I Wish Book 5: Chapter 26

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Shannon O'Reilly was bullied and everything his older sister wasn't. When his sister Sarah gives him a chance to change things through a single wish things don't go as planned.


I Wish: Book 5
Chapter 26
The Puppet Master

“Screw it, no sense hiding now, whoever is in charge of this gatehouse already knows that I’m here,” I thought bitterly as I focused on my mark and changed to my Celestial form.


Author's note: Here's chapter 26 of book five of I Wish. Thanks once again to my readers for their support, and to the Big Closet staff.

** Annie **

I looked cautiously around the cobblestone courtyard from the spot atop one of the walls where I had appeared. The courtyard below was filled with statues of various Demons; there were at least a hundred of them, probably a lot more. Some looked to be kneeling, begging for forgiveness, or perhaps their lives. Others were recoiling, expressions of horror etched into their faces. It was creepy and they made me nervous, a feeling of tightness in my gut that I couldn’t explain.

I couldn’t sense anything else, but that wasn’t surprising since I was still in my regular human form and I could only sense demonic auras in my Celestial form. I didn’t want to use that form quite yet though. For one thing, if the Demon General whom I was to face was close by, they would likely sense my aura in that form as well as I could sense theirs. I didn’t want to give away my presence until I had some idea of what I was dealing with.

I could hear fighting in the distance, so it seemed that Kisha was able to get the resistance to stage their rebellion as planned. I just wished that she had been able to give us more information to work with. She only had reliable information on three of the Generals, and one of those was Khinara, whom we were already far too familiar with. The other two were a Succubus named Larezza who was nearly as powerful with magick as Khinara and a Gharl named Kreiber.

Those three were the strongest of the Generals and had held their positions for decades or longer. The other four General positions were held by considerably weaker Demons and were constantly being challenged, and often replaced, by up-and-coming Demons. It was like a revolving door from what Kisha had told us, and I couldn’t be sure what any of us might be facing with those four since Kisha had left the Rings some time ago and possessed very little up-to-date information.

I didn’t want to go into this unprepared, but I also knew that I needed to hit hard and fast, and I needed to do it soon. The others were counting on me. Sarah was counting on me, and I wanted to finish this as soon as possible and get to her side, where I belonged.

Sarah was more than just some woman that I was being paid to protect, and so was Shannon and the rest of this crazy group of ours. Those kids were all like family and Sarah… well, I was in love with her, and I think that I had been since not long after we met. She was beautiful, smart, and had the kind of confidence that only those who have been through hell and survived could possess.

From that first time that I had seen her naked in the woods, I had been smitten, though, for Shannon and Beth’s sakes, I had tried to stay professional. It wasn’t just her body, though that had made my heart race. She had sacrificed herself for her sister, and for Beth and me as well, facing almost certain death with a courage that I had never seen outside of the movies.

I wanted to know her better after that, even as traumatized as I was by what had nearly happened. Then she offered me a job as her bodyguard and personal assistant. It wasn’t just a job offer though, she stepped up for a person she barely knew and helped give me the courage to stand up to my captain for everything that he and those two fat assholes had put me through, to hand in my badge and give them hell.

When she surprised me and everyone else with that first kiss, I went from smitten to half in love on the spot. Since then, things have been crazy, but my life has been so much better too, and all because Sarah was a part of it. I would do anything for her. Right now, that meant going into the unknown and crushing whatever Demon that I had to so I could get back to her side.

I hopped down from the wall, landing in a crouch as I surveyed the courtyard again from ground level and approached the tower at the center. Something about this place had me wound tighter than a spring and I suddenly stopped as I caught the barest motion from the corner of my eye. I was not alone in the courtyard.

There it was again, more movement, barely noticeable. I could have sworn that one of the statues had turned its head toward me slightly. I had a bad feeling about this. I carefully controlled my breathing and in the silence, I heard stone scraping on stone behind me.

“Screw it, no sense hiding now, whoever is in charge of this gatehouse already knows that I’m here,” I thought bitterly as I focused on my mark and changed to my Celestial form. I took to the air with powerful beats of my wings and barely avoided the lunge of some large lizard-man Demon, or rather the statue of one. A burst of concentrated holy magick energy from my bracers reduced the statue to rubble, but the other statues were moving as well, coming at me now with no effort to hide their movement.

The statues gave off very faint demonic auras, either from whatever was controlling them or as some remnant of the Demons that they once were. There was a much larger aura coming from the tower though. I didn’t have time to think about it though as the statue of some massive goliath threw one of its fellows at me. I barely avoided it by dropping to the ground, where I immediately had to duck a swing from another statue and countered with a kick to try to give myself some breathing room.

Fuck did that hurt, and the statue was barely chipped, even with my Celestial-enhanced strength. I released the pairs of claws from each bracer and slashed at the demonic figures closing in on me, but even the holy magick-infused silver weapons didn’t do much more than leave gouges in the stone. I cursed as I realized that I had no choice but to fire more bursts from the barrels between the claws.

Stone figures exploded, battering me with shrapnel as I peppered those closest to me, trying to give myself some space. Wincing from the damage that I was inadvertently causing myself, I drained the magick energy from one of the okka crystals I carried to recharge and put some distance between the horde of stone Demons and myself. They were slow and their movements were jerky but I couldn’t risk trying to fight them up close, especially the larger ones.

As soon as I had some space, I took to the air again, and once again, the Goliath threw one of its companions at me. I jinked to the side and, as the statue sailed past me to crash into the courtyard wall, I unloaded on the giant with a barrage of purified magick bolts from my bracers. Right now, he was the biggest threat, both figuratively and literally. Its face and body were no longer identifiable but it was still standing and reaching down to throw another statue at me.

I let him have it again, and by the time he collapsed into a massive pile of rubble, I had to drain another crystal. Dammit, I did not want to be on the back foot like this. At least my biggest problem so far was taken care of, so quickly I moved toward the source of the large demonic aura. Large, but nowhere near as large as the aura that Khinara had possessed.

She was human-shaped, at least above her waist, but below that, she was like a snake and she was covered from head to tail in iridescent green scales. Her face was a hideous caricature of a woman under those scales, with small tusks protruding from her upper jaw, snake-like eyes, and some sort of tentacles in place of hair. Anjurael’s memories flashed through my mind and suddenly, I knew what I was facing.

It was a Gorgal, a type of Demon that the ancient Greek myths of Medusa and other gorgons had probably been based on. For a brief instant, I was afraid that I was going to have to fight her blind, but I hadn’t been turned to stone yet. Anjurael’s memories told me that the Greeks were wrong about being turned to stone by just looking upon them; they actually turned their prey to stone through a curse unique to their species and once they had, they could control them like puppets on strings of demonic magick.

I was probably safe from the curse since it was placed when they used those tentacles to drain a creature’s life energy. Feeding on the life energy of a Celestial would be like trying to eat holy magick; it would hurt her and then kill her long before she could finish feeding on me. I would have to get in close and fight her, hoping that I could take her down hard and fast. Even without their puppets, Gorgals are dangerous; they are strong, and fast, and those thick scales make them very durable.

Considering the problem, I fired a burst of holy magick projectiles as I approached but she managed to dodge and I found my path blocked as a quartet of huge gargoyles dropped from the tower to intercept me. I reduced them to rubble before they could get close enough to attack, but I was again showered with shrapnel and had to drain my third okka crystal. I only had one left; I was going to have to finish this fast if I was going to conserve enough energy to join Sarah after this.

With my claw blades extended, I turned back toward the Gorgal’s demonic aura. Shit. She was quick, and she had slithered right into a large group of statues. I pulled my Glock and started firing Shannon’s special rounds into the crowd. Unlike the usual rounds, which were only set to release their purified magick energy if they hit a Demon, the ones that we had brought to Heil had been enchanted to release that energy no matter what they hit. The energy release wouldn’t hurt any of us, but the hordes of Demons that we had come expecting to fight were a different story.

There was a scream amid the group of statues, one that abruptly cut off as first the Gorgal, and then the statues, turned to ash. For a moment, I thought that I was done, that I had beaten the General who held this gatehouse. I retracted the claws back into my bracers and was about to go find Sarah. That moment was all too brief before I felt the sickening sensation of a Demon’s portal spell being activated behind me and something stepped through.

Whoever, or whatever, it was they were much stronger than the Demon that I had just faced. If I had to guess, they were nearly as strong as Khinara was when we last encountered her, and even weakened by hunger she was no slouch in the power department. A masculine laugh rang out behind me and I turned to see an Incubus standing at the entrance to the tower, looking at me in keen interest.

“A Celestial? No, a Human, playing at being one, but here, in Heil of all places? And strong enough to defeat my little puppet, Tria?” He smiled as he approached me, sauntering as if he had nothing to fear. “I am Dallin, one of the Demon King’s seven Generals, and I would very much like to get to know you better.”

Fuck. I thought that Gorgal bitch was the puppeteer, but she was as much a puppet as those statues of hers. I ejected the clip from my weapon and slapped another home as I glowered at the approaching Incubus. “Not gonna happen, Asshole. I’m not attracted to guys, so your whammy isn’t going to work on me.” I saw no sense in mentioning that my mind was also shielded by Shannon’s anti-Succubus spell regardless.

His face briefly showed disappointment before I emptied the newly loaded clip at him. I like to imagine that it turned to shock, and maybe disbelief, as he was hit with over a dozen explosions of holy magick. Shit. He had a shielding spell, like that bastard Varas did when he fought Sarah to a standstill on the night we met.

He tossed a smoking amulet to the ground and I considered how best to go about this. If he was a mage like Varas and Khinara, he could probably shield himself again and I had just used all my ammo to take that damn amulet out of play. I had more ammo in my pouches, of course, but I would need to reload both clips and I honestly didn’t think that he was going to give me the chance to do that. I needed a plan here, I needed it fast, and I only had one okka crystal left.

I needed to get in close, but I needed to make sure that he didn’t have any protections first, and maybe I could lull him into thinking that I was a long-distance combatant. I experimentally fired a burst from my bracers and they harmlessly impacted against another shield spell, because of course, he could use magick, he did come here through a portal after all. He sneered at me, seemingly confident in his defenses, and decided to go on the offense.

A barrage of hellfire blasted toward me and I had to take wing to avoid it, firing a few more bursts in an attempt to whittle down his shield, only to have to dodge a ball of purple flame that exploded when it hit the ground where I had briefly touched down. Back into the air to avoid a second and third of those purple balls of exploding flame and I hit him with yet another burst from my bracers.

Three more bursts and a half dozen dodges later, I was draining the last of my okka crystals when he sneered at me once again and snorted in distaste as he said, “Such a weak and predictable little holy mage thinks that she can best me? A General of Heil? Your arrogance will be your death.”

“Wait, he thinks I’m some kind of spell caster?” I guess that the bursts of holy magick that my bracers fired could be considered spells since they were magick-based, and the bullets I had fired had definitely been enchanted, just not by me. Could it be that he thought that I was some sort of one-trick pony? It was as I was considering this and dodging another of those annoying purple fireballs and getting showered with shrapnel that I noticed something important. He was getting hit with shrapnel too.

No way. He couldn’t seriously be making the same mistake that Khinara did during our big fight with her, could he? The shield in the ruined amulet had blocked the enspelled bullets, but that was an emergency protection embedded into the amulet and he could never know what he might need protection against. Right now though, he thought that I was a spell-caster, so he was only protecting himself against magick.

I dodged another hastily woven spell, this time a black beam of some sort crackling with energy that I was sure that I didn’t want to touch me. Then I jinked to the side, got in close, and took his legs out from under him with a leg sweep before he even realized what was happening. Dallin’s eyes were still wide with surprise when I pounced on top of him, ejected my claws, and thrust them into his chest.

I waited just a moment, crouching above his ashes to be certain that no other puppet masters were going to appear, and then I went to retrieve the discarded clip for my Glock. It took longer to find it than I would have liked, and then more time to reload both clips but I wanted to be ready in case Sarah or the others needed backup and I had precious little magick energy left to work with. I would probably have enough to fly to Sarah though, and I could still be effective between my claws and my Glock.

I hoped the others were managing their battles as well. I mean, yeah, I was bruised all over from being showered with shrapnel, but I was alive and ready for round two. Hopefully, they wouldn’t need my backup at all. I could only pray that was the case as I took flight and made my way toward the innermost circles of the Rings. Ahead of me, I could see a single Succubus-like figure doing the same, and she was moving fast.

© 2013-2023 Amethyst Gibbs
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Another great chapter

Another great chapter
Love having the backstories
Nice twist with the actual puppetmaster
Four generals down, three to go


Amethyst's picture

I do love showing some of the backstory stuff, and things in general, from some of the other characters' perspectives. I went back and forth a lot on whether I wanted to do the puppet master twist or not, but I think it worked out well.

*big hugs*



Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

Too bad they didn’t have……

D. Eden's picture

More of the crystals to use.

After reading about the statues, I was pretty sure that Annie was going to come face to face with Medusa, or at least some other demon like her. Interesting how well Shannon’s enchanted bullets are working; kind of like having your own anti-tank weapon, lol.

D. Eden

Dum Vivimus, Vivamus


Amethyst's picture

More crystals would have been nice to have. As for the bullets, they're only as effective as they are since they're in Heil and the magick energy there is so tainted. The statues were technically still Demons as well, just cursed, so they still had demonic areas and the weakness to holy magick. The only reason that the general was able to tank a clip full of the bullets was because he had an amulet with a built-in shielding spell which, by necessity, was meant to protect against any kind of attack. So he was lucky there until he underestimated his opponent.

*big hugs*



Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

well, one more down

don't think their finished fighting yet though


Four down...

Amethyst's picture

Three more and the Demon King to go.

*big hugs*



Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

One by one

They go into the dark. Hopefully the others will be too.