Brave New World

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All Good Things Must End

July 6, 2010

Reyna had not slept well that night. Anxiety had built up in her chest, and no matter which way she turned she couldn’t release the discomfort. Her conscious drifted in and out the realm of sleep, never remaining there for too long before suddenly breaking through the surface. When the clock at last read 7:00 A.M., Reyna decided to forgo trying to sleep and headed down stairs to pour herself a bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios. Turning on the small T.V., Reyna groaned when the news popped up and groaned again when she saw King Douche’s face pop up. He sure did get around. Not in the mood to deal with the zealot, she turned the channel until she found an episode of Arthur. It was the perfect combination of mindless and familiarity, so Reyna stuck with it.

Around 7:30, Sybil could be heard thundering down the stairs. “Hey, kid.” She greeted, heading for the fridge, “Didn’t sleep too well, huh? Anything you wanna talk about?” She poured herself a tall glass of orange juice, then began to rummage in a cupboard for her coffee grounds. Reyna silently watched her as she went about her morning routine.

“It’s nothing. There’s nothing to talk about really,” Reyna said before she began to massage the skin between her brows with her pointer and middle finger. She could feel a sleep deprived headache coming on.

“Sure,” Sybil snorted unattractively. “You know you can’t keep using the ‘it’s nothing’ excuse forever, right? You’re gonna have to face your demons eventually. So why don’t you just tell me what’s happening in that pretty little head of yours?”

Groaning around her spoonful of cereal, Reyna rolled her eyes dramatically, “You’re the freaking oracle. You already know what’s happened. Why do you keep asking about it?”

Sybil added a healthy amount of cream and sugar into her newly poured cup of coffee, taking her time to stir it all together and taste test it before responding. Turning her cloudy white eyes towards her, Reyna felt a shiver run down her spine at the sight. She couldn’t help it. They were just so creepy. “You know,” Sybil drawled, “I do not need to put up with your snark, nor your rolling eyes. So enough with the teenaged melodrama. I may be the oracle but that doesn’t mean I always understand what’s going on in a situation. I also don’t know how a person in that situation is feeling, or what is going through their mind. The only way for me to know exactly what’s bothering you—what’s really going on in your life—is if you talk to me.”

Reyna bit her lip and looked into the creamy eyes of her friend. Sybil had a point, but she couldn’t find it in herself to confide in the older woman. Not yet, anyway. Reyna still felt raw from Dunstan’s dismissal and she didn’t think she’d be able to handle it if Sybil were to act in a similar manner towards her sexuality. So with a long sigh, she scooped another spoonful of cereal and shoved it into her mouth.

Frowning at Reyna’s dismissal, Sybil shook her head, “Well if you ever do decide you want to talk, just remember I’m always ready to listen. Okay?”

Reyna made a noncommittal noise, keeping her gaze on the nearly empty bowl in front of her. Swirling some of the last Cheerios around in the milk, she decided she was full enough and went to rinse her bowl out and place her dirty dish into the dish washer. “By the way,” Sybil began again, turning the channel to something other than a child’s cartoon. “Your Elven friend is coming back into town today.”

Before Reyna could respond, her cell phone began to vibrate on the linoleum counter. Barely containing herself from rolling her eyes again, she flipped the phone open. “Melchiorn? Hi.” She greeted, making her way out of the kitchen and back up to her room. By the time she closed the door, she’d made plans to have an early dinner with her friend at 4:30. Once that was squared away, Reyna prepared herself for her trip to the hospital by brushing her teeth and hair, and trying to decide which clothes she had in the closet would be hospital appropriate, but also keep her cool in the summer heat. Deciding to forgo propriety, she threw on a holey white shirt with cropped sleeves and shorts that practically disappeared underneath the shirt’s length. Pulling her hair into a messy bun on top of her head, Reyna grabbed her back pack out from underneath her bed and filled it with her notebook, book of Devils, and a black pen.

Reyna yelled out a quick goodbye to Sybil as she half tumbled down the stairs and out the door. As she walked down the street in the direction of the nearest hospital, the sound of a familiar caw caught her attention. “Poe!” Reyna called, and after a moments rustling in a tree across the street, the sleek feathered crow flew over to sit on her shoulder. After giving him a proper head scratch and cooing some words to her pet, Reyna restarted her trek down the street.

Luckily for Reyna, Sybil’s house was located less than two miles away from a hospital. After leaving Poe in a tree outside, she moseyed her way to the Nurse’s station. It wasn’t too hard considering practically every wall in the building held signs and arrows telling people where to find things. “Hello,” she greeted one of the nurses with a shy smile. The woman behind the desk was a large, elderly black woman with a stern, no-nonsense expression. She didn’t say hello back. “Um,” Reyna coughed to clear her throat, “I’m doing a research project on coma patients, and I was wondering if you had, like, a list of the people in the hospital who were currently in comas? I just need to see how many there are and how many are men and how many are women. It would, um, really help me out.”

The woman sighed and began to type on her computer, “Child, you’re lucky it’s not a mad house in here today. Look, I can tell you what you need to know but I can’t print you out a list of names. It’s against hospital procedure.”

“Oh, that’s fine!” Reyna said, widening her eyes to make herself look more innocent. She pulled her backpack around and pulled out her pen and notebook, then looked at the nurse for her to continue. As the woman opened her mouth to tell Reyna the information on her screen, Reyna focused on a stack of papers behind the nurse and with a twitch of her fingers made them topple over. The papers made a clattering sound, drawing the attention of the nurse. With a harsh curse, she got up out of her chair and went over to pick them up. Hoping the pages weren’t too important, Reyna placed her hand on the back of the computer monitor. With one hand on the screen and the other holding onto her pen, Reyna linked the electronic ink from the document on the screen to the inked pen. Finished putting the papers back in order, the nurse muttered underneath her breath as she sat back down at her desk and then told Reyna there were currently twelve coma patients in the hospital; seven male and five female.

Thanking the nurse with a bright smile, Reyna quickly disappeared from the woman’s sight and found a waiting room to sit in. Placing the pen above a blank sheet in her notebook, she let go of the writing utensil. Instead of falling over, as one would expect, the pen began to move and twist over the paper, revealing the names, contact information, health status, and—most importantly—room numbers of the coma patients. Ripping the piece of paper out of the notebook, Reyna made her way to the elevator and up to the room number of the first male coma patient on the list.

Beelzebub had a very specific type of body he wanted to inhabit. He wanted to be a young white male with blonde hair and preferably blue eyes. Reyna told him she’d do her best to find a match, but it wasn’t like coma patients grew on trees. Hopefully he understood that. After the first four males turned out to be aesthetic duds, Reyna found a match on the seventh floor of the hospital. The man’s name was Joshua Phelps. According to his chart he was 6’4, blue eyed, 194 pounds, twenty-eight years old, and had been in a coma for three years with no brain wave activity. He was perfect.

Now all Reyna had to do was seal a Devil inside of him. Easy peasy. Taking a deep breath in through her nose and letting it out of her mouth, she closed the door and lowered the blinds to the room. Carefully moving his arm so that she didn’t disrupt any of the wires or needles sticking into him, Reyna rested his hand palm up and with the tip of her pen pressed against the inside of his wrist, began to draw the summoning seal for Beelzebub. Besides the lines of the circle flashing gold for half a second, nothing happened, though Reyna hadn’t expected anything to. Digging back into her backpack, she pulled out a red pen this time and around the summoning drew a binding seal. Reyna had to be careful not to overlap any of the lines or else the seals would negate each other’s effects. Instead she carefully lined up each detail so the two seals cohabitated on the man’s inner wrist.

Double checking that no one was about to burst through the door, Reyna pulled out a x-acto knife from the small pouch of her backpack and carefully made a small incision on both the man’s forearm and her own. Dipping her index finger into his small pool of blood, she traced the summoning circle, then did the same with her blood and the binding circle. After quickly healing the two cuts, Reyna placed the flat of her palm against the decorated wrist, “Beka lokhu igobolondo angenalutho enhle. Ukubopha!

With a quick turn of her palm, mixing the seals and the blood, a bright white light shone through the cracks between their limbs. The man’s jaw unhinged and as he took in a lungful of air, he sounded like a dead man desperately taking in his last breath. His chest heaved off the bed, his back bending backwards, and his face turned sideways and buried into the pillow. Reyna took two steps away from the reanimating man in case he flailed about. She noticed his eyes began to flicker open once his body stopped its thrashing, though all she could see so far were the whites of his eyes, which thoroughly creeped her out.

His eyes finally opened, and after several blinks to clear away his blurry vision, he locked gazes with Reyna. “Why . . . why do I feel so . . . tired?” He asked with a heavy tongue.

“Probably because that body hasn’t moved in, like, three years.” Reyna explained with a shrug, “You’ll probably have to go through physical therapy or something.”

“It . . . worked, though. Right? I’m . . . I won’t . . . I can,” His face pinched with frustration and Reyna stepped closer to stand at his bedside.

“It worked,” she confirmed with a nod. A proud smirk adorned her lips, “Looks like I’m quite the bad ass. And yeah, you’ll be able to stay in that body for as long as like. So long as you stick to the deal, of course. Oh, and as long as this never gets broken,” she said as an afterthought while running her thumb over the now tattoo-like circles on his wrist. “But that shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Can I . . . see?”

Making an affirmative noise, Reyna summoned a small mirror from her bathroom at the brownstone and held it in front of his face. “Would you like to know more about yourself Beelzebub?”

Giving her a lazy smile, but not taking his eyes off the mirror, he told her, “You can . . . call me Bub. I think . . . you’ve earned it. And yes,” he breathed out.

“Cool, so Bub,” she said with a cheeky smile, “your name is technically Joshua now. Joshua Phelps. I’m sure you’ll get loads of Michael Phelps jokes about that,” she joked, then continued to explain to him everything she had read from the chart. “I’m not really sure how Joshua came to be in a coma, but you can probably get away with, like, memory loss or something.”

Bub’s eyebrows furrowed and he finally looked away from the mirror to take in his surroundings. He rolled his head over to the side and looked at the beeping machines next to him. “Shouldn’t someone . . . have noticed?”

“That you’ve woken up? They will, but not ‘til I leave. I, uh, kinda spelled your heart monitor and stuff to give false reports for right now. Couldn’t have a nurse rushing in before I clued you in now could I?”

“Smart,” he commented, making Reyna beam. “What if someone . . . notices?” He asked while slightly twitching the hand with the mark.

“Oh, right, hold on,” Reyna told him before digging back into her backpack and then flipping through her notebook. Pulling out a piece of loose leaf paper with a drawing of gross looking fly, Reyna drew the tips of her fingers over the image and then doing the same over Bub’s wrist. The inky mess of circles disappeared with her fingers and an exact image of the fly was in its place. “There, now it looks like you’ve just got a really weird tattoo on your wrist. Cool, huh?” She said with a wave of her fingers, “Almost like the magic version of copy, paste.”

Angling his head to have a better look at the new image, he asked, “Why a fly?”

Giving the Demon another shrug, “’Cause your Wikipedia page compared you to Lord of the Flies, so I thought it worked. If you ever want a different image, just find one and I’ll change it, but for now that’ll work dandy. I’m also gonna give you my cell number and leave it in your desk drawer, ‘kay?” She did as she said before letting out a sigh, “Now I just have to let your nasty bro that it worked, ugh.”

Bub laughed, “Yeah, Sam can be . . . intense sometimes. He’s . . . just protective. This will definitely . . . put you in his . . . good books, though. How do you . . . plan on summoning the others, though?”

“What do you mean?” Reyna asked, “I figured I’d just draw your circles when I needed you.”

“Yeah, but, what if you don’t . . . have anything to . . . draw with? Or if . . . you can’t remember the . . . circle?”

That was a good point. Reyna titled her head to the side and tried to come up with something, but merely shrugged when she couldn’t. “You could,” Bub said softly, and Reyna could see his eyes begin to droop with exhaustion, “always . . . get them tattooed. That always . . . works.”

“Tattoos? But how would that work? Like, wouldn’t it just be a constant summon?”

With a wobbly shake of his head, he explained, “No, not if you . . . only use it for summoning us . . . here. You just need to amend the contracts. Then . . . add some blood to the seal, and poof,” he said with a slow smile and slight jerk of his hands, “instant Demon.”

A bewildered laugh left Reyna’s mouth, making Bubs’ loopy smile widen. “All right, I’ll work on that. Thanks, Bub. Now before you fall asleep,” she said, fluffing his pillow, “I’m gonna go so the doctors will come and see that you’re not in a coma and stuff. Well kinda. Call me if you need anything, okay?”

Bub nodded his head—well, wobbled it, really—and Reyna smiled at him one last time before leaving his room. For a Demon, that guy sure was nice. Barely half way down the hallway, high pitched beeps and the whirring noise of medical machines sounded behind her, and she could hear the frantic footsteps of the staff running in and out of Bub’s room. Pushing the down button for the elevator, Reyna tried a few times to calm her smile—her cheeks were starting to ache—but soon figured out there was no dismissing her happy mouth, which made her smile widen even more.

Once the elevator doors dinged open, Reyna stepped in and pushed the button for the ground floor. She pulled her phone out from her back pack while she descended and was shocked to find ten missed calls. All from Dunstan. Humming under her breath, Reyna flipped the phone shut and placed it in her back jean pocket. Getting off the elevator, and narrowly avoiding the nurse who’d unknowingly given her the list of coma patients, Reyna made a quick escape out of the hospital.

As soon as she felt the hot summer sun warming her air conditioned skin, Reyna pulled out her phone again with the intention of calling Dunstan back. Poe flew down onto her shoulder as she pressed the green call button. The phone only rang once, “Reyna? Reyna, I need you to come to the brownstone. Now.

“Wow, can I get a please?” Reyna said with some snark. She looked up at the sky and shielded her eyes from the sun. The smile that had just been on her face quickly slipped away thanks to him.

Now, Reyna.” He said with impatience. Reyna could picture his jaw clenching so hard his skin turned paper white. “I am not asking as you guardian. I’m ordering as your Master.”

“Ugh, fine,” Reyna groaned while massaging the skin between her brows. Poe picked up on her distress and fluttered his feathers before picking through her hair with his beak, trying to social groom her into a calmer state. “I’ll be there in a few hours.”

Reyna didn’t hear anything on the other end and after a few seconds pulled the phone away to see that Dunstan had hung up without a formal goodbye. Clucking her tongue, the Reyna sent a quick text to Sybil that she’d be out with Dunstan, exchanged her phone for her iPod in her back pack, and found an empty cab to take her back to the brownstone. She hoped that whatever Dunstan wanted wouldn’t take too long. Reyna still felt uncomfortable in his presence. Before she’d left for Sybil’s she’d tried to bring up the topic of different sexualities with him, but he’d only brushed her off with a long winded sigh and that look of his that made Reyna almost start bawling all over again. After that the house began to feel toxic to her. Every annoying behavior, no matter how small, of Dunstan’s began to grate on her nerves. Bad memories began flooding her thoughts more often than not, drowning out what little good ones she had of the man. Resentment began to fill her heart and she wasn’t sure how much longer she’d be able to take it before she’d burst.

With the brownstone finally in sight, Reyna sent Poe away after a goodbye head scratch, put away her iPod and walked up to the front door. As soon as she walked in to the foyer, she knew something was amiss. Her magic twisted sharply in the pit of her belly, trying its hardest to lash out at whatever the threatening presence was. Hesitantly, Reyna dropped her backpack to the floor and stepped lightly further into the house. From around the corner she could hear Dunstan’s voice. He didn’t sound anxious or stressed in any way, so Reyna assumed whatever had her pulse pounding in her veins was due to something other than a home invasion.

“Dunstan?” She called out, almost timidly. Dunstan’s voice broke off suddenly and he stepped out from his study with a strange smirk on his face. Reyna didn’t like the look of it. It made her hair stand on edge.

“Reyna! Good, good, you’re here. Come along then, it’s time for us to go.” He said with a single nod. He walked past her and Reyna watched him go for a second before more footsteps from the study drew her attention. Sucking in a sharp breath, Reyna now understood what was making her magic go crazy.

Four Fairies stood in front of her. They all looked as cold and as snide as she remembered from the time she met their Queens in France. One of them, whose skin looked slightly similar to the complexion of mashed potatoes and with hair as gold as fresh straw, stretched her terribly red lips into a smile. “Hello, pretty,” she cooed, “Would you like to play a game?”

Clochette,” Dunstan called sharply, “We do not have time.” The Fairy sneered at him, but didn’t try anything further. The other three followed her lead and all began to head for the front doors. Reyna stared at their backs as she followed, not daring to walk any closer nor wanting to dash ahead and have them at her back. She wondered if that was the Fairy’s real name, since she had actually listened to Dunstan and not blown him off. Or maybe it wasn’t but she decided to listen for the sake of time anyway.

Reyna wanted to ask where they were going, especially with an entourage of Fairies, but whenever she opened her mouth to ask she found she couldn’t muster up the courage. Several times on their walk to wherever it was, Reyna had to shoo Poe away from swooping down to her. She didn’t want to poor crow to get hurt, and she couldn’t guarantee his safety if one of those dreaded Fairies decided they liked the looks of him.

Dunstan eventually led them to an office building and with a flick of his wrist opened the door with his magic, almost talking them off their hinges. Footsteps slowing, Reyna looked at the doors then towards Dunstan’s back, wondering why he used magic for something so mundane—and so violently, at that. Fingers twitching, Reyna took a few quick steps to catch up to the group. She couldn’t help but notice that almost every inch of the office space was covered with campaign posters that read Vote for King! After just learning how the man felt about the magical community, Reyna wondered what they were doing in his campaign headquarters. Gulping, Reyna decided that whatever it was it couldn’t be good.

“Who’s in charge here?” Dunstan bellowed out in his ‘you’d better listen to me, or else,’ voice, causing many a head to turn his way. Definitely not good, Reyna thought. “Hmm,” he prompted again when all he’d received was wide eyes and mouths agape. “Answer me!” This time he’d added magic to his voice, causing it to boom as loudly as thunder and the floor to shake. The Fairies began to spread out, all of them looking positively predatory. Reyna took a few steps closer to Dunstan, not understanding what was happening at all.

A man, who’d been standing in the doorway of a smaller office, took a slow step forward. He looked older than Dunstan, maybe late-fifties, with gray-streaked brown hair, and wore a suit that would make any Wall Street worker proud. With his face as red as a ruddy tomato and eyes practically glistening, he looked liable to break down any second. “I—I’m Randy Smith. I—I’m in charge of this office.” He stuttered, making Dunstan sneer with disdain.

Reyna knew that sneer. He’d used it on her only a handful of times, but she knew it well enough. Suddenly her mouth felt dry, because Dunstan only used that facial expression when he was about to get violent. Before he had a chance to do anything, however, a sharp cry rang out from one of the other workers. Reyna felt a twinge in her neck from how fast she turned it, and had to cover her mouth with her hands to keep herself from screaming.

One of the Fairies, a dark skinned one with ruby eyes and hair, stood proudly over the corpse of a female campaign worker whose neck was twisted at an unnatural angle. Kicking her indelicately, the Fairy looked at Reyna with a gleeful fling in her eye. “Someone was naughty. She tried to call the policy-weecy. Fat lot of good that’d do ‘em,” she said with a shrug.

Head swiveling back to her Dunstan, Reyna didn’t know what she expected from him, but she expected something. Dunstan apparently hadn’t taken his eyes off the campaign manager, not for a single second. “Now that you know we mean business,” he said conversationally. Dunstan moved through the crowd of people—who parted almost as if they were the Red Sea and he Moses—and took a seat. “It’d be a good idea for you to get your candidate down here. We need to have a talk.”

“You—what the hell are you?” Randy Smith asked, his face now sheet white. “You’re what we’re campaigning against! How—how dare you come in here and think you can just—just,” his face turned red while he sputtered and raged. Reyna thought him very brave, if not very stupid, because if the man was really looking at Dunstan’s face, he’d be able to tell Dunstan was looking much too gleeful for someone who should look angry or chastised, or something. But no, he looked way too happy, making her think he wanted the man to go off in such a way.

In one fluid motion, Dunstan was out of the chair and in front of Randy Smith with on hand covering his face. Seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, Reyna saw what must have been a security guard of some sort pointing his gun straight at Dunstan’s turned back. “No!” She screamed, hand thrusting outwards and magically pushing the guard back against a wall with a sickening crack. Breath stilling in her lungs for just a second, Reyna forced her legs to move towards the injured man. First checking that he was still breathing, she let out a shaky breath when she felt his own on the palm of her hand. “Oh no, oh no, oh no,” she whispered again and again, seeing blood now seeping from a crack in his head.

“Reyna,” Dunstan called, looking her from over his shoulder. “Leave him,” he ordered. Dunstan turned his attention back to Randy Smith whose face had gone blank and pupil’s dilating so much no color could be seen.

What?” Reyna bit out, raising shaky hands to hover over the wound. Dunstan couldn’t be serious. She may have stopped the guard from shooting him, but that did not mean she would leave him for dead.

Dunstan noticed Reyna’s intention, and with another flick of his wrist, Reyna felt herself being thrown across the room. “I said,” he repeated, “leave him.”

With a pained groan, Reyna lifted herself off the ground and stared wide eyed at the man who’d raised her. In all her memories of the two of them together, she could recall being scolded, reprimanded, ignored—hell, he’d hit her more than once—but she could not recall a time when Dunstan had used magic on her. Never. Not once. He’d crossed a line. Performed a taboo. Whatever trust Reyna had in him just crashed to the ground like a flaming meteorite.

Looking over at the terrified faces before her, Reyna turned her face upwards glared at the still grinning Fairies that stood above them all. Magic hummed in her veins, begging to be unleashed. Randy Smith was moving freely now. He pulled his cell phone out of his jacket breast pocket and Reyna could see more clearly now what was happening to him. Dunstan was playing puppeteer with the man’s mind, completely blocking out every ounce of free will Randy Smith had and replaced it with his own.

Dunstan looked out to the cowering people now, like some Tyrant over a conquered people. “Would you look at that? The sun’ll be setting soon. Looks like you lot will be good for something. Vampires need to eat, too, you know. And it’s been so long since they’ve had such a feast thanks to your laws.” He told them with a slight tut of his tongue, as if these people were the ones at fault.

Fingers curling into fists, Reyna could feel anger digging itself deep into her heart and disgust tainting her tongue. Her breathing came quicker and quicker and her skin tingled as her magic unraveled and prepared itself. Movement from one of the Fairies, the ruby haired one again, caused Reyna’s head to turn again. This time, when she saw the Fae’s malicious smile and raised hand—prepared to strike an elderly man—Reyna lashed out. Gripping onto the Fairy’s hearts—both located where a human’s kidneys would be found—her eyes widen almost comically before Reyna swiftly jerked her arm back, pulling the two organs through layers of bones, muscles and flesh. The organs fell to the floor with a squishy thud, and Reyna probably would’ve gagged over it if she hadn’t had to immediately turn and deflect another Fairy’s attack.

Reyna was in no mood to play, though. The kid gloves were off—just like the Fae’s head once she was finished with it. Reyna turned to look at the last two remaining Fairies, her blood singing for more. Cocking a brow, she silently dared one of them to come at her. It was a sigh from Dunstan that next caught her attention. Looking at her Master—if she should still call him that—Reyna wasn’t too sure what would come out if she opened her mouth: words or bile.

“Reyna, what are you doing?” He asked, an arm held up to Randy Smith’s body who had paused in his motion of dialing.

“What am I doing?” She hissed. “What are you doing? That—this is crazy Dunstan! What the honest hell are we doing here?”

“We’re making a stand for magic kind,” he said in a tone that suggested it was obvious. “We can’t let King continue. He’ll be a terror to our society.”

“So what? You’ll just kidnap him? Kill him? Don’t you think that’s a bit over dramatic?” Reyna thought it was terribly ironic that she, the teenaged girl, was calling out a grown man on being over dramatic. She’d have to laugh about it later. Maybe.

“No, dear, I don’t.” Dunstan said through a clenched jaw, his patience wearing thin. “Perhaps if you paid more attention to the current political events happening to our city instead of those vapid T.V. shows of yours, you’d understand.” He told her condescendingly, which in turn made Reyna’s jaw clench. Seemingly done with the conversation, and apparently ignoring the two dead Fairies at Reyna’s hands, he once again turned his back on her. Randy Smith’s fingers started up again and soon a shrill ringing could be heard from his phone.

“I—I won’t let you do this!” Reyna shouted. Dunstan’s spine noticeably stiffened, but the she was already in motion. A faint voice sounded from the phone, but before Randy Smith could raise it to his ear, Reyna summoned the object into her hand and pressed the red button. Then, with a surge of magical strength, she crushed the phone in her hand.

Brows set in determination, Reyna looked up at Dunstan. He was furious. He’d turned to face her completely now and the air in the room seemed to thin out before the sound of crackling could be heard. Quickly ducking to the floor, a bolt of lightning shot past her head and hit the wall behind her, causing it to burn and sizzle. Thankfully it did not set ablaze. Exhaling sharply, Reyna’s fist relaxed for half a second before tightening again. Dunstan let out a surprised yelp as his body jerked towards the ground as the gravity around him became heavy.

The last two Fairies took threatening steps towards Reyna, but Dunstan quickly ordered them not to interfere. “So you think you’re all grown up now, huh?” He panted as he broke away from the gravitational pull. “You still have a lot to learn, dear.” He shoved out both of his arms, intending to once again knock Reyna off her feet.

She was prepared for it this time, though, and only skidded a few feet backwards. “Maybe,” Reyna responded to his earlier statement while snapping her thumb and middle finger together, creating a lick of fire, “but it won’t be from you!” Holding onto the lick of fire in the palm of her hand, Reyna lashed a whip of fire towards Dunstan and smirked when it singed his beard. She pulled her arm back, and while Dunstan prepared himself for another whipping, flicked the fire towards a little red box on the wall behind her that read ‘Fire Alarm’.

A shrill ringing went off in the building. The two Fae glanced between themselves before looking at Dustan. It was a Kodak moment, for sure. His mouth was agape, eyes wide, and the line between his mouth and cheek twitched with a horrible realization. The fire department was coming. “Looks like I learned something from my vapid T.V. shows,” Reyna said snidely. Taking advantage of Dunstan’s surprise, Reyna used the hand that wasn’t holding a whip of fire to fling him into the two Fairies who’d lined up nicely next to each other in their confusion. “Run!” She yelled to the trembling people.

Pulling on the small tendrils of smoke from the still sizzling wall behind her, Reyna created a smoke screen to slow Dunstan down. Not forgetting about the unconscious man, Reyna quickly went to his side, and with the help of two other captives, got him out of there. Thankfully, it seemed that there was a fire station not far from the office building, and several trucks and ambulances were waiting for them as they escaped.

Seeing the fire-men preparing the hoses, she hurried over and waved her arms to get their attention. “It’s—it’s not—it’s not on fire,” she pushed the words out as eloquently as she could, but it seemed the adrenaline and magic high was leaving her system, making her speech almost slurred. “It’s not smoke,” she repeated to the concerned looking fire-men. “Just—just magic. I can clear it out in . . . in just a sec.”

Letting out a shaky breath, Reyna bent over and placed her head between her legs. A heavy hand rested on her back, causing her to shoot straight back up. Her shoulders relaxed when she saw it was just a paramedic. “Miss? Are you all right?” He asked, “Come over to the truck, all right? I’ll give you a once over.”

“No, no,” she reassured. “I’m fine.” Turning towards the building and taking another deep breath, Reyna unleashed her magic again and dispersed the black smoke. With the smoke gone, Reyna expected to see a pair of pissed looking Fairies and one terribly angry Dunstan standing inside the building. Blinking twice, and then rubbing her eyes for a good ten seconds, Reyna was surprised to find the office bare of anyone. “Shit,” she whispered.

“Miss? Are you sure you’re okay?” The paramedic asked again. Reyna wasn’t paying him any attention, though. Fairy Doors, she mentally cursed. They must’ve escaped through Fairy Doors. A cold shiver ran up her spine. Would Dunstan come back for her? Try to attack her in revenge for ruining his plans? Would the Fae? Reyna felt her body begin to shake with the aftershock of it all. She was damn lucky to be alive.

The sound of a new siren brought Reyna out of her daze. It was a police car. Someone must’ve alerted them to what happened. Turning back to the paramedic who still looked so terribly concerned, Reyna tried to give him a half smile, “I think I’d like to lay down now.” The man nodded and help her sit down with some of the other victims before fetching her a blanket. Reyna was very thankful for the blanket because her teeth had begun to chatter so hard she worried they may never stop.

A gurney passed on its way to an ambulance. Reyna could see it was the security guard. Standing up a bit too fast, Reyna shook away the dark splotches that appeared in her vision and asked one of the other paramedics, “Will he be okay?”

“He should be fine,” the woman told her. “Just a nasty bump to the head knocked him out. We’ll have to wait until he’s awake to find out if he has a concussion, though.”

Releasing a sigh, Reyna watched as they loaded the man onto the truck and drove away with blaring sirens. Sitting back down on the curb, and clutching the blanket closer to her, Reyna looked over the rest of the people. A few of them were staring into space, but most were staring at her. Half of those who looked at her, looked at her like she was the anti-Christ and the other half looked on with something akin to awe. Turning her gaze back down to her knees, she thought about what to do next. It felt almost trivial now, but Reyna remembered that she was still supposed to have dinner with Melchiorn. Huffing out a half laugh, half scoff, Reyna summoned her backpack from the brownstone and pulled out her cell phone, texting him if he could be so kind as to meet her outside the King campaign headquarters.

Then, with still trembling fingers, Reyna dialed up a number and waited as it rang. “Marcus?” She sniffed, then laughed in an attempt to cover it, “You won’t believe what I’m about to tell you.”

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