Discovering her powers was the worst moment of Brittany’s life. If she used her magic again, she’d be removed.
Circumstances made it impossible not to utilise her healing light.
She woke up in another world, told she couldn’t go back. She was too far gone, demon magic irreversible.
Nigel tried to help her come to terms, having gone through the same experience thirty years prior. Not willing to walk eight-hundred-thousand-miles through hell and risk apocalypse to get back home, she went with her kidnapper to the Yore College of Demon Humans.
She came to blows, a clash of words with the centaur, Feyneyrey. Danger struck a flame to kindle their friendship. The two young women, guided by Nigel, journeyed on a mission to destroy a corrupted deity
Targeted Age Group:: 15+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was obsessed with the harry potter series and I've always wanted to be an author. At age twenty, I finally decided to write my second book. The first one I wrote when I was thirteen and the laptop broke.
When deciding what I was gonna write, I came up with the idea of a modern teen carted off to a weird world. Five years later, I'm finally satisfied with it.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I pull in all different characteristics from family members and the people I work with. Generally, the personalities I create are a cause of circumstance and the need to have them entertain.
CHAPTER 1: MIRACLE
The bus swerved, Brittany’s shoulder bumping into her friend, Kelly, spilling fizzy pop onto her knees. “Sorry”, said Brittany.
“It’s not your fault”, said Kelly. “It’s the bus driver, showing off again. I wish the teachers were here.”
Kenny’s ginger curls blocked the view from the front window, him and the driver telling jokes and laughing. Brittany said, “Someone should tell him to slow down. We’ll end up in an accident, at this rate.” Outside, a waist high fence divided the road from a cliff of yellow stone. Shudder. “I don’t like this road.”
Dania turned ‘round, a teal hijab to frame her smirk. “Are you kidding? I thought you were a thrill seeker. You dragged me on all the scary rides.”
“That’s because Kelly’s too fraidy cat.”
Kelly crossed her arms and pouted.
“Anyway”, said Brittany, “this is different to a fair ride. For starters-” The swerve almost took her out of her seat. “For starters, there’s no one breaking the law on a fair ride. He’s gotta be going at least fifty.”
Lance turned his ice blue eyes in her direction. “If you’ve got a problem,” he said, “why don’t you go down there and tell him?”
“Yeah”, said another lad, “show him who’s boss, Brittany.” He chanted her name, and all the lads joined in.
She moved to her feet, pulled back down by Kelly. “Don’t bother. They’re just winding you up.”
“I don’t care”, said Brittany. “I’m gonna say something.”
On her feet again, when the driver shouted, “Who’s Brittany?”
“I am,” she yelled, “and if you don’t slow down, I’m gonna tell the teachers.”
The driver laughed. “You wouldn’t, really?”
Lance said, “It’s not a joke, mate. She got Clive banned for smoking in the toilet.”
“Actually,” she said, “he was smoking ‘weed’ in the toilet. Call me a grass; I don’t care, but you better slow down.
“It’s not funny, Dania”, she finished, to her giggling friend.
The driver leaned, looking behind him at Brittany, one eye still on the road. “Tell this Clive, when you see him, meet me after school. I wouldn’t mind trying some of this weed.”
Everyone but Brittany laughed, Kenny bent double at the front, revealing a road bend. She yelled, “Watch out!” Crack, through the fence.
Metal strained as the bus slanted sideways. Brittany fell, classmates landing on top of her, squeezing breath from her lungs. She tried to scream; her eyes bulged, pressured like they might squeeze from her sockets.
She clenched Kelly’s hand, but her fingers slipped away, the bus rolling. She’d be an ash stain at the bottom of this cliff.
Her head collided with Dania’s piggish nose: crunch. Dania’s blood dribbled down Brittany’s cheek, warm like tears. It tasted like a penny; her stomach turned.
Her bones tingled from her skull to her soles. A glow shone from her feet, then slowly, slowly ascended through her, filling her like a light bulb, shining through her fingers and from under her clothes. Please let this be a dream.
A metal bar zoomed towards her head. She gasped.
The bar bent around her forehead, painlessly like a cotton belt.
The glow from her body shined upon Dania, whose nose stopped pouring blood and cracked itself straight. Brittany didn’t know how, but the glow seemed to be healing, protecting. It had to be. They were all too young to die.
She willed her glow to spread to everyone on that bus. Everything went white. Then everything went black.
Sirens disturbed her sleep. Her dream slipped from her mind. Metal screeched above her head, a fire fighter poking her head through, yelling, “Is anyone still alive?”
Dania said, “There’s five of us. I think there’s five.”
“Hang tight. We’re fetching a ladder.”
Brittany lied in the aisle, Kelly, Dania, Lance and his friend looking down at her. She sat up, her eyes covered by Lance’s hand. He said, “Trust me, you don’t wanna look down there.”
“Why’s there only five of us?” Her own tears-soaked Lance’s hand. “What happened?”
Lance’s friend said, “You didn’t save them. That’s what happened.”
Kelly said, “Shut up, Max.”
She took a peek, the front of the bus smushed in. Bone crumbled whiter than chalk, covered in skin, blood and hair. She span and retched.
Max leaned to her ear and said, “What’s a matter? Can’t handle it?” She slapped his face away, whole body shivering.
Lance said, “That’s enough, Max.”
“No. You all saw it. She used witchcraft, and she only saved her mates. She let all the others die. Me and you got lucky, pal.”
She hugged her knees, buried her sobs in her hands. “I tried”, she said. “I tried to save them.”
Dania moved to the floor beside Brittany, pulling her close around the shoulder. “It’s okay, Brittany. It wasn’t your fault.”
Lance asked, “How long have you known you’re a witch?”
“I’m not a witch! I don’t even know what happened?”
“I won’t tell anyone”, said Lance. “None of us will, right, Max? If it wasn’t for her, you’d be dead. You owe her, mate.”
Max pulled her hands away from her face. “Look me in the eye and tell me that’s the first time you’ve done anything freaky.”
She scrunched her nose at him. “I’m not a freak. I didn’t even mean to do it.”
Lance patted Max’s shoulder. “He means magic. Tell him it’s the first time you’ve done magic.”
“But it is”, she said. “Do you think I’d waste time at school if I could perform magic. I’d be a fucking billionaire.”
Dania nodded. “Innit. Hey Brit- No, never mind.”
“Never mind what?”
“Don’t matter”, said Dania. “I was gonna make a joke, but… not in front of dead bodies.”
A shiver ran through all five survivors. Max grabbed Brittany’s hand, light enough to tickle. “Fine. I can’t stay mad at you, not when you’re looking like this.”
She said, “Like what!”
“Upset, and that”, he said. “I didn’t mean owt bad. I promise I won’t say owt. It looked like you knew what you were doing, with the magic, but I can’t exactly prove it, can I? What are we supposed to tell people?”
Kelly shrugged. “Let’s tell them it was a miracle. It’s not as if we’re lying. Just don’t mention the light.” Everyone nodded.
“I wanna punch someone”, said Max. “I’m just, grrrrrr, you know. I can’t blame the driver.” Tears shone under his eyes. “I can’t blame someone who’s dead, man.”
Lance cuddled him. “It’s alright, mate.”
Max’s back shook. “No, it’s not.” The five of them locked themselves into a group hug.
Wind blew through the ambulance door, goosepimpling her skin. The blood pressure strap deflated against her arm. The paramedic ripped the Velcro away and Brittany massaged her freed forearm. The paramedic said, “You’re blood pressure’s a little high, but that’s to be expected. Hmmm. Not a scratch on you.” He bopped the end of her nose. “This looks more like a birth mark.”
“It is”, she said, covering her nose.
“Well in that case,” he said, “I don’t know what to say to you. If I didn’t see you climb out the wreckage myself, I wouldn’t believe you was in there.” He scratched the back of his neck, and shook his head. “I guess you’re free to go.” He pointed out the door, to the group of people behind the police tape, a camera flash filling the night. “Your parents should be waiting for you. Speak to an officer.”
“Thanks”, she said, sliding her jacket on. Through the door, a second paramedic clasped her hand, helping her step down from the ambulance. Officers stood near the police line, their high vis jackets reflecting headlights. She ran to an officer. “My name’s Brittany Dove. Are my parents here?”
The officer pointed into the crowd. As soon as her dad’s afro and her mum’s blond spirals came into view, she ran to them, dipping underneath the police tape. Her parents towered over her, wrapping their arms around her shoulders. She trembled. Her parents clung tighter.
Mum said, “Oh my god. I can’t believe you’re alright.”
She couldn’t hold the tears back. “They’re all dead, Mum.”
“I know. Shhhh, shhh, it’s okay, darling. Let it out.”
Her dad’s deep voice said, “We’re with you. We’ll help you get through this. Anything you want, just ask.”
“I want to go home. Please, can we go home.” She craned her neck. Behind her, a few house lengths up, police attached chains to the top of the wreckage.
Dad said, “Are they sure you’re not injured? That drop’s gotta be over two hundred feet.”
In hindsight, she couldn’t stick to Kelly’s story. She didn’t wanna go around telling people that twenty-seven dead teenagers equalled a miracle. “I don’t want to talk about it. I just wanna go home.”
The three of them walked away from the crowd, cameras flashing in Brittany’s eyes. Her hand became a shield for her face. Police stood guard, creating a path through the reporters. An officer yelled, “Come on, keep your distance. The poor lass’s distraught.”
A reporter asked, “How did you survive the crash?”
Mum said, “It’s a miracle. We’ll leave it at that.”
Brittany’s stomach sank, opening her car door, the backseat cold as a freezer. When Mum sat down, Brittany said, “It wasn’t, you know.”
Dad frowned from his seat. “What wasn’t, darling?”
“It wasn’t a miracle. Miracles don’t kill people.”
“Well put”, said Dad, and Brittany smiled. It felt cringey, smiling at a time like this. He said, “Have you got your phone? We can put ‘your’ music on today, after what you’ve been through. It’ll make you feel better?”
She shook her head. “I don’t feel like feeling better.”
They drove home in silence.
CHAPTER 2: SUMMONED
Outside her window, the lamppost glared, the only light in her bedroom. She clicked like on Kenny’s final status:
‘I bit a dog and it tasted like bark.’
184 likes and 497 comments delivered their respect. In his profile picture, he clamped his tongue between his lips, eyes bulged. She laughed. If she recalled correctly, that’s the only time he’s ever made her laugh. Six hours ago, he’d wrote the status, just before he got on the bus.
She couldn’t think of a good enough comment. ‘RIP’ just didn’t sound right. They should’ve all been partying in heaven, not resting in peace.
Ping went her phone, a message from Kelly: ‘You comin out?”
18:45, still early. Brittany said, ‘Sure. Where r u?’
‘Me, those two lads and Dania can come and pick you up?’
‘Ok. C u soon’, she sent back.
She left her room and walked downstairs, the open plan bannister allowing a full view of Dad on the sofa, watching footy. Socks slipping on the laminate floor, she walked over to him. Mum rushed through the kitchen door, bumping Brittany. She’d have fallen if Mum hadn’t grabbed her arms.
“Darling, sorry. I thought you’d gone out. You haven’t been down for your tea.”
Through the door, on the kitchen counter, spaghetti filled her plate, bits of hair covered in blood complete with meatball brains. She kept her mouth closed, trying to hide her retch but it was impossible.
Dad said, “I don’t care what you eat, but at least eat something before bedtime.”
“We don’t want you making yourself poorly”, said Mum. “You should be out with your friends.”
Brittany said, “That’s what I wanted to ask. They’re coming ‘round for me. Is it okay if I go?”
Mum pulled her own coat on, over the nurse uniform, white material contrasting her chocolate milk skin. “Of course it’s okay. I’ll see you in the morning. I’m off to work.” She kissed Brittany’s forehead.
Dad said, “Are you sure you don’t wanna take the night off? I’m sure Pete’ll understand.”
“They’re already short staffed as it is”, said Mum. “I wanna be busy and not keep thinking about everything all the time. Some of those parents’ faces!” She puffed, then kissed Dad on the lips. “Bye, honey.”
“Have fun”, he said as Mom exited.
Brittany sat next to Dad, the sofa sponge pulling her in. Ping, her phone went. Instead of telling her to go and play with her phone upstairs, Dad tilted his head and smiled, eyes never leaving the telly.
Kelly again: ‘Maybe u can perform more miracles on us lol.’
‘Yeah lol.’ She hadn’t tried doing any more magic, yet. Something might go wrong. She didn’t even know where the magic came from in the first place. How could she trust it!
Ping. ‘We’re here.’
She leant over and kissed her dad on the cheek, sandy bristles against her lip gloss.
“What was that for, you big softy?”
“I don’t know”, she said. “I felt like letting you know I love you.”
He smiled, smoky yellow teeth reflecting the telly. “I love you too, sweetheart. It doesn’t sound right coming from me, does it? Lol.”
Tittering, she said, “I liked hearing it.” She walked to the door and slipped her black shoes on. “And you’re not supposed to actually say, ‘lol’.”
“Anyway, I’m going out. Back by eleven?”
“On the dot”, he said.
“Yes!” She was sick of coming home an hour before her friends. Hopefully this wasn’t a one off. She slipped into her coat, fastened the three black buttons, and walked to the door, attacked by chilling wind the second she left the threshold. Her group of friends waited for her at the end of the street.
Dania said, “Are you alright?”
“I’m as alright as I can be”, said Brittany, “after what happened. What have we got planned? Anything interesting?”
“Not really”, said Lance. “We’re gonna chill out near the park, if no one’s there. I just thought it’d be good, you know. Being with other people who know what we’re going through.”
Five pairs of feet echoed through the town, house windows dim. So quiet, if Brittany’d spoken, everyone on the street would have heard her through the walls.
They neared the edge of the last house. Sat on the other end of the dirt path, leading to a river, the rusty park glowed pure white, spotlights shining on all sides.
Max rubbed his arms and grimaced. “It’s like walking through a fucking ghost town.”
“Innit”, said Dania. “It’s been on the news. Loads of people are camping out on the crash site. I feel a bit like going there myself, to be honest. Pay my respects.”
Max shook his head. “That’s what funerals are for. I can’t think I can deal with seeing that wreck again.”
“Same”, said Brittany. “I’ve just been on Facebook, liking everyone’s last statuses.”
Lance became a white smile within a dark shadow. “I noticed. I’ve been doing the same. Thanks for accepting my friend request, by the way. Even if it took two years.”
“Well,” she said, “it’s ‘cause you’re always winding me up when I’m annoyed at people.”
“But it’s easy. And it’s funny as fuck, seeing you tell someone off. The looks on their faces, though.”
Everyone else was laughing, and Brittany’s straight face lasted less than a second before she joined, louder than all.
“Ah,” said Kelly, “it’s good to know we can still do this.” She could hardly get words out: “We haven’t broken funny bones.”
A giggling fit took over the group, Dania snorting, Brittany’s ribs about to crack open. If someone saw them stumbling through those park gates like a troupe of clowns, they’d’ve thought them stoned.
Sitting down underneath the slide, Brittany sighed and got her breath back, rubbing the last tear away. Kelly said, “No word of a lie: that light you cast was ten times brighter than these four combined.”
“Innit”, said Dania. “Maybe it’s your inner white girl wanting to come out. Anyway, have you tried doing anything, since?”
“No. The only way I know how to activate it’s with your blood. That’s what I remember. I tasted your blood, and then it happened.” Everyone but her stared at the floor. Hopefully, her being frank like that’d stop them asking more questions about it.
Lance said, “What if you can do other things. You should try floating one of these pebbles.”
“No, I don’t want to. What if it’s dangerous and someone gets hurt! Or I could tear a hole in reality or something. I’m not joking, Dania.”
“Sorry”, said Dania. “Tearing a hole in reality sounds a bit far-fetched.”
“So does floating pebbles”, said Brittany. “And if my magic’s real, what else is real? I might attract monsters or something, to come and eat my powers. Shurrup, Dania!”
“I dare you”, said Lance. “I’ll make you a deal, yeah? If you can move one of them pebbles with your mind, I’ll stop winding you up in school.”
“It’s…” not as if there’s anyone left to wind me up over.
Kelly said, “You know you’re gonna try it at some point. Would you rather try it alone, or with us to help if something goes wrong?”
“I don’t know.” She massaged her head. “Fine, I’ll give it one try, and that’s it.”
“Get in”, said Max. “Brittany, Brittany…”
“Shurrup, Max. The whole town’ll hear you.”
“I’m just excited. It’ll be awesome to see something cool, take all us minds of things.”
“True”, said Brittany. “Okay, everyone be quiet.” She focused on the shiny pebble in the middle, telling it to rise up.
Dania said, “Move your hands like you’re casting a spell, innit.”
Brittany flicked her wrist up and the pebble stayed still, yet the ones around it floated, flies suspended mid-flight. Mouth ajar, she rose to her feet.
“Wow”, said Max, “you actually did it.”
“I only meant to do one.”
Kelly said, “Stop panicking. See if you can make them fall back down again.”
She raised both hands and dropped them, hoping the stones would fall. Rrrip, a sound in front of her, a purple glow consuming the pebbles, spreading into a glimmering line. “Shit. What have I done?”
A shriek of agony blasted from the thin line. Brittany’s friends jumped to their feet, all huddled. Lance said, “Can you make it disappear?”
“I don’t know”, she said. “What if I make things worse!”
Charcoal claws gripped through the purple, ripping it open, a monster trying to get in.
Lace shouted, “Run!”
Brittany sprinted towards the fence, a boom rocketing her off her feet, twisting her ankle. She and her friends cowered on the floor, a pair of red eyes staring at them from where the purple line use to be. The creature wore a crown of fangs, purple juice dripping down its slender frame. Gravelled breaths slid through the creatures jagged teeth. “Liar”, it said, glaring at Brittany. “Her.”
“No”, she said. “I haven’t told any lies. I didn’t mean to bring you here. I’m sorry.”
“Liar!” Froth congregated on its snarl. “Herrr!” It dipped to all fours, a rabid lion bounding at Brittany.
Lance soccer kicked its stomach, throwing it onto its back. Spotlights shone upon it, highlighting the oozing gashes all over its convulsing, child-like frame. An inch of intestine poked through the hole in its side.
Dania said, “It looks hurt.”
“Liar!” It coughed a glob of purple onto its chest. “Please liar her!”
Kelly’s buried her face sobbing. “Please, someone put it out of its misery.”
Max strode forward and lifted one foot. The creature grabbed his other ankle, but crush, too late. His trainer indented the centre of the creature’s skull. “Holy shit!” He fell away from the creature and retched.
The dew in Lance’s eyes shook, looking at the creatures stomach. Brittany went to him, patted his shoulder. “It’s okay. It was already hurt before you kicked it. I think that purple stuff’s its blood.”
“I know”, he said.
“It was coming after me. You probably just saved my life. Who’d’ve thought it: Lance Gallagher, my hero.”
She expected him to laugh or make fun of her. Instead, he cupped the side of her head, stared into her eyes. “I can’t imagine life without you. If something’d happened…”
She gasped, took a step back, holding his hand against her face. “Oh my god! You fancy me!”
“Of course I do, you daft twat.”
Dania covered her guffawing with her head scarf. Brittany said, “And you knew?”
“Not exactly. I thought something was going on between you.”
Lance said, “I don’t wanna put you on the spot or nothing.”
She put her lips on his and fell into rhythm, his hand on her lower back, hers around his neck, pulling him closer. She pulled apart, grinning, taking in the ice of his eyes. “I couldn’t imagine life without you neither.”
Kelly said, “Sorry to butt in, but I think Max is hurt.”
He rested against the fence, blood drained from his skin. A trail of black blood led from the monster, to his ankle, a chunk of meat torn from it.
“I’ll try and heal him”, said Brittany. “Someone call an ambulance just in-” The creatures skin glowed gold, eyes opening pure white. It spoke, croaky, “Brittany Dove, we have been watching. Watching, ever since your crash and we shall be forever watching.”
Lance ran at the creature and boosh, gold light threw him back, cracking his head into the swing pole.
“Please,” said the creature, “Do not attack, for I am not the creature you see before you.”
She couldn’t move, either through fear or through the creature’s power, she didn’t know which.
“If you are smart, child, you shall never perform magic again. You see how it tears at The Separator. Magic will not be permitted in your world. You will cease. Or, we shall remove you.”
Lance roared, “Don’t you dare threaten my girl.” Blood pattered from his head wound. She ran to him and he held her from behind. “If you mess with Brittany, you’re messing with me.”
Dania said, “What do you mean ‘remove’? You mean ‘kill her’?”
“No, not kill”, said the creature. “Remove.” Puff, the creature turned to dust, leaving complete silence behind. Max sat still as a rock, eyes closed.
Brittany rushed towards Max. He didn’t breathe, eyes closed, no sign of life. She yelled, “Someone get an ambulance.” Placing her fingers on his neck, no pulse greeted her. “It’s too late.” She shook her hands, trying to release the healing light. “I need to save him!”
Lance grabbed her wrists, spun her around. “You can’t. You heard that creature; they’ll take you away.”
“Sorry”, she said. “I can’t just let him die.”
“Think about this.” He clasped her hands together, between his. “I don’t wanna lose you. I’ve only just got you.” Blood from his fingers seeped into her skin, white light glowing from it. “Shit!” He let go, touching the wound on his head, trickles of blood stemming.
“It’s okay”, she said, the light blooming from every pour. “I’d rather it be like this. I couldn’t live with myself if I let Max die.”
He nodded, and turned away. Brittany knelt, hovering her hands over Max’s missing ankle chunks. Puffing up, flakes of skin grew over and under one another, filling in the tear. The light brightened to the point where she couldn’t see anything. A croaky voice in her ear: “You were warned.” Boosh, darkness descended.
CHAPTER 3: DEMON
She blinked and faced a black ceiling covered with veins of red light. “What the hell!”
She sat up and cowered, confronted by a figure towering in-front of her, dressed in a hooded, black robe. Her heart squeezed. She rose to her feet. Ten hooded people surrounded her, all staring towards the dirt floor, holding hands. Their faces were hidden behind matted frays hanging from their hoods. “What do you want with me?”
Maybe they were statues, not moving an inch. She bent low in an attempt to see underneath one of the hoods, but a squeaky gasp escaped her as a high-pitched, croaky voice said, “Welcome, Miss Dove.”
“Where am I?” She looked around, trying to see which hooded figure spoke. “Where am I?”
A hand waved to her from behind the hooded circle. The croaky voice said, “You are in the Chamber of the Separator. This is a place which very few people ever get to see. You may step out of the circle, Miss Dove. They won’t bite. Just squeeze out where you can.”
She yelled, “Where the hell am I? I want Mum and Dad. Is Max okay? I need to speak to Lance.” She dipped under two of the hooded figures’ arms, almost falling over.
An elderly woman, with grey patches of hair, studied her with empty, white eyes. The woman wore a floor-length purple cape covered in silver embroidery. Underneath it, she donned a pale blue-silk nightgown. With her wrinkled hands, the woman clasped a wooden staff taller than her, a purple stone atop.
Behind the old woman, there stood a red door, glistening with vibrating diamond specks, standing at least twenty feet tall, lighting the room.
“Poor girl”, said the woman, frowning. “Dragged away from the only world you know. I did warn you.”
Brittany glared at the woman. “Who even are you?”
The woman straightened herself up, then smiled and said, “Oh, pardon me. Where are my manners? My name’s Gourenda Fountin. I am the Messenger of the Ascended and the Caretaker of the Chamber of The Separator.”
“And what’s The Separator?”
“It’s the name given to the walls of reality. And these are the Ascended”, said Gourenda, indicating the hooded circle. “They have been here for hundreds of years, keeping watch over all three worlds.”
“How,” said Brittany, “by using magic, the same way you sent me that message? How come you lot can use magic in my world and I can’t?”
“What the Ascended use goes way beyond magic. They’re connected to everything, living and non-living. They show me when there’s danger. That’s why they showed me your power. As for my message, I made a calculated risk. I used a low form of communication magic, hoping it would prevent yours from growing.”
“My friend would’ve died if I didn’t use magic. I had no choice.”
“Be that as it may,” said Gourenda, “you’re too far gone?”
“What do you mean, ‘too far gone’? How do I get home?”
“You’re magic is becoming too powerful for your world. We had to bring you here; you were awakening The Devourer. It would’ve destroyed your world, and moved onto ours.
“To answer your second question, the only way home is by killing The Devourer. You’d be better off remaining in this world.”
“No,” said Brittany, “I’ll kill The Devourer if that’s what it takes. How do I find it?”
The woman shook her head. “I’m not prepared to tell you such information. Maybe, one day, if you prove to be powerful enough, but even then, there’s no point. The situation’s under control.”
“I need to get back to my world. You said I was awakening him. There’s got to be a way home. I’ll go back, awaken the devourer and kill him.”
“You’re not the first person who’s said that”, said the woman. “To fight the devourer, you risk destruction of existence itself.”
“Are you gonna tell me how to get back or not?”
“Then I’ll find someone who can.” She strode towards the red door.
“Wait! Aren’t you interested in knowing where your powers came from?”
Brittany halted, the door twinkling in her eyes.
“This is the only chance you’ll get to ask. This chamber only exist when I bring someone through. I haven’t been physical for over thirty years.”
Gross! She didn’t need to know about an old lady’s sex life. Her powers, though… “Go on, tell me.”
“You see, you’re one of few humans, in this world or any, who can create, control and wield magic, without the need for weapons or instruments. In short, you’re descended from Lilehayer herself.”
‘Lilehayer.’ ‘Liar, her.’ “I’ve heard that name.” The monster said it, just before Lance… She had to see Lance again; there was no way they could keep her here.
“Yes”, said Gourenda, “the monster you fought was seeking Lilehayer. She’s the one who trapped The Devourer in your world. Her power was so strong, fragments were left behind. Every so often, a fragment attaches to a living being, same as magic fragments in our world. The result is someone like you: a demon.”
“A demon!?” She grimaced. “I can’t be a demon. I’m not evil!”
Gwenda laughed, and it sounded spine tingling, like a raven cawing. She cleared her throat. “I wasn’t calling you evil. ‘Demon’ is just a word, my dear.”
“Well, I don’t want to be one. I want my powers gone. Take them away and send me home, now!”
“Impossible”, said Gourenda. “You needn’t worry, Miss Dove, for you are to be taken in by the Yore College of Demon Humans, where I’m sure, you will be made accustomed to the many differences of this world and taught to control your magic. They will care for you until you have the power to care for yourself and for the world.”
“The only world I’m caring for is my own world, so unless you’re gonna tell me how to get home…”
Gwenda stared at her for a long, drawn out moment, expressionless.
“Fine”, said Brittany. “Then I’ve got nothing left to say to you.” No handles on the door, just a blob of swirling red. She raised her hand-
“Please, don’t touch that.” Gourenda strode across the room to stand next to Brittany.
“Why? What happens if I touch it?”
“If you haven’t got me to guide where you land, there’s a chance you’d end up in hell.
“Well then, let us not keep your escort waiting any longer. Miss Dove, I assure you, you are amongst the safest beings on Earth.”
“Yeah, says the old lady who kidnapped me.”
Gwenda touched the large glistening door with the stone of her staff and the door wobbled like a large slab of jelly, creating the same sound as a low-pitched violin stroke.
Gwenda held her fingers towards her. “May I insist that you take my hand?”
She took Gwenda’s hand, soft wrinkles clinging like memory foam to her fingers, a severe urge to squeeze tight enough and crack the old lady’s knuckles.
“Now close your eyes and walk with me. You may feel an odd sensation.”
Brittany breathed deeply, closed her eyes, then walked forwards. She felt a warm tingling, starting in her left leg, then spreading to the rest of her body. She clenched her eyelids as her belly tickled with the sensation of floating. After a few moments, she felt a dim thud as her feet hit the ground.
CHAPTER 4: HALF THE WORLD AWAY
A breeze lifted her hair, chilled her forehead. The sun radiated on her face, the inside of her eyelids glowing orange. She opened her eyes and was standing on top of a steep hill dotted with knee-high grass. An array of purple dandelions shimmied in the wind. At the bottom of the hill huddled purple-leafed trees, encasing a city that stretched over the horizon. The city was filled with different-sized buildings, the sun bouncing from them as if they were made from white glass. The grey-stoned, wonky-laddering paths were scattered with small moving figures which must’ve been people. Wings flapped above her. A silver butterfly with snooker table-sized wings fluttered across the cloudless sky in a zigzagging circle.
It was real, a whole different world, one without the people she loved. “Why did you bring me here alone?”, she asked, eyes dripping. “You could’ve bought my friends.”
A man said, “That’s what I’d like to know.”
She spun around and saw straight through the glimmering red door. The man sitting next to the door straightened his ponytail. Underneath his hooked nose and long spiralled-moustache, a welcoming smile filled his lips. He rose to his feet, his red silk cape, baggy black trousers and black leather jacket billowing against the wind. “Well”, he said. “Aren’t you going to answer her? Have you no heart?”
“I do apologise”, said Gourenda. “Their body’s would never survived the summoning. It takes the power of a demon to withhold the two-week trip through the Separation Vortex. Your friends’d disintegrate into nothing without any inner magic to draw their pieces back together.”
“I’ve been gone for two weeks!”
“I’m afraid so”, said Gourenda.
The man spoke in a booming voice as he walked towards her: “That explains why I’ve been an orphan for thirty years.” He scowled at Gourenda. “Haven’t you got places to be?”
Gourenda smiled. “As you wish, my child.”
Through gritted teeth, he said, “I am not, nor will ever be your child.”
“It’s just an expression”, she said. “I know you think I’m heartless, but I’ve a duty that the world depends on. Hopefully, one day, you’ll understand. I hope you don’t mind if I return to my post in the chamber.”
Brittany said, “Yeah, piss off. We won’t stop you.”
She sighed. “All the best, Miss Dove. I’m sorry for your losses.” She walked into the door and it flashed out of sight.
“Hmmm”, said the man. “She never apologised when she bought me! Must be going soft in her ancient age.
“Anyway.” He turned to Brittany. “Let me be the first to welcome you to the City of Yore.” He extended his hand and introduced himself: “My name is Demon Nigel Millpark. And you are?”
She reached her shivering hand towards his. “My name’s Brittany Dove.”
“Charmed to meet you, Miss Brittany Dove”, said Nigel, shaking her hand with both of his. “This is the first time I have had the chance to meet someone like me, an Otherworlder as they call us.”
“Yeah”, she said. “I can’t exactly say I’m happy to meet you.”
“Fair enough”, he said. “Shall we make a move. Once we get down the hill, it’s just a twenty-minute walk to the City of Yore and the College of Demon Humans. Once there, we’ll get you settled in.”
“I don’t care about any of that”, said Brittany. “I don’t wanna be a demon. How do I get home?”
“Did Gourenda not tell you about The Devourer?”
“Yes, she did, but she didn’t say how to find it and kill it.”
“Of course she didn’t”, said Nigel. “We’re you not put off by the apocalypse! Do you really wanna know?”
“I wouldn’t be asking otherwise, would I?”
He sighed. “I don’t want us to get off on the wrong foot. I’m supposed to be your mentor. Fine, I’ll tell you. To get back home, you need to eat seven corrupted deity hearts.”
“Are you joking?”
He shook his head, not even a smirk. “Once you’ve done that, it’s just an eight-hundred-thousand-mile walk through hell, and you’ll be back home in no time.”
Her closed throat made speaking a strain. “Kill it.” Tears stung her sore eyes. “How do I kill it?”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” He wrapped his arms around her. “That was insensitive of me.”
“No I asked for it”, she said. “I need to know. How do you kill it?”
“You don’t”, he said. “It’s a black hole. You’d need to move it to a different dimension. It killed Lilehayer, moving it to yours. With her dying breath, she put The Devourer in stasis, and only her power (or our power) can awaken it. I’m terribly sorry, I really am.”
She took in shaky deep breaths, pulling herself back together. “I don’t think I can do this. I’ve never spent the night away from my family. I can’t spend the rest of my life not seeing them.”
“I know how you feel”, said Nigel. “The worst thing is never saying goodbye. The same thing happened to me, remember. I’m gonna help you through this, okay? We’ll keep you busy, take your mind of things.”
“I don’t really have a choice, do I?”
He sighed. “I’m afraid not.”
The large silver butterfly swooped to the ground and landed just metres away from them.
Brittany took a few steps back. Nigel said, “No cause for concern; it’s simply a giant flutterby, can’t hurt you. As I remember, they’re called butterflies in the Otherworld and they’re not nearly as big. Very fragile creatures, attracted to magic.
“So then, shall we begin our journey to the College?”
She nodded, throat aching. “Whatever.”
The pair began descending the hill. The steepness sent her into an unintentional jog, so Nigel grabbed her arm and said, “Easy does it, Brittany, easy does it.” He rested his arm around her shoulder. “Stay with me. Small footsteps.”
After a few minutes, she realised something about Nigel: “You speak like me, you do. So does Gourenda. You both speak English.”
“Well, we are in England”, said Nigel.
“Really? But, how does England exist? I mean, in both worlds?”
“Because they’re parallel worlds”, said Nigel. “Almost like non identical twins. Some things are the same, like language, and others are different, magic for instance.”
“I watched a movie about a parallel world”, said Brittany. “The characters found parallel copies of themselves. Does that mean a version of me and my family live here?” Maybe there was a copy of Lance. No, that’d be like cheating.
“Sorry”, said Nigel. “It doesn’t quite work like that. Or at least, I don’t think it does, can’t say for sure. I’ve never met a version of my family, here. I can’t say I’d want to.”
She wondered how her parents would react when she told them about being a demon, but she wouldn’t even get a chance to tell them.
As they neared the bottom of the hill, the city became obscured by the black-barked trees.
“This is the forest of Yore, filled with many different critters, some you may recognise. Others, you may’ve never dreamed existed.”
She didn’t want to meet another monster, like the one with the crown of fangs. “What sort of creatures?”
“You’ll see them soon enough.”
“Is there anything dangerous?”
“In this forest? No. Were too close to the city for anything dangerous. Now, stick with me.”
Her lungs stiffened in anticipation as the pair entered the forest. A loud hissing came from above her. A swarm of worm-sized snakes floated amongst the branches in mid-air. The snakes wriggled as they zipped around and clashed into one another.
She crouched low and continued walking, not taking her eyes off the snakes. She kept imagining them swarming downwards into her face, and (eww) into her mouth.
Nigel said, quietening his voice, “Those are air snakes. Quite pestilent, but quite harmless. They tend to move into the city during winter. Annoying little things. These ones don’t have stings.”
“But others do?”
“Yes, but not in this forest. Stinging air snakes tend to live close to sea.”
Her shoulders relaxed a little after hearing this; however, she gasped as something invisible rushed past her followed by a crunch of wood, the sound of someone snickering and a deep voice shouting, “Oh, oh.”
“Calm down, Miss,” said Nigel, “it’s just a gogg.”
She darted her eyes all over the place. “What’s a gogg?”
Nigel answered, in an energetic tone, “One of the most shy and fastest creatures alive. It isn’t known if they are demon, by which I mean naturally gifted in magic. They have never been seen alive. The only time you’ll lay eyes on one is as a corpse. If they hear your footsteps, they move out of your way by running in the opposite direction to which you are walking. I’ve never known one to attack. Very timid critters, they are. Tree eaters.”
“What do they look like?”
“I’ve only seen them in pictures and in the memories of others”, answered Nigel.
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