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  • Story Owner: C.M.  Lance
  • Story Title: Dragon Sword-Book 3 in The Battle Wizard Saga
  • Story Created: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 9:16:00 PM
  • Chapter Author: C.M. Lance
  • Chapter Created: Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 9:20:00 PM
  • updated: Thursday, January 08, 2015 4:54:00 PM

Dragon Sword-Book 3 in The Battle Wizard Saga

Chapter 1

Black magic smells like nothing else. Worse than the oily smoke of a rancid grease fire overlaid with a tang of decayed meat. Its evil wrapped around and layered the tongue like a thick paste of ashes and motor oil. Only Sig could smell it. A good extra sense since his job was hunting evil.

Sig walked the middle of a narrow, cracked asphalt road bordered by a cornfield to the left. Cars and pickups lined both sides. A sharp steeple rose above the whitewashed wooden building on the right. Morning sun reflected from red and gold panels in the church's narrow stained glass windows.

The stench emanated from there.

Grampa Thor marched next to him, metal cane tip clacking on asphalt. "I can't believe you don't smell what's coming from the church," Sig said.

"You're the only one I know with the power to sense it," Grampa growled then grunted. "It isn't the first evil to hide within a religion."

They strode onto a warped and fractured concrete walkway that crossed the single culvert in a deep drainage ditch resembling a grassy moat. Organ music and singing leapt in volume when the side door to the church popped open. A large woman with salt and pepper hair and pale skin bustled toward them with raised hands. "Stop. You can't come in. Unbelievers are not welcome," she trumpeted over the noise from inside.

Evil radiated from the woman—or from behind her. Every malevolence emitted a distinct sensation. Sig hadn't encountered this one before. He nodded at Grampa and began to step around her.

She sidled in front of him to block his progress and hissed, "I command you to go away." Her eyes flashed crimson before dimming back to sparkling blue. Her vocal harmonics tingled across Sig's skin.

He fingered the sword-shaped amulet hanging from the gold chain around his neck.

Grampa Thor tilted his head and squinted at her. "Ma'am, no disrespect intended but you don't know us. Why do you say we're unbelievers?"

"One of you is a wizard. No good can come from you participating in our ceremonies." Now she spoke in melodious tones that made Sig wonder if she was the angelic soprano that had soared while leading the previous hymn.

How did she know Grampa was a wizard?

Sig didn't have power like Grampa Thor. They were here hunting the dark mage, Heathcoat, who stole Sig's magic when he was a child. However, despite, or perhaps because of, his limitations, Sig was highly sensitive to evil. Grampa called him the truffle-hound of dark magic and depended upon his senses.

A voice thundered over loudspeakers inside the church to fill the sudden silence at the end of the hymn.

"My husband is preaching now. Come back later," she growled, flashing a no-nonsense glare.

"We just want to talk to the minister'"

"What about?" she demanded.

"Your picketing of soldiers' funerals," Grampa Thor replied. He had discovered that this congregation, with no prior history of malice, suddenly resurrected a practice the world condemned as evil years ago.

Her chin rose and she looked down her nose at him. "Our protests are protected by the First Amendment."

"Yes ma'am. We're not interested in stopping you. We just want to talk to the minister. We were hoping to sit in on the service and talk to him afterward."

Grampa moved to step around. She shoved. He landed fifteen feet away and rolled to his feet in a crouch. Not bad for a 194-year-old man. Martial arts training served him well.

Middle-aged women weren't that strong. The ruby glow beaming from her eyes was Sig's second clue that she wasn't what she appeared. He glanced to see Grampa's next move.

Grampa raised the cane he used to focus magic. "Rivelarsi," he said. The large golden jewel on the head of the cane glowed. An amber beam illuminated the woman. Her shape shimmered and shifted. Something dark oozed out of her mouth stretching her jaws unnaturally wide. Sig's eyes widened. No way could her body hold that much putrid filth.

It landed on the sidewalk with a thump. Colors pulsed. It solidified, expanded, and took form—rising to tower over Sig. Scarlet eyes coordinated with reddish-brown, two-inch long claws on hands and feet, but clashed with the wrinkled purplish skin fading to poison green folds hanging down its back. Rustle. Pop. Sagging green skin flared into wings.

"It's an afreet."

Sig took Grampa's word for it. He'd studied demons and battled dark magic for almost two centuries. Sig had only been at it a few months. What he recalled from his freshman demonology class told him that afreets were among the more powerful classes of worker-bee demons.

With the amulet still held in his fingertips, Sig muttered its name, "Aðalbrandr," the word of empowerment. His change was fast. The afreet was faster.

Through the blurred vision that accompanied Sig's transformation, he saw the demon spring and soar toward him. Its jaws gaped and claws reached.

It was a draw as to who was more surprised. Sig didn't expect so swift an attack, and the demon's eyes grew wider and glowed brighter when the slightly larger than normal sized human it hurtled toward transformed into a nine-foot tall Battle Wizard, armed with an enormous sword.

Sig barely managed to raise the blade, flat side out, between himself and the demon. Using both hands, he held off the demon's attack. It scrabbled at Sig's sides with clawed feet and hands, trying to draw near enough to rend with fearsomely fanged jaws.

Grampa Thor shuffled around searching for an opening while Sig struggled to push the gnashing teeth away. Wings beat at him. Blood ran down his sides from furrows the afreet's claws gouged. Sig crouched, sprang into the air, and flipped backward—the demon still clinging. He spun 270 degrees and they landed together—Sig on top. Knees and the flat of his sword driven by his 700 pounds smashed the afreet into the ground.

It issued a sound like the loud chuff of a steam locomotive and released its hold. Sig leapt away and brought his sword up into a Kendo defensive position.

The monster sprang up and soared into the air with powerful wing thrusts.

Another hymn rang out from the choir inside.

With Sig clear, Grampa Thor wound up and hurled a fireball at the swooping afreet. It dodged and plunged toward Grampa, claws extended. He flung another fireball, and the demon juked away, skimming at ground level—headed toward Sig. It climbed steeply into the air to avoid his sword. Sig leapt and sliced the monster in half when it was twenty feet above the ground.

Its severed sides flopped to the ground ten feet apart. Immediately using arms, legs, and wings the two pieces began to claw toward each other. Sig pressed his left arm to his side to stem the bleeding and strode toward the demon,

"Six?" Sig muttered, but did as instructed. When he raised his sword for the sixth cut, the demon dematerialized with a pop and a flash of darkness just as Grampa had said.

Music from the church soared.


Chapter 2

Sig pivoted, searching for danger. Experience taught him never to trust the obvious when it came to demons.

Grampa walked over to join him near gouges ripped in the lawn from the afreet's claws. "Don't worry, it's gone." He made a pitching motion. "Did you notice how I threw the fireballs high to bring it lower, within your range? Just a little lesson in strategy for you."

"I'll remember that if I'm ever able to throw fireballs," Sig grumbled. With a groan, he twisted to look down at the furrows the demon had scored in his side. It looked worse than the lawn. The pain was intense although under the sheet of blood that coated his ribs only a slow trickle still oozed, and the wounds were shrinking.

His knees felt weak. He dropped to a knee, hanging his head, using his sword for support. It would be best to wait and change back after the bleeding ceased. His magic worked best within this transformed body. Returning to normal form would slow the healing and magnify the already excruciating pain.

He flinched and grimaced when Grampa Thor clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's check on the little lady."

Remembering the minister's wife, Sig's head jerked toward the walkway by the side door where the body that had housed the demon lay crumpled. As Grampa approached, she rolled onto her side and looked blearily at him.

Gramps knelt beside her to shield Sig from her eyes until he changed back. "Here let me help you up. You tripped on this broken sidewalk." He gestured at a raised fractured section near her foot.

She hesitantly reached for his hand. "Who are you? Where did you come from? Why are you at our church picnic?"

He looked over the reclining body at Sig, now standing behind her, out of sight, and shook his head. Sig took his meaning and muttered "Koma Aftur"—the words that returned him to normal form. The scene around him seemed to grow. When he changed, it still felt like the world shifted around him.

Upon hearing Sig's voice, the preacher's wife turned her head toward him. She didn't shriek. He must have changed in time.

"What? What did you say?" Her eyes widened. "That's the church. I'm not at the picnic. How did I get here?"

Grampa patted her hand as she looked around. "You must have hit your head when you fell. You might have a concussion. Maybe it's best if you rest a moment."

She lay back. "I feel so drained."

"Imagine that." Sig tried to put sympathy in his voice and flashed a half smile.

The music grew louder as the door opened again. "Grace, we need you for the next . . .," a small, wizened lady began. She gasped and clutched her chest as she took in the scene in front of her.

"What did you do to her? Get away!" She screeched into the quiet after the end of the hymn.

"They didn't do anything—I don't think." She struggled to sit up. "I must have fallen. They were here when I woke up." She frowned and shook her head.

Sig swooped forward to help her stand. More people burst out of the doorway, pushing the little, old lady aside.

"Who are you? What did you do to my wife?" growled a tall, fat man with thinning gray hair and a florid complexion.

Sig exhaled in frustration. "We were walking toward the church when she came out and tripped over your broken walkway. She hit her head. She seems disoriented. Do you have any medical personnel in your congregation who can look at her?"

A hawk-faced woman in a dark-blue-checkered dress with white collar and cuffs stepped forward. "I'm a nurse." She looked around quickly and pointed at two burly men. "You two, help her inside. Set Grace in the front pew so I can look her over."

They supported Grace as she stumbled inside. The preacher looked at the fractured sidewalk and glanced up at Sig and Grampa with a frown. "She tripped? She walks here every day. What do you mean disoriented?"

Grampa shrugged. "She thought she was at the church picnic."

"We haven't had a church picnic in over five years. She said we didn't have time for frivolity, we had to do the Lord's work." He stammered incredulously.

"Is it the Lord's work you do, when you picket soldiers' funerals? How long have you been doing that?"

The preacher donned a haughty expression. "We've been doing the Lord's duty for a long time. The funerals? We've picketed since . . . about six months after the last church picnic. That's when the Spirit moved my wife. She's been our driving force since then. Urging us toward our destiny."

"Humph," Grampa muttered. "Say, do you have a person in your congregation who has dark hair with a vivid white streak through it?"

The minister's eyes moved back and forth as if he were viewing mental pictures. "There was someone like that a while back, the Reverend Heathcoat."

"The Reverend Heathcoat?" Sig was stunned to hear the mage that stole his magic, continually summoned demons to kill him, and plunged Grampa into a coma referred to as a Reverend.

"Yes, he was a traveling preacher who stopped here for a spell." The preacher chuckled. "Grace didn't like him or his ideas, at first, but I think he helped fill her with the Holy Spirit."

"I'm sure he did," Sig said "I'm sure he did." He looked meaningfully at Grampa and turned back to the preacher. "Was the Reverend's divinity degree spelled Sc.D., with a small "c", and was the degree from Romania?"

"Yes, that's it. A degree in the Sociology of Christian Divinity. He said the little "c" was a typo. Romania is where he studied. Do you know him?"

"Know of him. Is he still around?"

"No, he left shortly after the Holy Ghost came into Grace."

"He's big on moving spirits." Grampa said. He cocked his head and asked, "So you haven't seen him in almost five years?"

"At least."

Grampa jerked his head toward the road. "C'mon Sig, I think it's time we leave." He started to walk away.

"Take care of Grace, Preacher. I've heard that falls like that have been known to knock the spirit out of a person," Sig said before followed Grampa.

To Be Continued

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Comments 1 to 1 of 1
  • GREAT OPENING ... "Black magic smells like nothing else. Worse than the oily smoke of a rancid grease fire overlaid with a tang of decayed meat. Its evil wrapped around and layered the tongue like a thick paste of ashes and motor oil. Only Sig could smell it. A good extra sense since his job was hunting evil."

    Rolland 1/2/2015 2:24:00 PM