Written at 12. “Ragnar” is Samael. “Starguassi” is Samael. I was torn between blonde Lucifer/Ariel/Blonde Wonderboy/Ahriman and Persian dude named after a Viking, yet I pulled “Ragnar” from my ass and did not know he was the Vikings mascot. He was a space demon general Assassin Viking. Starguassi/Doonzai is… my evil alter-ego/Phanes/Lucifer/Ahriman/Mr Multiple Personality Disorder. This is not my only novel where Samael steals a girl from himself. Just look at Morozko and Koshchei that I wrote at 22. Brb I’m just procrastinating by shitposting and not editing my article, mmk bye.
“O beautiful you are, good sire,
As but a demon prince could be,
But to the course of your desire
I never shall agree.
You wound me with your crude behest;
I dread what you extol;
Your heavy eyes, as though possessed,
Gleam down into my soul.”
I scanned the battlefield, frantically searching for the source of his shrieks. I saw him just a few yards away from me, veiled by a clump of heathergrass.
“Yes!” I screamed, relieved I had found him in the knick of time. Sprinting over to Ragnar, I crouched down over him, my worst fears confirmed.
He had a gaping wound where General Elvira had struck him.
Hot tears clouded my vision, blurring Ragnar’s grief-stricken face as he wailed in agony. Blood blossomed from the injuries as his chest shook in painful convulsions.
“Callie…” he moaned, and suddenly went limp.
“Damn, damn, DAMN!” I screamed, tearing off his armor chestplate and ripping away the fabric underneath. The tolchoch had inflicted a gaping wound; I hadn’t seen something so serious before. What am I supposed to do? Closing my eyes, I tried to focus on Madame Graindar’s lesson on clotting wounds.
She had said something about channeling your energy into the victim’s bloodstream… here goes nothing!
Placing my palm on Ragnar’s chest, I felt the familiar stream of magic coursing through my forearm. I willed the energy forward, pushing it out of my body. Quickly, an electric violet cloud of magic encased my hand. I felt heat building on Ragnar’s skin, and soon the blood started to dry, changing into a hideous pus-filled scab. It worked, thank God!
“Ragnar, Ragnar, wake up!” I whispered, shaking his shoulders gently. Unkempt raven-black hair fell across his face I nudged his head. He was still breathing; inhaling shallow, heavy breaths, but his eyes remained closed.
I scanned the deserted battleground, searching for leatherweed. For the first time, I was actually thankful Starguassi had used the putrid herb on me. Spotting a brown clump of it, I ran over and snatched it from the soil. Rushing over to Ragnar, I placed the leatherweed under his nose.
Instantly, his gold eyes shot open and he started to gag, retching with disgust.
“Are you trying to murder my sense of smell?” he rasped, focusing his goldenrod eyes on me. My heart skipped a beat, pounding happily in my chest. He was okay, I’d saved him!
Dropping the leatherweed, I hugged Ragnar with all my might. He winced in pain from his chest wound, so I pulled away from him, clasping his hands in mine.
“What the devil?…” Ragnar muttered, glancing down at his chest. His mouth opened in shock as he looked up at me. “You mean I’m not dead?”
“Do you really think I’m such a horrible healer?” I teased.
“Truthfully, yes, but I suppose I should revise my opinion,” he said, tenderly touching his scab. Scrunching his face in concentration, Ragnar’s chest glowed with yellow light and immediately the wound disappeared.
Compared to him, I was a preschooler with a Playskool stethoscope.
“You’re right, this hurts too damn much for me to be dead,” he winced, gingerly sitting up. “What happened?”
“It was General Elvira, my Weapons Master. Can’t you remember?”
“My memories a bit cloudy…” he murmured. Suddenly, his eyes shot open in realization. “Oh.”
I briefly recalled the battle of Death River. I remembered all the blood, all the carnage, the destruction and the hate. It made me sick that I’d become accustomed to war. Am I losing some of my humanity in the process?
“Wait, what were you doing in the battle, Callie? My lieutenants told me none of the Servastrum youth army was fighting,” Ragnar asked.
“Umm… We were short on troops and Ralhorn wanted my class to gain some experience,” I lied quickly. Well, I couldn’t exactly tell him I’d come to keep Doonzai under control, could I?
“Then where’s my army? Why did they abandon me? Are they okay?” he questioned urgently.
I nodded in the direction of the Death Plain. Ragnar followed my gaze, looking at the telltale black acid covering the ground in a spiral pattern that stretched on for miles. They were a dead giveaway for Starguassi/Doonzai’s fatal signature attack; the poisonous twister he created when pissed off. And this time, he’d been pissed at the Darkened, and I’d been too busy protecting Ragnar to stop him. Starguassi was in for it when I got back to Servastrum.
“So that damned Doonzai ambushed us!” Ragnar growled, struggling to stand. I put his arm around my shoulder, supporting him as he clutched his chest, gagging.
It was true. Starguassi had gotten Bane, our double-agent, to tell Apocalypse to send a general to Death River so Doonzai and the general could negotiate an alliance. Of course it was all a trick, and of course that general had to be Ragnar.
“I’ll murder that foul liar even if I die trying!” Ragnar shouted in furor, shaking his fist.
“Calm down, you idiot! Could you at least wait until you’re better?” I asked, leading him to a boulder and helping him to sit down.
“Fine,” he said sourly, scowling at me with indignant eyes. “Do you have any food? If I eat I’ll fully recover.”
Of course, Ragnar’s stomach was as powerful as always. Reaching into my jeans pocket, I took out my last Chewy granola bar and handed it to him, making sure to remove the wrapper so he didn’t eat it. “Here,” I said.
“Thanks,” he said in between mouthfuls, scarfing it down. “Where are my troops?”
“I’m sorry, most of them died. But a few escaped on the starpods. It seemed like they thought Doonzai killed you.”
“Then how did I survive?”
I blushed. “Well, I kind of made sure you were okay.”
His eyes popped open. “How in the world did you manage to protect me?”
Wow, I had no idea my cheeks could go higher than 110 degrees farenheit. “You remember how you and Elvira were fighting, and then she delivered that almost-fatal blow to your chest. She thought you were dead. I tried to come to you, but I was head to head with a golem. But then I saw Doonzai getting ready to attack, and all of my friends retreating, and I realized you were in danger. I panicked and ran over to you-
“Wait, you did what!?! Callie, do you have any damned idea how dangerous Doonzai is? He could have killed you!” Ragnar interrupted, glaring at me like I was a three year old who’d just flushed Daddy’s credit card down the toilet.
“Yeah, genius, no duh I know! And it’s thanks to my recklessness that your unthankful ass was saved!” I shot back, angry. Why did Ragnar always have to patronize me whenever I risky, but he could do whatever he wanted to protect me?
“I was doing fine by myself; I didn’t need any heroic Callie action to ‘save my sorry ass’, thanks!” Ragnar said, buckling his chestplate back into place.
Breathe, one-two-three-four. Be the mature one here, end the argument now, I thought. “Fine, think what you want to, Ragnar. But all that matters is that you’re alright. Now let’s ditch this joint and get some lunch.”
“Sounds good to me,” Ragnar smiled as he got up off the rock, his manly pride unchallenged once again. Glancing sadly at the battlefield once more, he wrapped his armored arm around me as we walked towards Centriona.
We arrived at Congregation Square at high afternoon, the center of Dandylale market town. Ragnar was disguised as an elf as usual, his slit-pupil eyes and fangs hidden. The cobblestoned square buzzed with people, mostly students from Servastrum taking advantage of afternoon break. As far as they knew, there had never been a battle.
“Ah, it’s such a nice day!” I exclaimed, twirling around as a sunkissed breeze touched my skin.
“Look, I’m Callie, making a spectacle of myself is so much fun!” Ragnar imitated me in a high-pitched voice, spinning around stupidly.
“Stop!” I giggled, grabbing his arm before he crashed into a klepsot stand.
“Oops,” Ragnar said, realizing his proximity to the stand.
And I wondered why people stared at us in public so much.
“So, where’s the promised food?” Ragnar asked, rubbing his stomach.
I rolled my eyes. “Come on, there’s a great Heptol House called Dragon’s Talon right there!” I said, pointing at a rustic tavern just across the square.
“Sounds good to me,” Ragnar said, following me across Congregation Square and into Dragon’s Talon.
We entered the airy and comfortable Heptol House, the Starbucks of this planet. Centrions and elves lounged on the microfiber cushions, chatting over steaming cups of heptol and lunch as light poured in through the large glass dome roof. Ragnar and I found a cozy corner cushion at the back of the room, two floating plates already awaiting us.
“Why does everything on Phree have to be so clean and comfy?” Ragnar grumbled, sliding onto the cushion next to me.
“Because they’re civilized, unlike you,” I teased.
“But that makes me more fun.”
“Yeah, right. Prove it.”
Nuzzling the top of my head playfully, he growled lasciviously. I laughed, batting his face back.
“You’re such a weirdo,” I said. How did I get saddled with a boyfriend who thought he was an animal?
“But I’m your weirdo, Calliope.”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Excuse me, may I interrupt?” a gentle, regal voice asked.
“Huh?” Ragnar and I said in unison, startled. I blushed immediately, recognizing the cornflower blue eyes, mottled grey wings and dappled grey horse legs as Mizilla, Barnock’s wife. Mizilla and Barnock were like Starguassi’s parents, they had raised him since he was an infant. She also happened to own Dragon’s Talon.
“S-sorry, Mizilla,” I stuttered, looking down at my legs.
“It’s alright, Callie,” Mizilla said kindly, patting me in a motherly fashion on the shoulder. “I just spotted you over here and couldn’t help paying a visit. So how is Servastrum?”
“Nice, thanks. So what are you doing now?”
“Actually, I’m having lunch with Barnock and Starguassi. I know, how about we dine together? Your friend can join us! Come, come!” Mizilla ushered a quiet Ragnar and me out of our seats. He glanced at me, unsaid questions in his eyes.
Mizilla led us to a circle of cushions, and sure enough there were Barnock and Star, both eating klepsot. How surprising.
“Barnock, Star, we have guests!” Mizilla announced cheerfully, sitting next to Barnock. Both of them looked up, Starguassi looking at me, then Ragnar, and then back again.
“Greetings, greetings Callie. And who are you?” Barnock said, directing the question at Ragnar.
We each sat down, Ragnar on Mizilla’s left and me on Star’s right.
“Good to meet you too, sir, I’m Ragnar,” he said tensely, nodding his head in greeting as he faced his archenemy. What a git, of course he can’t make up a name like Joe or George.
“Oh, really? Is it a burden having to share a name with a monster like Lord Ragnar?” Barnock asked jovially.
“Yes, sir,” Ragnar said tensely, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. I shrugged, not offering much support.
A waitress came to us, and before anyone could speak Mizilla ordered heptol for all of us. Hence the name Heptol House.
“Starguassi, where are your manners, say hello to our new elf friend!” Barnock said, not realizing he hadn’t given anyone else a chance to speak.
“Hey Ragnar.” Starguassi said, turning on his 100-watt smile as he over to shake Ragnar’s hand, something I’d taught Starguassi to do. Ragnar grasped Star’s hand tentatively, not familiar with human greeting customs.
“The pleasure is mine,” Ragnar said darkly, growing more uncomfortable by the minute.
Star turned to me.
“So, Callie, did I miss a major development in your love life?” Starguassi asked, oblivious to everything. For the millionth time, I wanted to strangle him.
“What are you talking about?” I stuttered, mortified.
He gestured towards Ragnar.
“Starguassi Reynolds Glore, shut your mouth this instant!” Mizilla ordered. Starguassi cringed, Mizilla’s glare did what mine could not; make blonde wonder-boy shut up.
Mizilla looked at Ragnar and me, embarrassed. “Excuse my son, I do hope Starguassi is behaving himself at school, I hear he has quite the reputation as a gentleman there. Is that true?” Mizilla asked, trying to change the conversation.
I accidentally snorted. “More like a womanizer,” I answered.
Mizilla’s eyes bulged. Shoot, did I actually just say that?
“That’s my boy!” Barnock said, slapping Star on the back.
Thanks, Chosen Dunce. Starguassi thought over our damned mind connection.
You’re welcome. So this is why Doonzai had to leave in the midst of a battle; he had lunch plans. I retorted.
Star glared at me. I killed 10,234 more Darkened then you, so you have no right to talk.
After the bout of silence, our heptol came. Conversation flowed easily, with Barnock dictating it. Finally, an hour passed, and Barnock had to leave for a War Council. Starguassi hugged him goodbye, and then Mizilla as she announced she had to leave.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Ragnar! You must come to my shop again!” Mizilla said, hugging Ragnar in the Centrion fashion. Ragnar cringed, awkwardly returning the hug.
“Um, bye,” he said, standing where he was as Mizilla trotted off.
“Could you excuse the two of us for a second, Ragnar?” Starguassi said, though it was more like an order.
“Sure, I’ll be in the lavatory,” Ragnar said, gritting his teeth as he stalked of. Starguassi raised his eyebrow.
“Your boyfriend seems dour,” Starguassi said.
“I NEVER SAID HE WAS MY BOYFRIEND!” I screamed, pounding him in the chest.
“Oh, please, Callie, you’re a worse liar then that Pinocchio puppet,” Star said, grabbing my wrists and securing them to my side.
“I should never have showed you that movie. Anyway, it’s none of your business.”
“Wrong! See, I think of you as my little sister, so as an older brother, I have the right to know what’s going on.”
“Starguassi, I’d murder myself if I shared blood with you!” I said, fake-stabbing myself.
“Oh, really? Then let’s get a blood transfusion already!” Star said, azure eyes gleaming.
“Shut up. Now tell me already what you need to talk about.”
His eyes grew darker. Flexing his wings so that they veiled the two of us, Starguassi sat down so that he was eye-to-eye with me. “Okay, Callie, answer me this; where were you after the battle? I searched everywhere but couldn’t find you. What happened?”
I winced. “I…um… well, that’s a good question… see…” My mind reeled. What was I supposed to say?
“Let’s talk about this upstairs, shall we?” Starguassi said through gritted teeth, flinging me onto his back before I could protest. He marched behind the Dragon’s Talon counter and up to the second level where he lived with Mizilla.
We entered the open entrance deck, a stunning garden filled with blossoming flowers and marble statues through which a small stream trickled. As you can see, Centrions have a thing for roof gardens.
I felt Star’s cold, slimy back and realized he hadn’t transformed back yet, he was using a strong disguise. I recoiled in disgust, sliding down his flank, a technique I’d mastered. Looking at the inside of my jeans, I saw they were soaked with black slime.
“Eww!” I squeaked, glaring up at Starguassi who smirked in return.
“Once you’re done retching, could you answer my question?” he asked, crossing his arms in impatience.
“I was just scared and ran away back to the Dringwillow lodge,” I said. Yes, Callie, a believable lie!
“Oh,” Starguassi said.
“You might want to change back now,” I mentioned.
“Right,” Starguassi said, dropping his disguise and revealing his true form.
I found myself looking up at a towering evil beast with raven black skin and crimson eyes, complete with fangs, poison, barbed skin, dragon-like feet, dozens of electric tentacles, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. He was a demon of my darkest imaginings, and so God help me if I wanted to wet my pants every time I saw him.
Starguassi grinned, his cruel lips revealing razor-sharp teeth.
“Rarrgh!!” he growled.
“AHH!!” I screamed despite myself.
Starguassi laughed at me, his cold, cruel laughs sending chills up my spine. “I swear, Callie, you just jumped three feet off the ground,” he said in his cold, seductively dark voice.
“Shut up, idiot. First you ruin my pants and now you have the nerve to scare the crap out of me,” I said, scowling, “Let’s just get this over with.” I said, grabbing his hands so we could get the whole thing over with already.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps coming up the staircase. Someone would see Star!
“Quick, hide, under the bush!” I whispered, diving under the plant just as I realized Starguassi wouldn’t fit.
“Smart move, kid,” Star muttered, turning his back to me. All I could see under the bush were his feet, dripping acid as always. I curled up into a ball, trying to hide myself.
A pair of nondescript black boots stepped into my vision range.
“Whoever you are, I warn you, step back or you risk your life,” Starguassi said in a formidable voice. I had to give him props for playing the evil villain well.
“Where is she!?!” A familiar voice demanded.
“Who?” Starguassi asked.
“Don’t play the fool with me, Doonzai! Give me the girl now or I’ll rip your eyes from their sockets with my bare hands!” Ragnar bellowed, advancing.
“Who are you, foolish elf, to challenge my power?” Starguassi spat.
“You very well can see past my disguise, rat!” Ragnar said.
“What?” Starguassi said, genuinely surprised.
“I’m Lord Ragnar, you idiot!” he barked.
“You are?” Star asked, totally shocked.
Say no, say no! I pleaded silently.
Starguassi knew I was in love with a Dark general, he knew I was dating the enemy. A demon second only to Apocalypse, nonetheless. Why me?
I saw a yellow light surround the boots, and in their place were clawed talons. Ragnar had transformed into his full demon glory.
“YOU!” Starguassi screamed, no doubt recalling all the instances he had seen Ragnar. Like the time Ragnar nearly killed Barnock. Or the time Ragnar burned down a whole town. Or the time Ragnar led a surprise attack on the youth army. The list goes on and on.
What ensued was a full-out battle. Of course, all I saw was an excess of exploding red and yellow light and lots of cursing. But I had to give them credit, even from under a shrubbery it was a pretty vicious fight. Then again, they were all powerful demons, so what else did I expect?
Then I realized this was a perfect time for me to escape.
I carefully slid out from under the bush, inching on my elbows. From my view on the roof, I saw the town was in an uproar at the two demons fighting in the sky. I felt guilty. This never would have happened if Ragnar and I had done take-out.
Running to the stairs, I hurried down them. I had to put a stop to this fight, once and for all. Rushing towards the center of Congregation Square, I arrived at the familiar marble statue of a Centrion bard. Gritting my teeth, I scaled the statue, ignoring cries from people down below wondering what I was doing.
Finally, after seven minutes of strenuous climbing, I arrived at the tip of the marble wing, three stories in the air, and within range for Starguassi and my special psychic channel.
CALLIE? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW-HOW WRONG WHAT YOU’VE DONE IS?
Look, I know, okay? Just calm down and stop fighting!
Calm down? If you haven’t noticed I’m in the middle of saving my skin from a rabid devil! I may be powerful, but I have no experience! Nada! Zilch!
All the more reason to hightail it out of there!
Fine, I’ll try, but our friend Ragnar here might destroy me in the process.
I looked upwards towards the sky, gazing at the two pinpoints of light that were Starguassi and Ragnar. Like a shooting star, one began to rapidly fall to the ground. Within moments, he collided into the middle of Congregation Square, sending cobblestones flying as people fled the scene. The debris cleared and I could see Doonzai/Starguassi sprawled on the ground. I rushed down the statue as he staggered up, glaring at me.
“Watch out!” I screamed. Ragnar swooped towards him on agile wings, murder in his eyes. Starguassi dove out of the way at the last second, forcing Ragnar to bank left and land messily on the rubble.
Don’t come any closer, Callie! Starguassi ordered.
“What kind of man are you, one that can murder hundreds without even a hint of remorse?” Ragnar growled, lunging at Starguassi.
“Hypocritical talk for someone who attacks a children’s school,” Star shot back, dodging Ragnar and parrying his attack with a bolt of red energy. Ragnar conjured a yellow shield the attack bounced off of and quickly retaliated with a deadly twister of fire. The blazing tornado sped after Star, who in his panic tripped on the rubble, sprawling to the ground. My palms grew clammy with worry, was Star okay? He may be powerful, but without Doonzai’s wrath he has no idea how to control his powers. All he can manage are the most elementary of attacks, while Ragnar is fighting with master experience.
“What’s wrong with you, are you toying with me!?!” Ragnar spat, circling Starguassi like a lion stalks its prey. He emitted a guttural growl, bearing his fangs and flashing his intense yellow eyes. Within a split second, Ragnar had Star in a headlock, only making contact with his armor to avoid Starguassi’s poisonous black flesh. Starguassi roared, standing up and rearing on his hind legs, clawing at Ragnar’s arms. Ragnar hung stubbornly to Star’s neck, attempting to choke him. I knew better than to interfere, but I was growing desperate. If Starguassi didn’t escape soon, he was toast.
“Damn!” Star rasped, finally managing to free himself. Rage sparked in his eyes as he grabbed Ragnar’s forearm, holding him like a ragdoll in front of him. Ragnar struggled futilely; it was obvious Starguassi had total control. With one solid punch, Starguassi broke Ragnar’s jaw, gold blood spurting out of his face. Ragnar bellowed in pain, driving the spike of his wing into Starguassi’s thumb. Starguassi howled and dropped Ragnar, who landed on his feet and drove the spiked fingertips of his gauntlet into Star’s chest. I felt bile rise in my stomach as the gauntlet spikes came out of Starguassi’s back, but I knew it would be alright. Apparently Ragnar wasn’t aware of Doonzai’s regenerative properties.
Ragnar pulled away, smirking in triumph as Starguassi wailed in pain. I cringed as black guts spilled onto the ground, their stench making me nauseous.
Are you okay?
What does it look like!?! No, I’m fine, I can feel the skin growing back already.
Starguassi clutched the hole in his stomach as the skin miraculously healed. Instantly not a trace of the wound was left and Starguassi regained his composure, a dark glimmer in his eyes.
“WHAT? That’s impossible!” Ragnar yelled, fanning his wings in anger.
“I beg to differ,” Starguassi smiled, spreading his glossy claret wings to display their full glory. “You have two options, Lord Ragnar. Seeing as I am invincible, you can surrender now and leave in peace. Or, you can fight, but further resistance will prove fruitless. What is your will?”
“Option three, you give me the girl or die. Now where is she, I demand to know,” Ragnar said coldly, clenching his fists in anger. Apparently he hadn’t noticed me.
“Over here, Ragnar!” I yelled, waving at him. Ragnar whirled around in surprise.
“Callie, you’re alright!” he exclaimed, a dorky grin spreading across his face. Forgetting he was in the middle of a deadly battle, he rushed over to me.
Now’s your cue to run, Starguassi.
Are you crazy? Do you want to be left alone with this guy?
Shut up! I’m fine, now go. Your luck won’t last much longer if you stay.
Fine. I’ll be right behind you to protect you, though.
Just trust me.
And with that, Starguassi evaporated. Literally, he was there and then, suddenly, he dissolved. Creepy? Yes. Confusing? You betcha.
Before I could react to Star’s disappearing act, Ragnar swept me into his rough embrace.
“You’re okay, Callie! I thought you were d- dead,” Ragnar whispered quickly. “Don’t worry, I will save you from Doonzai! Just stay-
Ragnar stopped in midsentence when he looked up and realized Doonzai was gone.
“Where are you, Doonzai? Show yourself!” Ragnar addressed Doonzai, searching for him in the empty town square.
“I- I saw him fly away. He looked scared,” I answered, covering up for Star.
“Oh,” Ragnar said, relieved, “No wonder, that coward doesn’t have the guts to face the general of the troops he killed!” He looked down at me, concerned. “Did he harm you at all, Callie?” Ragnar questioned, cupping my face gently in his hands.
“I’m fine, I managed to escape,” I said, gently touching his broken jaw. I concentrated my willpower into fixing his bone. Miraculously, I managed to fully heal it, instead of making his head explode or messing the spell up in some other way. Dr. Callie saves another life! Seriously, I should be on Grey’s Anatomy.
“Thanks,” he smiled, his wide grin revealing razor-sharp fangs. “Now let’s get out of here before anyone sees us.”
“I second that motion!” I replied, brushing a stray lock of hair behind my ears. Only in times of crises did I forget about my hair. “Quick, follow me!” I sprinted into the empty alley between Dragon’s Talon and its neighbor store.
Ragnar followed in silence, his steady pace behind me. Thoughts rushed through my heads, panic at the destruction Ragnar and Doonzai had caused. Did they leave a trace of what had happened? Did anyone witness the fight? What if someone saw me with them? No, I assured myself. By the time I’d gotten down from the statue, the crowd had fled and the streets were barren. For all they knew, I was just a mentally unstable girl who climbed statues when she should have been running.
After weaving through endless alleys, we finally arrived at the colossal granite wall that served as the border for Dandylale.
“Great, how do we get over that?” I shouted. Over the course of just a few minutes, nervous shouts and voices had started growing throughout the town, making it nearly impossible to hear. It would be especially hard now to get out of Dandylale unnoticed, with the whole town in a ruckus.
Ragnar smirked, his eyes glowing with mischief. “I’ve got just the solution to our wall problem,” he said, patting the wall like it was a good friend.
“What genius plan do you have now- What are you doing?” I screamed, laughing. Ragnar scooped me up in his arms, maneuvering me so that I was straddled over his waist, horseback style. I quickly wrapped my arms around his neck so I didn’t fall off.
“Thanks,” I said wryly, adjusting myself so I wasn’t smothered by the leathery wings sprouting from his shoulder blades.
“You’re welcome, Callie. Now hold on unless you want to meet an untimely death,” Ragnar said, spreading his wings to their full ten foot wingspan. In an instant he set off on a breakneck sprint, barreling through the shadowed backstreet. I dug my nails into his chest, holding on for dear life as the wind roared in my ears. Ragnar arched his claret wings and immediately lifted off the ground.
“Watch out!” I hollered as he flew towards a stone building. At the last second he veered left, doing a backflip in midair. I hung on like a koala to a tree, my screams blocked out by the howl of the wind. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins; the thrill of flying never wore off.
“Whohoo!” Ragnar yelped, spiraling upwards on a thermal. In the blink of an eye, we were three stories into the air. Dandylale kept on shrinking, changing into an architect’s model before my eyes. Ragnar swooped onto the wall, landing on top of it. The stone wall was seven feet thick, plenty of room to move around. I slid off his back, finding firm footing on the granite.
“Who needs amusement parks when we have Ragnar?” I asked dramatically, turning to face him.
“Exactly,” he said, letting out a low whistle. “That was an awesome flight, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, and let’s never do it again.”
“You’re no fun, Callie.”
“Yep, I’m just lame old Callie, content to stay on the ground.”
Ragnar grinned, but then his expression grew grim. “What happened up there on the roof? Was that Starguassi fellow Doonzai in disguise?”
My mind reeled. “Um, he took me up to the roof and morphed into himself. Then Doonzai tried to attack me and I hid under a bush, and then you showed up.” That was a plausible lie, right?
“Doonzai must have been consorting with the Master Guardian Barnock. I knew that monster was in cahoots with the Centrions!” Ragnar clenched his fist, the gauntlet’s metal grinding against each itself in a discordant fashion. “But why would he want to attack you?”
I was stumped. “Um-
“What am I thinking? Obviously he could see past my disguise. He must have been using you as bait to try and lure me away. How low is he?” Ragnar interrupted, continuing his rant.
That was a better cover-up story then I could have ever thought of.
Ragnar surfaced from his anger. “All that matters is that you’re safe, right?” he said, pulling me into him. I relaxed, letting myself sink into the folds of his armor.
“And that you’re head hasn’t exploded in rage,” I added, laughing as I wrapped my arms around his strong shoulders. Ragnar’s razorblade face relaxed as his inner tension disappeared.
“That too,” Ragnar murmured, pressing his lips gently against my forehead. I tilted my chin upward so that our mouths met, returning the kiss. The familiar electric sensation returned, sending warm chills down my spine. I wanted to stay intoxicated like this forever, drowning in Ragnar’s overpowering presence.
Of course, we never get what we wish for.