Fire Maiden – Available in Bookstores NOW!

Originally published November 17, 2006 at www.butterscotchmartinigirls.com

Thought everyone would enjoy some kick-ass gargoyles in one of their favorite workouts.

fire maiden, tina gerowAs soon as Kefira stepped through the gate, a skeletal hand broke through the ground in a spray of dust and closed around her ankle.  Adrenaline flowed through her and she willed the iridescent fairy wings tattoo between her shoulder blades to change.  A sudden ripping sound tore a curse from her as the weight of her wings settled against her back.  “I’m definitely not dressed for this!”  Her favorite shirt sagged where it had ripped down the back to make way for her wings.  “Damn it, I’ve had that for two years.” She quickly adjusted her stance so the weight of her large leathery black wings didn’t topple her over.
The bone hand continued to constrict, digging painfully into her skin.  She concentrated, willing her foot and ankle to turn to stone—the familiar cold flowed over her skin causing goose bumps to pebble over the rest of her body.
“Are you done playing with that thing?”  Odeda stood just outside the gate, her arms crossed over her generous cleavage.
Ignoring her, Kefira kicked her leg forward, ripping the skeletal hand from whatever body it previously attached to underground.
“Nice ankle bracelet,” Odeda observed as her own wings flowed into existence to billow around her.  “Notice I remembered to remove my jacket before bringing my wings out to play.  Why the hell do you think I have so many bustiers?”
Kefira ignored her sister’s jibe and glanced down to see the stubborn bone hand still curled around her ankle and shrugged.  “It’s welcome to come along for the ride as long as it doesn’t get in my way.”
The sisters walked toward the center of the gravestones as other skeletal body parts broke through the cracked ground all around them.  Kefira stood about eight feet away from her sister at an angle, so their wings didn’t tangle when they needed to maneuver and turned both arms to stone from the elbow down.  “Deda, why didn’t you tell me where we were going?  I would’ve brought Lileth.”
“Because swords are for those who can’t handle hand to hand combat.” The familiar argument caused Kefira to grind her teeth, but Odeda continued as if she didn’t know she’d punched at Kefira’s defenses once again.  “And we’ve got skills to handle these guys in our sleep.”  Deda flashed a grin.  “Besides, tearing some skeleton apart with your bare hands will release more frustration than just merely chopping them up with a souped up kitchen knife.”
“I like my souped up kitchen knife.” Kefira looked over at Odeda’s stone hands and raised her eyebrows in question.
“Okay, with our bare stone hands,” Odeda amended.
Now full skeletons crawled from their graves, some wearing the clothes they were buried in and others, nothing but pristine white bones—held together by necromancy.  They shuffled toward the sisters in an ever-tightening circle.
Her mind calm and clear from the sudden surge of adrenaline, Kefira watched them, anticipation of the fight to come, sharp on her tongue.  This she could do without struggling with her emotions.  Killing skeletons or whatever other beastie happened to be in need of a quick death was straightforward and easy.  Why couldn’t things with Dagan be so simple?
The thought of the weakness she’d shown when Dagan passed out earlier washed through her, a tidal wave of embarrassment followed quickly by anger and she struck out at the nearest group of skeletons.  Her stone arm plowed through their ribcages, the sound of cracking bones filling the humid Texas air.
More ripping and crunching sounded behind her assuring her Odeda was similarly engaged, but she knew from centuries of fights much more dangerous than this one, that Deda could more than hold her own.  She grabbed a fallen femur bone and used it like a baseball bat to decapitate an oncoming skeleton wearing a blonde poufy cocktail waitress wig.  The skull with perfectly coiffed hair still attached sailed out over the fence and disintegrated as soon as it left the magic confines of the graveyard.
“Nice hit, giant cousin.”  Kefira glanced up to see Alonna the fairy, floating just overhead studying them with her large liquid lavender eyes.  Her flowing blonde hair barely covered her shapely nude form, while her tiny wings blurred from their effort to keep her aloft.  As always, she looked like a nude anatomically generous Barbie doll come to life.
Bony hands closed around Kefira’s throat, jerking her attention back to the fight at hand.  She pried the hands from her neck and used the arms to beat back the rest of the body.
Odeda’s voice came from behind her.  “Did you come to spy on us, Alonna?  Or were you just bored?”
Alonna giggled, the sound like musical bells flowing over Kefira’s skin.
“If I wanted to spy, I wouldn’t have materialized, now would I?”  She flew over to perch on top of the black bars that made up the ancient metal gate.  “I came to deliver some prophesy, but I can wait while you enjoy your combat.”
Kefira executed a roundhouse kick, knocking back a new wave of skeletons and followed up with sweep of her stone arm to keep them down.  “I was hoping to get away from the prophesy, Alonna.  Can’t this wait?”
“Isn’t that what I just said?”  She stamped her foot against the gate and shrugged, her arms held wide.  “You’re becoming as bad as the man-things.  I understand your frustration at the original man-thing, but this shouldn’t wait too long.  I deliver the prophesy with the timing that it keeps you informed for the coming battles ahead.  Without the knowledge I deliver, you could make choices you will regret.”
Kefira snorted at Alonna’s comment as she whirled to attack the skeletons that had been trying to tear at her tough leathery wings.  I’ve regretted tons of my choices in the past that had nothing to do with the prophesy.
                “Exactly my point,” Alonna answered as Kefira’s temper sparked at the fairy reading her internal thoughts.  “If you don’t want me to know your thoughts, stop thinking them.”  She crossed her arms over her full but bare cleavage.  “I can’t help that I can hear them.”
Kefira spun around to face the last standing skeleton at the same time Odeda did.  She grabbed one arm and leg and Deda grabbed the other and they pulled—a monster wishbone.  The skeleton’s body made a large popping sound as it broke apart and fell to the ground.  Then all sound around them suddenly ceased—almost loud in its silence.  The bones littering the graveyard disappeared, including her bone ankle bracelet, which suddenly turned to gray dust, coating the barren ground once again.

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