There was the distant sound of crumbling stone. Plumes of smoke rose from the slums. Nash frowned down at them sigh, pausing mid-stride. Tezcatlipoca set a hand on his shoulder, hurrying him along the open street. “The Vemana have evacuated to the Aztec Quarter. The defenses there will help to keep them as safe as anywhere in Paradise. The Loa agreed to lure the angelic forces into the heart of the slums. We rely on Prester John to want to keep some image of benevolence for now, and avoid outright destruction for fear of revealing his true nature.”
“You know,” said Betty, her eyes narrowed, “You’re an unusually arrogant human. I can admit I find that admirable. It takes real stones to wear someone’s skin in front of their friends and family.”
Nash watched as the two gods sped up the wall. He could have followed them, maybe. But he wasn’t that fast, and he suspected Betty could handle the situation. He turned back towards the young man who had arrived with the dog. Legba’s servant coughed nervously. “You aren’t going to beat me, are you, sir? I just walk Legba. I didn’t mean to offend.”
I stretched out on the small, inflatable raft, and frowned down at the cut on my arm, tail flicking. Bella had always been a bit overdramatic. It was a bad habit of humans, and she was oh-so-very human in some ways. Mind you, I wasn’t against the occasional display of showmanship, but I didn’t take it too seriously. I hadn’t, for a very long time. I slid a length of fabric torn from my clothes around it, tying it tight.
Bella understood many things about herself. Her powers. Her limits. Her nature. She was War. She was the embodiment of conflict, of strife, of uncertain combat. She was the incarnation of the survival instinct. She was one of the most powerful beings in the world. And she was far outmatched by the enraged Sister in front of her.
“Now?” asked Djehuty, frowning. I gave him an unapologetic smile. “The emissaries will be here in a matter of days. This war can end, but we need you here, Bastet. Your strength is one of the things that forces them to respect us.” He tugged the feathers on his head, frowning at me as he preened. “Surely your village will be safe for a few days more on its own?”
“Miller? Sergeant Fetu Miller? You’ve got a visitor.”
Nash slowly stood up. His body was aching from the drug that Huitzilopochtli had used on him, but each movement, each beat of his heart, seemed to reinvigorate him. He looked down at the iron of the chain around his wrist. He reached down to break it.
“In the flesh,” said Itzpapalotl. He smiled. Bare bones glittered and clattered in the moonlight, faint rouge dappling the cheeks, as the waves slowly lapped at the shore. Nash’s fists clenched and unclenched, watching the strange god stand. Itzpapalotl’s stance was lazy and relaxed, a hand on one cheek, hollow eyes staring at him. The long moment of tension held, but Itzpapalotl did not attack him again. Nash didn’t relax.
This month’s Patreon story is Letting Go. 20,000 words, 4 chapters, this story is focused on Randall- Specifically, his past, and how Horace came to be living with him. Set in 1997, in the aftermath of the death of Horace’s mother, it shows us a bit more about Randall, and why exactly Horace is the way he is. This is a bit of horror/kung fu stuff, with some psychological interludes; Maybe even what you could call a character study? But with a lot more fisticuffs.
If you’re interested, this- and all other Novellas, as well as PDF/.docx downloadable versions of A Serpent and Zion and Catfished- are available on my Patreon for anyone who pays 1 or more dollars a month! If you pay 5 or more dollars a month, you also get in on the voting for new novellas; Currently, there are three being voted on for July; There’s still two weeks or so to get in on that! ‘That’ Thing is in the lead with 2 votes, but Paradise by the Dashboard Light is close behind it. And as a last incentive: I’m only about 4 dollars a month away from unlocking the stretch goal, which is a free 10,000 word Hell’s Kitchen Sink story for one random person who is backing me at 5 or more dollars a month, every month! This one will actually be public.
Paradise by the Dashboard Light: Slice of Life, Comedy. Atina-focused. Atina finds herself being hired by a Fairy Noble of Spring, whose teenage son- a changeling- has begun making far too many unwise promises, not least his promise to love his girlfriend forever, while dealing with Roy’s occasional jealousy at said fairy teenager’s skill with words.
Border Guard: Slice of Life, Drama. Dio and Doctor Smith-focused. In the wake of the destruction of Zion’s keystone, Diomedes and the other inhabitants of the town find themselves at a crossroads. While monsters and heroes are awakening all across the world, Zion remains a particular nexus for things to cross over, and it’s in their best interest to keep things calm- But a figure from Megan’s path is there to court her, and where Mister Mica walks, trouble follows.
‘That’ Thing: Romantic Comedy, Cosmic Horror. There are many dangers to Antarctica, especially in the winter. The cold. The storms. The eternal darkness. But people always tell stories about things there. Creatures. Bullshit, of course, one would assume. But sometimes, you catch a flash of eyes in the darkness. But the cold and the dark and the night make companionship a rare thing. And so when a young man finds a huddling girl with transparent skin and black eyes, he’s willing to be understanding.
Chapter 1: Denial
When I was 24, four very important things happened to me. First and foremost, I bought my first car. A second generation Ford Thunderbird, it was my first truly selfish purchase. It represented the freedom I had been searching for since I was a child, growing up in the booming industrial heart of upstate New York. Second, I passed the Bar Exam, and proved that I was worthy of being a lawyer, possessing the intelligence and recall to defend the liberty of others. Third, I stabbed a man who I probably shouldn’t have, because it was the only right thing to do under the circumstances. And fourth, I was recruited into a secret society. The Order of Set. I had written the name Randall Creed in the secret history of the world, in blood and splintered bone. I had been the greatest fighter the Order had trained in living memory.