Authors: H.D Gordon
And my Gladius, where it was
tucked into the waistband of my jeans at my back sent a cool shiver up my
spine. I was on my feet before I could blink, and Kayden’s movement followed
only a split second later. “What is it?” he asked, his voice hard and low.
Looking all around me, hands
clenched at my sides, I said, “I don’t know.”
Then the answer struck me like a
bolt of lightning, and my brow furrowed in confusion. “The Pixies,” I said.
“Look at them.”
Kayden’s eyes widen when he saw
what I was referring to, and a sense of foreboding filled me when I realized
that I had never seen Kayden react like that before. My eyes went back to the
tiny Pixies, who had stopped their busy work at the flowers and were simply
suspended in the air, shimmery wings gone still and useless. The looked very
much like little lanterns hung from invisible strings. I noticed that then that
the air around us had gone preternaturally still as well, as if a cold-less
freeze had fallen over the Outlands. I swallowed a lump I hadn’t known was in
my throat. “What’s wrong with them?” I whispered, as if it would be a crime to
speak so loudly in such silence.
Kayden’s voice was flat now, and
I recognized it as the tone he used when he was preparing for a battle.
“They’re under a spell,” he said.
“What? Whose spell?”
“I don’t know, but I have a
feeling we’re going to find out.”
Suddenly the Pixies broke free
from their suspension, but their movements were jerky and zombie-like; a
complete contradiction to the grace that I had always seemed them move with.
They darted and shambled here and there, and a high-pitched buzzing sound
filled the air, and it took me a moment to realize that the Pixies were
I concentrated on the sound and
found that I could understand them, and that they were saying two words:
My eyebrows shot up and I glanced
over at Kayden, who shook his head. I could tell by the tense set of his
shoulders that he could understand them, too. Now I retrieved my Gladius from
its hiding spot but kept the blade in its sheath. This was starting to
seriously freak me out, and I’m not someone who freaks out easily.
“They want me,” I said, and as if
I had rung a dinner bell, hundreds of Pixies turned toward me and darted in
like tiny colorfully bats out of hell.
There were so many of them, and
though they were small, the onslaught was no less terrifying. It was very much
like watching a huge horde of lit of bees come flying at me in unison, and I
only had time to shield my face with my arm and duck as though that was going
to make a difference. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe tiny stings or bites
or burns from the lights that the Pixies glowed with, but I got none of that.
When I opened my eyes, I saw that they were simply landing on me. They were
landing on me everywhere.
When I looked down, I saw that my
skin was no longer visible, nor my clothes. My entire body, save for my head,
was covered in hundreds of colorful little Pixies. When I looked up again, my
eyes wide and my throat dry, I saw that Kayden’s face betrayed his emotions,
which were wonder and curiosity and horror.
“What the f—” I began, but didn’t
get a chance to finish because now I was being moved forward, seemingly shoved
along by the hundreds of little bodies that had attached themselves to me. I
felt my feet moving on their own accord, leading me down the red path with no
input from me whatsoever. It was an oddly violating feeling, and now a little
bit of anger rose in my and I began swiping at the Pixies in an effort to get
free. Kayden was moving beside me, and he took my Gladius from my hand, which
was swarmed with Pixies up to the blade, without asking.
“Tell your blade to release for
me, Warrior,” he said. “I will cut them off of you.”
I looked over at my sword in
Kayden’s hand and without second though the blade slid out of the handle
silently. Kayden raised it slowly, strain on his face as he prepared to cut
them down without injuring me. We were moving rather quickly down the path now,
and it was not going to be easy. “Wait,” I said, glancing down at the Pixies in
their entranced state. “You said they’re under a spell, right? They don’t know
what they’re doing. We can’t kill them.”
Kayden hesitated and eventually
lowered the blade. “Then, what?” he said.
I continued to pluck them off of
me, one by one, more gently this time, but gave up when I saw that they just
floated back to me like magnets. “I guess let’s just see where they’re taking
me,” I said, not sure my own ears liked the sound of that idea.
You’re damn right I don’t like
the sound of that idea, Warrior. Let him kill them and get them off of us!
“You sound almost panicked,
fearsome Monster. I’m surprised with you.”
my Monster growled
in head, and then gave me the equivalent to a mental middle finger.
If I wasn’t so close to panic
myself, I may have laughed. But it became evident where I was being led to, and
now I seriously began to worry. Twenty feet ahead and counting, the border of
the Outlands was waiting. I realized with a little horror that the Pixies were
going to shove me over, where the dark field under the dark skies waited. By
the time we reached the border I was ready to say to hell with it and tell
Kayden to slice the little bastards in half.
I didn’t have to. I was stopped
with the toes of my shoes just inside the lines, and the Pixies began to
flutter away instantly, leaving me feeling oddly naked, even though I was fully
clothed. They flew back to their flowers and trees, glancing around as if they
didn’t know how they had gotten here. I watched them for a moment before my
Monster told me that I was being stupid.
Why do I always have to remind
you to look to where the danger waits, Warrior. Sheesh, what would you do
“Uh, not be a murderous
I scanned the field with its tall
grass, searching for whomever or whatever had enchanted the Pixies into leading
me here, but there was nothing and no one to be seen. Kayden stood beside me,
studying the scene as well, and a long moment went by before I said, “Well,
that was weird.”
The look Kayden gave me was one
that said this was not the time to make jokes, and I took my Gladius from his
hand when he held it out to me.
“You know what else is weird,”
said a voice in the darkness. My head whipped around, searching for its source.
It was female, and by her tone I could tell that she was naturally soft spoken,
but there was still no one to be seen in the field ahead.
“What?” I asked the empty air,
not knowing what else to do.
And then the air five feet ahead
of me and to my left shimmered, and there stood a girl. She looked to be about
my age, with short, lavender-colored hair that was set into curls on side and a
little bit of her head shaved on the other. She wore very little makeup, but
was beautiful in a way that was more interesting than pretty. She wore all
black; leather boots with a short heel that came up to her knees, black jeans
and a black long-sleeved shirt. A black cloak was tied at her throat, the
inside of it a shiny silk that matched the color of her hair hung over her
shoulders and down to the ground at her feet. From the little bit of her wrists
that was visible, I could see black, indelicate tattoos climbing up and under
the shirt. And a look that could only be classified as vengeful was stuck on
her face and aimed at me.
It was almost a shame. A chick
that looked as kickass as this, I may have liked if given the opportunity. But
her next words said that there would be no such opportunity.
The girl said, “What’s weird is
when your brother goes on a business trip and never returns home. What’s weird
is that a little thing such as you could possibly have been his killer, as I
will now be yours.” She paused, and a leather gloved hand came up and touched
her chin. “Where are my manners? We haven’t been properly introduced. I’m
I snapped out of sleep as though
I’d been slapped and sat bolt upright. For a moment, I couldn’t figure out
where I was, but when Tommy’s hand fell on my shoulder from where he lay beside
me, I remembered falling asleep beside him not too long ago. It was still dark
in the room, the city silent outside of the floor to ceiling windows on the
west wall. And I was out of bed and moving toward the door before I had a
chance to really think about what had jolted me out of slumber.
“Nelly?” Tommy said, climbing out
of bed and rushing over to me.
I threw the door open without
pause. “It’s Alexa,” I said. “Something’s wrong.”
Dashing out into the hallway and
down to the room that Kayden and my sister were sharing, I banged hard on the
green door, unmindful of the others that were sleeping in the cabin. “Alexa!” I
yelled, leaning against the door. No answer. I twisted the doorknob, a sense of
dread coming over me when I found that it was unlocked, and shoved my way into
They weren’t here.
“Where are they?” Tommy asked
from behind me.
“I don’t know,” I said, not
liking the way the words made my stomach turn. I stared down at the empty bed.
“Hold on. I’ll find out.”
I shut my eyes, not really
wanting to do what I was going to, but the worry for my sister trumped any
feelings of guilt, and I threw my mind out with more force that I tried for,
blanketing the Outlands with it. I cringed when the familiar rush of
exhilaration filled me, but reached further and further still with my mental
fingers until I found her.
My heart leapt up into my throat
as I opened my eyes and turned to face Tommy in the dark room. “She’s at the
border,” I said. And then I was out the door, moving like a hundred mile per
I’m offended, Warrior. What
I stared at the strange girl in
front of me.
I told my Monster.
“But mostly, I’m confused.”
“Alexa Montgomery, correct?”
asked the lavender-haired girl who called herself Surah. “Such a pleasure it is
to meet you. The last Sun Warrior left. It’s almost a shame that I’ll have to
kill you.” Her head tilted a fraction. “Actually, not really.”
This made a harsh laugh escape my
throat. “Did you skip your medication or something?” I asked. “I have no idea
who the hell you even are.”
The cool expression on the girl’s
face didn’t slip, but hatred burned behind her purple-colored eyes that was so
hot I almost took a step back. “Surah Stormsong,” she said, as if this
explained everything. “I believe you know my brother, Syris Stormsong.”
My eyebrows went up. “Uh, no, I
don’t. You must be mistaken.”
Surah’s gloved hands disappeared
under her black cloak and emerged holding a sai in each hand. The Warrior in me
had to take a minute to admire the weapons, whose three points were silver and
sharp. The handles of them were wrapped around with black leather that appeared
to be well used. I had never fought anyone with sais before. This was going to
“Will you step over the barrier
on your own, Sun Warrior? Or are you a coward?”
Kayden’s hand shot out and
gripped my arm, jolting me a little as I had been half of a heartbeat away from
leaping at this girl’s throat. His golden eyes were hard on Surah’s. “What’s
your business here, Sorceress?” he asked.
Surah’s head tilted back, and her
voice was too soft and sweet for her words. “That is none of your concern,
She pointed the tip of the sai in her left hand at me. “Unless you really are a
coward, and you need him to fight your battles for you.”
Now I moved too fast for even
Kayden to stop me, leaping over the border with my Gladius in my hand before I
had a chance to think about what I was doing. No one—not even some obviously
insane chick who thought I’d killed her brother—called me a coward.
May I have the pleasure,
, my Monster chuckled in my head.
“Let’s share it.”
For a moment I was sure that my
blade was going to slide right into Surah’s midsection, but amazingly, she
blocked my strike, catching my sword between her two sais and deflecting my
blow. The weapons made a sharp slicing sound as metal slid over metal. Surah
threw her head back and laughed girlishly as I stepped back to calculate a better
“You’re faster than I expected,”
she said. “Good for you.”
A crooked smile found my lips,
and my left eye twitched. “Not so good for you,” I said, moving in to strike
We danced. That is the best way
to describe it. Every time I thought that my blade would land home, Surah would
parry just at the last moment. Similarly, I blocked and moved away from her
strikes in what seemed to me to be just in time. I began to get frustrated, and
was consoled only by the fact that Surah’s cool mask was slipping as she too
became frustrated. Apparently, she had thought I would be easier to kill.
Well, that’s a damn big ditto,
now ain’t it, Warrior?
“She’ll slip up eventually.”
Yes, or we will.
But Surah did slip up, and I
couldn’t help a smug internal smile to my Monster as I saw the opening I
needed. It was only the slightest faulted movement on her part, but it was all
I needed. That magnificent, terrible feeling rose in my chest, the way it
always did when I was heartbeats away from a kill. I ran a tongue over my wet
lips, and thrust forward with deadly precision of my blade.
I roared when my sword halted
just before it slid into home plate. I tried to move, and found that I could
not. It was as if someone had…