Lou’s pretty good at running from griffins and wizards. She even managed to survive the apocalypse when wizards drained her magic to combine the two worlds. However, Lou and her friends have run out of places to hide. The wizards have taken control over the new world and they want Lou dead.
If Lou can’t find a way to separate the worlds of magic and technology once more, her life isn’t the only one in danger. Can Lou find a way to save everyone or will millions of lives be lost forever?
The city really is quite beautiful from fifty stories up.
Claws rip into my skin as the harpy diving after me catches up mid fall. She screeches as she struggles to lift me back up toward her nest on the top floor of the high-rise.
I got enough ridiculous crap about my weight as a ballerina, I don’t need magical bird people grunting about it too.
Twisting around, I swing my sword blindly. The wretched sound of her scream is like a nail cutting glass when my blade hits skin. I gag as I’m hit with the stench of rotting meat and the sight of her blood stained pointed teeth before I once again drop at a speed which causes the little food I’ve managed to scrounge over the past few days to rise dangerously high in my throat.
Looking down doesn’t help my stomach but is necessary.
I use my magic to tug the ground toward my feet. The motion of lowering myself along with the pavement absorbs the speed I was falling and makes sure I don’t splatter like a bug on a windshield.
A whoosh of flapping wings warns me that the harpy is still coming. Without looking back, I harden the air between us to the strength of several panes of glass and shift my focus from my magic wall to the item in my hand.
The blue silk bag looks exactly the same as the others. Hand sewn by my gran, it holds the most disgusting and wonderful contents. My magic is inside, or part of it. Along with a bunch of my toenail clippings from when I was a kid. Yup, gross and awesome. When I was little, Gran took my magic from me and split it into five bags, one for each sense. She was trying to protect me from wizards who would steal my magic and leave me to die. Clearly that didn’t work out so well.
The harpy smacks into my protective wall with a satisfying thud.
Really, Gran. I shake my head at the bag before shoving it into my bra, the safest place I can reach without wasting too much time and energy opening the magic air pocket at my hip. She could have used anything connected to me in order to lock my magic. A favorite teddy, or clothes I wore a lot. Even chopped off my hair, which would still be gross, but not to the same level.
Trying to figure out Gran’s strange sense of humour is pointless for me. My sister, Sin, probably understands.
The harpy smashes against the air wall again, scratching it with its unnecessarily sharp talons.
Despite her ego and her skill of making me feel like a dumb kid even when she’s the one doing something wrong, Sin would be helpful right now. Her ability to deal with mythical creatures, turning them into allies, is something I can’t do no matter how much magic I have.
I spin around to stare up at the harpy. “Wait, you can talk?” I guess it’s not particularly surprising. From the waist down she might look like big bird on crack, but bellybutton up she is all woman. One that’s in desperate need of a shirt.
Except her arms. They’re wings. With an extra talon at the bend just to make her a little scarier.
“I will rip out your entrails and scatter them through the trees.”
She may be able to talk, but so far it seems she isn’t very smart. The magic I used to stop her only protects the area directly between us. If she tried flying up or around, she could get at me in seconds. I would spread the protection, but doing this much is a strain on my magic. I’ve already used so much fighting off the dozen or so others who were guarding the nest, I don’t have the strength to do any more.
The harpies were a surprise. When my sister, Sin, told me the fourth bag of my magic was at the top of this building, I went in expecting abandoned computers and cubicles. Instead I got a room full of screeching creatures trying to rip out my throat. Finding the small bag within the branches, eggs, feathers, and questionable looking old meat making up their nests was nearly impossible. Add in constantly dodging their wings and teeth while holding my breath to try not to inhale any of the tangy stench, it’s a miracle I was able to get the bag at all. Jumping out the window was the only option. My poor nose couldn’t take another second of the smell.
I touch my chest and the bag I’ve just shoved inside my clothes. Opening the bag now would give me more power, but it would also send a beacon to every wizard who happens to be paying attention. Since wizards sole purpose in life is to suck magic from sorceresses like me, leaving our bodies as empty shells, avoiding them is best.
Well, not all wizards, I suppose. Al wouldn’t hurt me. He and I are a couple. Sort of. I think. It’s complicated. Most of the time I’ve known him, he’s either been smaller than my thumb or his mind has been twisted by corrupted magic he absorbed after killing wizards. He’s also from a different world. It’s kind of like this one, except instead of technology, they have magic. Also it’s completely controlled by wizards. Or it was, before the worlds were combined and now technology and magic are all stuffed into one world. We haven’t really had time to talk about our boyfriend-girlfriend status since that happened. For now, we need to focus on fixing what the wizards have broken. We went separate ways to spread out our efforts and fix things faster. Maybe after we save the worlds we can talk about our relationship. I hope.
Screeches fill the air and when I look to the sky over my shoulder, four more harpies drop from the tower at neck breaking speeds, their talons directed toward my face.
“I feel like I may have overstayed my welcome,” I say to the one who chased me during my leap out of the shattered window. “Thank you so much for keeping the bag safe, but I really should be off.”
I hate teleporting. Doing so while my magic is so weak from dealing with the harpies in the tower and the drop and now this barrier makes the experience a hundred times worse. But it’s the fastest way to get rid of the harpies. They let out a scream that will no doubt damage my eardrums and leave me with a ringing sound in my ears for days. It’s made worse by the fact I can hear their magic. They might not be able to cast spells like humans, but all of the mythical creatures from Al’s world have some level of power in them. The harpies sound like repeated squeals from broken breaks in a car directly in my ear.
I drop down to my knee to make myself as small as possible. I know it’s not a necessary step for the teleport spell, but it feels safer. The smaller I am, the less likely some part of me will end up in an area already occupied by another object. I’ve seen what happens when two objects try to exist in the same place. The world is full of the horrors of mismatched parts mashed together ever since the two worlds combined into one. Like glass and metal building melded into enormous trees, just like the building I just leaped out of.
The barrier between the birds and me cracks and I know I can’t hesitate any longer. Now or never.
I focus on the space I scouted before venturing into the old office building and the harpies nest. An alley about two blocks from the car. It was one of the only places in the city where the ground was still relatively flat and untouched by debris from crumbled buildings.
It should be a safe place to materialize. So long as nothing has wandered into the space.
Sharp talons scrape my hair, as the space around me shatters like a dropped cup. In a flash, the shattered pieces reform in a different order, shifting the light and color until it forms into the shadowy alley. I stand up and check myself to make sure I arrived in one piece.
The sound of angry harpies echoes in the distance, but otherwise there’s an eerie silence to the space. No sound of traffic, no air conditioners humming despite the heat, no people shouting into cellphones or chatting with their friends on the sidewalks. There is only silence and the sounds of nature.
The same as every other city I’ve been to between here and Gran’s house.
Everyone is gone.