Gender: Male Age: 21 Location: N/A
|Introduction: Not my Storie All of this is Written by Eric Storm|
As Don walked up to Veronica's door, his mind mulled over the last few weeks. Ever since he'd had that fight with Gill, the tension between them had been high. Gill had made several hostile gestures, shoving Don in the halls and other minor incidents that he had not bothered reciprocating, or in fact reporting. Don figured Gill was entitled to a little ill feeling, but he hoped he wouldn't push it to the brink again. The two had not said a civil word to each other in all that time, but they'd also not had to threaten each other again. Don feared that this was the best he could hope for.
Don was still mulling this over as he rang the bell. His mind wandered over all the events again, wondering if he could have easily done anything different. He had just come to the conclusion - again - that there really was nothing else he could have done when the door opened.
Without thinking, or even looking, he said, "Hey, Sweetheart."
"Well! Aunt Veronica said you were affectionate, but really! We barely know each other!"
Don blushed crimson as he saw a beautiful young lady standing before him. He felt that she couldn't be more than a couple years older than he was. Her dirty blonde hair flowed down just past her shoulders, and her green eyes evaluated him with a friendly twinkle. There was something amazingly familiar in her face, but he couldn't begin to place her.
"I'm sorry! I didn't expect someone else to answer the door. I...uh... have we met?"
"Yes, we have. Come on in." The young lady stepped aside to let him in, and then she closed the door.
"I'm sorry," Don said again. "I can't place you. What's your name?"
The young lady held out her hand. "Amelia Norris. Please call me Amy."
Don shook her hand gently, as she was a fairly frail-looking girl. He still could not place her. Finally, he let go of her hand and shook his head.
"It's not coming to me. Where have we met?"
"Don't worry about it," she said with a giggle. "Come on. Aunt Veronica is waiting in the study."
Don tried not to stare at Amy's butt as she led him to the study, which was what Veronica called the room they normally worked in. He saw her smiling at him as he walked in. He wasn't sure exactly what to do with a visitor there, but he decided to Hell with it, and he went over and gave her a warm kiss that lasted for many seconds.
"Mm. Good to see you, too," she said to him softly. Turning to Amy, she asked, "Did he give you one of those?"
"No," she said with an exaggerated pout.
"You're the one who complained when I called you Sweetheart," Don said, teasing her. Amy blushed herself, and giggled. Veronica raised an eyebrow and smiled at the two of them.
"Amy is here to help you," Veronica said finally.
"Oh?" Don asked, serious now. He sat up on his usual stool, and looked expectantly at Veronica.
"Your second-circle test is coming up soon."
"Test? What kind of a test?"
"In order to move from second circle to third circle, you have to be tested by some of the higher-level mages."
"There wasn't a test to pass first level..." Don objected.
"Actually, there was. If you hadn't been able to open your spell book, you'd not have joined second circle. Now you must be tested in order to join third circle."
"Okay, no problem... what's wrong?" Don could see the worried look on both of their faces.
"You only get one shot at it," Amy explained. "If you don't pass the test this time, you'll never be allowed to join the third circle. You don't get a second chance on a test until you try to join the fifth circle."
"You mean if I screw up, for whatever reason, I'll never become a better magician?"
"That's right. That's why I asked Amy to come and work with you. She just entered third circle a few months ago. She remembers exactly what her test was like."
Amy shuddered. Don began to worry. Just what the hell are they going to do to me?
Suddenly, a question occurred to him. "Wait... Amy, you've got to be a couple years older than me, at least..."
"So... am I moving too fast? I mean, I haven't been at second circle for very long..."
Veronica moved over next to him and took his hand. "You are moving a little faster than usual. Normally we wouldn't push you to test for third circle for another couple of months. Amy got started in her training late. She was... distracted. You may be at third circle for a year or two. There's a lot more to it. As you know, first circle spells were purely illusions. Second circle spells work on the basic physical attributes, such as strength, speed, and some coordination. Third circle spells focus more on the mental attributes... such as the confusion spell I taught you to help you fight Gill. There are also some more advanced physical spells, such as the timing and aiming spell I taught you. Amy already knows about the fight, so you don't have to hide that from her."
Amy walked over and put her hand on his arm with a smile, to show support.
"Anyway, the point is that the spells in third circle are trickier to work out, because you must work around another person's perceptions... their innate balance, or their own clumsiness - or your own. Anyway, you may be a third circle magician for quite a while. The first two levels are rudimentary, really. That's why they don't have a formal test between first and second circle."
Don nodded, a little dizzy at all of this. "So... when is my test? How long do I have to practice?"
"We have a couple of weeks yet, but they won't tell even me the exact day. You'll be told when the time comes."
"You'll do okay," Amy said encouragingly. "C'mon, I prefer working outside, instead of in this stuffy old room."
Don turned to Veronica, who smiled at him. "Go on. I've grown used to her."
Don followed Amy out into the back yard, and they spent their afternoon working to perfect what he knew.
"Hey, Katie," Don said, entering the living room. He'd just gotten home from his magic lessons, which had stretched an extra two hours; he'd missed dinner.
Katie picked up on the worry in his voice. "What's the matter?" she asked.
"Huh?" Don replied, startled. He realized that he was probably showing his stress, and he waved her off. "It's nothing. Don't worry about it. I'm gonna get something to eat."
"Okay," she said. She sat on the couch, thinking about it. She was concerned that Don seemed to be so upset about things lately. She had thought that, having the attention of not just one, but two of her friends, he would be happy. And when he was with them, he did seem to be truly happy - a fact that caused her an odd twinge of jealousy. She sat wondering what it was that was bothering him.
Gill. It has to be Gill. Is there anything I can do about it? Maybe. I hope so. I'd have to talk to him... can I do that? He's not going to want to hear anything I've got to say... especially not because I'd have to tell him what Susan told me about his obsession with her... He's liable to get really mad.
But I can't let Donny go on like this, can I? It's not bad enough that he lost one friend, does he have to lose both? Shit. I'm gonna have to do something.
That decided, she just had to figure out when.
"Focus, Stelwicht!" the coach bellowed. Gill did his best, took his steps, hurled the metal sphere through the air... and it made an unsatisfying thunk! on the ground.
Gill grumbled at himself. It was only his second throw of the day, but still...
"Stelwicht, if you weren't our best shot-putter I'd bench your sorry ass. Now focus!"
"Yes, sir." Gill retrieved his shot put, and lined up again. He got into his stance, and raised the shot put to his neck, adjusting his arm until he knew his position was right. He took three deep breaths, releasing the frustration and anger he was feeling, letting his body loosen and prepare for what was to come...
Gill lowered his body, straightening his left leg. His hips began to pivot, and all of his frustrations melted into kinetic energy. As his body began to stretch, he began to turn his upper body, his left arm whipping forcefully. As his body reached the appropriate position, he thrust his right arm forward, hurling the twelve-pound ball with all his might. He grunted as he let out the pent-up energy, and he kept his eye on the shot put as it left his hand. He made the necessary maneuvers to keep himself inside the circle, but he didn't stop watching the sphere as it arced through the air.
The shot put sailed in its ballistic arc, and made a satisfying whump! as it hit the ground right next to a small yellow flag. This flag marked the best throw ever by a student on this field. Gill had just beaten it by six inches.
"Yes!" he screamed, triumphant. The others there shouted praise, as well.
"Good job, Stelwicht!" the coach said, impressed. "All right, you're done for the day. Go cool down, and then hit the showers. Rest up for our tournament. Our last chance to beat Maryville High. We're counting on you."
"I won't let you down, Coach!" Gill had a big grin as he packed his gear quickly, and began a jog to cool down. Twenty minutes later, he was coming out of the track area, clean and feeling good. One of his buddies was congratulating him on his record. He nearly ran into Katie, as she was waiting for him.
"Hi, Gill," she said softly. She'd been waiting since school let out. She had asked Julie to keep her brother busy, so he wouldn't see her and wonder what she was doing. Now that she was here, however, she was feeling very nervous.
"What do you want?" he said, his tone indicating impatience. He didn't want to let her ruin his good mood.
"We need to talk," she said. She motioned to the picnic tables set up under some trees. No one knew why they were there, as the students weren't allowed to eat out here. Gill glared at her for a minute, pondering.
What the fuck does she want? I bet prick-head sent her to talk to me. On the other hand, maybe she wants to get back at him for something! Hey, turnabout's fair play... I wouldn't mind fucking her little cunt... Nah, she'd go to someone else for that... Maybe. Anyway, she's probably going to hound me until I listen to her whine or whatever.
"Fine. See you tomorrow, Ray."
"Yeah, catch ya later."
Gill motioned curtly for her to walk ahead of him. She moved quickly over to the tables and sat down. Gill dumped his gear on the table and sat across from her.
"Now, what do you want?" he said impatiently.
Katie hesitated for a long moment, until it was clear that Gill was about to complain. "It's about you and Don."
"That's none of your business," he said rudely.
"Whatever upsets my brother is my business," she said, trying not to think about how uncomfortable she was. "You're hurting him, and it's not his fault, and that's just mean!
"You and I both know that Susan wasn't ever going to sleep with you!" Katie stopped. She hadn't meant to put it that way. She'd meant to approach the subject more calmly, to be more polite. However, there it was.
Gill got very quiet for a moment. Then, composing himself, he said, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, horseshit," Katie replied, bulling on through now that she'd broached the subject. "Susan's told me and Julie all about it. Look, I know that what she did was pretty damn low, but that's not Donny's fault!"
"He's still sleeping with her, ain't he? That makes it his fault."
Katie had to pause for a second. First off, she'd felt a twinge of something when Gill had mentioned it, and second, she wasn't sure at all how to defend that action. She tried something a little different.
"Why can't you accept that they care for each other, and just let it go?"
"Why should I? He knows she's doing this just to piss me off! And he's helping her!"
"That's not how it is at all! Donny wouldn't do that to you! He's with her because he cares about her."
"And Julie, too, I suppose? He cares about her, too?"
"Yes, he does," Katie answered. Her response was a little weak. She hadn't had the chance to really put it all together. Or, more pointedly, she'd never bothered to do so.
"And I'm supposed to just accept that? Say, 'well, gee, guys, go have an orgy, I'll catch you later?' I don't think so."
"They don't have orgies!" Katie said, then blushed just from saying the word. "I don't even know if they've ever... you know... in the house."
"It doesn't matter. He crossed the line. He broke the rules."
"And you think you're any better? Since when is fighting part of your friendship? You could have really hurt him!"
"Yeah, and I should have."
"Dammit, just stay away from my brother, then!" Katie admitted defeat. She hadn't been able to make any headway in this conversation.
Gill looked at her closely. "You're in love with him, too. Aren't you." It wasn't a question.
"Of course I love my brother. Duh." Katie affected a valley girl persona for just a second.
"I didn't say you love him," Gill said, getting up from the table. "I said you're in love. Christ, what's he got, some kind of fucking magic spell? Don't bother me again with this shit."
"Don't," he said, raising a finger to her to silence her, "bother me again."
Katie sat still as he walked off. She was very confused now. It was a long time before she got up and went home.
Don swung around to evade, but not fast enough. He got cocked upside the head with a softball, which was luckily not thrown at any really great speed.
"Ow!" he yelped, rubbing his temple.
Amy came quickly to his side, to examine the wound. She sighed softly. "Sorry. You really should have been able to avoid that throw. What spell did you choose to cast?"
Don blushed. "I hadn't decided on one yet."
Amy rolled her eyes at him. "Any spell of the right class would have been better than none at all. Consider: I won't let you use your eyes, so any spell involving your sight is probably useless. What else can you use to sense the ball coming at you?"
Don stood for a moment, a frown of concentration on his face as he thought it over. He knew he depended on his eyes in a fight, but didn't everybody? Amy waited patiently while he considered. Suddenly, she began to hum the theme to Jeopardy.
"Stop that!" Don said crossly. Amy began to hum softer, but she didn't stop. When he looked at her crossly, she lowered her voice again, until her hum was just barely audible. Don was about to snap at her when he finally got the point.
"I can hear it coming, can't I?"
"With the right spell," Amy replied with a smile.
Don sighed. "Okay. Sorry, I know I'm cranky. Life is a bitch right now."
Amy put her hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry. Just a little more, and we'll quit for the day."
Don nodded, then turned around. Amy went and retrieved the softball, and stood behind him. She saw him utter the spell, but she didn't throw right away. She counted to twenty, then lobbed the ball at him. A slowly moving ball makes less noise than a fast-moving one, and so she felt if he could hear this, he could avoid an actually dangerous one.
Don didn't move for half the ball's arc, and Amy began to worry. Then suddenly he whirled out of the way, and, in fact, reached out to catch the ball in flight. He wasn't blindfolded, but he knew better than to cheat on the test. However, catching the ball wasn't part of the test; he was merely showing off.
Amy grinned broadly at him. He tossed the ball from hand to hand with a smile on his face, proud of himself. Neither he nor Amy saw the incoming object.
The ball hit Don squarely between the shoulder blades, and felled him to the ground rather hard. Amy screamed, and ran to him. She knelt down to help him, and rolled him over.
"Are you all right?" she cried.
"Ugh. Anyone get the license of the truck?"
Amy looked up accusingly. "Aunt Veronica! You could really have hurt him!"
"They're not going to go easy on him during the test, dear. He needs to be ready for them at all times."
Amy stood up, fuming. "In the test, he'll be expecting to be attacked from more than one direction without warning! You never told him - or me! - that you were going to interfere in today's training!"
Veronica backed off a little, raising her hands in supplication. She had not quite expected her niece's strong negative response. Amy glared at her for a long moment, then, turning so fast that her hair whirled, she knelt back down to look after Don.
"Are you okay? Can you get up?"
"I think so."
Amy took his arm and tugged, helping him to get to his feet. He staggered just a bit, but he let Amy hold onto him until he gained his stability. She held onto him after that, as well.
"We need to take a look at your back. Lord knows what kind of bruising that caused," she said acidly, glaring over her shoulder at her aunt.
"I'll be okay," he said, not wanting to blame anyone.
"Sure you will. As soon as we've healed that, you'll be fine. Don't argue with me."
Don knew better than to do so, anyway. They'd been working together every day for the last week, and he'd been foolish enough to argue with her on more than one occasion. He had lost on all counts.
Amy led him into the downstairs bathroom, and ordered him to remove his shirt. He did so, setting it on the vanity. She had him turn around, and he was a little worried when she gasped.
"I'm going to kill her," Amy muttered under her breath.
"Is it really that bad?" he asked. It stung, but he thought maybe he was still a little numb from the shock.
"Yes. You're going to need to stand still. I'm not a very good healer yet. This may take a while."
"Okay." He wondered why she didn't just make Veronica fix it, but then he realized that would be an offensive notion to Amy, who was acting as his protector and trainer, while Veronica was trying to play the part of the testers.
Don shivered when Amy put her hands on his back, one on each shoulder blade. She began a slow, quiet chant that repeated many times. After about the third cycle of the chant, he began to feel an icy cold spread between her hands, to cover the bruised area. He shivered slightly, but it wasn't very unpleasant, so he didn't mind. After a couple more cycles, the icy sensation was replaced with a tingling energy that felt as if it was penetrating deep into his body. The energy traveled the length of his spine, and up into his skull, where it felt as if his nerves were over-energized. It was an unpleasant sensation, but he found he couldn't move now if he wanted to.
Amy continued her chant, oblivious to whatever discomfort the spell itself caused him. After about five more cycles of the verse, she stopped chanting, though she left her hands in place. She looked closely, and what had been a horrible red spot that had already begun to turn black was now a fading yellow-brown. She could not heal the thing entirely on her own, so she had instilled a pain blocker for the next day or so. This was at the very edge of her training; she hadn't learned all the spells yet. She was tired from the effort, but gratified that it seemed to have worked.
Suddenly, Don felt the tingling energy wash from his body, and he could move again. He slumped suddenly, his body rebelling from having to be that rigid. He could still feel Amy's hands on his body, but she didn't seem to be doing anything at this point. Carefully, he turned around. Amy's hands stayed more or less where they were, sliding across his skin. He looked down at her once he was facing her, and smiled. She looked back up at him wearily.
"Thanks," he said softly.
Amy smiled at him. "My pleasure." She let her fingers feel the muscles beneath them. he was by no means a jock, but the last few weeks had certainly given him some tone. Her fingers absently traced light patterns in his skin.
Don shivered at her touch, and instinctively put his arms around her. She didn't recoil, but instead slipped her hands around to his back. She leaned against him, and sighed softly. Don was comfortable holding her. He leaned back against the vanity, pulling her with him. She came easily, and then looked up at him.
Without a word, he kissed her softly, their lips pressing lightly against each other for a long moment. Finally, their lips parted, and she smiled warmly at him.
"That was nice," she said quietly.
"Yeah," he replied. "Where do I know you from? It's really bugging me."
Amy grinned impishly. "I'll tell you later. C'mon, you better get dressed, or Aunt Veronica might get jealous and come looking for you."
Don blushed, but eventually let Amy go and grabbed his shirt, slipping it on stiffly; his back didn't hurt, but it didn't want to work fluidly, either. Amy noticed.
"The stiffness, I can't do anything about. Sorry."
"It's okay," he said, leaning down to kiss her again. He put his arm around her for just a moment as they left the bathroom, and then they separated, as it was time for them to get back to the business at hand.
Gill spent the next few days stewing over Katie's intrusion into what he considered to be none of her business. How dare that bitch try to tell me what to do!
Another part of him, however, told him quietly that he had to come to some kind of resolution. His anger was beginning to cost him sleep, and it was ruining his concentration for sports and school. He considered for an entire afternoon what he should do about the problem before coming to a decision.
That night, about an hour before bed, he knocked on Susan's door.
"Yeah, what?" she called out, knowing it had to be him from the tempo of his knock. He opened the door, walked in, and closed it behind him. The last thing he needed was for his parents to hear this conversation.
"You and I need to talk," he said sourly.
"Okay, so talk," Susan said, swiveling her chair to stare at him. Gill was uncomfortable with her gaze, which was openly hostile.
Gill began to pace, which wasn't easy in her small room. He said, "For the last few weeks, I've had to watch you falling all over Don. It's disgusting. Why he would ever let you use him to hurt me like that..."
Susan interrupted. "I'm not using him to do anything. I did that once. It had... unexpected results."
Gill looked at her angrily. "Bullshit! What, you're going to sit here and tell me you love him? Him? You've been making fun of him as bad as you have me ever since you two met!"
Susan stared at him for a long moment. Finally, she said, "Things change."
"Yeah, like my best friend suddenly stabbing me in the back."
Susan sighed audibly. "Why are you bothering me with this? It sounds like your problem is with Don, not with me."
"My problem is with both of you!" he said, his voice rising. "What the hell did I ever do to you to-"
Susan cut him off. "Oh please. You whine and complain about this, but let's not forget who started it! Remember I did it the first time to get even with you! With the shit you pulled, you had it coming!"
"And now?" Gill demanded angrily.
"Now has nothing to do with you, as far as I'm concerned."
"You expect me to believe that?"
"I don't give a flying fuck whether you believe it or not. My life is my business, not yours. I will date and/or sleep with whoever I damn well please."
"Do you really hate me that much?" he asked.
Susan immediately answered, "Yes. You're a jerk. You've been drooling at me since the day I moved into this fucking house. You disgust me. I know what you want from me, and you're never going to get it. I might not have minded if you were a decent person, but you're an asshole. All you wanted was a fucktoy. The reason I'm still sleeping with Don is because he treats me nice. He really cares about me, he makes me feel good. All you want is to beat me, to come out on top. You're only interested in winning. Now get the hell out of my room. I don't need to answer to you!"
Gill stared at her for a long moment in silence. She glared at him harshly, barely blinking. Finally, his jaw set tightly, he turned around and left.
Gill moved down the hallway to his room, and, closing the door, went to sit on the bed. His sister's words had stung deeply. He knew she didn't like him, but the level of her disgust had never been clearer to him than now.
What hurt more than that was his fear that she might be right. He'd seen her as a competitor since the day she had moved in. Was my obsession with her my plan for putting her in her place? He didn't know, but he needed to find out.
Don was in his room, studying for his final exams with Julie. They were not in the same grade, but she had wanted to be near him while she studied, and he wasn't going to object. Susan had told him about her confrontation with Gill, and he was a little concerned that this meant Gill would soon return to overt bullying. He couldn't let himself worry about it just now, however, as Julie was struggling with her math, and he'd promised to help her.
The two had just resorted to kissing in order to relieve stress, when there was a knock at the door. Don grumbled good naturedly, and Julie giggled.
"C'mon in," he said.
The door opened to reveal Katie, with the cordless phone in her hand.
"Donny, you've got a phone call from that game lady."
Don arched his eyebrows in surprise, and reached for the phone.
"Veronica, hi!" Don said with mock cheerfulness.
"You must be at my house tomorrow at one o'clock. Don't come any earlier than that. Expect to be gone for at least three hours."
Julie could feel Don's body shiver. "Okay. I'll be there."
"Try to relax."
They said their good-byes and Don handed the phone back to Katie.
"What's the matter?" Julie managed to ask first.
"Uh... nothing to worry about. Just some stuff to work out with Veronica. I won't be able to spend time with you tomorrow, something's come up and she needs me to work on it with her."
"Oh," Julie said, pouting. Katie could tell that she had interrupted something, and so she made a quiet departure. Seeing that, and silently thanking her, Julie moved closer to Don.
"So, where were we?" she asked, her hand running across his back.
Don smiled at her, and leaned in. "About right here, I think," he said as his lips touched hers.
Veronica did tell him to relax...
Gill slammed his fist into the bag, over and over. His eyes were focused intently on the spot in front of him. He knew that he had to come to a decision.
You just lost the track meet because you were too goddamned preoccupied with this shit! It's going to eat you alive!
His hands continued to pummel the heavy bag. He was trying to work out his frustration here at the gym, rather than take it home, where he might get in trouble for lashing out at someone - probably Susan - in his anger.
Shit, what made you think you could handle her? You can't even control yourself!
That one sentence froze his hand as it smacked the bag. His eyes went blank as he realized what he'd just thought.
Is she right? Did I simply want to control her? Is it possible that I just didn't like that she wouldn't be bossed around, like I regularly do to John? Is it really that fucking stupid?
Gill stepped back away from the bag, and breathed heavily. He had to sort this out, and do it now. He walked over to the treadmill, and set it for a jogging speed. He began his jog, thinking things over.
So I can't have her. So what? Is that really such a fucking big deal? I mean, yeah, Don's being an asshole by not breaking it off... But why do I care in the first place? The bitch has never liked me...
As Gill's thoughts kept running faster and faster, he turned up the speed dial on the treadmill. After only five minutes, he was in a full-out run. The people in the gym with him could see that he wasn't really paying attention to anything. The manager of the facility decided to keep an eye on him. Gill noticed none of it.
They're doing what they want to do. Why is it my business to tell them they can't? Okay, they're both doing it mainly to piss me off... or at least it seems like that. So, should I let them win? If I remain mad, they get the best of me, don't they?
But dammit, why'd she have to do that? And now? It's not like Don and I were exactly on good terms to begin with... what with him fucking that little whore, Julie...
Am I jealous? He's getting laid by two different girls, I'm not getting anything. Is it that? Hell, yes, she's a slut, but would I have turned Julie down? I wasn't going to do the whole big brother act like he did... hell, I don't know what the fuck he was thinking... unless he did it just to get in her pants... But damn, she's got to be good in bed, after all the practice...
Am I so self-centered that I can't let him have fun without me? We've been best friends for years... I've thrown that away over... a girl. Shit, if I'd gotten in Susan's pants, or any other girl's, would I be spending my Saturdays waiting around on him? Probably not...
It was this final admission that broke things for Gill. He nearly tripped as he finally set the machine to slow to a stop. He was winded, and sweaty, and nearly exhausted. He wobbled slightly as he got off the machine, and headed for the showers.
Don may be wrong to do what he's doing. Or it might just be that I still don't get it. Either way, Gill me boy, you fucked up first.
He decided what to do about it while he was showering.
Don didn't have a chance to ring the bell this time, as Amy was waiting for him on the steps. He walked up calmly, but he could see the worried expression on her face.
As a way of relieving her fears, he said, "Hey, Sweetheart," repeating his line from the first time they'd met. Amy smiled at him warmly, this time, and she gave him a ferocious hug. He leaned back just slightly, and gave her a soft kiss. She extended that, using her hands to hold his mouth to hers. Her tongue requested - and received - entrance to his mouth, and they spent a solid minute just kissing on the porch.
When they finally broke off for breath, Don continued to hold onto her. She didn't pull away or resist him at all.
"You're worried," he said quietly.
"Is the test really that tough?"
"I had nightmares about mine for a week afterward."
"What was it?"
"You know I'm not allowed to tell you about it. But everybody's is different. The test is decided upon by the examiners. I don't know any of your examiners, so I don't know what they might do. Please, be careful, and remember what we've practiced."
Don kissed her again, drawing her against him tightly. He did it not only for her own comfort, but because he was growing anxious himself, and needed her support. She gladly gave it, and they were still kissing when the door opened.
"I told you that you'd have no trouble keeping him outside," Veronica said with a soft chuckle. Amy blushed, but Don was now too nervous to worry about it. He still hadn't let Amy go.
"Is it time?" he asked Veronica. She nodded.
Don turned, releasing Amy. He felt her hand clasp his, and he squeezed gently, keeping hold of her as they walked into the house. Veronica led them back to the study, and it was at that point that he had to let go of Amy. He was directed to a silver circle that had been laid on the floor. He stepped into the middle of it, and was immediately surrounded by a green glow.
Don turned, to see that Amy and Veronica had taken positions on either side of the room. These were marked by squares, but neither of them was surrounded by a glow. He turned back to face forward, at Amy's direction.
Three figures stepped forward, out of the darkened corner of the room. They were wearing cloaks with the hoods up, obscuring their faces.
"What is the name of the one who comes before us?" the one on the left intoned.
It was a long moment before Don got his voice to work. "Donald White," he said finally.
The one on the right asked, "And these are your sponsors?" He motioned to where Veronica and Amy were standing.
Don sensed a trap. More than that, he didn't really know what responsibilities a 'sponsor' might have in this test. He said, "I have not asked them, because I did not know I needed sponsors. I can't put them in that position without knowing more than I know."
The three before him were silent for a moment. The center magician, who turned out to be a woman, spoke.
"Well said, Mr. White. Miss Melchior, Miss Norris, do you willingly sponsor this individual?"
"Yes, Mistress," they said in unison.
"Very well. Mr. White, you are to be given your examination today. Should you complete this examination favorably, you will pass into the third circle of this guild. Should you fail, you will never pass into the third circle. If you leave now, not having taken the test, you may not apply to retake it for another year. Knowing these things, do you wish to proceed?"
Don thought about it for a long moment. Veronica told him he was ready; Amy had confidence in him... but she was also worried. The deciding factor, however, was that he wasn't about to put up with another year of this dread. He nodded to her.
"Very well. You will now be transported into another location. There, you will be tested. Please prepare yourself."
Don closed his eyes, and took a deep breath. As he opened them to tell her he was ready, he shouted in surprise. The room he had been standing in had been replaced by a forest. He was standing on a path. He turned around, and found himself to be alone.
"Walk along the path toward the ravine," a voice from the nothingness called out.
Don walked very slowly and carefully, looking for traps. The voice, sensing his hesitation, spoke soothingly.
"You need not fear. Your test has not yet begun. Stop when you reach the ravine."
Don took that for what it was worth, and walked out of the forest. The ravine in question was at least sixty feet across. There was a rope-bridge stretched across. On the other side of the ravine, he saw a tower. His eyes followed the tower up, until they came to a window. He thought he saw something in the window, but couldn't make it out.
A quick spell sharpened his vision to the point of not needing binoculars. He could clearly make out Amy's face. He could see that she was chained in such a position as to be specifically visible from where he stood.
"What the hell is this?" he screamed into the air.
"Your test," Veronica said from off to his side. Don whirled at the sound of her voice.
"What's Amy got to do with it?" he accused.
"She is your primary sponsor, at her own insistence. That means she has put herself in jeopardy during your test. If you do not rescue her within three hours, she may be seriously harmed."
Veronica cast a spell, and a floating countdown appeared beside Don's head.
"Since you chose not to wear a watch, I'm allowed to give you a clock. I cannot help you. I cannot even give advice, once you start. I am allowed to give general advice right now.
"I don't know what they've put between you and Amy. I don't know any of the specifics of the test. My advice is mainly what I was told. Always pay attention to even minor details. Cast spells you think you will need before you need them. Never assume that anything is exactly what it appears to be. You are still on Earth; the normal rules of physics apply. Remember what you've learned, and don't let Amy's predicament distract you. If you do, it will only slow you down, and perhaps prevent you from succeeding.
"You have three hours from right...now," she said, and the countdown clock began ticking backward. "Good luck."
Don wasted no further time, but turned back to the rope bridge. Well, it seems straightforward enough, he thought to himself. He assumed that all the real danger would be inside the tower.
Before making any moves, Don cast a few basic spells to increase his strength, speed, and agility. Having that done, he walked toward the bridge.
The test almost ended as quickly as it had begun, as Don attempted to step onto a bridge that wasn't really there. He plunged off the cliff, and only his magically augmented agility allowed him to twist around and grab an outcropping of rock. His body slammed against the side of the cliff. The air whooshed out of him, but he held fast, his temporarily greater strength aiding him.
Don cursed himself repeatedly and loudly as he clung to the cliff face. He was angry that he'd fallen for the very first illusion they'd thrown at him.
No more. That's the last time you get my goat! He looked down, and realized he was hanging off the side of a two-hundred foot cliff. He would have to climb down. Quickly, he cast a stamina spell; this was far more work than he was used to undertaking. Having perked up his energy, he began to move down the sheer rock wall.
As Don's feet touched solid ground, he breathed a sigh of relief. The climb had been strenuous, even with the aid of the spell, and he was sweating profusely. He chanced a look at the countdown, and cringed. He had less than two and a half hours to complete his quest. If he had to climb up the other side of this ravine... he would probably not make it.
Looking across, he saw, about a hundred yards away, an opening in the rock.
Maybe that leads to some kind of stairway, or is at least easier to climb than the face of the rock would be.
Now, of course, his only challenge was the twenty feet of swiftly-flowing river separating him from the other side of the ravine. He stared at it for a minute, wondering if it might be an illusion, as well, to slow him down. He concentrated on it, and it certainly appeared real... but he wanted to make absolutely sure.
Picking up a rock, Don hurled it into the river. A resounding splash occurred, and he was standing close enough - on purpose - that it got him wet. That was all he needed to know; the river was real. So, how to cross it?
Don walked down his side of the river until he was across from the rock opening. He saw a sloping pathway leading upward, set into the rock. He knew that was his only way back up to the tower. Now, he just had to get over there.
Twenty feet. Can I jump it? Looking behind him, he had only fifteen feet to get a running start. It wasn't enough, even with a spell. He pondered for a moment, pacing back and forth.
Finally, his thoughts centered on one of the few trees that had grown down here. This one was dead and rotting, but quite tall. It was growing right at the edge of the river. He walked over and gave it a tentative shove; it was real enough, and it swayed ever so slightly from his push.
Casting another strength-augmentation spell - one that he could not keep up for more than a couple minutes without endangering the rest of his test - he put his hands to the tree, and heaved. The tree gave several loud cracks, and then began to topple. Don moved quickly out of the way, dispersing the strength spell and watching as the tree collapsed, making a clear path from one side of the river to the other.
Christ, I hope that thing holds my weight. If I fall in that river in the middle, I'm toast. There's no way I could swim in that current.
Gingerly, Don made his way out onto the tree. It groaned; it creaked; it bowed.
But it held.
When Don was safely on the other side of the river, he looked back, amazed that he'd made it across. He'd wasted another twenty minutes, however, and now had little over two hours to find Amy and rescue her from whatever they might do to her if he failed.
Don rushed up the path cut into the rock, but then realized how foolish he was being; any trap would catch him this way. He slowed himself, and proceeded more cautiously, making his way slowly up the path.
After a few hundred feet, the path opened onto a terrace, again cut right into the rock. There were a half-dozen paths leading off this terrace, but he could discount three of them automatically; his magic-sight told him they were illusory, and he had no desire to bust his nose walking into a wall to prove it.
He was just about decided on the middle path, when a voice called out.
"Don! Over here!"
The voice was...
"Katie? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Veronica came and asked me to come for your test. Take the left path!"
Don was very confused. He thought he wasn't supposed to get any help... He started to walk toward the left path.
"That's it. There's a secret passage that leads right into the tower..."
Was that Katie? The voice sounded... strange.
"How do you know there's a path?"
Don listened very carefully to her answer. "Because they told me, silly!"
Now he knew. It wasn't Katie. It was another illusion.
"Nice try, guys!" he said with a smirk. Yeah, nice try, indeed! You nearly fell for it, too, you twit!
Don made his way up the central path for another hundred yards, before it opened into yet another terrace. This terrace had four doors and a pathway, still leading up. Don tried every door; they were all locked. He supposed he might be able to break them, but he had no idea what would be behind them, and he didn't have time.
As he was about to make his way into the open pathway, he heard an ominous growl. Don stepped back away from the path as a shadow appeared ahead of him. The shadow was of an animal.
A big animal.
The rumbling growl sounded very feline.
As the sunlight finally reached the big cat, Don got a glimpse of orange body and black stripes.
Holy shit, that's a tiger!
The animal glared at him. Don looked back, and then he looked forward. He could see, beyond the tiger, that the path ended in a large door.
The door stood open.
If I can get to that door, I can close it, and he can't get me. Of course, that just means minor things like getting past the tiger without him killing me, and running faster than he does.
Don began to chant the one spell he knew he'd need. He had no idea how to get past the tiger, but running, he would definitely have to do.
The tiger roared, and padded forward. Don was panicked; he didn't know what to do. His strength spell would not be enough to match the tiger. His speed would only get him just so far before it faded. He couldn't outmatch the tiger on anything except intelligence.
So, smart guy, what're you going to do? Challenge it to a game of chess?
Hey, that's not a bad idea. Don knew there were two ways to play chess; straight on, and by gambits. He knew the tiger would play straight on. What Don needed to do to win was to feint the tiger.
Don had little time to think, with a large cat prowling in his direction. In the nick of time, he came up with an idea. Quickly chanting, Don cast an illusion spell. A loud roar - a mimic of the one that the tiger had just let loose - filled the small space. The tiger whirled toward the sound, and was faced with a mirror image of itself. The big cat roared in response, and lunged.
Don watched long enough to allow his mirage to sidestep the real tiger's attack, and then he broke for the pathway, using his augmented speed to move as fast as he could. The mirage held until Don was about ten feet into the pathway, and then the tiger let loose a fearsome growl, and Don knew that it would be on his tail. The door was a mere hundred feet ahead of him. Would he make it?
Don felt his lungs were on fire, and his legs were burning with the strain. He could hear the large cat breathing heavily behind him. The distance between himself and the door closed rapidly; he only hoped the distance between himself and the tiger did not close more rapidly.
Don reached the door, and yanked it shut behind himself. Less than a second after it was fully closed, it creaked under the weight of a 500-pound animal slamming into it at full speed. Don threw the bolt shut - not that he thought the cat could open doors, but he was taking no chances - and then slumped against the wall. He looked up at his clock, and was astonished to see that another twenty minutes had passed.
What the hell else can they throw at me? Don wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to that question.
After a brief rest to let his heart rate return to something approaching normal, Don looked around the room. There was only one exit to the room, a doorway that led to a flight of stairs. Slowly, carefully, he made his way up them, and into the tower proper.
The stairs led to a hallway, which shortly gave way to a large room. Don stopped and considered his actions before entering. There were a dozen doors leading out of this large room, and he would have to check each one to know where to go. In that time, he would have his back to most of the room.
Casting a hearing spell and a sight spell, Don moved carefully along the wall of the room. Reaching the first door, he pushed it open, to find a kitchen. There were no people to be found, and so he backed out of the room again.
Just as he was about to turn, he heard something swishing through the air. Without bothering to turn to see what it was, Don dove to the floor and rolled, just in time to see a javelin embed itself in the door he had just closed. Don cursed quietly, and shook himself off. Rising to his feet, he looked at the javelin with some dismay; that would surely have been a fatal hit.
Don had looked into six more doors, and was approaching the seventh, when he heard another, lower, whooshing sound from one side. He whirled and saw a battle-axe spinning toward him. He stepped to one side, and watched it go whizzing past in fascination.
Don's attention was not so focused, however, that he did not hear the third hiss of an object, and he dove to the floor again, rather than chance it. When he heard a horrendous crash, he looked up and saw a spiked metal ball embedded deep into the wood of the door he intended to open next.
Jesus! I don't think I like this game!
Don rose to his feet shakily, and opened the door, which led to stairs. He could only see up for about five feet, for at that point, the stairs turned. He wanted out of the large room, however, so he stepped in and closed the door behind himself.
When he reached the turn in the stairs, he could only see another five feet, before they turned again. As he rounded this second turn, he froze. Before him was a straight run of stairs, twenty-five feet long.
Don turned to go back down, but then he stopped. If this was the wrong path, they wouldn't bother putting obstacles in my way. If there was an alternate path, it would be blocked as bad or worse. I've got to find a way to get past this. I've only got - he checked the floating clock beside him - a little under an hour. Now, how do I get up these steps?
A little concentration confirmed that the fire was real, if magical in nature, as it was not consuming the stairs upon which it was burning.
If only I could levitate like I did back in Zemlia Nov! How else am I supposed to get past this? After some further consideration, Don came up with a plan. He once again cast his speed spell, hoping that he had not already drawn down too much on his magical ability. Prepping himself, he finished off the spell, and lunged for the first step.
Don's feet barely touched every second step as he bolted up the stairs, and he didn't slow down until he was well beyond the end of the fire. Finally, ten feet down the hallway at the top of the stairs, he stopped to take a breath. His lower legs were singed, but he was all right. He gasped for breath, trying to settle himself down for the next task. He knew that he was nowhere near the top of the tower; there could be dozens of things between him and Amy still.
When he had finally calmed down, Don found himself presented with four doors, all closed. He was getting tired of looking at closed doors, quite frankly, but he had no choice but to open each of them.
The first door Don chose, miraculously, led to stairs going up. Don was suspicious of things that were too easy, but figured he would accept this one for now. He worked his way up the stairs, which seemed to spiral up the outside wall of the tower. Ten minutes later, as he had been moving more cautiously the further he went, Don came to the top of the stairs. There wasn't even a door between himself and Amy.
"Amy!" he shouted. She turned her head and smiled at him. He ran over to her, to look over the situation. At that point there was a tremendous growl behind him, and Don turned, almost fainting at the sight of the grizzly bear raised up on hind legs, advancing on him.
Don could see the faint 'glimmer' that he now associated with illusions, and he let out a deep sigh of relief. He turned back to Amy, and said, "Ignore it."
Amy still seemed panicked as he worked on freeing her from her chains. She struggled and cried out unintelligibly as the bear illusion rumbled and roared, getting closer to them.
Don was annoyed, and was just about ready to blast the bear illusion into oblivion, when he suddenly stopped. He looked back at the bear, and then he looked to Amy. He realized she had not spoken a word since he'd seen her in here. Don cast a spell he'd not had need to try before; it was a magic-detection spell. Suddenly, Amy's body, too, glimmered.
Don cast a spell even more foreign to him than the previous one; it was an illusion-dispersal spell. Not having been fought by other magicians before, he'd not had need of these spells. After thirty seconds of chanting, he extended his hands, and Amy and the bear both vanished. What had been Amy turned out to be a mannequin, chained as Amy had apparently been.
Where the bear had been was... Amy. Sitting with her hands bound loosely and her mouth gagged. She had been belted into a chair, merely so that she could not easily escape.
Don rushed over to her, and removed her gag. He hugged her, and she kissed him on the cheek.
"I thought you'd never get here! Do you have any idea how creepy it is to stare at yourself as an illusion?"
"We've got to get you out of here. My time is running-"
He didn't get to finish his sentence, because the room he was in vanished at that point.
"-out...what?" Don looked around, to find himself back in Veronica's study. Amy was still tied in the chair she was in. Don stood up, looking to see that Veronica was standing some feet from him, and the three examiners were also there.
Realizing the test appeared to be over, he turned back to Amy, and worked to untie her. The rest of the room waited in silence until she was free, and Don helped her out of the chair. She hugged him ferociously in gratitude, and kissed him sweetly. She finally let him go, and he turned, returning to the circle before the three examiners. When he stepped into the circle, the green light that had enfolded him before was now a pale blue.
The examiners stepped forward, closer to him than they had been before. The woman stepped an additional pace ahead of the others, and pulled her hood back, revealing jet-black hair, bright green eyes, and a friendly smile.
"Welcome to the third circle, Mr. White." She extended her hand, and Don took it.
"Don," he said as he shook her hand.
"Melanie Harris," she replied. "Fifth circle."
The other two came forward and introduced themselves, as well. Both of them were fourth-circle magicians.
"I thought I'd blown it on the bridge," Don said, his stress bleeding off. He was gently pulled out of the circle by Veronica and led over to the couch, rather than his usual stool. He sank down on it, and Veronica sat next to him. Amy came over and sat on the other side, putting her hand on his arm.
Melanie chuckled. "Everyone misses the bridge. You caught yourself faster than most people."
Don looked to Amy. "I thought you said your test was different."
"It was. These three didn't test me. My test involved a lot of water and ice."
"Yes. There are several groupings of magicians used for these tests. If and when you reach fourth circle, you will be added to a testing team."
"So... Katie knows nothing of this, right?" Don asked, uncertain.
"You haven't told her yet?" Veronica asked him in surprise.
"You told me not to tell anyone."
Melanie looked at Veronica with a smile, and then back to Don. "You take your oaths seriously."
"I don't make promises I don't intend to keep, if that's what you mean," Don replied.
"Good. I'll now release you from that promise. As a third-circle magician, you are allowed to let others know of your power. You have reached the strength where those that we would rather didn't know can already sense it in you, so there's no point in hiding it any longer."
"Wait a minute... who is it you don't want to know?"
Veronica explained. "There are good magicians and bad magicians. Good guilds and evil guilds. The evil guilds will not like you. Also, evil magic often draws on demonic forces, and those demons will be able to sense your growing strength. Any evil magician who is worried about other magicians in the area will know you're here by now."
"Not to worry. I'm still here to protect you, as my apprentice."
"Thank God for that."
Veronica smiled. "I can't believe you didn't tell Katie, despite my request."
"Katie's got enough to deal with without me dumping weirdness on her."
"You care a great deal for your sister?" one of the men asked.
"I love my sister," Don replied simply, thinking that he was keeping the truth from them.
"I see," the man said in a way that revealed that Don's attempt was pointless. "You should perhaps tell her as soon as is convenient. If she is that close to you, she will find out, anyway."
"I guess. So, you're telling me I don't have to hide my magician status now?"
"Don't go flaunting it," Melanie advised. "It's best not to do parlor tricks or use it obviously in public. But in an emergency, or simply when you have the need, feel free to use what you know. Unusable power is fairly useless, isn't it?"
Don chuckled. "Yeah, I guess it is."
Amy had been sitting quietly beside Don, her hand resting lightly on his arm, but she was getting impatient. "Are you guys done with him now?"
Melanie smiled at her. "Yes, I think that covers it all for now."
"Good." Amy grabbed Don's arm more tightly. "In that case, I need to talk to him alone for a while." She pulled him off the couch and out of the room. The others looked on in amusement.
Don followed Amy wordlessly up the stairs and down the hall. He had never been in this part of the house before, but she was moving far too rapidly for him to take much of a look around.
Amy turned and went in one of the bedrooms - he assumed it was hers - and dragged him in after her. Once he was inside, she closed the door, and pushed him back against it.
"What-" he started to ask, but her lips plastered to his, cutting off his question. Her kiss was mostly the answer he needed, anyway. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against him, rubbing his hands over her back. She let her hands press against his chest, her fingernails digging just lightly through his shirt.
Don took a chance and let his hands slide down onto her ass. He squeezed her cheeks through her jeans, and she moaned, pushing herself even more tightly against him. Her hands slipped out from between them, and down to the bottom of his shirt, where they began to yank it free of his pants.
When Amy finally got his shirt free, Don gently pushed her away. She looked upset, but he smiled at her. Gripping his shirt, he pulled it off and tossed it on her desk. He put his hands on her shoulders, holding her away from him while he looked at her. Her T-shirt was tight on her, and the points showing through it indicated she wasn't wearing a bra. He let his hand slide down onto her chest, running lightly over her tit, making sure to brush her nipple.
"Oh!" Amy groaned. Her body shuddered at his touch. Don pulled her T-shirt free of her jeans and gently peeled it up and off her body. It joined his shirt on the desk, but Don was more interested in what it had revealed. His hands now both massaged Amy's bare tits, and she moaned in bliss. Her hands were already working at her jeans. In seconds, she had them off her hips, and she was kicking her shoes and pants off.
Don let his hands fall from her breasts, and down onto her hips. He pulled her closer to him, and kissed her. This time, he pressed his tongue against her lips. She parted them almost immediately, and soon their tongues were dueling with one another. For a long moment, they stayed that way, unmoving, except as their hands rubbed each other's backs.
Finally, Don broke their kiss. He took Amy's hand and led her over to the bed. She sat down at his urging, and he gently pushed her back until she was lying on the bed. Then he grasped her panties at the waistband, and pulled. Amy lifted her hips, and the silky garment was soon on the floor.
Don looked down at her; he loved the way she smiled at him, and her body was heavenly. Her pubic hair was trimmed back to a pleasing triangle, and he could see that she was already wet for him.
Amy wriggled under his gaze; it was making her hotter almost than his touch had. She longed for him to take her in his arms again. She wanted him inside her, and she mewled at him, giving him a come-hither look that a blind man would have been able to notice.
Don smiled at her, and began to remove the rest of his own clothes. It didn't take long before he was completely nude, and his hard cock became the focus of Amy's world. She licked her lips, and then bit her lower one, waiting for him to approach.
She didn't have to wait long. Don climbed onto the bed with her, his body above her own. She slid further onto the bed until they were both comfortable, and then she smiled up at him.
Don leaned down and kissed her. This time, her tongue was the invader. As her tongue slipped against the soft wetness of his, she felt him shift. She moaned in anticipation when she felt the head of his dick resting against her opening. Don wrapped his arms around her, supporting himself on his elbows, as he pushed himself into her in one long, slow motion.
Amy growled her pleasure into his mouth, vibrating his tongue. When he was finally buried to the hilt inside her wet sheath, he paused, and broke their kiss. She was very nearly panting already from the pleasure.
"Fast... or slow?" he asked her softly.
Amy groaned, "Oh, God, fuck me hard! I need a good pounding!"
"Your wish is my command," he said to her, and pulled back about halfway, and rammed back into her. Amy screamed at the sensation. He did it again, and again, and soon her body was bucking back up into his. She was lost to the pleasure, her mind filled with nothing but sparkles of pleasure. She continued to grunt and groan with each thrust, her body racing toward orgasm.
Don rammed into her as hard as he could, driving deep into her. He was holding her tightly, letting his chest rub over her nipples as they fucked. He could see from the look on Amy's face that her climax was fast approaching. He began to roll his hips at the end of each stroke, grinding his pubes against hers. It only took a few of these before Amy screamed out, her body frozen in utter pleasure, her orgasm taking hold of her. He continued to thrust into her throughout, and it prolonged her pleasure. Only when she began to come down did he slow down, and then stop, though he kept making small movements to keep himself hard.
Amy looked up at him when she was able to regain her senses, and her eyes showed awe. "Oh, Gods, I missed that."
"Excuse me?" Don said. "I know we've met, but I'm pretty sure I'd remember if I slept with you..."
Amy pulled herself tightly against him, and kissed him. Then she said, "Not really... I didn't look like me at the time."
Given that there was only one woman left from the game that he had slept with, Don came to his conclusion pretty quickly. "Neiela?"
"As I said, my name is Amelia. Not that far a stretch from that to Neiela. God, you fucked me so good that night, I just couldn't wait to get you back inside me. I didn't want to distract you from your test, though." She kissed him again, passionately, and her pussy rippled against his cock.
"Somebody hasn't come yet," she said when she broke the kiss.
"You're right. Somebody hasn't." He smiled wickedly at her, and then set her down on the bed, pulling out of her. She pouted. "Roll over," he said, and her eyes lit up. Once she had, he pulled her up onto all fours.
"Oooh, you bad boy," Amy said, her voice dripping with lust and anticipation. "Okay, fuck your bitch!"
Don pressed his cock back into her cunt, and then bent over her back, slamming into her hard. Amy cried out in surprise and immense pleasure. Don reached down and began to fondle her tits.
"You like it this way, don't you?" he whispered in her ear.
"Ungh," was all she managed to say, as he began to rut into her at that moment. She repeated it again and again as he continued to slam into her. She could feel him penetrating deep into her, and she loved every millimeter of his cock. As his fingers found and gently twisted her nipples, he began to really thrust into her. Amy began screaming again, lost in another small orgasm. Don barely noticed, as he started to ride her harder and faster. As his cock slipped against the front of her pussy, it found her g-spot, and Amy went into overdrive, bucking her hips back at him and squeezing his cock for all it was worth.
Don released Amy's tits and grabbed her hips for leverage. He was moving as fast and as hard as he could, thrusting into her with all his might. Amy was lost to the sensations, right on the verge of a massive orgasm. Don was close to coming himself, and he let himself plunge over the edge, his cock spewing its load deep inside of Amy's pussy.
Amy cried out at the first touch of his cum, her orgasm gripping her body and causing her to buck frantically on his dick. She was milking him for everything he had, and their bodies thrashed together, until Amy had simply had all she could take. With a final scream, she collapsed onto the bed, Don's cock slipping from within her. His last small spurts landed on her ass, and he shivered at the sudden cold that surrounded his dick. It took him a few seconds to settle down, but when he did, he checked on Amy.
Amy was breathing comfortably, so he gently turned her onto her side so that she would be comfortable. He was a little sleepy himself, but he first got up and went into her bathroom. Grabbing a washcloth, he wet it with warm water. Taking it back out to her, he cleaned off her ass, and then very, very tenderly wiped off her pussy and inner thighs. Once he'd finished with her, he wiped off his own self, and tossed the washcloth back into the bathroom.
Lying down beside her, he pulled a blanket over the both of them, and fell asleep.
"So, what would you have done if I hadn't rescued her in time... or for that matter, if I'd fallen off that cliff? How would you have explained my death?"
Melanie smiled softly at him. He was surprised that she was still there, since it had been a couple hours since Amy and he had gone to her room to celebrate. The other two men were nowhere in sight.
"You were never actually in mortal danger. Amy was never in any danger at all. We don't tell you these things before the test, of course... you have to have an incentive. Had you fallen off the cliff, a spell already in place would have slowed your fall long before you hit the ground. The tiger would never have been allowed to harm you, and the objects you so adroitly dodged would have disintegrated upon hitting you, rather than causing harm. We don't put you in actual jeopardy until your fifth-circle test."
"You shouldn't tell me that, should you? I mean, what about my fourth-circle test? Now I know it won't be dangerous."
"The test isn't conducted the same way, so there is no need for you to be deceived. And, as I said, your fifth-circle test is actually dangerous. Thus, the ruse is no longer needed."
"Well, thanks... I guess. I need to get home now. My family will be wondering where I've gotten off to." Don rose, and so did Melanie. "Will I see you again?" he asked as he held out his hand to shake hers.
She grasped his hand and shook firmly. "I think you can count on that. Good luck, Mr. White," she said with a mischievous smile.
Don grinned at her, then he walked over and gave Veronica a warm hug and an even warmer kiss. He whispered in her ear, "I believe there's a full moon coming up in a few days. I'll be here to make sure we're properly bonding." Veronica blushed, and he kissed her on the cheek before he turned and left.
Amy accompanied him to the door, and out onto the steps. Once the front door was closed, he turned to her and embraced her, kissing her passionately.
"You did great today," she said when they finally broke their kiss. "Thanks for rescuing me."
"Apparently you didn't need rescuing," he said somewhat sourly.
"You didn't know that at the time. You're my hero." She kissed him again to prevent him from arguing.
"When will you be leaving?" he asked, his voice regretful. He really liked Amy, and she had been a lot of help to him.
"In a few days or so. We'll see each other again before I leave, don't worry. Now, go on. You have something to tell your sister." Amy kissed him passionately, then shooed him down the stairs. He waved at her before getting in the car and driving home.
Don paid little attention to the cars in the driveway, though he recognized both of them. He was whistling when he stepped inside, but as he walked into the living room, his cheerful tune died off. His face took on a neutral mien, and he tried to keep his voice flat.
"Gill..." he said, indicating a question without asking one. What are you doing here?
"Don, we need to talk."
Don caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and looked to see Susan and Julie on the stairs. He wondered where Katie was, until he sensed someone behind him.
"Let's go out back, then. You mind if they tag along? Otherwise I'm just going to have to tell them about it later."
"Whatever," Gill said dismissively. He led through the house and out the back door.
"Everything all right, honey?" Don's mother asked him.
"Just going out back to talk," he said on his way through.
Once out in the yard, Don went and leaned against a tree. He kept his eyes on Gill, but made no provocative or threatening gestures. He didn't know what was coming. He did know that if Gill wanted a fight this time, he'd wipe the floor with him. Having been released from not letting anyone know about his magic, Don was just as likely to use a spell on Gill as to let things get out of hand as they had last time.
"So what's on your mind?" Don asked finally.
Gill looked at him. This was hard enough for him to do, but Don's self-satisfied attitude...
"What the hell are you so smug about?" Gill demanded. "I ought to beat the crap out of you right here and now for what you've done to me."
"Gill, you said-" Susan warned, but Don raised his hand to request silence. She acquiesced rather quickly, Gill noted sourly.
"Look, I've had a very long and trying day, and you are not the worst thing I've faced today. If you want to take a swing at me, go right ahead, but I guarantee you won't like the fucking results. I'm in no mood for your shit. You had something to say, so say it."
Gill glared at him, trying to decide whether to swing on him or not. He had decided one thing in the shower at the gym, but being faced with Don's arrogance... He had not noticed Don muttering something under his breath.
Gill swung on Don, but he suddenly found his hand enclosed in Don's, his punch having no effect. Don stared straight into his eyes, and again, said something quietly.
Suddenly, from behind Gill, there were three screams and a growl. Gill wheeled, and nearly pissed his pants. Not five feet from him stood a large tiger. It was the same tiger that Don had conjured earlier in the day. Gill stumbled backward as the illusion lunged at him. As he fell over his own feet and the tiger appeared about to land on him, Don made it vanish. He could see Gill was shaking.
Pushing himself off the tree, he stepped between Gill and the girls.
"The reason you couldn't beat me last time, and the reason you can't beat me now, has nothing to do with my fighting ability. You know and I know that I haven't got any. But I've spent the last several weeks learning magic. Real magic. I spent today doing all sorts of shit to prove my skills. If I use my magic, you aren't a challenge for me. I could beat you into the ground."
"Then why don't you?" Gill snarled as he got to his feet.
Don was unmoved by his anger. "Because I have no reason to. Regardless of what you may think, I don't hate you. What Susan and I have together has nothing to do with you, in my mind. Now, you came over here to say something. What was it? Or did you just feel the need to try to beat on me again?"
Gill walked up to him, but kept a personal distance. "I had thought we might be able to talk this out. What the fuck did I ever do to you?"
"You mean, besides trying to beat the crap out of me?" Don asked with a hint of humor.
Gill's mouth twitched, but he didn't smile. He waited.
"You keep assuming that it had something to do with you. Look, you've been told time and again. Susan wanted to get even with you. I didn't know anything about it at the time, and I could hardly take it back after it was done. What happened after that had nothing to do with you, and everything to do with us. What happens between us is, quite frankly, none of your damned business."
"And you're still seeing that..." Gill caught himself before he got hurt. "Her?" he asked, pointing to Julie.
"I don't have an exclusive relationship with either of them. They've known about each other from day one."
"So you don't love either of them. You're just using them." Gill was trying to drive a wedge into the relationship, hoping to break them up.
He didn't realize how hopeless that was. "Nobody is being used. We're all just having some fun together. You remember that? Fun? You know, enjoyment?"
Gill glared at him, but then took a deep breath. He brought himself back to the thoughts he'd had in the gym, the realization that his own attitudes were probably the faulty ones. He opened his eyes again, and looked at Don.
In that moment, he realized that it wasn't Don who was being arrogant. He, himself, was the one expecting everyone to live according to his rules for them. Don was merely doing something, as he put it, that was fun.
Despite that, he couldn't bring himself to like the person before him anymore. "You and I are never going to be friends again, are we?" Gill asked.
"No. Probably not. Sorry."
Gill nodded, and straightened himself. "Okay," he said, mustering as much dignity as he could manage. "I'll leave you alone from now on."
Neither offered to shake, but Don nodded in acknowledgment. Gill marched out the back gate, and closed it, and was gone. In a few moments, they heard a car start up, and pull out of the driveway.
Don visibly slumped. Susan and Julie were there in an instant, on either side of him. They both led him up to the porch, where they settled down next to him on the steps. Katie seemed to have disappeared back into the house.
For a long time, Don sat and talked with the two girls. Finally, it was time for them to go home. Julie promised to take Susan home, so Don kissed them both good-bye, and then headed back into the house and up to his room.
"Since when do we keep secrets from each other?" Katie asked as soon as he entered his bedroom. She was sitting on his bed, and rose shortly after he closed the door.
"Sorry, Katie. I wanted to tell you, but I wasn't allowed. My M..er, my magic instructor told me I couldn't tell anyone. Today after I passed that test, they told me I was allowed to tell people, so..."
"I'm your sister, dammit! And I thought I was your friend."
"Katie," he said, going to her and hugging her, "you are my friend, and I didn't want to hide it from you. But I couldn't go against my Mistress." Whoops.
"That's just what you call your magic instructor when she happens to be a woman."
It didn't take Katie long to put two and two together. "Veronica?"
Don nodded. He noticed that Katie was not pulling away from their hug. He was in no hurry to do so, either.
He could see Katie relax a little. She'd clearly been upset at him not telling her. She hugged him more tightly.
"I knew you'd been different somehow... but none of us could put a finger on it." She put her head on his chest, and he held her affectionately, trying to will his body not to react. It was a very tough thing to do.
Suddenly, her head came up. "Did you mesmerize Julie and Susan or something?" Her tone was accusatory.
He quickly shook his head. "I don't even know how to do that. I'm not even sure it's possible. Besides, if I was going to do that, I'd probably have picked a target closer to home." He'd said the last without thinking, and was already kicking himself for it.
Katie blushed, but she didn't pull away from him, which was a surprise. He'd loosened his grip as soon as he'd realized what had come out of his mouth. She didn't take advantage of the opportunity to go.
There followed an awkward silence in which they stared at each other, but no one said anything. The silence was finally broken by their mother calling them to dinner.
Don made to leave, but Katie didn't let go of him. He looked down into her face, and was startled when she reached up and kissed him - very quickly - on the lips. Then she let him go, turned, and opened the bedroom door. In a flash she was down the stairs.
It was a bit longer before he followed her, and not nearly as steadily.
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