PG Forte, www.PGForte.com
Dash folded his arms across his impressive chest and scowled. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You said you’d tell me whatever I wanted to know.”
Undeterred, Delphie turned to Stride. “I bet you could tell me, couldn’t you?”
“As a matter of fact…”
“No,” Dash interrupted quickly. “I invoke the djinn code of silence.”
Delphie stared at him in disbelief. “There’s a djinn code of silence?”
“What happens in the djinn dimension stays in the djinn dimension,” Dash intoned solemnly.
Stride smirked. “Coming from you, that’s almost funny, infidel.”
“I know my rites,” Dash said. “And my rights.”
“As a traitor, you have none. Besides, you can’t pretend that you’ve never broken any of our codes.”
“It doesn’t matter what I’ve done. You, on the other hand, as a loyal subject of Ainmire—”
“Long may he reign.”
“As I was saying. As a loyal—and law abiding—subject of the king, you are bound to observe the laws of the land. Or risk being branded a traitor yourself.”
Delphie fixed herself another cracker. Mmm, Nutella. This was a one-of-a-kind opportunity. No one knew anything about the djinn. She might be able to get a paper out of tonight’s adventure. Maybe even a book contract! She’d be famous. There’d be talk shows…
“Why don’t we all have a seat,” she suggested. She gestured at the chintz-covered chairs and sofa that were arranged in front of the decrepit fireplace, directly beneath a hole in the roof through which starlight streamed in. She looked again and frowned. “And while you’re at it, tell me how you manage to keep everything here in such good shape. Is it some kind of stain-guard spell?” If she learned the secret to that, she could be rich as well as famous!
A look passed between the djinn. “The spell is on the outside,” Dash answered. “This cottage only appears dilapidated to discourage non-djinn from trying to take shelter here.”
“Only those with proper authorization can enter. All others are rendered unconscious.” Stride glared at Dash again. “Which means you shouldn’t be here.”
“And yet, I am.” Dash took a seat on the sofa. He patted the cushion beside him and smiled at Delphie. “I thought you wanted to sit down? Oh, and bring the food while you’re at it.”
“How come I wasn’t knocked out?” Delphie asked as she crossed the room and took the chair that was furthest from Dash.
Dash shrugged. “I disarmed the door before I allowed you to enter. Obviously.”
“Obviously,” Delphie repeated, remembering how he’d pushed into the cottage in front of her. At the time, she’d merely thought him rude. Now she realized he’d been protecting her. She should thank him, she supposed. Before she had a chance, a horrible howling erupted outside the cottage.
“Holy Dryad!” she gasped. “What’s that?”
By Jax Garren, http://www.jcgarren.com/
Dash blew out an unconcerned breath, but there was fear in his eyes. “Barghest. These woods are full of them. Giant wolves with double rows of teeth and claws that can pierce even dragonhide. A single barghest is deadly. In these woods they hunt in packs.”
As Dash was clearly the less honest of the two, Delphie turned to Stride for confirmation.
“This time he’s telling the truth.” Stride scowled. “And they’re not the only thing prowling about. We truly are stuck until morning.” Dropping to the couch with a grumpy huff, he reached for the Nutella.
Delphie scooped him out a big dollop and handed over the cracker. If this was the only food available in the cabin, she wasn’t giving up custody. Stride reached for it. Their fingers brushed and his eyes widened then shuttered. He snatched the cracker away as he cleared his throat. “I apologize for the way I behaved earlier. I believe there was some magic in the fraternity closet.”
Dash snorted. “Yeah, the magic of not getting laid in half a century.” He cocked his head to the side as a thought struck him. “Speaking of magic...”
Delphie stiffened against the couch and tightened her grip on the food. She didn’t like the look in his eyes.
Swift as a pooka, he pounced, pinning her arms. But he didn’t reach for the crackers and Nutella still clutched in her fingers. “She’s got a bag of malfunctioning fairy dust in her right pants pocket. Stride?”
She struggled against his hold, but strong as she was, she couldn’t break free.
Stride looked affronted at the demand.
“Don’t you dare!” she warned, jerking against Dash.
“If there was a lust spell on you,” he added, “it was from that pouch in her pocket. She’s awfully fond of blowing it around.”
Stride’s prudish distress turned to determination. He stuck his hand between them, reaching for her hip. She shifted away, trying to protect her dust. Defective it may be, but it was hers!
Stride’s hand landed against her abdomen and stroked forward, still reaching for her pocket. A laugh rumbled above her as she twisted again, trying to keep out of his reach.
Dash grinned down at her, quite clearly enjoying their struggle.
“I’m getting you back for this,” she warned, shimmying as far from Stride as she could while pinned from above.
“I look forward to it,” Dash answered, a dark promise in his voice. A darkness that, try as she might to ignore it, inspired a heat deep inside her.
That is, it did until something slimy and wet dripped onto her shoulder. “Ew! Dash!”
He stilled as his gaze transferred to her shoulder. “That’s not me.” Fear was back in his tone. Coldness gripped her insides, replacing the heat with panic.
“I got it!” Stride brandished her bag, oblivious to the change in their demeanor.
A growl reverberated around the room. All three of them turned to look above them.
A black beast crouched at the edge of the gap, jaws gaping to reveal double rows of jagged teeth. Thick spittle dribbled down its lip. Red, slitted eyes narrowed in malice.
Delphie laughed nervously. “That ward you’ve got on the walls? Does it extend across the big hole in the ceiling? Because it sure doesn’t look blue up there.”
PART TWENTY SEVEN
By Angela Campbell, http://www.angelacampbellonline.com/
Dash didn’t need to answer. The horror in his slitted eyes told Delphie all she needed to know.
Holy goblin balls! They were all going to die a horrible, painful death in this weird and freaky place. Well, at least she was. She wouldn’t put it past Dash to toss her to that growly wolf thing and find a safe spot to hide while it turned her into the pixie equivalent of steak tartare.
Stride, on the other hand, might actually—
Delphie squealed as the room swam around her. One second she’d been lying underneath Dash on the floor. The next, she was sitting on top of a tall, ancient-looking bookshelf. Whoa! He moved fast!
“Don’t. Move.” Dash sent her a pointed look as the sound of cracking wood joined a chorus of snarling. She lifted dazed eyes to see part of the roof collapse beneath the animal’s weight. It sprang up quickly, shaking off drool-covered debris and coating the air with dust.
“Stride!” A glowing blue sword appeared in Dash’s right hand. He tossed it to the other djinn, who looked momentarily startled by the gesture. As the beast lunged for Dash, Stride kicked a piece of furniture into its path. Dash did his flitty thing and appeared on the other side of the room.
“You shouldn’t have been able to do that, infidel. How do you still have the use of your powers?” Stride grunted as the beast ripped through the chair and flung a large piece at his midsection.
“Brother, don’t you think we have more important matters to attend at the moment?”
Oh, for the love of mother troll! A wild beast was trying to turn them into chew toys, and these two whackos were chitchatting as if they were on an afternoon stroll by the lake!
If you want a thing done well, let a pixie do it. Rolling her eyes, Delphie reached for her bag of dust and then remembered Stride had snatched it. She pursed her lips. She wasn’t stupid. Well, not always. She’d put a smaller pouch of dust in an, er, delicate place in her costume for emergencies such as this. Should she expose that little secret now? Not if she could help it.
“Stride!” She pointed at the bag of powder hanging from his hip. “Toss it back so I can take care of this little pest problem.”
Oops. She hadn’t meant to distract him. A powerful swipe of the creature’s paw sent Stride’s sword soaring against the wall. His strangled yell of pain reached her ears before Delphie saw the yellow ooze pouring from a gash in his hand. Yellow blood? Eww. Icky. But it sure would make a great detail for her book!
She couldn’t let the poor man, er, djinn suffer though. Crouching, she launched herself off the bookshelf and landed a few feet from him. If she could just get her hands on that powder —
A too-close-for-comfort roar from the beast told her she’d caught its attention. Uh oh.
Before she could think, Dash flitted onto the animal’s back and used his hands to direct its head away from her. A blue glow enveloped Dash’s body. Delphie blinked. That fast, Dash was no longer Dash. He’d shifted into a much larger beast and was about to chow down on the barghest.
She couldn’t help herself. Her membership with PETS—People for the Ethical Treatment of Supernaturals—would be revoked if she didn’t try to intervene. Grabbing the dust from Stride’s hip, she spun quickly and threw a tiny poof straight at the barghest.
Pictures that are not from Wikipedia are from: http://freerangestock.com/
Used according to their site license.
Used according to their site license.
Well, we know the dust is malfunctioning... One can only imagine what will result from Delphie's loyalty to PETS!
Check back in two weeks for the next part of the round robin.
Author, Cat Person, Amigurumist
http://www.jodywallace.com * http://www.meankitty.com