the attitude. You got to act confident and the girls will flock to you.”

“Easy for you to say,” I grumbled glancing at Daniel’s broad shoulders and heavily muscled arms enviously. I had never once seen my roommate work out, yet somehow he seemed to be able to maintain his physique.

“See that girl over there she just looked your way. I bet if you offered to buy her a drink. She’d dance with you,” Daniel said giving me a gentle shove.

I looked to where my friend had motioned to and felt my jaw drop to the damn floor. He couldn’t be serious, could he!? Shit! A girl with long brown hair and a sultry smile looked across the room at me or seemed to. That girl was a total bombshell, I couldn’t hope to get a girl like to even glance at me. Yet she was, or I thought she might be.

I nervously stepped onto the dance floor and approached the woman. She smiled, “You came in with muscles?” She asked giving Daniel an appreciative glance.

“Uh, yeah,” I said with a nervous gulp.

“Is he seeing anyone?”

“Uh, no. I don’t think so,” I replied stupidly and before I knew it the damn woman had stepped past me. Damn fucking whore. I didn’t have to look back to know she was moving toward Daniel.

I worked up the nerve to approach a couple more girls, but each time it ended badly. One outright laughed at me, another walked off without a word and the rest almost seemed to cringe when I neared. With a sigh I left the dance floor and headed right for the bar sitting along the north wall.

I glanced over and was surprised to see a familiar face sitting a few seats down from him at the bar. It was one of those assholes that had come into work, the son. “Did you ever find whatever it was you were looking for?” I asked.

“Why’s it any business of yours,” the man spat glaring at me then downed the rest of his drink.

“You should have stayed home kid. You might find yourself involved in the worst sort of trouble. Go home before it’s too late,” he said then stood to leave.

The man strode off before I could even think of responding. Shit, something was up with that guy; I just wish I knew what it was. I wasn’t about to be scared off by some weird ass mother fucker who got his jollies from telling people weird ass shit. I sighed and shook my head; it was time for another round of humiliation. Daniel would never let me hear the end of it if I sat at the bar the whole time.

“Tough luck on the dance floor?” a sultry voice asked just as I was about to stand.

I turned to look and felt my breath catch in my throat. The woman that was leaning against the bar a few feet from me was easily the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. She had long red hair, bright blue eyes, a figure to make any man weak at the knees and a black form fitting dress that clung to her hour-glass figure as if it might blow away at any moment. She oozed sex from every pore and I couldn’t help but undress her with my mind. She almost gave the impression of a wild animal ready to spring on its prey. It was a ridiculous thought, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

“I’m Selina,” she said with a purr.

“Archibold,”I said trying my best not to gape at the bombshell, “But everyone calls me Archie.”

“Nice to meet you, Archie. You’re a virgin aren’t you? I like virgins they taste good,” she said. “And what they lack in ability they make up for with their zest.”

I swallowed hard, how the fuck had she known I was a virgin? Something in the back of my mind told me this woman was dangerous and maybe I should steer clear of her. I got the feeling that the stranger’s warning to go home had something to do with Selina, but like almost any guy my cock won out. I almost told her to buzz off, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I shook my head and cast all doubts aside. I must be freaking nuts, how often did someone like me get a chance to score with a girl like that?

“Y-yes,” I said.

“Good,” she said with another purr. “Let’s dance.”

Without another word she grabbed my hand and led me out onto the dance floor.

I was usually an average dancer at best, but that night I moved with the music effortlessly. As good as I was Selina was better. Each move, each sway of the hips had a grace that few women could match. It felt like hours that we were out there on the dance floor, but it couldn’t have been more than three or four songs. When they were finally done, I would have done almost anything to get her in bed. I had never wanted anything so bad in my life.

“You want something to drink?” I said.

Selina smiled, “I would love a drink.”

“I’ll have a Jack and coke,” I said. “And they lady would like–” I stopped short and looked to Selina with the question in my eyes.

“–would like sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist,” Selina finished for me.

“You’re an excellent dancer,” she said.

“Uh, thanks,” I said rubbing at the back of neck. “You’re good too. No, fuck that you’re amazing. I’ve never seen a person move like that.”

“Do you have a place nearby?” she asked suddenly.

“Sure,” I said in shock. Shit, was this really happening? “I live a few blocks away.”

“Take me,” she said and grabbed hold of my hand possessively.

In a shocked daze I led Selina through the club. Half-way to the door I locked eyes with Daniel who flashed me a surprised but approving smile then gave me a thumbs-up. A few moments later we were out of the club. Stu was just as surprised, but he didn’t say a word as Selina and I left together. When I glanced back, the big doorman gave me a thumbs up and an approving smile that was nearly identical to the one Daniel had given me.

Selina was quiet as we walked to the apartment. I was still shocked that such a beautiful woman would want to see my apartment. Shit, I was afraid that if I said anything I’d scare her away. It was pretty damn chilly, so I offered Selina my jacket but she declined with a weird glimmer of amusement in her eyes. Finally we reached the apartment and I fumbled for the keys for what felt like an eternity before finding the right one. My hands were shaking as I fit it into the lock and turned the handle. “It’s not much, bu–”

“It will suffice,” she said walking into the apartment and looking around.

“Uh, make yourself comfortable then,” I said looking around the place, half expecting someone to pop out and tell me I was a victim of some strange practical joke. I stared at her chest and quickly looked away when I realized I staring. She was so hot, I couldn’t believe she was standing in my apartment. Again something in the back of my head tried to tell me that something was seriously wrong, but I didn’t listen. I would do almost anything to score with Selina.

“Let me be blunt with you, Archie. I’m only here for one reason, I want sex. I don’t care if we talk or what the place looks like,” she said with a sultry smile.

“Uh, well then I’ll show you to my bedroom,” I said disbelievingly as I swung my bedroom door open.

She walked in then turned back to me with that sultry smile on her face. My knees almost gave away at the sight of her, but I managed to stumble into my room and swung the door shut behind me. She stroked my cheek then suddenly our lips were locked and I thought I was going to die from shock. I don’t know who had initiated the kiss, but damn it felt good.

We broke away long enough for Selina to slip out of her dress and began to unbuttoning my shirt. I fumbled with her bra for a minute before I could figure out how to undo the damn hooks and then the bra fell to the floor and we were both naked. I was really dizzy for some reason and there was this weird sensation like something was tugging at me from the inside and it was then that I knew with a certainty I had made a terrible mistake bringing Selina home. Something was seriously wrong, but no matter how much I tried I couldn’t stop myself. Whatever was happening I felt like I was being sapped of energy. The moment my cock finally pierced her was a moment of pure exquisite agony. The pain exploded through my body and Selina moaned in delight seemingly unaware anything was wrong.

Again and again I pierced her and I grew weaker and weaker until everything faded into darkness and I lost consciousness.

Selina moaned in delight as energy poured into her. She had never imagined that anyone could have so much pent up sexual energy. She wouldn’t need to feed for days perhaps even a week after tonight. A human woman would have been disappointed by the boy’s poor performance as a lover, but Selina didn’t care. He was a virgin, after all, he couldn’t be expected to perform as well as a more seasoned man. Truthfully, it was his sexual energies she sought.

She gasped as another orgasm trickled through her body and she shivered in pure ecstasy. Selina was a succubus. She fed on the sexual energies of men. Ancient lore labeled her kind as demons, but nothing could be further from the truth. She was one of the unseen, beings of supernatural origin that remained hidden to humans. She wasn’t evil, and wished no harm to humans, but she needed to feed on them in order to survive. Tomorrow the boy would wake feeling weak and would have a terrible headache, but would otherwise feel fine.

She gasped again, but this time it wasn’t from pleasure it was from shock. No wonder she had found herself so strongly drawn to this boy. She felt a familiar pang of hunger and it took her a moment to understand that it was not coming from her, but from the boy. Had she realized what the boy was she never would have seduced him. Self-loathing and anger flooded through her as she climaxed and felt the boy collapse from exhaustion. She had drawn more from the boy than she had intended, but not enough to cause any permanent harm.

Normally once she had fed on someone she would leave and let them wake wondering if it had all been a dream if they even remembered at all, but this time she wouldn’t. No, she couldn’t not after what she had done. He would need someone to guide him and to teach him how to feed. He would have awakened eventually on his own, but by feeding on him she had accelerated the process. Now it was just a matter of time.

Poor boy, he would discover the truth soon enough…

 

 

I groaned as the light to my bedroom flicked on. “Holy Fuck, it wasn’t a dream,” was the first thing out of my mouth.

“No,” Selina said with sad smile. “It wasn’t. I need to tell you something. It won’t be easy for you to hear, but it cannot be helped.”

I shook my head in a vain attempt to clear my thoughts. Why was I so tired? Why the Hell did I feel like I’d had the shit beat out of me? I felt weak, like I was sick or something. I had some strange recollections from last night, but they were jumbled and didn’t make much sense. I vaguely remembered having sex with Selina and growing weak, but there didn’t seem to be any reason for it.

“Uh, yeah okay,” I muttered

“There is no easy way to say this so I’ll just say it. I am a succubus; I feed on the sexual energies of men, and the occasional woman but they are never as filling as a male lover.”

“A succubus? Uh, okay whatever,” I said sitting up.

“I am telling the truth.”

“Shit, this is a joke right? Who put you up to this?” I asked in disbelief.

“It is not a joke,” she folded her arms across her naked breasts.

“Please just listen,” she said before I could say anything. “I am a succubus and so are you.”

“Okay,” I said standing up and looked down at my naked body. I teetered on my feet. Shit, why was I so weak? It took a lot of effort, but I was able to stumble across the room where my pants and boxers lay in a heap. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”

“Listen to me!” She said throwing up her hands in frustration. “I knew there was something different about you when I found you last night. I thought it was because you were a virgin, but that wasn’t it at all. You had so much pent up sexual energy I didn’t realize it was because you were a succubus.”

“Right, I’m a female sex demon. Did I sprout breasts last night when I wasn’t looking?” I said looking down at my flat chest.

“Shit this is getting weird,” I muttered as I pulled on my boxers and pants and reached over for my shirt which lay a few feet away. “I knew there was something odd about this whole thing. You’re a fucking loon.”

“Men!” she said angrily. “You are an orphan, right?”

“How the hell did you know that?!” I demanded angrily.

“Because almost all of us are! When a succubus gives birth to a child she abandons it. It is in our nature to wander and a child will only hinder our ability to feed,” she said. “You are the offspring of a succubus and an incubus and by feeding on you I awoke the succubus within you.”

“Okay, I really think it’s time you leave. I don’t know what sort of shit you’re hopped up on but–”

There was a loud thud from somewhere in the apartment. What the hell was that? I, stopped to listen then moved across my room and poked my head out the door. Daniel was just passing my bedroom when several more thuds sounded from the front door of the apartment and it collapsed out of its frame.

I watched in disbelief as men wearing plain clothes and toting guns rushed into the apartment. I probably would have stayed there gaping if it hadn’t been for Daniel. “Get out of here!” he growled then forced my head back through the door and slammed it shut behind me.

“They’ve come for me,” Selina said, but my eyes remained on the door. I tried to force it back open, but Daniel must have put his weight against it because I couldn’t get it to budge.

There was a scream from the other side and a something that almost sounded like a wild animal roaring. What the hell was that? I shook my head then turned around to find that Selina had somehow dressed herself in some of my clothes in the short time that I had been at the door.

“Shit,” I muttered even wearing my clothes she looked smoking hot.

“We must leave,” she said.

“I am not leaving Daniel to those people whoever the hell they are! He’s the only friend I have!” I said shouting angrily.

Another roar and another scream came from the other side of the door. A rapid succession of dull thuds pounded into the door. I looked at it, and felt my heart sink. There was no way Daniel could survive not with those assholes shooting at him. I moved toward the window and a cold blast of wind blasted me in the face as I shoved it open. God, I wanted to make those assholes pay, but if I stayed I probably would die too.

“Shit, I don’t know what you’ve gotten me involved in.”

I kicked the screen out then helped Selina climb through. There was a bit of a drop to the snowy ground below, but Selina jumped through and landed effortlessly on her feet. Shit she made it look easy. I looked back at the door on more time, and watched wide-eyed as the door collapsed in the frame. Something big occupied the doorway; it stood on two massive paws, had a short nub of a tail, a thick coat of brown fur and looked for all the world like the rear end of a bear on its hind legs.

“What the hell?” I said and scurried out the window. It couldn’t be what it looked like, could it? I tumbled to the ground and landed gracelessly in the cold wet snow below.

“Come,” Selina said gripping my shoulder. “We must hurry.”

‘What the hell did I just see?’ I thought to myself as I let her lead me away from the apartment window.

I stumbled and almost fell to my knees as we walked. Wondering, not for the first time, what the hell was wrong with me, I crawled back onto my feet and followed after Selina. Jumping out the window had taken a lot more out of me than I cared to admit. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to put one foot in front of another. Each step was harder, but I kept standing out of sheer stubbornness.

We hadn’t walked very far when two thugs with tranquilizers guns appeared in front of us. “Don’t move,” said the one on the left, a brown-haired man.

Selina smiled seductively and took a few steps forward. “Why don’t you boys put those weapons down and I can show you a good time.”

The man on the right, a blond man with a scar running from left to cheek to just below his jaw line, let his gun fall to his side, but it lasted only a second and his weapon was once again pointed at Selina.

“Get down on the ground, freak,” the one with the scar spat.

For a moment Selina’s smile faltered, but when she fell to her knees it returned with a wicked cast to it. Her skin seemed to ripple taking on an almost purple color, a set of curled ram-like horns appeared on the side of her head a few inches above her ears and a pair of leathery bat wings shot out from her back tearing a big hole in the back of the shirt.

“Damn, that was my favorite shirt,” I muttered. I know it was a weird thing to say under the circumstances, but it was the first thing that popped into my head.

Scarface’s hands were shaking, “Don’t move!” he yelled as Selina stood back on her feet.

If Selina had been attractive before, she seemed even more so after her transformation. Before she merely oozed sex from every pour, with her transformation she was sex defined. The bat-wings and the ram horns didn’t detract from her appearance somehow they made her seem more alluring. She walked over to the two thugs and traced her hand across Scarface’s cheek.

“Put the guns down,” Selina said softly.

Scarface complied, but the brown-haired thug seemed more in control of himself. “I’m warning you!” he screamed.

“Kill him,” Selina said with a pout of her lips. Scarface responded immediately, dropping the tranquilizer gun, he pulled a handgun from a holster under his jacket and shot his companion between the eyes.

“Very good,” she purred with another seductive smile.

Scarface didn’t say a word he merely stared at her chest with obvious lust on his face.

“Holy Hell,” I said nearly hysterical.. “You really are a succubus!”

“Yes, I am,” she said her smile faltering. For a brief moment a deep sadness seemed to pass across her face. For some reason I got this weird urge to go over and hug her and tell her everything would be alright. Then that look of sadness was gone from her face and sanity returned to me.

“You are a very good boy,” she said glancing down at Scarface’s crotch where he had a massive erection and lopsided grin on his face. “Maybe later you and I can have some fun. Take me to your car, and deal with your friends should any try to resist us.”

“Come, Archibold,” Selina commanded turning to follow Scarface.

Yeah right, like I was going anywhere with her. Not after what I had seen. Shit, she was just as dangerous if not more so than the thugs that had attacked us. “No,” I say planting my feet firmly on the ground.

She stopped and motioned for the thug to stop as well. “Why?”

“Why?! After that shit you just pulled you need to ask why!?”

“You’re far better off with me,” she said. “If they get hold of you they will do worse than kill you. Even if you don’t believe me about you being a succubus they’ll kill you just to make sure you don’t tell anyone what has happened here.”

“No,” I repeated, “I’ll take my chances with them. How can I trust you?”

“If I wanted you any harm to come to you, you would be lying there on the ground in a puddle of your own blood,” she said calmly. “Please Archie, you cannot survive without my help. I did what had to be done. I would gladly undo it if I could. If there had been any other way… Please, there is no time. If they don’t know we’ve escaped yet they soon will.” she said a pleading tone in her voice.

“Watch out,” she screamed suddenly and I dove to the ground. Pain exploded on the top of my head and I reached up to feel blood trickling down my scalp.

“Take care of them, my lovely.” I heard Selina say sweetly. For a few moments bullets whizzed overhead then everything fell dead silent.

“Get up,” Selina said. “It’s safe now.”

“God damn you!” I screamed in fury. “Can’t you see I’ve been shot?”

“Where?”

“My head, shit it hurts!” I yelled back at her.

Selina hands grasped my head and I heard her snort. “You were just barely grazed. You’ll be fine. Please, we need to leave. There will be more of them soon.”

I got back on my feet and grimaced, “Shit I need some damn Tylenol.”

“Are you coming or not?” she asked already moving away from me.

“Damn, I’m probably going to regret this,” I said, but moved to follow. I didn’t trust Selina, but she hadn’t tried to kill me, so I was probably better off with her than them.

“Take us to the car, dear,” Selina said turning back to Scarface.

Scarface nodded and led us to a dark-blue SUV parked on the other side of the building. “Darrell, what the he–” A short man with close-cropped brown hair started to say, but was stopped short as ‘Darrell’ pumped bullets into his chest. Without even so much as blinking he pulled the dead man out of the car and killed the man in the driver’s seat before he could pull his weapon from its holster.

“Collect their weapons and sit down in the passenger seat, my lovely,” Selina said patting Darrell’s cheek and smiling happily.

“Archie, can you drive, please?” Selina asked as Scarface bent over to collect the discarded weapons.

“Me?” I muttered in protest. “Why the fuck do you want me to drive?”

“Because our dear friend is too enthralled to focus on the road, and I need to maintain this form in order to keep hold of him,” she said her wings twitching. “I think it best if I sit in the back where I cannot be seen.”

“This is too freaking weird. God, I hope this is all a dream,” I said with a shake of my head and walked around to the other side of the car.

I pulled the door open and the corpse in the driver’s seat tumbled out of the car. I started dry heaving at the sight of the dead body. I turned my head away, but it was already too late. I vomited on the ground next to the corpse. There hadn’t been much in my stomach so it was mostly bile. Shivering I stepped over the body and climbed into the car.

Selina hopped into the back and Darrell’s eyes followed her every move. The big thug had a huge grin on his face, and he turned back in his seat so he could keep his eyes on Selina. It creeped the hell out of me. “So where to?”

“After we find another car I think we need a place to hide. You’re too exhausted to go very far or I’d recommend leaving town.” Selina said leaning awkwardly forward from the back seat.

“Fuck! Why the hell do we need another car?” I muttered.

“Do you want to drive around in a stolen car owned by the people chasing us? If they have some means of tracking this car we’d be in a world of a trouble. Worse yet they could report it missing and we’ll have the police after us too.”

“Okay, okay I get your point. So what, we go steal another car?”

“Drive and I will tell you,” she said.

“Right,” I muttered as I turned the key in the ignition.

“Find an office parking lot,” she said. “It’s almost ten, most offices will be open for business,” she said blandly.

“And?” I spat at her.

She shrugged, “And we steal a car. It will be several hours before anyone notices it’s missing. Long enough for us to find a place to hide and ditch the car.”

We met no resistance as the SUV pulled out of the parking lot. “Okay, who the hell were those guys?” I asked after several moments of silence.

Selina sighed and shook her head, “I don’t really know much about them to be honest. I know only that they call themselves the Tenebris Petentibus. A few months ago, they captured me, and did all sorts of things to me.”

“Things? What sort of things?”

“Some sort of surgical experiments. There didn’t seem to be any reason behind it all. They never explained themselves,” she said with a shudder. “I managed to escape, and they’ve been chasing after me ever since. I thought I had lost them when I came to Ravencrest.”

“Yeah well, you thought wrong and now I’m caught up in this mess,” I growled staring back at her through the rear view mirror. “Shit, what did you say they called themselves?”

“The Tenebris Petentibus,” Selina replied with downcast eyes.

“Sound like Latin, Daniel would have known what it meant,” I muttered angrily. Daniel didn’t look the type but he was minoring in linguistics and was a wiz when it came to languages.

“He’s probably dead now thanks to you,” I added with a growl.

“The muscular fellow you came into the club with? I wouldn’t be so quick to count him out,” she replied with a knowing smile.

“Yeah sure, those guys just let him walk out of the apartment,” I replied my voice dripping with sarcasm. I slammed on the brakes as the light turned red. “Just give me one reason why I shouldn’t get out of this car right now. I’m beginning to wonder if coming with you was such a good idea. You’re a freaking sex demon for Christ sakes! How can I trust you?”

Selina shook her head, “I do not serve the devil, if he even exists, if that’s what you’re worried about. I do feed on sex, but believe me when I say I wish I didn’t have too.”

“And what about our friend?” I said jerking my head toward Darrell as the light turned green again.

“What exactly did you do to him anyway?” I asked slamming my foot down on the accelerator.

“He is a slave to my will,” she said with a shrug.

“Well gee, that sure cleared things up didn’t it?”

Selina sighed, “It is not an ability I am particularly fond of using. When I am in this form I can sometimes form a link between myself and a man. When I do so they become mindless thralls who will do anything to please me.”

“Can you at least try and get some information out of him? I mean if he’s a slave to your will like you say, can’t you just ask him about his buddies?”

“He can no longer speak and the longer I keep my hold on him the more of his mind is lost,” she said sadly.

I shuddered, “Shit, I’m glad you didn’t use that on me.”

“As I said it is not an ability I like to use. I only use it in dire circumstances and it only works on people with weak minds. Besides it wouldn’t have worked on you.”

“Oh, right. Because I’m supposed to be a Succubus too.”

“Yes.”

“Shit, and I’m supposed to just take your word for it? No offense, but that’s a load of bullshit,” I growled suddenly swerving into a parking lot.

“Will this place work or do you want to steal your car somewhere else?” I spat glaring at her through the rear view mirror.

“It will suffice,” she said calmly as the SUV came to a stop.

“You know I’ve never stolen a car,” I muttered.

“I have,” she muttered with a shudder as her skin started to ripple and her horns and wings shrunk back into her skin and disappeared.

“What the hell are you doing? I thought you needed to stay like that to keep control of him!” I said yelling at her hysterically.

Darrell frowned then glanced at me for a moment, then that stupid grin returned to his face and he looked back at Selina.

“There is no cause for concern,” she said as her changes completed. “He won’t be a problem. He is mine now, no matter what form I am in.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” I muttered swinging the door open and hopped out of the car.

Besides still being really weak, I was starting to feel really odd. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but there was this strange need building inside of me. I didn’t know what would satisfy it, but it was getting stronger by the minute. It was freezing cold out, but despite that I was sweating my ass off. My hands were shaking and I felt as if I might collapse from sheer exhaustion at any moment. My teeth started to chatter and I could feel a headache coming on.

“Archie, oh god, not now,” Selina said somewhere nearby.

I blinked and shook my head trying to clear it, “What?”

“It’s starting,” she said, but it seemed as if she were speaking from really far off.

A small part of me wanted to ask what she meant, but that part of me was rapidly diminishing. What really mattered was my need and how I might fulfill it. I looked around and spotted Darrell and a slow smile crept across my face. Darrell had what I needed; maybe he would give it to me. I walked over to him and reached for his crotch. ‘No!’ something inside of me screamed. I quickly snatched my hand back and looked down at it disbelievingly and fell to my knees. What the hell was I doing? What had I almost done? The need was strong, but I couldn’t let myself give in. The need continued to grow in me and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could resist. I looked up at Darrell, at his erect crotch, and licked my lips. He had what I needed, why shouldn’t I partake?

“Archie, no!” Selina said. “Not here!”

“Step off bitch. He’s mine! I need what he has!” I growled jumping to my feet and rounding on her.

“No!” I screamed suddenly and fell back to my knees. No, no, no… My head was spinning, everything was wrong and I starting yelling at the top of my lungs. Distantly I remember hearing the sound of footsteps nearby, but it wasn’t until the man grew close that it really registered.

“Miss, are you okay? Are these guys bothering you?” he said. He looked down at me with a disapproving thrown then over to Darrell with the same look.

I looked up at the newcomer. He had what I needed, he had lots of it. He was a big fellow, but if I acted quickly I might be able to pin him to the ground and get what I needed. I leapt at him and laughed with glee as we both fell to the ground in a heap. We struggled for a few moments, but in the end I managed to reach for his pants and unzip them. For some reason his dick was limp, a part of me, a very small part now, was happy about this. The rest of me howled with rage then I reached inside of myself and it was like I flicked on a switch.

A stupid grin formed on the man’s face and I laughed triumphantly as I wrapped my hand around his now erect appendage and began to suck what I needed from him. God, it felt so good! I could never have imagined anything feeling so invigorating. Why hadn’t I done it sooner? His energy filled me up and I laughed from the sheer ecstasy, but something was missing. It wasn’t enough. There had to be a better way to get what I needed. He stopped struggling and I think he must have passed out, but I continued to drain him.

Suddenly, I was being pulled away and I screaming in rage. “Let go!”

“Archie,” Selina said. “Please you have to snap out of it. I promise I will let you feed when we are somewhere safe.”

“You don’t understand,” I said with a sob. “He has what I need! Why won’t you let me have it!”

Something slammed into my face and I thought I might black out, then suddenly everything snapped back into focus and I gasped. “Shit,” I muttered feeling bile rise in my throat. “What the hell did you do to me?”

“I slapped you,” she said staring at me blandly. “Darrell, my sweet let him down.”

Darrell let go of me and I fell to the ground. “God that hurt,” I groaned.

“What is happening to me?” I said curling up into a fetal position.

“I’m sorry Archie, I really am, I tried to tell you that you were a succubus,” she said putting her hand on my shoulder.

“Fuck, I practically raped that I guy,” I said with a shudder.

“You nearly drained him dry, he will wake feeling extremely weak and in all likelihood have no memory of what happened. No lasting harm has been done to him,” she said with a sympathetic look on her face.

“Is that what you tell yourself to make you feel better about preying on people?” I said between gritted teeth

“Please we need to go, they could–”

“No! I don’t want to be like you! Just leave me to die!” I screamed in rage and misery.

“Please, Archie,” she said practically begging me.

“No!”

“Darrell, pick him back up. If he won’t come willingly then we’ll have to do it the hard way,” she said sadly.

Darrell bent over and locked a huge arm around my waist then he lifted me up and draped me over a shoulder like a sack of flour. I tried to resist, but it was to no avail, Darrell was just too damn strong. I tried to kick and punch him, but the blows didn’t seem to have any effect at all.

“Put him down,” a voice said suddenly and stared in shock at the person holding a gun just a few feet away.

“Holy Shit! Daniel you’re alive!” were the first words out of my mouth.

Daniel looked pretty battered and bruised and he had a blood-stained cloth wrapped around his left arm just above his elbow, but at least he was alive. The gun he had aimed at Selina looked identical to the one that Darrell had holstered under his jacket. Daniel had probably picked it up from one of the guys who had attacked the apartment. “I said put him down!” Daniel commanded glaring at Darrell intently.

“Put him down, my dear,” Selina said with a faint smile.

Again, Darrell dropped me to the ground. Shit, why couldn’t Selina have been more specific? I grunted against the pain then scrambled to my feet. “Daniel,” I said. “It’s alright you can put the gun down.”

Daniel glanced at Selina and Darrell warily, then he nodded and tucked the gun into the back of his pants. “Please tell me you know what’s going on,” he said with a wary sigh.

“Shit man, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I replied with a wry grin.

“This is all your fault, isn’t it?!” Daniel asked between clench teeth as he rounded on Selina. “I should have never let Archie leave the club with you.”

Selina sighed, “If you are referring to the gunmen, they are after me, near as far as I can tell I did nothing to warrant their attention.”

Daniel shook head and spoke between gritted teeth, “Let’s get out of here. Then you, Archie and I are going to have a long talk.”

Selina nodded, “Archie, can you walk on your own?”

“Even if I couldn’t I wouldn’t let Darrell carry me. Don’t we still need a ride?”

“I got that covered. Come on, if we stay here much longer someone is bound to call the police if they haven’t already,” Daniel said motioning for us to follow.

“Wait, what about him?” I said pointed down to the guy lying there on the ground. I couldn’t just leave him there, not after what I had done to him.

Selina walked over to me and placed her hand on my shoulder, “Leave him, he’s better off.”

“Someone could come by and run him over. We should at least put him somewhere warm,” I said.

Selina smiled sympathetically, “Yes, we can do that at least.”

Struck with a sudden idea, I reached down and stuck my hand down in his pockets. A wave of dizziness swept over me, and I fought down the urge to start feeding on him again. I pulled his keys out and felt a small sense of satisfaction when I found what I wanted on his key chain, a key fob. With a deep breath I turned away from him, and felt my need to feed dwindle. I handed the key fob to Selina, “We could probably find his car with this.”

Selina nodded and pressed a button on the small remote, the horn on a nearby car started blaring. She pressed the button again, and silenced the car. “Darrell, my dear pick the gentleman up and kindly place him in the car.”

Darrell bent over to pick the guy up and I moved to open the car door so he could set him down. After the man was seated, I bent down to straighten his legs and felt that same hungry feeling come over me and quickly stepped away. I let Selina finish up for me, she put the keys back in his pocket and slammed the car door shut.

“We better get out of here,” Daniel said when it was all finished.

“Yeah, lead the way,” I said.

We followed him down a few rows and stopped at a huge silver king-cab truck. “It belongs to Stu,” he explained as he opened the passenger side door and pulled the seat forward.

“Why don’t you sit in back like a good boy,” Selina said tracing a finger across Darrell’s cheek.

The big thug climbed into the rear seat with the usual stupid grin on his face and I got in after him. “You sure you want to sit back there with that guy? There’s something that sets me on edge about him,” Daniel said grabbing my shoulder.

“It’s probably for the best. Fuck, I’d be more worried about me if I were you,” I said, and received a sharp look from Daniel before I climbed into the back seat. Shit, if I tried to feed on Daniel while he was driving it would spell disaster for us all.

Selina slid into the front passenger seat, and a moment later Daniel hopped in the driver’s side. “So where to?”

“Some place where we can hide until things settle down,” Selina said.

“I know just the place,” Daniel replied with a shake of his head.

He started the truck and sped out of the parking lot. “Okay, someone tell me what’s going on now.”

Selina glanced back at me with a warning look then let out a sigh. “How might you answer if I said ‘What lies in the shadows remains unseen'”?

Daniel glanced over at Selina with a surprised look on his face, “Well, if you’re saying what I think you’re saying, I’d say the two of us should talk somewhere a bit more private.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary,” Selina said.

“Yeah, well I disagree,” he shot back.

“You’re a were, aren’t you?” Selina said suddenly.

Daniel slammed on the brakes and turned to stare at Selina with his mouth hanging open. Selina met his gaze and the two just sat there staring at each other for almost a minute. Cars whizzed past us honking their horns as the passed by, one almost rear-ended the truck.

It was Selina that finally broke the silence, “Don’t worry. Archie and I are both Unseen, and Darrell, well he couldn’t tell anyone even if I instructed him to.”

“You’re an Unseen?” he asked looking back at me.

“Uh, what the fuck is an Unseen?” I asked giving him a confused look.

“Some people would call an Unseen a monster,” Selina said.

“Well, I’d say that freaking well fits the bill,” I spat bitterly.

“I don’t like it. How can I be sure your friend won’t spill the beans,” he said pointing his thumb back at Darrell.

Selina sighed, “He’s a slave to my will. He exists only to please me.”

Daniel’s jaw dropped again then he shook his head and put his foot down on the accelerator and the truck lurched back into motion.

“So what are you? If I had to guess I’d say you were a vamp, but I think I’d be wrong,” he said glancing at Selina with a level look.

“Succubus,” she said.

“And Archie? What’s he an incubus or something?”

“I’m a succubus, too,” I muttered bitterly. It wasn’t like I could deny it after I had practically raped that guy.

“Crap, I’m sorry man,” he replied with nowhere near the amount of surprise I would have expected.

“What about you?” I asked him.

“I’m a Were,” he said simply.

“You’re aware of what?”

Daniel chuckled, “No, man I am a Were. You have heard of werewolves haven’t you?”

“You’re a werewolf then?”

“No, no, there’s different types. I turn into a bear, a Kodiak to be exact,” he said casually.

“Shit, that was you I saw at the apartment!” I said.

“Yeah, that was me,” he said with a shudder.

“Something wrong?”

“I just don’t like violence is all,” he said.

That took me aback a bit; it seemed like an odd comment coming from a guy that could change into a massive killing machine at will. I didn’t respond because I couldn’t really think of something to say to that. I had this image in my head of Daniel turning into a bear and tearing everything around him into pieces. Maybe, I shouldn’t have been too quick to assume.

My attention drifted and my need, no my hunger, started to grow again. I reached over to Darrell and I started to unzip his pants, my hands reached for his cock. Distantly I heard Selina say something then I felt his Darrell’s hands lock around my wrists and force me away. I struggled against him, but I couldn’t break free.

“Please,” I begged. “I need it, why won’t you let me have it?!”

“Not here, dear. I promise you can feed soon. Just hold on a little longer,” she said reaching across the seat and stroking my cheek.

I don’t know exactly why, but I seemed to grow more lucid. The hunger was still strong, but I was able to think rationally. I nodded, “I don’t know how much longer I can wait,” I said and felt like crying. Darrell’s hold on me loosened and I put my head between my knees and clutched it with my hands.

“Did you do this to him?” Daniel said with accusation in his voice.

“Yes and no, losing one’s virginity is usually the catalyst and that would have happened eventually with or without another succubus to help the process along,” Selina said calmly.

“So when he says he needs something he’s talking about sex?” Daniel asked incredulously.

“Yes, but at the moment his ability to feed is hampered by his male form. He can suck a man dry and only gain a small amount of energy,” Selina said sadly.

Pins and needles prickled across my body and I felt like vomiting. Dizziness washed over me, with wave after wave, like ocean currents washing against a beach. Cold chills wracked my body and I was sweating so bad I felt like I had taken a shower in my clothes. God, I needed to feed. Why wouldn’t Selina let me feed? It seemed so unfair!

By some miracle I kept myself from reaching across the seat and trying to feed on Darrell again, but it was a close thing. The thought crossed my mind a number of times, but whatever part of myself that still resisted managed to keep me from doing so. Every moment was torture, distantly I could hear Selina and Daniel talking, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying. They might have well have been speaking in another language. Finally, after an eternity of fighting back my hunger the truck came to a stop and I felt a pair of large hands wrap themselves around me and lift me like a child.

After a short time, that might as well have been another eternity, I fed. It was glorious or at least I thought so at the time. I reached deep in my victim, and drained nearly every last bit of energy I could, but when it was all done I was still hungry. I almost sapped away that last little bit of energy, but I restrained myself. Somehow I knew that if I drained everything my victim would die. Slowly sanity returned to me, and I became aware of my surroundings.

I was lying atop Darrell with my hands over his crotch, I quickly yanked them away and suppressed the urge to vomit. Despite being unconscious, he still had that stupid shit-eating grin on his face, and I shuddered at the sight of him. I stood and backed away from his unconscious form, and noticed that I felt stronger than I had all day. In fact, other than being hungry for both food and sex, I felt amazing.

I looked around and noticed my shabby surroundings. The room I was in looked like it hadn’t been inhabited by humans in years. Paint was peeling away from the walls, and what remained of the carpet was stained black and brown with dirt and god knew what else. Darrell was lying on the ground atop a blanket, which, despite being a bit shabby, looked clean.

I shuddered and turned away I couldn’t bear the thought of what I had done to Darrell. I looked down at my hands and realized something was wrong. They looked different somehow, not much, but it was enough for me to detect a difference. The fingers seemed just a bit thinner, and maybe even a little longer.

“Shit, shit, shit!” I yelled with my fists clenched. I had a feeling I knew what was happening. Selina had never said anything about it, but it made sense that if I was a succubus that I would transform somehow. I pulled my shirt off, and winced at the sight of my chest. All my chest hair was gone, and my nipples were swollen and tender to the touch. I ran my hand through my hair and realized that it was longer, if only by about an inch.

If I had any doubts about my changes, they were gone after I pulled my pants down. The changes in my crotch were drastic to say the least. My usual equipment had almost completely disappeared. A half-formed mound had appeared in its place, the only remnant of penis was a tiny nub that stuck out from my new cunt. I stared at the damn thing and felt like hitting something. Why the hell did this have to happen to me?

I screamed and suppressed my violent urges. All my dreams, all my hopes for the future had gone down the tube. I couldn’t hope to finish my degree, no one would recognize me. There would be no way to prove my identity. It was worse than that though, I couldn’t use my social security number, I wouldn’t have any documented past whatsoever. I would be starting over with a blank slate, and no way to fill it.

A hand touched my shoulder and I turned to find Selina looking back at me with tears in her eyes. “I am sorry.”

I wanted to hate Selina I wanted to yell and scream at her, but for some reason I just couldn’t. “You said in the car that I would have awakened eventually with or without your help.”

“I didn’t think you had been aware enough to hear that,” Selina said staring at me with wide eyes.

“I didn’t hear much else, but I believe you. God knows why, but I do,” I said.

She smiled, “It’s not so bad once you get used to it. In time you might even come to enjoy it.”

“Selina, I had dreams. I wanted to make something of myself, and now… Now there’s no way I’ll ever get my degree,” I muttered as tears fell down my face.

“You’re not the only one who has had their dreams shattered,” she muttered sadly.

I didn’t respond, I merely stared at Selina. I had never thought of her as anything but the sexy shelf-assured creature that she seemed to be. “I had just gotten married,” she continued. “I thought I would spend the rest of my life with Shamus. I had never been with a man before, I was nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do or that I wouldn’t please him. When we consummated our love I awoke as a succubus and started to feed on him. I drained him dry, and he died.”

I stared at Selina with a horrified look on my face, “I just left then, I hated myself for what I did. All my dreams, my hopes of raising a family and spending a lifetime with the man I loved, everything was shattered. I ran away from everything and everyone I knew and I changed along the way. I had always been a plain girl, Shamus told me I was pretty, and he made me feel pretty sometimes. I never really believed him, though. It’s funny I always envied beautiful women, but the price of becoming one was greater than I had ever imagined.”

“Selina, I’m sorry I had no idea,” I said not really knowing what else to say.

Selina shook her head, “Don’t be. Ours is a lonely existence, but maybe it doesn’t have to be. You could come with me when I leave this town. I’ve been alone for far too long.”

“I’ll think about it,” I said quietly.

“Get dressed, you need to get some food in you,” she said suddenly then turned and left the room.

I looked down at Darrell again, and suppressed a shudder. Then I hurriedly got dressed and followed Selina out of the room.

I took a bite out of the energy bar, the hurriedly devoured the rest of it. “Jeez man, how long has been since you’ve eaten?” Daniel said from across the battered dining table.

We were in an old abandoned house a few miles outside of Ravencrest. The kitchen wasn’t in any better shape than the other room I had seen, but it had furniture at least. “Last night,” I said after swallowing.

“Here have another,” Daniel said tossing me a foil-wrapped bar.

I had flat out refused the beef jerky he had tried to get me to eat. Normally, I loved the stuff, but the sight of it made me want to vomit. I tore open the package and devoured the bar in mere seconds. The bar tasted awful, but I would have eaten almost anything. Well, except for jerky apparently.

“So, how do you feel?” he asked with a worried expression.

“Weird as fucking hell,” I muttered. My head wouldn’t stop spinning and I felt like I was being jabbed by thousands of tiny needles.

“So, you’re really going to change?” he asked.

“Going to? Shit, I’ve already started,” I growled with a shudder.

Daniel looked at me thoughtfully for a moment, “Now that I think about it you do look a little different.”

“Can we talk about something else?” I asked.

“Sure,” Daniel said with an apologetic smile.

“How did you find us?” I asked suddenly.

“I tracked you by scent,” he said with a proud grin.

“By scent, you mean like a dog?” I asked incredulously.

Daniel folded his arms across his chest and shook his head, “Being a were does have its advantages. Most people don’t know this, but bears can smell better than wolves or dogs and even in human form I can smell well enough to track a scent. Especially ones as strong as yours and Selina’s.”

I stared at him for a moment then burst out laughing. “You realize that you’re a were bear, right?”

He stared at me blankly, “Yeah, I don’t get why that’s funny.”

“A were bear,” I said emphasizing ‘were’. “You know how ridiculous that sounds don’t you?”

“Uh, I still don’t get it man,” he said with another blank look.

“Well, it’s nothing, but it sort of sounds like care bear is all,” I said barely able to contain my laughter.

It really wasn’t that funny, why was I laughing so hard? Abruptly, I stopped, not by choice, but because I couldn’t breathe. I struggled for breath, but it just wouldn’t come. My limbs seemed to go limp and I fell to the floor with a dull thud. Frantically, I tried to grab for my throat, but I couldn’t move my arms. Daniel’s shadow appeared over me and suddenly his lips were over my own. At first my air deprived mind thought he was kissing me, but then I realized he was giving me mouth to mouth.

Suddenly, air flooded through my lungs, and I sat up with a start. I could feel the hunger build and I reached toward Daniel. I yanked my hand away when I realized what I had almost allowed myself to do. I couldn’t feed on Daniel, he was my friend. “Get away from me!” I screamed suddenly and felt my eyes bulge out of my head at the sound of my voice. Shit, I sounded like a damn girl.

“Archie, buddy, it’s alright,” he said reaching for my shoulder.

I scrambled away from him, “Fuck, do you know how close I came to feeding on you?!” I screamed again. “Please just don’t come near me. I don’t want to hurt you,” I said with a pleading tone.

Daniel nodded and backed off, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“I… think I need to be alone right now,” I said with long intake of breath. I took a few more steps back then fled into the closest room, slammed the half-rotted door closed behind me and sank to the floor as tears streamed down my face.

“Man up,” I said to myself, my newly feminine voice sounding odd to my ears, and started to laugh. No I wasn’t nuts, I was just close to the breaking point. Not to mention that telling myself to ‘man up’ was incredibly ironic since I was turning into a fucking chick. I had wept enough, and I didn’t intend to do any more crying if I could help it. I wiped the tears from my face and looked down at my hands and was shocked by what I found. My hands look so different they might as well have belonged to someone else. They were long and delicate; in short they were the hands of a woman.

I stood, and felt a wave of dizziness wash over me. I put my hand on the wall to steady myself, but it didn’t help much. I caught a glint of something on the other side of the room scattered among the refuse, and I stumbled over to it. I dug through all the junk, throwing aside rotting pieces of clothing, broken pieces of furniture and old wooden toys as I did so. Then I found it, what I had been hoping to find, a small hand mirror with a crack across it. I studied my reflection and stared at the stranger looking back at me.

There was still a bit of my old face mixed in, but since I wasn’t finished changing, I doubted there would be much if any of my old features left when I was finished. Like my hands, my face looked much more feminine and my eyes had shifted color, instead of being brown they were now a vibrant blue. The face in the mirror was quite striking, not pretty exactly, but appealing nonetheless.

“Fuck!?” I said touching my face in disbelief. I hadn’t expected such drastic changes in so short a time. I sighed and shook my head, it didn’t matter really, it didn’t change the fact that I was turning into a sex demon or whatever the hell succubi were. I shook my head and felt hair brush again my neck. It was just a little past shoulder length now and somehow seemed a much more vibrant shade of red than it had been before. I reached out and grabbed it, it was thick, and silky-smooth. I knew some women who would kill for hair like that.

I glanced down at my chest, and shuddered at the sight of the two bulges that poked out from it. They were a little on the small side, but I doubted they’d stay that way. I had shrunk quite a lot, my shirt was now a few sizes too large and my pants seemed about ready to fall off. I sighed and pulled my shirt and pants off. The first thing I noticed was the damn slit between my legs, the last remnant of my cock was gone, and as near as I could tell the plumbing looked right. I hadn’t really seemed to develop much of a figure yet, my waist had narrowed and my hips bulged out a little, but other than that my proportions looked quite boyish.

I glared down at the body in disgust; I would never be able to pass for male again. My face alone made that impossible. “Just fucking great,” I muttered angrily as I reached down to grab my clothes.

I quickly redressed then vacated the room.

Surprise flashed across Selina’s face when I first stepped into the dilapidated kitchen. “I was beginning to worry.”

“I needed some alone time,” I muttered.

“Daniel told me what happened,” she said with a sympathetic smile. “He seemed to think he provoked you into trying to feed on him.”

I laughed and shook my head, “That’s just like him. He always tried to take blame for things that weren’t his fault. Where is he anyway?”

“He’s out hunting for food.”

“Is it normal? For succubi to change. So quickly I mean,” I said sitting down at the table.

“It happens,” Selina said with a shrug. “Some change more quickly than others. Usually those that shift genders take longer, but not always.”

“Why wasn’t I born a girl? I mean it doesn’t seem to make sense for me to turn into a fucking chick if I was born a guy,” I said angrily.

“It has to do with the way in which we are conceived. At least with those of us that are born and not made,” she said standing up and took my hands in hers.

“What do you mean?” I asked. Succubi could be made? I wanted to ask her what that meant, but it would have to be a question for later. My original inquiry was more important to me at the moment.

“It’s difficult to explain and I’m not sure I understand it myself, but I will try. Before a succubus or incubus awakens their true self is buried under a false human shell. After a succubus and an incubus mate the mother succubus then mates with a human whose seed provides this shell for the unborn child. That shell begins to crack when you awaken and eventually crumbles away as you start to feed.”

“So it’s just a random accident that I was born male instead of female. I don’t exactly understand how that might work, but I do recall that a child’s gender is determined by whether or not the sperm that fertilizes the egg has an x or y chromosome. The sperm from the human must have contained a y chromosome and the sperm from the incubus must have contained an x,” I said locking eyes with Selina.

“Possibly,” Selina said with an amused smile.

I didn’t get a chance to ask, a loud bang sounded from the other room. Selina and I exchanged glances then we both took off running towards the source of the sound. Daniel was standing in the front doorway, he had a panicked expression on his face and he was drenched with sweat. The carcass of a deer was sprawled on the ground off to the side as if it had been flung away as an afterthought.

“We have to leave. NOW!” he said with wide eyes.

 

“They’ve found us,” Daniel panted.

“How?” I demanded.

Daniel’s eyes widened at the sight of me, “Archie?”

“How?” Selina repeated, giving me no opportunity to answer.

“I don’t know, I barely managed to avoid being seen,” he said with a shake of his head.

“Darrell!” Selina called back behind her then her eyes met mine and she said, “We’re leaving.”

Darrell came lumbering into view with that damned stupid ass grin on his scarred face and Selina smiled then patted him on the face, “Such a good boy.”

Without another word we all piled out the front door and I got a look at the house for the first time. It looked almost as bad on the outside as it did on the in. It had faded green paint that was pealing all over the freaking place and the roof looked as if it were ready to cave in. The windows were all boarded up and judging from the loose boards around the door it had been at one point, too. I remembered seeing the place a while back when Daniel had dragged me along on a camping trip.

We followed Daniel around to the other side of the house and that’s when our friends from the Tenebris Petentibus showed up. This time they weren’t dressed in civilian garb, they wore full military fatigues, and bullet proof vests. I didn’t know much about guns, but the weapons they carried looked like they might have been military grade.

“Come on,” Daniel yelled motioning us forward.

We broke into a mad dash toward a copse of trees where I could just barely make out the outline of Stu’s truck. “Darrell, cover us!” I heard Selina call out.

At the edge of my vision I saw Darrell swirling around with gun blazing. “Shit, we’re not going to make it,” I screamed.

“Here,” Daniel said tossing me the keys to the truck.

“Where are you going?!” I called back at him.

“I’m going to buy you some time. Get out of here!” he yelled.

Then he turned around to join Darrell, suddenly fur sprouted out on his skin, his mouth elongated into a snout then the rest his body filled out and in his place was a very large and very angry looking bear. I kept on running for the truck until I heard Daniel growl and looked back. Shit, I’d have never thought a bear could move so fast. There was a grace to his movements that seemed at odds with his bulky bear form. He was a great brown blur as he tore into our attackers. Daniel ran straight into one of the guys and was on him in an instant, the man let out a blood curdling scream then Daniel tore open his throat with a massive clawed paw. Another was thrown the ground as Daniel tossed him aside like a rag doll.

“Come on,” Selina said pulling on my arm.

“Shit,” I muttered realizing that standing around in the middle of a gunfight probably wasn’t a good idea even if the bad guys appeared to be using tranquilizer darts instead of real ammo.

I looked back one last time, and noticed a familiar looking gray-haired man standing a few yards away from all the fighting. He lifted a cigarette to his mouth and then his eyes locked on mine and he smiled. The smile held no warmth; it was cold and seemed to promise death. I shivered and turned away. Then with a start I realized why the man looked familiar, he was the fucking asshole who blew smoke in my face at Kona’s the day before. Shit he probably had been speaking in code after all. I looked around hoping to spot his supposed son, but I didn’t see him anywhere.

Selina motioned me onward with an expression of near panic on her face. I sprang into motion and let her lead me to where the truck was hidden.

We had almost reached the copse of trees when Selina suddenly dropped out of sight, I heard her scream, but before I found out what had happened ,a heavy weight slammed into my legs and I tumbled to the ground. Something had hold of me by the legs, I kicked at it desperately and my pants started to slip away from my waist. I crawled forward and felt them slide the rest of the way from my waist and legs. I was free! I tried to stand up on my feet, but a weight shot into me again and I collapsed back to the ground. “Fucking bitch,” I heard a male voice growl.

I felt a pair of hands latch onto my right arm and I was flung onto my back. It was one of the attackers, he had a bloody gash across his forehead and in his hand and he held a wicked-looking switchblade poised over my heart. I recognized him as the man that Daniel had thrown aside. “Freak, I’m going to enjoy slitting your throat,” he said and lunged at me.

I tried to hold him at bay, but my arms didn’t have the strength they had before my change. Instead, I tried a different tactic; I kicked him in the fucking balls. His eyes grew to roughly the size of saucers and he dropped the blade with a loud groan. Vaguely I remember feeling the blade slide past my arm before the hunger kicked in.

“Not now,” I screamed before I lost all sense of anything but my need for sustenance.

“You’ll do nicely,” I purred hungrily and started to unbuckle his belt.

He tried to resist, but I kissed him on the lips and his hands fell limply to his side and just like that he was under my spell. I pulled my shirt off and flung it aside and felt him reach for my tiny breasts. Faintly, I remembered hearing Daniel roaring and the sound of gunfire, but it didn’t matter, I was about to feed. It was pretty damn cold, but I didn’t notice or care as I pulled his pants away and within moments he had penetrated me.

There was a flash of pain in my crotch, and I thought that my insides would explode, but then the pain faded a bit and I started to feed. Pure white energy poured into me and I thought I might pass out from sheer pleasure. The first few times I had fed, it had drained out of the victim in a faint stream, now it poured into me like a rapid torrent and I howled with pure delight. He penetrated me again and again and each time I drew more energy until there was none left.

Then the hunger was gone and I was myself again. “Oh god,” I muttered and stared down in horror. Quickly, I scrambled off the man and felt my stomach groan in protest. I turned my head and I vomited. The man’s dead eyes stared back at me as if in accusation and I wanted to claw my eyes out. I had raped and killed him, and I hated myself for it. It didn’t matter that he had been trying to kill me; I would have done it to anyone given the chance.

“Archie,” Selina’s soft voice said and I felt her hands on my shoulders.

I didn’t look up at her; instead I reached for the knife and stared at it fixedly. It was a switchblade, the sort that a military man might carry. I thought of slitting my wrists right there and then, but I worried Selina might try to stop me. “He’s fucking dead,” I said clenching my fist around the handle of the knife.

“I know,” her voice said.

“God, why can’t I control it?!” I screamed.

“Once you get on a regular feeding schedule, it will get easier,” she said sympathetically.

“Uh,” Daniel’s voice interrupted and I looked over to where he was standing. The ground around him was littered with corpses and I shuddered at the sight of all the bodies. The battle was over, and it appeared Darrell and Daniel had won. At least Daniel was alive, I don’t think I could forgive myself if he died trying to save me.

I met Daniel’s eyes which had grown wide and I realized he was staring at my chest. When he noticed me looking, his face turned beet red and his eyes quickly darted away. I looked down at my chest and gasped. My breasts were growing right before my eyes. They swelled up until I thought they might burst then they suddenly stopped, but that wasn’t the end of it. I looked down and watched as changes rippled across my whole body. My waist narrowed, my hips widened, and my arms, legs and shoulders all changed. When it was all finished, I had the perfect hourglass figure. My body had curves in all the right places without being overweight or skinny. God, I had a figure to match Selina’s except now I was just a tad shorter than her.

“Shit,” I muttered.

“The changes have finished, the energy you just gained appears to have been enough to complete your transformation,” Selina said with a sympathetic smile.

“Holy fucking shit! Damn, I need some clothes,” I muttered feeling extremely self-conscious as I looked down at my very naked body. Not only that, my body was cold and wet, and I knew that if I didn’t get warm soon I’d probably freeze to death.

“I’ll help look,” Daniel volunteered his eyes wandering over to my breasts. Again, he turned bright red and quickly turned away.

Selina found my pants almost immediately and I tore them out of her hands and quickly pulled them up my legs. They were a pretty wet and they didn’t fit well at all since my waist was now too small to fit the pants properly so instead they hung uncomfortably around my hips. I had to roll them up as they were about four or five inches too long. Daniel found my shirt a few yards away, but it had a huge tear across the front which made it unfit to wear with any semblance of decency.

Daniel stared at my chest and this time it was me that blushed. I thought I would die from embarrassment just from the way he was looking at me. It was obvious he found me attractive, but there was also guilt on his face. I couldn’t understand why at first, but it came to me after a moment. He felt guilty because he couldn’t keep himself from looking. That sort of reaction was typical of Daniel.

“Let’s just go. We can find something for me to wear later,” I muttered folding my arms across my chest in a half-hearted attempt at modesty.

“No, I have an idea,” Daniel said and suddenly pulled his shirt off and tossed it over to me.

“Daniel, I can’t wear this,” I said holding the shirt in front of me. “Fuck, it’ll look like I’m wearing a dress.”

“It will cover you,” Selina chimed in.

She was right; I couldn’t exactly go around without something to cover my chest. I may have been able to get away with that as guy, but with my new body that sort of thing was bound to cause trouble. In the cold, it wasn’t exactly a good idea either. I quickly pulled the shirt over my head, and grimaced at the sight of the thing. It looked like I was wearing a damn tent.

“Hey what are you doing?!” I protested as Selina grabbed hold of the bottom of the shirt and started to twist it every which way then watched as she tied two ends of the shirt together. I’d seen women wearing shirts that way before, but I never expected to be doing it myself. The way in which Selina had tied it left a lot of skin exposed, but at least it covered those damn huge ass lumps sticking out from my chest.

“Let’s get out of here,” Daniel muttered and we were all quick to agree. As everyone turned to leave, I bent over to pick up the switchblade, retracted the blade and slipped it into my pocket.

Selina and I sat in the back this time, leaving Darrell and Daniel for the front. I guess she wasn’t too worried about me trying to feed this time around. In truth I didn’t feel the need to feed quite so strongly as I had so far. Although each time I looked at Daniel’s shirtless chest I felt a faint stirring inside of me and the part of me that was concerned over such matters wondered absently how well feeding on him would satiate my hunger. I could feel the sexual energy pouring out of him and part of me wanted to fuck him there and then. I shuddered and pushed all thoughts of feeding on Daniel aside.

Daniel started the truck up, and he blasted the heater as he backed the truck out. The heat felt pretty damn good to my freezing body and I folded my cold hands under my armpits to help warm them. I looked one last time at all the corpses surroundings the house and realized something, Mr. Gray hair wasn’t among the dead. I shivered, but kept my discovery to myself. I wasn’t even sure anyone else had noticed him. There really was no call to worry anyone. I doubt he would cause us any trouble for the time being. He would be looking for us again, I was sure of that, but not alone. For now he wasn’t a danger to us, and I didn’t want Daniel wasting his time trying to find him. It was more important that we get away.

“There are some things I need to tell you,” Selina said part way into the ride.

“I guess you do,” I muttered. I didn’t feel like talking, I hated what had happened to me, and I couldn’t stand the thought of living as a succubus.

Selina seemed to hesitate, and she seemed on the verge of telling me something, but her mouth clamped shut and she looked as if she were about to cry. For the second time that day, I felt a strong urge to wrap my arms around her and tell her everything would be alright, but I batted the thoughts away and watched as she struggled to say whatever was on her mind. “There was a succubus I met once,” she finally managed, “I was maybe twenty-one years ago or more. She confided in me in a moment of weakness. She told me she had just abandoned her infant son on the doorsteps of an orphanage.”

I felt cold chills trickle down the back of my spine and I stared at Selina with my mouth hanging open. No, it couldn’t be, could it? Then again how often did you hear of a child actually being dropped off at an orphanage like that? It wasn’t something that happened very often in this day and age.

“Did she say where she left the child?” I asked feeling my stomach clench into knots.

“Somewhere in Virginia, I think,” she said glancing at me as if to gauge my reaction.

“Oh god,” I muttered. A part of me wanted to grill Selina for information, but the angry, resentful part of me won out.

“Shit, I don’t give a flying fuck about her even if she was my mother. If she cared about me she should have at least given me a damn name,” I said bitterly. “Can we talk about something else?

Selina’s eyes widened a bit, but she nodded, “There are some things you’ll need to know. Not just about being a succubus, but about being a woman.”

“Can we talk about this later?” I asked. I didn’t intend to talk about it ever, but Selina didn’t need to know that.

The rest of the ride was pretty quiet; unsurprisingly I wasn’t the only one in a dark mood. It took well over an hour to get back to town. It wasn’t exactly the longest car ride I’d ever been on, but it felt like it would last an eternity. I was extremely self-conscious of my new body and Daniel kept glancing back at me through the rear view mirror. I’m sure he thought I wouldn’t notice, but each time I was all too aware of his eyes on me. Darrell of course had his eyes on Selina the entire time, but that went without being said.

Near the end of the ride, I let myself become lost in my thoughts. No matter what anyone said, I didn’t think I could bare living with the hunger. Selina claimed that if I were to keep on a regular feeding schedule I could control my urges, but the idea of having to live off people that way was abhorrent to me. My thoughts turned to the switchblade tucked in my pocket and I had to restrain myself from pulling it out. Soon I would get my chance.

“We’re here,” Daniel said suddenly snapping me out of my reverie.

‘Here’ turned out to be the home of Daniel’s parents. I’d never actually been inside, but Daniel had pointed it to me a few times while driving through town. The home was large, not a mansion by any means, but it was about the size you’d expect from the upper-middle class.

“Daniel, why have you brought us here? I don’t want to endanger your parents,” I said with sigh.

“Don’t worry, Mom and Dad can take care of themselves. Besides we’ll be safer here with me and some of my cousins guarding the place,” he grinned proudly back at me.

I groaned audibly, just what I needed, more people to die for me. I know these creeps had come into town searching for Selina, but they seemed just as willing to shoot at any one of us. Daniel had only gotten tangled up in this mess because of me and now he wanted to involve other people too. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be a problem much longer.

We all piled out of the car and followed Daniel up to the doorsteps. I twitched nervously as he rang the doorbell. I’d met his parents a few times before and they were nice people, but I wasn’t sure how they would react to seeing me in my new form. Hell if they recognized the shirt I was wearing as Daniel’s they’d probably jump to the wrong conclusion.

A tall man muscular man with platinum-gray hair appeared at the door, and as always I was struck by just how much Daniel resembled his father. Aside from the obvious age difference, Donald (call me Don) Corday could have been Daniel’s twin brother. Not only did they look alike, but they shared all the same mannerisms and even had similar personalities, except there was a certain tired wariness about Mr. Corday that Daniel didn’t have or at least hadn’t developed yet.

“Danny, thank god,” Don said wrapping his arms around his son. “Your mother and I have been worried sick. The police say there was some sort of shooting at your apartment.”

“Perhaps this discussion would be better held inside,” Selina said casting furtive glances to the street and back to the house.

“Daniel what’s going on? Are you in some sort of trouble?”

“She’s right, it’s probably better if we talk inside, Don,” I added.

Don’s eyes went wide when he met my gaze, but he nodded and cracked the door all the way open. Daniel’s mother, Linda rushed up to Daniel and threw her arms around his midsection. She held on so tightly that I thought she might never let go, but after a few minutes Daniel was able to coax his mother’s arms away.

Linda seemed to notice Selina, Darrell and me for the first time, and I couldn’t help but feel self-conscious from the way her eyes seemed to linger on me. “Who are your friends?” Linda asked. It was a simple question, but there was just a touch of accusation veiled in her voice that made me want to scurry away and hide behind a rock.

“Mom, Dad, this is Selina and Darrel,” he said motioning at each of them in turn. “And you remember Archie, my roommate, right?”

His parents exchanged odd looks, but nodded. “Well…” Daniel said trailing off looking as if he were trying to find the right words.

“I’m Archie,” I cut in.

“I think we better sit down,” Linda said with wide eyes.

Once we were seated on the loveseat and sofa, Darrell of course remained standing since Selina hadn’t told him to sit. This warranted a few strange looks his way, but neither Don nor Linda commented on it. It was Daniel that started the ball rolling and began to tell what had happened. Selina joined in and together they were able to more or less piece together the whole story. I let them keep at it, and tried my best to look as innocuous as possible. I didn’t much like the way Linda’s eyes kept straying over to me, and I would just as soon draw as little attention to myself as possible.

When they told Don and Linda the reason behind my transformation, I wanted to run screaming from the room. It took all my willpower just to remain sitting and I thought Linda’s gaze might bore a hole into me. The story took a while to tell, and they left a lot of the more graphic details out which I was glad for. I thought I might die of embarrassment if Don and Linda knew that I had tried to feed on their son. The silence that permeated the room when they were finished telling the story, was so thick I could have cut into it with the switchblade in my pocket.

Linda’s gaze was now focused entirely on me, and I wanted to sink into the couch and become a part of it just to escape the look of appraisal she was giving me. “Poor dear,” she said suddenly and I felt my eyes widen in surprise.

I had felt sure Linda was ready to strangle me, but her face only showed sympathy. Of course, that only seemed to make me feel even more self-conscious. I willed her to look away, but her eyes were like a pair of damn heat-seeking missiles they were relentless.

“What did you call these people that have been chasing after you?” Don asked absently stroking his chin.

I let out a sigh of relief when Linda’s gaze left me to focus on her husband.

“The Tenebris Petentibus,” Selina said as her eyes darted from me then to Linda.

“Latin isn’t my strong suit, but it I think it means, Seekers of the Darkness,” Daniel added.

Don and Linda exchanged sharp glances and they both mouthed the word “Hunters” and what sounded an awfully lot like “Order of the Sacred Heart” whatever the hell that meant.

“The Order of the Sacred Heart,” Daniel repeated. “You don’t think they’re related do you? I mean Hunters can’t be the only ones out there that hunt the unseen.”

Don stood and began to pace back and forth, “This is troubling news, Danny. Related or not these Tenebris Petentibus pose a threat to Ravencrest and all the unseen living here, were, witch, and vampire alike. It doesn’t bode well, not at all. Action must be taken, they risk destroying everything.”

Weres, witches and vampires? Daniel seemed to have held back on some key information. Clearly Ravencrest was much more than the sleepy little college town it appeared to be on the surface.

“What are we going to do, Don?” Linda asked.

“I think I need to have a chat with Burt,” he said walking over toward the front. “I’m sure he’ll want to call together the Alphas, but this is too big for just the weres, we can’t keep something like this from the Coven or even the girls of Delta Beta Zeta.”

That seemed like an odd remark. What the hell did a college sorority have to do with weres, witches and vampires? I’m sure the Alphas had something to do with the weres, and it didn’t take a genius to connect the Coven to witches, so maybe Delta Beta Zeta had something to do with vampires. Daniel had always seemed pretty insistent I stay away from them, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were blood sucking monsters. A couple of them did have a sort of spooky air about them, but it seemed a bit of stretch to call them vampires. Beside I’d seen them walking around in broad daylight.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. Whatever you do don’t answer the door; I’ll see to it that a few of Daniel’s cousins are sent over. Whatever trouble has been brought on us, it’s not over yet, not by a long shot,” he said and just like that he was out the door.

“So, let’s see about getting you four cleaned, fed and dressed,” Linda said suddenly. Although she had spoken to all four of us, I had the feeling that her attentions were focused on me more than any of the others. I suppressed a groan, all I wanted was some time alone, but everyone seemed to be conspiring to keep me from doing just that. Of course, they didn’t know what I intended, how could they?

As I had surmised, Linda did seem to take a special interest in me. The few times I had met her she had seemed intent on mothering me, and that hadn’t changed. In fact she seemed even more focused on it than usual. I endured her attentions silently, but when she herded me into the bathroom and showed no signs of leaving I finally said something.

“Could I have some privacy, please?” I asked feeling my cheeks burn.

“Relax dear, you don’t have anything I haven’t seen before,” she said with a sweet smile.

I batted her hands away when she reached for the knot in my shirt, but she merely laughed and ignored my protestations. I sighed, and relented. Short of getting violent and forcing Linda out of the bathroom I saw no way to be rid of her. I wasn’t sure I could have overpowered her had I shown the inclination in any case. The woman was head and shoulders taller than me, and while not exactly muscular she had an athletic build. Even before my changes I think I would have had a difficult time beating her, the woman looked formidable. Once the knot had been worked free she pulled the shirt over my head and I quickly grasped at my breast to cover them.

“It’s hard to believe that just yesterday you were a boy,” she said giving my body an appraising look then continued. “Such a sad thing for you to have to endure such drastic changes.

“Yeah,” I muttered forcing back tears.

I don’t know if it was my new body or just all the stress of my changes, but my emotions were much closer to the surface than they had ever been and it was hard as hell to control them. Half the time I thought I might burst into tears, the rest of the time my temper flared at even the smallest things. Of course, I had never been very good at holding my temper in check even before meeting Selina. Now it seemed to rear its head at even the slightest provocation.

I glanced over at the mirror and got my first real look at my new body. My breasts weren’t nearly as large as they seemed when I looked down at them. They were on the large side, but not huge. A lot of women would love breasts like mine, no wonder Daniel had been unable to keep his eyes off me. My face had changed a lot too, and all traces of my former self, save for my red hair, were gone. I had large, beautiful blue eyes, soft kissable lips, and perfect skin. Not to mention my body, I had curves in all the right places, and not an ounce of fat otherwise. In short I was a walking sex-bomb, just like Selina.

“Come now dear, there worse fates than being transformed into a woman,” she said suddenly and I turned away from the mirror.

“I’m no woman, I’m a fucking monster,” I spat bitterly.

Linda sighed, and tried to console me, but her words only fell on deaf ears. I nodded and smiled appreciatively and let her think her words had touched me, but inside I wanted to scream. It took me a while to convince her I would be alright, but I finally managed it.

She had me strip out of my pants, then hustled me into the shower, muttered something about finding some decent clothes for me to wear and swept up my dirty rags from the ground as she left. Too late, she had carried off my jeans with the switchblade inside. Shit, if Linda pieced together why I was carrying that damn thing around, I’d never get to use it. Maybe she would see it and just think it was a pocketknife. Well, there was nothing I could do about it without chasing after Linda, and I wasn’t about to do that. That sort of thing would give me away more than anything else I could do. So I let her take it and hoped she thought I had it for self-defense.

Sighing I turned on the shower and gasped as hot water sprayed across my body. The water against my skin seemed more, intense, I guess is the word I would use. It wasn’t unpleasant by any means; in fact it felt pretty good especially as it splashed against my nipples. I looked about the shower and found some body wash. It was of the feminine variety and I was loath to use the damn stuff, but there wasn’t anything else available. I wasn’t at all surprised, the Corday home was on the large side and I wouldn’t be surprised if it had two or three full bathrooms. The lack of male or even gender-neutral hygiene products probably meant that Don and Linda used separate bathrooms.

I wasn’t about to use Linda’s loofa, so I made do pouring the body wash into my hands. I worked my hands across my body, and was surprised at how much more limber I was. I could reach areas I never had been able to as a guy. I knew women were more flexible I just hadn’t realized how much more. I finished quickly, showering only seemed to stress just how much I had changed and I really fucking disliked the reminder. It was major pain in the damn ass to soap up my hair with shampoo, besides being long my hair was too fucking thick and cleaning it proved to be a chore. Finally finished, I shut the shower off, and reached for the towel that Linda had left on the rack for me. I toweled myself, another act that only served to remind me of the changes.

My hair proved to be a problem, I tried drying off with a towel, but there was just too damn much of it. Linda appeared then with a bundle of clothes, and suggested I get dressed before dealing with my hair. The clothes belonged to Daniel’s younger sister, Anna, who was away at college. Linda hadn’t brought any undies so I pulled on the pants, they were a bit tight in the hips, but all around they were on the loose side. They were too long, but that wasn’t surprising since everyone in Daniel’s family was so much taller than me.

Next came the shirt, it was a light blue tank top, but surprisingly it had a built in bra. I didn’t even know such a thing existed, but apparently they weren’t too uncommon. Of course, the shirt was too tight across the chest, but that was to be expected. Once, I was finished dressing Linda took my hair and wrapped it in a towel.

“I made up Anna’s old room for you,” she said.

“Thanks,” I said playing with the towel wrapped around my head. “I had some things in my pant pockets…”

“Don’t worry dear,” Linda said. “I put them on the nightstand in Anna’s room.”

“Okay thanks,” I said quietly. “I hope you don’t mind, but I think I’ll turn in early. It’s been a long strange day, and I need some time to myself to try and sort it all out.”

Linda, gave me a sympathetic look, and showed me to Anna’s room. I found the switchblade almost immediately, along with my wallet, cell and keys, but those didn’t matter it was the knife I was after. Finally, I could end it all.

I picked up the knife, and released the blade and started at it fixedly. I wanted to yell at the top of my longs and curse whatever cruel God had done this to me. I had never really believed in a God before, but the existence of the unseen and their supernatural nature didn’t fit into my view of a structured universe. If things like weres and succubi existed then perhaps there was a god as well. That begged the question, what cruel god would create creatures like succubi or weres? Maybe we weren’t the creation of a god at all, maybe we were the creation of the devil. If god could exist than why not the devil?

I hated what I was, what I had become. I didn’t ask for any of it, but I couldn’t live with the monster that lurked under the pretty facade I now wore. Being female was bad enough, but I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting people just to survive. Especially, if it was Daniel or someone he cared for. The world was far better off without me. I put the blade against the skin of my wrist, and closed my eyes. All it would take was one quick cut into each wrist, I felt my muscles tense and I prepared to take my life.

I couldn’t do it. Oh I tried, oh god how I tried, but I couldn’t find the strength of will to do that one simple act. No matter how I tried no matter how many ways I justified it I couldn’t do it. God, I was such a coward, I couldn’t even do the world this one small favor. My hands trembled, and I tried to clear my mind of all distractions, but I couldn’t keep the thoughts coming in. It was stupid, but I actually worried about getting blood on the carpet. Of all the things I could think of when trying to take my life I was concerned about staining the damn carpet. It wasn’t just that either, a sick twisted part of me liked to feed and that part of me very much wanted to live. My hands trembled and I let the blade fall to the ground and I sunk to my knees and wept.

Hate and self-loathing flooded through me and I latched onto one of my breasts in a half-crazed albeit futile attempt to tear it from my chest. Why the hell couldn’t I kill myself? I couldn’t live with what I had done, and I wanted it all to end so badly, but I just couldn’t do it! I couldn’t keep the tears away they came unbidden and I howled in fury.

It wasn’t long after that that I felt a hand on my shoulder and I looked up to see Daniel kneeling beside me. My screams of grief and anger must have drawn him into the room. I saw sympathy in his eyes, and it made me hate myself even more. “Archie, it will be okay,” he said as if speaking the words would will it to be so. There was so much certainty in his voice, I almost believed him.

I was such a horrible friend, he would be better off without me, but I couldn’t even take my own life and do him that one small favor. He deserved better than I could ever hope to be. Like a freaking girl I felt this urge to be held, so I selfishly wrapped my arms around his neck and wept. That proved to be a huge fucking mistake; I could feel my hunger start to build. I tried to push it away, but before I realized what I had done I found my lips locked around his. I hurriedly broke away, and stared at him in disbelief. From the look on his face, I wasn’t sure who was more shocked him or me. He tried to turn me away, but I grabbed at him and kissed him again.

A part of me screamed in protest, but my hunger quelled any rational thoughts and before either of us knew what was happening I had started to unbutton his shirt. He tried to resist, several times muttering something about ‘not wanting to take advantage’ but each time I flung myself at him with wanton abandon. To his credit he held out longer than I would have thought possible, but his resistance melted away like snow on a new spring day when I kissed him a third time.

I don’t know if it was him or me that removed my shirt, but I remembered him cupping my breasts and a moan escaping my lips as he did so. Finally, we penetrated me and I felt the energy pour into me. Oh god, it felt good, there was so much of it! I tried to reach for every last drop, but soon after I started it just stopped. For a brief panic-stricken moment I thought I had drained everything away, but then I reached out and I could feel it emanating from him. I just couldn’t touch it; I could drain anymore of it away. Something was stopping me from taking more. There was a barrier in my way and I could find no way to circumvent it. It was like someone had erected a brick wall between Daniel’s energy and me. Daniel’s cock pierced me again, and I gave up trying to feed. I didn’t give a flying fuck about feeding not when the sex felt so damn good.

Oh, god how the fucking hell could I let myself do such a thing? I had done what I most feared I would do: feed on Daniel, and I couldn’t trust myself not to do it again. I clutched the sides of my skull and gritted my teeth against all the emotions running through my head. At first, I felt anger at myself for what I had done, but after that… Shit, I needed to get away and think things over. My carefully constructed view of the world had been torn asunder, and I was so confused that I couldn’t tell up from down. Sex with Daniel had invoked feelings I never would have thought possible. Never toward Daniel, or any other man, but they were there and I wasn’t sure what to make of them.

Daniel was sound asleep and for once his unearthly snoring didn’t seem to bother me at all. Gently, I removed his arm from around my waist and slipped out of bed. On impulse I bent down and kissed him lightly on the lips, and quickly turned away after realizing what I had done. God, this whole succubus thing was really messing with my fucking head or at least that’s what I told myself.

I sighed and shook my head, then got dressed. I found my shirt hanging precariously from the closet door knob and my pants partially concealed under the bed. Once dressed, I bent down to where the switchblade had fallen to the floor and scooped it up. I didn’t know if I would use it, but it wouldn’t do to leave the thing lying around. I grabbed my wallet, cell and keys from the dresser and slipped out of the room.

The house was quiet and I found Daniel’s mother snoring in the living room. Shit, she was almost as loud as Daniel. She must have fallen asleep waiting for Don to return. I slipped into the kitchen and exited out the back door. I suspected that the house was under guard by then and I thought it might easier to sneak out the back way. I ran outside and hopped the fence, or tried to. I ended up landing flat on my ass, I had jumped plenty of fences in my youth, but my new body had an entirely different center of gravity. I felt my cheeks burn and I looked around to make sure no one had seen me.

I got back to my feet, and climbed carefully over the fence, and barely managed to climb down the other side without falling off. I left through the gate in the neighbor’s yard and nearly jumped out of my damn skin when I caught site of something lurking in the shadows. It took me a few second to recognize the shape of a bear. For a brief moment I thought it was Daniel, but then I realized it must have been one of his cousins. Don was no idiot; he must have figured that if the Tenebris Petentibus found us again, they might try to sneak up on us from behind.

I took a few experimental steps forward and the bear watched me with disinterested eyes and made no move to stop me. Hopefully Daniel’s cousin wouldn’t make the right connection and try to stop me. He probably thought I was some teenage girl sneaking out of her parent’s home, at least I hoped he thought that. I crept silently across the front lawn and made it to the sidewalk; the bear did not show any signs of following. Confident that he would not stop me I made my way across the street my destination firmly in mind.

“No id, no drink,” the thirty-something man of average build said irritably. Marvin’s was a quiet little bar that catered to a small group of regulars. It wasn’t the sort of place that most college students stepped inside and the proprietors and clientele liked it that way.

Well shit, I hadn’t even considered that the barkeep might try to id me. I didn’t even bother trying to pull out my own id, I doubt anyone would believe I was the same person in the picture. What the hell was I going to do? I just wanted to get good and fucking drunk and this guy was standing in my way. Well, desperate times called for desperate measures. I reached across the bar and grabbed the collar of his shirt. His eyes widened in surprise and I pulled him forward so that our faces were just inches apart.

“What’s your name?” I asked licking my lips hungrily.

“Greg,” he said eyes locked on mine in rapt fascination. He had fallen under my spell with no resistance whatsoever, and it made me sick just thinking about it.

“Well Greg, I would very much like a drink.” I said staring into his eyes hungrily. Faintly, I could feel my need to feed rise, but I batted it away with very little effort. Clearly, what I had taken from Daniel had been enough to curb my hunger or at least make it easier to control.

“Uh, sure. What will it be?” he said with a nervous grin.

“That Scotch over there would do nicely,” I said motioning to a bottle sitting behind the bar with my free hand.

I loosened my grip on Greg’s collar and he grabbed the bottle of scotch and put it down on the counter in front me. I threw a few bills down on the counter in front of him then I snatched hold of his collar and kissed him on the lips. It wasn’t until we’d broken away that I realized what I had done. I cleared my throat and averted my gaze. Shit, why the hell had I done that?

I waited for him to open the bottle, muttered a thank you then I swiped it off the counter and made my way to a table in the far corner. I sat down and closed my eyes, and took a long swig from the bottle. Shit, it burned going down, but if it got me drunk I didn’t care.

“Holy fucking shit,” I said slamming the bottle down on the table. My exclamation had nothing to do with the Scotch I had just drunk, but it did have everything to do with the beautiful pale-skinned brunette sitting across from me. She studied me with a set of pale gray eyes, and a predatory smile.

“Well now, this is a surprise. I always knew there was something different about you,” she said with an amused grin.

“Lillian,” I spoke her name with little more than a whisper. I didn’t know her particularly well, but we did have a number of classes together. She also happened to be a member of Delta Beta Zeta.

“I hardly recognized you when you stepped inside the bar, Archie,” she said her eyes boring into me.

“How the hell did you know it was me?!” I demanded and averted my eyes so that I wouldn’t have to meet her gaze.

“I have my ways,” she said with an amused grin.

“What are you doing in a place like this and what exactly do you want?”

She shook her head and laughed, “You don’t waste any time, do you? Quick and to the point, I like that. Well, if you really must know I wait tables here on weekends as far as what I want I’m merely curious.”

“Well you can just keep on being curious. I don’t know much if anything I’ve heard about vampires is true, but I’m sure as hell smart enough not to involve myself with one,” I said glaring at her. Okay, I didn’t really know for sure that she was a vampire, but she was definitely unseen.

I reached for the bottle of Scotch and lifted it to my lips; however, Lilly’s hand wrapped around my own and she forced it along with the bottle back down. Holy freaking hell she was strong, I tried to lift the bottle with all my strength, but it wouldn’t even budge.

“Now now, there’s really no need to be rude,” she said with a faint smile.

“What do you want? To drink my blood?” I said glaring across the table at her.

She rolled her eyes, “Like I said, I’m curious about you. I have a certain ability that lets me see what you might call auras. Both humans and unseen alike emanate them, but the aura’s I see around unseen are much stronger. Yours has always been rather interesting and I always knew you had to be unseen, but I hadn’t expected anything quite like this. When I saw your aura I knew instantly it was you, but at the same time your aura had changed. There’s a hunger that hangs over you, one very similar to what most vampires have, but you my dear are no vampire. So that begs the question: what exactly are you?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I lied.

“Now, now, didn’t your mother ever tell you it was impolite to lie?” she said gripping hold of my hand even more tightly.

“I don’t have a mother. I’m an orphan,” I grunted.

“That explains it,” she replied with an amused grin.

“If I tell you will you let go,” I said, she was holding so tightly I thought the bottle might shatter.

She nodded and flashed a smile.

“I’m a damn succubus,” I glared at her angrily. “Now can I get drunk in peace?

“Interesting,” she said releasing her iron grip on my hand. “So what exactly is it you feed on? Sex?”

“Something like that,” I replied dryly taking another swig from the bottle.

“You know what Archie? I like you and because of that I’ve decided to help you,” she said with a grin.

“Help me how?” I asked warily.

“You’ve undergone a drastic transformation. No one will believe you are who you say you are. I can help give you a new identity,” she said.

Shit, she had to know that what she was offering would be like the jackpot to to kime, well if I didn’t decide ll myself that is. “Right, and what exactly do you expect in exchange?” I asked warily.

“Does a girl need a reason to help a friend?” Lilly asked with mock wide-eyed innocence.

“Riiight,” I replied with a shake of my head.

“Look,” she said flatly. “I like you. I’m just trying to help you. Think about it, we’ll talk later,” she said patting my face then she leaned in and kissed me full on the lips.

“Mm, you taste good,” she said with a dreamy expression on her face as she turned to leave.

I was so shocked that I could only watch in stunned disbelief as she turned away and swept out of the bar.

I frowned down at the bottle of scotch in my hands in frustrated disbelief, I had already drunk half of the damn thing and I wasn’t even remotely drunk. Hell, I wasn’t even buzzed. I suppressed the urge to hurl the bottle across the room, and took another swig in an ever dwindling hope that it would help me get drunk. Apparently, my new body was incapable of getting inebriated which just sucked major ass.

Sighing, I put the bottle back down and pulled the switchblade from my pocket. I contemplated trying to take my life right then and there, but an ever growing part of me resisted those sorts of thoughts. With another sigh I took a drink from my scotch and slammed the bottle back onto the table. I set the knife down and started at it as if it held the answers to all my questions, but they didn’t come. I gripped the sides of my head and tried to think of something, anything that would help me to understand why this had happened.

A hand touched my shoulder and I closed my eyes and willed whoever it was to go away. I wanted to be alone, but the hand’s owner didn’t seem to get the message. Seconds ticked by but the hand kept its grip on my shoulder. I let out a loud sigh and looked up to find Daniel staring down at me. I knew he’d come searching for me eventually, but I hadn’t expected him quite so soon. At the very least I expected to be stone drunk by the time he showed up.

“Archie, why did you run off like that? You scared me,” he said taking the seat across from me.

“Yeah, well I scared myself and to top it off I can’t even get fucking drunk,” I said taking hold of the bottle of scotch by its neck with my thumb and index finger and wagged it in front of his face.

“I know it can’t be easy, but it’s not safe for you to be out alone,” he said with a shake of his head.

I started to laugh, I couldn’t help myself. “Safe?! You think I was worried about whether or not I was safe?”

“Archie…” Daniel started but he didn’t get a chance to finish.

“Shit, you know I tried to kill myself,” I said suddenly tears rolling down my face as I clenched the neck of the scotch bottle in an iron grip.

“It should have been easy. A couple of slashes across my wrists with this and it all have been over,” I said releasing my hold on the bottle, picked up the switchblade and clenched my fist around it.

I shook with barely contained rage and anguish as I continued, “I chickened out. I deserve to die after what I’ve done, but I’m too god damned selfish to do it.”

Daniel grabbed hold of my hand, forced the knife out of my grip and held it in front of his face, “That won’t solve anything. There’s nothing brave about taking your own life.”

“Tell me, Daniel, who would fucking care if I died? I have no ties to anyone or anything.”

“You’re wrong Archie, I would care,” he said quietly.

“Why? Why the fucking hell do you give a damn!? Why are you even friends with me? I treat everyone like shit, you included, and after what I did to you tonight I’m surprised that you want anything to do with me,” I said sobbing in near hysterics.

“When I first met you I admit, I thought you were a bit of a pain in the ass, but when I got to know you I realized that behind that bitter angry resentful person was a lonely guy who pushed people away because he was afraid of anyone getting too close,” he said putting a hand on my shoulder.

“What about tonight? You can’t just pretend that didn’t happen!” I yelled shame and self-loathing washing over me.

“Look, Archie,” he said gripping hold of my other shoulder. “I don’t blame you for what happened. I know you’re having trouble controlling your hunger, but to tell you the truth I wouldn’t mind having sex with you again, it felt good.”

“Daniel, don’t you understand how dangerous that is?! You are like a damn bottle of fucking water to me and I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to keep myself from draining you dry,” I said with a shudder. Something had kept me from feeding on him completely, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. I might have been a fluke, and I didn’t want him getting any ideas.

“Look,” he said casting furtive glances across the room. “We can continue this conversation back at my parent’s house, where it’s a little less public.”

“Okay, yeah. That’s probably a good idea,” I said biting my lip.

“I’m not the only one you would care if you died. Selina has been worried sick. It was all I could do to keep her from coming with me. If I didn’t know better I’d swear she was your mother or something,” he said moving to stand.

“Holy fucking shit,” I said staring at him wide-eyed.

No it couldn’t be, could it? True there were certain physical similarities, I mean we both had red hair and blue eyes and nearly identical hour-glass figures, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything for all I knew that was a trait common to all succubi. My mind flashed back to the truck ride to the Corday home. She told me she had met a succubus who might have been my mother, but why tell me that story if it weren’t true? Perhaps she had done it to test the water and see how I might reply. It might explain why she had seemed so upset when she saw how I reacted.

I’d been so intent on the idea of taking my life that I had let all the signs slip past me. The more I thought about it the more sense it made. She had known I was abandoned at an orphanage without me telling her. How the hell could she have known that if she weren’t my mother? Shit, it seemed like a stretch, but I had to be sure and the only way I was going to find out was to ask her. Shit, suddenly I was very eager to get back to the Corday place.

The ride back to the house was pretty quiet and uneventful. Daniel tried to get me to talk several times, but I really didn’t have much of anything to say. I answered with grunts and vague answers not really paying attention to what he had to say.

My thoughts were centered on the possibility of Selina being my mother. I mean, I really had no reason to believe it was true and the very idea seemed almost laughable but I had to know. We arrived back at Daniel’s parent’s house within just a couple of minutes. I knew something was wrong as soon as we pulled into the driveway. For one thing the front door was sitting wide open; for another, there were two bodies sprawled on the front lawn.

“Shit, what the hell happened?” Daniel said with a frantic edge to his voice. It sounded pretty fucking weird hearing him curse like that, Daniel very rarely swore.

He scrambled out of the truck and I jumped out following closely on his tail. He went right for one of the bodies on the snow-covered ground which turned out to be Darrell and checked for a pulse. “He’s dead,” he said between gritted teeth.

“Fuck, if Darrell’s dead…” I said leaving the sentence unfinished. If Darrell was dead that didn’t bode well for Selina. He must have died defending her. I looked down at the other body, which I assumed to be one of Daniel’s cousins, and checked for a pulse.

“Daniel, he’s alive,” I said with a relieved sigh.

Daniel didn’t give a reply he sprang off his feet and practically leapt into his parent’s home. I followed just a few seconds later. The place was a shambles; it looked like a damn stampede had passed through the living room.

“Daniel, thank God,” Linda said appearing from out of the shadows and flung her arms around her son.

She was joined by two more figures, one of which I recognized as Stu, the other I assumed was another cousin since he had the same muscular build as all the other Corday men. The other man had long auburn hair that fell past his shoulders, looked to be somewhere in his early thirties and looked for all the world like some god out of ancient antiquity.

“Mom, are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” she said with a sob.

“What’s happened here?” Daniel said gripping hold of his mother’s shoulders.

“It was those Tenebris guys you warned us about they came at us before we knew what had happened. There were so damn many of them we didn’t stand a chance,” the man with the long auburn hair said with a scowl.

“Where is Selina?” I asked with a lump in my throat.

“The hot redhead? She surrendered herself. She said it was the only way that they’d let us live,” Stu said with both arms folded across his chest.

“Fuck! And they just went with it?” I asked clutching at my forehead with both hands, gritted my teeth and resisted the urge to start screaming.

Linda shook her head, “I’m really sorry, Archie. After she surrendered they searched the house. They were looking for you and Daniel. Then they just left.”

“What?! That makes no sense. Why would they just leave?” Daniel said with a grimace.

“No, it makes perfect sense. They knew exactly what they were doing. Instead of looking for us in unfamiliar territory, they lure us right to them. They had to know that we would follow them if they took Selina. Shit, if we go after her we’ll probably wind up dead,” I replied.

“So we just let them get away with this?” Daniel asked incredulously.

“Hell no! That’s not what I meant!” I replied in frustration. “I plan on going after Selina even if I have to go alone. I just think we need to be aware what we might be headed into.”

“How? I don’t see any way,” Daniel said looking suddenly very tired.

“Maybe there is a way,” Linda put in. “One of the attackers was left behind.”

“Where is he?” I asked.

“Upstairs in the ba–,” she said and I leapt up the stairs without staying to let her finish.

I raced across the hall, and slammed the door open at the end with an audible bang and found a man sprawled on a bed inside. Blood coated his face and chest, but I didn’t see any wounds. I didn’t immediately recognize him because of his ragged state, but I realized that he was the man from Kona’s who had reappeared at the club later that night. He had warned me to stay home, both times. Shit, if only I had listened. His eyes snapped open and his face contorted into an angry scowl.

He looked ready to spring on me, but thankfully his hands had been tied to the bed post. I stepped over to the bed and brushed a finger across his cheek. I needed to learn what he knew, there was no way I could intimidate him, but he was a man and let’s face it I was smoking hot. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I had the advantage of being a succubus. I had this power over men, I hadn’t really given it much thought until that moment, but I knew it was there.

“Tell me where they took her,” I said running my hand down his face and licking my lips hungrily. I felt the urge to feed rise, but like at the bar I was able to bat it away with almost no effort.

For a moment his anger faded away and his eyes washed over me hungrily, but then he shook his head and the anger swept across his face again. “I’m not telling you a damn thing.”

“Okay, let’s start with something simple, Tell me your name,” I said leaning down and kissed him lightly on the lips.

“Lieutenant Robert Barns,” he breathed looking up at me with a look of longing.

“Archie what are you doing?” a voice asked from the doorway and I didn’t have to look to know that it was Daniel.

“Leave us, I’ll learn what we need to know,” I said coolly.

“Archie–”

“I know what I’m doing,” I said turning around to lock gazes with him. Really I didn’t have a damn clue, but I wasn’t about to let on especially in front of Barns.

Daniel looked almost angry, and maybe even a little bit jealous, but he bit back whatever retort he had and nodded. Shit, I didn’t even want to think about what that meant. “Close the door,” I said my gaze returning to Barns. “Me and my friend have some things to discuss.”

The door shut behind me and I directed all my attention on Barns. At first he seemed resistant to me, but with enough time I was able persuade him to tell me everything I wanted to know. I think a part of me died while I interrogated Barns. It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but the succubus in me seemed to know exactly what to do in order to get what I wanted and I would have done almost anything to find Selina. For the first time I found myself enjoying what I was doing and it scared the shit out of me.

“What did you find out?” Daniel asked as I stepped into the living room.

“Well, I think I know where they took her,” I said biting my lip.

“Where?” He asked with an accusing glare.

“A few miles into the forest on the north side of town. Just a little ways past some old warehouse. From the way he described their camp it sounds pretty well guarded.” I replied staring at him wide-eyed.

What the fucking hell was his problem? Then it hit me like a damn ton of bricks, he thought I had sex with Robert. He was jealous, which invariably meant he had feelings for me. Shit, I hadn’t even been a chick twenty-four hours and he had fallen for me. I didn’t exactly know what the hell to say. A part of me wanted to tell him to fuck off, but there was another part that wanted to tell him there was nothing to worry about. Shit, maybe Daniel wasn’t the only one with feelings.

“Daniel–”

“We need to act quickly,” he said cutting me short.

“Shit, what should we do man?” Stu asked.

“Well you and Arnie are going to get in touch with everyone in the family who can fight and bring them up to where these guys are camped out. Archie and I will meet you there,” Daniel replied. I could only guess that the long-haired one was named Arnie.

“Don’t move,” a cold voice said in my ear just as an arm wrapped around my throat.

It was Barns, somehow he had escaped. I could feel something warm and wet dripping down my chest and I realized it was blood from his wrists. I could only surmise that he worked himself free from the ropes that had tied him down.

“Let her go,” Daniel growled taking a few steps toward us. It wasn’t entirely lost on me that he had used a female pronoun, but shit I was being held hostage it wasn’t exactly a priority.

“Come any closer and I’ll snap her neck,” he spat.

Something inside of me seemed to come awake and I howled in fury. I reached deep inside myself where my hunger lingered and reached out desperately for a way to break free from my captor’s grip. I found something, a power of sorts, and latched onto it. A fiery torrent of pain swept across my skin, and I thought I might burst into flames at any moment. The pain faded away and I knew something was different; Linda and Daniel were both looking at me with shocked expressions.

I could literally sense the lust that was being directed at me. It was so tangible I could almost see it radiating from everyone in the room and I thought I might be able to reach out and touch it. The strongest was emanating from Barns and it had a sort of angry feel to it, but there was a good amount of lust pouring out from Daniel, Stu and Arnie and I even detected a faint trace of it around Linda. I wanted it, I wanted to draw it all deep inside of me until there was no more.

“Holy hell,” Barns yelled and I felt his grip loosen from around my neck.

It was enough; my hand reached out for his wrist and slipped out from his grip. I swirled on him and smiled, his hands were trembling and he was looking at me with an expression that somehow managed to convey lust, hatred and fear at the same time. I reached out to touch him, but my hand only met open air as he backed away in hurried panic. I jumped at him and I clutched both of his cheeks in my hands.

“You are mine,” I whispered.

I’m not exactly sure how to describe what happened next. The swirls of angry sexual energy pouring out from Barns seemed to change; the anger faded away and took on a feeling of mindless submissiveness. A set of dull gray eyes looked back at me, and I shivered as I realized what I had done. In the same way that Selina had enslaved Darrell to her will, I had enthralled Robert. I backed away from him in a hurry and clenched my hands against my side trying my best to quell the horror at what I had done.

That wasn’t all though, I sensed there was something more I could do to him. It was hard to explain, but I felt a faint desire to start pouring some of my sexual energy into him. The urge was easy enough resist and I quelled it with relative ease. I had pretty fair idea of what would have happened had I given in to the urge and I knew then what Selina had meant when she said succubi could be made.

“What just happened?” Daniel breathed behind me.

“I-I just reacted. He won’t hurt anyone now. Not unless I tell him to,” I said looking down at my hands and realizing for the first time that they had a sort of purple cast to them.

“Archie, what did you do?” Linda said.

“He’s mine body heart and soul. He’ll do whatever I tell him,” I said reaching up to touch the pair of curled ram horns that were now protruding from my skull. They were just like the pair Selina had grown outside my apartment. Shit, if I had a set of horns it stood to reason I had a damn set of wings too. And, sure enough, when I reached for them I found a pair of wings sticking out from my back.

“Good god,” Linda gasped.

“Archie–”

“Don’t call me that!” I snapped cutting Daniel short.

I didn’t feel like an Archie or Archibold anymore. That name belonged to someone else, someone who had died earlier that day. I just hadn’t realized it until then. Archie would never have done the things that I had done. “Call me Rachel,” I muttered bitterly turning back to face him.

“Rachel,” he spoke my new name as if testing it out. “Are you alright?” The lust poured out from him and it took all my willpower to keep my hands to myself.

I laughed bitterly and shook my head, “I’ll live.”

“Look if you’re not feeling up to it you can stay here and I’ll–”

“No! I’m going. I can’t leave Selina to those people,” I muttered cutting him short with an angry glare. I had every reason to hate Selina, it had after all been her that had awoken me and I brought the Tenebris Petentibus down on us in the first place. If she was my mother and she had abandoned me that was yet another reason to hate her, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel any malice toward her. I needed to know the truth, and I wouldn’t get it if she died.

“Then we better get going,” Daniel muttered.

I didn’t immediately answer instead I cast a furtive glance at Barns. Like Darrell, he wore a stupid grin on his face and there was a noticeable bulge in his pants. On Darrell the grin looked almost comical, on Barns it made him look like a damn lecher and the effect was creepy as hell. He didn’t do anything but stand there and stare at me like a damn fool which just made the whole thing seem even creepier.

I met his stupid ass gaze and shuddered. What I saw in those eyes was complete and utter submission. He would do anything I told him too, even if it meant he would die in the process. There was some sort of link between us and I could feel him in the back of my head. A small part of him resisted what had been done, but that portion of his consciousness was slowly fading away.

“Yeah, let’s just get out of here,” I said with a grimace and glared back at Barns one final time.

“Hurry up,” I muttered irritably as Barns climbed out of the truck.

Barns had long since given over to me completely and I had returned back to my human form. It was eerie as hell having him around, but for the time being I needed him. If we were going to attack Gray-hair and his lackeys, I would need Barns to protect me. Daniel had offered, but after the attack on his parent’s home he had become increasingly eager to strike back and somehow I doubted he’d make for a very good protector. I hated that I needed someone to guard me, but I was pragmatist. To be honest even before I turned into a damn succubus I hadn’t exactly been very capable of defending myself.

Barns leapt to the ground and just stood there with that damn lecherous smile on his face. I slammed the door shut behind him and glared at him angrily.

“Well don’t just stand there,” I growled and motioned for him to follow.

It was still dark out in the early morning and I could barely see a few feet in front of me. Daniel didn’t speak and neither did I. We walked quietly through the darkness until about ten minutes into our walk.

“We getting close?” Daniel said suddenly.

“Yeah, I think so. He did say it was a little ways off road,” I said quietly.

Daniel nodded, “I know an old game trail that might take us close.”

The old game path was nearly overgrown; thankfully it was just barely wide enough for us to walk through single file. Daniel and Barns had some trouble getting through at a few places where a tree or branch was blocking the path, but being much smaller I was able to slip through with much less difficulty.

We had only been following the trail a good ten minutes when I heard a sharp crack and when I swirled around to see what it was I found the muzzle of a gun pointed at my face. “Ah, fucking hell,” I muttered just before there was a sharp pain in the back of my head and everything went black.

“Oh God,” I groaned and the world came back to me in a rush.

“Arch–” Daniel’s familiar voice said from somewhere nearby.

My eyes snapped open and I found only emptiness looking back. It took me a few seconds for that we were sitting in the dark and I wasn’t blind. “–Rachel,” Daniel continued. “Are you alright?”

“Shit, what the hell happened?”

“It was our friends, the Tenebris Petentibus,” he muttered.

“Damn, how did they find us?”

“It was Barns.”

“Barns? No it couldn’t be he’s completely enthralled. There’s no way he could have betrayed us.”

“I overheard them talking when they thought I was still unconscious. He has some sort of tracking device on him,” he spat bitterly.

“Shit, Darrell probably had one too! That’s how they keep finding us.”

“It’s a good bet.”

“What about Selina? Have you heard anything about her?”

“No, but I can smell her, she’s somewhere here in camp.”

Abruptly light flooded the darkness and I was blinded. After my eyes adjusted to the new light I looked up to see Gray-hair standing above me. I looked about the space around me and I realized I was in a canvas tent, the sort that was typically used by the military. My ankles and wrists were chained to some sort of metal post that had been driven into the ground. I struggled against my bindings, but it was no use.

“I wouldn’t bother. Those chains are made from a silver-titanium alloy. They are particularly effective at restraining weres and vamps but they’re strong enough to hold almost anything else.” he said coldly as he popped an unlit cigarette into his mouth.

“You!” I spat.

“Why are you holding us? Why haven’t you killed us yet,” Daniel spat bitterly. I looked back to the source of Daniel’s voice, but I could only detect a vague outline, the chains prevented me from getting a full view. If they had me chained it was a pretty sure bet that Daniel was restrained in a similar manner.

“Kill you?” Gray-hair laughed. “Why would you think I wanted to kill you?”

“Because that’s what Hunters do,” Daniel growled angrily.

Gray-hair threw his head back and laughed, “Oh, I see you think we’re Hunters. No, the Tenebris Petentibus has very different goals from the Order of the Sacred Heart.”

“What is it you plan on doing with us then?” I growled staring up at him.

“You will learn soon enough,” he said as he pulled a lighter out from his pocket and lit the cigarette in his mouth.

“What have you done with Selina?” I demanded.

“Who?” He asked staring at me blankly, “Oh, you mean the other succubus? She’s alive for now, but that all depends on whether you cooperate. You see she’s outlived her usefulness, it would be a pity if I had to kill her.”

“If she dies I swear to fucking God that I will kill you if it’s the last thing I do,” I growled angrily and meant it.

“I can see you’re going to make this difficult,” he said coldly. “I just might decide you aren’t worth the trouble and kill you. You two have been responsible for the deaths of some of my best men. Don’t test my patience, what you did to Barns is reason enough to kill you. Because of you I was forced to kill him. It really was a pity he showed a lot of promise as an officer.”

“Colonel Steagan,” a new voice said from the entryway.

“Yes, Lieutenant Freeman,” Gray-hair said with a touch of irritation in his voice.

“You said to notify you when the other prisoner woke,” Freeman replied.

“Very good Lieutenant,” Steagan said his lips curling into a malicious grin and he turned to leave. He stepped back through the entry way then he swirled around and locked eyes with me, “Think about what I said, if you cooperate I promise you and your friends will live. I have no desire to end anyone’s life unnecessarily.”

The tent flap fell back over the entryway and the darkness enveloped us again.

“That bastard! What the hell do we do?” I growled a few moments later.

“I don’t know, there’s no way I can get through these bonds, not if they have silver in them,” Daniel muttered with a touch of resignation in his voice.

“So weres really are weak against silver?”

“Not just weres most unseen have an aversion to the stuff. The bonds must have a pretty low amount of silver or they’d probably make me sick if they didn’t kill me. They’d probably have a similar effect on you too.”

“You sound like you’ve given up.”

“Not yet, we still have reason for hope.”

“What would that be?”

“Stu and the others.”

Daniel was almost completely silent as we sat there in the darkness. Shit, I was going fucking nuts sitting there doing nothing ! I was terrified that Steagan would kill Selina and I wasn’t exactly very certain about my own life or Daniel’s for that matter. There was no way Steagan could be trusted it was obvious he had no compunction when it came to killing people and I highly doubted he’d let us live once our usefulness had been used up. That begged the question what the fuck did he want us for? He obviously had some nefarious purpose in mind, but what the hell could it be?

If only I could see Selina. God I needed to know if she was alright. It was torture not knowing whether or not she was really my mother, but if she died before I learned for certain I don’t think I could stand it. All my life I wanted a family, and now when I might finally have found a small piece of what I sought I could feel that piece slipping through my fingers. That’s when I started to pray, I’d never done it before, but I thought that if there really was a God out there maybe He might hear my pleas. I know it seemed strange for sex demon to be praying to God, but I was desperate and I needed something to cling to. Praying gave me hope, so I prayed away.

I don’t know if God even exists or even if He heard me, but at the time it seemed as if He had. I could hear shouting and then gunshots permeated the air and I knew that we were about to be rescued. Sure enough, there was a scream outside our tent and I heard a loud growl and few moments later the tent flap flew open to reveal Daniel’s cousin Arnie, looking for all the world like some vengeful god out of legend.

“You two alright?”

“We’ll live,” Daniel replied dryly.

Arnie stepped into the tent and let the flap fall behind him. I got a sense of movement, and I felt Arnie’s breath on my neck as he bent down to touch the cuffs around my wrists. He must have gotten hold of the keys because I felt something click, the cuffs popped loose and he moved onto my ankles. Finally I was free! Without waiting for Daniel or Arnie I burst out of the tent and felt my jaw drop as I saw the scene that was enfolding in front of me.

A couple dozen or so were-bears weaving through the camp attacking the Tenebris Petentibus, and the Daniel’s cousins were wreaking havoc. These were trained soldiers; they weren’t accustomed to fighting wild animals particularly ones with the intellect and cunning of a human being. The bears were just too damned fast for the soldiers, whenever one of Steagan’s men caught a bear in his sights the bear was on him before he could even pull the trigger. The bears were cutting Steagan’s men to pieces and the soldiers were helpless to stem the onslaught.

None of the crazy shit was important though, I had to find Selina before it was too late. My eyes scanned the camp and it wasn’t long before I caught sight of Steagan, he had an arm wrapped around her throat and a gun poised over her chest. “Bastard!” I howled. Steagan glared at me and I dived to the ground as he fired a round of bullets in my direction.

I leapt back to my feet once I was sure I was safe, but found no trace of the asshole or Selina. “Shit!” I growled and made for the last spot I’d seen Steagan. I caught a faint trace of movement and I lumbered after it. There was a brief glimpse of him as I rounded a corner, but I was forced to duck behind a tree as he let lose another round of shots in my direction.

“Steagan! You fucking asshole!” I screamed and jumped out from being the tree to continue my pursuit. I changed as I moved, I don’t remember calling up what I had come to think of as my demon form, but suddenly my skin felt as if it were on fire and I knew I was transforming. It hurt like hell, but I didn’t let it stop me. I just kept running I had to get to Steagan before he did something to Selina.

Abruptly all the air was knocked out of me and I tumbled to the ground. A pair of hands reached for my throat and I struggled to fend my attacker off, but I just couldn’t match his strength. Slowly, those hands squeezed the life out of me and I couldn’t do damn thing about it. I clawed at my attacker’s face in desperation, but he didn’t relent. I could feel the world fading away, darkness crept into the edges of my vision and I knew I had almost reached the end. Then suddenly I could breathe again. I looked up and realized my attacker had been flung away.

“Shit, that was close,” I coughed rubbing at my throat and looked up to meet the gaze of my rescuer.

“You okay?” Daniel asked sweat pouring down his body as he held his hand out to me.

“Yeah,” I answered accepting his hand. God, I wanted to feed. The lust was pouring from Daniel like a torrent, and it was all I could to keep myself from throwing myself at him.

“Why’d you run off like that?”

I let out a long sigh and gritted my teeth. I almost told him to fuck me there and then, but I was able to use my concern for Selina to anchor myself against my intense need to feed. I close my eyes and let rational thought slowly return to me. “Selina,” I answered. “Steagan ran off with her as a hostage.”

“We need to go after him. We need to–” he growled and stopped suddenly in mid sentence.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“Someone’s coming,” he said suddenly.

“Come on, let’s go.”

“No, you go. I’ll stay and hold them off,” he said ripping his shirt off and unbuckling his belt.

“Daniel, I–”

“Go!” He yelled flinging his jean aside as fur started to sprout all over his naked body.

I gritted my teeth, bit back a tear, turned away and started to run. God, Steagan was going to pay.

 

“Don’t move any closer,” he growled swinging his gun so that it was aimed right at my chest.

It hadn’t taken long for me to catch up with Steagan I had him cornered at a dead end. Behind him was a blunt cliff face that dropped off into a hundred foot or more plunge. His only means of escape was through me and he knew it. Selina let out a soft moan, but she didn’t struggle. There was a sort of vacant look to her eyes and it wasn’t hard to see that something was wrong.

“What the hell did you do to her?”

“I gave her something to ensure she’d be more cooperative,” he muttered with a twisted grin as he slowly backed up to the edge of the cliff.

What the hell was he up to?

“Let her go!”

“If you say so,” he said and loosed his hold around Selina’s neck, and sent her tumbling over the edge of the cliff.

I screamed Selina’s name as I flew past Steagan only to fall to my knees at the cliff’s edge, but it was already too late. I watched in horror as Selina fell through the air and as her form became lost among the trees and foliage below. Hot tears rolled down my face and I shook with unconstrained rage and fury. Selina was dead, there was no way she could have survived a fall at that height. Steagan was going to pay, I would see to that.

I wiped the tears away from my face and got back on my feet. Steagan was nowhere in sight, obviously he had used Selina’s death as a distraction in order to get away, but why? Why not just shoot me? Fuck it made no damn sense. Well, I wasn’t going to catch him by just standing there. I broke out into a run and really started to put on the speed. I hadn’t noticed it before because I had been so intent on saving Selina, but shit I could run fast in my succubus form. I think it had to do with my wings; they flapped with each step and helped propel me forward. They weren’t large enough for flight, but apparently they weren’t entirely useless.

I came to an abrupt stop where a circle of trees had created a small clearing. There I found a bear battling it out with a six of Steagan’s soldiers. The bear looked haggard and seemed to be bleeding from several wounds, but that didn’t seem to stop it as it plowed into the nearest soldier in a berserk rage. I tried to move around the battle, but one of the soldiers caught sight of me and called out to his friends. One leapt at me with combat knife in-hand, but the bear was on him in a flash.

After the soldier had been dealt with I met the bear’s gaze and recognized Daniel’s familiar brown eyes staring back at me. Gunfire rippled into Daniel’s side and he fell to the ground with a loud groan. “Daniel,” I gasped and ran to side. The four remaining soldiers grouped up and moved to form around a circle around the two of us.

“Fucking bitch,” a tall scrawny fellow with black hair said putting his gun to my chest. I could taste the sexual energy pouring out from him and I nearly reached out to begin feeding, but I managed to stop myself. There really was no use, if I moved I was dead and I couldn’t use my abilities on all of them at once. I closed my eyes and waiting for him to end it, but then nothing happened. There was a sudden growl and my eyes snapped open as all hell broke loose.

Somehow Daniel had gotten back to his feet and was once again on the offensive. I had to act quickly; in the shape he was in I doubted Daniel could keep up his attack for long. There was a blood curdling scream just before he tore into the throat of the nearest attacker. The remaining three opened fire and Daniel let out a loud roar as he fell back down to the ground. I didn’t really think about what I did next, I just reacted. I jumped at the nearest soldier, which happened to be the tall skinny one from before, touched him on the cheek and felt his will drain away. In seconds he was mine and I didn’t waste any time.

“Kill them” I commanded.

My new slave complied and started shooting at his companions. He took out the other two before either of them knew what was happening and just like that it was over

“Oh God,” I muttered and fell to my knees in the snow beside an unconscious Daniel who had reverted back to his human form. He was completely naked and I could see that his side was covered in blood where the bullets had hit him. He was in bad shape and I was worried he would die. Abruptly, Daniel groaned and his eyes snapped open.

“The soldiers. What happened?” Daniel breathed weakly.

“They’ve been taken care of. Don’t talk you need to preserve your strength,” I muttered.

“Get your ass over here, numbnuts!” I growled at my bony ass thrall.

“Please talk, I think it’ll help me keep my mind off the pain.. Tell me what happened,” Daniel replied with a loud gasp.

“Take off your damn shirt,” I said glaring back at the soldier when I noticed he had gotten close.

“Steagan ran off with Selina as a hostage,” I said turning back to Daniel.

“Crap, I’m guessing you didn’t catch up to him.”

“No I did. I had him cornered, but he dropped Selina off a cliff ledge to distract me so he could get away,” I muttered bitterly as I forced back tears.

“He got away?” he asked with more than a little touch of bitterness.

I nodded and Daniel growled. “Shit, what are you doing here? You need to find that bastard and bring him to justice.”

“I’m not leaving you, Daniel. If you…” I trailed off tears cascading down my face. “If you died, I would never forgive myself.”

“Trust me I’m not planning on dying anytime soon. Being unseen does have its advantages. I’m sure it looks pretty bad, but weres are much harder to kill than regular people. Beside if I die I don’t want to go knowing that Steagan got away.”

“Daniel–”

“Rachel, promise me.”

“Alright, but if you die on me, I swear to god, I’ll fucking kill you.”

Daniel started to laugh, “I’ll be especially careful not to die then.”

I almost turned to leave, but on impulse I bent over and kissed Daniel on the lips. “I thought you didn’t…” he muttered breathlessly.

I shook my head, “I’m still not sure it would be such a good idea. I just… I just thought one last kiss wouldn’t hurt. Just in case…”

Daniel nodded in understanding, “In case I die.”

“In case I do,” I whispered softly.

“Hey you fucking pile of shit. Take that damn shirt and put pressure on the wound. Keep your eyes open if anyone shows up and they’re a threat shoot their asses,” I said turning to face the soldier.

“Rachel!” Daniel called as I turned to leave. “Be safe.”

“I-I’ll try. Goodbye Daniel,” I muttered feeling for all the world as if I was giving him my final farewell.

 

I had only a vague idea of which direction Steagan may have gone, so I broke out into a run and really began to put on the speed. Time slipped by in a blur and I couldn’t really tell how long I ran, but a part of me really wished it would never end. I could have kept running for hours without the need to halt, but I forced myself to come to a brief stop as I caught a blur of motion nearby, but it wasn’t Steagan, it was Daniel’s mother.

“Linda,” I called.

“Rachel, thank God. ” Linda breathed running over to me and throwing her arms around me.

“What are you doing here?”

“You don’t think I’d just stand idly by when my son had been captured do you? What happened?” she asked

“God Linda, Daniel he’s in rough shape.”

“Rachel, where is he?”

“He’s back that way,” I muttered pointed back toward the clearing.

“I need you to take me to him, Rachel,” Linda said quietly.

I shook my head, “Linda, I can’t. I promised him I’d go after Steagan.”

“Who?”

“He’s the one behind this whole fucking mess. He killed Selina,” I breathed.

“Selina’s dead? Oh, Rachel I’m sorry.”

“Look, I gotta go. I need to find Steagan before he gets away.”

“And I’m coming with you,” Linda said folding her arms across her chest.

“What about Daniel?”

I could see the conflict on Linda’s face. “I can’t let you go off alone, Rachel.”

“But Daniel!” I protested.

“And if you die? I’ve seen the way my son looks at you.”

“Fine, do you think you can track Steagan for me?”

“Sure if I knew his scent.”

“Shit, well I can’t…” I said and started to trail off. “Wait? What about cigarettes?”

“What about them?”

“He smokes; can you track him by the scent of the cigarettes?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Linda said closing her eyes and then they suddenly snapped back open.

“Come on. This way,” she said and broke into a run.

I hesitated only a few seconds then I burst into motion after her. She ran fast, but I had no trouble keeping up, in fact, I might even have been able to outpace her if I wanted too. She led me through the forest for several minutes and then we came to a brief stop as we caught sight of Steagan. I paused and watched him stumble through the trees, then without stopping to see if Linda were following I leapt back into motion and was on his heels in moments.

Without warning Steagan spun around and a hot stab of pain sliced across my left breast. I fell to the ground clasping at my chest in agony. I gritted my teeth against the pain and with a loud groan I moved my hand away from my breast and found blood on it. I looked down at my chest and found a huge gash across it.

“Bastard!” I spat glaring up at Steagan who held a combat knife in hand. Steagan drew his gun and trained it on me then carefully tucked the combat knife into his belt.

“No, tricks freak. You try anything and the succubus dies,” Steagan said his eyes locked on Linda.

And with a flash of inspiration it came to me. I was sure I knew why Steagan had dropped Selina from the cliff rather than fire on me, he was out of bullets. There was no way to be sure, but I didn’t really have much going for me. I wasn’t going to let Selina’s death be for nothing, Steagan would pay for what he had done. I was bleeding pretty badly and I knew that if I didn’t act soon, I might not have the strength. So, I leapt to my feet and sprung my body at his legs. We went down in a tangle of limbs and I knew that he would soon over power me. So I latched my hand onto his crotch and I began to suck him dry.

A familiar, and oh so glorious stream of sexual energy poured out from Steagan and into me. I didn’t need to unclothe him in my demon form; I fed right through the fabric of his pants. While it wasn’t as filling as it might be had I let him fuck me, it still felt quite wondrous. Steagan fell unconscious and with a great deal of effort I stopped myself from taking anymore. I didn’t want to kill him, oh no, I had a much more fitting punishment in mind for him.

“Rachel?” Linda said suddenly and I turned to face her.

Our eyes locked, Linda gasped and took a step back. I wondered what she saw in me that would cause her to react in that manner, but I decided it really didn’t matter. I could see the sexual energy emanating from her, it wasn’t very strong not like it would be coming from a man, but it was there. Briefly I contemplated feeding on her, but I shook my head and shoved those animalistic thoughts out of my head.

I ignored her and turned back to Steagan. This time I unzipped his pants and forced down the urge to feed. Just as I was about to pull open his boxer shorts, something gripped hold of my arm and moved it away. Linda had come over to me and wrapped her hand around my wrist. “Linda,” I growled. “Let go.”

“Are you sure this is what you want? Killing him won’t bring Selina back,” Linda said her eyes seeming to bore a hole into me.

“You don’t understand. I don’t plan on killing him. No, death is just an easy escape.” I laughed bitterly.

“Rachel, you don’t–”

“Let go, Linda!” I commanded glaring back at her.

For a wonder, Linda’s hand loosened around my wrist and I didn’t hesitate to act. I don’t know if she would have tried to stop me had she known what I was about to do, but I didn’t intend to give her time to puzzle it out. I latched my hand around Steagan’s crotch and instead of feeding I began to send sexual energy pouring back into him. Every nerve in my body screamed at me to stop, but at the same time every instinct told me to keep at it. It was almost painful, in a way, giving up all that energy, but in many ways it felt almost as good as feeding. I gave him nearly everything I had, and then wrenched my hand away with a grunt of effort.

“Rachel, what did you do?” Linda muttered as I met her gaze. Her face had drained of all color and I was certain she already knew.

“I turned him. He’s a succubus now he’ll start changing soon,” I sighed weakly. God, I felt so dizzy, how much blood had I lost? I tried to stand, but fell back to the ground in a crumpled heap. “Tell Daniel, I’m sorry,” I muttered just before everything went black.

Beep… Beep… Beep… The sound pounded through my skull and I felt as if a hammer were striking my head with each repetition. My eyes snapped open and a let out a faint sigh when I realized that I was in the hospital. The source of the beeping was a heart rate monitor to my left.

“Well, it’s about time,” a voice said from the other side of the bed.

A girl with long brunette hair and green eyes was sitting by my side.

“Lillian, what are you doing here?”

“Well I was out on some errands and I thought I’d stop in for a visit,” she said with a slight smile.

“How sweet of you,” I muttered sarcastically.

“Isn’t it? You thirsty? I know I could use a drink.” She said leaning over to reach into a cooler that was lying on the floor. She produced what I initially thought to be a juice pouch, but quickly realized was a bag of blood.

“You want some?”

“No thanks,” I muttered suppressing a shudder.

“Suit yourself. You know most my sisters prefer the taste of warm blood to chilled, but there’s something about the way the cold blood sends shivers down my spine that just feels so good,” she said tearing a tab off the bag and began to suck out the contents.

“Why is it that you’re really here?”

Lily closed her eyes and after a long drink from the bag let out a sigh of pleasure, “I thought I’d come by and see if you’d thought about my offer.”

Of course, that was why she was here. What other reason would she have for paying me a visit? I almost told her no. I didn’t like the idea of being indebted to a vampire and I really didn’t think I deserved to have a life. Then again, I really didn’t think I was capable of taking my own life. And, there was Steagan to think of. I couldn’t just turn him and unleash the monster he was sure to become on the population. He would need to be reined in and tightly controlled, and since I had turned him that responsibility fell upon me. A new identity would go a long way in doing just that.

“Alright, I’ll do it,” I replied with a long sigh.

“Oh good, I knew you’d see reason,” she purred and planted a kiss on my lips.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, by the time I realized what she was doing I was so caught up in the kiss that I didn’t really care. I could feel the need to feed rise and I reached over to Lily to do just that. As my hand brushed against the fabric of her skirt something slapped my hand away and I quickly yanked it back.

“Naughty, naughty,” she whispered as our lips parted.

I could taste blood in my mouth and I suppressed the urge to spit it out as I scowled up at Lily. “You’ve really got to stop doing that.”

Lily let out a soft chuckle and stood to stand, “Come by the Delta Beta Zeta chapter house once you’re well enough. There are some details we’ll need to iron out.”

I closed my eyes and nodded; when I opened them again she was gone.

Oh, god I was so fucking ravenous, I needed to feed and soon. I wasn’t talking about food, of course, I needed sex and I needed it badly. It didn’t help that I was currently being undressed by a somewhat attractive female nurse. I had clumsily spilled my morning orange juice all over the front of my hospital gown and they wanted to make sure that I hadn’t gotten any in my wound. Really she could have been a seventy-five year old grandma and it probably wouldn’t have mattered. I was desperate to feed and anyone who had any sexual energy whatsoever would do. I had never fed on a woman before, but I doubted she would sate me as well as a man.

I was fighting hard not to use my abilities on her, but as she helped me out of the gown my hunger won out. I was just too damn empty, I needed a fill-up and unfortunately that meant feeding on the nurse. I grabbed hold of her by either cheek and kissed her deeply on the lips. For a moment, her eyes glossed over and she was under my spell, but she shook her head and whatever influence I had gained was gone.

She stared at me with wide-eyes and her hands were shaking as she held one up to stop my advances. Clearly, she was shocked by the suddenly attraction she felt toward me. “I’ve never, I mean–” she said, but I interrupted her protests with another kiss. This time when her eyes glossed over they stayed that way. Even straight women weren’t immune to a succubus’s charms, although it did take a little more work to get them going.

I hated myself for what I was doing, but my need to feed prevented me from thinking clearly. All I could think about was getting what I needed, and the nurse would be able to provide that for me at least to some degree. I would have preferred she had been a man, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I pulled down her pants and her panties followed, my hand latched over her cunt and I began to feed. It felt much different from feeding on a man, but that’s not to say it was unpleasant. Her sexual energy had a different flavor to it, it almost seemed light and sweet whereas the sexual energy from a man had a more meaty feel to it. When I was done the nurse’s eyes rolled back into her head and she collapsed to the ground in a crumpled heap. Although I had taken a lot of energy from her, it really hadn’t filled me up as much as it would have had I let a man penetrate me. I pulled the nurse’s pants back on, but left her lying on the floor.

I caught my reflection in the mirror and I glared at the eerily beautiful woman in disgust. I hated what I had become and what I needed to do in order to survive. What choice did I have? Hot tears streamed down my face and I turned my back on the mirror. I couldn’t bear the sight of that creature.

I was still pretty damn hungry, but the urge to feed was nowhere near as strong. I would likely be able to control myself at least for a while so for the time being feeding could wait. Absently, I patted my left breast where I had been cut and was surprised when I realized it didn’t hurt at all. I quickly unwrapped the bandage around it and felt my jaw drop when I looked down and found no sign that I had been injured.

Had feeding accelerated the healing process? Or was it simply a result of being a succubus? There was so much I didn’t know and now that Selina was dead I would have to figure it out for myself.

There was a knock at the door, I quickly grabbed the orange-juice stained hospital gown from the floor and slipped it back on. I ran to the door and flung it open to find Linda Corday standing in the doorway. She looked pretty haggard, and judging from her appearance she hadn’t gotten much sleep.

“Rachel,” she said. “What are you doing out of bed?”

“Well, I…”

Suddenly, she pushed past me and was on the ground beside the fallen nurse. “What happened?”

I closed my eyes and let out a sigh, “I got some orange-juice on my gown and she was undressing me to make sure that none had gotten in my wound when I lost control and fed on her.”

Linda started to say something, but I wasn’t listening. My breath caught in my throat and I simply stood looking out the doorway in shocked disbelief. “Selina!” I called out. I was ready to leap out the doorway, but then Arnie appeared. He just barely brushed past me, but it proved enough to set me off. Apparently what I had taken from the nurse hadn’t really been enough to give me control. Before I could do anything a pair of strong hands grabbed hold of me and I was forced back into the hospital bed.

I tried to protest, but all thoughts of what I had just seen were forced aside as the need to feed rose. Whoever had picked me up had a rather strong sexual presence and I very much wanted him to fuck me. That’s about when everything went dark…

Selina… Everywhere I went there she was, but no matter how hard I tried she was always out of reach. I ran through the empty halls of the hospital in the vain hope that I might catch her. Suddenly, she was there right in front of me, but then just as abruptly she was gone. I transformed into my demon form and ran as fast as I could. I turned a corner. A flash of red hair. A blur of motion. Nothing.

Everything was disjointed. Something was wrong. Where was Selina? Why couldn’t I find her? Why wouldn’t she stay in one place? Nothing made sense. The scenery changed. Flash. I was in the middle of a long road. Flash. I was standing in the forest. Flash. I was at my apartment. Flash. The Corday home. Flash. The hospital again. Flash. I stood in utter darkness. The world shifted, everything started to spin, and I fell to my knees clutching at my head. I screamed and the world was still.

I was in a hallway of sorts; there were rows of doors on either side, but no walls or a floor. Between the doors was only emptiness. I opened the first and watched with wide eyes. On the other of the door there was a bed levitating in the air. Atop it, Daniel was making love to a lavender-skinned succubus which looked exactly like me. The two shared a kiss, and he whispered something in the ear of the other me. She smiled sweetly, and with a set of clawed fingers she’s ripped into his chest and tore out his heart. She brought Daniel’s heart to her lips, took a bite out of it and moaned in pleasure. I screamed, and slammed the door shut.

“No!”

I turned my back on the door and with shaky hands I opened the one opposing it. I was back at the cliff’s edge where Steagan had dropped Selina. Just like before, a figure was holding her over the edge, but it wasn’t Steagan, it was my male self. He smiled cruelly and dropped Selina off the cliff and once again I was too late to do anything. I fought back tears and fled, slamming the door behind me.

I opened a door on the other side and watched my female self stab Daniel in the back. Again I fled to the other side only to find my male self chopping a still-living Selina up with an ax. I went back and forth from door to door, each time witnessing the death of either Daniel or Selina by my female and male selves. I couldn’t stop. I had to go on. One of the doors would offer an escape.

Finally, I came to the end where one last door stood. I opened it and light flooded my vision. When I could see again, I was in a plain white room. My succubus self and my male self stood on either side of me, each glared at the other with looks filled with contempt.

“We will not give in to the hunger,” the male-me said grabbing hold of my arm.

“The hunger is everything,” the succubus said with an amused smile and grappled hold of my other arm.

Neither my male-self nor my succubus-self uttered a word. They merely glared at one another and began to tug on my arms. It was a horrible tug of war where my soul was the prize. “Enough!” I screamed suddenly and the tugging stopped almost immediately.

“I will choose for myself which path I will take. I will live with the hunger if I must, but I will never let myself become lost in it,” I screamed looking first to the succubus, who smiled and released my arm, then to the male-me, who nodded and let go. They each faded away and I woke…

“Oh, hell, that was weird as fuck,” I spat as my eyes snapped open.

“Rachel?” A voice said tiredly.

My eyes snapped to the side where Daniel was lying in bed beside mine. He was banged up pretty good, but it brought a smile to my face just seeing him alive. “How long have I been out?”

“Well, it’s been a few hours since they brought you in here, and you’ve been unconscious since then,” he said.

“She’s alive, Daniel. I saw her being moved on a gurney outside my room,” a muttered. “I have to find her.”

“Who? Selina? What are you talking about?”

I didn’t reply, I started fumbling with all the wires and tubes attached to me. “Rachel! Talk to me!” Daniel said suddenly.

I pursed my lips and sighed and started to explain how I had fed on the nurse and everything up to when Linda had showed up. “That’s when I saw her Daniel. They were wheeling her through the hall, but Arnie showed up I lost control and I tried to feed on him.”

“Look, I gotta get out of here. I need to know if that really was Selina I saw.” I started fumbling with the IV tube in my arm.

“Well, someone’s in a hurry to leave,” a voice said with a light chuckle.

“Holy fucking shit, don’t sneak up on me like that!” I exclaimed upon catching sight of Linda.

“What’s going on?”

“Selina… I think I saw her before I tried to feed on Arnie…”

“Well, she’s alive, but only just barely,” Linda said sadly.

“I’ve got to go see her,” I said reaching for the IV again.

Linda’s hand closed around mine and blocked me from doing anything with the IV. “I’ll see what I can do, but you need to stay here for now. You’re too weak.”

“God, I need to feed,” I said with a soft moan. The hunger was building and it was becoming very difficult to keep myself from feeding on Linda.

Linda quickly withdrew her hand and the hunger receded just enough for me to gain a small measure of composure. “The sooner I feed the better. I don’t think I’ll be able to control myself the next time someone touches me.”

“God, another second and I would have let you do whatever you wanted to me,” Linda stared at me wide-eyed.

“Yeah, all the more reason for me to get out of here,” I muttered bitterly.

I pursed my lips as I looked down at the bandage-wrapped form of Selina. It had been a few hours since I’d first been released from the hospital. Since then I’d managed to feed twice and I was pretty well satiated. Selina had been in a coma since they found her and I wondered if she would ever awaken. The doctors didn’t seem to confident about her chances of recovery, but I wasn’t about to let her die. The doctors were at a loss to explain it, but I was pretty sure I knew the reason why she was so unresponsive to treatment, she needed to feed.

I didn’t know what I was about to try would work, but it was all I could think of and Selina was running short of time. I should have tried it earlier, but I was afraid that it might have an adverse effect. I moved slowly over to her bed, transformed into my demon form as I did so, and knelt beside it then I reached inside her hospital gown and slide a finger inside her vagina. I let a slight shudder as I did so, then I began to funnel my own sexual energy through my finger into Selina. It was more or less the same thing I had done to turn Steagan, and I hoped that it would help replenish her diminished sexual energy.

All my instincts screamed for me to stop, but I kept the flow pouring into her until I could stand it no longer. I jerked my hand back and let out a loud gasp and waited for any indication that what I had done would help. The effects were almost instantaneous, her skin seemed to take on a much healthier glow and there was a sudden intake of breath as her eyes flew open.

“Thank God,” I muttered with a relieved sigh and grabbed hold of her hand.

“Archie?” she asked with wide eyes. “What happened? The last thing I remember was being captured by Steagan.”

So, I told her what had happened. I even told her about trying to kill myself and feeding on Daniel. I didn’t intend to, but somehow it slipped out anyway. There was one thing I managed to keep from her; my suspicions that she was my mother.

“God, there’s so much I didn’t tell you, but from the sounds of it you figured most of it out for yourself,” she said with a sigh.

“Selina there’s something I need to know. Are you my mother?”

Selina closed her eyes, “Is that what you think?”

Tears were streaming down my face, “You mean you’re not?”

“No,” she said with a shake of her head. “The story I told you about meeting that succubus who had just abandoned her child was true. What I didn’t tell you is that I strongly suspected she was my mother as well, but I could never bring myself to tell her by the time I worked up the courage she was gone. When I saw you after your transformation. I knew you were the child she spoke of, I mean there’s such a strong resemblance to both myself and–”

“–our mother,” I finished with wide-eyes. My hand was trembling and slow smile crept onto my lips. Selina was my sister; I think I could live with that.

Then I grimaced as struck by a sudden thought, “You know we had sex right? I mean does that bother you? Fucking your own sister?”

“Technically you were male at the time, but yes the thought had occurred to me. I may not have many sexual inhibitions, but incest is one line I hoped never to cross.”

“Yeah, I’d just as soon not think about it.”

“Then let’s not,” she said and I nodded in silent agreement.

“I was wondering when you would show up,” Steagan said glaring back at me as I approached. He was chained to the floor in the same silver-titanium cuffs that he had used to restrain Daniel and me.

He had already started to change, which surprised me, but when I thought about it, it made perfect sense. Selina had drained nearly all my sexual energy and it was only after feeding that I had started to change. When I turned Steagan, I’d channeled a good deal of sexual energy back into him which had obviously been enough to start the changes. The most dramatic change, of course, was all the age that had drained from his face. He looked to be around my age and he had thinned down quite a bit. His hair was now raven-black and he had lost some of his height and he had a much smaller build than before which gave him an almost boyish appearance.

“You’re probably dying to feed right now. Aren’t you?” I said kneeling down next to him and tracing my hand across his cheek.

Steagan trembled and I could feel his need for sustenance wash over me in deluge of longing and despair. “Here’s the deal: you tell me what I want to know and I give you some of what you need.”

“Never! I’d rather die!” he spat vehemently.

“Suit yourself,” I said with a shrug and turned to leave.

“Wait!” he called and I couldn’t help but smile. This was going to be even easier than I thought.

It took a great deal of coercing and threatening, but I eventually got what I wanted from Steagan. Normally, I think he would have been a much tougher shell to crack, but his desperate need made the job much easier. What I learned brought cold chills to my spine. Though Steagan and his ilk, called themselves the Tenebris Petentibus, they also refereed to themselves as Seekers as a sort of nickname. Their goals weren’t the annihilation of the unseen, like the Order of the Sacred Heart. No, in some ways what they intended was much more nefarious. They believed that by experimenting on the unseen they could make some sort of super human with none of the weaknesses and all the strengths of the unseen.

They would frequently take an unseen and use him or her to ferret out other unseen, sometimes it was willingly, sometimes they were coerced and sometimes their victim was completely unaware that they were being used. Steagan had hoped to use me and Daniel in this manner and had already used an unaware Selina to lure us to him.

“How is it that you’ve been tracking her?” I growled.

“The same way we found you in the forest,” Steagan laughed.

My thoughts flashed back to when me and Daniel were being held captive in the tent and our discussion about the tracking devices. “You had some sort of tracking device placed on her. Like Barns and Darrell.”

“Very good,” he said with a twisted grin.

“Shit!” I said jumping to my feet in sudden realization and started running for the door. I had to get to Selina and Daniel before it was too late. They were both still in danger.

The drive to the hospital, though only thirty-miles, was one of the longest in my life. Ravencrest didn’t have a hospital of its own so everyone that had been injured during the fight with the Seekers was taken to Brendsen. This was only my first trip back after returning to Ravencrest and I could shoot myself for leaving. I should have stayed with Selina, but I was anxious to get the truth out of Steagan. I was convinced that we were out of danger and both Selina and Daniel seemed well onto the path of recovery.

By the time we reached our destination it was dark, and I didn’t wait for Stu find a parking spot as I lurched out of the truck followed closely by my thrall. Since I didn’t know his real name I’d taken to calling him Tim. I sprinted for the hospital doors and suddenly lunged to the ground as I heard a familiar click. As if in confirmation bullets whizzed over my head, and I knew that I might already be too late. Apparently, the Seekers had given up on trying to capture me which could only mean they believed I was too big a liability to let me live. I reached deep inside where my inner succubus waited and called out to her, fiery pain consumed my body and quickly faded away.

I jumped to my feet and leapt into motion even as bullets whizzed past me. Tim followed me as quickly as he could. God, I could move fast, I was on the nearest of my attackers in seconds. I didn’t even feel a twinge of regret as I commanded Tim to kill him.

“Cover me!” I commanded as I lurched back into motion. I moved for the entrance with little concern for my own safety, if Selina or Daniel died my life would mean nothing.

Just before I gained the entrance I transformed back into my human form. I didn’t even worry about Tim; he was likely dead in any case. By changing I lost the advantages that my demon form granted me, but it wouldn’t do to have normals to see me in my altered state. I kept moving even as the pain became unbearable and just barely managed to make the doors as bullets shattered the glass doors behind me. There was a hot stab of pain in my shoulder, but it didn’t matter I kept moving. I didn’t even stop to see if it was a bullet that had hit me or glass from the shattered door. My mind was focused on one singular goal, saving my friend and sister and nothing would keep me from getting to them before it was too late.

I raced through the hospital without regard for anyone or anything. Several times I collided with a nurse or orderly, I wasn’t sure which, I stopped only long enough to insure they weren’t seriously hurt then I burst back into motion. My shoulder throbbed in pain, but I didn’t care all I could think about was Daniel and Selina. Several times someone tried to stop me, but I easily dodged them and sped past them on my way to Selina’s room since hers was the closest.

I didn’t bother with the elevators, that would take too long; it was the hospital after all. There were just too many people using them for me to get anywhere quickly. So I took the stairs, leaping up the steps with as much speed as I could manage. Finally, I made it to the level I needed and left the stairwell behind. I turned a corner, and I caught a flash of motion out of the corner of my eye. I leaped to the ground as gunfire erupted above. I didn’t escape unscathed a bullet slammed into my arm as I fell to the floor and I thought I might pass out from the pain.

I crawled into the nearest room, and pushed the door closed with my foot. “Fucking shit,” I cursed as I looked at my arm. It hurt like hell, and it was bleeding badly. My shoulder throbbed almost as badly and I was beginning to think I should have thought things through before leaping into the hospital like a bat out of hell.

“Miss, what’s going on? Are you alright?” A voice said and I realized with a start I wasn’t alone in the room. The woman was pregnant and looked about ready to burst.

“There are some very bad men shooting up the hospital,” I breathed gritting my teeth against the pain.

“Oh my god! What do we do?”

“You have a phone, right?”

She nodded and I let out a loud gasp. “Call 9-1-1, and whatever you do, don’t leave this room,” I said the irony of telling her to call emergency services from the hospital was not entirely lost on me as I climbed back to my feet.

I could hear gunfire outside the room, but for whatever reason my attackers seemed to have abandoned their pursuit of me. Which could only mean someone or something else had managed to grab their attention. God, I needed to get back out there, but if I went as I was now I didn’t stand a chance. I looked back at the pregnant woman, I wasn’t about to feed on her, shit I didn’t even want to think about what that would do to the unborn child she was carrying. Which left me with only one option; I would have to call up my demon form.

I only hesitated a moment, then I reached out to my hunger and felt the burning-pain ripple across my skin. I was still bleeding pretty badly, but my demon form had granted me renewed energy. The woman didn’t scream, she merely stared at me with wide-eyes as I pulled the door to the room back open. I expected gunfire to meet me as I flew out the door instead I found a large brown Kodiak which could have only been Stu and two corpses. He was bleeding in a few places, but no worse than me.

“Shit, you go after Daniel. I’ll take Selina,” I huffed. Stu let out a soft growl then spun around and sped away. I couldn’t help but stare after him as he flew through the hallway; it wasn’t every day you saw a bear tearing through a hospital.

I shook my head and turned away, only to find a gun aimed at my face. “Holy fucking hell!” I cursed.

“Fucking whor–” the gunman said, but was cut short as I slammed my knee into his groin. He dropped the gun and sank to the floor in a crumbled heap. I hesitated a moment then I bent down and unzipped his pants and looked down at his cock and bit my lip. I knew from my own experience and from Selina, that feeding accelerated the healing process, so I fed on him. When I was finished I could actually feel my wounds begin to close and let me tell you it felt weird as fucking hell. The bullet in my arm popped out and I could feel whatever was lodged in my shoulder pop out as well. The wounds didn’t heal completely, but the bleeding slowed to a trickle and the pain faded quite a bit.

I picked up the gun from where it had fallen then I got back to my feet and started back towards Selina’s room. Shit, I shouldn’t have stopped to feed. I just hoped I wasn’t too late.

As it so happened I wasn’t too late. In fact Selina had taken care of things rather nicely. When she found herself under attack she did the one thing succubi did best, she fed. When I came into the room I found her in the process of fucking the guy. My cheeks burned and I turned my back so I wouldn’t have to watch. I know I’d seen it all before, hell I’d been on the receiving end, but since finding out she was my sister I had no desire to see it again.

I tucked the gun into the back of my pants and waited for her to finish. It didn’t take long, once a Succubus started to feed it only took minutes for her to drain her victim dry. There was a dull thud behind me and I looked back to find that Selina had finished. The body of her attacker had collapsed to the floor.

“Shit, thank God you’re alright,” I muttered bending over the man and checking for a pulse, he would live.

“How do they keep finding, me?” she asked with a loud gasp as her eyes suddenly bulged out of her head. The energy she had just taken was starting to heal her injuries and I could actually hear some of her bones pop back into place. If I hadn’t shared my sexual energy with her twice already, I doubt she would have been in good enough shape to feed on her attacker.

“Steagan said they put some sort of tracking device on you,” I said after the healing process had finished.

“I led them right to Ravencrest… and to you,” she said with a sigh.

Before I could reply a huge burst of pain slammed into my back and I fell face-forward to the ground. It took me a moment to process what had happened and to realize that I had been shot. Shit, I shouldn’t have been so damn stupid. I heard footsteps from behind and I held perfectly still as they approached. With any luck whoever shot me would think I was dead.

“Oh God, Rachel,” I heard Selina say.

“Who would have thought a couple of succubi and a handful of weres would cause us so much trouble? Well, Colonel Steagan underestimated you I’m not going to make the same mistake. All you are is a liability. You know too much,” a male voice growled.

The pain was agonizing, but I knew that if I didn’t act Selina would die. So I reached for the gun still deposited in the back of my pants and rolled onto my back, opening fire as I did so. I’d never used a gun before, but all I had to do was pull the trigger. I mean at that range it was almost impossible to miss. He didn’t stand a chance as I emptied the entire clip into him and he fell to the ground dead.

“Rachel, thank God, you’re alive,” Selina said from above.

“Yeah, hurt… like hell though…” I breathed weakly just before losing consciousness.

When I woke in the hospital I was a patient again. Stu had managed to get to Daniel in time, and no one tried to get to Selina after I blacked out so all in all everything turned out all right. After feeding a few times my injuries healed rather nicely and I was released from the hospital. Daniel and Selina were both released a few days later. Daniel still had a lot of healing to do, but he was well enough to walk if somewhat gingerly. Selina seemed to be in perfect shape, feeding had done for her what it had for me and she showed no signs of ever having been injured. Which was pretty amazing when you considered how close she had been to death.

The really weird part was that no one remembered the attack on the hospital besides Daniel, Stu and myself. I even ran into the pregnant woman who’d seen me transform and she didn’t even bat an eyelash at me. I asked Daniel about it, and he said only that it was best not to think about. He inferred that the Coven was responsible, but didn’t seem to know much more. I’d never met anyone from the Coven and I was beginning to think I didn’t want too. If they could make people forget what happened at the hospital what else could they do? Maybe Daniel was right, it was best not to think about it. Not even the doctors commented on me and Selina’s miraculous recoveries. I’m sure the Coven had something to do with that as well.

Of course, there was still the matter of what to do with Steagan. Selina and I had taken turns feeding ‘her’ and she finally finished changing. The really disturbing thing is that I seem to have a small measure of control over her, but only to a certain extent. If I tell her to do something she will have a hard time not doing as I say, but with a great deal of effort she does seem to be able to resist. Selina says it’s always that way with Succubi that have been turned. Of course, if anyone saw ‘Stacy’, as we had taken to calling her, no one would ever suspect that she was Steagan. She was a bit slimmer than Selina and myself, but no less beautiful. She had raven-black hair, startling green eyes, a deceptively innocent face and a body that any straight man would have a hard time not soaking up.

Selina and I had grown pretty close over the last few months. With the tracking device removed she had decided to stay in Ravencrest with me. She was a godsend, and I knew that without her, I probably would have driven myself fucking nuts during that time. I was convinced she really was my sister; we looked too damn much alike for it to be a coincidence. I was content with that, even if we didn’t share blood, we were sisters at heart and that was enough for me.

And there was me and Daniel, when I was with him I could almost forget about being a succubus and just be a human being. After losing control again, and making love to Daniel I found that, like before, I could only drain a fraction of what he had. Selina was able to confirm what I had already come to suspect, weres were resistant to a succubus’ ability to feed. She had never fed on a were herself, but she had heard rumors from other succubi.

I knew that what little I took from Daniel would never be enough to sustain me, so I told him in no certain terms could we ever have a relationship. There was no way I could be loyal, and I knew Daniel well enough that no matter what he said, that it would tear him apart to see me take other men as lovers. So we tried to be just friends again, of course that didn’t really work out all that well. I kept losing control of my hunger around him, even when I was more or less satiated. The problem was that no matter how much I denied it, I had feelings for Daniel and deep down inside I wanted to be with him.

I almost left Ravencrest altogether, I knew it was the only way to keep myself from hurting Daniel, but I kept finding excuses to stay. It wasn’t until Anna came home for Christmas break that we found a way for us to be together. Before her return I’d never met Daniel’s sister, but I guess the time she’d spent at college she had changed a lot. It came as a pretty big surprise when brought her girlfriend, Roberta, home to meet the family. To their credit, Daniel’s parents took it pretty well, but it came as pretty big shock to find out their daughter was a lesbian.

It was a few days after her return and I thought I was alone at the Corday house. Daniel was off with some friends he had tried to get me to come along, but I just needed some time alone. Linda and Don were both at work and Selina was off doing God knows what. I thought I had the house to myself, I was wrong. When Anna had returned I volunteered to sleep on the couch in the basement so that Anna could have her room back. When I came up the stairs and found Anna and Roberta snuggled up in the living room I was a bit surprised, but I shrugged it off and made my way for the kitchen not wanting to disturb them.

It was about time for lunch and I was getting pretty hungry, so I made for the fridge and pulled out one of the salads Linda had set aside for me. I’d found out the hard way that my new body didn’t do meat so well, so now I was a strict vegetarian. I really didn’t suck so bad since my taste buds seemed to have changed along with just about everything else. It was fucking weird broccoli tasted a hell of a lot better than it used too, spinach too. Before the fridge closed I grabbed some dressing and a fork from the nearby drawer and plopped down at the table to eat.

A second later Anna pulled up a chair next to me and sat down. “We need to talk.”

“Okay,” I replied after swallowing the bits of salad in my mouth. I’d been afraid something like this might happen, judging from some of the odd glances I’d been receiving from her.

“I need to know what you’re intentions are toward my brother,” she said folding her arms across her chest.

Oh, great I’d really been hoping she wouldn’t open that particular can of worms. “It’s complicated.”

“Complicated how?”

“Is it safe to talk? I mean if there’s anything unseen…” I trailed off giving her a pointed look.

“It’s safe. Roberta went upstairs. Besides even if she overheard us she’s a were so there’s really nothing to worry about on that front.”

“How much did Daniel tell you about what happened with the Seekers?”

“I think I more or less got the gist of it, though he seemed unusually close-mouthed about you. I know you’re some sort of unseen but not much else.”

“I’m a succubus. I feed on sexual energies of anyone I have sex with,” I spat glaring down at my salad.

Anna pursed her lips and tilted her head back with a long sigh, “Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty damned complicated. So what? You’re afraid of what will happen if you have sex with Daniel?”

I could feel my cheeks burn fucking hell this was Daniel’s sister I was talking too! “That’s not the problem. Weres have some sort of resistance to the feeding process. The problem is that I want to be with him, but I can’t be loyal. I need to feed in order to live and I can’t get what I need from Daniel at least not enough of it.”

Her eyes lit up with sudden understanding, “Oh god. Poor Danny.”

“I know,” I muttered shaking my head as tears streamed down my face. “I didn’t ask for any of this. I mean just a few weeks ago Daniel and I were just roommates and I had no idea that the unseen even existed.”

“You’re Daniel’s roommate? He told me about Archie on the phone and he’s–”

“–A guy? Yeah it came as huge fucking ass surprise when I found out I was a succubus.”

“What happens to the person you feed on? I mean it doesn’t harm theme does it?” she asked suddenly.

“It can kill them if I’m not careful and take too much, but if I feed often enough I can control myself enough to keep that from happening. Usually, the person I feed on wakes up feeling a bit drained, and most the time they won’t even remember having sex with me,” I said with a slight shudder.

“God, you’ve never killed anyone have you?”

“Yes,” I admitted quietly. “I was still changing and one of Seekers attacked me. I lost control when he got too close and I wound up draining him dry.”

Anna nodded as if coming to a decision, “So you’re not going to do it again?”

“What?! No, of course not, not if I can help it!”

“Easy there, I didn’t mean any offense. I just had to know before I made this suggestion. I can tell you care deeply for my brother and I’m inclined to believe that you’ll do your best to keep yourself from harming anyone. I know my brother wouldn’t much like it if the girl he was dating was having sex with other men, but there might be another way. Can you feed on women?”

“Well, yeah but–” I said stopping mid-sentence as I realized just what she was saying. It was something I never would have thought of on my own, but would Daniel go for it? I mean a lot of guys thought lesbian sex was pretty hot, but it would still mean taking other lovers besides Daniel. I would have to feed a lot more frequently, since women didn’t fill me as much as men, but it might work.

“You’ve given me something to think about,” I muttered quietly.

“Whatever you decide just be warned if you hurt my brother, you better hope I don’t catch wind or I will hunt you down and make you pay,” she said matter-of-factly then stood and left me alone with my thoughts, my salad all but forgotten.

Fuck, I really loved to run, I don’t know why but there’s just something about it that really gets my blood pumping. That was one of the few things I liked about my new body, when I kept myself well fed I had pretty much boundless energy. Running gave me a way to focus that energy and it helped me stay sane. After my conversation with Anna, I needed some time to think and since my change some of my best ideas came to me while I was running. It was pretty damn cold out, but I didn’t care so long as the sidewalk was clear of ice.

I didn’t really have a particular destination in mind, but then I never really did when I ran. I became lost in the feel of my hair in the wind and the feeling of my feet pounding against the pavement. The sports of bra I was wearing helped to keep my breasts from bouncing too badly and I was glad I let Linda buy it for me. The Corday’s had put down a lot of money on me since I’d been living with them and I hated it, but what choice did I have? It wasn’t like I had any money of my own.

I stopped abruptly and was a bit surprised to find that I was on campus. I’d been avoiding Ravencrest University like the plague since my trip to the DBZ chapter house. I mean on the surface all the vampires I’d met seemed nice, but there was a sort of predatory air that lurked just below the surface that creeped the hell out of me. They didn’t just help me out of the goodness of their hearts and I had a feeling I hadn’t seen the last of them. The new identity hadn’t exactly come with no strings attached, there were two conditions. The DBZ girls got first dibs on any of my potential lovers and they didn’t want me making any more succubi. They didn’t want any competition after all.

The trip hadn’t been all bad; I did get a new identity out of the whole thing. And, I had to admit I didn’t dislike my new name, Rachel Linsey McKenna, it had a certain ring to it and best of all it wasn’t near as fucking weird as Archibold. McKenna had been Lily’s idea apparently I looked Irish, whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

I don’t know if I would ever get used to the way people looked at me. Even if I wore the frumpiest outfit I could find it still wasn’t enough to keep those looks of barely disguised lust from the men and the looks of envy and contempt from the woman. Whenever I went out in public I got the same look and I was beginning to wonder those looks weren’t, at least to some extent, influenced by me being succubus. I know I was drop dead gorgeous, but the way people acted around me was just ridiculous. Maybe, people really did behave that way around attractive woman, and I was just over thinking it.

I turned my back on the University and made my way across the street and into the general direction of the Corday home. I still hadn’t made my mind up, but I was hoping maybe Daniel would be back and we could talk things out.

“Daniel, shit we need to talk,” I said folding my arms across my chest as he entered through the front door. I had beaten him back, but only by a few minutes.

He grinned and shook his head with a light chuckle. “Sometimes I have a hard time believing that you were ever Archie.”

“Oh? What is that supposed to mean?”

“It’s just that all your mannerisms have changed and you don’t act much like Archie, well aside from all the cursing,” he said with a grin.

It was true, I think in large part the way I carried myself had to do with being a succubus. I instinctively knew how to move in order to catch people’s eyes, and I did it without thinking. I supposed I had changed in other ways too, but I really didn’t think that had come with my physical transformation at least not directly. Everything that had happened had really brought a lot of my character defects to light and I really didn’t like a lot of what I saw about myself. I’d pushed people away for far too long, and I couldn’t take the thought of being alone any longer. Most importantly, I realized, I needed Daniel.

That final revelation had come to me with the strength of a physical blow and my hands trembled a bit at the mere thought of it. Archie really was dead, he never needed or wanted anyone at least not in the way I did. “Can we go somewhere private?”

“Sure,” he said a look of concern and worry passing across his face and quickly faded away.

We hurried up stairs and Daniel closed the door as he followed me into his room. “What’s up?”

“I-I. Oh fuck it. This is killing me. I need you, Daniel, I think I might even love you,” I said breathing heavily and staring at Daniel with wide-eyes.

“I thought we couldn’t be together. That your need to feed would never allow for it,” he said quietly wrapping his arms around me. As usual I could feel my need to feed rise, but I’d fed enough lately that it was a very faint stirring of my hunger. I pushed it back and looked up into Daniel’s eyes.

“I know what I said, but I talked with your sister and I think… that there might be a way, but it probably won’t be easy maybe not for either of us,” I said quietly.

Daniel took hold of my hands, “What exactly are you saying?”

“I need to feed and there’s no disregarding that, but men aren’t the only source I can turn too. I can feed on women.”

I watched Daniel’s face for any sign that he understood, but confirmation came in a different way. He kissed me and felt my legs turn to jelly as he swept me off my feet and we both landed on his bed. I wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what we did next. Feeding felt pretty damn amazing, but what Daniel and I did was on a whole other level.

“So should we go downstairs? Mom’s making a big dinner tonight. She’d probably be upset if we don’t show,” Daniel said after a whole.

“Oh, I think we still have a little more time,” I said with a smile and planted a kiss on his lips.

Daniel grinned back at me as our lips parted, “You know I think you might be right about that.”

Daniel and I really pushed it to the last minute and we were finally forced to break away and make our way downstairs. We both looked a mess, and we reeked of sex, but no one said anything, well, no one except Tammy, but she really didn’t know any better.

“Rachie,” she said coming over and giving me a hug.

After the showdown at the hospital, I was a little surprised to find that Tim, my thrall, had survived. After the Seekers had been taken care of, there really seemed no reason to keep him around. That being said so long as he lived he would have been completely reliant on me and I really didn’t like the idea of being burdened with him forever. So I turned him, and Tammy was born. The girls from the sorority hadn’t been too happy when they’d found out, which was largely why they’d stipulated that I didn’t turn anyone anyone else to a succubus.

“You had sex!” she grinned at me proudly.

Tammy had no memory of her previous life and she was essentially an entirely different person. When I bent Tim to my will, I had destroyed almost his entire consciousness and only a small fragment had remained. He was able to understand my commands and do as I told him, but not much else. When I turned him into a succubus, the result was a sex-crazed bimbo with the mind of a five-year-old child.

“Tammy, inside voice,” I muttered quietly.

“Sorry, Rachie,”

“Come on, Tammy it’s dinner time.”

“Okay,” Tammy grinned and bounced after me as I made my way into the dining room.

Dinner was delicious and as always Selina, Tammy and I had our salad and the Corday’s ate a meal that was just a little too undercooked. The table was a bit crowded, but with the addition of a second leaf everyone fit. All my life I’d been looking for something and had never been able to find it. A family was what I had needed, and as I looked around the dinner table I realized I didn’t need to look any further. I’d found my family at long last.

 

The End

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Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder

The world is not without irony, as evident by my life. I was born Thurston Olaf Steenberg and grew up hating the Spellbinders and all that they stood for. It was only by becoming what I hated most that I was able to transcend my humble beginnings and do good in the world. The following is the story of my origins. It is not the story of my birth, but of my rebirth. It the story of how I became Aryanna Morgana Le Fey.

Author’s Note: This story is something of an experiment. I wanted to write a story in first person, but I didn’t want to be confined to a single narrator. So, after some input from the good folks on the Fictionmania Message Board, I decided to write the story as if it were a journal. The story is compilation of the protagonist’s journal entries. It contains several entries from the journals of his mother who plays a large part in the story.

There is a brief part of the story that bears some resemblance to the movie ‘Die Hard’. This is intentional and was meant as a tribute to both the film and the book. For some reason I found the idea immensely amusing and decide to go with it.

I’d like to thank both Holly H. Hart and for djkauf for the wonderful job they did editing the story.

+ - + - + - +

Freydag 9. Harpa

I’ve been writing in this journal for a few months at my mother’s request and I’m finding it harder and harder to find something to write about. Of course, today is an exception since it’s Independence Day.

When I saw those great scarlet bursts of energy hurl upward and coalesce into a single great conflagration in the sky, I couldn’t help but stare upward and wonder if there was there any limit to the power of the Spellbinders. The fires in the sky then merged to form into the figure of a dancing couple who twirled around in the sky and shared a kiss before shimmering with a vast array of colors and then faded into oblivion.

The whole display was disgusting. It isn’t so much the fireworks themselves that I hated but the arrogance of those putting on the display, the Spellbinders. For centuries, they have subjugated men for the simple fact that we do not share their ability to use magic. They see men as little more than mindless grunts who are incapable of doing even the simplest tasks without supervision. There have been great strides made by the civil rights movement in the last thirty years, but it’s still the Spellbinders who dominate politics and the corporate world.

Not all Spellbinders are bad, a few have even been involved in the men’s civil rights movement, but the vast majority of the Spellbinders are power hungry manipulators who only care to line their pockets with more money and grab more power for themselves. It doesn’t help that the Spellbinders are granted long life spans far beyond that of men and women with lesser amounts of magic, allowing those in power to stay in power centuries at a time.

More burst of light hurled into the night sky and I couldn’t help but continue to stare in disgust at the display. Today is the day our nation celebrates its independence from the Nordic Empire and the formation of the Free Federalist States of Nyrland. What a farce. The only people who are truly free are women. Men, can never hope for the freedoms that most women take for granted. Still disgusted, I turned my back on the display and never looked back.

+ - + - + - +

Manadag 19. Harpa

I know it has been a while since my last entry, but considering the week I’ve had I think it’s understandable. This entry is going to cover a whole week and is probably the most significant journal entry to date. Yeah, it has been that kind of week.

It all began on last Manadag, and as usual the building was empty except for me. Of course that was to be expected since I was the night watchman. Though, I’m sure I’ve mentioned that before. Just as I always did, I started my shift by making rounds. I checked all the doors and windows on the main level, then gradually made my way up each of the five floors of the office building until I reached the top. About halfway through the top floor, I noticed that one of the offices had the light on. That wasn’t right, everyone was supposed to have signed out and left the building. Maybe one of the bosses had decided to burn the midnight oil. It happened sometimes, but building security procedures required they notify the current night watchman. Not wanting to piss anyone off by walking in on them I brought my hand up to knock on the door. Just before my knuckle was about to strike on the hardwood I heard a voice speak and I froze.

“So, this is what it’s come to,” a man’s voice said with resignation.

“You had to have known this was coming.” a woman’s voice said coldly.

The first voice sighed warily, “You’ve betrayed the cause.”

The woman grunted, “It was never my cause. It was simply a means to an end.”

“The others will know what you’ve done, Jeanne,” the man said angrily.

The woman laughed, “Will they? The only one that was ever suspicious of me was you and you won’t be alive much longer.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stood there aghast, frozen with indecision. A life of frustration and anger coalesced in that moment. I have been oppressed and cast down by women of this world and I just couldn’t stand by while another man’s life was in jeopardy.

I slammed the door open and locked eyes with the would-be killer. “Hey bitch.” I said with all the bravado I could muster, “You’re not going to kill anyone on my watch.”

The woman scowled at me then brought her hands up and focused her will on me. Suddenly, I found it very hard to move and I struggled against the binding spell that she had laid on me. I felt a strange pressure begin to build up inside of me. Then without any apparent reason, I was suddenly able to move again. I immediately started in towards the would-be assassin. She brought up her arms and shouted something with a vicious snarl. The spell hit me right in the chest and I felt my knees strain against some unseen force. Then a strangely warm tingly feeling seemed to spread inside my chest and the pressure from the spell was suddenly gone.

“What in the name of Hel?” the woman cursed. Then she gathered up more energy and hurled a huge blast of sickly green light at me.

The spell was much more powerful than the last two and I fell to my knees against the sudden onslaught. The green light blinded me and I felt a strange sensation crawl across my skin. Darkness closed in the corners of my eyes and I felt death’s chilling touch upon my skin. Just when I thought all was lost, that strangely tingling warmth from before spread across my entire body. The warmth pushed out against my skin and struck against the nauseous green light, with a blinding flash of pure white light, the pain was gone and I could move again.

I looked about the room, the woman lay on the floor either unconscious or dead and the man stood in the corner with a look of pure terror on his face. Feeling extremely weak, I forced myself to my feet. I staggered towards the inert form of my attacker, growing weaker by the moment, and lost my balance. Darkness closed over me and I remembered muttering the phrase “Friggin’ crap,” before drifting into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

On Eirdag, I woke to a really annoying buzzing sound somewhere to my right. I opened my eyes and cast them in the direction of the sound to discover its source. The device had two rods sticking out from it, an electrical current which fluctuated in a representation of my heartbeat ran between the two rods, below the rods there was a bell housed in the device’s casing. It was a typical heart monitor.

Apparently, I was in the hospital. It seemed odd that I should awaken there of all places, but with a flash, all my memories from the previous night came back in one great torrential flood of images. I struggled in my bed and tried to get up, but I was so weak that I was unable to do so.

“Thurston, thank the Norns. You’re awake,” a voice said from the left. I turned my head and found my mother, Brigit Steenberg, standing in the doorway “How do you feel?”

My mother is an Enchantress, a moderately powerful-magic user, who looks to be in her mid-twenties, rather than her actual sixty-two years. “Like I was run down by a herd of Horsemen.” I said groaning.

Mom smiled, but in a fragile worried sort of way “It’s a miracle you’re even alive.” she said, “From the sound of it you were hit with some incredibly powerful magic.

I grunted, “That’s what I figured. The woman that attacked me. Is she…?” I asked choking on my words at the very thought that the woman might be dead.

She nodded having apparently understood, “Dead.”

I grimaced; that didn’t bode particularly well, “And the man?”

“The detective was pretty vague on the details,” she said “She mentioned that there had been a man involved, but not much else.”

I let out a sigh, “I don’t understand what happened. I don’t understand how I was able to withstand her attacks.”

“You withstood the attacks because you were drawing on a reservoir of magic within yourself,” a new voice said from the door. My eyes darted back to my left to look upon the newcomer. A middle-aged woman with dark brown hair, wearing a doctor’s lab coat with a stethoscope around her neck, stood in the doorway looking down at me. “I’m Dr. Poganski,” she said with a sour look on her face.

“Hello, doctor,” I said, “If what you say is true that would mean I’m a magic user,” I said, feeling a bit of excitement at the idea. If I did have the magic perhaps I could make something of myself. Perhaps I could disprove all the misconceptions the world had about men.

The doctor nodded almost mechanically, “Yes, that’s exactly what it means.”

Mother gasped “But that’s-”

“Impossible,” Dr. Poganski finished, her voice flat, “It is common medical knowledge. The chemical composition of a man’s body is supposed to prohibit magic and yet somehow you have seemingly done the impossible, Mr. Steenberg. Unfortunately, the magic seems to be having an adverse effect on your health.”

“What do you mean?” I asked suddenly feeling extremely worried.

“There’s no use hiding it from you,” the doctor said with clinical detachment, “Your body is treating the magic as a foreign material and is rejecting it just as it would a failed organ transplant. The magic in turn is behaving like a caged animal attacking everything within its reach.”

I bit my lip, “What you’re saying is, this is going to kill me?”

The doctor nodded, “In all likelihood, yes.”

I shook my head dejectedly, “When you said I had the magic. I thought that this would be my chance to make something of myself. To prove that I wasn’t another worthless man.” I spat out the last two words in sarcastic rage.

Mom smiled sadly and put her hand on top of mine, “Is there nothing we can do?”

The doctor shook her head, “Your son’s situation is unprecedented and is beyond my abilities as a healer.”

Mom gritted her teeth with sudden determination, “If you can’t help my son. I’ll find someone who can.” she said. Then, without warning she disappeared with a great gust of wind.

A few minutes after Mother’s sudden and dramatic disappearance, the doctor departed and I was left alone. Still very weak, I almost immediately fell asleep. I don’t think I was asleep very long when I was awakened. It wasn’t as much a sound that woke me, as a presence. I opened my eyes, and much to my surprise I found a hand perched above my chest holding a nasty looking dagger.

My first instinct was to roll to my side and grapple with the person holding the knife. I tried to do just that, but I quickly realized that I was far too weak to lift my hands, let alone fight off my attacker. A great sense of dread filled me as I realized that there was nothing I could do to fend off my would-be killer. Desperately, I racked my mind trying to think of something I could do.

Then almost without thinking about it, I reached deep inside myself and touched the wellspring of magic that resided inside me. Just as I tapped into that reservoir of power, the knife came hurtling down towards me. After a brief moment of hurried uncertainty I wrenched that power loose and the blade stopped a few centimeters shy of my chest. Clumsily, I sent the magic outward hoping to hurl the blade further away from myself. At first, I didn’t think I had succeeded, but the blade soon tumbled out of the assassins hands and clattered across the floor with several dull thumps. Without hesitation, my attacker reached inside a black jacket and procured a rather wicked looking blade from within.

A heavy weight fell upon my legs as I realized the attacker was kneeling over me atop the bed, the blade poised to strike at my heart. I brought my magic to bear against the new blade, attempted to divert it as it came crashing down towards my chest. I was only partially successful; the blade completed its arc and planted itself inside my shoulder. The use of the magic must have drained what little energy I had because it was about then that I lost consciousness.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: The following is an excerpt from my mother’s journal. It details the events that took place after her disappearance from the hospital.

Eirdag, 6-13

Frigg preserve me for what I have done. I just hope that Thurston can forgive me. When the doctor said that there was nothing that could be done for my son, I panicked. I turned to the only person I knew that might be able to make a difference.

I don’t know if I can properly describe just how nervous I was waiting outside my ancestor’s office. The woman terrifies me. Hours seemed to fly by as I waited outside the door, but I know it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes.

Finally, the door opened and I was directed inside by her assistant. “Brigit,” Athilda Le Fey said without turning to face me, “What do you want?”

My heart skipped a beat in surprise, my ancestor had remembered my name, “Revered ancestor, I’ve come to seek your help.” I said.

Athilda sighed, “I do not have all day, child. Speak and be done with it.”

I twitched nervously, “Esteemed Lady, it’s my son. He’s awakened.” I received only silence from Athilda. It dawned on me that she probably didn’t comprehend what I was trying to say so I added, “He’s awakened magically. It’s killing him.”

For the first time, Athilda turned to look me in the eyes, “You are certain?”

I gulped and nodded, I opened my mouth to speak, but was cut short by Athilda who had moved from across the room to stand before me with her hand held out. “Take me now.”

Without another word I took my ancestor’s hand, I drew on my magic and released a great surge of wind magic.

Nearly twenty minutes later we arrived in the hospital to find a cloaked assassin perched on Thurston’s chest holding a blood soaked blade poised over his heart.

Athilda reacted so swiftly with her magic that I didn’t even realize she had acted until the would-be assassin lay sprawled on the floor. My ancestor walked over to where the assassin lay. Then with only a small grunt of effort, she knelt down beside the woman. I could feel Athilda extend her awareness around the woman’s body, and then she turned and locked eyes with me, “Dead.”

I gulped, “You killed her?”

Athilda looked up at me irritably, “Don’t be foolish, child. The assassin called upon her magic and stopped her own heart when she realized she would not be able to complete her mission.”

I think I might have lost it then, if it hadn’t been for Athilda. “Brigit,” she said calmly, “Go find someone and instruct them to contact the local constabulary.”

I nodded my head and ran out the door to do as Athilda instructed only to return once I had completed the task I had been given.

It didn’t take long for the police to arrive. When they did I was shocked by the vehemence of Athilda’s reaction. “Incompetents,” Athilda growled suddenly and whirled on a pretty red-haired detective who was nearby conferring with a colleague.

“Excuse me?” the detective said, clenching her hand into a fist so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

My ancestor narrowed her eyes, and focused hard on the other woman, “Why was this child not put under guard after the first attack?”

The detective narrowed her eyes in turn and met Athilda’s gaze “Look lady,” she said in a patronizing manner and folded her arms across her chest, “We had no reason to believe his life was in any danger.”

Athilda’s eyes burned with a fiery rage, “You dare to condescend to me? Do you have any idea who I am, child?”

The detective grimaced, “I don’t really care. Now just stand back and let us do our job.”

Athilda gritted her teeth, “As the head of House Le Fey, I declare this a matter of interest to the Seidskati and am placing this child under my protection. Begone from my presence and pray that we never meet again.”

The detective’s face paled noticeably upon hearing Athilda’s pronouncement, “Yes, Lady Le Fey.”

She turned her back to the detective and continued her examination of my son. He had a nasty stab wound in his right shoulder. Athilda placed her hand upon it, and I felt a surge of magical power as she extended her senses into the wound. I watched as the severed ends of Thurston’s muscle drew together and fused to one another as if they had never been cut. Then with another small release of power, she closed the stab wound and I watched in amazement as the tissue mended. Save for slightly pinkish color of the new skin, there was nothing to suggest that my son had ever been stabbed.

There were stories about my ancestor’s extraordinary healing talents, but I had always believed they were exaggerated. To heal a wound that quickly was nothing short of amazing. It would take a talented healer hours to close such a wound and Athilda had done it in a matter of minutes.

“Brigit,” Athilda said quietly, “Come, there is something we must discuss.”

Hesitantly, I came over beside her, “Yes? What is it?”

Athilda sighed warily and shook her head, “Your son has indeed awoken magically. It is possible to save him, but it will change him irrevocably.”

I pursed my lips, “What do you mean?”

Athilda closed her eyes warily, “A man’s body will not accept the presence of the magic. It is seen as a foreign force that must be expunged. Left unchecked, the body will destroy itself in its attempts to eradicate the magic. The only way to prevent this is to transform the body so that it will accept the magic’s presence.”

I stared up at my ancestor blankly, “Transform it? Into what?”

Athilda looked down at me and smiled sadly, “We must transform your son into woman.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I-is that even possible?”

Athilda nodded, “It is extremely difficult, but it is possible. I believe with your help I can begin the process.”

“My help? What good would I be? I’m just an Enchantress I could never hope to match your power,” I said.

Athilda shook her head, “Power does not matter in this instance. In order to transform a person in such a way, it normally requires their willing cooperation. Since, young Thurston is unconscious; we do not have the luxury of asking him.”

I gasped, “Then how are we to transform him?”

Athilda smirked, “You are Thurston’s mother; you share both a physical and emotional bond with him. Through that bond, I believe I can bring about the changes. Though I must warn you there is a strong chance that he will not survive.”

I shook my head, “If there’s even a small chance we can save him, I’m willing to try anything…”ďż˝

“Very well,” Athilda said extending her hand out to me, “Let us begin.”

I bit my lip, and hesitated only a moment before joining hands with my ancestor and prayed to the Goddesses in Asgard that Thurston would find it in his heart to forgive me.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: The following is the continuation of my own journal entry which was written on the eighteenth day of Harpa.

On Vordag, A songbird chattering in the window was the first sound I heard as I came awake. I was rather foggy on the details, but I could remember being stabbed. With just a little more effort than normal, I sat up and looked about the room that I found myself within. The room was huge, I could probably have fit my entire apartment in it and still have room to spare. The décor, and the bedding on which I appeared to be resting, were of extremely high quality, and they bespoke of great wealth and opulence.

Once again I looked about the room, and caught a flash of myself in a beautiful antique mirror mounted on the wall. I almost didn’t take notice as my eyes quickly darted across the room, but something seemed off about my reflection. I turned my full attention upon the mirror and gasped at what I saw. I could swear I looked younger, I didn’t look a day over thirty and I could easily pass for twenty-five, but it wasn’t just the apparent youth that was different. I looked more slender than I had just a few days ago, my head was completely bald, and to top it off my face looked a bit rounder, one might even say softer.

Remembering my stab wound, I brought my hand up to my shoulder, and found nothing, not even a scar. I cast my gaze on the mirror again, and felt a deep unease at the reflection that looked back on me. I sensed something was wrong and it set me on edge. Once more I looked about the room, and realized that I was not alone. My mother lay sprawled on a small loveseat in the corner, fast asleep.

Not wishing to wake her, I silently crept out of bed and made my way to the opposite side of the room where the door was. Quietly, I turned the knob and poked my head out the door. I found myself looking down a long hallway spaced with doors. On either end of the hall there was a set of stairs leading down. I briefly considered leaving the room and exploring the hallway further, but caution quickly overrode my desire for exploration and I returned to the room and closed the door behind me. My mother stirred on the loveseat and came awake. She looked about for a moment, and then her eyes fell upon me.

“Thor,” she said using an old nickname of mine, “You should be in bed.

“I feel fine,” I said, “Where are we?”

Mother sat up and brushed her hair away from her face, “The estate of Athilda Le Fey,” she mumbled sleepily.

I couldn’t believe my ears. My mother had just told me that I had awoken in the home in one of the most powerful and well known Spellbinders in history. I know I’m a descendant of House Le Fey, but the Steenbergs were considered a very minor branch of the house and gained no prestige from their relation to the Le Feys or so I had always been told.

There was a momentary silence then I spoke, “Why am I here?”

“To save your life,” Mother said finally, “When I disappeared from the hospital, I came here seeking Athilda’s help. She brought you here to be able to better treat you.”

A Spellbinder had agreed to help me? The idea seems ludicrous. No Spellbinder would willingly help a man who had developed magical abilities. They would see him as a threat to their powers. “Why would she help me?” I replied suspiciously.

Mom shook her head wearily, “I don’t know Thor. She hasn’t told me much and I haven’t asked.”

I knew my mother was hiding something, I could see it in the way she kept biting her lip and twirling her hair with her finger. “What aren’t you telling me?” I said quietly.

My mother sighed warily, “She has found a way to keep the magic from killing you.”

I felt a sense of elation at my mother’s pronouncement, “I’ll live?”

“Yes.” My mother looked up nervously at me, “I really don’t understand the finer points myself, but in essence your body is incompatible with the magic.”

My elation quickly turned to dread as I asked the next question, “I thought you said I would live.”

Mother pursed her lips, “I did. In order for you to live, Athilda had to find a way for the magic and your body to coexist.”

I looked at my mother, I’m sure, my befuddlement was evident on my face, “Mom, what are you trying to say?”

She looked at me as tears started to form out of the corner of her eyes, “I’m sorry, Thor.” she wept, “I had to do it. I couldn’t stand the thought of losing you.”

I simply looked at my mother; I simply could not comprehend what she was trying to say. There was a brief moment of silence as my mother wept and then finally she spoke, “To save you we had to make it so your body would accept the presence of the magic, but we couldn’t do it all at once. The process had to be gradual or it might kill you.”

I felt a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I finally came to realize just what my mother was trying to say. “You’re changing me into one of them.” I said quietly letting the words sink in. I felt dread fill the pit of my stomach. I turned my back on my mother and without another word I exited the room leaving my mother alone to weep.

At that point, I really wasn’t sure where I was going, but after wandering through the oversized house for a few moments I soon found myself exiting the building and entering into a garden area. The garden was massive and featured a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and even fountains and statues. I wandered through the garden for a moment then found a stone bench in a secluded spot and sat down to think.

Just a short while after sitting down, I felt a small thump on the bench. I looked about and found a woman sitting on the bench beside me. I examined the woman in hopes of ascertaining her identity. She looked to be in her seventies. She was tall, standing at about six feet, her pale white hair fell far past her waist, and she almost seemed to radiate power. I sighed deeply, and I narrowed my eyes as I realized just who she was, “Oh Frigg. You’re her aren’t you?” I said angrily, “What do you want with me?”

Athilda Le Fey’s green eyes flashed with anger, but when she spoke she did so calmly and her voice did not betray the anger and irritation that I could sense lingered just below the surface. “I want to help you, child.” When she spoke she spoke with an odd accent, one that was probably the product of a life spanning numerous centuries and having spoken languages that hadn’t been spoken in hundreds of years.

I gritted my teeth then spat out angrily, “Bullshit! I might be another stupid man in your eyes, but I know when I’m being used.”

Instead of showing her anger as I expected, she almost seemed amused, “I understand your anger and to tell you the truth I do have my own reasons for helping you, but I do genuinely wish you well.”

I looked the Spellbinder in the eyes, “You say that you want to help, but what do you stand to gain from helping me?”

Athilda sighed, “At the present time, I do not believe it prudent to reveal my intentions. You have my word that I mean you no harm and have only the most honorable of reasons for helping you.”

I scowled, “You can excuse me if I’m somewhat skeptical concerning your intentions.” I said sarcastically. “The fact that you won’t tell me a damn thing tells me you are untrustworthy.”

Athilda narrowed her eyes and her voice had turned ice-cold, “I am afraid that you must put your trust in me for the time being. Two attempts have been made upon your life. Had I not arrived in the place of healing when I had, you would be dead.”

Damn it, she was right. Without Athilda to protect me, I didn’t stand a chance. “What do the police have to say about all this?” I asked.

Athilda sighed, “The police are not an issue. As a Seidskati of the Council of Seidkona, I have declared this a matter of interest for the Council.”

I stared at Athilda aghast. It was unusual for the Council to interfere in ‘earthly’ matters. It was unprecedented for the Council to declare an event a matter of interest. Pending review by the rest of the Seidskati, it would give Athilda the power to call off the police and investigate the matter with the backing and resources of the Council.

“Norns,” I muttered, “You can’t seriously think the Council will take an interest in a couple of death attempts against a man do you? It would be another thing if I were a woman and a member of the Council.”

Athilda’s expression shifted to one of amusement, “That will not be an issue much longer, as I’m sure you have surmised.”

I bowed my head, “So it’s true then,” I said, “I’m going to change into…” for a long moment I was unable to make myself say the words, “one of you.” I said finally.

Athilda nodded and I shook my head tiredly, “It wasn’t your choice to make,” I said angrily. “You should have let me decide.”

Athilda pursed her lips, “You are right, child,” she said, “I should have, but the attack from the assassin had left your body weak, and I was afraid you would not awake in time to seek your permission.”

I shook my head, “My whole life I’ve resented the Spellbinders,” I said quietly. “Now I find that I’m about to become one. I don’t know that I can live with that.”

Athilda pursed her lips, “A Spellbinder’s power can be used for good just as it can be for harm. It is your choice what kind of Spellbinder you will be.”

There were several moments of awkward silence before I finally spoke, “Maybe I could do some good as a Spellbinder if I live long enough,” I said. “I’ve nearly died twice already. Whoever sent that assassin to attack me isn’t likely to give up.”

Athilda stood up and looked down upon me, “As long as I am alive you will never fall victim to an assassin. I intend to bring light to the darkness and find those responsible. Now come, child. You are still very weak. You need to rest.” she said holding her hand extended toward me.

I looked up at my ancestor angrily, ready to refuse her, but realized that she was right. Reluctantly, I took her hand, stood and began to follow her back into the house

+ - + - + - +

Shortly after having returned me to the room I had awoken in, Athilda left me alone with my mother. Mother still acted pretty upset about our earlier confrontation. I didn’t want to talk about it and Mother knew better than to try to speak with me when I was this upset. We sat there in awkward silence for the better part of an hour. It took an outside disruption to finally break the silence.

The door swung open and Athilda appeared in the doorway followed by a rather attractive red-haired woman dressed in professional attire who looked to be in her late twenties. “Mr. Steenburg,” the woman said, “I’m detective Dahlstrom with the New Copenhagen police department. I’m here to speak to you regarding the recent attempts on your life.”

My eyebrows shot up in surprise, “I thought the police weren’t going to be involved.” I said giving Athilda a pointed look.

Athilda shook her head, “It appears the council wishes the police to remain involved.”

Detective Dahlstrom smiled, “Shall we get started?”

Mom and Athilda shuffled out of the room and I was left alone with the detective. I’ll just give a short recap. The detective asked for a description of the events, and anything unusual I might remember. I told her everything I could remember. I was a bit hesitant at first, but the detective revealed she already knew I could use magic. She asked me a bunch of questions regarding the suspect I answered as best I could and I provided a description.

I could sense the interview was almost over when the detective said something I hadn’t expected, “I don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, but I’d tread softly were I you. This is much more than it seems on the surface.”

I shook me head in confusion, “What do you mean?”

She sighed, “Look I probably shouldn’t even tell you this. But the body of the woman that attacked you has gone missing, as well as nearly all the evidence related to this case. Whoever those two women were, someone very powerful doesn’t want us to know their identities.”

“Shit,” I muttered, “What about the man I saved?”

The detective shook her head dejectedly, “He’s disappeared as well. I have reason to believe he was involved with a radical masculinist group known as the Sons of Odin. Does that mean anything to you?”

I shook my head, “Sorry, no.”

Detective Dahlstrom seemed suddenly very tired, “Well, Mr. Steenburg I think that just about wraps everything up. Here’s my card; please call me if you can think of anything that might be helpful.”

I promised to call should I think of anything. Then the detective departed and shortly thereafter my mother returned. It wasn’t long after the detective had left that I started feeling dizzy and was forced to lie down. Mother helped me into bed and sat down beside me. “The magic is surfacing again,” she said with a sad smile, “It won’t be long before we see more changes.”

My stomach felt as if it had been set afire, “Goddesses,” I screamed, “Eir preserve.”

Over the next several hours, intense pain spread through my entire body, so much so that if I even so much as moved a finger it sent a stab throughout my entire body. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth again the agony, and waited for it to go away. It didn’t subside, at least not for a long while. I could literally feel my skin shift, and my bones crunch and I wanted to cry out but had I done so, it would have only aggravated my pain. So I lay there and let the searing hot agony course across my body without letting out so much as a peep and without any movement whatsoever.

My throat and face burned for quite a while. So did my chest and hips. The pain continued to sear through my body for what felt like hours, and then I felt a sudden sharp pain within my testicles and the pain faded and was finally gone.

Weakly, I turned my head and looked to my mother who gave me a look that managed to convey both sympathy and worry in the same glance. I tried to lift my legs to get out of bed, but I discovered that my legs just didn’t want to move nor did my arms for that matter. “I-I can’t move,” I said my voice coming out with a pronounced crack as if I were undergoing puberty again.

Mother smiled, that damn infuriating smile of hers that she used whenever she was worried, “Athilda said something like this might happen.”ďż˝

I grunted angrily, “She damn well didn’t tell me!”

Mother sighed warily, “I have a feeling there is much Athilda hasn’t told either of us.”

I licked my lips, “Can you get a mirror or something? I’d like to see what I look like now.”

Mom cocked her eyebrows, “I can do you one better.”

When I caught that look from my mother, I knew almost immediately what she intended, but before I could let out any sort of protests it was already too late. She lifted her hands and called upon her magical energy and sent a great gust of wind right at me. I half expect to get smacked against the wall behind me, but instead I felt myself being gently lifted from the bed. Although, Mom was an Enchantress, she was insanely powerful when it came to wind magic. Unfortunately, wind magic was notoriously difficult to control. She must have been practicing. Slowly, I drifted towards the mirror on the other side of the room. Once I was sufficiently close, Mom twisted her hands and righted me so that I hovered in the air fully erect in front of the mirror.

The first thing I noticed, were the two small breasts that were poking out from inside my shirt. They were small, but there was no denying what they were. Breasts! I had breasts!. I lingered over the sight of them for a moment, and then continued my examination. I had shrunk considerably, and guessed I now measured closer to five-nine rather than my usual six-two. It was hard to tell from the baggy pants that just barely clung to me, but I appeared to have the faintest outline of feminine hips. My shoulders had narrowed considerably, and my arms hands and wrists were much thinner.

Finally, I looked at my face, but I wasn’t really sure I could call it my face anymore. My jaw had softened considerably, my nose was much smaller and I looked even younger than I had before. Despite the changes, I still looked predominately male though just barely, my eyes had shifted from steel-blue to a very soft green; I had grown nearly eight inches worth of hair that was now dark auburn like my mother’s, rather than my usual brown.

“Shit,” I said my voice cracking as it had before, “Mom could you maybe remove my clothes, and I don’t know; turn your back or something?”

Mother raised her hands and with sent a burst of wind at me which tore the clothes off me. I looked at my now naked body in the mirror and confirmed that I had breasts and my hips were indeed somewhat feminine. I noted that my testicles were missing, but I still had a penis, though it was significantly smaller than it had been before. I had a sneaking suspicion concerning what had happened to my scrotum, but there was no way for me to confirm it without having someone else look at it.

I know it might have seemed silly to some people, but I felt funny having my mother looking at my private bits. (I was a grown man for goodness’ sake!) Nevertheless, the need to know overrode my embarrassment. “Mom, I need you to look at me and tell me something.”

Mom turned to me and I could see that faint lines of strain had begun to form around her eyes. I knew next to nothing about magic, but I did know that often times the more delicate workings of magic was often more difficult to use and created more strain upon the user than one might think. Wind magic by its very nature was wild and unpredictable. Using it to lift someone gently up and hold them in the air went against its chaotic essence and could conceivably create an incredible strain on the user. Mother closed her eyes wearily, “Let me set you down.”

Mother rotated me back onto my back and I slowly drifted back to the bed and landed softly atop it. “Impressive,” a voice said from the doorway.

It was Athilda, “Few Spellbinders are capable of such control, let alone an Enchantress. You have a remarkable talent for Wind magic.”

“Th-thank you, Revered Ancestor,” Mom said nervously.

“Well, it appears our young Thurston has undergone some more changes,” Athilda said.

“You think?” I said sarcastically. “It would have been nice to know that this would paralyze me.

Briefly, grim amusement flashed across Athilda’s face, “Worry not, your paralysis is only temporary.”

I grimaced, “Well gee, that’s such a relief.” I said sarcastically, “Mom could you please take a look between my legs and tell me what you see. I’d really like to get this over with.”

Mother sighed warily as she grabbed hold of my legs and pulled them apart. She gently pushed my limp penis out of the way and gasped, “That’s weird,” said quietly, “You have something resembling a vulva, but it’s not quite fully formed. ”

I sighed warily, “Damn, just as I suspected.” I said quietly, “Do you think you could cover me up now?”

Mother shook her head warily and lifted her hands to call upon the magic, but before she could do so Athilda stepped forward, and a gust of wind pulled me up off the bed again, swept the bedding from atop the bed then placed me gently back down before placing the bedding on top of me.

Mother looked to the ancient woman thankfully, “I thought you said that most Spellbinders don’t have much control over wind magic.”

Athilda looked at my mother with both amusement and irritation evident upon her face, “Most do not. I do.” Then the Spellbinder turned her back and left the room.

+ - + - + - +

I remained paralyzed for over three days before the next round of changes took place. It was one of the most excruciatingly unbearable three days of my life. I can’t say I fully understand the sort of despair a quadriplegic must endure after finding out they are paralyzed for life, but for those three days I came as close as I could without ever becoming a quadriplegic myself. The only thing that kept me going was the knowledge that I would soon regain use of my limbs. Of course, that was little consolation considering that regaining use of my limbs also meant I would have to deal with having a female body.

It was very early in the morning, on Sunnudag, when I awoke and felt the pain begin to spread throughout my body again. The pain was just as excruciating as my previous transformation and I gritted my teeth in silent agony. Just as before, the pain lasted several hours and ended with an intense pain in my crotch. I lay there in bed a moment and attempted to move my arm in front of my face. Much to my relief, my arm responded to my summons, but it took a great deal more effort than it normally would have and my muscles felt oddly tight.

I wiggled my toes and then my legs and received similar results. I slid to the side of the bed and tested my feet on the ground. My legs felt a little weak, but I thought I’d be able to make it across the room. So I slid the rest of the way off the bed and nearly fell on my ass. It was only by bracing myself against the bed that I managed to stay on my feet. Stubbornly, I moved away from the bed and half-walked, half-crawled to the opposite wall. Using the wall as leverage, I hit the button on the wall to turn the light on, and then I made my way to the mirror that was across from the foot of my bed.

My age had further regressed and I now looked to be in my early twenties. I looked to be roughly five-foot-seven and was actually somewhat pretty, but a slightly squared jaw kept me from being truly beautiful and gave me a slightly masculine appearance. My dark auburn hair was now close to sixteen-inches long and granted me a wild and unkempt appearance due to its lack of styling. All in all, it was odd realizing that the girl in the mirror was me.

I moved my hands up to the collar of the pajama shirt I was wearing and unbuttoned it, a task made more difficult by my weakened state. Once done, I wiggled out of my shirt then I worked my way out of my pants. I nearly fell over a few times while I undressed, but was just barely able to maintain my balance. Once, undressed I looked at my naked body and noted the changes. My breasts were now much larger and my hips had widened considerably, but both were still on the small side. All that remained of my penis was the head which just barely poked out from the skin. I have never actually seen my vulva, but based on my mother’s description I think that it was considerably more developed than it had been before.

I stared at my reflection for a few more moments, then slowly put my pajamas back on. Once finished, I realized I really had to take a leak. I opened the door to ‘my’ room and looked down the hall. I was fairly sure one of the rooms down the hall had to be a bathroom, but I had no idea which one. Most of the time I had spent in Athilda’s estate I had either been bedridden or unconscious. While paralyzed I had been forced to either use a bedpan (with Mom’s assistance much to my annoyance), or wet the bed.

I staggered down the hall and tested several doors before I found the bathroom. Like the rest of Athilda’s estate the bathroom was huge and extravagant. I hobbled over to the toilet and with a grunt of effort flipped the lid open. I pulled my pants down and looked down at my shrunken penis, and realized that it would be next to impossible to aim. I leaned over the toilet and positioned my hips so that my tiny penis aimed straight down into the toilet then I let loose. Nothing happened. I let in a deep breath and pushed harder. A small stream of urine escaped my penis, and then stopped. Try as I might I couldn’t urinate any faster. So I stood there for nearly ten minutes and urinated in brief bursts of yellow pee.

I nearly collapsed as I staggered over to the sink to wash my hands, which spoke volumes for how exhausted I had become. I made my way from the bathroom and nearly made it back to the room before finally crumpling to the floor in front of the door.

+ - + - + - +

I woke to the sound of hushed voices. I opened my eyes and found that once again, I was lying in bed in the same room as before. “Damn,” I muttered under my breath; noticing that my voice now sounded entirely female.

Athilda was the first to speak, “Are you a fool, child?” she said angrily.

“Apparently,” I replied irritably. “How long have I been out?” I said changing the subject.

Mom grimaced, “We found you at around six this morning. It’s almost four now.”

“Damn,” I muttered again, “I wish these changes would just finish already. I hate this damn waiting.”

Athilda sighed, “You do not have long to wait, child. The final changes will soon come upon you.”

I scowled up at her, “Then why the Hel did it take so long for these latest changes?”

Athilda returned my scowl with an angry glare, “Your body was not yet ready for the changes. Had you undergone them sooner it would have been your death, child.”

“Death or breasts,” I grumbled irritably, “I don’t know which is preferable.”

Athilda’s eyes flashed with irritation, but instead of responding to my comment she merely said, “Rest, child.” Then she turned to Mother. “See that she does not leave the bed.” Without another word Athilda left the room.

“Damn it,” I grumbled, “I haven’t finished changing and she’s already using female pronouns.”

Mom didn’t say anything; she merely looked at me and started giggling.

+ - + - + - +

I think I really tested my mother’s patience the rest of the day and the following morning. I knew that I was weak, but felt that I should be allowed to at least get out of bed to use the bathroom. My mother didn’t agree. Because of my shrunken penis I was unable to use the bedpan facing upward so I had to turn around and pee straight into the cavity of the bedpan. Thankfully, I was able to convince my mother that I didn’t need assistance to use the damn thing. I wasn’t entirely pleasant to be around and I took most of my frustration and anger out on my mother. I don’t know how late it was when I finally drifted off to sleep, but I doubt it was much later than ten.

Well, I’m just about caught up. It’s now Manadag and I only went through my final changes a few hours ago. I must have been exhausted because I didn’t wake until late morning. My mother was sitting beside my bed reading a magazine. When I asked her for the time, she told me it was almost ten. She stepped outside the room for a few minutes and returned saying that breakfast was being sent up. After breakfast mom, handed me some of my belongings out of a large black bag in the corner. Among the items she gave me, I found my journal and a number of books. She explained that she had gone to my apartment to retrieve some of my belongings.

It was shortly after noon when I felt the first burst of pain sear across my body. It wasn’t long before my entire body felt as if it were on fire. As before, I close my eyes and gritted my teeth against the pain. Several hours later, the pain faded as it had before with a sharp pain in my groin.

With a sigh of relief, I opened my eyes and sat up. I felt a little weak, but the effort was much easier than it had been before. The oddly tight feeling that had accompanied every movement was gone. I slid off the side of the bed, and noted for the first time that mother was absent from the room. I walked over to mirror and was stunned by the girl I saw in the mirror. She was nothing short of breathtaking.

When I say breathtaking, I don’t mean the girl in the mirror was hot or sexy. I mean I’m beautiful in a way that gowabeyond sex appeal. The image in the mirror was what I imagine what the Light Elves must look like. My jaw dropped, and I simply stood there transfixed by my own reflection. My face had lost all its hard edges and was now a soft oval shape. My hair had grown another eight inches or so and was now roughly two-feet long. I was even shorter than before, though only by a few inches or so. I looked to be in my late teens and had the kind of figure that most women would kill for. I brought my hand up to touch my cheek, my skin felt so smooth and soft against my fingertips. Of course, the skin on my now long and delicate fingers was just as soft.

When I was finally able to peel my eyes away from my reflection; I slowly stripped out of my clothes and looked upon my completely female body. My breasts had grown quite a lot since my last set of changes and they seemed massive, but as I looked at my reflection I realized they were not nearly as huge as they felt, and they complemented my hourglass figure perfectly. There was no trace of my penis and my vulva now looked complete and fully formed.

“Thor?” a voice said from the doorway.

I swirled around to gaze upon my mother and Athilda. “By Freya,” Mother said with a gasp, “You’re beautiful.”

I didn’t immediately reply. I looked to Athilda and was caught off guard by her reaction. The ancient woman simply stared at me aghast, almost as if she had seen a ghost. Mom must have seen something in my eyes because she turned back to look upon our ancestor. We all stood there staring at one another, until Athilda finally broke the silence.

“A ghost made flesh,” she whispered and move to stand before me, “As if she had not been dead these last four-hundred years.”

I looked up at the ancient woman and spoke, “Who?”

Athilda eyes hardened and all trace of shock disappeared from her face, “Worry not upon it, child.” she said angrily, and turned to leave.

Before she made it very far, I grabbed hold of one her wrists and spoke, “Athilda.” I said with gritted teeth, “Who?”

My ancestor broke my hold on her wrist then whirled on me and brought her hands up almost as if she intended to attack. Shocked by her sudden movement, I took a few steps back, stumbled and fell on my ass. I brought my hands up to protect my face and waited for Athilda’s attack. It never came. I realized suddenly my hands were shaking. Slowly, I lowered them and folded them across my chest in an attempt to stay their trembling.

I looked up to Athilda and noted that much of the anger that had marked Athilda’s face had faded, “My daughter. You resemble my daughter,” she said quietly then turned her back, and left the room.

+ - + - + - +

Eirdag 20. Harpa

Compared to the events of the last week, today was relatively calm. Though that’s not to say it was uneventful. Mom and I had been left alone to fend for ourselves after my confrontation with Athilda. My body is still very foreign and I can’t even move or sit without being reminded of my new proportions. The clothes I am wearing, a thin white blouse that does little to conceal my breasts and a pair of slacks, are ill-fitting and uncomfortable, hough I’m not sure I could have been comfortable even I were wearing clothes that fit. I guess I can take comfort from the fact that I am finally through with the changes. Around noon, I was alone in the garden when I heard a scuffling sound and found Athilda standing nearby.

“Thurston,” she said closing the distance between us and came to sit on the bench beside me, “There are some matters upon which we need to speak.”

I folded my arms across my chest, “Gosh, you really think so?” I said sarcastically.

Irritation flashed across her face, but was soon replaced by a rather stoic expression, “The Seidskati has issued a summons concerning my declaration of interest. We shall meet a week hence.”

I shook my head, “What does that got to do with me?”

Athilda’s eyes flashed with irritation, “Everything, child. Twice, you have nearly died by the hands of an assassin. The knife that the second assassin used had runes etched upon the blade and hilt. Only a Spellbinder of great power could have placed those runes upon it.”

I grimaced, “So, you think both incidences are linked?”

Athilda spoke coolly, “In all likelihood.”

“Shit,” I muttered.

Athilda grimaced, “Such language does not befit a future member of the council.”

I grunted angrily, “What makes you think I want to become a member of the council? I didn’t ask for any of this.”

“It is not a choice for you to make, child.” Athilda raged, “It is too dangerous for a Spellbinder to be unlearned in the Ways of the Seidh. If you do not learn how to use your abilities you could inadvertently cause great harm to others or even level whole cities.”

“What if I refuse?” I glared back at her.

Athilda sighed warily, “Refusal is not unprecedented, but it has never ended favorably for the initiate. We have important matters to discuss, child. You waste our time debating that which need not be debated.”

I shook my head stubbornly, “Like what?”

Athilda’s irritation flashed across her face, “Assuming that you do not refuse initiation, and find yourself brought before the council against your will, you need to groom and dress yourself in preparation to appear before the Seidskati.”

I looked at Athilda flatly, “In other words you want me to get a haircut and some clothes.” I said with a sigh, “I won’t lie to you, this hair is driving me nuts, and it might be nice to have some clothing that actually fits.”

Athilda smiled, it was the first time I had ever seen her do so, “Very well,” she spoke, “It is much too dangerous for you to leave the estates. I shall have the necessary laborers brought to you.” Then once more turned her back and walked away.

“Damn,” I said to no one in particular. I still can’t escape the feeling that I had sold my soul for a haircut and a couple of sets of clothes.

+ - + - + - +

Much later, I scowled up at the woman as she finished up my haircut. Athilda had steadfastly refused to let me get my hair cut any shorter than its current length. The hairstylist had of course sided with Athilda and I was stuck with the damned long hair. My hair is now only a few inches shorter than it had been, and that’s due mostly to its previously jagged ends. The hairstylist finished up and produced a mirror for me to look at my reflection.

I reluctantly have to admit my hair looks infinitely better with the styling. Very little hair has been trimmed from my face, but with the use of various hair products my wild hair had been tamed and made to look wavy with a styling wand augmented by the hair stylist’s innate magical abilities. To finish it off my hair was parted to either side of my face out of the way of my eyes. The new hairstyle suits my face perfectly and it serves to further enhance my already beautiful features.

Athilda paid the hairstylist an extortionate price then ushered her out the door and it was on to the seamstress. I stripped out of my clothes and was completely naked since I didn’t have any undergarments. The seamstress took my measurements, even going so far as to measure my feet. Then she too was paid a large sum then ushered out of the room and presumably out of the house.

Once everything was completed I dressed myself and attempted once again to get answers from my ancestor. “Athilda,” I said quietly, “Assuming I go before the Seidskati. Am I to tell them that I used to be a man?”

The elderly woman looked upon me with an appraising look, “Of course, child. It would be foolish to endeavor to deceive the council. There are those who could detect your lie with no more effort than it takes to breathe.”

“So what? I tell them I was a man and they’ll welcome me with open arms?” I replied.

Athilda shook her head, “Nay, child. They will debate and argue as they do in all things then they will vote upon it. ”

I swallowed hard, “And if they vote against me?”

“I know not,” Athilda replied, “Such a matter has never been presented before the Seidskati.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” I muttered sarcastically.

Athilda looked down at me, amusement evident upon her face, “Worry not, child. No harm shall come to you so long as there is a breath left in my body.”

I opened my mouth to say some sarcastic remark, but realized that Athilda was being sincere, “Thanks,” I said quietly, “That really is reassuring.”

There was a moment of awkward silence. Then much to my annoyance, Athilda turned her back and walked away.

“Wait, Athilda!” I called after her, but my ancestor didn’t so much as glance back at me. “Damn,” I muttered, “That woman has got to be the most infuriating person I have ever met.”

+ - + - + - +

Today, I met Athilda’s assistant and I’m still having a hard time getting her out of my thoughts. She first made her presence known with a light tap on the door. I knew almost immediate that it was not Athilda or my mother. Neither would bother knocking. A small voice inside of me warned that the person on the other side of the door might wish to harm me, but common sense overrode my concerns. I was in the home of one of the most powerful Spellbinders in the world, it was doubtful that anyone could intrude upon Athilda’s domain. “Come in,” I said finally.

An extremely attractive blonde woman, a few inches taller than me stepped inside the room. She smiled hesitantly and held a bag out to me. “Hi,” she said cautiously, “Athilda said to bring these up here. I guess they’re for you.”

I took the bag and opened it, inside there were several brassieres and panties. “Um… thanks,” I said blushing a bit.

The woman smiled sweetly, “I’m Penelope, by the way. I’m Athilda’s assistant.”

I was a bit hesitant to reveal my true identity to this person. So I racked my brain as I tried to think of a female name for myself. Ari-” I started to say then stopped myself thinking better of it, “Aryanna” I said finally, “I guess Athilda’s told you all about me.”

Penelope sighed, “Not really, she doesn’t really tell me much of anything. Mostly I just file things and take messages.”

I grimaced, “That I can understand. My ancestor isn’t the most talkative of people.”

Penelope smiled, “Oh, so you’re a descendant. You know you look kind of familiar…” she trailed off with a thoughtful expression on her face. “By the Norns!” she said suddenly, “The painting!”

I bit my lip, “What painting?”

Instead of answering me she grabbed hold of my hand and dragged me out of the room, through a hallway, down a flight of stairs and did not halt despite my many protests. Finally we stopped in another long hallway lined with row after row of portraits. “See,” Penelope said, indicating a portrait near the very end of the hall.

I drew in a breath as I looked upon the face in the picture. The girl in the portrait could have been my twin. There was only one major difference that was readily apparent, the woman in the portrait had black hair whereas my new female body had auburn hair.

“No wonder Athilda was so taken aback when she first saw me,” I muttered. “Do you know what her name was?” I asked Penelope.

Athilda’s assistance shook her head, “No, all the other painting have nameplates. This one doesn’t.”

“She was Athilda’s daughter.” I said quietly, “Something happened between them that Athilda doesn’t want anyone to know about.”

“She looks sad,” Penelope said quietly.

“Yes,” I replied thoughtfully, “Yes, she does.”

We eventually made our way back to ‘my’ room. I wanted to try on my new undergarments, but when I asked Penelope to step out of the room so I could have some privacy. She started giggling and told me I didn’t have anything she “hadn’t seen before.” Penelope began unbuttoning my blouse despite my protestations and within a few moments she had me completely naked.

Penelope bit her lip and stared at my chest, “Oh,” she said, “I think I know why you were so shy about undressing in front of me.”

I looked down at my chest and realized just what she meant, “Oh, Norns,” I said, “I’m sorry. It’s just that the last time I was undressed by a woman. We…” I said trailing off, “well, I’m sure you know what I mean.”

Penelope smiled mischievously, “It’s okay, the last time I undressed a woman we had sex too.”

My jaw dropped and Penelope started to laugh, “You’re too cute.” she said. “I’m sure Athilda’s wondering where I am by now. I’ll leave you to dress alone.”

“I hope to see you again soon.” she said then she drew close to me and kissed me on the lips. I was so taken aback that I simply stood there staring after her naked as the day I was born.

+ - + - + - +

Vordag 21. Harpa

Today, a full dozen sets of clothes arrived inside four bags. The first contained various undergarments and sleep wear; the second contained various sets of shoes and a pair of slippers; the remaining two contained various skirts dresses and assorted outfits. Apparently, the seamstress had a shoemaker on staff, which probably explained why she had measured my feet. All of the clothes were of an extremely feminine variety, which was too be expected since pants and many of the type of clothes favored by men were out of style for women. Groaning inwardly I selected a skirt, a matching blouse, a pair of shoes and the appropriate undergarments and made my way to the bathroom to take a shower.

I had been avoiding the shower since I had completed my transformation two days prior, but I was starting to smell rather ripe and I didn’t think I could bear waiting much longer. With only a moment’s hesitation I removed my clothes and slipped into the shower. I adjusted the slider for the heat control then pressed the switch and warm water came pouring down from the shower head set into the ceiling.

For a brief moment I was able to forget about my worries as the soothing warm water poured down over my body, but the water splashing against my breasts felt very odd and proved to be too strong a reminder of just how foreign my body now was. With a sigh, I reached up and grabbed a bottle of body wash that was hanging from a hook on the ceiling and began to soap up my chest. Eager to get out of the shower, I hurriedly soaped up the rest of my body and was almost finished when I reached my vulva.

I pursed my lips, and looked down. I was about to squirt more soap into my hands, but curiosity got the better of me. Setting the bottle aside, I began to feel around my vulva with my hands. It felt rather sensitive, and I felt a slight tingling of pleasure as my finger passed across its surface. My thoughts turned to Penelope and the kiss we had shared and I could feel my nipples harden. She was beautiful and I hadn’t been able to get her out of my head since we’d met, the day before. I continued to massage my vulva, and my finger traced over my orifice and finally I put my finger inside and felt tingles of orgasmic pleasure run up my spine.

I gasped and experimentally stuck my finger inside my vagina again. This time the sensation was much more pleasurable and my thoughts of Penelope became much more provocative, and I imagined myself making love to her, first as a man then as a woman. I started cumming and I continued to masturbate in the shower for what seemed liked hours.

“Thor,” a voice said from the other side of the shower curtain, “Are you alright? You’ve been in here a while.”

All thoughts of Penelope flew out of my head like a great gush of wind as I replied to my mother, “Yeah, Mom. I’m fine.”

The shower curtain flew open and my mother looked down to my private area and gasped. I quickly extricated my finger from inside my vulva and grunted, “Mom, I’m a grown ma-,” I said then caught myself, “woman.” I said testing out the sound of the word, “Is it too much to ask for a little privacy when I take a shower?”

“Thor, you’ve been in the shower for over an hour. I thought something might be wrong.” she said, “I didn’t expect to find you playing with yourself,” she said a bit of smile touching her lips.

“Mom!” I protested.

“It’s alright dear,” she said, “We all do it.”

I shuddered and threw the curtain closed again, “Too much information.” I grumbled.

Mom laughed. Goddesses my mother could be so evil, “I’ll be outside. When you’re out of the shower, I think you and I need to have a talk.”

“Mom,” I grumbled, “Dad and I had the sex talk a long time ago.”

Mom started giggling again, “I hadn’t intended to talk about sex. We need to talk about your hygiene, your new body has a few more…” she paused as if to think, then said, “requirements than your old one.”

“Just great,” I mumbled sarcastically, “Give me a few minutes.”

I soaped between my legs again, and then I washed my hair which took forever since there was so damn much of it. Once I completed rinsing out my hair, I shut the shower off and grabbed a fresh towel in the stack beside the shower. I dried myself off, then wrapped the towel over my chest, and opened the door to find my mother waiting outside.

“Let’s talk,” I said motioning for my mother to come inside.

I won’t recount the details, but it was probably one of the strangest conversations I’d ever had with my mother. My mind was still having trouble accepting my female body, and the conversation with mother was oddly disturbing to my tattered male ego. When we finished our discussion (which included a demonstration on proper hair care) Mother was gracious enough to dry my hair using wind magic, a smattering of fire magic and strangely enough earth magic. Since, I’m stuck with this damnable long hair; it might be good for me to learn that particular trick.

Mother and I parted ways and I was finally able to dress myself. The bra came first (which was a lot more difficult to put on that I would have thought), then the panties, next I slipped on the plain black skirt and finally I pulled on the white blouse. The clothes are the first I have worn in over a week that actually fit. They also happen to be a constant reminder of my new femininity. Especially the skirt, which feels almost as if I’m not wearing anything at all.

Of course, that proved to be the least of my worries. Athilda has taken it upon herself to tutor me in the ways of woman, or more specifically the ways of a woman of the council. I spent all day learning how to behave before the council and what sort of things to say or not to say. Athilda behaved as if I had already agreed to appear before the council. I didn’t do anything to contradict her, but I had yet to come to a decision on the subject. I thought it better to keep my options open. If Athilda knew I was still undecided she might take action to ensure my compliance.

Penelope appeared halfway into my ‘lesson’ to ask Athilda some inane question concerning business matters. Initially, Penelope didn’t seem to notice me, but our eyes met and she winked at me. She finished up her discussion with Athilda. “Aryanna,” she said smiling, “It’s nice to see you again.”

I briefly cast my gaze toward my ancestor to gauge her reaction. Athilda’s eyebrows rose ever so slightly, but she gave no other indication that she found Penelope’s comment surprising. I turned back to Penelope and smiled nervously, “Nice to see you as well,” I managed, “Thank you for your help.”

There was a mischievous twinkle in Penelope’s eyes as she spoke, “Oh, believe me it was my pleasure.”

The encounter with Penelope was over almost as soon as it had began, we soon exchange polite goodbyes and I soon found myself under Athilda’s inquiring gaze, “What?” I asked as if nothing were amiss.

“Aryanna?” my ancestor asked.

I folded my arms across my chest defensively, “I wasn’t sure she could be trusted,” I muttered, “So I gave her a fake name.”

Athilda gave me another one of those appraising looks and smiled, “A wise choice, child. Penelope is an able assistant, but there is much I have not made her privy to.”

Neither one of us said much more concerning the matter and I thought the matter forgotten as I continued my lesson with Athilda. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As we finished up the lesson, Athilda mentioned that we would continue the next day. Then we parted ways and I was left to my own devices.

I met the maid today, which wouldn’t otherwise be very noteworthy. I mean all these super-rich Spellbinder’s have maids. It was the fact that the maid called me ‘Lady Aryanna’ that set the event firmly in my mind. Initially, I thought it had been Penelope that had told the maid about me, but it proved to be Athilda who had done so. Apparently she told the maid that I would be staying indefinitely and that I would require her services.

I suppose I should have expected this from Athilda. Damn, that woman pisses me off. To top things off, Mom has started calling me Aryanna as well. Damn it, can’t I hold on to at least a small part of my masculinity?

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 24. Harpa

My journal is missing. I’ve resorting to writing everything in a spiral notebook until I can find it. The maid was in here earlier I wonder if she saw it. I’ll ask her the next time I see her.

Oh, Goddesses! I can’t get Penelope out my head. She’s absolutely amazing. Before she started work for Athilda she came and visited me. We kissed and I could hardly keep my hands off her. I’ve never been so strongly attracted to anyone in my life.

I’ve had a hard time concentrating all day. My lessons with Athilda went horribly. She looked as if she wanted to strangle me. She finally gave up trying to teach me for the day.

Damn, I’m so horny. I wonder if something is wrong with me. This can’t be normal. I’ve been playing with myself almost all day. I can’t believe how good it feels to masturbate as a woman.

+ - + - + - +

Vordag 28. Harpa

Holy shit, I’m lucky to be alive.

Yesterday, Mother and I left Athilda’s estates to appear before the Seidskati. (I still can’t believe I caved in to Athilda) Athilda claimed that she would meet us there and I really didn’t think much on it. We rode in one of those old wind cars I’ve only ever heard about and never seen. It requires that the driver channel wind magic in order to power the vehicle. I heard that some wind mages back in the day managed to make small fortunes by busing people around in the things. Mother drove and her formidable skills with wind magic proved to be more than adequate to the task.

About ten minutes after we left, everything went wrong. The car came to a sudden screeching halt. “Was that you?” I said turning to look my mother in the eyes.

Mother shook her head, “No, it’s like we slammed into a brick wall.”

“Damn it,” I swore,”ďż˝ I have a bad feeling about this.”

Mother cursed, “Norns preserve us.”

I tried to open the door, but it wouldn’t so much as budge. The roof of the car peeled back and the most terrifying creature I had ever seen appeared in the opening. It was vaguely man-shaped, but that was where the resemblance ended. Its skin was pitch-black, it had razor-sharp teeth that protruded about an inch from its mouth, its eyes glowed-red with malice and did I mention the smell? I have never smelled anything so foul in my entire life. Image the stench of rotten meat and magnify that by about a hundred and you might come close.

The creature lunged for me but it stopped midair then suddenly went flying backwards out of the car and into a nearby building, collapsing a wall in the process. I turned to look at Mother, “Thanks.”

Mom shook her head, “That wasn’t me.” she muttered.

“No,” a nearby voice said. “It was me.”

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I heard the voice. Fortunately, it turned out to be Athilda who seemed to materialize in the seat beside me a moment later. I learned later that she had been there the whole time.

With a flicker of her hands all the doors in the car suddenly swung open. “Hurry,” she said, “We haven’t much time. More will soon be upon us.”

“What the Hel was that thing?” I asked as we scrambled out of the car.

Athilda shook her head, “A Dokká¡lfur,” she said, “Speak later.”

I nodded and started running. Mother and Athilda were close on my tail. We ran for nearly two city blocks, before the dark elves caught up to us from behind.

“Brigit,” Athilda called, “Get Aryanna away now.”

“I can’t,” mother called back; “Something is preventing me from casting a travel spell.”

Athilda gritted her teeth, “Then run, child.”

“No way,” I said cutting in, “We’ll stand and fight beside you.”

“Run, child,” Athilda commanded, “You are not ready to repel such an onslaught.”

Mother and I still hesitated.

“Go,” Athilda commanded and turned to face the horde of beastly dark elves.

As much as I hated to admit it Athilda was right. Running went against all my instincts, but to butcher an old phrase common sense proved to be the better part of valor. If I stayed I’d prove to be a distraction to Athilda. Yes, I had tremendous power, but I’d yet to consciously control that power. Each time I’ve used my power, it had been done out of mindless desperation. I might be able to defend myself, but I doubt I could do so without harming either my mother or Athilda.

As I ran, I looked back and watched in amazement as Athilda waved her hand and dozens of Dokká¡lfur, collapsed to the ground dead. Hundreds came at her and were repelled by her Spirit-shield, and hundreds died as she unleashed earth, fire, wind and water magic against her attackers.

I was so mesmerized by Athilda’s display of power that I almost didn’t notice when a group of dark elves appeared right in front of me. I caught myself before I tumbled into them, but it was pretty close. The nearest dark elf smiled menacingly with a mouth of crooked and jagged teeth, and advanced upon me. My magic must have sensed that I was in danger because I could feel it beginning to surface. “Crap,” I muttered, “Mom, get down now!”

Mother leapt to the ground just as a torrent of raw magical energy came gushing out of every pore in my body and collided with the creatures of darkness before me. I watched in shocked awe as the magic took on a mind of its own. It soon overwhelmed the dark elves and tore them apart leaving nothing behind as it the creatures had never been there. The magic overwhelmed each and every one of them, until there was only one left. Somehow the final Dokká¡lfur managed to avoid the same fate as its companions. My magic died down, and I fell to my knees in a near exhausted state.

The final elf let out the most horrid screeching howl I had ever heard and charged straight at me. I tried to bring my magic to bear, but nothing happened. When the creature was within a few feet of me, a white clad figure appeared out of nowhere and intercepted it.

Darkness closed in my senses and I collapsed into an exhausted heap before falling into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

I came awake with a start fully expecting to find a horde of Dark Vattir hunched over me ready to tear my throat out. What I found was a stark contrast to what I had feared. I lay atop a padded bench in what appeared to be a rather large foyer. I cast my eyes to either side and took stock of my situation. Mom lay sprawled unconscious on a bench similar to my own and I initially believed the room to be empty save for my mother and myself. After my eyes swept the room one more time, I noted the presence of four women, two on each end of the foyer, standing at a guard position.

Warily, I stood and walked towards my mother’s bench. Quietly, I sat down beside her, and gently shook her shoulder. Mom came awake with a start and I nearly fell off the bench so surprised was I by her reaction. “Hel,” mother muttered, “Aryanna don’t do that.” I grimaced at her use of the female name.

“What happened?” I asked, “Where are we?”

Mother yawned loudly, “We’re in the dingha. As for what happened it might be better if you tell me what you remember.”

I briefly told mom what I remembered and from that she was able to fill me in.

“Your rescuer was a Lejosá¡lfur,” mother said quietly, “After he killed that single dark elf, another Light Elf appeared, this one a woman. She joined forces with Athilda and together they obliterated the remaining Dark Elves.”

“Light Elves and Dark Elves,” I muttered, “This has gotten a lot bigger than I think even Athilda expected.”

Mom sighed, “Goddess, no one has even seen a Dokká¡lfur in hundreds of years and we get attacked by a whole horde of them. What do you think it means?”

I shook my head, “I don’t know, but I think it all has to do with that whatever I stumbled upon that night my magic awakened.” I sighed then looked about suddenly aware of the absence of my ancestor, “Where is Athilda?”

“She speaks before the council,” mother said.

“Without me?” I asked a touch of anger entering into my voice.

Mother shook her head and rolled her eyes, “Relax, Athilda can’t have you accepted as an initiate without you actually being there.”

I sighed and was about to speak when a door on the far end of the foyer swung open and a woman who looked to be in her early forties appeared. She looked right at me, scowled, and then started walking toward us. “Are you the Scion of house Le Fey who has come seeking admittance into the Order of the Seidkona?” she asked, glaring down at me.

I stood and looked her right in the eyes, smiled with false cheer and replied, “Why yes, Spellbinder, I am.”

She looked from me then back to my mother, scowled again and said, “Come this way. You stay, Enchantress.”

Mother glared at the woman but stayed put as I followed her to the other side of the foyer and through the door which she had exited. I found myself within a large circular room with Athilda standing in the center looking up. A raised platform circled the entire room and seated around the platform were about twenty robed women. “The Seidskati,” I muttered feeling suddenly very uncomfortable as the door swung shut behind me. I briefly looked back and noted two figures standing near the doorway.

Athilda’s eye suddenly met my own and I walked across the room to stand beside her. I looked up at all the women and was startled by the relative youth of some of the Seidskati members. A full dozen of the women looked to be middle-aged, one woman looked like she could have been in her late thirties or early forties; the rest looked to be roughly Athilda’s age and perhaps a bit younger. Of course, they were all Spellbinders, so they had to be centuries old.

“Young one,”ďż˝ an elderly woman said, “Do you seek admittance into the Council of the Seidkona?”

I look defiantly up at the woman, “If you’re asking if I want to be a Spellbinder then my answer is yes.”

“The circumstances of your awakening are most… unusual. Your induction must be discussed.” she said, frowning down at me.

“Why?” I retorted back angrily, “Is it because I was born a man?”

The woman frowned down at me, “Silence child. I have no patience for such irrelevance.”

I glared back at the woman, but didn’t reply. “Are you a fool?” Athilda whispered furiously.

I said nothing, merely glared at my ancestor angrily.

“Such defiance,” a woman said lifting the hood from her face. Norns, it was Agnes Bernauer, “Save for her hair she is the spitting image of your daughter, Athilda. Truly, Lilith would be proud to call this one her descendant.”

Another Spellbinder stood and removed her hood. Holy Goddesses it was Elizabeth Bathory, “I don’t know what you stand to gain by bringing this thing before us, Athilda, but I find no reason to accept this abomination into our ranks.”

“Don’t be a fool, Elizabeth,” Athilda retorted, “To deny Aryanna admittance would be to deny our own history. One of those who helped found this order was born a man.”

Elizabeth narrowed her eyes, “Lies, Athilda. Are you so desperate to force this creature upon us that you need to rewrite our history in order to do so?”

“Fool, you are barely more than half a millennium old and you dare question me? I was a child when the order was established. I have lived to see it grow from a few dozen to hundreds of thousands.” Athilda said angrily.

Ol’ Lizzy was seething with anger, “Who then? Sister Le Fey. Which of the founders was born a man?”

Athilda smiled sardonically, “My mother of course. Morgana Le Fey.”

The entire room fell silent. Morgana Le Fey was probably the most well-known Spellbinders of all time. She had defeated some of history’s most notorious villains including Ambrosius Aurelianus and Myrddin Wyllt. To claim that Morgana had been born a man was sure to give rise to heated debate and it did. The entire room erupted into chaos as nearly everyone save for me and Athilda started yelling at once.

One of the figures standing by the door joined Athilda and me in the center of the room. I gasped as she drew close. I had barely even noticed her when I had first entered the room. To tell the truth, I have no idea how I could have so casually walked by her without taking more notice. She was absolutely the most beautiful thing I had ever laid eyes on. She wasn’t human, of course. She was one of the Light Elves who had come to our rescue earlier that same day. When I first saw myself in the mirror after my transformation, I had imagined that I looked like a Light Elf. There was no comparison, my beauty paled in comparison to hers.

She smiled then cast her eyes above at the bickering Spellbinders and she looked upon me and her eyes displayed a sadness that made me want to weep. “Peace,” she spoke softly. Her voice was barely more than a whisper, but somehow it permeated the entire room. Everyone fell silent and all eyes turned to focus upon the Elven Lady.

“Friends,” she said, “Athilda Le Fey speaks sooth. I was witness to the rebirth of Morgana Le Fey.”

For a moment, the Lejosá¡lfur’s proclamation was met only with silence. Elizabeth was the first to speak, “High Lady,” she said angrily, “This matter does not concern the Alfur.”

The Elven Lady smiled sadly, but when she spoke she sounded angry, “Fool. Seek not to contend with me. Thou art but a child in thy understanding of the Seidh. It was the Lejosá¡lfur that granted thy forebears the power of the Seidh and should we see fit we would take thy power away. Choose thy words wisely, Seidkona.”

Lizzy glared angrily, but remained silent. Agnes Bernauer smiled triumphantly and spoke, “Sisters, I call for a vote upon the matter.”

The whole process was long and drawn out, due mostly to the excessive pomp and protocol that the Seidskati seem to love, but when all was said and done, seventeen Spellbinders plus Athilda voted in favor of my admittance as an initiate. Only Elizabeth and two others voted against me. One of the women looked oddly familiar, but I couldn’t quite place her.

As the Council disbanded and I found myself surrounded by several congratulatory senior Spellbinders. I thanked them politely then looked about to find the Elven Lady who seemed to have vanished. I spotted her as she was about to leave, and excused myself to chase after the Lejosá¡lfur.

I caught up to her, just in time. “Lady,” I called after her.

The Elven woman turned to face me and smiled, “Well met, Scion of House Le Fey.”

I felt my nipples harden as I locked gazed with the Fae Lady. Goddesses she was beautiful. I felt a brief urge to tear her clothes off and have sex with her there and then, but I forced such thoughts out of my mind, “High Lady, I wanted to thank you.”

Irritation passed across the Elf’s face and she laughed, “Thank the Matriarch of thy House. It was to her that I owed my debt.” and once more she turned to leave.

“Wait,” I said.

“What seekest thou, mortal?” she asked.

I don’t know why it was so important, but for some reason I felt I needed to know. If only I had kept my damn mouth shut, “What’s your name?”

She smiled, “To what ends wouldst thou be willing to go for such knowledge, mortal?”

I shrugged, “I guess I would owe you a favor.” Okay that was stupid I admit it. What can I say? I’m used to dealing with mortal women. To be fair I’ve used it as a pick up line in the past with a small measure of success.

The Elven Lady was almost giddy with glee, “Very well, mortal. I accept thy terms. My name is Hervor.”

My jaw dropped and I watched in stunned disbelief as the Queen of the Elves walked away followed by an Elven man dressed in white.

“That was ill-advised,” Athilda said seemingly from out of nowhere. “A debt owed to the Fae is not something to be taken lightly.”

I shook my head, “It’s just a favor.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “A favor that will come back to haunt you.”

+ - + - + - +

I kid you not, for the next couple of hours, Athilda simply stood and talked. Of course, it didn’t help that just about every Spellbinder present just had to talk with her and me by extension. I really don’t care to repeat any of the conversations, mostly because absolutely none of it appealed to me. I was like an outsider who had been given membership in an exclusive club. I didn’t have anything in common with any of these people. Fortunately, most of the people seemed content to jabber away with Athilda and leave me alone after a brief exchange.

Most but not all. The one exception happened to be a woman by the name of Janice Claymore. She seemed friendly enough, but I really had no idea what to say to her. Mostly I just answered questions about my life and tried not to sound too stupid. She didn’t go outright and say it, but I got the feeling her intentions had more to do with forming an alliance with House Le Fey than any real interest in me. I mostly just played stupid and did my best not to give her any definite answers.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity Athilda stated it was time to leave. I gladly followed her out of the circular room and found my mother waiting impatiently in the lobby.

“What took so long?” she asked warily.

“Athilda had to stay and chat,” I said more than a little irritated.

Athilda sighed warily and gave me a irritated look in return, “I had to keep up appearance, child. Tradition is very important.”

I sighed warily, “Oh boy, I’m so looking forward to future meetings.”

Mother smiled, “So that means they’ve admitted you.”

I sighed warily, “Yeah, whether or not that’s a good thing remains to be seen.” I grimaced then added, “Let’s just get out of here.”

We exited from the doors opposite the Council Room and almost immediately found ourselves bombarded with a sight far more horrible than the Dokká¡lfur from before. Reporters, almost immediately converged on us and started asking all kinds of questions. Although, Athilda seemed to be their main focus, a few reporters did seem interested in what Mother and I had to say. Fortunately, Athilda acted swiftly. She took both of our hands and called upon wind magic to whisk us back to her estates.

And that was more or less my day. I was so tired when we got back that I just collapsed in bed. I didn’t even spend any time masturbating, which is saying something considering how horny I’ve been lately.

+ - + - + - +

Freydag 29. Harpa

My face has been all over the news since it became known out that I had been accepted as an initiate before the Seidskati. Especially considering the special circumstances behind my acceptance. It’s very unusual for such a matter to come before the Seidskati. Usually it was only required that three Spellbinders vote on my admittance.

Oh, and guess what? Apparently, there’s a difference between an initiate and an apprentice. Although an initiate has been accepted into the Council they have yet to be accepted by a mistress. An apprentice is an initiate who has been accepted by a mistress. No big worry on that front. I know a mistress who happens to be looking for an apprentice. I bet you’ll never guess who. Yep, it’s Athilda. Surprised? No? Me neither. I still don’t trust the woman. She has to have some ulterior motive for helping me.

Apparently, it’s customary for Spellbinder accepting a new apprentice to host a big to-do, called a Naming Ceremony. In which, Athilda will name me as her apprentice and grant me the use of the Le Fey name. Why can’t these people do anything small? Athilda is having a special gown made for me for the occasion and both Mother and Penelope seem to think it’s going to be wonderful. I just can’t wait until I’m a full blown Spellbinder and I can get out from under Athilda’s wing. Maybe then I might be able to do some good with my powers and the influence that the Le Fey name will likely grant me.

Of course the people on the news were making all sorts of speculation on the subject. Some seemed to think that another descendant of House Le Fey would take me on as an apprentice. Some even speculated that Athilda herself would take me on as an apprentice. The most startling thing was the lies they were telling about my female identity. Apparently, I’m the illegitimate daughter of Thurston Steenberg. Yeah, you read that right I’m my own daughter. ‘Arianna’s’ mother is one Alicia Meyer.

I have to give whoever came up with my ‘life’ story credit. I actually did date Alicia Meyer for a little while back when I was in High School and it is entirely possible she could have had my child. Her family moved away after we’d been dating for a few months and I never saw her again. The news cast went on to say that Alicia died giving birth and that her parents put ‘me’ up for adoption. The rest was some gibberish about my years spent languishing in an orphanage and some crap about Athilda hunting me down when my magic started to surface.

And of course there was no mention whatsoever of the attack from the Dokká¡lfur. I guess Athilda was keeping that under wraps just as she was keeping my true identity secret. Angrily, I flicked the ancient teleprojector off, then went to find my ancestor.

I found her in her office. “The lies have to stop,” I said stomping into the room.

Athilda sighed warily, “Aryanna.”

“Don’t call me that!” I spat, “That’s not my name!”

“Thurston,” she said calmly, “To what are you referring?”

I shook my head and grimaced, “Don’t pretend like you don’t know. It has been all over the news. All about the tragic life of Aryanna Meyer.”

Athilda sighed, “What would you have me do, child? It is not as if I have a choice.”

“By all the names of Freya why not?” I said, “I won’t have you suppress the truth. The Spellbinders have been doing that for too long.”

“It was the Seidskati’s decision. I was overruled in this matter,” Athilda said quietly.

I shook my head, “Athilda their story isn’t going to hold up under any scrutiny. Once someone figures out that I don’t have a daughter the whole thing will fall apart at the seams.”

Athilda sighed, “The story will stand up to the scrutiny.”

“What kind of dream land are you living in that makes you think that people won’t see through that fairy tale?” I said seething with anger.

Athilda looked me in the eyes and said quite simply, “Worry not over the details. This is not the first time the Council has had to fabricate an identity.”

“Fuck, you people have some nerve.” I spat and walked off.

+ - + - + - +

On a much more mundane note. I’ve figured out why I’ve been so sexually aroused as of late. My period started today. Weird, that’s a phrase I never thought I’d ever have to say… er write. I’m by no means an expert on the subject, but apparently I’ve been suffering from PMS the last little while. According to Mom, PMS can start up to eleven days before my period and will last until I start menstruating. Mother mentioned I might have been easily aroused and I sort of put two and two together. She listed a bunch of other symptoms and now that I think about it I do remember having some of them. Mom says I’ve been moody, but I don’t see it. I can’t believe women go through this shit every month. Whatever, I guess I’ll have to learn to live with it.

A small side note. My journal is still missing. Where in the name of Hel could it be?

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 1. Skerpla

Oh, Goddesses I can’t believe it. The whole world knows I was born a man. Before I get ahead of myself let me explain what happened.

Penelope had paid me a visit when the door suddenly flew open. “Thurston,” Mom said from the doorway using my real name for the first time in days. “You’ll never believe what’s on the news.”

Penelope and I exchanged glances then followed mother through the house and into the large where Athilda kept the teleprojector. “For those of you just joining us. A rather odd bit of news has surfaced concerning the recently initiated Spellbinder by the name of Aryanna of House Le Fey.” The ghostly image of a female reporter said over the teleprojector.

I felt a cold shiver creep up my spine. This couldn’t be good. “According to a source close to the Billionaire Spellbinder Athilda Le Fey, the young woman, known by Athilda’s household staff as Lady Aryanna, was in fact born Thurston Steenberg, a man who went missing earlier this month.”

“Shit,” I muttered, “How the hell did they find out?” After the words left my mouth I realized Penelope was in the room and quickly turned to gauge her reaction.

She simply stared at me a look of surprise on her face. I wanted to say something to her, but the reporter continued and my focus once more returned to the teleprojector. “…from a diary that she claims was written by Thurston himself.”

“Frigg,” I swore, “That’s what happened to my journal.”

“I think Athilda needs to see this.” mother said suddenly.

“Fine,” I grumbled still feeling angry with my ancestor.

“Is it true?” Penelope said after Mother left.

I bit my lips and looked her in the eyes, “Yeah, it’s true.”

Penelope smiled a bit awkwardly, “This certainly does explain some things.”

“I wanted to tell you, but…” I started to say but was cut short by Penelope.

“Don’t.” She said quietly, “We barely know each other. I would have done the same were our situations reversed.”

“Goddesses,” I muttered, “Where have you been all my life?” I said then I kissed her passionately on the lips. We briefly broke for air then Penelope returned my kiss. Had Athilda and my mother not chosen that moment to appear I’m not sure I could have kept myself from tearing Penelope’s clothes off. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing they appeared when they did.

“Holy Hel; If I didn’t know better I’d swear you were pair of hormonal teenagers,” mother said as she entered the room.

“It’s the only time we’ve ever been caught kissing,” I said defensively.

Mother laughed, “Oh, please. You two are about as subtle as a train wreck.”

“As much as I’ve enjoyed this conversation,” Athilda said dryly, “There are more important matters that need to be discussed.”

I folded my arms across my chest, “What exactly is there to discuss? You and your Council will likely find a way to suppress the truth anyway.”

Athilda’s eyes gleamed with what I could have sworn was a small flash of mischief, “The Seidskati would most likely attempt to do so, but I cannot be responsible for the actions of an initiate who has yet to be accepted by a mistress.”

I looked up at Athilda shocked that my ancestor would ever make such a statement, “So what I just march on out the gates and tell the first person I see that the news stories are true?”

Athilda shook her head, “I couldn’t stop you should you choose to do so. There are a number of reporters waiting outside the gates. It would be most unfortunate if you were to speak with one of them,” she said with an exaggerated sigh then walked off.

Mother was strongly opposed to it, but I eventually decided that I would rather have the world know the truth than live a lie. Penelope would only say that she would support me no matter what I chose to do. So, I made my way outside started toward the outside gate. As I approached the gate, the reporters on the other side started talking all at once in a horrendous mish-mash of indistinguishable gibberish. When I finally got close enough I spoke, “I’m here to address the rumors concerning my identity.”

The reporters were silent for a moment then they all started talking again. I waited several moments for silence then continued, “The allegations that I am Thurston Olaf Steenberg are all true.”

The reporters went into a frenzy after my pronouncement. They asked all sorts of questions, but I ignored every one of them. When their questions died down again; I continued detailing how I had transformed covering only the transformation itself and how it was initiated and not the events surrounding them. When I finished I thanked the reporters for their time and turned to leave. They shouted after me, but I ignored them and made my way back into the house.

+ - + - + - +

Manadag 3. Skerpla

My period is finally over! I feel as if storm clouds have parted above my head. Things are looking up. Of course, that could be because of what me and Penelope and I did today. I won’t go into the details, but damn sex as a woman is so much better than as a man. Penelope is a wildcat in the sack. I admit I was a bit clumsy at first, but after she showed me the ropes I think I did pretty well.

On a more depressing note there’s been a media frenzy over my ‘bizarre behavior’ at the gates of Athilda’s estates the other day. Opinion varies, but the one thing just about everyone seems to agree on is that I wasn’t born a man as I claimed. Most of the news stations claim I’m either mentally unstable or simply lying. The Seidskati has yet to speak on the subject, but I highly doubt they’ll confirm my pronouncement. At least I know I was telling the truth.

+ - + - + - +

NOTE: Due to reasons that will soon become very obvious I have very little recollection of the following events. For this reason I have included another entry from my mother’s journal to help give the reader a greater grasp of the events.

Freydag 8-7

Goddesses, they have my child. I feel so helpless lying here doing nothing. I need to be doing something. It’s painful to even think about it.

It all started at the Naming Ceremony which took place earlier today in a large public meeting hall that was a short way from Athilda’s estates. Aryanna was wearing the most beautiful white gown that made her look like a Princess out of some Fairy Tale. Athilda and Aryanna greeted guests while Penelope and I were relegated to sit at a table and wait.

Finally, after sitting around for nearly an hour, Athilda walked into the center of the room followed closely by Aryanna. “Thurston Olaf Steenburg,” my ancestor said with a faint smile. There were hushed murmurs throughout the room. Athilda placed her hand upon my son’s cheek and smiled warmly, “Descendant, four generations removed, great-grandchild of my beloved daughter Lilith,” There were more murmurs throughout the crowd. I think Aryanna’s jaw must have fallen to the floor. Of course, mine couldn’t be far off. I had no idea Athilda was my great-grandmother. I had always believed my relation to her was much more distant.

“Child, you have sought admittance into the Council and have been found worthy of the Seidkona. You show great promise. Thus have I chosen to take you on as my apprentice.” she said taking hold of a large strand of my daughter’s hair and holding it in front of her face. Athilda smiled, then a bright flash seemed to encompass Aryanna’s face. I couldn’t really tell from this far away, but I knew that the strand would have turned a metallic gray.

“By this mark the world shall know you as my apprentice.” she said. “On this occasion I believe it fitting to also bestow upon you a new name. After careful deliberation, I have chosen to so name you Aryanna Morgana Le Fey. Aryanna a name of your own choosing and Morgana after the founder of our House.” More muttering rippled throughout the crowd.

Athilda was silent for only a moment before she turned to the crowd and spoke, “I would like to thank you all for coming. As thanks, House Le Fey would like to invite you to stay for refreshments and live entertainment.” Aryanna followed Athilda out from the center of the room to be seated at the table with Penelope and me.

“Well played, Athilda,” a woman’s voice said nearby. “With just a few short words you’ve managed to legitimize Aryanna’s claims about being born a woman and named her a potential heir.”

Athilda smiled, but I could tell she was irritated, “Olivia,” she said, “For only having been recently accepted into the Seidskati, you seem to understand the game better than most.”

Olivia smiled, “My mother was a great tutor.”

“Most unfortunate, the death of your mother,” Athilda replied, “You stood to gain much from her passing.”

Olivia smile briefly transformed into an angry scowl, “It seems others benefited more from my mother’s passing than I,” she said, then stalked off.

“Norns,” Aryanna said suddenly, “Why didn’t I see it before?”

“Aryanna,” I said, “Who is that woman?”

“She’s a member of the Seidskati. She was one of three women who voted against me.” She shook her head then turned to our ancestor, “Athilda,” she said, “Would you say Olivia bears a strong resemblance to her mother?”

“Yes, child,” Athilda said, “Why do you ask?”

Aryanna grimaced, “The woman that attacked me at the office building bears a striking resemblance to Olivia over there.”

“Brigit,” Athilda said suddenly turning to face me, “Get Aryanna and Penelope out of here now! I doubt Olivia would have risked revealing herself if she didn’t have something planned.”

“What about you?” I said feeling a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Athilda shook her head, “I will provide a distraction should it prove necessary.”

The whole thing made me feel uneasy, but I did as Athilda said and led Penelope and Aryanna out of the assembly hall. Had I listened to that sense of unease I think things would have turned out much better. At the very least a life could have been saved. When we stood to leave, I felt as if everyone’s eyes were on us. I tried to act casual as I led Thor and Penelope towards the doors, but I couldn’t escape the feeling that everyone knew what we intended, which was absolutely ridiculous. Olivia and perhaps a few cohorts were the only ones we needed to worry about.

Once we were outside the Hall I called upon my magic and started laying the weave for a travel spell, but the spell quickly unraveled and I realized that a spell-net had been laid to prevent anyone from escaping by magical means. I cursed under my breath and stopped for a moment to think. “We’ll have to find another means to escape.” I said, “I can’t cast a travel spell.”

I looked about and noted a service door. I used a powerful gust of wind magic to blow it open then I led them through several more sets of service doors and an access corridor before finding an emergency exit. I knew that opening the door would trigger the alarm, but at that point I really didn’t care. The safety of Aryanna was paramount. I could not let that scheming bitch get a hold of my child. As the door swung open, I knew we had fallen right into a trap. I tried to close the door but a hand grasped it on the other side and prevented it from closing. I reached into myself ready to summon my magic, but a hand waved a gun in my face destroying any hopes of escape. The door swung wide open and four rather large men appeared in the doorway each of them holding a gun.

The leader, a tall dark-haired man who under normal circumstances I would have found to be quite handsome, motioned for us to file out the door. Not seeing any other choice I complied, and Aryanna and Penelope soon followed. “We have the freak and two stragglers,” the leader said into a handheld radio.

“Take the freak. Kill the others.” a woman’s voice said over the radio.

The leader brought his gun to bear and pointed it right at my heart. Before he could pull the trigger, I summoned my magic and hurled my fist at his jaw. I supplemented the blow with earth magic. It did its job, and the leader fell to the ground unconscious. I turned on the nearest attacker, but before I could call forth another spell I felt something slam into my shoulder and chest and I crumpled to the ground.

I heard Aryanna scream Penelope’s name before I fell into unconsciousness.

+ - + - + - +

“Brigit,” a voice said through the haze.

I opened my eyes and noted the woman standing above me. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place her. “Brigit,” the woman said again and suddenly reality reasserted itself and my memories came back to me in a rapid succession of violent flashes, “Holy Hel,” I said to the woman who I now knew to be Athilda, “They have Aryanna.”

“I know, child,” Athilda said angrily.

“I have to get up, I have to…” I started to say but was cut short.

Athilda shook her head, “You have been badly injured. I have healed much of the damage, but you have lost much blood. You must rest. Help will arrive soon.”

I tried to sit up, but realized how weak I really was, “What about Penelope?”

Athilda sighed, “I do not know.”

“Norns,” I said angrily, “Make those bastards pay.”

“I intend to, child.” Athilda said then stood and disappeared with a surge of magic and a gust of wind.

+ - + - + - +

Laurdag 8. Skerpla

Where do I even start? I find myself for a loss of words and yet I feel that I need to write something, anything, if only to help myself understand yesterday’s events. I feel so angry and why the Hel shouldn’t I? My life has been permanently and irrevocably changed. I can’t even be sure if my thoughts are even mine anymore. Maybe putting these thoughts to paper will help me put my anger and despair aside. It has helped in the past.

Apparently, it all started at my Naming Ceremony, but I don’t really remember what happened. The doctor said there’s a good chance I never will. Blunt trauma to the head can do that to a person. It’s just as well; I don’t really think I want to remember.

I don’t care to go over the details, but according to mother, Athilda managed to both confirm my identity and name me as a potential heir. Apparently Athilda is my great-great-grandmother. Oh, and I guess my name is now officially Aryanna Morgana Le Fey. After, some sort of confrontation with Olivia de Clisson, (more about her in a while), Athilda became suspicious enough to have Mother, Penelope and me make a break for it.

That’s when we were confronted by four goons. Mom didn’t fare to well, she was shot repeatedly, but Athilda managed to get to her in time. After Mom was shot I was abducted by the four goons and Penelope came along for the ride. The first thing I do remember was the pain in my head. It felt as if a pair of dwarves had taken to using it as an anvil. I opened my eyes and found myself in near as I could tell a dimly lit basement. I could hear dripping water and I felt a cumbersome weight on my wrists and ankles.

Slowly, I sat up and was reminded again of the weight on my wrists and ankles. I examined them and noted that both my legs and arms had been shackled to the floor. I looked around and noted a circle had been drawn around me with all sorts of archaic Norse runes that glowed with a soft blue light.

“Freya preserve me,” I muttered. I didn’t have any recollection of how I had gotten in this predicament, but I did know what the circle was for. It was a circle of imprisonment, usually used to prevent a rogue magic-user from using her powers. They had recently been featured in one of those big Kings- burgh Blockbusters.

“Ah,” a woman’s voice said from behind. “Finally.”

I heard footsteps and a woman that looked vaguely familiar stepped into sight, “I apologize if my friends were too rough. They don’t follow orders very well.”

I looked up at the woman suspiciously, “Who the Hel are you?”

The woman smiled, “Poor dear,” she sighed, “Did the bump on your head leave you a bit confused?”

“Look lady,” I said, “I don’t know what you want from me, but if you think chaining me up in a circle of imprisonment is going to get my cooperation you’ve got another thing coming.”

The woman’s smile turned malicious, “You are nothing more than a pawn, freak. At first I was content to see you dead, but when I found out Athilda intended to name you her apprentice I couldn’t resist fitting you into my plans. Any apprentice would have sufficed, but your part in the death of my mother has guaranteed your place here.” she raged.

I grimaced, “I knew you looked familiar. Goddesses; you look just like her. You were there at the Seidskati meeting too. You voted against my induction.”

My captor smiled, “Very good,” she said with mock praise, “Do you remember our little introduction earlier today?”

I shook my head, “Lady, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The woman almost sounded motherly as she spoke, “Pity, I’m Olivia de Clisson.” she said then her expression turned dark, “The woman you murdered was my mother, Jeanne de Clisson. Do you remember now?”

I shook my head, “Fuck off,” I said and spat in her face.

Olivia grimaced and wiped my spit from her face, “Disgusting freak, didn’t your whore mother ever teach you any manners?”

I glared up at my captor, but didn’t say a word.

“Reginald,” Olivia said suddenly, “Prepare our guest. I have some things to take care of.”

I heard footsteps from behind and then there was darkness as the pain in my head exploded.

+ - + - + - +

I don’t have any recollection of ever actually coming awake. One moment everything was dark, the next I was standing at the entrance in the Office building I worked had at. It didn’t occur to me that I no longer worked there. I was in my male body again, but I didn’t stop to question it. Everything was as it should be or so I believed. I looked down at my feet and noted that I wasn’t wearing any shoes, which did seem odd, but for the life of me I couldn’t fathom why they would be missing. I shrugged my shoulders and moved to the elevators. I had no idea why, but I sensed that I needed to get to the top floor. Something important was happening there. Something that I had to put a stop to.

Once inside the elevator, I noted the large line of switches for each floor. It seemed odd that there should be so many. A small voice in the back of my head told me there should be only five switches since the office building I worked in only had five floors, but that was ludicrous. Obviously, there were many more than five floors. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been so many switches. With some trepidation, I flicked the switch for the top floor. The doors briefly closed then instantly slammed back open. Before me was the top floor.

I stepped out of the elevator and found myself face to face with a rather unpleasant looking man who was straddling a rather large automatic weapon. The man swore something in what sounded like German, and leveled his gun at me face. “Arms up,” he said with a heavy accent and lifted a two-way radio to his mouth. He muttered the name “Anton” into the handset then started to say something in German.

I saw my opportunity and took it. While the German’s attention was on the radio, I balled my hand into a fist and decked him in the face. The German collapsed to the ground and I grabbed his gun and radio. Then I dragged him into the closest office. I looked for something to tie him up, but there was nothing inside the office. So I tore his shirt off, and tore it into to strips and used it to tie him up. I didn’t know if it would hold, but it was better than nothing. When I finished up, I dragged him behind the desk so that he would at least be partially hidden.

I was struck then by the wrongness of the whole situation. I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was enacting the plot of an action movie. I shrugged it off then made my way to the door, as my hand reached for the door knob I was struck by sudden idea. I pulled the German’s radio out from my pocket where I had placed it and spoke into it, “Hey Anton,” I said, “You still there?”

“Who is this?” A man’s voice said over the radio.

I scowled down at the radio and said, “I’m the guy that just took down one of your goons.”

I could almost see the man scowl as he spoke, “Why should I care? Just one less thug to share the ransom with. You are just one against many. I hardly think you can take us all down.”

I growled, “I wouldn’t be too sure of that.”

Anton laughed, “Such confidence! You Nyrander Cowboys. You all think you’re John Wayne.”

Briefly, I considered saying something about being partial to Roy Rogers, but the comment seemed a bit inappropriate. Who the Hel was Roy Rogers anyway? “You’re next,” I said instead then switched off the radio.

I know I had just given myself away, but I needed to know what I was up against. Anton had given me two pieces of information. First, his numbers were so great that he saw me as little threat; second, he was holding someone or something ransom in exchange for money. I stood there for a moment unsure of my next move. I wanted Anton to know that I was coming for him, but I knew he would be looking for me. I looked about the room and my eyes locked on the air duct in the top corner of the room and almost immediately discarded the idea. I was simply too big to fit into the hole. Then I looked down at my hourglass figure and laughed at the notion. How could I have thought I was too big to fit through such a hole? I could easily squeeze into such an opening.

I moved across the room grabbed a chair by the desk as I went. I placed the chair under the vent then I forced the vent grating open and crawled up into the hole. As I was climbing into the air duct I scrapped my breasts against the side. It hurt like a mother, and the strangest thought popped into my head. Why was I suddenly a woman? Hadn’t I been a man just a few moments ago? I shook my head against the absurdity. People just didn’t just change from male to female at the blink of an eye. Of course, I had been a woman before.

Once, I had completed crawling into the vent, I did my best to close the grate behind me. Then, as quietly as I could, I crawled through the vents and made my way to where I instinctively knew Anton was waiting. I didn’t question how I knew where Anton was, I simply knew.

I stopped just past an intersection of ducts and peered down into the room below. Sure enough, a man with black hair and a neatly trimmed beard was holding a gun to a woman’s throat while another man was tinkering around with what looked to be a safe. Somehow I knew the man with the beard was Anton. I wasn’t sure who she was, but the woman he held looked oddly familiar. I couldn’t place her, but I had a feeling she was why I was there.

Without hesitation I kicked the vent grate open and I leapt down into the room. I landed on my feet and brought my gun to bear against Anton. “Let her go,” I growled.

Anton laughed, “Why would I do such a thing? Drop your gun or the girl gets a bullet in the head.”

I hesitated for a moment then dropped the automatic to the ground. Anton removed his gun from the woman’s throat and pointed it right at me. “You’re far too trusting.” he said then his finger squeezed the trigger and a bullet slammed into my shoulder.

I collapsed to the ground and waited for Anton to take the killing shot. He came over and stood over me with the gun and was about to pull the trigger when everything froze.

“Aryanna,” a voice said suddenly. It was the woman, “This isn’t real.”

I sighed weakly, “Penelope?”

“Yes,” she said, “This is all an illusion. Olivia has invaded your mind. She’s trying to make you her slave.”

Whatever shroud had clouded my thoughts and memories lifted and I realized that Penelope was right. Suddenly, the pain in my shoulder was gone. I looked up at Anton, who stood frozen in place above me. I stood and hurled my fist into his chest. Anton’s body flew against the wall and shattered into a thousand pieces.

I picked up the gun I had dropped and aimed it at the man tinkering with the safe. Bullets slammed into him and he shattered just as Anton had. Olivia de Clisson took his place. Olivia eyes turned to Penelope, “Fool! Your betrayal will cost you dearly.” She raised her hand, and bolts of energy shot out from it. Penelope screamed and vanished amidst a great torrent of energy.

Olivia turned to me, “I would have you now if it weren’t for that fool’s interference.”

I smiled grimly, “Sorry Bitch, this is my mind.” I said focusing my will on Olivia.

A whirlpool of energy opened up behind her as I moved toward her. “What are you doing?” she demanded.

I gave her a toothy grin, “Why taking out the trash of course.” Olivia took a step backwards and fell right into the whirlpool I had formed. She let out a scream and disappeared into the whirlpool which closed up behind her.

I took one last look around then I closed my eyes and willed myself to return to the real world.

+ - + - + - +

When I came awake it was to a world of excruciating pain, specifically in my head. The pain in my head had gotten much worse and I felt as if it were ready for liftoff. Remembering, where I was I did my best not to reveal that I was awake. Slowly I turned my head to get a better view of the room around me.

Penelope stood in the corner a shield of pure spirit magic surrounded her as she was pummeled by an onslaught of magic attacks loose on her by Olivia de Clisson. Penelope had hinted in the past that she was a mage, but never would I have dream that she was a Spirit Mage. Spirit magic is a rare and highly sought after power. Sadly, it’s also completely useless for anything but defense and healing spells. As a Spellbinder Olivia was infinitely more powerful, sooner or later she would get through Penelope’s shield and then it would be the end.

“Your task was completed. I would have released your sister and you would have been free. Why when I was so close did you betray me?” Olivia spat.

Penelope didn’t answer. I could tell that the strain of prolonged use of her shield was getting to her. So, Penelope had been working for Olivia and had betrayed her. I didn’t know what to think of that. I thought I might have been falling in love with her, but could I be sure her feelings for me were ever genuine? Penelope had saved me; I at least owed her a chance to explain herself.

Before I could even think to do anything Olivia broke through Penelope’s shield and unleashed a massive fireball at her chest. “NOOOOO!” I screamed and called forth my magic. Pure, unfocused energy unleashed itself as it tore into everything in its path. I didn’t care; I wanted Olivia dead for all the pain she had caused. Olivia was caught unaware and was thrown against a wall and her body fell limply to the ground against the onslaught of my magic. I didn’t stop, even after Olivia was struck down, I wanted to destroy everything. Power rippled through the building and the roof started to fall inward and the walls buckled.

“Aryanna, don’t,” a voice said softly and I felt a hand touch my ankle. I looked down and saw Penelope. I relinquished my hold upon my magic and fell to my knees. Somehow Penelope was still alive though only just barely. Astonishingly she had managed to crawl all the way across the room toward me.

“Penelope,” I muttered taking hold of her hand as tears cascaded down my face.

Her face was barely recognizable as it was covered with blisters and burnt flesh. Somehow she managed to smile, “I’m sorry,” she muttered, “She had my sister; I had to. You have to understand.”

“Penelope,” I pleaded, “Don’t talk. You can’t you’re too weak, you’ll…”

Penelope coughed, “I’ll die? It’s too late for that now. I couldn’t live with myself knowing I had betrayed you. Please find my sister. Olivia has her locked up in the basement somewhere. Please, she’s the only family I have. Make sure she’s safe.”

I nodded, “I’ll find her,” I said, “I’ll take care of her I promise.”

She smiled again, “I’m so sorry. I…” she started to say but never finished. The light faded from her eyes, and I stared into the empty abyss that had taken its place. I wept and time seemed to come to a halt as I mourned the passing of the woman who had betrayed me.

+ - + - + - +

I don’t know how long I sat there clutching Penelope’s lifeless body, but I think it must have been many hours. “Aryanna,” a voice said softly.

I ignored the voice willing it to go away, but the voice persisted and I finally responded, “Please leave me be.” I said.

“Aryanna,” the voice repeated again, “You have to let go.”

My mind came into focus and I looked up to find Athilda standing over me. I was startled to realize it was dark. Had I been there that long? Slowly, I released my hold on Penelope and stood. I looked about the rubble around me. I stood within the ruins of what was once a vast and lavish mansion. Only a few walls still stood. Had I caused such destruction? It seemed impossible that I could unleash such power.

I bit my lip, “How did you find me?”

Athilda smiled sadly, “I knew Olivia had to have taken you to one of her properties. I went from property to property until I found you.”

I shook my head and laughed warily, “That’s it? Somehow I expected you to have some miraculous means of tracking me.” I said then paused for a moment. “Oh, Goddesses,” I muttered, remembering my promise to Penelope. I rushed to the remains of what looked to be a stairwell and started throwing the rubble aside.

“Aryanna,” Athilda said coming beside me, “What are you doing?”

I sunk to my knees and started weeping, “They had her sister, Athilda. She made me promise that I’d find her.”

“Step aside,” Athilda said calmly.

I stood to comply and stepped out of the way. Athilda called forth her magic and lifted up the debris to reveal a stairwell beneath. I practically leapt down the stairs heedless of any danger, real or imagined. I rushed down a hallway and down several more sets of stairs before coming to a halt before a big steel door. I pounded on it, but there was no reply.

Athilda appeared from around a corner, and motioned for me to move out of the way. I complied and Athilda torched the hinges and lock, she swung the door open and we walked inside. Huddled in the corner was a girl who looked to be about eight years old. It occurred to me that I didn’t even know the girls name. Slowly I walked over to where the girl lay. “Hello,” I said, “My name is Aryanna. I’ve come to take you someplace safe.”

The girl looked me in the eyes, “My sister’s coming for me. She said she would.”

I smiled down at her trying my best not to burst into tears, “What’s your name.”

The girl looked at me and then to Athilda, but didn’t say a word. I felt my eyes mist up a bit, “Penelope sent me to come find you. She and I are good friends. The woman in the doorway is Athilda, she’s a friend too.”

The girl looked up to me stubbornly, “Penelope said she would come.”

I felt tears fall down my cheeks, “I’m sorry, honey.” I said, “She couldn’t make it.”

The girl hesitated for a moment more then she took my hand and said, “My name is Marion.” Then the three of us left the basement together. Shortly before we reached the surface, I picked Marion up and made sure to block her view of her sister’s remains. I don’t think Penelope would have wanted her sister to see her that way.

Two figures met us as we walked away from the ruins of the Olivia’s estates. I was shocked to realize that it was Elizabeth Bathory and Agnes Bernauer. They were two I would have never expected to see together. “Well, Athilda,” Elizabeth sneered, “Is it as you feared?”

Athilda shook her head warily and sighed, “It is. I was able to probe Olivia’s mind before she passed to the other side. The Clisson’s planned to overthrow the Council.”

Agnes grimaced and frowned, “Did you learn anything else?”

Athilda shook her head, “The probe weakened her. I was not able to gain any more information before she passed.”

Agnes sighed, “This does not bode well, old friend. Couldn’t you have healed her?”

Athilda frowned, “She was too far gone.”

Elizabeth almost looked relieved, “A pity,” she said and looked from Agnes to Athilda then turned away and disappeared into the night.

Agnes shook her head and smiled warily, “There’s more you’re not telling us isn’t there?” she said.

Athilda sighed, “Yes.”

Agnes frowned, “I would have thought that after all these years of cooperation between our houses that you would be more willing to trust me.”

Athilda shook her head, “It is not an issue of whether or not I could trust Agnes Bernauer. It is whether or not I am actually speaking with her.”

Agnes’ eyebrows shot up, “Is it truly that serious?” she asked.

Athilda sighed warily, “I am afraid so.”

Agnes smiled glumly, “We must devise a way to verify our identities.”

“It would be wise.” Athilda replied.

Agnes shook her head, “If you were anyone else I would think you were being overly cautious. The resources of House Bernauer at your disposal should you wish to use them.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “I respectfully decline. I am unsure that I can trust those within my own house let alone the members of another house.”

Agnes bit her lip, “I understand. ” she said then suddenly seemed to take noticed of me, “My goodness your apprentice looks as if she is on the verge of collapse. I’ll take care of things here. Take care of your apprentice, Athilda, I have a feeling we will be seeing great things from her.”

“I-uh,” I started to say but realized I was still holding Marion in my arms, “There are some things that need to be taken care of within the rubble.”

Agnes gave me an odd look and I gestured to the child in my arms. Agnes reached over to the child and stroked her cheek. Marion fell asleep instantly, “The child sleeps. What would you have me do?”

I bit my lips, “There are some remains in the rubble. They belong to this girl’s older sister…” I said trailing off as tears dripped down my cheeks.

Agnes smiled reassuringly, “Say no more. I will see to it that the girl’s remains are treated with respect.”

I nodded and mouthed the words “Thank you.”

Athilda reached out for me to take her hand and I did so without hesitation, “Farewell, Agnes.”Athilda said. Then she called upon her magic, and Athilda, and I, and the sleeping child I held in my arms disappeared.

That was hard to write. I’m still crying my eyes out. I think maybe I’ll finish up later today.

+ - + - + - +

After we returned to Athilda’s estates, we put Marion to bed. I wanted to speak with my mother, though Athilda tried to convince me to get some rest, but I refused. After some argument Athilda finally relented.

Athilda led me down through the house and the hallway that led to my room, but rather than entering my room she led me to the door to my mother’s room.

The door cracked open and I could hear a voice speak “Hello?” It was Mother.

“Mom?” I called back then slammed the door the rest of way open and ran into the bedroom to find my mother lying atop a bed that was virtually identical to the one in my own room.

“Thank the Norns you’re safe, ” she said looking so weak and helpless laying there.

I felt fresh tears stream down my face as I knelt down beside the bed to embrace my mother, “Sif preserve.” I muttered “What happened to you?”

Mom shook her head, “I was shot when they took you. If Athilda hadn’t found me when she had, I’d probably be dead.”

I shook my head and looked up at Athilda, “Why is she like this? Didn’t you heal her?”

Athilda shook her head, “She was weak. Had I healed her completely the shock to her body would have been so great it may very well have killed her.”

I bowed my head, “I guess there’s still a lot I have to learn.”

We spoke for quite a while after that mostly going over the details of what happened after I was abducted and Penelope’s death. After a lengthy and tear-filled discussion. I finally asked the question that had been at the back of my mind since my rescue. “What’s really going on, Athilda?”

Athilda grimaced, “What do you wish to know, child?”

I folded my arms across my chest and said simply, “Everything you learned from Olivia.”

Athilda seemed to age right before my eyes. She had always looked old, but now that age seemed to weigh her, “You know not what you ask.”

I eyed my ancestor angrily, “I’m sick of this bullshit. I think I deserve to know after everything I’ve been through.”

Athilda sighed warily, “Very well. When I finally found you, I noticed Olivia lying in the rubble not far from you. Leaving you alone with your grief, I decided to attempt a probe of Olivia’s mind. What I learned was worse than I could have ever imagined. Everything that has happened has been leading up to a single event. One which I hoped I would never live to see, Ragnarok.”

Cold shivers went down my spine as I looked at my ancestor aghast, “The Doom of the Gods?”

Athilda nodded, “Olivia and her mother were agents of the Jotun as were the Dark Elves who attacked us.”

“Olivia was trying to rearrange my brain.” I muttered, “No doubt she wanted me as an agent within your household.”

Athilda smiled sadly and shook her head, “She already had an agent within House Le Fey. No, I’m afraid her intentions were much more malevolent. She wanted an assassin.”

I looked at my ancestor blankly, “An assassin?” I asked, “I can’t even control my own power. How could I ever be used as an assassin?”

Athilda grimaced, “Do not discount yourself so quickly. In the short time since your power has awakened you have managed to defeat two powerful Seidkona. Think upon it, child. Imagine an assassin who does not know that she is an assassin. One who has been conditioned to attack when a certain stipulation has been met. One who is completely trusted by the victim.”

“Norns,” Mother spoke up suddenly, “If Olivia had succeeded you would have been a walking time bomb.”

Athilda nodded, “Indeed. Jeanne de Clisson was the mastermind. After her death, Olivia took her mother’s place. Only she underestimated you. Motivated by revenge she attempted to work you into her plans, but she didn’t account for Penelope’s interference and it cost her dearly.”

“This is beginning to make sense.” I said, “What about the man? The one I rescued the night my powers awakened?”

Athilda sighed, “The de Clissons have been collaborating with a group of extremists known as the Sons of Odin. From your description of the encounter I would guess the man distrusted Jeanne and believed she had betrayed his group.”

I nodded, “What are we to do about Ragnarok?”

Athilda gave me a pointed look, “There is not much we can do but fight, child.”

I sighed and shook my head, “I don’t like the idea of an absolute end to everything. I’ll gladly fight if it means preventing Ragnarok.”

Athilda looked at my wide-eyed, “Ragnarok cannot be stopped child. It is foreordained.”

I gritted my teeth, “Bullshit,” I growled, “Nothing is predestined. We each chose our fate. Goddesses or Jotun be damned.”

Mother and Athilda stared at me aghast, “Thor,” mother said, “you can’t expect to go against the Vattar.” Mom said after a brief silence.

“You know not the power these beings hold. I have seen it firsthand. We are as insects to them,” Athilda said.

I clenched my fists and said calmly, “Something must be done.”

Athilda smiled sadly, “Your thoughts are clouded by the day’s events. You need to rest, child.”

I tried to tell Athilda that I felt fine, but in the end both my ancestor and my mother outvoted me and I was soon relegated to my room.

I found that I was much more tired than I had believed and I was lying down when a voice spoke, “Did you mean it?”

I was so startled by the sudden question that I nearly fell out of bed. I looked about and found a woman sitting on the edge of the bed opposite me. She spoke with a calm and reassuring voice and despite her sudden appearance I found a sense of ease and well-being come over me, “Goddesses,” I muttered, “Who are you?”

The woman smiled as if amused, “Goddess, actually.”

I gave the woman a blank stare and she started to laugh.

“You mortals,” she said between chuckles, “You never seem to realize that nothing is quite as it seems.”

I had the strangest feeling as if I knew this woman and it suddenly dawned on me why as a cold shiver ran up my spine, “Goddess Frigg,” I muttered then slipped off my bed and fell to my knees.

The woman sighed deeply, “Get up!”

I did as directed and stood to look the Goddess in the eyes. On first glance she appeared as an extraordinarily beautiful woman, but upon further examination other details began to stand out. The light seemed to dance in her eyes and she almost seemed to glow as she sat there. “I’m s-sorry,” I said, “I didn’t know. Forgive me Allmother.”

Frigg rolled her eyes and spoke, “Oh, for crying out loud.” she muttered, “Just sit down and shut up for a minute.”

Startled by the Goddess’s abruptness I quickly complied.

“Did you mean it when you said you wished to stop Ragnarok?” she asked, tracing her hand across my cheek.”

For a moment I merely looked at the Goddess. Fearful of the wrath my answer might bring me and feeling that it would be foolish to lie to a Goddess I said simply, “Yes.”

The Goddess almost seemed to purr, “Good,” she said with a smile so bright that it made me want to fall to my knees and sing praises to her, “I thought you’d prove useful, otherwise I wouldn’t have entrusted the magic to you.”

I stared at the Goddess, aghast, “Y-you?” I muttered.

She nodded and continued, “Despite what you might have read in the Eddas or the Codices, Ragnarok can be stopped. Prophecy tells of a possible outcome. It is never absolutely certain. Ragnarok at this moment is the most likely outcome, but I look to change that.”

“W-why?” I muttered.

The Goddess laughed again, “Why?” she said her voice dripping with glee, “Why do you think, mortal? I do not wish to die anymore than you do!”

I trembled before the Goddess. “I’m sorry,” I muttered, “I didn’t mean to…” I said only to be cut short by a scowl from the Goddess.

“Stop apologizing and listen. If I intended that any harm come to you, you would already be dead.” She said with a disdainful flick of her wrist.

I nodded my acquiescence and the Goddess continued, “At the moment you are our greatest hope of putting a stop to Ragnarok, but should we play the game correctly, there will be another who could very well save our existence.”

I dumbly nodded my head and listened as the Goddess continued, “You have indebted yourself to the Lejosá¡lfur Queen. When she comes to you, and she will, no matter what that debt might entail, you must agree to her terms. You must fulfill that debt.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I found the Goddess’s pronouncement so odd that I forgot myself, “What could she possibly ask of me that would be so important? All I did was ask her her name!” I said, and almost instantly feared the Goddess would bring her wrath down upon me for daring to question her.

Instead she laughed, “The Elves do not see things as you mortals do. To them a debt is not equal to the deed that incurred it. They could ask you to tell a story or to murder your best friend and either would fulfill the debt.”

I shook my head, “I should never have been so stupid.”

The Goddess laughed, “Don’t be so hard on yourself, mortal. That single act is the gateway upon which Ragnarok may be halted.”

I opened my mouth to speak, but it was then I thought I heard a small clatter somewhere outside the room. I turned my head to look and found nothing. When I looked back she was gone.

I remained awake for hours wondering if I had really spoken with the Goddess or not. Perhaps I was delusional. Maybe I was still inside my mind fighting against Olivia’s incursion. I wondered too, that if my conversation with the Goddess had been real what the implications might be. What sort of debt once fulfilled would help stop Ragnarok? It seemed inconceivable that anything I did could have such a drastic effect upon the outcome of future events.

I don’t how late I remained awake, but I finally drifted off in the early morning as exhaustion overtook me.

I think that more or less brings everything up to speed. The more I write my story the more I feel as if I’m writing a fiction novel rather than a record of my life. Had I not experienced these events for myself I doubt I would believe they had actually happened.

+ - + - + - +

Sunadag 9. Skerpla

Today, I finally explained to Marion what had become of her sister. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I couldn’t bear telling the poor girl all the gruesome details, nor would I tell her that Penelope had betrayed me in exchange for her sister’s safety. I merely told the girl that her sister had died in an attempt to save me. I had feared the girl might try to blame me, but it soon became clear she felt no anger towards me. In the end, the girl and I had both broke into uncontrollable tears.

Penelope was the girl’s only relative. I don’t know what will become of Marion, but I I will do everything in my power to assure that she finds a good home.

+ - + - + - +

Freydag 14. Skerpla

Well, it has been a rather tough week, with Penelope’s funeral, but at least it’s finally over. It was a small ceremony with just Athilda, Mom, Marion and me. Each of us left our gifts with Penelope’s body. Then Athilda led us in prayer-song and Penelope’s remains were lowered into the ground and set on fire.

I won’t go into further detail. I’m about ready to burst into tears.

On a more positive note. I’ve finally begun learning to use my magic. The day after Penelope’s funeral, Athilda decided it was time. Anxious to put Penelope’s death behind me I wholeheartedly agreed. It’s not at all what I imagined. For starters, I haven’t actually done any magic with Athilda. Mostly I’ve done some form of meditation or another to help me “silence my thoughts.” as Athilda seems so fond of saying.

Marion seems to be doing well for having just lost her sister. Mom seems to have taken a shine to the girl and the two are all but inseparable. For the time being, the State has granted Athilda temporary guardianship of the girl.

Damn, Athilda is calling! She probably wants to continue our lessons.

Later.

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Manadag 2. Heyannir

After a lengthy court battle, Athilda’s lawyers finally managed to get my old journal back. After the maid took it, I thought I’d never get it back. I looked through it and I can’t believe it has been more than five years since my change. It is so hard to believe that so much time has passed. It seems just yesterday that I became Athilda’s apprentice. It is only a matter of days now until I’m to undergo the trials. Then I’ll be a member of the Council.

Athilda allowed me my first night out in months. I took the opportunity to get wasted, which probably was a bad idea. Curiosity got the better of me and I brought a man home with me. I can’t say the experience was altogether unpleasant, but it just felt wrong. I guess I’m no longer a ‘virgin’ since my male lover was kind enough to pop my cherry.

I better get going. Athilda insists I continue my lessons despite her belief that I’m ready to take the trials. It’s no big deal. I’m still learning things; the woman is a veritable wellspring of knowledge. I guess I’ll be off then.

+ - + - + - +

Eirdag 3. Heyannir

I’ve been up all night with Athilda. I can’t believe she didn’t tell me she was sick. After everything we’ve been through together she’s still keeping secrets from me. Apparently, she’s been fighting Leukemia for the last three years. When I went to find her for my lesson yesterday I found her collapsed on the ground. I’ve offered to heal her, but she won’t let me or anyone else touch her. She insists that her time is nearly up and that no amount of healing magic will save her.

She’s still full of surprises. She notified me today she intends to name me her heir. I told her there were others better qualified to run House Le Fey, but she insists they’re all “arrogant fools”. I even tried telling her I was too young to take her seat on the Seidskati, but she insists I’m the right choice. I should have seen this coming. I really don’t want anything to do with those old crones. A couple of them seem nice, but for the most part I find them all detestable.

Mom and Marion are watching Athilda while I get some rest. I guess I should be thankful, but I feel as if I should be there. I’ve spent more time with Athilda than either of them.

Marion seems to be blossoming into a beautiful young woman. I’m sure she’s already beating off the boys with a stick. She looks so much like her sister it makes me want to weep every time I look at her. My only regret with the girl is that I’ve been unable to spend much time with her since Mother adopted her. Perhaps after I’m named a Seidkona I’ll finally have some time to take her on that trip I promised.

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