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Introduction:

Murasame
With Commander Douglas dead, and the needed talisman in hand, Lyden must face his newly rediscovered father. He must bring the deadly curse of Muramasa to an end. Can his sanity withstand the consequences of doing so, or will he lose something he holds most dear?

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Chapter 24
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Murasame

I stand silently outside Shemhazau’s door. My father’s door. For most of my life I’d thought him dead, but now I know better. Inside this small hut is the man that helped bring me into this world, who’d raised me until that fateful day on the lake. And who is obviously mad with the curse of Masamune and living here in the Pillar of Light’s domain, using the paranoia of the place to stave off his sword’s effects.

How do I face him, knowing what I do now? I’d already talked to him once, sure, but then I’d thought he was just a means to an end and a silent benefactor. His actions take on a whole new light as I think back over what Angela had told me. He’d sent her to my office that day. He’d helped repair the Orange Bubble into a magical vehicle that Areth had made even more magical afterwards. How many other times had he helped me from the background, never letting his hand be seen?

Why couldn’t he just be there for me like any other father?

This is getting me nowhere, I think, while shaking my head to rid it of all the unanswered questions.

Brooke had reluctantly handed over the talisman before I’d left to follow the tiny dolphin back here, and I grip it almost painfully in my hand now. She had almost died to secure this for me. Is that why Shemhazau had made her go with me? For revenge in her part of my mother’s murder?

I pound hard on the door, not willing to think on that thought too much. The wooden entrance swings open on silent hinges, and I squint in order to try and see into the gloom. A golden object flies out at me, and I don’t even have time to duck before Areth has her body plastered to the side of my face in a fierce hug, or at least as fierce as her tiny arms can make it. Angela is only a couple steps behind her, but her hug is much stronger due to the size difference and the fact that she is still in her Amazon form.

“Ribs . . . cracking,” I gasp, not entirely wanting them to quit.

“I was so worried,” the succubus squeals. “Shemhazau was able to watch the whole thing through his dolphins, but he refused to say anything after Brooke. . . .” She steps back suddenly, hand over her mouth, and looks past me. “Oh, no! Lyden, I’m so sorry, I. . . .” She trails off as tears spring from her eyes and she hugs me again, this time softer, and I can feel her sobbing against my shoulder.

I never thought I’d see an Amazon cry, much less over the mermaid, but I don’t let her stay misinformed. “She’s alive,” I whisper as softly as I can. I don’t know if he’d meant for her death or not, but I don’t want Shemhazau knowing everything. I still don’t trust him.

“Of course she’s alive,” the man bellows from within the darkened hut. So much for keeping that a secret! “You asked for my help, son, and I gave it.” I guess he can read internal thoughts much as Angela can.

“Wait,” I state, shocked, “you’re the reason I was able to heal her?”

“Don’t sound so incredulous. I, well, you might say I had a hand in it.” The way he says ‘hand’. . . .

“You somehow healed her through what you did with her hand?” That doesn’t seem to make sense, but weirder things have happened since I found out about this other world.

“Don’t be so dense, boy. You healed her. I just demonstrated the way to do it with her hand. You are my son, after all.” The two women gasp at this revelation, and I realize that the crazy old coot hadn’t revealed that to them yet.

I think back to when Brooke lay motionless in my arms, and remember kissing her, full of emotion. Had that been the catalyst?

I notice the look on Angela’s face, a cross between anger and incredulity.

“If he’s your father. . . .” Her gaze switches between Shemhazau and me, “Then everything I’ve done since that day for him. . . .” Slowly she walks over to the old man and looks at him sharply. Without warning, the strong woman’s arm flies out and slaps him across the face. The man stumbles under the blow, and I’m too shocked to react. “I trusted you!” she bellows at him. “You were like a father to me, and you used me for your own purposes. If you’d have just told me the truth, I would have done anything for you.” She lifts her arm to strike him again, but this time I break from my paralysis and catch her arm in my left hand. She turns her glare on me, angry at being thwarted, but I step in quickly and plant a soft kiss on her lips.

“I still love you,” I tell her softly. Confusion at the juxtaposition of my words and her actions registers in her large blue eyes.

“He used me, Lyden. He lied to me.” There is genuine pain in her tone, and I glare at my father as I hug her to me. He steps further into the light, and I finally get to see his eyes. They are as gray as mine are and filled with sorrow.

“I have a feeling he’s used a great many people in his lifetime,” I tell her soothingly.

“Do you want me to blast him, Lyden?” Areth asks me. The thought of the little pixie trying to blast Shemhazau is almost laughable, and I remember Brooke’s warning that he’s nearly as powerful as the Pillars are. It does strike me as a bit odd that the pixie is willing to do battle for the succubus’s pride.

“No. I think he’s hurting enough already,” I tell the pixie. I turn back to my old man, and fix him with a piercing glare. “I think there is a lot we need to discuss,” I tell him, my voice firm.

He nods at me, and smoothly walks back inside. I catch sight of his right hand, the one that hadn’t been against his cheek, and see a glow slowly fade away. He’d been ready for battle.

I lead the succubus inside, and mentally send her the image of her as a punk as I sit down, and pull her into my lap. She’s quite a bit lighter in this form, and she seems grateful for the affection. Areth lands on her favorite spot, my right shoulder, and we wait for Shemhazau to speak.

The old man stares at us for a bit, before finally clearing his throat, “So, what would you have me talk about?”

“How about at the beginning,” I say slipping my arm around Angela and patting her leg to indicate my meaning.

“The beginning goes back further than you may know, son. If you want my history, I’m sure you can find plenty of tales about me on the internet. Surprisingly many of them are true.” I’m surprised he’s familiar with the internet, but as knowledgeable as he constantly is, I guess I shouldn’t be. “But I suspect you want to know about other things,” he nods to Angela with a small smile, but she just sniffs and cuddles closer to me. The older man sighs heavily and lays his head back against his chair and closes his eyes.

“It was your mom, Lyden, who convinced me to help out Angela. As mermaids are forbidden to enter the old world, she couldn’t do it openly. We used to visit there anyway, just for fun.” Sadness enters his tone as he talks about my mother. “Your mom wanted to have a child, but since our union was anathema, we knew we never could. I used to rule over all succubae long ago, and since Angela was a newly formed one, we thought it would be perfect for me to help her.” This explains how he was able to read my surface thoughts earlier, as the ruler of the sexual demons, it must be one of his powers. I realize how well informed this man seems to be about what I know, as well as the rest of the world, and can only think that his dolphins have something to do with this.

“But I don’t remember ever meeting her,” Angela says, refuting the man’s story.

“No, but she watched over you, nonetheless,” he replies, still keeping his eyes closed. A small smile spreads over his face as he continues to look into the past. “I was the face you saw, but there were many things she did for you in the background. No, I won’t talk about them now, they were too many, and I don’t want to think much on that. It still hurts, losing her.

“Anyway, in the throes of passion one night, your mother got with child. That same night, we were discovered in our union by Douglas’s wife. She reported us, of course, and we fled. I’m older than human history, but even I can die by an assassin’s blade. We hid on Earth, and that’s where you were born, Lyden. We took the last name of Snow—a poor joke on your mother being from Water, and the cold treatment they gave us here in this realm—and tried to live as normal humans.

“For reasons I’ll never know, Douglas never gave up looking for us, and somehow found where we were.” His voice takes on an edge now as anger fills it. Why had Douglas been so adamant in finding my parents? Too much is going on, and I’ll never be able to ask the other man. “We thought we were safe. We went for a trip on the lake. Your mother missed swimming most of all, and the closest we could come was boat rides. When the two assassins came for us, we were nearly defenseless. Your friend snatched you out of the boat while your mother pleaded for your life. She cared more for you than anything else.” He pauses again, and I can see a tear leak out of his eye.

“Her pleas were cut short when Douglas ran her through.” Righteous anger suffuses his tone now. “It all happened so quickly. All I had on me was a small dagger in my boot.” He snorts derisively. “I pulled it out, ready to sacrifice myself to avenge you and your mother. Douglas laughed at me, and to my surprise at the time, threw me a sword. I was angry and desperate—not thinking straight after losing both of you—but I still should have known it was a trap. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I drew Masamune from its sheath. The assassin had worn gloves, but I was bare handed. The curse took me, and I couldn’t fight him. When he attacked, all I could do was de fend myself, using both blades.”

He shakes his head, but I can see his knuckles are white as he grips the arms of his chair. “Thankfully the curse was still new enough, that I was able to get in a lucky strike with my dagger, and get away. I hid out until they left, and found you on the bottom of the lake, okay. I don’t know what possessed the female assassin to spare your life, but I suspected she would be back, so I watched over you with my dolphins until she returned. I continued to watch over you from the shadows. I had to watch from a distance while you grew up into the person you are today. You’ll never know how hard that was, but I did it for your own safety.” Again, I marvel at how strong he must be, and how much his dolphins must aid him.

He opens his eyes, and looks to Angela for a few seconds before continuing, “It was shortly after Douglas killed my wife that I brought you to the new world for the first time. You accused me of using you. . . . I won’t deny that I did, but I never wanted you to be in harm’s way. I didn’t know you would grow feelings for my true son. I never meant to hurt you, Angela, as I have always tried to treat you as my daughter.” He chuckles a bit to himself. “If I hadn’t spent so much time as the leader of a species that delights in sex in all its glory, I might have a problem with my two children being together.”

“He’s not my brother,” Angela says at the same time I claim, “She’s not really my sister!” We look at each other, and then laugh a little uncomfortably. She tries to get up from my lap, but I tighten my grip on her, and force her to stay where she is. She gives me a thankful look, and then a quick peck on the cheek.

My father misses none of this, of course, but he drops his head back, and continues speaking. “Yes, I sent Angela to you, Lyden, and yes I’ve manipulated events since then.” He draws in a deep breath, and the way he does so, makes me think I’m not about to like what he has to say next. “I’m the reason you have that cursed blade at your hip.”

I charge to my feet in outrage and shock, unfortunately dumping Angela, and sending Areth angrily fluttering away. “You WHAT?!?” I demand, rage infusing my entire being at his revelation.

Despite my actions, Shemhazau remains seated, his eyes closed and his voice steady, if not completely calm. “I stole the blade from Marchosias, placed a new hilt on the tang, and delivered it into his fantasy world, giving it to you.”

Why would you do that?” I demand, painfully holding the referenced grip. He had intentionally cursed me? I don’t even want to know how he was able to slip into Marchosias’s world, to give it to me.

His eyes open again, and if ever I’d thought he was crazy or not altogether there, those notions fly right out of my head. What I see in his light gray eyes is pure cunning. Before me is a man who doesn’t just think things through, but plans for every contingency. There isn’t an action that occurs around him, that he hasn’t already prepared for or set in motion.

“You intended for Brooke to die.” The words are out of my mouth, before the thought had completely formed in my head, but as soon as I speak, I know them for truth.

“I knew there was a chance she would die,” he tells me without blinking. “I also knew there was a chance she would survive. I gave you the best chance of making sure she lived. If she died, though, then it would have been small penance for her part in your mother’s murder.”

“Bullshit,” I exclaim indignantly. “That’s why you sent her and me alone. And what about her helping me out thoughout my childhood? A childhood without a parent? Doesn’t that account for something?”

“She’s alive, isn’t she? I know a hundred different ways that encounter could have played out, son,” he states, only a slight edge touching his voice. “Douglas was a master swordsman in every respect. He threw me Masamune to test his technique out on the blade’s defense. He had beaten it before. He could have killed your entire group, including you. Your best chance lay in surprising him with the mermaid alone. In the end, all that matters is how it did come to play.”

“And how do you see things playing out with our swords father?” Not until the words are out of my mouth, do I realize how homoerotic that statement was, but my anger won’t let me be sidetracked. “You said before I left that I would have to kill you. What happens if I choose not to kill my own father?”

The grin that splits his face then seems almost feral. “Many things can happen then. Neither of us will be free of the curse, unless I choose to kill you. Since you’re the one prophesied to defeat the ancient evil, I’d rather not kill my own blood. Despite what you may think of me right now, I care for you.”

“What do you know of the prophecy?” I ask, some of the steam has been taken from my anger at his words.

“I knew the oracle that spoke it. I was there when it was given.” His eyes still hold the same edge, but there seems to be more there now. “When it became apparent to me that you were a generator, and I saw the signs of the prophecy coming to pass, I took action. I understood the part about the cursed swords. A blade to kill, and a blade to save, a talisman to forge the path between. To kill and save, or save and kill, one path to both, yet choices lean.” He pauses to fill his lungs. “I’d have happily given you the sword to save, but it was too late. The only choice was to give you the sword that kills. You will never know how much sorrow I felt at that action. Especially because I know how it needs to end.”

“I won’t do it!” I shout. My emotions are boiling right now. “I’ve had to live my life without having you there, and now that I’ve found you again, I refuse to take you out of my life!”

“To kill and save, or save and kill, one path to both, yet choices lean.” He shakes his head, his stringy gray hair spreading out. “If you kill me, then you can save so many lives. If you save me, then we are all doomed anyway.”

My legs give way beneath me, and I collapse back into the chair.

“How can you ask this of him?” Angela asks, stepping between us. “Do you have any idea what that will do to him?”

“It will save his sanity,” Shemhazau states quietly. “He can live here, and slowly Muramasa will erode his willpower, until he is nothing but a violent shell. He can return to Earth, where his blade will destroy him in a matter of days, if not less. Or—“

“Or he can kill you, change his curse, and have to live with the guilt that he killed his own father for the rest of his life, until it eats away at him, and he goes mad,” Angela spits, cutting my father off.

“Yet choices lean,” he quotes the last stanza of the verse again.

“How will this work?” I try to ask, but my voice breaks and I have to repeat myself before I’m heard. “How will this work?”

“Lyden, you can’t seriously. . . . He’s your father!” Angela says spinning to face me.

“Even I don’t think you can handle such a crime,” Areth says next.

I really do need Lisa here to cheerlead me on, though I doubt she’d support me in this either. I don’t blame them.

“Shemhazau,” Angela spins back around, her blue hair flying out from her pretty little head, “please! There has to be another way. I don’t want to lose you either!”

Shemhazau pulls her into a tight hug, and I can see the succubus crying against his chest, even as she beats her fists against it.

She truly does love him like a father, I think, as I slowly get to my feet. I feel entirely numb inside. There is no emotion left in me right now. After almost losing Brooke yesterday, finding out that this man is my father, and with everything else, I just can’t do it. I’m tired, I’m exhausted, and I don’t have it in me to fight anymore. Maybe when Aldol is defeated, I’ll have time to lie down and just sleep the sleep of death. Until then, I have too much work ahead of me.

“What must I do?” I ask while pulling out the round black and white talisman Brooke had removed from Douglas’s corpse. His dried blood has permanently stained the leather thong, but it’s the orb that attracts my attention with its constantly swirling striations of light and dark. Almost like the colors of our two opposing blades, I realize.

“Lyden, no!” Angela screams, breaking free of Shemhazau and diving for the talisman. My father is no slouch, however, and with a quick wave of his hand, she vanishes along with Areth.

“Don’t worry,” he says as I stare at the spot she’d just been in, “I sent them to your other companions.” He regards me seriously for a moment, and then says, “For what it’s worth, I truly am sorry, son. I’ve spent all the time I can spare, trying to come up with another solution, and failed.”

I only nod at his words, still empty inside. It doesn’t matter. None of it does. I’m simply a pawn, caught up in a battle between beings of much greater power.

“When I remade the hilt of your sword, I placed a hidden compartment in it. Twist off the bottom piece.” I do as I’m told, and find that the end of the hilt comes off. “Good, now place the talisman in there. Yes. And put the cap back on.” I continue to do as I’m told like a puppet on strings, removing the wire around the talisman, and sealing it into the hilt.

“For this next part, we’d better not do it in this realm. The guilt would destroy you.” He places his hand on my shoulder, and once again I feel that tugging at my navel a split second before I find us outside again. Blinking at the sudden light, I look around and see we’re back in the Pillar of Earth’s realm. The border with Light is right behind me, and I can also make out the dry rocky ground of Fire’s domain. “This is a crossroads for both of us,” he says, and walks across the border into the dry air. He gives a flourish with his right hand, and suddenly Masamune is there, the dark black blade glinting in the light. The blade turns in his hands, and a moment later, he’s presenting the hilt to me. “You must take my blade, draw yours, place them together, and strike me down with both.” I can see tears begin to form in his eyes as he speaks. Some small spark of emotion tries to come to the surface, but somehow I can sense Muramasa tamping it down. He must sense the tension in the air, and know he’s about to feed. “Don’t hesitate,” my father continues, his voice starting to become choked up. “If you take too long, the warring blades will destroy your mind. Strike hard, and strike—“

He cuts off as I swiftly grip the hilt of Masamune, draw out Muramasa, and set them side-by-side, gripping both blades in one hand. In the less than a second that this action takes, I can already feel Masamune trying to get me to lie down and relax and be at peace. At the same time Muramasa crows with freedom, and his desire to feed and kill. I almost stumble under the onslaught of the warring influences, but I thrust my hand forward and some small part of me watches in horror as the twin blades pierce my father’s chest. Two small rivulets of blood start to wind their way down his chest.

White light, blindingly bright pours forth from the holes in Shemhazau’s chest, as his mouth opens and he speaks his final words.

“Thank you, Son. I love you, and have always been proud of the person you are becoming.”

Emotions return in a tidal wave of grief. Too much to handle at once, and I black out.

* * *

“He’s over here!” someone yells, and I open my eyes. Angela is looking down at me, worry thick in her hazel eyes. So odd, I think, that her eyes change color with every form of hers. I wonder if the world looks different for her with each eye color change. “Lyden, speak to me! Are you alright? Where’s Shemhazau?”

Where is he? How should I know? He was here just a moment ago.

“Something’s not right,” she says. “He’s not responding.” Her hand whips back, and a second later I hear a crack as she slaps me.

I don’t feel it.

“What happened to him?” This is Brooke’s voice, and a second later I see her curly red hair blocking out the sky.

“I don’t know!” Angela’s voice is full of painful emotion as she continues to look down at me.

I don’t care.

“This is the border with Fire, right?” Jewkes’s voice comes from my right. I wonder what his first name is? I’ll have to ask him, sometime. Not now though.

“Yeah, I know,” Angela says. “We need to move, but Lyden won’t budge.”

“We’ve got incoming,” Jennifer shouts. Angela looks away from me, and I see her face go white. Well, whiter than it normally is when she’s in this aspect.

You know, I really can’t decide if I like this aspect of her more, or her original self, the black-Asian woman.

“It’s that light thing from before!” Lisa’s voice rings out.

Multihued lights shine across everything in view, but surprisingly I hear a pistol going off.

“Come on!” Jewkes screams out, and I see him step forward, wearing his colored sunglasses. “Why are you all just standing there?”

Jennifer comes up behind him and without hesitation strikes him in the back of the skull with her shotgun. The law official crumbles under the blow.

The large-chested woman jerkily walks over to me, and I somehow know she is fighting Aldol’s influence. “It would seem you’re harder to kill than I thought,” Jennifer’s mouth forms the words, but it’s Aldol’s sexually ambiguous voice that pours forth. “This time I’ll be sure to finish the job.”

Jennifer slowly brings her shotgun to point at my face, but I still can’t find it in me to care right now.

Lyden, an unexpected voice sounds directly into my mind, I know you’re upset with me, but right now would be a good time to act.

“Dad?” My own voice sounds rough in my ears, and Jennifer freezes for a moment, her features confused.

Son, if you don’t act soon, everyone you love is going to get killed.

Energy floods through my limbs at that thought, and I roll to the side just in time to avoid having my head blasted by shotgun spray.

I use my momentum to gain my feet, and look at my attacker. “Forgive me,” I tell Jennifer, then super speed past her. Turning and drawing my blade, I strike her much as she’d struck Jewkes, with the hilt of my blade. I notice that my blade now has the constantly swirling eddies of light and dark as the talisman had, and know that the two separate blades are now one.

Behind you.

I spin around in time to see Thomas level his rifle at my chest. Everyone else is frozen where they stand, though I can hear AnnaBelle praying. Why is she free of Aldol’s control? Whether she’s praying to Aldol, or the Pillar of Light, I’m not sure, but I don’t have the time to think about that right now.

Thomas fires, and everything slows down. I watch in fascination as flame pours out of the barrel just ahead of the bullet. It’s almost child’s play to move the blade into the projectile’s path and deflect it harmlessly to the side. Normal time resumes as the chunk of lead strikes the dirt.

Thomas lands face first a second later, and I turn to look around me. “Give it up, Aldol. You can’t beat—Oomph!”

Something large and bright flies from the monster, striking me in the chest, and I go flying back. Where had that come from? I didn’t know it could do that!

Dazed, I look around, and try to get back to my feet. Smoke curls up from my bare chest, and I can see that it’s red, raw, and bleeding. Breathing is difficult and filled with horrific pain.

“THIS IS NOT YOUR WORLD, FIEND,” a new voice booms out and I feel like my head is struck by a powerful bell. “BEGONE NOW, OR FACE THE MIGHTY HOST OF HEAVEN IN ALL ITS HOLY WRATH.”

Aldol’s voice rings out from many throats. “I will not be thwarted this time. I will destroy this world and every world! Your master’s enforced order in what should be pure chaos is wrong. You have no idea the amount of pain these creations cause.”

Despite his declaration, the multi-hued creature flees. What did it mean: these creations causing pain?

“RISE GENERATOR, AND BE WHOLE.”

The pain in my chest vanishes, and I carefully get to my feet. Looking around, I swear to you, I see an actual angel. White wings, halo, and all. A bright golden sword is in his hands, and he takes a moment to sheath it at his side.

The angel turns to AnnaBelle then, and places his hand on her head. “YOUR PLEAS FOR HELP WERE HEARD, LITTLE ONE. YOUR FAITH HAS BEEN REWARDED.”

“Thank you, dear Lord!” the older woman cries out, dropping to her knees, hands clasped before her and tears streaming from her eyes.

“I AM NOT THE LORD, BUT ONE OF HIS HUMBLE SERVANTS.” He turns back to me, and I see his gaze go to the blade at my hip. “I KNEW YOUR FATHER A VERY LONG TIME AGO, GENERATOR. HE MADE SOME POOR CHOICES, AND WAS PUNISHED FOR THEM. STILL, I AM SADDENED TO SEE HIM IN SUCH A STATE. KNOW THIS: THE FATE YOU AVOIDED BY USING THE TALISMAN, IS NOW HIS FATE, AS HE MUST CONSTANTLY ACT TO BALANCE OUT THE OPPOSING FORCES OF THE TWO BLADES. MASAMUNE AND MURAMASA ARE NO MORE. FROM THIS DAY FORTH, YOUR BLADE IS MURASAME. YOUR FATHER WILL GUIDE YOU AS HE IS ABLE, BUT HIS PATH BACK TO RIGHTEOUSNESS IS FOREVER BLOCKED.”

Tell Michael my father says as tears spring to my eyes, that he still owes me for that bet between Adam and Eve.

The angel laughs loudly, and I think my eardrums are about to burst at the powerful sound.

“I THOUGHT I PAID THAT TODAY, OLD FRIEND. FINE THEN.” The angel Michael approaches me, and holds out his hand palm up. In it is a tiny golden horn, affixed to a thin golden chain. “WHEN THE NEED IS DIRE, AND ALL HOPE SEEMS LOST, SOUND ON THIS, AND I WILL COME TO YOUR AID.”

“How am I—“ I try to ask, but he’s already gone.

Suddenly I’m hit from all sides by a tangle of arms, legs, and breasts. Overwhelmed by the day’s events, I close my eyes, and just enjoy the moment.

“Don’t you ever do that to us again,” Brooke glares at me when she pulls out of the tangle.

I see Angela look at me sadly and turn to walk away.

“Angela, wait!” I cry out as I see her wings form.

“Forget about me, Lyden,” she says, without turning around, her voice choked up. “I still love you, but I don’t know if I can ever forgive you.” She takes to the air and is soon out of sight, flying straight into TanaVesta’s realm.

I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive myself, I think after her, understanding how she feels. I’d killed the man she thought of as a father. He had been my father.

“She’ll be back,” Areth says, landing on my shoulder. “No one can resist staying away from a dolt like you.”

Turning away, I face the rest of the group. My heart is torn in more pieces than I ever thought possible at the moment, but there is work to be done, and I have responsibilities to meet.

Thomas, Jewkes—whose first name I find is Richard—and Jennifer are all fine and unharmed. Ondine still fusses over Thomas, and I can tell he’s hamming it up for more attention from her.

“Your wrist,” Sheila says, taking my right hand.

“Michael must have fully healed me,” I tell her dishonestly.

“That was the Angel Michael?” AnnaBelle cries out in shock, and I realize his name hadn’t been spoken out loud. The pious woman drops to her knees, and I have no doubt whom she’s praying in thanks to this time.

We check ourselves over and find that no one is hurt. Brooke tells me that her scarred stomach had been healed after waking up in Douglas’s small home.

“Why were you able to resist that thing?” Becky asks Jewkes, and I perk up a bit, wondering the same. “Are you colorblind, too?”

“What do you mean?” he asks, somewhat confused. “I’m not colorblind at all. What does that have to do with anything?”

“I think it’s his shades,” I say, entering the conversation. “You said they were Blublockers, right? Don’t those block out a certain wavelength of light?” He nods at my statement, and I feel a small measure of happiness enter me. “We need to get more of those,” I say. “They make you immune to Aldol’s control, just like my color-blindness does for me.”

“You mean that was the thing you’d told me about?” he asks incredulously. “Didn’t seem all that tough to me.”

“Except that its true power resides in its ability to control almost anyone it wants,” I tell him.

He rubs the back of his neck and gives Jennifer a rueful look. “I see what you mean.”

Jennifer looks apologetic, but we all know her actions weren’t her fault.

“We really shouldn’t stay here any longer than we need to,” Becky says, and of course I can’t argue with her logic. “Can we get back without Angela?”

That poses an issue I hadn’t thought about before. Angela had always been the means of getting us in and out through the oak tree elevator.

“Only one way to find out,” Lisa says, and starts heading south.

“I am here for you if you need me, Master,” Sheila says after we’ve been moving for a bit, offering her services as a whipping post.

“Thank you, but I’m fine,” I dismiss her off-handedly. I’m not in the mood, but don’t want to hurt her feelings either.

“Are you going to be alright?” Becky asks me a few moments later.

“You can talk to us if you need to,” Lisa says before I have a chance to reply.

“Thank you, my beautiful girlfriends,” I try to tell them graciously, “but I have too much to do, for me to just lie down and wallow in self-pity.”

They give each other a look, which I ignore, and then walk away.

“Don’t even think about trying to comfort me,” I tell Areth as she rides on my shoulder, and she gives a ‘humph’ before flying off to annoy Sheila. I can see Brooke giving me worried looks, but right now I just want to be left alone. I don’t need to be coddled, I just need to buckle down and take Aldol out. Once that creature is out of commission, then I can concentrate on my love life.

“So, remember how I told you I served in the Army?” Thomas asks when he approaches me. “It was tough. I never told you why I got out, though.” I look at him, wondering if this is another attempt to cheer me up after Angela’s leaving. “I had my own squad, and my commander ordered me to do something I knew was wrong. I refused, of course, but he talked some of my men into doing it.” He chuckles lightly, shaking his head. “That’s kind of how I see that light thing. He talks you into doing things you know you shouldn’t. I’m really sorry I tried to shoot you.”

“What happened to your commander?” I ask, ignoring his apology. I know it wasn’t his fault.

This time his laugh is genuine. “As far as I know he’s still in Fort Leavenworth, turning big rocks into little rocks, and being Bubba’s Bubbette at night.”

I smile at his analogy, and after a few seconds of silence, he walks away.

You know you’re going to need to face your feelings sooner or later, don’t you?

“Not you, too,” I whisper so no one else can hear. “I’ve had plenty of practice lately reigning in and controlling my emotions. I think I’ll survive.”

The walk to the Oak tree seems to take forever, and I have to fight hard in order to keep my emotions in check at the sight of it. So many memories. . . .

Thankfully the bark splits for us, and a couple of trips later, we’re all safely back on Earth.

The sun is just coming up over the city buildings as we pull out of the garage.

“We’ve been gone for three weeks,” Lisa says, checking her phone.

“There goes my job,” Jennifer groans.

“I could put in a good word for you at the department,” Jewkes offers, and I’m surprised at how readily the large breasted woman agrees.

“We might have a bigger problem,” Becky states, and I can see she’s truly worried over something. She doesn’t give me any significant looks, so I know it’s not her concern over my well-being. “Aldol knows you’re still alive, Lyden. He also knows where we live.”

Silence sits heavily in the crowded car as we all take that in. Becky was the one most affected the last time Aldol attacked us at her place.

“I could get you police surveillance,” Jewkes states hesitantly, “but I don’t honestly think they’re equipped to deal with your sort of problems.”

“They’re not,” I state bluntly. The law enforcer grimaces, and I realize I might have been a bit too blunt, but I don’t care enough right now to mollify him.

I believe I can help, here. Shemhazau, or maybe I should start calling him Murasame now, informs me that he has many bank accounts on Earth, and that we can get plenty of money to find a better place.

“But what about all our stuff?” Lisa asks when I inform them of what my blade said.

“I forbid anyone to go back there,” I say firmly, and get more than just a few dirty looks at my imperious tone.

“I’ll send a car around, and see if anyone or anything is watching it,” Jewkes tells the two women. I glare at him, but he just shrugs his shoulders. “I understand you want to keep everyone safe, Lyden, but I’m not under your jurisdiction.” He turns back to Lisa, “Give me a key, and if it looks clear, I’ll have someone move all your valuables, and anything you list, out.” The two women immediately get to work listing everything they can’t lose, and from the suffering look Jewkes gets at the growing list, I can see he’s starting to regret his decision.

“Would . . . would it be alright if I stayed with you?” Ondine nervously asks Thomas. The older veteran looks nervously at me, and I just nod his way. It’s his decision, and Ondine doesn’t belong to me.

“I would be honored,” he tells her, and then his cheeks burn bright red as the mermaid hugs him tightly.

As soon as she lets him go, I carefully pull him aside. “I’m not going to tell you how to live your life,” I begin, “but I wanted to make sure you understand what you’re getting into.”

“Wha’d’ya mean?” he asks me, glancing over my shoulder at his new roommate.

“She’s a mermaid, not human for one, and she’s completely infatuated with you,” I state matter-of-factly.

“I may be old, Lyden, but I’m not dumb. Though she could be young enough to be my daughter,” he tells me with a grin on his face. “It was easy to figure out she wasn’t human. Hell, you tend to attract very few human women,” he gives Areth, buzzing around the compartment of the Orange Bubble, a significant glance. “And I’m not blind, either. But tell me; where is a man my age, going to find a hot young thing like that, willing to be with him in our world?”

“The internet,” I reply blandly, and then ruin it with a little laugh. Man, but it feels good to smile about something! “And she might not be as young as you think,” I add, remembering how old Brooke is.

“Do you think I could convince her to get some piercings?” he asks me conspiratorially, and my laugh only grows as I walk away from him. He’d been the original reason Angela had shown up as a punk that fateful day at work.

We hit the bank, and I have to sign an entire novel’s worth of forms, before they inform me that the money will be available within forty-eight hours. Thankfully Shemhazau is able to communicate with me even when we’re not together, as I’d left him in the car. Somehow I think the bank would have frowned on me bringing in a large katana-like weapon.

My father informs me that he was steadily growing weaker, the longer we were apart. I guess that explains why Muramasa kept coming back to me, even when I didn’t want him to.

While we were at the bank, I saw that I still have enough money, and then some, in my account to get us all a hotel room to tide us over. I decide to splurge and reward my friends with a five-star experience, but after paying for the rooms I head back to the Orange Bubble to be alone.

Everyone heads up to their penthouses—I’d rented two—except for me. Even Areth is willing to change into her tiny golden dog form, but I choose to stay with the one link I still have to Angela.

My wallowing is interrupted by a knock on my car’s door.

“What is it, Arethusa?” I demand, when I sense the fairy on the other side.

“I don’t think you should be alone, right now,” she says to me. If it had been anyone else, I would have turned them away, but this is so out of character for the little fairy, that I just decide to turn away and let her back in. I’m not feeling up to arguing with her right now.

Ignoring her and crawling into the oversized bed, I’m soon fast asleep.

My dreams are filled with visions of faceless monsters, coming for me, and slowly taking out my friends, one by one.

“Lyden, wake up!”

Sitting bolt upright, sweat flings from my brow before running down into my eyes, making them sting.

“You were having a nightmare,” the fairy says soothingly, placing a hand on my shoulder.

Wait a minute. . . .

My legs get tangled in the blankets as I attempt a hasty retreat from the bed, resulting in me landing face first on the floor of my car.

“Stay back!” I yell at whomever was just in bed with me. It couldn’t have been Areth, she’s not big enough to be the owner of the hand that had been on my shoulder.

“Lyden, relax! It was only a dream,” the golden pixie’s voice sounds above me as I free myself from the evil covers.

“Who are you?” I demand. Murasame’s hilt is suddenly in my grasp, and I hold the sheathed blade up, still trying to see in the dim light filtering through the curtains.

A golden glow slow brightens from my bed, and I see the fully formed body of Areth on her hands and knees, looking curiously at me. The glow is coming from her.

“Arethusa?” I ask, confused. “But how . . .?” I realize I’m still pointing my sheathed blade at her, and embarrassedly drop it.

“Gee, you sure don’t wake up easy, do you?” the normally tiny woman asks of me, trying to hide a smile behind her hand. “And stop calling me Arethusa. I hate that name,”

“How did you get so big?” I ask her, trying to hide my disgruntlement at being so terrified a moment before. “Is Marchosias back? Did he do this to you?”

“The demon?” She quirks one light-colored eyebrow at me. “Why would he. . . . Oh! Silly mortal, I can do this on my own!”

Silly mortal? Grr. . . . I’m a mortal? Does that mean she’s immortal?

“Then why haven’t you done it on your own before now?” I demand, my ire rising.

“Because there hasn’t been a reason to,” she states simply. “The way you were tossing around in your sleep, you almost crushed me twice. I figured it would be safer if I was this size.” She emphasizes her point by shrugging.

Anger turns back into embarrassment at her statement.

“Sorry,” I mutter as I get to my feet, and try to straighten the blankets some before getting back under them.

Lying on my side, facing away from the still slightly glowing fairy, I try to get back to sleep. Her arm slips around me, and I can feel her breasts pressed against my back. Despite my mood, my cock also seems to notice.

“Today really screwed you up, didn’t it?” she asks without preamble.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I tell her, trying to keep my voice calm. I thought I’d made that clear enough, earlier.

“Well I do want to talk about it,” she huffs. “I know she means a lot to you, and you lost your father today as well.”

“I said I don’t want to talk about it,” I repeat myself, my voice full of anger. Despite everything, I can feel tears begin to fill my eyes. Why did this have to happen? I honestly don’t know which is worse: having Angela leave me again, or knowing that I killed my own father.

I’m still here with you, son, Shemhazau’s voice fills my mind.

It’s not the same, I think.

“On the other hand,” Areth continues talking as though I hadn’t, “The succubus is still alive, and you’re free of the cursed blade.”

“I’m not free of it,” I yell back. “I killed my own father, and still have the damned thing with me, only now it’s filled with the voice of my father. I will never escape the guilt of what I’ve done!” the tears are flowing in earnest now. “And Angela left because I had no choice and killed the man she saw as her father. I can’t even tell you how messed up I feel about that!”

“You’re alive,” she states then, as if that should make the whole world right again.

Anger over flows through me as I roll over on top of her, and pin her arms down as I glare at her. She doesn’t understand, and I don’t know how to make her understand. My voice is loud as I scream mere inches from her face. “I’m alive? What good is that, when everyone around me keeps getting hurt? Angela is gone, my father is dead, I’m saddled with a sword that is likely going to be more trouble than it’s worth, and all you can say is, ‘I’m alive’?”

“I was wondering what it would take to get you on top of me,” she says then, a smile spreading across her lips and giggling softly. I can feel her hips moving against my groin, but it still takes a few seconds for her meaning to penetrate my skull. “You haven’t hardly looked at me twice since we escaped from Marchosias’s fantasy world. I was beginning to think you didn’t care for me. Then when you found out I’d tricked you. . . . I’m glad to finally see you showing me some emotion. Treat me as you do Sheila, if you must. I can take it. Just stop ignoring me.”

I’m stunned. I mean, I know she’d said she loves me, but I hadn’t even realized how I’d been treating her. True, I didn’t know she could change her size at will, but that gives me no right to pretend as if she’s not important, or to ignore her feelings entirely.

“I-I’m sorry,” I murmur, not sure what else to say as I release my grip on her arms.

“Prove it,” she challenges me, giving another wiggle of her hips, making sure I don’t mistake her meaning.

Just because I’m feeling perverse, I state, “I’m, sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Thrice said, and done.”

Her eyes go wide for a second, before shrewdly squinting back at me. Her skin is still glowing, and as she responds, the glow brightens until it’s almost blinding. “I love you. I love you. I love you. Thrice said, and done.”

Shock ripples through my system as she states those words three times, meaning that they are undeniably true.

“What’s that phrase you mortals have? If you keep your mouth open like that, you’ll catch flies.” She laughs as I close my mouth with a click of my teeth. Her laughter grows, as I continue to just stare at her, unsure of what I’m to make of the golden fairy. When her joy looks like it isn’t going to end anytime soon, I press my mouth to hers, kissing her soundly.

Her mirth turns into a moan, as I grind myself against her. Underwear is the only thing either of us are wearing, and as soon as I pull away, we waste no time in removing them. I can feel her slender hands gripping my length, rubbing me against her slight slit in anticipation of our connection. When I pull my hips away, however, she groans in frustration.

“Be cruel to me if you must,” she tells me earnestly, “just please me as you have in the past.”

“I won’t be cruel to you,” I tell her softly. Bending forward, I plant a soft kiss on her neck, then another lower on her collarbone. A couple kisses later, my lips land on her sweet areola, and she gasps as I graze it with my teeth. I only spend a couple seconds here, before continuing my trek along her softly glowing skin, down her smooth stomach, until I reach the golden tuft of hair at the top of her pussy.

I can already smell her arousal, and can’t resist dipping my tongue into her little pot. Her back arches as I use the tip of my tongue to lightly flick her clitoris, and a second later she’s gripping my ears and pulling me forcefully against her as she cums. Energy floods me, and I begin to feel giddy inside, as a portion of her soul joins mine.

Bringing my right hand up, I slip my middle finger into her wet hole, and crook it against the top wall of her vagina. At the same time, I suck hard on her clit, occasionally popping it between my teeth, and enjoying how her legs twitch each time I do this.

“Oh Lyden! Thank you. Thank you for showing me a world where I don’t have to fear everyone I meet. Thank you for showing me what real pleasure is.” She sucks in a deep breath. “And thank you for making me cum again!

Her sweet juices begin running down my chin, and wetting the sheets as her legs clamp my skull, muffling her loud moans of pleasure.

As soon as her legs loosen their grip, I lift my head and look at her, smiling as she glows from more than just her magic.

“You are incredible,” she states, slightly out of breath. “I . . . um . . . want to return the favor.”

I nod at her, as I climb my way back up the bed, pausing only long enough to kiss her softly, sharing her wonderful taste between us, before flopping onto my back, and waiting for her.

“What do I do?” she asks me, tucking her light tresses behind her ear, and looking between my cock and me.

“Try kissing the tip, and do whatever you’re comfortable with,” I tell her coaxingly.

She follows my advice, planting her light mouth against my tiny hole, then pulling back and licking her lips. “Salty, but not terrible.” She says, and then smacks her lips some more. “I think I taste better, though.”

Before I can formulate a response, she drops her head forward and swallows the head of my prick between her lips, causing a moan to escape my chest.

“A little less teeth,” I say, guiding her. “Good. Yes, that feels great. Try using your tongue around the rim. Oh, yeah, just like that!” I let her continue for a bit, enjoying her enthusiasm, before turning her face up to look at me. “If you keep doing that, we’ll never make it to the main event,” I lie to her. The truth is, she’s not the most skilled, though even a bad blowjob is better than no blowjob.

“Really?” she asks me smiling, and I just nod at her. She lunges up my body, her small lithe one seeming to weigh almost nothing as she lies on top of me, hugging me fiercely. “Thank you for showing me that sex isn’t something to be feared,” she whispers in my ear, and I can feel her tongue flick across my earlobe. “Though I still think you’re a dolt and a pervert, thank you.”

I can’t stop the laugh that burbles forth at her words, though it turns to a moan of pleasure as she slowly sheaths my sword in her womb. My rod conforms to her slick inner walls, as I slowly sink deeper and deeper into her.

Her teeth nip lightly on my neck and her arms wrap tightly around my torso as her fingernails dig into my skin. My hands slide down her slender back, avoiding her delicate wings, until they rest on her pert bum. I remember sliding into her back door, and feel myself growing harder at the thought that I might be able to do so again.

I let her set the pace, riding me slowly at first, then gradually picking up the pace, until she throws her head back and I lean up to latch onto her nipple as she has another powerful orgasm. Her tight canal feels so wonderful as it slips and ripples along my length, that I let loose with my own orgasm, and concentrating on not getting her pregnant.

Panting slightly, we hold each other for a time, until the sun comes up.

The world may not be right, or even close to it, but the fairy is right: at least I’m alive.

=================
All hail the awesome editor that is Garbonzo! If not for him, this chapter would have really been confusing, and missing a lot of detail and plot points. Thanks once again, for your help!

Also, if you can’t wait to see what happens next, head over to my forum at: http://forum.xnxx.com/showthread.php?p=5847059# to get the address for my blog. I know it’s confusing, but I can’t link directly to the blog here. The address for the Pleasuretrove is in my signature.
18 comments

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2014-03-28 02:42:17
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