Posts Tagged ‘demon’

Burning Eyes

Posted: June 23, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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burning eyesSamantha’s eyes burned the color of candle light. The tribal tattoos on her arms and back twitched.

“What did you say to me?” she asked. Her voice barely reached him but it carried more weight than if she’d screamed. Cane looked like he nearly peed his pants.

“I said you’re not thinking clearly. We need to talk to these people…”

The passion rose up in Samantha. Her eyes flared brighter. She imagined she felt fangs in her mouth and claws on the ends of her black-polished fingernails. She imagined it, and if it hadn’t been for the infernal light in her eyes and the heat inside her head, she might have believed that was all it was.

Cane’s voice died inside his throat. He gulped.

“We’re going to Paradise Hall, where they’re holding my baby, and we’re going to start burning things until they give him back to me.”

“You’re going to start burning things. What am I going to do?”

Samantha smiled. Stand there and look handsome, what else? “You need to get the little one out of there while I protect us.”

“Sam, you’re about to cross a bridge that might only go one way. Do you really want to do this?”

The fire cooled. The light in Samantha’s eyes receded, until they looked like beautiful ebony marbles. Her tattoos stilled. Samantha wanted to make this decision with her eyes open.

Her voice rubbed raw as winter frost when she said, “Yes.”

“This is what they want!”

Sam’s tattoos twitched again, whiplash sharp. “Do you really think this is what they want?”

Cane said, “I won’t help you.”

Her fire settled again. Good old Cane, who’d always been there for her. She wouldn’t call him her moral compass – Samantha didn’t answer to anyone but the universe – but he was close. “Then go home. I’ll see you when I see you. But I have to do this.”

Cane sighed. He walked over and stood alongside her. “Guess I’m crossing that bridge with you.”

She touched his arm. He jumped. It was only warm with friendship. “Thanks.”

Photo credit unknown. Used without permission.

Tonight’s scene was inspired by the picture above, which I forget where I found online, and the following dice roll from Rory’s Story Cubes: demon inside (Samantha), a cane (Cane), a building (Paradise Hall), a sad face (Samantha’s baby), chaos symbol (the mayhem she’s about to make), a bridge over water (crossing a bridge), a tree (the universe — it’s a stretch but hey), a house (go home), and block letter L (Cane won’t leave).

A Hundred Teeth

Posted: March 4, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , ,

magic swordChaos reigned in the throne room. Prince Derric clashed blades with men in armor he had sworn to protect with his life. His men fought brothers and sisters they had trained with. Priceless works of art were thrown down to use as cover against shell fire and sizzling bursts of magic.

“The kingdom is mine!” the Blood Prince cried. “The kingdom is mine!”

“No more, demon child!” Derric replied.

The two of them charged each other. Blood Prince Karuss threw aside his guards to get to Derric. Derric’s guards attacked the Blood Guards so that they wouldn’t intervene.

Their blades clashed. “You’ve been practicing, Derric,” Karuss said.

Cut. Slash. Dodge. Parry.

“You know me, brother. Always learning.”

Slash. Stab. Punch. Parry.

“We’ll see how many books you read after crows have pecked out your eyes.”

Stab. Parry. Parry. Slash.

“Your eyes burn, brother. That demon will eat you from the inside out.”

Karuss’ eyes widened as Derric’s blessed blade finally cut his skin. It was barely a scratch. The touch of the ancient spring made it enough.

Karuss growled, sprouting fangs and scales. The shrunken heads of his enemies dangled from his armor. Troops on both sides fell back as his accursed nature was revealed.

“Not if I drink your blood first!” Karuss said, with two voices.

“Oh, brother… what have you done?” Derric asked.

Karuss roared, swinging down his blade at Derric’s head. Derric rolled to the side. Karuss’s blow cracked the floor, rending a hole two feet long. Derric came to his feet and skewered Karuss’s leg. The demon shrieked. He swung at Derric with the back of his hand. The blow took him in the side of the helmet. Derric’s sword twisted on the way out. Steaming dark blood sprayed on the floor. Karuss dropped to one knee.

A brave knight charged the demon. It grabbed him, smashing him flat, and drank his blood. Others who had thought to help him stayed back. The Blood Guards weren’t fighting, either.

Karuss saw the way fortunes had begun turning. He spun his sword in a circle, daring anyone to come at him. “Remember your oaths, Blood Guard. You serve the crown, not the man. Serve your prince,” it hissed.

Derric shouted, “You serve the kingdom, not the crown!” Easy to say when he was the one with the magic sword.

He raised the weapon to the sky. When moonlight touched it, every blade in the room glowed with the same blessed edge. His own blade’s blessing receded. He would have to rely on his strong heart if it came to that.

“For the kingdom!” Derric shouted.

Karuss looked desperately around the room as the knights charged. He was surrounded by a hundred teeth.

This post was inspired by the prompt “the kingdom is mine” from Inspiration Monday at Be Kind Rewrite.

Primaris psykerFour out of fifty soldiers fell. One was possessed and his brain exploded. The second was burned alive inside his suit, and killed mercifully by another marine. The third was frozen to death by a demon. He suffered cold burned inside through his armor and was killed when it shattered his armor and turned his torso to frost. The fourth died who when he was driven mad by a banshee. He fell to the ground, screaming holding his ears, then pitched over and lay still.

The exorcism of the other two marines made those troops wish they had been killed. Warden still had reason to smile. On the flip side, the psyker wrung the demons out and tortured them so that they died many times over, and painfully. The soldiers would get better, but the demons never would.

Night. The fleet fought off the Chaos fleet, and stood watch over the planet again. About a third of the fleet was wrecked and being scuttled or returned to port. The fleet resorted to nuclear weapons as the Chaos hordes pressed the battle. The nukes were too precious to waste, but the fleet commander didn’t want to mince words with the enemy and drag out the battle.

Two skimmers loaded with suppliers dropped off ammunition, meds, and two squads of marines. More important than that, the commander spared two of his psykers.

The psykers stood at opposite ends of the castle, so that the left, right, and center would be guarded in battle. For now, the two new ones let Psyker Foley sleep and rest his weary mind.

The two began a ritual of communing, to contact the castle’s spirits and try to get their help.

On the third day, the battle ended handed to hand. Demons rose up out of the ground nearby, just outside the wall. Demons rose up inside the wall and burned alive in white flame.

Warden found himself fighting three demons. He survived. Julius found himself fighting two demons and died.

After it was over, the psyker performed the alignment with the castle’s stone circle. When it was complete, his ears and eyes were bleeding. He said, “A storm is moving across the third arm of the galaxy. It’ll last for a year.”

That was where most of the Chaos forces would be for this year. That meant they didn’t have to worry as much about the other 11 arms of the galaxy.

Kill another darling in the rewrite, but I think I replaced it with something better.

Blessed Bullets

Posted: February 17, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

WH40K Space MarinesThey didn’t know what the psyker would do when the three days was up. Something about projecting his mind into the warp, and seeing what the Eye of Terror was doing. It was a recon mission, pure and simple. It was important because it was one of only a few ways to know what the Eye was ‘thinking.’

On the first day, nothing happened.

Absolutely nothing.

The troops who were off duty slept inside the old ruins. The sky was lit up like a cross between fireworks and aurora borealis from the battle going on in orbit. Some of the troops listened in with the comms officer. Warden didn’t want to know. He heard that Chaos forces stumbled onto the fleet and engaged it. When they didn’t run or maneuver, they called friends. When the fleet still held its ground, an enemy vanguard was brought in. The friendlies opened up with hell weapons and things really got ugly.

“They don’t know we’re here yet. They don’t know why the fleet’s there or why it won’t leave. So they assume it’s important.”

“It isn’t?”

Warden rolled over, as they sky turned blue, green and red. “I doubt it.”

On the second day, Warden woke to screams and shrieks. The psyker was literally wrestling a ghost. It looked like a skeleton, if you drizzled it with just enough flesh to make it animalistic. It had—

Then they were everywhere. Hooting, shrieking, shrilling ghosts. Troops drew swords and laid into them. A demon swept down at Warden, gurgling a mouthful of blood, and exploded, eyes gaping in shock, when Warden’s blade bit into its smoky flesh and came out the other side. It splattered into a dozen wisps, which fell apart, then it was gone.

That was why they chose to fight here. The blessed spirits of the castle meant that cold steel would bite their supernatural enemies. Even monomolecular blades were still steel.

Two demons came spinning at Warden and Julius like ribbons. Before anyone could train guns on them, the demons were working their ways inside the marines’ armor. Warden and Julius stabbed the ribbons, stabbing themselves in the process.

Two soldiers were possessed. Their armor and their guns were filled up with castle spirits but it wasn’t enough. Blood poured out of their eyes, weeds from their ears and snakes from their mouths. Two psykers hit them with mind blasts to knock them unconscious. The troops were mindless so it didn’t help.

Warden wanted to shoot them, even though they were friends. This time they couldn’t spare killing their own. Four troops pinned them down and chained them. If there was time for an exorcism later, they’d get rid of the demons and bring them back to normal.

More from the scrapbook. I’m dog-wrestling with the last two chapters of the rewrite. It’s lost some weight, a few “darlings” got the axe, and a jaw-dropping moment got added.

Karma and Mass Drivers

Posted: February 16, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
Tags: , , , ,

castleThe space marines stood on the walls of a castle, on a planet with no name. Their mass-driven rounds would shred the walls like it was tissue paper. The height of the walls gave them better sight lines, and the karma of the location protected the psyker.

“The psyker says this place is better protection against demons and wytches.”

“The psyker also thinks I’m the reincarnation of his great-great-grandmother.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Told me in a delirium vision two weeks ago.”

Brother Julius nodded. “He said up was down and the commander was an ape, too. I made a recording on the suit’s camera.”

Brother Warden smiled. He had a couple gigs of contraband music and video on his suit’s hard drive, too. He was about to queue up some spooky mood music when the lieutenant mounted the walkway.

“The psyker’s had another vision. Demons at midnight. Could be a hundred. Brain suckers and cold demons, mostly.”

Warden hated cold demons. The last time they fought cold demons he couldn’t get the cold feeling out of his armor for a week.

“How’s he doing?” Warden asked.

“He’ll be ready to fight,” the lieutenant said. Which was the real question Warden had asked. The lieutenant looked back the way he’d came, as one of the psyker’s moans rolled over the castle. “If he stops throwing up.”

“Poor sap goes through more rations than two of us,” Julius said. “Ever notice? All the phosphorus is used up. The brain food.”

They listened to the moans for a few moments longer, then the lieutenant wrapped up what they were thinking. “We need to hold out three days. Then the stars will align and the psyker will be able to do what he needs to.”

“Wish we weren’t sitting ducks like this, lieutenant. Maybe we got here too soon.”

The lieutenant shook his head. “No. If the enemy got here first…”

“We could’ve rained down artillery on them and blown this place to bits.”

“And been in the open when all their friends arrived.” Everyone in the unit looked at the lieutenant. He continued, “That’s what he’s throwing up about. There’s going to be a whole horde of demons on the third day.”

“By the Emperor,” someone moaned.

“What about reinforcements?”

“Limited. The fleet’s going to be fighting off the bad guys in orbit while we do what we need to down here. And the planet’s crawling with bugs and jungles of razorgrass.” One of the troops held up his arms, the power suit raked and lined with jagged scars as a reminder. “We can hope for a couple of squads of troops, some extra ammo and artillery if they can spare it.”

“Hope it helps against demons.”

Goofing around while I keep working on the rewrite. Hope you don’t mind :-).

valkyire

“Valkyire” by thedurrrrian

Jeana fought wave after sickening wave of the dark ones. Killing them put them out of their misery – poor Jaesa wept with every one she fought – but it still sent death into the Well, feeding the demon. It had grown almost as large as a starship.

She stood around another field of bodies, blade humming, armor slick with black blood. The demon pulsed. Its veins reached into the earth. The Well erupted again. The sky turned red, then black, as the demon drew it in.

“It not working,” Jeana said. “There’s too much Dark power here. With the staff broken there’s nothing to siphon it with.”

Over the chaotic clatter of needler fire, there was one shot that Jeana felt – right through her belly, shattering into duralon teeth when it broke the skin.

No — not her. Raffa.

Her gaze whipped over to see. He went down. She saw him falling backwards, blasters waving, arms flopping in dead weight. She was so distracted that she didn’t even notice the Force saving her life twice. She blocked an axe attack from behind that should have cut her head open, then she ducked under a spear attack that impaled the axe wielder.

“Raff!” she screamed.

Jeana fought her way back to her friends. He looked bad. He looked really, really bad. Raff was completely pale. Blood was everywhere. She could see it coming out of the wound. His face was a rictus of pain, and every breath clawed inside him. She could feel it. Dr. Lokin was pumping him full of enough kolto to re-blood a rancor, but it wasn’t taking.

Jeana grabbed Raff’s hand. She called on the Force to heal him, do something. His hand was slack. “Raff. Look at me. Hang on, babe.”

Dr. Lokin was saying to someone, “There’s too much shrapnel. Everything that heals is getting cut open again. We have to get him out of here.”

Raff’s eyes were open. He was looking right at her. He even tried to smile. She could see it. But he didn’t say anything. She could feel him slipping away. She shook her head. She kept staring into Raff’s eyes. “No. God, no. Not you.” He kept looking back at her. He was afraid. He was trying to hold on. He felt like thinnest thread.

She felt a hand on her shoulder. Cartog. She shoved it off. “Jeana,” he said. “They’re gathering again. We need you.”

She ignored him. Lokin gave Cartog an expression that made her want to cut his head off. She could hear the roar getting louder. The wave was huge this time. Hundreds.

Cartog said, “Jeana, I’m sorry. There isn’t time.”

“You promised me,” she whispered to Raff. Dinner on Alderaan. Candles. Dancing under the stars, and hours… days, he’d said… of sweet love after. “You’re making good on that promise. Do you hear me?”

Cartog left her. She heard him giving orders through a fog of love and pain. The blasters opened up. Lokin broke out his emergency stasis unit. The blasters and pulse detonators rose to a roar. Lokin looked past her, to where the hungry flood came for them. “This’ll hold him for a while… but I don’t think it’s going to matter.”

Jeana let go of his hand. She stood. Jaesa felt it first. Then Raina. Both of them looked at Jeana.

Enough of peace. The planet would die. Her friends would die. She loved them too much to let the darkness consume them. Jeana could die bloody or die in her heart, so what did that matter?

She remembered her mother’s final fight. Jeana understood what she had fought for.

“No,” Jeana said, answering Dr Lokin. Her body quaked. She shook her head. “Not today.” Her hands clenched into fists. Red rage surged through her body, from her heart out through the tips of her fingers and toes.

“Master, no!!!” Jaesa shouted. Raina just screamed.

They still had one siphon that could draw the Dark Side of the Force.

Jeana screamed a sound that would have shaken the hearts of ten thousand warriors. She leaped backward through the air. Some of the others didn’t realize what they were seeing. Even Cartog thought it was a missile.

She struck the ground with the force of God’s own hammer. She landed on two dark ones, one foot each, and smashed them into paste. A pulse of Force power sent bodies flying.

Jeana roared. Her eyes flared blue. Every dark one within sight of her cowered or ran screaming.

Another rush of them came at her. She reached out her hand, choked them all, then threw their broken bodies into those behind them.

If the Light Side is life, then let me be death.

The power poured into her and flowed right back out in symphony of destruction. Blood ran in rivers. Jeana leaped from one side of the valley to the other, never letting them get close to her, her lightsaber cutting scissor slashes. She flung bodies with a wave of her hand, a death goddess in rage.

Every time more of them came, Jeana grew stronger. Their deaths fed her power now. Cartog and the others could barely even see her. She lost her lightsaber. It didn’t matter. Force power reached out beyond her body. By the time the last dark ones were falling, Jeana could feel the power of stars reaching into her. She lifted into the air. To the demon inside the Well, she was an angel sheathed Force light. It screamed at the sight of her.

Jeana flew into it at the speed of a hyperspace dart. Thunder cracked. She flew through it, slicing it in half, and struck the bottom of the Well. It exploded, then consumed itself. The demon’s death rattle vanished in a choking sound, that gradually faded away to nothing.

The Force power faded. Jeana stood at the bottom of the Well, feeling smaller and smaller. Whispers of the Force that felt like gratitude from the galaxy itself touched her ears.

She looked at her hands. She had drunk from the Well. Would she become demon, too?

That was something for Jedi healers to tell her. As she climbed, hand and foot, out of the shattered remains of the ancient structure, she felt only human.

This scene was inspired by one of my favorite scenes in scifi: River Tam fighting the reavers in Serenity. Jeana’s a Light Side Sith, but I wondered, what would make her use the Dark Side? She would do it to save someone she loved.

Kit was dazed, too. He scratched at his face, rubbed his body and squeezed his skin, trying to get the feeling of awfulness out of his body. He knew he should be doing something about Vrajitor but he couldn’t help it. He’d never known such a horrible feeling in his young life.

“Kit!” Lady yelled.

He tried to get up. He fell.

Lady turned into a jet of black smoke. She threw herself at Vrajitor. The smoke struck him full in the chest like a sling stone. Vrajitor was knocked back. She turned back into herself, raking him with claws and snapping at him with razor-sharp fangs.

Vrajitor reached his left hand towards Kit. Kit felt weaker. The life drained out of him. He imagined the thread of gold light that was his power being pulled into Vrajitor. Vrajitor’s right hand formed a claw. Lady grabbed her throat. She looked like she was choking.

Kit could feel his life going inside Vrajitor. He felt the wizard’s greed and hate. Vrajitor disdained everything except for himself. Kit tried to pull his life back but Vrajitor’s will was too strong. Kit did see that pulling on the thread of gold light caused Vrajitor’s hold on Lady to buckle.

Kit wished as hard as he could for Lady to live. He wished for more life than he had ever known. He took the thread of gold light that was being pulled into Vrajitor and wrapped it around his hands like a cat’s cradle, with Vrajitor at the center.

Vrajitor lost his hold on Lady. She dropped to the ground, gasping for air. He tried to disentangle himself. The more he tried, the worse it got. It was the same spell Kit had used to trap fairies, only more inspired.

Once Vrajitor was hopelessly enmeshed, Kit severed the thread from his own body. It didn’t matter. Vrajitor’s magic fed the spell now.

Kit had an idea. As the Master had said, earlier Kit needed to pass judgment on the one who had wronged him.

Vrajitor shrank to the size of a fairy. The pieces of the glass jar that held the changeling came back together and closed around him. It wobbled slightly, then shivered and came to rest. Vrajitor looked at himself. They couldn’t hear him scream. Vrajitor waved his hands. A blinding flash of light made him disappear. He was still inside the jar. Another, and another. Finally, Vrajitor pounded on the glass with his fists.

cat's cradle

A giant cat’s cradle at Burning Man

angry wizard“I’ve had enough of this charade. You’re nothing but a wellspring to me, child. I’ll show you true—”

He was going to say “mastery” but Kit didn’t give him the chance. He reached out his hand, clenched his fist, and thrust his hand upward. Like a god had grabbed him, Vrajitor flew straight up into the ceiling. He hit it hard enough to crack the stone. Pebbles and chunks landed with him as he hit the ground.

Lady covered her mouth. She was so shocked all her glamour disappeared. Kit saw her as she really appeared. From the waist up, she was a young girl, dressed in delicate black cloth that faded to vapor on the edges. Her pure white skin was covered in tiny scales. Little horns peeked through her hair on her forehead. She faded into smoke from the waist down. She was some kind of demon.

“What have you done?” she asked.

Kit felt Vrajitor’s rage. He knew it wouldn’t be this easy. Kit crossed his arms in front of himself. Vrajitor roared. A shockwave that came out of his body blew everything that wasn’t nailed down across the room. Kit staggered. He’d been trying to protect himself and Lady, and hadn’t been able to keep either of them safe.

Vrajitor lifted his hand up. Streams of darkness flew out of his eyes and surrounded Kit. They wrapped around his eyes, arms and legs. Kit felt afraid, like being afraid of the dark. He felt like he was falling.

Lady slashed her hands backwards. She spun like a dancer. The streams pulled off Kit and wrapped around her, layering the cloth of her dress. Kit flung his arms out. Every window in the room opened. Some of the bricks flew out of the wall. Light poured into the room. The darkness melted away from Vrajitor’s eyes.

Kit clapped his hands. A boom of thunder went off with Vrajitor at its center. He covered his ears but laughed as he did so. “Is that all? You have much to learn, boy!” he cried. Kit tried to grab him again but Vrajitor swept it aside with a wave of his hand.

Pustules and growths sprouted all over Kit’s body. He screamed, then the sound choked under his swollen lips and tongue. He was turning into a bent creature of diseased flesh.

Instinct saved him. With the stubbornness of a child, a part of him shouted, “No!” and banished the enchantment. Pieces of rot splattered the room, then sizzled and disappeared into foul-smelling smoke. Vrajitor looked dazed.

Kit rested a while. He read some of the numbers and letters that Master and Lady taught him. He practiced some magic, too. It was the last thing he wanted to do, but what else did he have?

He thought of the changeling catching fireflies. Kit walked into the stairway outside his room. The fairies were asleep inside their lanterns. Their glow was barely visible. Kit put his hand on the wall of the tower and looked around, from the wall, as far up as he could see, down the side and down to his feet. This was his own cell. Was it that different? Outside, he remembered his mother screaming and the awful twist his father gave to his arm.

Kit went upstairs. Master and Lady casting a spell. Sparkles and red streams of light floated between them. It looked like a web for trapping fairies. Easy magic, something Kit had mastered last year.

Master noticed him first. The cloud of light vanished. “Hello, Kit. Are you feeling better?”

“Yes. I wanted to practice.” He hesitated. “Maybe… maybe not as hard as we sometimes do.”

Master and Lady looked at each other. Master nodded. Lady gestured for him to come in. In the far corner of the room, inside a glass jar, Master had imprisoned the changeling that he’d seen last night. Kit couldn’t forget its face, the ears and its huge eyes. It shrank back against the far side of the jar when it saw him.

Kit’s heart pounded. He felt enraged at the changeling, and afraid that he’d been caught. “I’m sorry,” he blurted out.

“No matter, young one. Wizards follow no rules but their own. I was, however, most displeased with this one.” Master said ‘this one’ as if he wanted to spit on the changeling. “It should have appeared to die the following morning, so that your family would have forgotten you. Last night never should have happened.”

The power inside Kit’s chest thrummed like a guitar string. Master lied. Kit looked at Lady. Her face might as well have been an expressionless, porcelain mask.

“Why did you take me? Why did you lie to me?”

“If I’d told you the truth, you would have gone, and never learned magic. It’s part of you. Your parents fear magic. They would fear you.”

The power twisted inside him. Some of it was true, but it felt strange. Kit didn’t know what to believe. He tried to find his way. The only pure thought that he had was pure anger, at the changeling.

"Demon Eye" by darkstar797 at deviantART

“Demon Eye” by darkstar797 at deviantART

Lady came downstairs. Kit never heard her walking. She was like a beautiful shadow, her white hair and skin floating in space wrapped by her dress. Her black eyes showed nothing, and her dress always seemed to fade into the dark so that you couldn’t see where it ended. She smiled at Kit. Kit bowed slightly. He tried to swallow a mouthful of green beans.

Morgrim stopped halfway between the cooking table and eating table, holding a plate of sliced apples with brown sugar. He bowed low. Lady’s smiled faded as she looked at the goblin. Her hand flicked up. Morgrim gave a quick nod and put down the tray near Kit.

“Thank you, Morgrim,” Kit said.

The goblin smiled. The room got darker – no, it felt darker. Kit knew the feelling from Lady’s pinches. Morgrim gulped. “Young master,” he said quickly, and shuffled over to his pile of hay in the far corner of the room.

The room lightened again. Lady ruffled his hair again. She sat down at the table. Before she could speak, Kit said, “I did well today, didn’t I?”

Pause. “Yes, you did. You haven’t been studying long, There aren’t many wizards who could do what you did so soon.”

“Could a boy do it?”

A longer pause. “No. Why do you ask?”

Kit wasn’t sure how to ask her. “Where did I come from, Lady?”

The pause lasted a long time. Kit couldn’t keep looking at her. He looked at the table, a forkful of potatoes held over the plate like it was frozen in time. Past the table, across the room, he could see Morgrim watching, pressed as far into the shadows as he could get. The light reflected on Morgrim’s eyes trembled.

Lady touched his hair again. Kit stiffened. He still didn’t look at her. He wanted to slap her hand away. He had to hear her answer first, though. Her soft voice said, “You remember the story. Master saved you from a fire when you were a baby. He brought you hear and we’ve raised you ever since.”

Kit looked at her. He shook his head.

“What?”

Kit put down his fork. He tapped his chest – where it felt like the power came from. “I know you’re lying,” he whispered.

Morgrim made a whimpering sound. Quick like a whip, Lady looked at him, hissed, and snapped her fingers. Morgrim covered his head. Lady looked at Kit again. It was her turn to whisper. “How long have you known?”

Kit sat up. She always treated him like he was little. This was different. More like how adults talked. “Aren’t you mad?”

Her eyes flicked to her left. Where the stairs were. She held Kit’s left hand before he could pull it away. She surprised him again when she held it gently. “No, I’m not mad. Kit, tell me. How long?”

“I… I don’t know. A while.” Lady’s mouth hung open. Her fingers went limp around Kit’s hand. “Where did I come from?” he asked again.

She shook her head. Lady pressed Kit’s hand in both of hers. “Kit. Listen to me. You mustn’t tell Master that you know.”

“Where did I come from?” Kit asked again, starting to raise his voice.

Lady stood up and backed away from him. She held up her palm in forceful gesture, arm rigid. The entire room went black except for the candle lights, and what seemed to be light around Kit’s face, Morgrim’s, and Lady’s. Kit heard a rustling sound. He knew it was her wings.

The room lightened again. Black. Shadows. Dark. Dim. Light. Lady held the finger of her left hand to her lips, while her right palm stayed up. She nodded. She nodded again, and sat back down. “I’ll take you there tomorrow,” Lady said. “You have to be more careful, Kit. Master mustn’t know. Do you hear?”

Kit looked at Morgrim. Morgrim nodded yes. Kit said, “Okay. Tomorrow.”