Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 11

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 11: Self-Rescuing Princess

Her brother walked through the doorway spell, cocky and smug as usual. “Hello Sister, I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

“Still copying my work I see.” She wanted to scream and yell but that would be exactly what he wanted.

“Why mess with genius? Come now, big sis. Your work has paved the way for a whole new world.” He waved at the portal behind him.

Diana was about to answer but her brother turned to Ezekiel and yelled, “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR BETTERS FOOL.” There was a spelled command in his yelling. Ezekiel fell to one knee and stayed there frozen. Seeing her anger he said, “Come now, sister. It’ll fade after we leave.”

“Is this where you ask me to join you?” she asked half sarcastically.

“Yes. Join me and we can rule all the worlds together!”

“No! Go back to hell, you power craving, megalomaniac plagiarist.”

He smirked and said, “Plagiarist? Is that the worst thing you can think of? Fine, glad we got that out of the way.” He then said something in a language that sounded like grinding rocks and two large demons came out of the portal and approached her.

“I don’t need you. I just need your mind and that I can extract.” He walked back into the portal.

The problem with the lost prince was his lack of foresight, she thought. She grabbed her sword and started to defend herself. The Demons healed from every cut but as she was fighting them she was also analyzing everything she knew. The spell that made her airships heal had been destroyed by the Gabon Snake venom and it looked like the healing spell was exactly the same.

She’d discovered how to synthesise the venom and mass produce it. The design of the spell and the airships was shared with all of her neighbours. Having a counter that would destroy attacking ships only made sense. At least that’s what she’d thought.

There were three bottles in the cabinet demon was tipping it over. A quick levitation spell got her two bottles and she smashed one on her sword.

The first demon she ran through looked surprised. The next two didn’t, but despite breaking the second bottle she couldn’t stop the blow and one of them bashed her in the head. Her brother wanted her alive and that’s the only reason she lived.

Darkness transitioned to grayness, to soft light filtering through a wooden door. She was in a small closet. She’d have called it a cell but those tended to have bars.

The wooden door was spelled. She stood in front of it and felt the magic. “You’re either an idiot or your demons don’t have great initiative.” She reached into her apron and pulled out a small hammer. The first time she hit the door with it the floor shook, the second time the door flew out and exploded into a hail of splinters. The demon who was standing outside was perfectly perforated.

His blood ate the wood and his spelled healing took seconds to fix the damage.

“Get back inside the cell.”

“What? No please?”

“I don’t recognise your rule.”

“Princess or pauper, it’s just polite.”

The demon grunted and pointed at the closet, now a nook.

“Just a hint for the future. If you’re holding a spell caster or a tinker, make sure to take everything away from them and leave them naked.” She put her hand into her pockets.

“What could you be hiding in those-” he never finished the statement. She took her pistols out from the extradimensional space in her pockets and fired a shot through his head. He fell to the ground and dissolved. The healing spell couldn’t deal with massive head trauma… that was good to know. She hadn’t used the pistols in her lab; too many explosives.

“Never trust a woman with pockets. You never know what we’re hiding.” She reloaded her pistol and started to wonder how she was going to get home.

The easiest way was to open a portal to her world but without an anchor, there was no way of knowing where she’d end up and travelling across the world would take too long.

The demon blood sizzled. Who knows what they were like before her brother had warped and corrupted them?

“Blood!” The demon blood. These creatures were not native to her world. Which meant that they were all in the same place.

She picked up a little blood with a spelled beaker and concentrated on the spell she needed. Pulling out ingredients she only had a little time to wonder why no one had come to check on her yet.

When the mixture with the blood was ready she threw it at the wall and jumped through, praying to the goddess that she was right.

She landed in a crouch and looked around. She was surrounded by angry screaming demons.

From behind her she heard Fred, the royal healer, “I think we pissed them off.”

And Arty’s voice, “Maybe, or it could be a coincidence.”

“The two of you look like you could use some help,” Diana said smirking at Arty.

“Aren’t you supposed to be figuring out how to get rid of these things?” Fred didn’t miss a beat.

“Gabon Venom, Paul’s leading them, and he’s using my spells. Oh, and I had to escape being captured.”

Nodding, Fred said, “So we need to get to the royal airship and the Gabon stores?” When she nodded, he added, “I think it’s going to rain.”

Read Conclusion (December 2018)


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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 10

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9


Chapter 10: A Monk, a Physician, and the Demon Hordes of Aldroy

The royal Physician was formidable in combat. Artemis couldn’t help but be impressed by this short, rotund, dark skinned man, with a greying beard. He looked like he should be serving his grandkids soup for lunch, not battling a hoard of angry demons.

With one hand he healed the soldiers and civilians and with the other he wielded a blade made of magic and fire.

Artemis had picked up two of the smaller swords that the demons were using and she was getting the hang of slicing off heads.

“I thought monks didn’t like to use weapons?” the Physician asked.

“I thought healers didn’t like using attack magic,” she replied, ducking a broad sword swing from a very naked demon and lunging at his head with her swords crossed like scissors.

“We all need our hobbies.” He smirked as the head fell to the ground. He neutralized the poison with a wave of his hand and the body dissolved.

“Some people pick up crotchet or cooking.” She liked verbally sparing with him. It had a soothing quality. The fact that he knew that she was a woman helped. She felt more at ease with him than she had with anyone since she arrived on the island.

“Do you cook or crotchet not-yet-a-master-monk?” He swung his sword up and it turned into a umbrella, shielding the civilians under him from flaming arrows. A demon at the end of the street had a cannon that shot arrows at an alarming speed. Their tech was very similar to Cillian tech. Artemis didn’t like the implications of that.

Throwing her sword at the demon and catching him in the neck she said, “No. I fight with weapons.” She heard the guffaw from the Physician as she launched herself at the demon with her sword in its throat. Once again she was glad the demons treated their blades against their own acid blood.

As she finished off the demon, his neck exploded in green acidic blood. Artemis felt the acid fly into her face and chest. She lost grip on one of her swords and felt the pain that came with it the acidic blood followed by a stabbing pain in her chest.

Instinct took over and she spun into a round house kick. She connected with something big and broke a few of what felt like ribs. She’d been trained to fight blind by the masters and her other previous teachers. The fact that her kick hit the thing’s chest and not its head meant it was well above seven feet high.

Not wasting any time, she went low and kicked at the things legs as a distraction as she launched into a complicated set of thrusts and slashes. She wasn’t trying to kill the, hopefully, demon, but get it off balance enough to stun it until Fred, the Physician, could heal her wounds.

She sliced and kicked the demon and prepared for a massive blow to its head but never made it. The demon grunted and hit the weapon in her chest and she fell back. The pain was almost more than her training could handle and she couldn’t get up.

“I leave you alone for ten seconds.” Fred’s voice and magic warmed her when she didn’t even know she was cold.

The magic was fast and powerful. She felt the sword pushed from her chest and she grabbed it as it came out. Standing, she assumed a defensive posture and opened her eyes.

She had two swords again and looked fierce but next to the behemoth in front of her she looked puny. He was stark naked and obviously aroused, he had multiple slashes and bruises, and his for hands held three weapons. Behind him, glowing ominously, was a swirling portal.

“Four arms? And eight feet tall? What magic made you?” Her quips were a little weak. She was still a little disoriented. She felt Fred’s hand on her neck and suddenly she felt like she’d drank eight coffees.

“I am the lLor Commander of the Demon Hordes of Aldroy. I command ten thousand and will squash you like the tiny human boy you are.”

Rolling her eyes, Artemis said, “I’ve wanted to say this for months. I am no boy.”

The fight lasted longer than it should have. Despite his size and strength, he was clumsy. Fighting with two short swords and a six foot two handed sword meant he was limited in his movements.

She took her time learning his movements and then pushed him hard and fast. Every hit she blocked felt like a hammer on her arms but every third hit of hers landed. At first his cuts didn’t seem to slow him down but eventually he showed the effects of his wounds.

Just as she was getting confident in her movements and ready to go for the death blow he laughed and tripled his speed. He’d been toying with her the whole time. His hits that were hard and slow suddenly became powerful, quick, and calculated.

To become a master, a Monk of Dumas needed to pass a test and a ceremony but most importantly they needed to do an act of heroism. Artemis had expected that to mean a great feat or strength or something impressive. In that moment, Artemis realized that it was more than that, the monks needed to reach a state of complete control and inner peace.

As she parried the blows all her training disappeared from her mind and was replaced with calm thoughts. She fell into a trained rhythm and concentrated on her breathing and her body. As she did, she called on everything she’d ever learnt and it all fell into place like a giant puzzle.

The world slowed and she moved at an inhuman speed. In the amount of time it took the demon to swing his two handed sword, she cut his head off and kicked it across the street.

Every demon stopped, fell to their knees, and let out a hideous howl of rage and pain.

Portals appeared all around them and the Demon Hordes of Aldroy stepped out into the city.

“I think we pissed them off,” Fred said, eyes wide.

“Maybe, or it could be a coincidence.”

Read Next (November 2018)


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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 9

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8


Chapter 9: Royals, Snakes, and an Easy Rescue

The lost Prince walked through the doorway spell and with a cocky smirk said, “Hello Sister, I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

“Still copying my work I see.” The Princess seemed completely unimpressed or did a great job of faking it.

“Why mess with genius? Come now, big sis. Your work has paved the way for a whole new world.” He waved at the portal behind him.

She looked like she was going to reply but before she had the chance the Prince whipped his head towards Ezekiel and screamed, “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR BETTERS, FOOL.”

Ezekiel didn’t remember falling to his knees but suddenly they hurt and he was looking down. If felt like his mind was being squeezed by a pillow. Similar to the time he had too much to drink after a gig and woke up semi-naked in an alley.

The two royals talked about something, but Ezekiel couldn’t hear anything other than a thrumming in his ears. He concentrated on getting control of his mind and body. He struggled and forced all he could, but the more he fought the more the spell tightened.

Knowing that he couldn’t fight it he gave up and let the spell take hold. He concentrated on being as calm and relaxed as possible. After a while he could feel the slimy tendrils of the spell slipping around him. The spell was designed to constrict but when it was faced with relaxation and acceptance it just slipped off.

Singing a song in his mind, he imagined it as water that would wash away the slime. It worked and he was able to move.

Things had changed. The room had been turned upside down. All the science and magic tools had been tossed around like a tornado had passed through. Both the Princess and the Prince were gone and there was a half dozen demon bodies strewn around the, still open, magical doorway. The Princess’s long single bladed sword was sticking out of one of the demons.

There was no sound, but Ezekiel ran to the workbench to see if the Princess was on the other side. She wasn’t, but there was a piece of paper with blood on it and a word. The word was Gaboon.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

About a year previous Didi had finished upgrading all the Apollo ships with the self-repairing balloons. A large shipment of Gaboon snakes collided with another ship. It should have only destroyed one but it destroyed both. He’d read the reports and it turned out that the snake’s venom had anticoagulant properties which caused the balloons to stop being able to heal themselves. He guessed that the Princess must have read the same report.

The Princess talked a lot as she worked and Ezekiel had found himself falling into the same half-listening habit he’d developed with Didi. There was so much technical jargon and babbling that he only half listened. One thing he did hear was that the blood in the demons healed like the airships. Which meant the Gaboon venom would stop their healing. Too bad there weren’t any snakes in the lab.

Looking around he saw a large glass cabinet that had been turned over. When he lifted it he saw that it was filled with vials of different chemicals. He grabbed a pair of heavy gloves and sorted through them. He found three bottles that were marked Gaboon one through three. Unfortunately one and two had smashed when the cabinet fell.

He took the last bottle and grabbed the Princess’s sword and ran through the portal.

He’d expected a hell scape, desert, or something horrible but it was just a stone room. The room had thirteen walls and a throne in the centre. Each of the walls had a doorway like the one he’d come through except for one that seemed to go into a corridor.

“Hello?” he said tentatively. He didn’t want to attract attention but he needed to find the Princess.

“Help me!” he heard a cry from the hallway and ran towards it.

Laying under a giant hulking demon the princess struggled to get free. Ezekial did his best to move the mountain of green muscle but it was much too large. As he pushed he saw the wounds closing and the demon rolled off the Princess.

“Let’s get out of here, Mr. Apollo, before he awakens,” she said standing up and wobbling. “My leg… it think it’s broken. Can you help me walk?”

Putting his arm under hers he helped her get to the doorway. Once through the gate, she waved her hand and cast a spell to close the door. He was impressed that she’d worked out the spell so quickly, but everyone always said she was a genius.

She leaned heavily on him and he saw her hair was matted with blood. “We should get you to a healer,” he said expecting her to argue.

“Take me to my chambers, we’ll ask someone to get a healer on the way.”

They didn’t talk much on the way, other to ask someone to get a healer. He was in pain; even though she wasn’t heavy, the way she leaned on him put a lot of pressure on his artificial leg. Even with the impressive prosthetic that Didi had made for him he still was putting a lot of weight on his stump.

They reached her chambers at the same time as a healer and the Princess pushed him out of the room and said, “Thank you, Mr. Apollo. I’m sure you’re very busy goodbye.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 8

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7


Chapter 8: Meetings and SCIENCE!

“Your Highness, Ezekiel of house Apollo is here to see you.”

“Tell him to come back later,” Diana had arrived at the castle and promptly summoned her Grandfather and the council of elders. They needed to prepare for this threat and mobilize to stop the current invasion.

“He insists it’s important.”

“I don’t care. Unless it’s about the current demon invasion, it can wait.”

Pushing his way past the courtier and into the war room, Ezekiel said, “Yes, it does.” He stood there red with frustration wearing a shirt and underwear but not pants or shoes. He had nice legs.

“Come in then. Can we get him some pants?” She smirked as his anger turned into a blush.

The six council members and the King all looked at him with expressions that varied from scandalized to annoyed. “I was visited in bed. Which is why I have no pants. From a demon. He told me to give this to the Champion of Light and Life.” He lifted a small box no bigger than a shoebox.

“And who is this champion?” asked the King sounding exhausted.

“It said the princess would know who it is.” Ezekiel sighed.

One of the council members suggested, “Must be the King’s Champion” only to be laughed at by the rest of the council. The King’s Champion, Eldric the Elder, had just celebrated his one hundredth birthday and only fought at tourneys. And even then people mostly yielded before there was a fight.

“Let the Princess and her alchemists take care of the box and let’s finish this battle strategy.” The meeting went on for another half hour as they argued. Finally they finalized plans and sent out the troops.

It seemed like they had forgotten about Ezekiel but as he tried to sneak out, Diana ordered, “You. Meet me in my lab. The courtier will direct you. And for the goddess’s sake please put on some pants.”

She hated that the soldiers, monks, and civilians were out fighting, what she thought, was her war. She felt she should be out there with her devices of war, helping people. Unfortunately with Fred helping the citizens, the only person she trusted to find a poison to stop the demons’s healing was herself.

She changed into more casual clothing but didn’t disarm. She made sure her explosive pistols were loaded and that her sword was on her side. Everything else was soft, easy to move in, and comfortable. She didn’t look like a princess, she looked like a scientist.

In the lab, someone had finally gotten Ezekiel pants. As she walked in and said, “See that chest made of stone and metal? Put the box in there.”

“Why?” he asked, obviously confused by both her orders and appearance.

“The box is made of stone and metal but the inside is lined by a crystal so hard it had to be grown in the chest. It’s also spelled against all magic.”

“But I thought we had to give it to the champion?”

“Right. I’m going to hand an unopened box given by the enemy to our best hope to defeat them.”

Ezekiel blushed, “Oh. Right.” To his credit he accepted his mistake and moved on instead of arguing the way most men did when she corrected them.

“I need your help. I can’t deal with this thing alone. Follow my orders exactly and we might be able to save the city. Maybe the world.” She put him to work draining the blood from the demon and putting it into beakers while she experimented on it. She was convinced that the secret to the demons’ regeneration powers were in their blood.

Periodically soldiers came in to tell her how the fighting was going. It seemed the demons were holding back and mostly causing havoc. They were also avoiding the castle.

After a long frustrated time, she agreed to stopping for lunch.

“Have you found the magic that causes them to heal?” Ezekiel asked between bites of chicken and cucumber.

“Why do you think it’s magic?”

“It reminds me of the self-healing hydrogen balloons that my friend Didi designed, and she said she had used a magic that encouraged them to heal themselves. I didn’t understand.”

Diana looked at him, marvelling at the fact that despite her not wearing glasses, she wore nearly exactly what she would as Didi but he still didn’t recognize her. She was starting to think that his disinterest in magic and confusion wasn’t an act but that he was genuinely not that bright. However his idea was a good one. Maybe she should be looking for something mystical and not biological.

Looking at the blood under a spelled microscope she saw the structure of the spell. It was simple and beautiful and it wasn’t just similar to the spell she designed for the airships; it was the same design. There was only one other person who could have known her spell so intimately.

“I have to see what’s in that box,” she said with such vehemence that Ezekiel took a few steps back and didn’t react when she recklessly opened the chest and pulled out the box.

Opening it let out the spell it contained. A doorway spell. A beautiful blue and green light formed a doorway of magic and through it stepped a man with the same dark brown skin as hers and the same jet black hair. He wore a royal formal suit with a sword on one hip and a gun on the other. On his head he wore a crown made of warped and malformed bones. Behind him was a massive army of demons.

“Hello Sister,” he said smirking smugly. “I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 7

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6


Chapter 7: Autopsies, Cranky Physicians, and a New Assignment

Demon blood is green and acidic. Artemis stood in shock after being sprayed by what had been a demon before the princess had efficiently shot two large holes into it. Her monk’s robes started to sizzle and that’s what shook her out of the stupor.

The robes were comfortable and loose, they hid her shape and any indications that she wasn’t a man; and they were disintegrating. Between that and the burning on her skin she ran for the well.

There was already a monk at the well splashing people with water to wash off the demon blood.

“Take off your clothes, it’ll limit the damage,” The monk said.

Artemis had to make a decision at that point to either expose herself, in every way possible, or risk permanent scarring or damage. She started taking off her robes. Becoming a master wasn’t as important as protecting the world and the princess.

“All of you idiots stop what you’re doing,” The voice was gravelly and sounded annoyed. The man they came from had dark skin and a grey close cropped beard. He was shorter than Artemis by a head and was thin. Despite his size, he had no problem ordering, and being obeyed by, the fighting monks.

“We need to take these clothes off to avoid burns,” the monk at the well said. He was one of the older monks and didn’t take orders from anyone.

“Unless you neutralize the demon blood, it’ll soak into the ground and contaminate our water. I can both do that, clean, mend, and heal your monks with a simple spell. I don’t need to see their naked bodies while I do it.” He looked over at Artemis and waved his hand. The pain disappeared and her robes looked better than when she’d put them on that morning.

“Thank you Royal Physician,” Artemis said.

“Don’t be so formal, Master. Just call me Fred.”

“Thank you, Fred. But I’m not a master yet.”

He made rude noise and said, “You’re more qualified than these shmucks. Come with me,” They walked back to where the body of the demon was slowly melting. The Princess kneeled next to the body with thick gloves and appeared to be dissecting it. “Couldn’t help yourself Diana, huh? Had to get started?”

“It’s a darn good thing I started. With the pace you move, old man, the body would have dissolved by now.” The Princess looked up at him and they both smirked.

“Good. What have you found?” He bent down and picked up a set of gloves that matched the princess’s and they both started to rummage around inside the demon’s corpse.

They said a lot of science themed words but it might as well have been Troll for all she could understand. As they worked they put things in jars, took things out of jars, and scooped things back into jars. There were a lot of jars.

“Not a master. What do you think?”

“Don’t tease the poor boy,” the Princess said.

“My name is Arty and I have no idea what either of you was saying.”

“Arty huh?” Fred winked at her and continued, “We think that the acid in their blood is a by-product of the magic that lets them regenerate… heal.”

“Okay?” Arty didn’t understand how that was relevant.

The Princess explained, “If we can stop them from healing we’d have a better chance of defending ourselves. Fred thinks he can isolate something that we could tip our arrows with. I want you and,” she pointed at two guards, “you two, stay with him and protect him.”

Arty wasn’t sure if she should or if she could be assigned to the mage but when she questioned a senior Master, he told her to follow the princess. There was an odd avarice in the master’s look.

“Why the long face youngin?” Fred asked as they headed back to the castle. She’d expected some sort of fast transport but he was just walking.

“I’d rather not say.”

“Ah. You’re uncomfortable with the Monks gaining favour with the princess and even more so with you helping that along. I understand.”

“How did you know that?” He was right. She loved the fighting monk’s technics and they had some unique methods, but their pseudo religion based on emotional suppression and misogyny made her uncomfortable.

“Child. I’ve been a healer for three of your lifetimes. I’m very good at my job.” He winked at her. “What I don’t understand is why someone like you would want to become a monk. You started ten years older than most and have almost reached master-hood in less than a year. Frankly, you’re better than they are.”

“I… I’ve spent my life learning how to fight. I’m very good at it.” She smirked at him. “But there are countless orders like the monks that are renowned for excellence. I want to learn from them all.”

“You’ve done this before?” Their conversation was cut off by a scream. “Looks like the monks weren’t so special and the serum will have to wait.” He pointed at a guard, “Get a platoon and tell the princess that I’m going to help the villagers.”

“Sir, I was ordered to escort you to the castle.” The soldier stepped forward to grab the healer.

Artemis was going to block him but the healer said, “Touch me and I’ll make sure you die slowly, in the dungeons, and I’ll use your skull as a flowerpot. Do what I say or go complain to your major. Either way, deliver my message and leave me.” The man’s posture was almost comical. He was two heads shorter than the guard, wearing no armour but his scowl. It was effective. The guard turned and ran.

The royal physician and his now two guards headed towards the screaming.

“A flowerpot?” Artemis couldn’t keep the laughter from her voice.

His only response was an aggressive, “Bah,” and a smile.

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 6

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5


Chapter 6: No pants and a special delivery

The concert had been a wild ride from beginning to end. The performance had been one of his best. The upgrades Di had made to his leg made switching the pedals so much faster. He could control the pedals so fast that he could make completely unique sounds with his guitar. It was both invigorating and everything he ever wanted.

After the concert was pretty awesome too. Arty had come to visit him backstage. That man was amazing with his hands. They were strong and sensual, a lot like the rest of him.

Thinking about the fighting monk made Ezekiel smile and wish it hadn’t been so short. He’d offered to have the man back at his place but he’d refused.

Now Ezekiel was lying in bed in nothing but his underwear, enjoying the early morning breeze. The morning was already warm and it was only going to get hotter. He was happy that he had the day off. He was looking forward to lounging in his apartment and playing around with some song ideas. If there were any emergencies in the office, he lived on the fourth floor and they could easily get him.

He was just contemplating getting out of bed when someone knocked at his door. He lazily got out of bed and attached his leg as the knocker got more insistent.

“I’m coming!” He shouted as he put on a shirt that smelled clean.

The knocking went from insistent to violent. He picked up his pants but dropped them as his door was knocked down. A large muscled green humanoid with four arms stood snarling. He stood seven feet tall and wore nothing but a belt, with a nasty looking sword, and a backpack.

“Heir of Apollo,” the voice was deep raspy and oddly sharp.

“Yes, how can I help you?”

The large semi-naked demon, Ezekiel was certain it was a demon now, pulled a package from its backpack and gave it to him. “Deliver this to your champion.”

“Who?”

“The champion of light and life. Bring it to him.” The demon looked at him with disdain.

Ezekiel couldn’t help but notice the demon’s nakedness. It was impressive in size but any inappropriate thoughts were quashed by the barbs. Shuddering he asked, “You’ll have to be more specific.”

“No I don’t. Your princess will know.” The demon gave him the package and he took it automatically. Then the demon picked him up with his four strong arms and threw him out the open window.

As a child he’d hated his family’s obsession with landscaping. Every branch of Apollo Shipping had to have the same lush plants and trees.

He managed to grab onto a vine and slow his fall. He landed comfortably in a patch of cushy grass. Looking up he saw the demon, in all its naked glory, walk into some sort of portal.

He decided that this needed to get to the princess, but first he needed pants.

It was a good plan, but a scream cut off any further thought. He stood up and looked around to find three fully armoured demons, with only two arms each, attacking random people. The guards were converging but it was bedlam. People were running around and he could smell smoke. It would be near impossible for him to get to the castle fast enough to deliver the package to the princess.

“Oh no…” he moaned having a really bad idea.

The best way to get to the palace would be to avoid the streets and take to the air. There were no airships docked, which left Didi’s glider-cycle. He hoped she’d perfected it because the last time he’d watched her try it, it couldn’t go down or turn left.

Running for the back entrance, still wearing nothing but a loose t-shirt and his boxers, he avoided the panicked crowds.

When he got to the back door he was thrilled to find it unlocked, since his keys were still in his pants, in his room, and on the fourth floor. He wasn’t as thrilled to find that there was a demon running amok inside.

The demon saw him and grinned. Unlike his muscular friend, this one just looked like a square brick of flesh, with gangly arms topped with fists that were bigger than Ezekiel’s chest. He was glad to find that not all demons looked like runway models.

“Pretty!” hissed the demon.

“Stop! I’m the delivery person for this!” He lifted up the package and the demon recoiled and ran through the closest wall.

Scurrying to Didi’s workshop, he met no one on the way and was relieved to see that the glider-cycle was all in one piece. She hadn’t taken it apart, again, and left it all over her lab.

The glider-cylce was a steam powered bicycle with glider wings and a small airship balloon. The balloon doubled as the frame and seat making it look like you were riding an odd bird.

Getting the thing out proved harder than getting to it. He had to pull up the wings and push it through the halls until he was finally out of the building. Maybe he should upgrade Didi to a roof-top lab?

Once outside, he put the package in the basket and strapped it down, then he started the magic. The magic should last two hours. He then started boiler and the glider lurched forward.

The city looked small from the air but the fires were everywhere, as were the specks of green that were the demons. He aimed the glider at the castle and picked up the small radio, “Castle Cillian, this is Ezekiel Apollo requesting emergency landing. I have a package for the princess. Authorization Sigma Papa Golf.”

He didn’t hear the reply; a large winged demon flew straight at him and hit the bike. It destroyed the radio, and worse, broke the magic sigils that helped it fly. He was going down and fast.

“I wish I’d worn a helmet… and pants,” he said to the air as the glider headed down towards the castle.

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Go VOTE!

Hello,

It’s election day in Ontario and for the first time Millennials are the largest voting block. That means nothing if we don’t vote.

GO VOTE!

We voted in the advance polls because the polling station was practically next door.

Please please please go vote.

The issues that the parties are promising are huge and will impact every aspect of Health, Education, Environment, City infrastructure, and much more.

Thank you in advance,

Éric

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4


Chapter 5: Green With Jealousy and Demon Blood

“…and together with Ezekial the four shall stop the dreaded army of demons from destroying all of Cillian.” The words of the Oracle echoed through Diana’s head as she tried to sleep.

What she was avoiding thinking about was how Ezekiel was pretending to be Zee. She’d recognized the leg she built for him during the concert. He was good, she wished he’d trusted her enough to have told her he was a musician. She had to admit that he looked good up there. The pure joy of performing made his beauty ever more prominent. She wondered if Arty knew about his double life.

Demons are coming, she reminded herself. What had the oracle meant by an army of demons? Wouldn’t they have heard about something like that? She decided to send out a few scout ships just in case. Just to reassure her that nothing was coming.

She had wanted to reassure Ezekiel after the concert but when she’d gotten to the dressing room she found Zee and Arty attempting to exchange tongues. She’d left as Arty had started to take off what little clothes Zee was wearing.

The Oracle was terrible at seeing through disguises; Arty was certainly not Ezekiel, Zee was; Zee was certainly not her Brother, she’d know him instantly; and Arty wasn’t Diana… obviously. She did have one thing right however. They were all pretending to be something they’re not. Ezekiel being Zee, her being Didi, and Arty being a Fighting Monk. The order was dedicated to purity and chastity, two things that were not happening early in the night. Maybe Arty wasn’t even a Monk?

It was petty and hypocritical, but Diana decided to schedule an official visit to the Fighting Monks of Dumas for the next day. That way she could find out for herself if Arty was parading as a Monk or just going against his training.

The army of demons still worried her. Her dreams were filled with waves of angry red demons being led by her brother Paul. She woke up, much too early, in a cold sweat.

***

What am I doing? Diana thought as she inspected the Fighting Monks. What she said was, “Your men are impressively trained.”

“Yes they are, Your Highness,” The senior Master was completely hairless and muscled beyond reason. As he spoke a vein over his left eye bulged offbeat with his words. “Our Masters are always searching for both inner peace and the best way to be of help to others.”

“How many Masters are in the city?”

“We currently have eight Masters in residence and six who are either questing or wandering.”

“And students?” she asked.

“We teach the local boys self-defence and discipline every Saturday. As for apprentices and journeymen we currently have thirty-eight. They we be along shortly for your inspection.”

“That is wonderful. It has always been an honour for the city of Cillian to host the fighting monks. You do us honour.”

His vein pulsed and he almost smiled as he replied, “The honour is ours. You know during the reign of King Castelmore we were the King’s personal guard.”

“Yes and during his son’s reign, your order attempted to take control of the crown.” She smiled at him trying to show amusement instead of annoyance. It was much easier after he sputtered an apology.

The Masters ran through some drills and feats of skill and moved to the side. Then was the time of the students. She easily spotted Arty with his wiry frame, high cheekbones, full lips, and cocky smirk. Her heart fluttered as he was tossed into the air and clashed swords with another student. It was all acrobatics and shows of perfected timing. She heard one of her four royal guards gasp in awe from behind her.

Was she jealous of Arty or of Ezekiel? Or of both? She had spent her teen years working next to Ezekiel and had a crush on him for almost a decade. She’d just met Arty. Maybe it was just lust? She felt foolish about the entire situation.

“Do we pass inspection, Your Highness?” The Master’s vein pulsed and Diana realized why he looked so stressed.

“This isn’t an audit. You have nothing to worry about. I wanted to see how the monks were doing.”

“That’s good to hear. Thank you.” The master relaxed.

A green claw appeared out of nowhere and slashed the master from his neck to his lower back. The master’s eyes rolled back into his head and he fell forward.

A seven foot tall green being in a perfectly pressed suit stood there smiling a sharp toothy smile. “The Prince of Demons says hello.” He lunged for Diana but her guards jumped between them.

As if a spell had broken, the yard was thrown into panic. The observers ran from the space while the monks formed ranks around the demon and the princess.

Her guards fell one after the other but it bought her time to reach into the special folds of her large skirt and pull out her newest model of pistol. These shot large calibre rounds that exploded into alchemist fire on impact.

The monks, in their eagerness to defend her, got in the way of her shot. “Move out of my way!” she yelled but to no avail.

Somehow Arty had fought his way to the front of the pack and was managing to go hit for hit with the large demon. He fought with a mixture of styles that Diana had never seen before and neither had the demon. After four or five blows the demon fell to the ground and someone stuck a sword into it’s chest.

The action over, the monks moved away and started to take care of their wounded. The master was still alive, and with the help of a good doctor, would live.

Looking at the royal pages who had stood useless during the fight she barked out orders, “Get me four soldiers to move this thing. Alert the guards that they need a detachment to protect the monks. Tell the royal physician to get here as fast as possible, we have wounded and I want him to dissect this thing and tell me everything about it. And tell my grandfather to convene a council of churches.” When they didn’t move she shouted, “Go!”

She moved towards the green corpse and shuddered. It had taken out a dozen monks, four royal guards, and injured twice that many. There was no way they could stand up to an army of these. When she was an arm span away, it jumped to a standing position and howled. She shot both pistols at its chest. The rounds penetrated his hard skin and it looked at her like it had tickled.

The rounds exploded and took most of its chest with them, spraying everyone around it in green blood. It died with a surprised look on its face.

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The Dragon at Comicon 2018

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This was Baby Dragon’s second year at Ottawa Comicon. Her first year was mostly napping and being held by everyone who wanted with a little time on my shoulders.

This year however was filled with cool activities, playing, chasing people, and NOT NAPPING.

Her favourite activity was waving and saying hello to everyone. Other things she enjoyed:

  • Playing with the ATM and making it beep;
  • Fries;
  • Stalking Spiderman;
  • Running away into crowds;
  • Squirting Yogurt or Applesauce in her eye;
  • Climbing and sliding on Papa;
  • Saying hi to every Deadpool;
  • Giggling at Pennywise the clown;
  • Riding on Papa’s shoulders;
  • Pidge, Keith, and Lance;
  • Dancing with her aunt;
  • Grannie; and
  • Yelling Puppy at K9.

She loved hanging out with family

She did eventually nap a little, usually on the way home.

 

I love the picture of her and her grannie.

Overall it was a good year for the Baby… maybe more like Little Dragon.

 

Later Days,

Éric

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3


Chapter 4: Flying Fruit and a Oracular Ambush

The master hit her in the head with another orange. “A true warrior can defend themselves blind.”

Artemis, still disguised as Arty, tried to stop thinking about Ezekiel, the Princess, or Didi. What was wrong with her? She’d never been this easily distracted by pretty people before. Blindfolded, she heard and deflected an apple from the master.

“You’re still slow. It’s not the blindfold that has you blind. It’s your distraction, ” the master said and then tutted. “It’s your distraction that blinds you to the universe. Now concentrate.” He launched a grape at Arty.

Feeling the grape flying towards her, she took a deep breath to centre herself, she moved and caught the grape in her mouth. It was sweet but the skin was sour, creating a pleasant contrast.

Maybe it was the forced celibacy of the monastery that made her constantly think about the beautiful people in town.

“Better,” mumbled the master. “Remember that a real man and warrior can suppress his emotions in order to concentrate on the battle. Emotions are what lead you towards distraction and darkness.”

She tuned out the speech, it was the most tedious part of monastery life. The insistence that emotions led to evil was not only ridiculous; it was dangerous. Without the ability to process and understand their emotions, the monks were nearly constantly stressed. It was the reason she tried to sneak out as much as she could.

“You will understand once you become a master. The cleansing ceremony will help you elevate yourself above your emotions.” The fruit kept flying and she wished she had a sword to cut them with; it would have been more satisfying. The cleansing ceremony sounded pseudo-mystical and she couldn’t decide if they had found a way to remove human emotions or if it was just another religious ceremony.

Eventually the fruit stopped flying and she was dismissed. The monks woke with the dawn and were supposed to retire to their quarters for meditation and sleep at sundown. Artemis waited a little and then snuck out.

The same training that had her learn to anticipate what was going to happen and move through it quietly helped her leave the monastery without being noticed. Once outside the gates, she traded her monk’s robes for a pair of comfortable denim pants and a casual button up white shirt.

As much as she wanted to dress as her real self, she was recognized now in town as Arty. If she tried to walk around as a woman, she’d still be recognized. She was thankful for the loose clothing and good breast-band that didn’t bind her but minimized her chest.  The telltale shaved head and sun baked skin of the Monks meant that unless she was willing to wear a wig and more makeup than she could afford, she’d be caught right away. So she’d play at being Arty, the monk in training who was blowing off steam. Running away to go to a concert in town was frowned upon, but secretly being a woman would get her killed.

“Hello young man.” The woman had barely made a sound as she started walking next to her.

“Madam. Can I help you?” The woman wasn’t old but wasn’t young. She had smile and frown wrinkles with blond hair that could be going white, or could have been just pale.

“My dear, I know who you are, Ezekiel.” The old woman stopped and waited. When Artemis tried to walk away, the woman put a hand on her shoulder. A crowd formed around them and Artemis started getting uncomfortable. This was too much attention.

“This boy is Ezekiel, the heir to the Apollo shipping company. He shall marry the Princess and their union shall be blessed by the gods!” That proclamation made Artemis realize that this was the Oracle of Espenson.

“I’m not Ezekiel. I’m Arty, a humble monk.”

“Sure you are dear.” She patted her face condescendingly. Her eyes focused on a face in the crowd and she pulled Didi out saying, “This innocent looking girl is in disguise.”

Didi’s face blanched and Artemis thought she was going to faint.

“This girl is actually the great warrior Artemis, Apprentice to the Hero Haus.” It was Artemis’s turn to go pale. The oracle continued, “She will stop the army of Demons from destroying the kingdom and will marry the long lost Prince of Cillian.”

The crowd was obviously entranced and skeptical as they yelled out variations on, “Where is the lost Prince?”

The Oracle held Artemis and Didi’s arms and didn’t let go. Her eyes were glassy and despite the growing animosity of the crowd, she didn’t move. Artemis was about to break free when the Oracle raised and pointed with both hands at a man who was obviously trying to get by the crowd.

The crowd moved the man closer. He was wearing a tight shirt with ripped denim pants and had a guitar case on his back. He wore large wire rimmed glasses and had a goatee. He looked vaguely like Ezekiel, but more glamorous, but that could have been the makeup.

“This boy doesn’t know it, but he is the long lost twin to our great Princess.”

The man looked like he wanted to run away. “I’m just trying to get to my concert. I assure you that I’m not a long lost anything.”

Unperturbed, the Oracle shouted, “He shall help the Princess rule, marry the Hero Artemis, and together with Ezekiel, the four shall stop the dreaded army of demons from destroying all of Cillian.”

A silence fell over the crowd, there was something in the way the Oracle spoke that made everyone listen and believe. Artemis looked at the other two who’d been sucked into this and shrugged. The three of them burst into giggles. The entire situation seemed ridiculous. The Oracle seemed to think that Didi was Artemis, that Artemis (disguised as Arty) was Ezekiel, and that this musician was the lost Prince. Artemis was glad the princess wasn’t there or the Oracle would have thought she was a sheep magicked into the princess or something equally as silly.

The Oracle gave them a dirty look and walked away; Artemis could have sworn the woman winked.

The crowd, sombre and itching to tell anyone willing to listen, dispersed.

Artemis hoped that the Oracle’s warning was as off-base as her identifications.

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