Singer And Sword By Jack Hillman

Singer And Sword
By Jack Hillman

magic, wizard

  An ogre in the middle of Allentown was unusual, especially at high noon.  Aura moved closer to the street and watched as the ogre slipped into a doorway and began to chant.  The subsonic tones resonated through the crowd of pedestrians at this busy intersection.  Several people looked up for a moment, but all they saw was the glamour the ogre used to hide in plain sight.  Only Aura saw the ogre for what it was.

A few people, predominately younger, stopped to listen.  Aura heard a growing hum as pedestrians collected at the southwest corner of the two main throughways, drawn closer to the street by the ogre’s spell.  The dark rhythm of the sounds were painful to her ears, a discord that echoed in her mind.

And then Aura saw two things happen almost simultaneously.  A young college student, to judge by her upscale jeans and Muhlenberg hoodie, stepped through the crowd which opened to let her pass.  As the student moved forward to the curb, a car wove through traffic at high speed.  The driver could never stop in time for the red light that popped up over the intersection.

Aura moved quickly.  Her slim frame slipped through the crowd as they stood, frozen by the ogre’s commands.  As the young girl stepped off the curb, Aura grabbed the back of her hoodie and yanked hard.  The girl flew back.  Her right foot arced up in the air and tapped the mirror of the car as it flew past, cutting a right turn against the light.

Aura pulled the girl back into the crowd as the ogre moved out of the doorway, its eyes locked on the student.  It wove through traffic that had stopped for the light and reached Aura’s side of the street just as she and the girl darted into a side alley.  Aura shoved the girl into a corner of the alley, then pulled back her jacket to free a large heavy necklace from the fold of cloth around her neck.  Aura touched the oversized pendant hanging from the necklace, a compass rose with crystals set at each point.  As she touched each point, She sang a note.  The crystal resonated and held the tone as Aura’s fingers danced around the compass and wove a harmony of sound that filled the alleyway.  Note after note added to the song in a complex sequence.  As the last tone sounded, she threw back her head, red hair flaming into a halo around her head as energy poured into the spellsong.  Eyes closed and mouth open, she sang her counter spell.  The pendant glowed as it focused the power from within her.

The ogre reached the alley and stopped.  Aura and her charge were invisible to the ogre as Aura Spellsinger filled the alleyway with musical energy. The dark song of its chant shattered against the Spellsinger’s spell, and her call washed over the creature to reveal the true form of the beast to everyone on the street. What the people had seen as a rather large man in dark clothes changed in an instant to a beast, taller than a man and covered in dark fur.  That was enough to start a panic.  Screams echoed into the alleyway and the ogre turned and looked up and down the street considering its options.

With its victim lost and it now revealed to the people on the street, the ogre needed to move before police came to deal with the strange creature on their streets.  With a growl of disgust, the creature took a swipe at a truck as it went past and six-inch claws opened up the thin sheet metal like tin foil.  Then it raced back to the far side of the street and disappeared down another alleyway.

Aura held the note until the heavy footsteps disappeared in the distance, then stopped.  She drew in a deep breath, then relaxed and exhaled slowly.  She took a smaller, more normal breath, and turned to look at the girl she had saved.  The teenager looked at the opening of the alley with wide-eyed fear.

“What was that?  That was no bear!” she whispered.

Aura raised an eyebrow.  “What did you see?” she asked.

The girl nodded.  “Big.  Mean.  And not from around here.”  She looked up at Aura.  “What was it?” she repeated.

“An ogre.”  Aura looked down at the girl and made a decision.  She touched the compass rose again and hummed.  Then she opened her mouth and sang, “Come with me.”  There was no time to waste and she needed the girl’s complete cooperation, whether she would give it not.

The girl’s eyes glazed over and she rose to follow Aura as they left the alleyway and went down the street to a building that had once been a warehouse, but was now a series of loft apartments.  The locked inside door of the building opened to Aura’s touch and a note of song, without a key.  The two moved up the stairs to the second floor and the single door for this level.  That door also opened at Aura’s touch and song.  As Aura drew the girl inside, a woman emerged from the far side of the loft from behind a wooden screen decorated with Celtic knotwork.

The other woman flipped a long curl of dark hair back over her ear.  “The scanner just reported a bear loose in town just down the street from here.  Your doing?”

Aura nodded.  “Aye, Deidre.  An ogre tried to feed at midday.  And this chit was the cause of the event.  She is bound by some form of spell I cannot fully see as yet.”

Deidre nodded.  “Bring her,” she ordered and turned back behind the panel.

Aura led the girl into the segment of the loft hidden from the door.  Several tables held electronic equipment, and a rack at the far side of the room held Deidre’s weapons: three swords, a long spear and a round shield with more Celtic artwork on its boss.  Deidre motioned toward a tall stool and Aura moved the bespelled girl atop it.  The girl sat quietly with glazed eyes, still under Aura’s control.  Deidre picked up a tuning fork from one of the tables and moved closer to the girl.

“Step back please,” she said with a smile to Aura.  “Your innate power is a bit overwhelming for such sensitive tests.”

Aura walked to the far side of the room as Deidre began her examination.  The older woman held the tuning fork close to the girl, and the fork resonated from something in the girl’s body.  Aura heard the fork hum and her eyebrows rose to match Deidre’s.  A powerful spell was at work.  Deidre’s examination of the girl took another five minutes.  Afterward, she took a second look at a fairly new tattoo on the back of the young girl’s neck.  The skin still had the faint reddish tinge of healing flesh.  Using a scalpel, Deidre took a small segment of skin from the edge of the tattoo and placed it in a Petrie dish.  She also removed the ball earrings from the girl’s ears, then motioned to Aura.

Deidre motioned Aura closer.  “Do you sense the spell still?” Deidre asked.

Aura touched the compass rose on the necklace and hummed a note.  There was no change in the tone as she moved closer to the girl.  She looked at Deidre and shook her head.  “None,” she stated.

Deidre faced the girl.  “Where did you get the tattoo on your neck and the earrings?”

Still under Aura’s control, she answered, “At Fifth and Washington.  A place called Phoenix Tattoos.”

Deidre nodded and turned to Aura. “We’ve done what we can for now.  Send her home.  She will be safe with the connection broken.”

Aura touched her pendant again and wove a spellsong of directions for the young student.  When she finished, she led the girl to the door and closed it behind her.  The student would find her way home now, safely this time, directed by Aura’s spell.

As Aura returned to the tables, Deidre was bent over a microscope.  On the slide was part of one of the earrings removed from the girl.

“Look for yourself,” Deidre offered.

Aura bent over and looked through the lens.  The ball of the earring had been opened and half lay exposed to view.  Inside was a very small chip–an almost microscopic electrical circuit fed by an equally small power core.  Aura looked at her companion.

“Technology?  From an ogre?  When have the Fir Bolg ever used technology?” she asked.

Deidre shrugged.  “The Unseelie creatures use whatever weapon comes to hand.  But this is more advanced than any I have seen from any source, not just the Fir Bolg.  Likely they worked with someone more mundane to create this trap.”

Deidre bent over the Petrie dish and examined the sample of skin from the girl’s neck.  After a moment she nodded and motioned to Aura.

“A high F, if you would,” she requested.

Aura opened her mouth and the note came pure and sharp to fill the room.  Both women watched as the skin sample writhed in the dish, as if trying to escape.  Aura stopped.  As the sound died away, the skin sample dissolved into dust.

“Light and Ladies, what was that?” she asked Deidre.

“A potion,” Deidre answered.  “Injected into the skin in the drawing on her neck, and triggered by a signal from the earring.  Likely the child did not even know that she was marked for control.”  Deidre looked down at the flakes of ash and frowned.  “There must be some sort of power boost for the signal since the small unit in the earring could not be effective for more than a few yards.”

“Cellphones,” Aura stated.

Deidre nodded.  “Of course.  The obvious answer in this culture.   With so many people using their phones all the time, the signal would have even greater power.”

“But why a potion in the markings on the skin?” Aura asked.

Deidre smiled.  “To bring it close to the transmitter.  The earrings would be offered at a reduced price or even for free as a gift for a special type of tattoo.”  She nudged the earring with a finger.  “With this chip near the potion, it would activate to control the wearer, and no doubt many in the crowd around her.  They would provide energy for the ogre and those it serves, with the ogre receiving the body as a final reward after all the life energy is drawn out.”

Aura slumped to the floor on folded legs and sat with chin in hands.  “Then we are under attack again.”

Deidre nodded again.  “And you were incredibly lucky to save the girl at all.  Had the ogre been more attentive and noticed you sooner, no doubt the crowd itself would have turned on you by its command.”  She tapped the earring with a stylus.  “With this removed, she is less at risk now, but only if we can find the source of the signal and stop it.

Aura sat up straight and arched her back to remove the kinks.  “Will we never be free of this darkness?”

Deidre smiled.  “You asked to join this battle, child.  Did you doubt it would be difficult?”

Aura shook her head.  “No, I did not doubt.  They are human beings, and care little for whatever does not directly affect them,” Deidre said with a shrug.  “Just as you did before we met.  This war has continued for centuries and will no doubt continue for centuries more.  I have fought them for many decades.  Your own battles have been for much less time.”

Aura snorted in agreement, then frowned.  “So how do we find those who help the Fir Bolg?”

“As they say in this land: Follow the money,” Deidre said.  “Someone is paying for these potions and the tattoos and the earrings.  When we find him or them, we will have our answer.  I believe the law enforcement databases probably have something we can use.  It is unlikely the young girl you saved was the first victim.”

Aura slumped back down with elbows on knees and chin in hand.  “Hmmph,” was her only verbal response.

Deidre turned to her computers and began to search.

###

  Deidre held the small unit cupped in her hand, shielding the glowing screen.  “Ahead.  The signal comes from there,” she said, as the two of them moved forward.

The warehouse was one of five owned by the same firm that owned the tattoo parlor where the Muhlenberg student had received her tattoo.  This was the third warehouse they had checked tonight, one warehouse set among many others.  The industrial park was unlit at this time of night, but the building and the doorway they approached vibrated with sounds of machinery from within.   To Aura, the sounds were twisted in a discordance of the signals she had sensed in the earring.  Deidre pointed to three spots along the roof where the darkness gathered into a black form.  Aura nodded.  The two women circled the building carefully so as not to alert the guards on the roof.  As they moved, they left a trail of crystals at cardinal points of the circle.  At each point, a similar crystal already in place for use by the Fir Bolg was gathered up and wrapped in silk to insulate it from the sounds of the building and cancel their spell.  An hour later, they were back to the doorway.

“The security in this place is manned by creatures of the Fir Bolg.  We must remove them quickly and all at once,” Deidre whispered to her companion.

Aura nodded and stood tall.  She threw back her cloak and began to hum.  As she touched each point on the cardinal rose of her pendant, the chip of crystal glowed with power, and the crystals set around the building glowed to match as they resonated with the song of the spell.  The three pools of darkness along the rooftop moved toward the doorway in response to Aura’s lure, and she hummed a different note: a note of challenge.  In response, the three black forms leapt from the roof, toward the two women.  Aura sang a warbling tone, and the three forms were wrapped in a blaze of light from the crystals along the facing side of the building.  The ogres dropped to the ground as the reset security field trapped its own people.  Aura changed her tone, and the cocoons contracted on each form, threads of light stretching toward Aura’s raised hand.  As the light died, the cocoons disappeared.  Three piles of ash shifted in the night breeze.

“They know we’re here.”  Deidre pulled a longsword from beneath her cloak and began to run toward the door.  “Move.”

Aura took a deep breath and joined her partner.  Her long legs made up the distance so they reached the doorway together.  Deidre slammed a booted foot into the door near the lock.  As the door swung open, they moved quickly across the empty entry hall to the second doorway inside.  Two more ogres rushed through that far door, weapons ready.  Deidre rolled beneath the swing of their great arms and swung her blade across the back of their knees.  Both ogres dropped to the ground as cut tendons collapsed.  Aura rammed a short sword through the eye socket of one ogre while Deidre skewered the second through the heart from behind.

The two women darted through the door and found themselves inside a manufacturing plant.  Long rows of kettles puffed steam as material flowed through pipes from one tub to the next.  Further into the room, behind a double wall of glass panels were tables where electronic components were assembled.

More ogres moved toward them.  Deidre tossed a command back over her shoulder as she ran to meet them, her blade blazing with light.  “Find the center!”


  Aura moved just as quickly.  A tap woke light from the crystal in the center of her pendant and she felt the tug of her spell, directing her to the center.  As she moved under the swing of another ogre, she stabbed the creature under the armpit.  The pull of the crystal moved her forward, to her right.  She reached out to grab the rails of a dolly filled with boxes.  A hard shove drove the load in front of another ogre. She moved over another aisle and stepped forward one step.  The pulsing of her pendant became a steady tone.  She was at the center.  She stopped.

Aura called out a song of magic, and the crystals surrounding the building pulsed into life with a web of light built in an instant.  All the ogres found their legs locked in light, tightly bound like a spider’s web.  Their roars filled the warehouse as they struggled to move without success.

“Well done,” Deidre stated as she moved up the aisle toward Aura.  She wiped her blade on the cover of a pallet as she passed.

“Well  done, indeed,” said the man who stepped into their aisle.  “I was expecting you to come tonight, but I must admit even this,” he said, as he waved a hand at the captured ogres, “surprises me.”

Deidre stepped in front of Aura and raised her blade. “Sorcerer,” she spat, and stepped forward.

“Oh, you won’t need that anymore,” the man said as she moved closer.

He waved a hand, and her wrist and the blade were locked to a nearby pipe by a thrown length of chain tossed from above.  The weights of the manriki that held Deidre twisted with her movements, but only locked tighter as she struggled.  Before Deidre could draw another weapon, a man dropped from the top of the huge kettle next to her, wrapping her in more chain.  As Deidre struggled, Aura suddenly found herself also held from behind as a man pulled both her elbows painfully together.  Other human helpers stepped out from behind or between the machinery to join the sorcerer.

“I am Kevin Douglas and this is my place of business.  You two are now mine, and I have some very definite plans for you.”  He rubbed one hand along the side of one of the huge kettles.  “I must admit finding out that magic was real was a bit of a shock, but a welcome one.  I love the way we can control people to do what we want.”

“You sold yourself to the Fir Bolg?” Aura asked.  “Do you know what they do to humans?”

sci-fi shop

  Douglas smiled.  “Yes, I do.  And it’s nothing more than I was doing to those sheep in the city myself.  But now I have better ways to get what I want, and with much less risk as well.”

“Fool!” Deidre spat.  “Do you think they will let you live once your usefulness is ended?”

“No, I don’t,” Douglas answered with a laugh.  “But I’ve taken precautions for when that time comes.”  He looked at Aura.  “You are an Acoustic Mage.  They told me about you.  That was why I was ready for you when you came.”  He touched a pendant hanging around his neck.  “Surprised you, didn’t we?”

Aura glared at Douglas but said nothing.  He moved closer and picked up the pendant lying against her throat.

“This pendant is something new.  And I want this technology for myself.  Oh, the basic principals were explained to me.  My white noise generator created a personal shield around me and each of my men to block out your spells, just as I planned.  Simple physics states that equal and opposite sounds cancel each other out, don’t they?  Well, in any case it seems to have worked.”  He waved a hand at the Unseelie creatures still held in Aura’s spell.  “I left the ogres provided by my partners unprotected because I wanted to see what you could do.  Now that I know, and that I know my noise generator blocks your spells, I’ll be able to build a bigger unit and protect the whole building.”  He pulled the pendant off Aura’s neck.  As he pulled the pendant free, the web of light flashed and each of the captured ogres dissolved into a pile of dust.  Douglas looked at the remains of the dark creatures and smiled.

“Interesting,” he murmured, then looked up at Aura.  “It seems your power has a few side effects we need to look into a bit further.”

He nodded and Aura felt one of the hands holding her release.  Before she could move, a hiss of compressed air flashed against her neck with a feeling of cold pain and she dropped, unconscious.

###

  Aura woke gradually, but did not open her eyes, or give any sign that she was alert, while she tested her surroundings.  Her arms were stretched above her while her feet rested on blocks that wiggled with each move of her body.  She knew that if she fell off the blocks, she would be stretched painfully from her arms.

“Move carefully,” Deidre whispered out of the darkness.  “And watch what you say.”

Aura nodded and opened her eyes.  The darkness didn’t change.  Except for flashes of light that danced before her eyes as she tried to focus, darkness surrounded her.  Aura shifted a bit, to take the weight off her arms, but she could not get up on her toes enough to keep the cuffs from cutting into her wrists.  Chains held her in place around her ankles as well.  As she shifted, she realized she was naked, her body pressed against rough stone.

“Where?” she whispered.

“Not far,” Deidre answered.

So they were probably in the same building, Aura surmised, in a room prepared to hold a warrior and an Acoustic Mage.

Aura took a painful breath and hummed.  Her throat was raw and dry and the notes that came forth were ragged and unclear.  Aura stopped and tried to moisten her mouth and wet her throat.  Whatever drug had been injected into her neck pulled all the moisture from her mouth.  And without her voice, she was helpless.   Her anger grew as she tried to bring moisture to her mouth.

A sound echoed through the darkness and then a door opened.  Aura felt the breeze of the door, but no light broke through to relieve her eyes.

  “And how are my guests this morning?” Douglas’ voice asked from the darkness.

“Loose my hands and I’ll show you,” Deidre suggested.

Douglas laughed.  “I don’t think so, Ms. Finn,” he said.  “Your skill with and without weapons is well known in many circles.  At least naked we can limit you to the weapons you had at birth.  No, I think I’ll keep you just where you are for now.”

The soft sound of footsteps hissed across the floor and Aura felt Douglas’ hot breath on her face.

“There’s something of a bidding war going on for you right now, did you know?” Douglas said.  “The ogres alone, the Fir Bolg all together, and at least three criminal groups are all bidding for the right to see how long they can keep you in pain.”  The voice stopped for a moment.  “I think one of the human groups has something very special in mind for you.  I might offer to sell you to them if they let me watch.”

Aura would have spat in his face if she had enough moisture in her mouth.  But her mouth was still as dry as sand.

“I will die before I give you any pleasure,” she hissed.  Aura felt a hand caress her cheek and she tried to bite it as it moved away.

Douglas laughed again.  “Actually, that’s pretty much what I have in mind.”  The footsteps moved away from Aura.  “But go ahead, try and escape.  It will be so interesting to watch two naked women get out of their chains.  And I do so want to see if my new shield works if you should happen to get your voice back in time.”

The door opened again as Douglas left them alone in the dark.

“He could see us,” Aura said.

“Night vision goggles,” Deidre said.

Suddenly the room was filled with a hum and Aura felt pressure filling her head.  She cried out in pain.

“Fight it, Aura.  Fight it.”

“What . . . ?” Aura started to ask.

“White noise,” Deidre answered.  “If he fills the room with white noise, it will stop your spells.  Fight it!”

Aura sobbed and bit down on the inside of her cheek in pain as the hum rose in volume and power.  She bit down again and felt her tongue moisten as it moved across her teeth.  She sucked and a flow of blood from her cheek washed across her tongue.  She swallowed and some of the dryness washed from her throat.  She sucked again and rinsed her mouth with the moisture of her blood before swallowing.  She hummed, and the pressure in her head dropped a bit.

“That’s it.  Use your power,” Deidre called.

Humming louder she felt the pressure move away from her body.  She reached out into the sound surrounding her and felt for its pattern.  The white noise might have been generated to match her prior spells, but spells could change.

Aura reached for the pattern of a spell but felt it slip away as the white noise generators modulated their output.  Someone, or possibly something, was aware of her attempts to use her power. She spat in anger, then calmed herself.  She could afford to lose no moisture right now.  As she sucked more blood from her cheek, her tongue lost the cracked feeling the anesthetic used to knock her out had caused.  She hummed again, louder this time and felt the sound field press back against her.  The harder she pressed out, the harder the sound pressed back against her.  Aura did not have enough power within herself to disable the field, let alone free herself and Deidre.  She needed more power.

Then her head rose and she smiled unseen in the darkness.  The answer was in front of her, all around her.  Aura reached out to touch the power being thrust into the cell.  As she relaxed, she took the sound inside herself and transformed it as it resonated with her cellular structure.  Wave after wave of sound pulsed into her and those same waves pulsed back in a different pattern, a different form.

The cuffs around Aura’s wrists and ankles began to vibrate as she shifted harmonics up and down the scale, searching for the correct tone.  With a screech of tortured metal, Aura’s cuffs shattered and she dropped to the floor.  The white noise increased in volume and Aura pulled it into herself and pushed it back out.  The speakers in the walls shattered as they tried to vibrate on too many levels at once.

The sound stopped, but Aura still drew in power from around her.  She moved over toward Deidre and followed her arm up to reach her cuff.  Four notes in sequence and Aura shattered the cuffs on each arm and leg of her partner.

“We need weapons and clothes, in that order,” Deidre stated.  “They will be coming.  Douglas was watching.”

Sounds outside the room signaled the outer door opening and Aura stepped in front of Deidre with her hands raised.  She closed her eyes and the opening door did not blind her with light as the ogres came in to recapture them.  Aura drew power from the white noise surrounding the building itself, and spoke a sound, a sequence of notes all sung at once, something no normal human throat could accomplish.  The ogres froze in place.  Aura finished the sequence, and the ogres’ bodies fell apart into bloody ash on the floor.  Not as efficient as her crystal spells, but quite functional, she thought.

Deidre darted in to grab two blades from the remains.  She handed one to Aura.

“Weapons obtained.  Now for clothes.”

Aura nodded and strode forward into the light.  She reached out a high-pitched note to the web of crystals around the building and felt the response.  Douglas had left them in place, perhaps not realizing the Fir Bolg had surrounded his building with arcane wards.  She drew on the power of his generators, those filling the warehouse with white sound, and pushed back against a charging pair of ogres.  The two were swept down by the tide of sound and flattened against the ground.  Then she reached out and rebuilt her web of light over the building.  But where the first web was a single layer across the circle of crystals, this time she set harmonics and rhythms that bounced back against Douglas’ shield and pushed it aside.  Everything in the warehouse except for Deidre and Aura came to a standstill as Aura left their unique vibrations free of her new web of sound and power.  Aura marched across the floor toward Douglas, held frozen like all his minions, until she stood naked in front of the man, clothed only in the power of her Song.  She smiled at him.

“To borrow from your own words: there are many who are bidding for the right to deal with you.  Several different police departments have questions about what has happened in their jurisdiction.”  She moved closer, almost nose to nose.  “And I think I’ll give you to them,” she whispered.

She moved back a step and sang another sequence of notes.  Douglas was wrapped in a cocoon of light, much as the ogres has been.  But this cocoon remained in place and left Douglas staring with wide eyes filled with fear.

“Bring him,” Aura ordered as she turned and marched toward the doorway.

Deidre smiled.  She threw the cocoon over her shoulder, its weight offset by Aura’s spell, to follow her partner.  As they came closer to the door, Aura stopped and looked to her right at a metal bin against the wall as she sensed a familiar vibration.  She stepped closer and opened the lid.  Inside were both the women’s clothing and Deidre’s sword.  The sword sang as the blade vibrated from Aura’s spell.  Aura held up Deidre’s clothing and smiled.

“And now we have clothing,” she said.

Deidre dropped her human bundle and reached for her clothes.  “Not that I can’t fight this way, but I’m no ancient Celt to run screaming into battle naked and painted blue.  Not any more at least.”

“Well, your lips do look a bit blue from the cold,” Aura suggested.

“Be silent child,” Deidre snapped back with a smile.  “I can still turn you over my knee if need be.”

“Yes, teacher.” Aura curtsied and started to dress.

“But you did well,” Deidre stated.

“Of course,” Aura replied.  “I had good training.”

“What do you plan to do with this carrion?” Deidre asked.

Aura cocked her head for a moment in thought.  “I think I’ll leave him in front of the closest police station, with a transcript of his activities taped to his chest and details of the potion and the earring transmitters.  Even without the police knowing of the dark magic, what Douglas has done merits a long stay in prison.   The authorities will need to go through his records and find everyone he controlled and enslaved.  They will think it little more than technology, but that will be enough to put him in a dark hole. “She smiled.

Deidre laughed.  “You are an evil child sometimes.”

Aura nodded in agreement.  “As I said, I had a good teacher.  As for those he marked, the tattoos will be permanent, but the earrings can be found and destroyed once we cut off the signal from this place.”

She moved out the doorway, followed by Deidre with her light-wrapped burden.  As they reached the edge of the parking area, Aura turned and closed her eyes.  Her hum echoed through the entire web of light and as she concentrated each living creature inside the building dissolved into a pile of ash.  Another sequence of tones echoed across the grounds.  Aura drew on Douglas’ own generators for the power she needed.  As her song reached crescendo, the entire building melted down.  Aura felt the loss of power as the generators ceased to function, but she reached out and found other sources, just as strong, in the world around her.  She looked over at Douglas, then pointed at the remains of the building.

“I could do the same to you, but you need to explain to the authorities why so many young people have been running amok lately.  I’m sure you’ll have a good story for them.”

Aura’s smile was the cold smile of vengeance. And all Douglas could do was squirm.

©Jack Hillman
magic, wizards

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Jack Hillman
Jack Hillman is a journalist, playwright and a medical underwriter. His fiction has been published in Brutarian, Abyss & Apex, Sorcerous Signals, Amazon Shorts, GateWay SF Magazine, Jackhammer, Aberrations, Eternity Online, Starblade, Nuketown, and the Ruins Extraterrestrial anthology, among other places. His young adult fantasy trilogy, beginning with There Are Giants In This Valley, will be released from MUSA Publishing beginning in April 2012. On the non-fiction side, Jack has served as a stringer on local newspapers- winning a Keystone Press Award for his investigative reporting- and has worked on a wire service covering the insurance industry as well as serving as a contributing editor to a life underwriting journal for eleven years. He has worked in the insurance industry for over thirty years and has a wide medical background due to his position as a medical underwriter. In addition, Jack is an avid martial artist, a collector of edged weapons and a confirmed bibliophile.
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