Tinyfic Thursday

Hi everyone!

Before I talk a little bit about where I’ve been for the past month(s?) and where I plan to take this blog in the future, I want to share a little bite-sized piece from my work-in-progress:

Jonah’s vision fragments and crashes in one sudden change. The end has swept by, out of reach, and he never grasped the shape of it.

My intention here isn’t to give any excuses. I don’t believe that is necessary, nor is it something anybody wants to read. Essentially, heath issues and completing my last full semester of university caused me to step back from social media for a while, though I have continued to write.

I’ve also taken the time to think about this blog and how I want to continue with it. I have decided that I will no longer be posting chapter-by-chapter updates of future works. My hope for the future is to sell all of my stories through Amazon, but post short “previews” here. Selling my stories through Amazon exclusively not only helps me pay for my groceries but also allows me to give more benefits to people who buy my books on Amazon.

If you have a Twitter and don’t follow me, I would highly suggest you do so: @KMorrighan. Twitter has become the most effective way for me to promote myself and reach other writers.  I will post the flashfiction that I put on Twitter up here as well. I will continue making review videos, which I will post here and on Youtube. I also have a few ideas I’d like to explore and write articles about, that I will post here at least once a month. 

Keep reading and keep loving! Comment or email me to let me know anything else you’d like to see!
K

Off the Cuff

Happy Saturday! Here’s a short story I whipped up today…

The crackling electricity of the cuff stings Jos’ wrist.

“According to the Martian New Technologies law of 3001, your right to free speech has been temporarily removed while you testify in this Court of the Law. Do you understand and willingly consent to this of your own volition?”

Jos swallows past the nerves in his throat. The cuffs they use in Courts of the Law, to ensure the wearer told the truth, are old tech. He’d learned about it in school, of course, but he couldn’t remember the date they’d been invented. At least thirty years ago, he thinks. Long enough ago that they shouldn’t have to tell him all about it before he testifies. It’s standard procedure, out-of-date like so many things about the Martian Courts.

“Mahsor?” The Courter asks from her high stand, towering above Jos.

“I willingly consent, mahsa.” He’s careful to hide the low-city accent in his voice. Me willin’ to agree, ma’.

Jos’ voice feels uncomfortable in his throat as he speaks. It’s the cuff, checking all his words on the way out. Wearing the cuff while he agrees to speak means he can’t agree simply because someone else is forcing him to speak. If he really didn’t want to say the truth of it, he would have said no and they would have let him out.

It matters, as he looks out past the high bench where the judge sits at the glass his family sits behind. His aunts stare at the screen inside the box, where they can see and hear him. His sister, however, looks directly through the glass across the long space to him. Her toddler son shifts on her lap. Her husband has an arm around her and is kissing her on the cheek.

It matters.

He is going to tell the truth. His whole family will know he wants to tell the truth.

A set of doors slides open and a Questioner, dressed in all black with black hair slicked away from his face, walks in.

“Mahsor Questioner,” the Courter’s voice echoes through the room, “As is required by Martian law, the Criminal in Question has been removed from the room.”

“Acknowledged.” The Questioner responds, voice low and official.

Jos had known in advance that his father wouldn’t be in the room. Not that it will matter, in the end. His father will know what Jos says today in this room. He will know that Jos’ sister hadn’t said it, had never believed it.

She hadn’t seen what Jos had.

“In your interview before this questioning, you told me that you think you can offer insight that neither your sister, nor her husband, can provide. Can you confirm that statement?”

“Yes, mahsor, I know more than they do.”

“Can you explain why?” The Questioner paces slowly in front of Jos’ seat.

Jos pauses before answering, unsure how to say it without using his street words. She movin’ up too quick.

“She…” He hesitates, “She had a baby when she was young. She moved out four years ago, before he changed.”

“So you are telling me you have a better understanding of who your father has become recently?”

Jos blinks. Hadn’t he just said that? Had he been unclear?

“Yes, mahsor.”

“Where were you on the night that your mother was murdered?”

Jos sighs. He’s told the story at least a dozen times.

“It was a Friday. I was at work.”

The Questioner says something to the Courter, drawing her attention to some document that confirms Jos’ story.

“So there is absolutely no way you are responsible for your mother’s murder.”

“Na, neva!” He blurts out, before he can stop himself. He clears his throat. “No, mahsor.”

The Questioner nods, paces back and forth a few more times.

“Do you have reason to believe that your father did, in fact, kill your mother?”

Jos sees his sister’s hand fly up to cover her mouth, tears streaming out of her eyes. This will hurt her. It will separate the two of them forever.

“Yes, I do.”

Disney’s “First Openly Gay Character”

Today my mother and sister took me out to see Beauty and the Beast. It’s not my usual type of movie, but going out beats sitting in front of the keyboard staring at the textual wall that is the final chapter of Pull (which you can read here). I actually ended up loving the film, and would highly recommend it! However, the main reason I wanted to see it was my interest in the conflict surrounding LeFou.

The amount of articles that came out about Disney’s new “gay character” LeFou after the film was released completely overwhelmed me. Many articles sang its praises while many others deplored such a “immoral” act in a children’s tale. None of them, however, mentioned exactly what LeFou did to make him so irrefutably homosexual.

I was beyond disappointed when I saw the film and realized what exactly made LeFou’s sexuality so important: nothing The amount of controversy that arose out of the topic is humorous to me now, when I realize that it is founded on essentially nothing.

In my opinion, the only evidence that LeFou is gay is some possible subtext, effeminate behavior (which, although stereotypical, is no real evidence of his sexuality at all), and about two seconds of him dancing with another man at the end of the film. I probably wouldn’t have even thought of LeFou’s sexuality at all if such a big deal wasn’t being made out of it. Sure, with the right lens, LeFou’s hero-worship of Gaston could be seen as a crush. I wouldn’t put it past that though.

Heading into the film, I was expecting some extra song about LeFou pining after Gaston or a scene where he openly admits to another character that he has romantic feelings for his friend. In my opinion, an honest conversation would have been a much more positive portrayal (mostly because it would have been an actual portrayal of homosexuality).

Sure, it’s better than nothing, but I still don’t see what all the hubbub was about. It may be a long way from the gay romances we’re used to on this blog, but I would still highly recommend Beauty and the Beast!

 

Erotic Character Questionnaire

Happy Monday! Recently I’ve been obsessed with character questionnaires, basically a list of questions (such as “Does you character have a secret?” or “What’s in your character’s fridge right now?”) that are designed to help you flesh out your characters and make them more like real people. As an author of romance and erotica, I felt the need to supplement these G-rated questionnaires with my own adult questions. If any amount of your story takes place inside the bedroom, it probably makes sense for you to think some about what your character finds pleasurable. So, without further ado, here is my Erotic Character Questionnaire:

  1. What turns your character on?
  2. What turns your character off?
  3. What is your character’s attitude towards sex in general?
  4. What are things your character struggles with in the bedroom?
  5. What are your character’s kinks and/or fetishes?
  6. Does your character have hard limits? If so, what are they?
  7. Where does your character like to be touched?
  8. Which position is your character’s favorite?
  9. What does your character like to see others wearing?

Jiggle

Hi everybody! I’ve been having technical difficulties that have prevented me from posting the next chapter of Pull as well as my review. However, it looks like all those issues should be resolved soon, and I’ll be on to a normal schedule of reviews on Mondays, flash fiction on Wednesdays, and Pull updates on Friday!

This very short story is inspired by today’s daily prompt: Jiggle. I loved this prompt because it inspired me to write something I wouldn’t normally want to write! I also have been feeling some interest in writing something about women, rather than men, and this seemed like a great opportunity to combine them.

The following story contains mentions of body image issues that some people might find triggering.

Jiggle

Jill comes up behind her, wrapping delicate arms around her waist. Tessa hadn’t heard her girlfriend wake up. If she had, she would have thrown a bathrobe over her freshly washed body and hidden the fact that she’d been staring at herself in the mirror.

The soft fabrics of Jill’s tank top and sleep shorts press into Tessa’s exposed skin. Tessa is tall, and Jill has to crane her head, tousled red hair and all, around Tessa’s arm to look into the mirror.

“Mornin’, sunshine.” Jill smiles and runs a hand up Tessa’s body into the yellow hair curling around her shoulders. Tessa can’t help but try to pull away from her touch. For all their flaws and the ups and downs they’ve had, Jill knows Tessa better than she knows herself.

“One of those days?” She says quietly, pulling back and standing in front of Tessa, blocking her view in the mirror.

Tessa turns away angrily, goes to grab something to cover herself. Jill grabs her wrist.

“How can you love me?” Tessa asks quietly, though she doesn’t look at her girlfriend or try to pull away from her grasp. “How can you want to touch me, when I look like this? When I…jiggle like this?” With her free hand she gestures vaguely at the weight around her midsection.

Jill’s thin, but it’s all lean muscle. Tessa sees the hours of running and yoga that go into crafting Jill’s body. She’s seen the dedication that Jill has, the kind that she’ll never get close to having herself. She’s stuck with this body, this inferiority.

Jill uses her strength to pull Tessa in towards her.

“You are the love of my life, sunshine, and you’re beautiful.”

Tessa keeps her eyes fixed on the ground.

Jill squeezes Tessa’s hands.

“I think I know what could make you feel better.” She murmurs lowly, looking up through her lashes and pulling Tessa towards the bed. “I’ll show you how much I love you…every part of you.”

Pull – Chapter 11

Pull – Chapter 11

Happy Sunday! The next chapter of Pull is here! Don’t forget that earlier chapters of this book are available as eBooks on Amazon in two separate volumes (Volume 1: chapters 1-4, Volume 2: chapters 5-9) for only 99 cents each. Enjoy!

You can also read previous chapters here.

“Silas.”

Silas’ eyes blink open. Swimming into clarity is a grey ceiling and Violet’s heart-shaped face looking down into his eyes.

He moves to say something, but his voice is like paper and his throat like dust. Violet waves her hand and a glass of water appears on the ground next to her. She slides an arm behind Silas and moves to help him sit up. He lets out a cry of pain that turns into a hoarse wheeze by the dryness of his throat. He squeezes his eyes shut and raises a hand to his shoulder, automatically moving to send healing magic through the wound, but he finds himself totally drained. Violet raises the glass to his lips and he drinks greedily. Someone else kneels down besides him to tend to his shoulder. He pays them them no mind, taking a deep breath and putting down the glass of water, finally taking a moment to think of his surroundings. He feels Valor’s soul inside his body sitting like a rock in his stomach. He had never felt Valor so exhausted before. The memory of the two of them felt like a dream. The pain in his shoulder assures it is real.

So does Valiant’s body. There are no signs of the damage they’d done to him in what Silas thinks of as the “white space.” He lies on his side, not face-down like he had been in the white space, yet he is perfectly still in the way only the dead can be. His head is lolled to the left and a single trickle of blood runs out of his left ear. A group of fiends stand around his body, staring down at him in disbelief.

Silas wonders what they saw from the outside, but doesn’t have the fortitude yet to talk about everything that had just happened. As the burning sensation begins to fade from his shoulder, the buzzing in his ears caused by the pain quiets, and he can hear whispers all around him, asking if Valiant is really gone. Silas cranes his neck, searching for the witches, but he cannot see any of them. He turns to Violet, who is still supporting him with her arm.

“Where’s River?” He whispers. Nobody answers him. The fiend tending his shoulder slowly pulled away, their work done. Violet just stares at him. Silas scans the familiar faces of other fiends in front of him, but the witches are all gone.

“They didn’t surrender when Valiant died?”

Violet shakes her head slowly, her eyes dropping to the ground. “They just…vanished. They all portaled out almost instantly.”

Silas stares at her and blinks, her eyes shine in the dim light and lift to his own gaze briefly. The witches are gone, and River is gone with them.

Violet shakes her head. “They are truly our enemies now. Let him go, Silas.”

 

Silas stands besides Violet looking up at the white building in front of them. The newness of it is obvious. It is the only building in the busiest part of the city that stands free of graffiti.

Silas leans against the brick wall of a building on the other side of the street. “It looks so…clean.” He mumurs, crossing his arms.

“Give it a couple years and it will look just as dirty as the rest of the city.” Violet replies, cocking her head to the side as if trying to get a better look at the building.

Silas snorts. “Yeah, the politics happening inside will soon be just as dirty too.”

Violet turns to look at him, sighing. “Try to be a little less cynical, Silas.” There’s an exasperated tone in her voice. This isn’t the first time she’s had to deal with Silas’ grumpiness recently.

Silas glares at her sidelong. “Fiends and secs can work together. I believe that. But witches? I don’t think they can really work with anyone.” He knows his tone is bitter, with a edge of hurt that has nothing to do with the current conversation. “You’re the one who said they are our enemy now.”

VIolet frowns, then lets out a sharp breath and rolls her eyes. “That was months ago.”

Silas stays silent, staring straight ahead at the building before them. Months. Has it really been that long? Months since River appeared besides his mother and behind Valiant, staring down at him from across that seemingly endless space between them. Months, since he’d gone into the white space with Valor and killed Valiant.

River’s betrayal still hurts, hurts him like it had just happened, but when he forces himself to think logically about all the things that have happened it’s obvious that it has been months. Feels like it could have been longer even, things had moved so fast.

As soon as Valiant had dropped dead, the secs had been quick to get back to fighting for their equality. Without Valiant’s need for destruction pushing them, and perhaps due some to their own sensitivity to how out-of-hand their violence had gotten before, they were much more civil about their negotiations with the witches. The fiends had isolated themselves. Silas had let them, partly knowing that the violence between witches and secs wouldn’t escalate and partly because he couldn’t bring himself to fight anymore.

The fiends had recognized where their weakness lie, after all this. It had become obvious that they needed to unify, or at create some sort of central authority to turn to in times of crisis.

The building that they are looking at is the new meeting house. As soon as Valiant had been killed, the secs had gotten right back to the business of assuring their own equality. The fiends, for the most part willing to get a fresh start after the tragedies Valiant had caused, had made an attempt to unify. They’d elected Malachai to lead them, unsurprisingly. He had been the head of one of the most important gangs, and everyone had looked up to the strength and swiftness with which he carried out necessary punishments. Electing Malachai had left Silas to take over his job. He likes to think he’d been an acceptable successor, although his personal issues and the struggles he’d had with his demon had gotten in the way.

Choosing Malachai to lead them hasn’t changed their fierce streak of independence, and they still barely think of themselves as one people. The ghosts, deprived of magic by Valiant, continue struggling to search for a place in this society which, for all its attempt at unity, is still segregated so neatly between different peoples. The ghosts aren’t quite seculars, as they’d spent the majority of their lives with magic flowing through them, but they aren’t quite fiends. At least, they aren’t anymore. Most of them have banded together into their own sort of gang but they still tend to lay low. You can always tell them apart by the haunted look in their eyes.

Silas sighs. “I just don’t know if the witches can be trusted.”

Violet pierces him with a stare. “Silas, they know the consequences if they betray us. Again. Working with Valiant was serious.”

Since Valiant’s death, the witches had mostly laid low. Fiends were prone to letting their blood get too hot with anger for their brothers and sisters who had been reduced to ghosts. The city isn’t always a safe place for witches anymore. Silas hadn’t taken part in it, mostly because Valor had seemed perfectly content to lay unmoving inside of him since Valiant’s death. He would have probably taken a few witches down, if his magic had been working, just to pay them back for working with the enemy.

“All I’m saying is that there should be some sort of punishment or…something other than some angry fiends taking it upon themselves. Now that the peace has been made, there’s nothing.” Silas pushes off from the wall and turns to look at Violet.

Violet’s face softens, but the idea of her feeling pity for him only makes Silas angrier.

“We’ve talked about this.” She says. “Not all the witches worked with Valiant. We can’t just punish all of them, and it would be far too difficult to try and understand which ones are guilty. You just want to hurt River, to get him back for hurting you.”

Silas flinches. She’d told him before that punishing all the witches would be cruel, but she’d never said that about River.

After Malachai had become a tentative leader for the fiends, he had decided to try to form some sort of bond with the secs. He and Josa had known the only way for real progress was to talk to the High Priestess and offer her people a place in the new government or face punishment by that government for their actions.

Violet steps forward and puts her hands on Silas’ shoulders. “I know. This new council isn’t exactly a sure thing, there are secs, fiends, and witches who are going to cause problems in not too long. But you have to see that this is a step in the right direction. Hell’s flames, Silas, isn’t this what you were fighting for?”

Saying nothing, he pulls himself from her grip and walks away.

 

Silas is laying in the dark with his skin on fire. He has drawn the shades to keep out the beating sun,  but he still sweats above the covers. His mind swims with images of River. It feels like it has been an eternity since the time they spent in each other’s arms. His skin still tingles with the feeling of River moving over him, and he can feel all the places River had put his lips. He is hard beneath his jeans, just from the thoughts of River after so many weeks alone. His heart has ached too much for him to bring himself to touch and be touched by anyone other than the blond-haired witch. Now the ramifications of that withdrawal are coming on full force.

There is a knock on the door, and he mutters something that he supposes is a greeting. He is glad that the lighting in the room is dim, because he is sure his arousal is apparent. Light shines into the room in a beam that frames Violet in his doorway.

“Silas.” Her voice is stern. Silas stiffens. He knows her “in charge” voice. “I need…what are you doing in the dark?”

“Leave me alone, Vi.” Silas mutters, drawing the blankets around himself. He’s sweating under them, but he needs to hide the state he’s in. It will do nothing to calm Violet’s constant insistence that he, as she’s put it a thousand times, “go out.”

“No.” She says stubbornly. “This is ridiculous. It’s been too long for you to keep spending your days in here alone. Honestly, Silas, don’t you remember how you used to be? You could barely keep your legs closed.”

Silas turns over so his back is to the door, trying even harder to block Violet out.

He hears footsteps, and just as he turns to look Violet is ripping the covers off of him. He cries out in surprise and curls up, afraid she’ll notice his clear physical need. If she does, she makes no comment about it.

“Silas. You need to move on.”

Silas sits up, shaking his head.

Violet frowns. “This is about River, isn’t it?”

Silas shrugs. She’s not just talking about his boner.

Violet sits down at the edge of the bed. The motion of it makes his skin tingle more than it should. His body is sensitive.

“Silas. This isn’t like you. You’ve been like a shadow of yourself, especially since you fought Valiant.”

Silas is quiet at first, avoiding Violet’s steady gaze on him. Then he sighs and responds.

“Things are different, with Valor, ever since then”

Violet nods, but says nothing. Silas rarely tells her about things like this, and he gets the sense that she’s afraid to disturb his sudden interest in talking by saying anything herself.

He shakes his head. “I guess, after everything happened, I assumed he and I would be closer. I thought maybe I’d be able to hear him speak in my head or something, like I know some other fiends can.” It sounds stupid as soon as he says it, but Violet doesn’t give any reaction other than nodding.

“But…right after we killed Valiant, when we first woke up, I could feel him like a dead thing inside me.”

Violet puts a hand to her stomach protectively, low down, almost like a pregnant woman putting a hand over her womb. Silas knows some women feel their demons there, and he is both interested and oddly embarrassed to know something so personal about Violet.

“And now, he just feels heavy. I don’t feel cravings from him or feelings or…” His voice cracks and fades away.

“Nothing?” Violet asks, finally speaking and unable to hide the concern in her voice.

Silas shrugs. It has been bothering him, sure, somewhere in the back of his mind. But he’d distracted himself with missing River, and all the politics.

“It’s bad, right?” Silas asks, his throat tightening.

Violet puts a hand on his arm. “Not necessarily. What happened with you and Valor…nothing like it has ever happened before. I think you just need to do something to get your mind off of it.”

Silas looks at her blankly. He’d assumed she’d understand. He’d assumed any fiend would. He thought that she would know how it would feel to have everything about your demon change, the one thing that spends your whole life with you, that cannot leave you.

At least, that’s how it was before. After Valiant, perhaps everything is different.

Violet sighs and puts a hand on his knee. He still jumps, even though he’s lost the fire that had come with his earlier thoughts of River.

“You’re tense, Silas.” Violet says. “You should go out.”

Silas laughs, oddly amused that they’d somehow come full circle to this point.

“Is that a yes?” Violet asks.  

 

The music pounds, the deep beat of it thumping in Silas’ chest. Perhaps by force of old habits, times when Valor had pushed him to lose himself in alcohol, he finds himself bouncing between the bar and the dance floor all the night. The bartender had recognized him, even though he rarely came here even in the height of his partying days. Each time Silas approaches the bar, he serves him right away. He’s been giving him something clear but strong that burns like fire in his throat. Silas gets another and kicks back the drink quickly. He puts his money on the counter and is rewarded with another of the same drink. His head swims as the alcohol settled in his system. He turns back to the dance floor, feeling the music thrum through him and watching others dance.  With a fresh glass of something clear that burns like fire in his hand, he pushes his way through swaying bodies. Sweat from their exposed limbs rubs up against his bare arms. He breathes in the scent of sweat and alcohol, begging Valor to stir within him and return. He misses the way his magic had been, the feeling of companionship that he never knew he would miss with Valor latent within him.

His eyes sweep the dance floor, watching everyone around him grind up against each other. He’d come here to find that closeness with someone. He knows that, but it doesn’t really make it any easier. His gaze catches on one of the dancers. He has deep brown skin and dark hair cut close to his head in tight curls. He must have noticed someone staring. His gold eyes find Silas’ and hold. He’s not as slender as Silas usually likes, but there’s a subtle power in the way he swings his hips back and forth to the music that makes Silas’ temperature rise.

Silas can’t help but notice that he’s the furthest thing from River. He hates that about him. He loves that about him. Either way, his body burns.

Silas downs his drink and moves to put it back on the bar. The other fiend moves through the crowd slowly to watch him. Silas leans back against the bar with sprawling limbs. The fiend’s eyes wander over him lazily. His eyes come back up to Silas’ and stay there. The eye contact is prolonged, and eventually Silas pushes himself off the bar and moves through the dance floor towards him.

His hands find Silas’ hips, resting lightly there as they move back and forth to the music. Every part of Silas’ body is heated from the alcohol and the atmosphere, his senses primed. He feels drawn to the other fiend, their bodies growing closer together as they dance. He can see the beads of sweat on the other’s forehead, breath between his parted lips hot on Silas’ neck as they move close. They are dancing pressed against each other now, and Silas feels something hot and hard pushing against his thigh, mimicking his own need. He presses closer as they move together. Skin touches skin as his hands pushes under Silas’s black sleeveless shirt, moving over his lower back and pressing into his hip bones.

Their lips meet in fierce and desperate harmony. Silas grabs the fiends bare upper arms, feeling the corded strength beneath the skin. He doesn’t think of the elegant lines of River’s body. He doesn’t think about River’s shyness and how strongly it opposes the need and anonymity of this encounter.

They dance like this for a while, bodies rubbing up against each other futilely, Silas’ lips moving down to leave a purple mark on the other’s neck.

“Let’s get out of here.” The fiend whispered in Infernic, his breath hot on Silas’ ear. Silas leans back and nods his agreement, grabbing his hand and pulling him out of the club.

 

Pull – Chapter 10

Hope you all had a great weekend! I’m getting back to my old schedule of posting new chapters every other week, so rather than a new chapter next weekend I’ll have a new video up on my Youtube channel and a short article about…something. Stay posted!

You can read previous chapters here

Enjoy.

Silas braces himself, preparing to fight back against the demon as he struggles to take over his body. Valiant has called the demon and begged it to come out of Silas. So Silas waits for it, but it doesn’t fight. The demon simply stays coiled up inside him. He can feel the other fiends withdrawing from him, slowly stepping away in fear, expecting him to erupt into his demon and lose who he is.

“The demon inside me may be your brother, but he doesn’t seem interested in coming out to talk to you.” Silas freezes, his mind spinning at the insanity of what has happened in these few moments, “In fact, this is the least trouble I’ve had keeping him under control for as long as I can remember.”

Valiant’s lip curls. His eyes flash and Silas hears the sick thump of bodies hitting the floor. Instinctively, he looks behind him, but he doesn’t see any fiends on the ground. Instead he hears a shocked cry from one of the secs and looks over. Through the crowd, he sees bodies unmoving on the ground. The world seems to move in slow motion as he turns, hearing a piercing scream behind him. Other voices join in discord as fiends fold in on themselves clutching at their chests and stomachs.

“No.” Malachai whispers.

“Stop him!” Silas yells, looking to the witches on the other side of the warehouse.

River’s face is ashen and still, his jaw clenched tightly. Besides him, his mother’s face is puckered into a sour look.

Valiant smirks, his eyes wild. “Come out, brother, or I’ll pick them off one by one until I have the strength to drag you out into the open.”

Malachai stares at Silas, through Silas, looking into his demon and speaking to him directly. “He has no business with us. If you go to him, he’ll leave us alone. Please.”

Silas feels the demon stir, calls to it, reaches out to it, begging it to surface for the first time he can remember.

Then it rushes up over him and he is watching the world through another’s eyes. Everything has a blue tinge to it that he has come to associate with seeing through his demon. This is more intense than anything he has ever felt before. He feels wings and a tail burst from his body, his teeth pointing into fangs. The demon lets out a grunt as he moves Silas’ body, acquainting himself with how it feels.

“I’m not going to speak to you, brother.” He growls, stepping towards Valiant until they are only a foot apart. “You lied to father. I haven’t forgotten about what you did. You blamed me for your mistakes.”

Valiant rolls his eyes.” If you hadn’t fled and hidden in the mortal world, father would have forgiven you eventually. It’s all just water under the bridge now.”

The demon stiffens at that. “He would have killed me, and you know it.”

Valiant shrugs. “What’s done is done.”

The demon shakes his head. “No. You have damaged our home realm, and I will not let you ruin this one as well.”

“What, are you this realm’s keeper?” Valiant scoffs.

Silas’ demon says nothing, only stares evenly back at him. The silence stretches out, and Silas finds himself moving inside the demon. His soul has been pushed to the background, and he watches what the demon is doing as if through a television screen.

“Silas.” The demon does not open his mouth to speak, but Silas hears the voice reverberate through his body, their body. The demon is standing, still staring at Valiant, not talking.

“Silas, I need you. To bring him down, you must work with me.”

Silas isn’t sure how to respond. It’s odd having a body without really controlling it. His mind fills with fear, but he doesn’t feel his stomach drop or his heart leap into his throat.

“You are afraid because you don’t know how you could help me.” The demon replies, and Silas is surprised to recognize the humor in his voice. “I think, Silas, that you don’t know how much I rely on your strength.”

Silas is still unsure of how to respond. He can’t help but think of all the times he’d struggled to keep the demon down and prevented him from taking over. Yet here he is, and he is so calmly facing down Valiant.

“We can’t help what we are, Silas.” The demon says. Silas thinks painfully of River, and his denial of his own nature. Has Silas been doing the same thing? Have they all been doing the same thing by trying to force their demons to hide inside them, when they are so much a part of who you are? There is an odd aching sensation that Silas can feel, even though he is separated from his body. He can’t quite describe the feeling. To speak to this demon, the one he’s lived his life with, feels very complete, or at least on the way to completion.

The demon knows what he is thinking, and responds even though Silas can’t figure out a way to say what he wants.

“Valor” The demon’s voice echos through their souls. “My name is Valor.” There is a pause, and Valiant’s eyes begin to narrow and look them over. Silas wonders how long the conversation between them has lasted. Something shifts, and Silas finds his focus shifting from inside to outside, though it still seems like he is watching through a screen. The color of the world seems to change and grow sharper. Perhaps time hadn’t been moving outside of his body in the way he thought.

“If you do not willingly come with me, these children of the gods and myself will destroy all of you. Come brother, release yourself from that body and come with me.”

“No.” Valor replies, staring Valiant straight in the eye.

Valiant’s lip curls, radiating pure rage. He moves forward slowly, raising his arm out in front of him. Valor doesn’t move at all, keeping Silas’ body absolutely still. Valiant stops an arm’s length in front of him, reaching a hand out so his fingertips touch Silas’ face. As soon as they make contact with his skin, his vision explodes into white light.

Silas reels away from the light which shine into his eyes, raising his hands to cover his face. The brightness begins to dim, and he lowers his hands instinctively. He realizes as he does it that that he is in control of his own body. Consciousness comes back to him, and he realizes that he feels oddly empty. He looks around him, and sees Valor standing besides him in the whiteness. His skin is blue, his features all narrow and pointed, a set of black leathery wings and a tail sprouting from his naked skin. Silas feels his heart jump up into his throat. Has he lost Valor forever? Is this what it is like when your demon is stripped away and you’re left a ghost doomed to wander empty?

“Silas.” He reaches out his hand, smiling to reveal devilishly pointed teeth. Silas remembers living with this thing inside him, pushing him to do these evil things and having to struggle to fight against them or give in. Silas realizes he is reaching for Valor’s hand, then quickly draws it back, shaking his head. Anger flashes over Valor’s features and he shakes his hand, urging Silas to take it.

“Silas, don’t be petty. You’ll have to work with me-”

He stops mid-sentence, his eyes moving over to something in his peripheral vision. Silas followed his gaze, glad for the focus to be somewhere else. He immediately regrets this gladness, as he sees that Valiant stands across from them in the white space. Anger is bright on his face.

“I will take you with me, Valor. You will come home with me, and you will help me kill our sister and take her place.”

Valor shook his head. “And what then? You’ll share the kingdom with me equally? No, you’ll use me to take over the kingdom, and then you’ll kill me off so you can keep it all to yourself and whatever spawn you manage to create.”

“Why do you insist on staying here? Do you really feel so attached to this human you feed off of?”

“I’m not going with you, Valiant. You destroyed the kingdom, and that is why father left it to our sister.” Valor says softly.

Valiant snarls. “Like hell you aren’t” He snaps his fingers and a door appears next to him. the door swings open wide to send black fog ebbing slowly out into the room. Even though they are separate from each other, Silas can feel Valor’s emotions very clearly. He can feel the dread that fills him at the sight of that door.

Valiant shoves a hand forward, a deep pulse of magic emanating from his palm. It surges towards Valor so quickly that neither of them can react, acting like an invisible rope around his ankles and knocking him over. He begins to be pulled towards Valiant. Reacting on pure instinct, not thinking that having his demon—Valor—outside of his body should render his magic useless, he aims a bolt of force towards the invisible bonds holding Valor. It severs the connection and destroys Valiant’s spell. As the bond vanishes, Valor rocks back and uses his momentum to gracefully spring to his feet and aim a shot of blue, crackling with magical energy, at his brother. Valiant doubles over as the force crashes into his stomach, and as Silas aims to hit him again he aims his own retaliation at Valor. Valiant sidesteps as he casts, sending Silas’ bolt of energy spinning off wildly into the whiteness around them. Valor catches the spell that had been aiming for him and spins it around, reflecting it without taking any damage. Silas winds up and aims another spell, this time a narrow bolt which hits Valiant and causes him to stumble backwards. Silas grits his teeth at the effort it takes to expend such strong bolts of magic in such a short time. It’s then it occurs to him that Valor has been separated from him, hopefully only temporarily. He can feel the emptiness inside him where Valor resides. He shouldn’t be able to use magic if Valor isn’t within him.

Silas realizes he’s been standing still for too long only as a red bolt takes him in the shoulder, disturbing his balance and throwing him onto his back. Silas has a moment of silent panic where he fears the whiteness will not support him and he will simply fall into oblivion. He lands roughly instead and has the wind knocked out of him, only taking a few seconds to relish in an odd sense of relief before scrambling to his feet. He wishes briefly that he could spring to his feet as gracefully as Valor had earlier.

Valor lets out a cry of frustration and thrusts his hands forward. No magic rushes out of them, but he continues his shout as his arms begin to strain and bend at the elbows. He pushes them back out with a final yell and magical blue flames erupt all around Valiant. Valiant snarls and throws a shield up all around himself Silas puts his own power behind the spell, something shockingly easy to do with his own demon casting it. The combined strength of their magic is almost strong enough to break through the invisible shield. Valiant snarls, a thin film of sweat forming on his forehead. His left hand stays up holding the force field while he makes an elaborate motion with his right hand, which shoots a ray of energy out through the shield and straight through Silas’ shoulder, the same shoulder which is weakened from his previous blow. Silas cries out at the burning sensation. His spell is broken as he stumbles backwards, clutching his shoulder where it is burned.

He writhes in pain, the world coming at him in flashes. Valiant is advancing towards Valor, and the two are trading spells back and forth. Valor keeps losing ground as he looks over to Silas, clearly distracted by concern. Silas hisses through his teeth, muttering a spell to numb the pain. He is weak. He has to speak the spell just to get it to work. In the real world, he might not have been able to cast magic at all. In this strange space, where he can cast without Valor inside him, he has no idea how to measure his own strength.

He feels numbness spread over his shoulder. He squeezes his eyes shut and uses his other arm to shove himself up, grunting as he gets to his feet. He mumbles a quick spell and hurls a ball of energy at Valiant. It hits him by surprise, crashing into him harder than it should, even though Silas’ magic is weakened. As Valiant staggers back from the blow, Valor looks at Silas. They are both breathing heavily. It is only the quickest meeting between eyes, but after years of sharing a body he can see the exhaustion clearly on Valor’s face. Valor can sense Silas’ light-headedness caused by the healing spell. Hopelessness begins to overwhelm him as Valiant hisses and moves his hands in a sweeping motion that Silas recognizes as a powerful spell. Dread fills him as he looks once more at Valor, and when Valor’s eyes meet his, he feels something shift. Even in this world of white against white, he can feel something in his surroundings still. When he looks back at Valiant, the demon is frozen. His eyes burn with determination, but he has stopped moving entirely. Silas stutters, trying to make sense of what happened. He looks over to Valor, ready to start asking him what the hell is going on. Then he speaks in Silas’ head.

“My brother may be stronger than I am, but there are powers I have that he never will.”

“You stopped time?” Silas is stunned, though he shouldn’t be, Valor must have stopped time when they spoke in his head before.

“Not quite.” Valor says dismissively, “But I can’t explain it now. We have to focus on my brother.”

“I’m weak.” Silas breathes heavily, clutching his shoulder. “I’m injured and I’m weak.”

“We can’t beat him with spells, Silas.”

“Then what have we been doing these past-”

“Silas — listen! I can’t hold this much longer.” Something in the impatience of his tone feels familiar, and Silas almost smiles at the strange comfort it gives him.

“We distracted him by fighting with spells.” Valor continues. “He doesn’t know I can ‘stop time’ as you called it. He won’t be expecting another form of attack.”

“Which is?” Silas presses

“It’s an old form of magic. It’s more natural than anything you’ve seen. It’s not from gods or demons that give magic. This magic is based on emotions.”

“What? That’s something out of a children’s story! It’s not-”

Valor cuts off Silas’ shouting. “Humans can’t use it any more in the mortal realm, but where we are now has different rules. It’s almost like we are inside your mind. Emotions have strength here.”

“That…I can’t believe that.”

Valor’s eyes flash angrily. “Believe it or not, it’s true, and hatred is the strongest of all feelings.”

Silas knits his eyebrows together.

“When I let go, focus on your hatred. Try to channel it into him.”

“Won’t that just make him more angry?” Silas asks, still not convinced and unsure of how this odd magic will work.

“It will drive him mad.” Valor replies. “Get ready.”

Silas, unsure of what to do, draws his hands up and widens his stance. Still he is not sure what emotion he’ll channel. He tries to think of what he felt: when he saw River standing behind Valiant, when River left him alone in the bed, all those times River turned from him and chose his religion instead. All those times, sadness and anger and disappointment had been the strongest feelings, but he knows that something underlies those. He wants to wrap himself in the blanket of memories that comes when he remembers cradling River between his thighs, looking into his mismatched eyes, the ragged breath against his neck. He cannot lose himself. Only seconds have passed, but it feels like hours and he wants to linger longer.

He feels the world shift, away from the stillness, as Valor yells “Ready?”

Silas is too shocked to yell back and say he is not. Slowly at first, Valiant begins to move again, finishing casting his spell. His arm comes up, and as he moves to slash it down and send a spell against them, Valor screams and shoots a bolt of energy out from his left hand. The left hand, the hand which is closer to the heart. There is savagery in his posture. He looks over his shoulder at Silas, his eyes like flame wheels scorching with hate. He shouts incoherently into Silas’ mind.

Silas cringes, and panics, and suddenly it is like Valor is inside him, and he has been neglecting what he needs for days, and he can’t hold back from giving him what he wants anymore. He looks at Valiant’s face, screwed up against the weight of Valor’s spell. Hatred for the demon fills him. This demon took magic from his own people and condemned them to an empty existence. He perpetuated the war that has ruined so many.

So Valiant holds out his left hand, and lets all the feelings flow through it, and lets out a cry as a bolt of silvery light hits Valiant directly in the chest. He squints his eyes against the brightness of his magic and Valor’s combined, but he can still see the hole that their spell begin to tear through Valiant. Valiant’s yell as his chest is ripped open is hauntingly familiar to Silas.

It reminds him of the sounds his friend’s made when their magic was taken from them.

A righteous feeling of justice burns through Silas. He grunts as he tries to put more power into his spell. Even through the bright glare of the lights he can see the splatters of blood as Valiant’s flesh is torn apart.

His magic cuts out as pain rips its way through his shoulder. The wound he had managed to heal temporarily burns like it is on fire, and he falls to his knees, raising a hand to the wound only to find that it makes the pain worse. His magic is totally drained, more than it’s ever been before. He has no healing left. Valor’s spell flickers out and dies. His gaze as he turns it towards Silas is still burning but now with fiery victory rather than hatred.

Valiant has collapsed to one knee, and even through everything Silas still has a moment where he can’t believe that two shots in the shoulder brought him down while Valiant has had a hole burrowed halfway through his chest he has just fallen to one knee. Silas’ vision starts to blur with exhaustion and pain, but he sees Valiant bow his head and his hair falls around him like a crimson curtain. Valor steps over him, and Silas expects to see tiredness in the set of the demon’s shoulders, but he holds himself upright and strong. He looks down and Valiant. He reaches out a hand and runs two fingers through the blood oozing down his blistering chest. Valiant is babbling nonsense, his eyes rolling and flickering to look where there is nothing to see.

Valor paints a circle on Valiant’s brow with his own blood.

“As I set this seal, I pronounce you banished, brother.” Valor says in a raspy voice.

“As I set this seal, your name is silent.” Valor dips his fingers back in the blood and draws a line vertically through the circle of Valiant’s brow.

“As I set this seal, your body is broken.” He draws another line perpendicular to the first.

“As I set this seal, your magic is ashes.” He adds a diagonal line.

“As I set this seal, your spirit is doomed.” He adds a fourth line.

“As I set this seal, you split to pieces in the ether.” He adds a larger circle to connect the ends of all the lines together and forms a shape like a wheel.

“You were of spirit like mine, and blood like mine, and flesh like mine, and magic like mine. We were of one heritage.”

Valiant’s eyes move up one more time to look at Valor. He speaks one word: “Brother.”

Valor’s expression does not change. He continues to speak.

“Now you are nothing and never will you return.”

The sigil on Valiant’s brow pulses once, emanating a deep blue light.

Valiant’s eyes roll up into his head and he falls forward onto his face.

“What an inelegant end.” Silas manages to think, as blackness storms into the edges of his vision and he falls backwards into it.

Thoughts, questions, or criticisms? Comment below or send me an email (krmorrighan@gmail.com)