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.”

Read Next (September 2018)


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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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