Pyro

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Chapter 28

Modern Day; April 23rd; Cleveland, Ohio; Melissa

“No,” Willow said, his grip on me tightening.

“Oh, yes,” said Lady Catherine.

She smiled down at us, which was a frightening sight, regardless of her beauty. She was wearing black high-waisted pants, a black vest with silver pinstripes, and a pair of black boots. I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t have a shirt on underneath her vest, but I wouldn’t allow myself to be distracted by her appearance. She succeeded in that way too often. Her blonde hair was secured in a tight bun, but a few tendrils had escaped and framed her face, making her look innocent when she really wasn’t.

“What are you doing here? How did you get in?” I asked.

I was impressed at how confident and unafraid I sounded, considering I knew for a fact that she wanted to kill me. In fact, she had probably turned up to do just that.

“A little birdie told me you’d be here and I’ve been wanting to meet up with you for a while… As for getting in, that was easy. All I had to do was show a little –” She moved so that her cleavage was accentuated. “– sweetness and the ticket master offered to sell me his soul. I have so much charm, you see. Anyone will listen to me.”

“That’s how you do it, then. Because only lunatics or brain-dead people would listen to you of their own free will.”

She gritted her teeth at me. Surprisingly, I was satisfied by this and wanted to hit that nerve over and over again until she finally snapped. I hadn’t realized before now, but I wanted to fight her. I wanted to beat her and show her that she was wrong about everything.

“You know, you’re a lot more charming now than when I first met you. If you had been this forthcoming to begin with, I would’ve killed you a long time ago!”

“Leave her alone!” Willow hissed. “Why do you have to do this? Melissa never did anything wrong! Why do all of this just because she’s different?”

“Oh, that’s not the only reason. She’s the epitome of all that’s wrong in this world right now. We’re becoming too lenient about the rules of what’s acceptable and what’s unacceptable. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be normal? To live a normal life without having to worry about developing any strange abilities and trying to hide them from humans? Don’t you want a normal life?”

“Normal is boring.” I looked at Willow, remembering how Beth had said the same thing to me. “I just want to be myself. That’s all that matters.”

I pulled away from Willow and took a step towards Lady Catherine. Willow held onto my hand with a death grip. He would probably never let go.

“Do I ever wonder what it would be like to be normal? Of course I do. Every day. And it is not possible and I’m okay with that. My life was boring as hell until I found out that I was a half elf and that Parcia existed. And now I have never felt so alive. I don’t regret anything.”

“Well I’m happy you’ve been living a happy life. I hope you’ve enjoyed fucking my son because he’s the last fuck you will have ever had.”

My face instantly heated up with embarrassment and rage at being spoken to in such a way, especially in front of Willow.

“I have not –”

I was interrupted by a teenager I didn’t recognize who had come over to Lady Catherine with his hands on his hips.

“Excuse me, ma’am, but could you please move your conversation somewhere else? We’re trying to dance here.”

I was suddenly overwhelmed with an ironic urge to laugh, but that urge went away when the same teenager suddenly grabbed at his own throat. His eyes went wide and his mouth fell open to make a gasping sound. It was like he couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t see anything choking him. I glanced at Lady Catherine and guessed from her focused expression that she was somehow hurting the boy with her mind. My hate for her grew.

The boy slowly rose into the air as Lady Catherine’s arm lifted. The higher he went, the more attention he attracted. The students, for the most part, had stopped dancing and were now staring at the boy who was mysteriously hovering in the air, clutching at his neck. They might’ve laughed, but it was clear from the sounds he was making and the way that he twitched that something serious was happening. Whoever was in charge of the music turned it off. The only sounds came from the boy in the air and a few students who were whispering nervously to each other.

“Stop it! Let him go!” I yelled, jumping forward to grab Lady Catherine’s arm.

The students who were around us moved to get out of the way as she swung her arm at me and I ducked to avoid getting hit. The boy fell to the floor as soon as she was distracted, but he was conscious and didn’t seem to have anything broken.

“Get off of me, you filthy creature!” she said to me with a look of deep hatred.

I suddenly found my body moving backwards without permission and I wondered if this was what the boy had experienced. I didn’t like it at all because even as I tried to fight back, it didn’t seem to do any good. I fell to the floor and slid backwards along it, but I wasn’t hurt either. So far, it didn’t seem like Lady Catherine was aiming to kill me. Maybe she didn’t have the guts. I wasn’t going to test her. At least, that’s what I told myself.

“What’s going on here?” A man pushed through the crowd and glared at Lady Catherine. He was wearing a jacket that said security in white letters. “Ma’am, you have to come with me. I’m afraid you’re not allowed in here.”

A gaggle of chaperones – some of whom I recognized as teachers of mine – looked concerned. Lady Catherine threw back her head and laughed at them.

“Oh, humans. You have no idea how hard I’m fighting for you. If only you knew, you would step aside and let me get rid of the ones who seek to disrupt you.”

“Alright, that’s enough of that. You’re coming with me.”

The same man stepped forward and made to forcefully grab Lady Catherine by the hands, but she seized him by the neck and threw him. I didn’t know that Lady Catherine was physically strong as well as mentally strong until that moment and it scared me. Thankfully, the man narrowly missed hitting his head on one of the columns and was merely knocked out.

The chaperones looked even more scared now and I heard one of them whisper to another, “I’m going to go call for more security” before they both scurried away. I doubted either of them would come back.

“Leave these people alone,” Willow said, facing his birth mother. “You love humans, right? You don’t want to hurt them.”

“I don’t want to, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. They brought this upon themselves. Anyone who stands in my way will be eradicated.”

He opened his mouth to speak again, but Lady Catherine held up a hand and he slid backwards into one of the columns, crumpling instantly to the floor. I screamed and started to get up, but she turned towards me and started to lift her hand. I didn’t want to give her a chance to attack me again, so I acted first. I lifted both of my hands and fire shot out of both of them towards her. Her eyes went wide, but she stepped aside just in time. The flames just brushed her shoulder and ignited the column directly behind her. She yelped and patted at her shoulder, which was now noticeably burned. I smiled, glad that I had hurt her. The fact that she could be hurt was a good sign that I had a chance.

I got to my feet.

“Lady Catherine, if we’re going to do this,” I said, “we’re going to do this right. Everyone, take your dates and get as far away from this place as you can! Prom is over and I promise you this place is not safe anymore!”

They scattered and some of them screamed as they ran from the room, hurrying to get through the doors as fast as they could. Lady Catherine smirked at me.

“Very nice. It’s touching that you care so much for other people. Unfortunately, I don’t care for you at all, and when I don’t like people, they pay for it.”

“That makes so much sense,” I said, blasting more fire at her.

She jumped out of the way and I, at the same time, slammed backwards into a column. I couldn’t move any part of my body, but was held tightly against the column by an invisible force.

“I’m not a big fan of this invisible force thing. It’s really starting to get on my nerves.”

Lady Catherine chuckled.

“She thinks she’s funny, too.”

She gritted her teeth again and twisted her fingers. As she did so, a sharp pain went through my left arm and I could tell she had broken it. I bit down on my lower lip so hard that it bled. I could feel hot stickiness running down my chin. It hurt so badly, but I had to get through this. I had to for the sake of the Underground and elves everywhere.

It occurred to me that I could still use my fire ability with my mind, even with the rest of my body constricted, so I used all of my focus to do just that. Not a minute later, Lady Catherine was surrounded by walls flame on all sides.

She glared at me through the fire, but I could tell that she was frightened. She had to be. At least I had distracted her so that I could figure out how I would manage the intense pain that was coming from my arm. I really had no choice but to man up and continue to fight her.

“Nice try, Melissa. Your efforts are feeble, though. I can still get you now.”

She started to raise her hands again, but then suddenly stopped and looked towards the doors with an expression of surprise. I couldn’t see what she was looking at through the fire, but prayed that it was another person. I didn’t like being alone with Lady Catherine. Not at all.

I commanded the fire to part and allow the person or people through and almost cried with happiness when Felix, Frida, Fancifer, and Valerie appeared.

“How did you know?” I cried out.

“Willow texted me,” Felix said with a shrug. “Here, let me help you.”

Valerie sped towards Lady Catherine and head butted her into the floor. They skidded along it and the carpet bunched up around them. Valerie’s ability really was entertaining to see in action. While Lady Catherine was preoccupied, Felix hurried over to me and held his hand over my left arm. I gasped as the bone snapped back into place. Lady Catherine was slightly stunned, but she started picking herself up from the dent in the floor that Valerie had created by colliding with her. Before she could get to her feet, Fancifer zoomed over to her so fast that he was a blur across the room and pummeled her back against the floor with his fist. She grunted and I saw a splash of blood that meant her nose had been broken. Felix and I watched this happen and he bit his lip anxiously, though he looked pleased.

“Damn you all!” Lady Catherine said as she held her face and rolled to the side to avoid getting hit by Fancifer again. However, she wasn’t fast enough to avoid him – no one was – and she felt his next punch in her shoulder. “Agh!”

Before she could be hit again, Lady Catherine reached out with her hand and Fancifer was thrown across the room. He collided with one of the columns and fell to the floor, unconscious like Willow. I gasped and exchange a worried look with Felix. Lady Catherine turned to Valerie and grabbed her by the neck with her hand, squeezing tightly.

“No! Leave her alone! I won’t let you hurt anyone else!” I said, starting to run towards her.

Before I could get to her, I was hit by an invisible body. At first, I thought Felix had tackled me, but when I turned my head around, I saw that he was still standing by the column with a surprised look on his face. I knew that Lady Catherine wasn’t the one who had knocked me down because she was busy dealing with Valerie and looked as surprised as Felix that I had been attacked. I could feel someone on top of me. It was like there was a person who was fighting me, but I couldn’t see them at all. I could both feel and hear them breathing, which unsettled me. I grappled with them, trying to keep their hands away from my face.

“Melissa!” Felix shouted, taking a step towards me.

“No, Felix!” I said to him. “Go help Valerie. I can handle whoever this is.”

He nodded, but still looked confused as he ran to help Valerie. I reached out and felt for the face of my attacker. I heard the person grunt in pain as I twisted their arm with my other hand. The grunt sounded masculine, so I assumed it was a man who was on top of me. I wasn’t the strongest person in existence, but I wasn’t weak. I stayed in that position for a few minutes, keeping him at bay. But he wasn’t going to just give in and he moved his legs and then jerked his right knee upwards to connect with my crotch. I howled in pain at the injury to my pelvis and reacted by burning his entire body with fire. He screamed and I felt him get off me.

Instant relief came over me at being released and I got to my feet, watching the mass of fire that was the invisible person. He rolled around, trying to beat out the flames that engulfed him. Confident that he wouldn’t attack me again until he had fully recovered himself, I turned around to see how Felix was faring. He had freed Valerie from Lady Catherine’s grip, I was pleased to see, and was using telekinesis to throw pieces of furniture at Lady Catherine. Most of them she deflected, but every now and then she was hit by a chair and incapacitated for a moment. Valerie rubbed her neck and focused on catching her breath while Felix had Lady Catherine under control.

I glanced over at Fancifer and Willow and could tell from a distance that they were both still breathing. They definitely had concussions, but they would be alright.

I could tell by the way that Felix was throwing things at Lady Catherine that he only meant to injure her. He was a good man and didn’t have it in himself to kill her. But as I pictured the look on Lord Darylis’s face as he was stabbed in the back by who he’d thought was his loving wife, I was filled with a fury that wouldn’t be satisfied until she was no more.

Lady Catherine noticed me watching her and Felix and I felt a force slam me into the ground. This time, I knew it was her doing. Valerie realized what had happened and dove into Lady Catherine, knocking her into the same column that Fancifer had dented before. It couldn’t withstand the force of the collision and crumbled from the ceiling, leaving a gaping hole. Plaster and paint rained from above and Valerie held up an arm to shield herself. Felix was also hit with pieces of plaster and stopped throwing furniture, distracted. Lady Catherine, somehow still conscious after being run into the column, started standing up and removing herself from the wreckage. She lifted her eyes and looked straight at me.

My heart was beating a mile a minute as I pushed my fingertips outwards and willed a ball of fire to shoot towards her. She moved to the side, but I had distracted her enough for the pressure against me to lift. I peeled myself away from the column I was standing against and ran towards her. She saw me coming, but she didn’t have enough time to prevent me from hurting her and I held my arms out in front of me. Fire blossomed from my hands and moved towards her, hungry for flesh to consume. Her eyes widened and she turned to flee.

The fire I had created was reflected in the window behind her. The bright red and orange color was so brilliant that it distracted from the moonlight outside and made it look like the windows were another wall of fire instead of a layer of glass separating inside from outside.

In her haste to escape the fire and her confusion at seeing what looked like more fire behind her, Lady Catherine made contact with the glass. She’d ran at such a high speed that there was no chance of her slowing down before she broke through the glass. I ran to the hole in the glass that she had made and looked down to see her falling fast towards the ground far below, surrounded by a thousand pieces of broken glass. I didn’t want to see her hit the pavement, so I turned back around.

My fire disappeared as I mentally ordered it to and I looked to Valerie and Felix, who sat covered in plaster in the middle of the floor. Both of them were staring at me in shock at what had just occurred.

“What…?” said Valerie.

“Is she…?” said Felix.

I was shaking violently and couldn’t find words because my thoughts were jumbled and my throat was dry. All I could do was nod at them.

“Oh my God,” Felix said. “I can’t believe it.”

He and Valerie slowly got to their feet, separating themselves from the mess. I watched them, uncertain of what to do. I was suddenly aware of my own body. I could feel my heart racing and could hear it louder than any other sound. My head was pounding and my crotch was still throbbing from where I had been kneed.

It suddenly came to me that I had forgotten the invisible man who had attacked me before, but when I glanced over in the area of the room where he had been before, I couldn’t see a single sign of where he was. Wherever he was, he was no longer on fire, which didn’t help me at all. I decided not to worry about it, though.

I didn’t think I could be consumed with worry over anything other than the fact that I had just killed someone.

Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. She’s dead. I killed her. I killed her. She’s dead. Everything is okay. Everything will be just fine. Oh my God, what do I tell Amber? Are they going to hate me for this? Are they going to love me for this? I don’t know what to do. Oh my God. Oh my God.

Felix came over and hugged me. I didn’t move at first, but stared over his shoulder. I felt numb. I reached up and gently placed my hands on his lower back, but didn’t squeeze him the way he was squeezing me. Valerie put her hands on her hips and looked impressed. She looked around the room.

“Well. We sure made a mess of things,” she said.

“It doesn’t really matter, considering the circumstances,” Felix said as he pulled away from me. He looked into my eyes and smiled. “You did it. We did it. She’s gone.”

I slowly pointed towards Willow and Fancifer.

“We should check on them and make sure they’re okay.”

They were the first words I had spoken since it had happened. Everything was going to be the first since it had happened.

Felix nodded and hurried over to place his hand first on Willow’s forehead, then Fancifer’s. Neither of them came to, but I figured Felix’s healing probably only had enough effect to heal their open wounds and lessen some of their pain. They would probably still have bruises and concussions. It was a small price to pay.

“We have to carry them back to the Underground with us,” Felix said. “I’ll get Fancifer. Can one of you get –”

“I’ve got him,” I said.

Felix nodded and looked sympathetic at my shock. While he went to get Fancifer and Valerie dusted the plaster from her clothes, I knelt by Willow’s side. First I put my left arm over his legs and held onto him, then I used my other arm to push the rest of his body onto my shoulder. I struggled to get to my feet underneath his weight. The adrenaline that was still rushing through my body made the process much easier than it would’ve been otherwise, I knew.

Felix reached out for my hand and Valerie’s. Just before we teleported, I could’ve sworn I heard the invisible person breathing nearby.

Lady Catherine

I stood waiting on the curb until I felt a presence beside me.

“Feel free to become visible again, Forsgoth,” I said. “No one’s looking. I made sure to land in an alleyway nearby and then walked here so that no one would notice anything.”

He appeared beside me and I took a step back in surprise when I saw his appearance. Parts of his shirt and pants were black and discolored. Some of his hair had burned. What skin I could see was pink and even red in some places. The way he held himself, I could tell that he was in a great deal of pain.

“Good God! You look terrible! I guess that’s what happens when a grown man tries to fight a teenage girl,” I said.

I started laughing hysterically, but Forsgoth didn’t look amused.

Ignoring me, he said, “How did you do it? How are you still alive?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” He glared, but I wasn’t going to share my secret with anyone. At least, not yet. “Come on. It’s time for us to leave. Germany and Italy are no longer safe for me, so we have to go somewhere else to figure out what to do next. I may not have succeeded this time, but neither did Melissa. I can live with that.”

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