Gender: Male Age: 21 Location: N/A
|Introduction: This is the Last Story of the DragonSeekers i hope you all enjoyed it.. Story written by Eric Storm|
As Don set her bowl of cereal down in front of her, Annie looked up at him with a smile. He had stayed with her throughout the hell that her life had suddenly become, and she couldn't fathom why.
For Don's part, he sat down across from her, and worried. Though they'd had almost twelve hours of respite so far, he didn't know when the poltergeist might come back. He also feared that he needed to tell Annie what was going on, and that she would be angry when she found out he was the cause of her troubles. On the other hand, telling her about it all would be complicated and confusing. Still, she deserved to know.
"What are we going to do today?" Annie asked, interrupting his thoughts.
Don started, and then took a deep breath. "Well, so long as we have the break, we should probably try to clean up your stuff. After that..." Don took a big sigh.
"Annie, I need to tell you something about what's going on... but it's probably gonna make you mad at me."
Don put his spoon down, and pushed his bowl away. "Everything that's happening to you is my fault."
Annie got a strange look on her face, and set her own spoon down. "You mean you conjured up that ghost thing?"
"Then I don't see how-"
Don raised his hand. "Just because I didn't create it... or release it, or whatever... doesn't mean I'm not responsible for it being here."
"I don't understand."
"Remember the Shadow that was affecting your brother?" Annie nodded. "When I talked to Veronica about it, she told me that there was an evil magician behind it. That magician isn't after you or your brother. He's after me, and he's using you to get to me."
"That doesn't make any sense. How would he know about me and you? For that matter, my brother's behavior got worse long before I met you..."
Don took a deep breath, already blushing in fear. "Annie, our meeting wasn't an accident."
"This is gonna be really hard for you to believe, but you and I have met before. I know; you don't remember it. Unfortunately, I'm also not supposed to tell you about it. But, point is, the magician knew about you because he's been watching me."
"Where did we meet before?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Your memory of it has been magically erased by someone else."
"You're right. I don't believe you."
Don shrugged. "I don't know what to say. I'm sorry. This is all my fault. If I'd left you alone, you wouldn't be going through all this."
Annie sat for a long moment, thinking things over. Despite what he'd just told her, she still felt very close to him. She knew beyond a doubt she could trust him. And those feelings are foreign to me... maybe he is telling the truth.
"What kind of relationship did we have?" Annie asked him.
"We were very close."
"How close?" Annie said with the beginnings of a smile.
"A little closer than we are now," he said, blushing.
"Have you seen me naked?" Annie asked coyly.
Don blushed crimson. "Close, but no."
"Oh. I'm confused. I mean... okay, so if we knew each other before, then it would have had to be before my brother started acting up... how did the magician know you'd come to find me again? Were you watching me all that time or something?"
Don shook his head, his own confusion becoming evident. "I'm not sure. Maybe he guessed. I only watched you for a couple days before I bumped into you at the mall."
Annie's face twisted into a grin. "That wasn't an accident, was it."
Don looked down. "No. Sorry about the shirt... I couldn't think of any other way to get to meet you again, since you didn't remember me."
"What happened, when we met the first time?"
Don looked up at her, staring deeply into her eyes. "Annie, really... I could tell you, but you'd think I was making it all up. It was that weird."
Annie sat in silence for long moments, with Don staring out the window waiting for her to say something. She was confused by what he'd told her, yet her feelings for him did seem to stem from some unknown source that she couldn't fathom.
Annie had never been close to anyone, and she was surprised that she'd connected with Don. But if we'd met before... under... well, if he had to be as protective before as he's had to be the last few days... he's a very nice guy. But he's brought this... thing... into my life? Is that really possible?
Hell, he's a magician. Anything's possible.
Does it matter?
Annie finally made up her mind, and she straightened herself, then took another spoonful of her breakfast. Don looked back at her, waiting for her to speak.
Annie saw his look, and shrugged. "What do you want me to say?"
Don stammered for a minute or two. "I expected you to be mad."
"Why did you come to find me?" she asked.
Don stuttered for long moments, then closed his mouth, taking deep breaths. Annie waited calmly, wondering how anything could be quite as bad as all that.
Don made another go at it after he felt he had his emotions under control. "When you and I were together before... I..." Don took another deep breath, and let the remaining words rush out, "I fell in love with you."
Annie literally dropped her spoon into her bowl. The clang was ignored by both of them. Don was blushing fiercely and couldn't meet her gaze. Annie stared at him in shock.
He's in love with me?
She reached over and touched his hand, forcing him to look up at her.
"Are you... still?"
He knew what she was asking. All he could do was nod, and then turn away. He had trouble controlling himself. Annie could tell that he wasn't faking it; the emotions on his face were too troubled to be a lie. She felt an odd warmth in her heart, and her body tingled slightly.
Somebody loves me. She took hold of his hand, but neither of them spoke for a long time.
Annie was relaxing for the first time in over a week. Don had just left to do some shopping for her, and she was running water for a shower. The stress she'd been under was just too much, and she really needed to calm down.
The poltergeist had been gone for a day and a half now, and it seemed that it would stay gone. She was glad the ordeal was behind her. Don had not shared his concern for what might happen next with her, for fear she would worry too much.
Annie stepped into the shower, letting the hot spray wash over her body and ease away some of the tension. She hummed softly to herself as she washed, trying to let herself return to normal. She wasn't paying attention to anything around her.
That's why she never saw the hand that reached out for the hot water knob, cranking it to full blast. It quickly turned off the cold, as well.
In an instant, scalding hot water poured out of the shower head. Annie screamed and jumped away as far as she could. Her legs were still getting burned, though, and it took her a few seconds to make it out of the tub. She looked down to see her legs, red and painful. She looked up and around, to see what was amiss to cause this, but found nothing. She reached in and turned off the water, realizing at that moment that someone had to have been there, since she knew that she had not adjusted her water.
Annie dried herself off, touching her lower legs gingerly, as they were painful. It was the equivalent of a bad sunburn, and she was tempted to run cold water over it, but feared what might happen with that. She decided today was a good day to wear a skirt instead of jeans.
After getting dressed, Annie went back out to the living room to continue cleaning up. As she entered the room, something pushed her sideways. Losing her balance, Annie stumbled against a bookcase, and her head smashed into the edge, giving her a gash along the side of her face. She yelped in pain and held her hand up to the wound. Though she looked around frantically, she again saw no one.
Annie was disconcerted now. She would have been more frightened if she had not dealt with a poltergeist for a week. She knew, however, that this was different. Though the poltergeist had been nasty, and had thrown a lot of crap, it had never touched her. Whatever this was, it was attacking her more directly.
Oh, Don, where are you? Of course, she knew he would be a while yet. She only hoped that this thing didn't get too bad before he showed up.
Annie began cleaning up in the living room, putting books back on shelves and straightening what she could. They had cleaned up the rubble the day before, but she'd not had any energy to put things back in their place. She tried not to let any blood drip on the books, but she didn't have a bandage big enough to cover her gash, so she just let it bleed, since it was doing so slowly.
As she bent down to retrieve more books, something shoved her from behind. She landed hard, and rolled onto her butt. She thought, for just a fraction of a second, that she saw a fleeting shape... but it had been so transparent that she thought she might have imagined it.
"Knock it off!" she yelled to the air. She was getting fed up. She got to her feet, and felt a little woozy. She went and got a hand towel to hold against the gash on her head to stop the bleeding before continuing to work. She was both irritated and concerned. She had no way to defend herself from something she couldn't see.
As she walked back into the living room, she saw a foot move out and trip her. She didn't have time to avoid it, however, and when she fell, she hit her head on the end table, leaving a bruise on her cheek.
"Fuck you!" she snarled. She turned and saw the phantom fade through the wall. She felt shivers go down her spine; this was really like a ghost. She shook as she got up and sat on the couch for a bit, trying to collect herself.
Don, please hurry home.
Annie stayed on the couch for a while, before deciding that she had to do something. She pulled herself together, and stood up. She couldn't keep working in the living room, though; that caused her too much paranoia.
Deciding to make herself some lunch, Annie went into the kitchen. She was in the midst of slicing a tomato when the phantom returned. It solidified right beside her, about to push her, but this time, she saw it first.
Annie panicked, turning toward the whatever-it-was. Her hand, in an automatic reaction, swept across her body to block him. The knife penetrated the phantom's hand. Annie was shocked to see the creature reel back and scream, as if in pain. Its eyes, however, blazed now with fury. It backhanded her so hard she flew across the kitchen, slamming face-first into a cabinet. She didn't know if her nose was broken, but it was bleeding profusely. She knew there would also be a bruise on her forehead. The creature came at her again, but she bolted from the room, running into the living room.
That was no help, as the ghoul merely shifted to transparency and phased through the wall before becoming solid again in front of her. She nearly lost her balance avoiding him, instead diving over the couch to put something between them.
The creature opened its mouth, and a scream from the pits of Hell itself echoed through the room. She cringed at the mere sound of it. The phantom lunged at her, throwing her to the ground.
Annie rolled as far as she could away from the monster, and got shakily to her feet. She didn't know what she could do to get away from it. Even going outside didn't seem like it would stop the thing. She picked up a book and threw it at the creature, but it merely phased out of existence and back in again. The book impacted the wall behind it, and she knew that there was no way for her to hurt it.
The phantom charged at her, slamming her back into a wall. She was dazed for a few seconds, and by the time she'd regained her senses, the monster was upon her. It grabbed her around the throat, and began to squeeze. She choked, barely able to breathe. She beat on the phantom's chest, trying to push it away, but she didn't have that kind of strength. Her vision began to blur...
Don was pulling into the driveway at that very moment. He had gotten food for them for a few days, and he'd stopped to say hello to his sister, but he'd not wanted to leave Annie alone for too long, so they'd not had any fun.
He walked in the door, and was immediately assaulted by the negative magical flow in the air. He rushed down the entryway and into the living room, where he saw a... thing... assaulting Annie, choking the life out of her.
Don's rage boiled up in an instant. He cast the most powerful strength spell he had and fairly flew across the room. He grabbed the monster's wrists and twisted, tearing his hands free of her throat. He heaved the phantom across the room, where it phased through the couch and landed on the floor. It was immediately upright again, however.
Don released his strength spell and immediately cast his only energy-ball spell. He lanced it out at the creature, pinning it against the wall. The monster simply faded out of existence, and Don had to vanish his spell before damaging the house. Don stood, nervously alert, waiting for the phantom to return. When it didn't, he turned to look at Annie.
"Holy shit," he breathed. The bruises on her were severe. "Annie, I'm sorry. Are you okay?"
Annie was still trying to catch her breath. She'd been on the verge of passing out when Don had ripped the creature's hands from her throat. She leaned forward and hugged him, unable to even sob, though she felt like it.
Don could feel her body trembling, and he knew that it had been a very close thing. You son of a bitch, he thought. If I ever meet you, I'm going to kill you.
The problem, however, was that this magician was apparently much stronger than Don was. He had no idea how to conjure... whatever that phantom had been. He knew that he needed help.
Quietly, Don began to cast a spell he'd not needed before. It took him several minutes to get his concentration back enough to make the connection.
<Mistress, I need you. NOW.>
He knew that sounded drastic, but he hoped she would hurry. He feared that the phantom would be back at any time, and Don was not up to stopping it again.
Don was not surprised to find Amy in front of him when he opened the door.
"Aunt Veronica is getting stuff out of the trunk. What's the matter?" Amy was clearly concerned, though she was relieved to see that Don was all right.
Veronica approached just then, and Don motioned both of them in, without having said anything yet. He led them into the living room, and it was immediately obvious to both of them that Annie was in severe pain.
"What the hell happened?" Veronica wanted to know.
"Something attacked her," he said quietly. "I used a sleeping spell on her to let her rest. I'm... not sure I know enough to heal her."
"You say something. What was it?"
"Hell if I know. Some creature-thing... it could fade in and out of solid form."
Veronica paled. "Did it speak?"
Don shook his head. "No. She said it just shrieked at her. I didn't hear it make any noise at all... I just felt this... massive amount of negative energy from it."
"What did it look like?" Amy asked, curious. Veronica showed more intense interest in Don's answer.
"Human, mostly. It was... all black. Not like it was burnt, it just... didn't have any color. Except its eyes, which glowed red. It seemed like it was wearing either a cape or a trench coat... or perhaps a robe. It wasn't here for very long after I got here... though I think it'll be back to finish what it started."
"What did it do to her?" Amy queried. Don explained what she'd told him.
"It's not trying to kill her... at least, I don't think so," Veronica said finally.
"It was doing an awfully good job for not trying," Don groused.
"It's an avatar."
"An avatar. A stand-in for the real thing. The magician created it and sent it here. It's a part of him."
"Oh, that's just fucking great. How do we get rid of it?"
"You can't drive avatars out. You can only destroy them."
"I was barely able to make it go away temporarily! How do you expect me to kill it?"
"You're not going to. You're going to look after Annie. We'll take care of the avatar."
"Okay, fine, I guess... but I don't think I know how to heal her. She really ought to be in the hospital. Her nose is busted, she's got bruises everywhere... and from the way she screamed, I think she either busted or bruised some ribs."
"I'll help you," Amy said. "I'll teach you the right spells, and I'll watch you until Aunt Veronica needs me."
"Thanks, Amy," Don said, giving her a hug and a kiss.
"Let's get to work," she said.
Don and Amy spent a good portion of the night working at spells to heal Annie's wounds. The process was slow in going because the avatar was able to inflict magical wounds, which required extra time and concentration to heal.
During one of their breaks, Don was talking with Veronica.
"Why did he leave? He's obviously stronger than me..."
"You need to understand that the avatar is actually a living part of the magician. The magician is controlling it at every turn. That requires an immense amount of concentration. He will need to rest. Also, there is the possibility that you are not the only magician he's attacking, and in order to harm the others, he necessarily has to leave you alone while he works. Accept the break for what it is."
"Oh, I do, believe me!" Don said sincerely.
"You'd better get back to Annie. She still needs your help."
"Yes, Mistress," he replied quietly. He kissed her on the cheek, and went back to Annie's side to continue his spell-casting.
Don's head jerked up as he heard a horrendous shriek. He was thrown across the room by the avatar, and he hit his head on the wall, leaving him stunned. The avatar glared down at Annie's sleeping form, and bent over her, wrapping his hands around her throat.
Don screamed in rage, blasting away at the avatar with a full-power energy ball. The avatar was thrown clear across the room, but Annie was also tossed to the floor. Don made his way over to her, casting a shield spell to protect them from the avatar. The creature lunged, but it bounced off the shield. Don felt, however, that the shield would only hold for so long.
It didn't need to hold for all that long, because the screeching of the beast brought Veronica and Amy out of the bedroom, where they had both been resting. Veronica cast a flame spell while Amy held up a shield between them and the beast. The creature burned brightly, but was not consumed by the fire. It ran around the house, setting other things ablaze, and Veronica was required to quench those fires, and then she put out the fire on the beast.
The avatar lunged at them, but it was a feint. At the last second, it veered off toward Don and Annie. This wasn't the smartest of moves, however, as it turned its back to Veronica, who leveled a massive spike of magical power into the beast. The avatar went flying past Don and crashed into a bookshelf, knocking it over right on top of the creature.
The avatar phased through the bookshelf and rose to its feet. Don could see that Veronica was concentrating on something, and Amy was keeping her shield in place. He could see the creature was about to attack again, and he knew that Veronica didn't need the distraction. Leaping from where he crouched next to Annie, Don swung on the beast with all his magically-enhanced might. The punch connected, and the phantom slammed back into the wall, momentarily stunned by the magical effects of the punch.
Veronica completed her spell, and she raised her hands, releasing its effect. The avatar was surrounded by a glowing blue light, and it began to frantically race around the room, trying to get out of the effect. It ignored the others, trying to flee the light, but Veronica kept her concentration up, following it.
"You're going to have to kill it yourselves. This spell will keep it so preoccupied, it forgets about you, but I can't kill it this way."
Don and Amy both lowered their shields, and then formed energy balls. They moved until they were standing side by side, and they synchronized their spell-casting. At the final moment, they both extended their arms, and two large energy balls were released. They both impacted the beast at the same moment, hurtling him through the air until he impacted the far wall, shattering the plaster and leaving a massive crater where he hit. The beast fell to the floor, but Amy and Don both recast their spells, and hit him again. The beast shrieked in pain and anguish.
Veronica let go the blue light, and she cast a much stronger energy spell, engulfing the beast in a field of painful, burning magic. The creature writhed and twisted on the floor.
"Keep up your attacks!" Veronica ordered. Amy and Don began to launch a series of smaller energy balls. These had less impact by themselves, but they were able to create more of them. The net effect was greater, and the avatar was beginning to disintegrate before their eyes. The three magicians continued their assault, and suddenly there was a massive explosion of light. They all shielded their eyes, and when they were able to look again, the creature was gone, and only a scorch mark on the carpet told them where he had been.
Don leaned over, putting his hands on his knees and gasping for breath. "Did we do it?"
"Geez, I hope so," Amy replied, also winded.
"Yes. We were able to destroy the avatar. The magician isn't likely to send anything like that again."
"That's good," Don said. Then he saw the look on Veronica's face. "What?"
"Next time," she said, "he'll probably come himself."
"So how powerful is this damn magician? Seems to me that with all he's done he could just come and kick my ass..."
"A lot less powerful than he was a few days ago," Veronica said.
Both Amy and Don stopped their cleaning up to stare at her.
"What do you mean?" Amy asked.
Don moved over next to her, as curious as she was. Veronica set down the remains of the statue she was holding and looked at them.
"Avatars aren't demons, or separate entities. The reason they can take solid form is that they are carved out of a solid individual. An avatar is, quite literally, a part of the magician who creates it. He invested a significant amount of magic in that creature. When it was destroyed, so was the magic that had gone into it."
"You mean... he's..."
"A much weaker magician now. It was obvious he was saving a lot of his strength, because the avatar didn't do anything really magical to you, beyond the magical effect of the wounds it inflicted." Veronica motioned to where Annie lay, sleeping again, on the couch. Her wounds were taking forever to heal, even with magical support.
Amy struggled with the thought. "So you're telling me that he... like, cloned himself?"
Veronica smiled at her niece. "Sort of. He was able to control it because it was part of him. But it wasn't an exact copy... it was just a dark facsimile. But it was still a piece of him, and that piece is gone."
Don scratched his head and said, "Why didn't it leave, then? I mean, it would have made more sense to flee than to lose all that power..."
"The spell I used. It confused the avatar, and he couldn't find his way out."
"Oh. So... do we have any way of knowing how strong he is now?"
"No, not really. I can guess, but I could be wrong."
"What do you think?" Don asked.
"I'd say he's brought himself down to about your level. It would take a lot of skill to create an avatar, and there was a good deal of magic in that one."
"Oh. Well, so... facing him, if he shows..."
"Could be interesting," Amy opined
"Yeah," Don said sourly, returning to the job of cleaning up.
Don was fixing himself a light supper - the others had eaten while he was performing another healing session on Annie - when the doorbell rang. He raised an eyebrow at that; no one had come to see Annie since he'd been staying with her. He was the closest, and so he went to answer the door, a small energy ball already in his hand, just in case.
That was extinguished the instant he opened the door.
"Katie! What're you doing here?" he asked, pulling her gently inside.
"Apparently everybody else is here..." she sniffed, motioning to the cars outside.
"Uh... yeah, I guess. C'mon in."
Don led Katie back into the living room. Annie was just sitting up, having woken up when the doorbell rang. Veronica was coming out of the back bedroom, as well.
"Hey, Katie," Veronica said cheerily.
"Annie," Don started, "this is my sister, Katie. Katie, this is Annie Carter."
"Nice to meet you," Annie said softly. She didn't try to get up. Katie went over to her, instead, and took her hand.
"You, too. What happened to you?"
"Something attacked me."
"Katie, you shouldn't be here," Don said.
Katie turned to her brother with a frown. "I thought we were going to be together always," she complained.
Don blushed slightly. "We are," he said, avoiding any glance in Annie's direction. "But it's dangerous here."
"Why? It's just messy..."
"Katie, it's messy because something attacked Annie. It nearly killed her. We had to kill it. There may be other things coming... some bad magician wants to hurt me, and he's attacking the people around me, especially the ones I care about the most. You could be in serious danger here."
Veronica had kept her peace up until then. Now she said, "She could be in serious danger anywhere."
Don turned to her, an irate look on his face. Veronica ignored it. "The magician isn't limited to this house, Don. If he knows about Katie - and I'm sure he does - she could be in danger anywhere."
"Just fucking wonderful," he grumped.
"If I'm going to be attacked, I want you around to protect me!" Katie whined.
Don couldn't really argue with that kind of logic. Especially not with his sister, who was depending on him completely. Don sighed.
"Annie, you mind if my sister stays?"
"Of course not," Annie said softly. She smiled at Katie, who returned the gesture, if weakly.
"All right. Fine. You might want to go home and grab some clothes... I don't know how long we're going to be here."
"Okay. Thanks, Big Brother." She kissed him - on the lips - and headed back out the door. Don blushed, but no one else said anything.
Don woke up slightly confused. He'd lain down on the floor next to Annie when he'd grown tired from trying to heal her. He had been alone. Now he felt a body pressed up against him from either side. Though he found that to be very comfortable, he wasn't entirely sure what was going on.
When he opened his eyes, he saw blonde hair. He knew it was his sister. Without thinking much about it, he ran his hand along her side while she slept, and she murmured. Just then, he realized that the other person might not know about them...
Don turned over to see that Annie was just waking up. He wrapped his arms around her and they kissed tenderly for a long moment.
"Good morning," she mumbled.
"Hi," he replied. "You know, the couch is far more comfortable than the floor..."
"I could tell you the same thing," she said with a sleepy smile.
"I didn't want to wake you up."
"I think there just wasn't room for all three of us," she said. Don blushed, knowing exactly what she meant. "Don, just how close are you and your sister?"
Don was about to answer her question when a loud banging at the door got his attention. Katie jolted upright immediately, and he turned to her, placing his hand on her back. Don saw that Veronica and Amy had been in the kitchen, as they came out into the hallway, looking from the door to where Don and the others lay.
"I'll get it," Don said, struggling to his feet. Amy and Veronica stepped out of his way, while Katie and Annie made it to their feet behind him. He walked to the door and opened it.
Standing there, with a scowl on his face, was a man slightly taller than Don, with jet black hair. He had foregone the goatee, but he was wearing a mustache. He was wearing an overcoat - black, of course - and what looked like a suit beneath it.
Awfully heavy wear for the middle of summer.
"Yeah?" Don greeted him, knowing who this had to be.
"I am Heinrich Mueller," the man said with only a slight accent. "You are Donald White, yes?"
"Last time I checked," Don replied. "What do you want?"
"Your head on a pike will do nicely," Mueller replied.
"Sorry, all out of pikes."
Mueller's face darkened. "Your death is going to be very enjoyable."
In response, Don let loose the energy ball he'd been hiding behind his back up to this point, knocking Heinrich back several feet out into the yard. The entire group moved outside, rather than trash the house again.
"I don't think I'd enjoy it much."
"You're not supposed to. Would you like to surrender to me now? You know that I am much more powerful than you."
"There are three of us. One of you," Amy objected. Veronica nodded in agreement.
"Oh, no. You see, if either of you interferes, I will call upon my demon friends to deal with you. This is between young Donald and myself." Heinrich stared at Don challengingly.
Don nodded. He turned to Amy. "Stay out of it."
"But Don..." Amy started.
"You want to face up to whatever kind of demons he has access to? Keep the others safe."
Amy and Veronica nodded, and then stepped back. Don moved around to get them out of the line of fire, but remained a good distance away from Heinrich. After considering, he motioned to the man, and they stepped out into the street, which was devoid of traffic, for the most part.
"Why are you doing this?" Don asked him. He was trying to work out a plan for dealing with this man, and hoped to delay him until he came up with something.
"Because I can," the man replied contemptuously, and raised his hands. The man chanted loudly, and before Don could think of anything to counter with, Mueller's hands came down and released a massive fireball. Don dove out of the way at the last possible second, the fireball impacting the asphalt and leaving a melted scorch mark in its wake.
Don rolled back to his knee and lofted a baseball-sized energy ball at his enemy. The small orb hit Heinrich in the shoulder, pushing him backward and allowing Don to get to his feet.
"Gah!" Heinrich shouted in anger. He came back with a similar energy orb, only his trailed a streak of magical light. Don jumped out of the way of that, but he did not see the one that Heinrich created in his other hand, and that one caught Don in the chest. He fell backward, sprawling on the ground. He was stunned, and shook his head to try to clear it before standing up.
Just as Don's head was beginning to clear, a ball of electrical energy engulfed his body. Don felt the shocks shooting through his body, causing pain and disorientation. He squeezed his eyes shut in an effort to concentrate.
You can fight this off. Veronica showed you how. Don tried to focus, balling up his hands and tensing his arms. He took deep breaths, trying to ignore the pain. He began to chant a ward-off spell, and as he got to the right point, he flung his hands upward, dissipating the electrical charge. Immediately, he rolled to his left. This was a good move, as the attack he hadn't seen coming landed there.
Don rolled to his feet, tossing another baseball-orb at Heinrich, and then another. Both of them missed, but they caused Heinrich to dodge, and that gave Don time. He closed his eyes and chanted.
Mueller was about to attack Don again, but all of a sudden, as he turned, he had to ask himself, Which Don? Standing before him were five of them... now six. He chanted a magic-detection spell, but all of them appeared to be fake that way. Don had learned to cloak himself by creating a mirage that appeared right on top of himself.
Heinrich swung on the first couple illusions that approached him. They were all moving in seemingly random but threatening ways, and after the first few fake attacks, he began to ignore them. If I take out the entire area, it gets him by default, he thought. He began to concentrate on a spell.
Don had waited patiently for Heinrich to give up on attacking the illusions. He kept control of his simple spell, and cast a strength and speed incantation. Moving still in a seemingly random path, he moved closer and closer to Heinrich. Once he was in range, he lowered himself slightly and then launched off his right leg, driving his right fist upward into Heinrich's chin.
Heinrich had seen the coming attack, but he'd been 'hit' by so many illusions that he was ignoring it. He didn't ignore the sensation of flying through the air, nor the feeling of landing heavily on the concrete. He actually slid some distance, tearing his overcoat.
Don phased out the illusion, and he saw Heinrich's eyes blazing with anger.
"You are a dead man," Heinrich promised.
"Come get some," Don challenged.
Don dodged Heinrich's energy ball, and then he conjured up an actual baseball. He turned and pitched the ball as hard as he could, augmenting it with a strength spell. The ball, traveling at nearly ninety miles per hour, impacted Heinrich's shoulder. Heinrich spun around and grasped his shoulder in agony. Don formed up another baseball, hurling it at his opponent, but Heinrich was not out of it enough not to be ready for that.
Heinrich whirled, a javelin appearing in his hand. He lofted it straight for Don, but in the time it took him to throw it, Don simply moved aside, and the spear sailed harmlessly past him. He launched the baseball in his hand, but it missed as Heinrich dodged.
Back and forth they went, throwing different objects at each other. Don formed a Frisbee with a razor edge, sending it spinning at knee-level. He got a small cut on his hand; it was almost impossible to throw the thing safely. Heinrich didn't dodge far enough, and it gashed his leg, eliciting a roar of anger and pain from him. He hurled a pitchfork at Don, but again Don was able to move out of the way quickly enough to avoid injury.
Heinrich had had enough of this boy. He concentrated for a moment, and placed his hands in front of him, cupped outward. He generated a dozen razor-sharp spikes that launched themselves at Don. Don dodged, but not fast enough. Four of the small throwing darts embedded themselves into his flesh, causing pain and bleeding. He flicked them out of himself one at a time, concerned with the blood loss, but something told him he shouldn't worry about it just now.
Looking up, he saw that was sound advice. He whirled out of the way just in time to not be impaled on a javelin. Unfortunately, this one had a razor edge on its tip, and the spinning blade caught him a glancing blow on the shoulder. It was just enough to open a long gash, and to anger Don at his own stupidity.
Son of a BITCH!
Don tried to think of something he could use, and a bluff he'd used in his first magic fight came to mind. He could do it for real this time. Concentrating, he formed a stainless steel yo-yo in his hand. He didn't need a sharp edge to this; the corner formed by the butterfly design would be sharp enough while spinning. He twisted his body violently, releasing the yo-yo on its extra-long string. It whipped out in a straight line until it had reached its full length, and then, as Don yanked it back, he also continued to twist his body, now swinging the yo-yo in a wide arc.
The small weapon was a blur to Heinrich, and he had no chance of avoiding the hit. The yo-yo contacted him just in front of his ear, and it scraped along his face until it left just over his eye. He felt as if he'd just been cut with a knife, and blood was soon trickling into his eye, clouding his vision. He heard the smart slap! of the yo-yo as it returned to Don's hand.
Heinrich raised one hand to his head; he had a murderous headache now. The other hand, he raised, palm-out, to Don. Don thought perhaps that Heinrich was calling for a cease-fire, and he hesitated. If he could end this now, without anyone getting seriously hurt, he would.
But Heinrich was not asking for a reprieve. He had quietly chanted two spells, and now he lofted something in a wide arc with his left hand. The toss was horribly aimed, and would miss wide to Don's left, but it looked very much like a hand grenade, and Don didn't want to be anywhere near it when it went off. He dashed to his right.
The problem for Don was that it merely looked like a hand grenade. The real threat was the second spell that Heinrich had cast, which had released the parking brake on a nearby car, and started it rolling toward them. The street had a slight incline, and the car, with Heinrich's encouragement, picked up speed until it was doing at least ten miles an hour. Don ran right into its path before anyone could warn him.
The car slammed into Don's side, throwing him up onto the hood. He rolled across the hood and off the side, bouncing on the pavement and lying in a heap. Heinrich moved to the side to avoid getting run over by the car himself, and then he moved toward Don.
"It is time for you to die," Heinrich said.
Don panted and coughed, wiping sweat and blood out of his eyes. He saw the blast coming and dodged. It missed him by inches, and lanced into the tree behind him. Unfortunately, the blast was so powerful that it felled the tree, and Don had to roll out of the way to avoid being crushed under the weight of the falling timber.
He got back to his feet, but somewhat slowly. He was wearing out, weaving now. He looked at his enemy, who was not in much better shape. Don pushed himself, trying to come up with new attacks that Heinrich would not expect. He formed an energy ball, but as he released it, he changed the image in his mind. About halfway to the target, the ball erupted into magical blue flame, hurtling toward Mueller at high speed. Heinrich tried to duck, but Don was guiding the attack, and it managed to catch the edge of his arm. Heinrich's tattered overcoat was ablaze in seconds, and he struggled to shuck it before the flames did damage to his body.
While Mueller was otherwise occupied, Don came up with another new attack. He put his hands in front of him, palms out and arms bent. He concentrated, and as Heinrich turned back to form a new attack, Don began to launch orb after orb of magical energy. The orbs were small, but powerful, and Don was firing them just as fast as he could manage. Heinrich tried to dodge and weave, but Don kept adjusting his aim. Heinrich formed a spear and launched it at Don, forcing him to end the attack as he dodged the incoming weapon.
Heinrich launched another laser-like blast at Don, catching him on the leg and tumbling Don to the ground in pain. Don rose slowly, breathing hard from the agony of the injury. Suddenly, Don was engulfed in a blast of energy that threw him backward. He slammed into a light pole hard enough that his vision blurred, and he slumped to the ground, the attack over.
Heinrich looked at his enemy with a sneer. Don's body was bruised and bleeding. His left hand had been broken when Heinrich had stomped on it after hitting him with the car. He advanced toward Don with victory in his gaze. He had forgotten that there were even people watching this battle.
Annie had watched in horror as Don had been injured time and again, and had risen time and again to fight on. This time, she could not hold back. Before anyone could stop her, she ran out into the yard, scooping up three baseballs - they were all over the place by now - as she ran. She threw the first one, beaming Heinrich in the head with it.
"Leave him alone!" she screamed. The second one hit Heinrich in the chest. Heinrich saw that Don was getting to his feet, though he was obviously still shaken.
This bitch is preventing me from finishing him off! The third baseball was aimed at his groin, but missed, hitting him in his already-wounded knee instead. It brought him down to one knee, and he grimaced in pain, but now he was truly angry.
"You would dare to interfere in something that doesn't concern you?" Heinrich screamed, his accent thickening in his anger. "You will be punished!"
Before anyone could stop him or protect her, Heinrich leveled a massive wave of energy at her. Annie cringed, but had no ability to protect herself.
Don, on the other hand, did. He was aware enough that he understood the import of Heinrich's words, and as soon as he saw the attack begin, he ran to put himself between Annie and danger.
Don thought he wasn't going to make it. He cast a quick speed spell, and he launched himself into the air, screaming, "Nooooooooo!" He formed his shields at their maximum level, hoping to survive the attack himself...
When the energy hit Don, it was so strong that it actually kept him suspended in midair as the magic crackled along his shields, looking for a way in. Don knew that he couldn't hold out for very long; his magic had been waning for quite some time, and these were all last-ditch efforts on his part.
Don could feel his shields fluctuating, could feel the energy beginning to penetrate. He closed his eyes, tensing his body for what he knew had to be coming.
In his mind's eye, he saw the past several months. He relived his brief time with Annie on Earth. He flashed over the events before that, and his mind delved deeply into his memories of Zemlia Nov. He wished now that he had the strength that he had gained fighting Dan-Gelmer.
In that moment, Don felt as if he had made a new connection. Gaphnia's words came back to him about allowing magic to flow over him... or to redirect it.
Don stretched his arms out slightly. He struggled to maintain his concentration through the pain. He slowly chanted the spell, using his shield to direct the energy, gathering it together, rather than letting it wander freely.
Heinrich saw the energy moving, but he thought that it had found a weakness, and was now seeking entrance. He didn't understand the truth of things until too late...
Once Don had a good hold of the energy, gathered tightly in one spot, he chanted one final spell. Inverting his own shields, Don bounced the energy straight back at Heinrich. He knew that Heinrich would dismiss the attack, but hoped that he would have some recovery time-
He didn't need it. The energy traveled so fast that Heinrich had no chance to dismiss the spell. The energy hit him squarely, and his body was engulfed in the magical energy he had unleashed. Once within its grasp, he had no chance to stop it, and it fed on itself, and its creator. The energy doubled, then trebled, then doubled again. In a blinding flash of light accompanied by a massive scream of pain, Heinrich's body and soul were vaporized, leaving nothing behind but an echo.
Don saw none of this. His body was so worn out from deflecting the attack that, as soon as he was free of it, he lost consciousness, collapsing to the ground.
Annie screamed, "Don!" and she bolted to his side, kneeling down next to him and putting her hand on his chest. She whispered thanks that he was still breathing. Annie didn't look up when she felt a presence next to her; she knew it would be Katie, who knelt down on the other side of Don.
"Donny?" Katie whispered fearfully. "Donny, wake up!"
Veronica came over to the two of them, but she was looking around at the people who had been watching the battle. That the neighbors would be aware of what was going on was inevitable. Things could get very sticky for everyone shortly.
"I think we need to get him inside," Veronica said quietly. Amy came over, and the four of them carried him into the house and placed him on the sofa. Annie slid in so that his head was resting in her lap, and she stroked his hair gently as he lay unconscious. Veronica and Amy both began their incantations to heal him. Annie hoped that would work soon.
After a while, they stopped chanting. Annie looked up at them expectantly, but Katie was more direct.
"Why did you stop?" she demanded.
"The spells need time to run their course," Amy explained quietly. "If that's not enough, we'll do more in about an hour or so."
"Oh. Okay." Katie felt embarrassed that she was so demanding, but she feared for her brother's safety.
Meanwhile, Amy and Veronica moved to the other side of the room to talk quietly.
"Do you think that was enough?" Amy asked.
"I believe so. Strange as it is, he isn't all that physically hurt. The hand is already healing. The other wounds are mostly superficial. His magic will simply require rest. I don't think there's a lot more we can do for him." She looked over at him, and watched Annie. "The other things he needs... he's not going to want from us right now."
Amy nodded. "Aunt Veronica... I think it's time." When Veronica looked at her, she explained. "The spell? For Annie?"
"Oh! I'd completely forgotten. You're right. I think she's ready now."
Veronica closed her eyes and chanted softly, completing a process that she had begun weeks ago.
Annie was sitting quietly, stroking Don's hair gently, when she was hit by the spell. It rocked her back, pushing her into the sofa cushions strongly, but it was only her own body's reaction to the revelation....
...Dragonseeker...the world's most realistic RPG...
...There's not anybody to take with me. I'll go it alone...
...Where am I? Who are you? Oh, God I'm scared!...
...What would a guy like him want with me?...
...Why is he going to shoot the guy who saved me?...
...He doesn't even want to look at me... but, he's blushing...
...Ow! Oh, shit, that stung!...
...Don't you ever do anything like that ever again!...
...I love you, Don...
Annie's memories, released from their box, flooded through her consciousness in one great jolt. Katie saw the look on her face, and would have gone to help her, but Amy was right there, and held Katie back. Annie shivered and shuddered as her mind readjusted to its new-old knowledge. She began to sweat, and then she closed her eyes, trembling with the strain, her face pale and contorted.
"What's happening to her?" Katie cried.
"She's remembering," Amy said.
"You. Don. Zemlia Nov. Everything."
"Oh. How come you didn't do that to me?"
"Would you want to go through what she's going through?"
Katie hesitated, then said, "not really."
"I didn't think so. But Annie needs to know what happened... not just be told."
Annie continued to shake for several more minutes, her mind going through all the emotions of fear, terror, hope, and love. Veronica got a damp cloth and wiped her forehead with it, trying to help her settle. After a long, worrisome struggle, Annie finally began to calm down.
It was a long time before she opened her eyes again. She saw Veronica looking at her concernedly, and she smiled weakly, to let her know she was okay. When she looked down at Don, the look on her face was so easily readable to everyone in the room that they all smiled. Though she had been falling in love with him already, Annie now remembered - truly remembered - everything he had done for her, and all they meant to each other. She was deeply in love with him, and was grateful to have her memories of him back, despite the agony they had caused.
"My God, Don... I love you..." she whispered. She said it over and over again.
The others let them be.
Don awoke slowly. He felt comfortable; he knew he wasn't lying outside on the ground anymore. His body slowly reported that, though he was sore, he was probably not severely injured. His left hand throbbed, but when he tried to move it, it didn't cause any additional pain.
He could feel the softness pressing against him, and knew that he was in a bed. He could feel the sheets against his skin; someone had taken the time to undress him. He had obviously been out for a lot longer than he should have been. It was already dim outside; twilight... but evening, or morning?
Don noted that not all of the softness pressing against his body was a sheet. He felt a very warm softness pressing against his side, and he slowly turned his head to see Annie looking at him, a smile of love and friendship adorning her face.
"Hi there," she said quietly.
"Ohhh, my head," he replied. She moved her hand gently to caress his cheek and brush the hair out of his face. Don enjoyed her touch, but he was a little disconcerted; she had never been in bed with him before.
"Shh," she replied. "Veronica says you're fine. You'll be sore for a few days, and your hand will still hurt, but the rest of you is working just fine." She leaned down and kissed him. Their lips worked against each other passionately, and Don felt her hand slide down onto his chest. He sighed softly at her touch; confused as he was, it still felt good.
When she broke their kiss, Don looked her in the eye. "What... um..."
"What's the matter?"
"I'm just wondering what you're doing here," he said, confusion written on his face.
"Don't you want me here?" she asked fearfully.
"Yes!" he said, much too eagerly he knew. "It's just..."
Annie kissed him again to stop him, then she explained. "Veronica gave me back my memories. I know where we met, and how, and all that you have done for me."
Don blushed. "I just did..."
"More than anyone else ever has," she said for him. "I love you, too, Don."
He had nothing to say to that, but he leaned up and kissed her. She ran her tongue out along his lips until he parted them, and their tongues were soon dancing together. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him and feeling, for the first time, her body rub against his, skin to skin. It took him a moment to realize she, too, was not wearing any clothes. As she continued to slide herself against him, his cock began to rise, and for the first time, he realized he wasn't wearing any underwear. He wondered if she was.
Slowly, he ran his hands down her back as they continued to kiss. She inhaled sharply, and then moaned when his hands slid down onto her ass. She was not wearing any underwear, either. He softly plied her ass with his fingers, and she wiggled against him, sliding on top of him, her knee slipping between his legs. He could feel the heat of her pussy on his thigh. It was a very nice sensation.
Annie ran her hands gently along his sides as they kissed, and then she broke their kiss, sliding herself down his body, kissing as she went. Don caressed her hair and shoulders as she moved further down. She paused for a long moment to lick at his nipple, causing him to shiver.
Annie then continued down, leaving a wet path of kisses and nibbles as she went. Don was squirming now, and his dick was fully erect. When she got to his groin, she very gingerly wrapped her fingers around his shaft, and stroked up and down. She looked up at Don, who was gazing down at her, and then she turned her attention back to his cock. She slipped her tongue out and ran it along the side of his shaft. She licked up and down as her fingers stroked him gently, causing him to groan in pleasure. She pressed her lips to the side of his dick, kissing it along its entire length until she got to the head, where she licked all the way around before taking it slowly into her mouth. Don moaned loudly as Annie lowered her mouth onto his cock, using her tongue to excite him as she let her lips descend on his shaft.
Don's breath came in shudders as Annie worked over his cock. Her mouth slid up and down in slow movements as her hand continued to gently stroke him. Her tongue and lips were pleasing him in indescribable ways, causing his entire body to tingle with the feel of it. Her head began to bob faster, sliding up and down his prick in quick movements, her tongue slipping back and forth across his shaft as her lips sucked on him. Don grunted, trying to hold back his cum, but knowing it was a futile gesture.
Don grunted and gently tapped Annie's shoulder, but she ignored him, merely sucking harder and moving even faster. He closed his eyes tightly and let the world spew out through his cock, blasting his cum deep into her mouth. He could feel her swallow, and that caused even more spasms of his dick. She continued to milk him until his climax was completely past, and then she let him loose from her lips, licking up the stray drops that she had missed before laying his cock against his abdomen.
Annie slid back up Don's body, and she kept him from moving.
"All the time we've known each other, you've always been the one doing all the work. It's my turn. You just lay back and let me."
Don wasn't about to argue with her. He pulled her against him again and kissed her, their tongues once again dancing. Annie resumed her position, her knee between his legs, her thigh rubbing gently against his balls. He sighed into her mouth as her hands returned to caressing his sides. As they kissed, she slid her pussy up and down against Don's thigh, heightening her own arousal to a fever pitch.
Don ran his hands over her back, enjoying the feel of her silky skin. He loved the beautiful woman in his arms more than he could say, and being able to feel her against him was simply beyond words for him. He groaned as his cock began to return to stiffness.
Annie could feel his dick hardening and pressing against her as she rubbed herself against him. Her entire body was tense; her nipples were rock-hard points digging into his chest. Her pussy was wet and her clit was engorged. She was more than ready for him.
She broke their kiss and sat up, straddling his waist, which exposed her body to him for the first time. He gazed up at her lovingly, and reached out to gently cup her tits. Though small, they were sensitive, and his fingers caressing her caused her to close her eyes and moan in pleasure. She shivered as he found her nipples and tweaked them.
Unable to wait any longer, Annie reached down and took Don's prick in her hand, holding it upright. He looked into her eyes and smiled. She bit her lip as she raised up and positioned him at her entrance. His hands continued to play with her tits as she dropped herself forcibly onto his cock, busting her cherry, and causing her to squeak in pain.
Don froze in his movements. "You were a..."
Annie nodded, and squeezed her eyes tightly shut. "Please don't move."
Don continued to caress her breasts, and kept the rest of his body as still as he possibly could.
Annie loved him even more for his tenderness, and his patience. She could feel how ready his cock was, yet he was waiting for her. She opened her eyes and looked down at him.
Don smiled at her lovingly, and continued to fondle her chest.
"I guess you don't have to answer my question from this morning," she said, blushing.
"Hmm?" he responded. That morning seemed such a long time ago...
"About how close you and Katie are."
"Oh," he said, and chuckled. Annie giggled at him.
"How are the others?"
"Paul is still in Zemlia Nov, and Gill and I aren't friends anymore."
"What? Why? I mean, I know Paul didn't leave, but..."
"Yeah. He died here because he chose to stay there. And Gill and I broke up because of Susan."
"You know about Julie and me..."
"Yeah, but in the game, you and Susan..."
"Never happened, because of Gill being there for her. But here, she was trying to get back at him and, well, one thing led to another..."
"You already have three girlfriends?" Annie asked, slightly dismayed.
"No, I've only got one girlfriend," he said, reaching up to rub her neck. "The others are just really good friends."
Annie blushed. His hands were arousing her, and his words were calming her.
"I don't know if I can compete with all of them," she said, voicing her final worry.
"Who said you had to? The only one you have to put up with is Katie. I can't abandon her."
"I know. But I don't want you to give up the others for me, either. You were too close to them in the game... I can only imagine what it's like here..." Annie began to rock her hips ever so slightly, trying to get comfortable while keeping him aroused. She began to feel twinges of pleasure in her pussy.
"Okay," he said in a gasp, feeling her move on him. "But you're still not competing with them. You'll always be first."
Annie leaned down and kissed him. The movement of his cock that caused within her sent electric shocks of bliss throughout her body, and she moaned. She rolled her hips, and was rewarded with more tingles of pleasure. She rocked her hips back and forth now, moving smoothly on his cock. Her body repaid her with waves of ecstasy.
Don was also loving the movement of her pussy on his dick. She squeezed him as she slid off, and then she would slide back down onto him. It was very pleasurable.
Annie sat back up, and she let her hands press into his abdomen. She used her legs to begin to move up and down on his cock, her lithe body moving gracefully, but her eyes remained locked on her lover's.
Don reached up and began to fondle her tits again, seeking out her nipples and rolling them between his fingers. Annie moaned as he did that, feeling her pussy squeeze him extra hard as his reward. She could feel her heat rising as she began to pant. Don bucked his hips up into her with each of her downward plunges. His cock buried itself to the hilt in her on each stroke, and it was driving her mad with pleasure.
The two were moving in synch, their hearts beating in unison. Annie began to cry out with each thrust of his hips, feeling her orgasm coming closer and closer. Don grunted as well, fending off his own orgasm as long as he could.
When Don tugged on Annie's nipples and twisted them at the same time, she could no longer control herself. She screamed out, and her pussy clamped down on his cock. Her back arched, and she came, loudly, her body shuddering in massive waves of joy.
Don felt her cunt grip him, and he simply could not control himself any longer. He thrust up into her faster and harder, and then he froze, his prick buried fully inside her as his cum burst from the tip of his cock, washing her insides with his seed. Annie screamed again, feeling his cum inside her. The two bucked together for long moments, trying to enjoy their pleasure as long as they could.
Eventually, their thrashing settled, and they were left breathing hard, but happy. Annie looked down at Don, and she laughed.
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"Nothing, really," she said. "Just... all that time in Zemlia Nov, I was the one getting hurt, and never got laid. We come back to Earth and you get hurt... and then I get laid!"
"Oh," Don said, and then he chuckled, too. He pulled her down against him, his cock still buried firmly in her pussy. They kissed for long moments, coming down from their high into something warm and tender.
After they broke their kiss, Don said, "I love you, Annie."
"I love you, too."
"I'm afraid, after what happened today, you're going to have to move."
Annie nodded. "I know. Think you can find a house big enough for all of us?"
"You want them to move in with us?" Don asked incredulously.
"Absolutely! Besides, I also remember some things about Julie..."
Don raised an eyebrow, but kept his peace. He'd known that Julie was bisexual, and he'd suspected the pair had fooled around.
"Just promise me one thing," she said seriously.
"What's that?" he asked.
"No more computer games!" she said.
Don laughed, and nodded. "You got it."
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