2.33 - Rythe: Fire and Shadows

I look over just in time to see Ci-Ci dive in front of Jonah, one of his hands piercing through her side as he drove her into the ground. Shit, I guess that means she’s out of the game. I rush the last few people out hoping he doesn’t see me and I can leave with them.

“Hey,” Jonah calls out, almost growling. “You hear me,” he keeps calling. A gust of wind makes me stumble.

“Are you talking to me?”

“You’re next. I already killed your girlfriend.”

“She’s not my girlfriend. You’re more my type. At least before you started looking like waling death,” witty banter, please save me.

“That’s good to hear, should make this easy. I’ve never killed a dark elf before,” He forces his face into a smile, almost as if the bones had to lock into place. “Don’t fight back, just let it happen.”

I throw my hands in front of my face and close my eyes as he rushes towards me. Fighting has never been a strength of mine. I keep expecting an impact, but I feel nothing. I open my eyes to darkness, more darkness than I’ve ever seen before. I can’t see anything at all. No, there’s a light. I make my way towards it. It’s a long walk before it gets big enough or me to check out. Just a hole, big enough for me to step through. Am I dead? Did he kill me that fast?

I step through the doorway and watch as Jonah crashes through the side of a food stand. I’m back where I was a few minutes ago, at least I think I am. I moved somehow, away from the danger. I make my move to check on Ci-Ci while Jonah is out of the way. Hopefully she’s alive.

It seems like a thin red film has covered her. Most likely blood, but she doesn’t respond to me. I don’t think she’s dead, she seems mostly alive at least. But she’s in no condition to fight Jonah, and I’m not a fighter. Jonah is climbing from his wreckage and it seems like I don’t have much of a choice.

I try to run and hide but he’s too fast. I don’t even feel the impact, but it becomes hard to breathe as he wraps his hands around my neck. The world goes black again. I can breathe again. Another pinhole, I follow it and walk through just like the last time. This time I’m behind Jonah as he stares at his hands in confusion. I use the moment to sneak away and hide in another food stand.

I know what’s going on here. Sometimes people are just born with too much magic. It happens to all different species. Children shooting lightning bolts. Teenage boys burning holes through prostitutes and barbecuing their abusive family members. All kinds of things happen. For these people it important that they learn to control their emotions from an early age. I was all messed up, so my magic didn’t show up like it normally would. Showed up during an emotional moment.

I did learn to use it when I was in college, but it was just too much to control. Flushing the decades’ worth of drugs out of my system probably brought it back. I’ve been moving through the shadows. I never learned that trick, has to be some kind of defense mechanism. I guess I have to fight back now, since that’s what my body wants. I remove my jacket, and fold it neatly. I’d just burn through it.

“Get out here and fight me you coward,” Jonah yells.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you,” I step in front of him.

“There you are. I’ve had enough with your tricks.”

“Do you have a cigarette?”


“Cigarette, I could use a smoke.”

“I don’t smoke,” I can’t tell if he’s annoyed or amused.

“That sucks, your sister flushed all of mine.”

“I’m not going to play your games.”

“Alright, let’s get this over with then. Do you want the chest or the head?”


“Chest or the head.”

“I’m going to kill you,” Jonah starts to rush at me.

“I guess it’s the head then.”

I fling a left-handed fire ball at his head he dodges. I throw one with the right at his legs. Party trick, I earned a few beers in my dad with my aim. As few stick him, but he rubs them off. Maybe I’m just not hot enough. I make a run for it, zig zagging, making him work for it. Really would love if that shadow thing would kick in right about now.

I feel one of his bony elbows slam into my back and send me tumbling. For the best, I couldn’t have run much longer anyway. I throw my hands in front of me, and shoot a steady flame. He tries to walk through but it’s too hot. The more fear inside me, the hotter it burns. All of my emotions do it. That’s why I stay high, or at least had been. The flames are starting to toy with turning blue, it’s hot. It’s keeping him back. I can see he’s being burned. But he isn’t stopping. And I’m tired. I’m so tired.

I’m tired of always fighting. I’ve been fighting just to keep living for a long time. Unfortunately, it seems like my body has finally given out. The last of my fire burns out and I stare into the eyes of a burned and pissed off Jonah. Entire pieces of flesh have been burned from his torso and face, yet he still stands and inches towards me.

I just close my eyes, and accept it. I don’t have any energy to fight back at this point. Lore from my homeland says when you die your soul wanders Earth, unable to interact with anyone or anything until you have atoned for your sins. Eventually you’re able to ascend into the great desert and commune with all others. I wonder how long I’ll walk for. I’m not sure if I’ve been a good man or what qualifies being a good man. I really wish I had cigarette.

A hot and thick liquid lands on my face, bringing up some sensual memories. Not sur why that’s where my brain goes in death. A soft thud causes me to open my eyes. Ci-Ci stands before me, holding her side, a blade on her arm and Jonah’s decapitated body lies before me.

“I’m sorry, we’re even now,” Ci-Ci utters before collapsing next to him.

2.32 - Ci-Ci: Blood Queen

“Get the people out of here,” I yell to Rythe picking myself up from the dirt and piled up skeletons Jonah had just tossed me through.

I expected him to make some grand entrance at midnight, but when nothing happened, I started arguing with Rythe. He was madder than I had ever seen him, I could feel the heat coming off his body. I had never felt that before. He said I wasted his time and Jonah was probably out claiming his annual Halloween victim. In the midst of our argument a blast of air slammed into me, and sent me flying into a pile of bodies, or a pile of skeletons resembling bodies after a battle.

I still don’t see Jonah when the dust clears, but he’s here somewhere. I’m ready for him this time, I’ve taken some iron pills, plenty of cinnamon, garlic and cayenne pepper to top me off. I even drank a little blood, not as much as I did back in the day, but enough that I’m ready for Jonah. I won’t be passing out or getting dizzy tonight. Tonight, I kill him or make it really easy for someone to finish the job.

I finally spot him, at least what I think is him, walking through the dust and commotion. Taller, but arms elongated enough to nearly drag the ground, his wings look to be made of bone or granite, something that shouldn’t be able to fly. His mouth almost looks like a beak at points it looks like his bones are going to shoot through his leathery flesh. The thing that gives him away is the leather boots and pants that now look like capris. Classic Jonah look every since he began riding his motorcycle. I don’t recognize the dimly glowing tattoos across his torso. His laugh is the final piece, this is Jonah, but what happened to him? Why is he like this? He’s almost more gargoyle than man, and a far as I know, gargoyles were just an invention by architects based on dragons, but he doesn’t look like a dragon.

It’s been a long time but I let the blood drip down my arms forming blades on each. My favorite way to fight. Gives me the ability use swords as fluidly as others use their hands, all without having to worry about losing my grip. I don’t wait for him to get close so I can attack. The difference between us is I can use projectile attacks. I launch a stream of needles at him.

He covers his body with his wings. When he looks out, I’m already on the move. Another blast of needles. When I get behind him I notice his back has gone through some changes as well, his spine protruding from his flesh, bone poking through in some parts. Makes an easy target.

I slash at his back and he moves away using his wings to propel him away. Another shot of blood needles. This time he uses his wings to create a gust of air and scatter them. So that’s how he hit me earlier. I guess he got one new power besides being ugly.

“You like the new me,” he asks cockily, giving me a chance to catch my breath.

“What happened.”

“Few changes here and there, some new power. Got tired of being the weakling that needed to be saved all the time. Made some changes, learned some new tricks.”

“What’s with all the tattoos,” I ask still buying time.

“Names, different shapes, different languages, but all of them mean power to me. Pieces of the souls that I’ve conquered over the years. Each granting me more power.”

“So that’s why you’re all twisted looking.”

“I think I look great. Good to see you’re back to normal.”

“Why Justin? What did he do to you?”

“Oh, well, he found out. This one right here, over my heart, that’s his. It’s a heart, because I love my brother.”

I don’t hesitate, I rush in and start taking swipes. He blocks what he can. Every now and then something gets through and slashes at his torso. I’m back. The blood queen. Even with his new powers, I’m too fast for him. He’s stronger, but I won’t give him an opening. I’ll slit his sorry throat before the night is over.

A solid kick lands in the middle of my chest causing me to drop to a knee. I roll over on the ground before he can follow with a punch. I keep rolling and he keeps stomping. Blood, from my needles. Blood is mine. I launch the needles the straight from the ground into him.

I get back to my feet as he tries to remove the needles. He’s seen me fight. He knows the more of those needles that sink into him, the more I can control him. He’s sporting a new cut above his right eye. I did that. Another place for me to get blood into him. I might not be able to beat him in a straight fight, but if I can get enough in there to make him hold still, I can kill him.

I rush back in and start slashing. He’s forced to decide on blocking me or stopping the needles from piercing his flesh. He choses to block me. Jonah prioritizes stopping me. If I’m gone the blood won’t matter. He’s still the untrained hot head he always was. I knew we weren’t matched if I was on my game.

Jonah blasts me back with an air gust. Then he shoots off. He’s running, I got this in the bag. No, he’s going for Rythe. Jonah is almost there, he’s going to kill Rythe and Rythe won’t even see it coming. 

2.31 - Ci-Ci: Halloween Town, IN

“Why the fuck are we in Indianapolis? It’s just Chicago without technology or education,” Rythe continues his complaining.

“We’re in Indiana because this is where Jonah said he’d be.”

“You met in Indiana for Halloween every year?”

“Yeah, it became a family tradition. Jonah was on a school trip, Justin and I were on a job. We just happened to be close by so Jonah snuck out and met us a Halloween Festival.”

“Hicks, Indiana is full of hicks.”

“Have you ever been to Indiana?”


“Exactly, it’s not full of hicks. There’s cities too,” I try to make a joke.

I don’t think Rythe has ever been outside of Illinois, or even Chicago. He’s also been a little on edge about the transfusion I forced on him, and I didn’t exactly apologize about the whole fiasco. Last night he drove off somewhere, and wouldn’t let me go with him. Wherever he went, he came back different. I don’t know if I’d say he’s more aggressive or he’s just not putting up with my shit anymore. It’s a good look for him, somewhat charming, maybe even attractive.

I hadn’t been to this place since Justin died, it was his spot, and he was a little upset he’d miss it the day he died. We had been chasing that vampire brat for way too long and it dragged past schedule. He wasn’t happy about missing Halloween, in fact I’d say he was pissed. Was he pissed at me? I don’t remember. Maybe he was.

The first time we came to this place, we showed up just after midnight. Everything was shutting down and people were heading home. Justin and Jonah picked me up and we just flew in through the back. We spent hours running the rides ourselves, playing games in the fun house, and making our own fair foods. We actually felt like a little family then. After that, we’d do it every year. It was like the reset button for us. We could be furious at each other, until that day.

“You know, we have Jonah’s home address. We could just hire someone from the Shadow Syndicate to blow it up,” Rythe suggests.

“He’s got neighbors, we can’t do that.”

“Controlled demolition, explode the house in on itself, burry him in the ruble, make sure he doesn’t come back from the explosions. Shadow Syndicate probably has hundreds of people than can get the job done. Might have to pay a rush fee, but we can get it done.”

“We’re not blowing up anything. He wants a fight, a show down. He wants to finally prove he can beat me in a fight. I’m going to prove to him that he’s still a runt. You’re here to get people to safety and help if, and I mean if, he gets the upper hand.”

“We’ve been going with your plans this whole time, and I think it’s time to mention, they’re all stupid. Really stupid.”

“Well, if you can manage to stay sober, just for tonight, you don’t have to deal with any of my plans anymore and you can go back to stalking people.”

“I think that’s better than dragging old ladies into danger so you can dig up a rotting corpse,” Rythe smiles as if he just won a war. “Oh look, corndogs, I love corndogs.”

I know what he’s doing. He’s poking and prodding at me. He wants me to get angry with him, try him. Almost as if he has some ace up his sleeve. What he really wants is an apology and I refuse to apologize for making him into a better person, a stronger person. He was strung out on drugs even if he won’t admit it and he keeps telling me I was wrong but nothing has come of it.

“Do you feel good about how you’ve handled this,” Rythe asks finishing his corndog.


“Do you feel good knowing all of this could have been prevented.”

“It couldn’t have been prevented.”

“Oh, but it could have. I wanted to turn him in, but you needed proof. We had proof, and could have turned him in, but you were more focused on rehabbing an addict. We could have killed him at his home, but you wanted to face him on his own terms. Now we’re here in bumblefuck Indiana, not even a city like Indianapolis, or Terre Haute, Bloomington, but the middle of fucking nowhere.”

I place my hands on his shoulders, “Listen, you don’t understand what we’re going through, but one day it’ll make sense. This will all be done tonight.”

“You’re right,” he places his hands on my wrists. “It ends tonight, one way or another. Because if you can’t get the job done,” his hands are getting hotter, “I’ll call some people to get it done.”

“Are you trying to burn me?”

“No, but if you get burnt it’s only because you meddled with something you don’t understand, that’s why people don’t play with fire. But you played with fire.”

“Shut the fuck up, and play cornhole,” I snatch my hands free.

I grab a beanbag and toss it at the holes cut out into the wooden stand. Something is wrong with him. Rythe has been mad at me since I’ve met him, but now he’s scary. Almost as if something deep inside of him had been woken up. Maybe I did make a mistake.