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The Dark Mistress

Timo BurnhamApr 28, 2021, 1:51:06 AM

Cal sprinted around the corner and into the dead end, realizing his mistake a moment too late. Normally he knew the city streets like the freckles on Lin—his favorite brothel girl—but he normally didn’t come this far into the deserted part the of the slums. 

“You’re dead, thief! Damned son of a goat-faced whore!” the guard’s shout came from around the corner. It was far far too close. 

Cal made a quick search of the alley he was standing in, spotting an open window to a rundown warehouse. Not that anything in the slums wasn’t run down. The window was high up on the second floor, well above arm’s reach. That wouldn’t be a problem for Cal. He’d practiced his whole life getting in and out of hard-to-reach places. 

He heard the pounding of the guard’s boots on stone. Time to move. 

Cal made sure the money purse he’d just stolen was secure on his belt, then ran straight at the warehouse wall, jumping and planting one boot on the side, then shoving off and up. He grabbed a rusty drain pipe and began hauling himself hand over hand, saying a quick prayer to the gods that it would hold. Somehow it did.

Cal grabbed the lip of the window and pulled his body over in one smooth practiced motion. He heard the sound of the guard’s footfalls slow as the man stepped into the alley. 

Cal risked a peak over the edge of the window, seeing the guard with his hands on his knees, the top buttons of his uniform hanging open, muttering curses between big gulps of air. Cal grinned at the sight. It was something every thief learned about the city guards. If they didn’t catch you fast, then you could always run them to exhaustion. He would have thought the city officials would hire better trained guards at some point but apparently it wasn’t a big priority. 

Not that I’m complaining. Cal heard another pair of boots hitting stone and a moment later a second guard came into view, this one looking thinner and slightly less winded than the first. 

“Where’d he go?” the thinner guard asked.

“Damned if I know. That one’s slipperier than a fish covered in sewer slime, seen him before in the market, always trying to get his dirty hands on something he’s not supposed to,” the first guard said, still sucking in big breaths. 

“And this time he got you,” the thinner guard said. 

“Shut it.” The first guard growled. 

The second held up his hands defensively as the first turned and stomped past him, back out of the alley. 

Cal waited until they were both far down some other street, then turned away from the window and examined the interior of the warehouse. It was dark but his eyes had already begun to adjust. The second floor was nothing more than a series of catwalks and crisscrossing beams. Some thick sailing rope hung down from one beam and swung ever so slightly from an imperceptible breeze.

Cozy place. Cal started walking along a section of catwalk, hearing creaks and groans with every shift of his weight. 

Now then, what to do with my newfound wealth. He patted the heavy bag at his waist, assuring himself it was still there. It was enough to buy several weeks’ worth of food. A whole month if he rationed carefully. 

But Cal was smarter than that. He wasn’t going to waste the coin on something trivial like food. No, he would make sure to spend it wisely. He would spend it on women.

Cal stepped over a gap in the walkway where a board was missing, trying to decide which lucky woman he would shower with gifts. 

There was Kerri, the sewer cleaner’s daughter. She was always so pleasant and pretty in an innocent kind of way. Cal had promised her a lot of things that he hadn’t made good on. Yet. 

It wasn’t that he wanted to lie, it was just that he loved the way she blushed and smiled whenever he pledged to get her some bit of jewelry or fancy piece of clothing. 

On the other hand, there was Mave. She was anything but innocent. He imagined her long athletic legs wrapping around his waist, hearing her soft breaths as her lips brushed against his ear. Cal swallowed hard then grinned to himself. Spending the money on her could be very fun.

Cal stretched his arms out for balance, quickly crossing a thin beam to another section of the catwalk. 

Or, there is always Lin. He knew her better than any other girl in the city, yet somehow, he still wasn’t tired of seeing her freckled cheeks and orange-red curls. It sometimes seemed a shame that she had to work in the brothel. Then again, that was life. Cal had never wanted to be a gutter thief, but that’s how the dice had shaken out. If you don’t have parents to feed you, then you either starve or start learning to steal.

Cal paused, leaning against the rickety railing, scratching at the stubble on his chin. The last time he’d been with Lin, she’d gone on and on about a dress she’d seen in the tailor’s shop. He remembered the conversation so well because of how her green eyes had lit up like two magic emeralds. Cal had never understood the appeal of fancy clothing, but she had clearly been enchanted by it. He gripped the bag, feeling the coins shift inside. Yes, that’s it. I’ll get her the dress. 

Cal started walking again, his cheeks stretched from grinning as he imagined the look on her face.

There was a loud cracking sound and the plank under his foot gave out. Cal had an instant to panic, then he was falling. He landed hard on his side, groaning and trying to push himself up to his feet, realizing he was now laying on the ground floor. He made it up to a sitting position before the floor gave out and he was falling again. He threw his arms up to cover his face, feeling several impacts and the sound of snapping and cracking wood. His shoulder hit something that spun him so that his feet were under him, just as he hit solid stone. He fell back awkwardly on his ass, groaning and sucking in freshly-stirred-up dust. He coughed several times, sneezed, then looked up. 

      From the faint light above, he could see that he’d fallen through the warehouse floor to a tunnel underneath. He was sitting on the remnants of some kind of scaffolding that had broken his fall. Looking at the distance up to the warehouse floor, he was pretty sure it had saved him from a broken limb or worse.

Cal stood slowly, checking that every limb and joint worked, then said a quick prayer of thanks. Other than some aches that would turn into bruises, he was unhurt. He hadn’t even lost the fat purse of coins. 

Not bad, all things considered. But there’s no way I’m getting back up there. Cal looked to his left, seeing a small tunnel opening. He’d have to follow that until it led to a ladder or staircase. 

. What’s the saying? When one door closes, a dark and mysterious tunnel opens? Close enough. Cal cleared his throat, adjusted his belt and tunic, and set off down the dark passageway. 


Cal had been walking for several minutes and the tunnel had started to widen, the ceiling lifting up so it wasn’t just a few inches over his head. He’d passed a few branching paths but had decided he should keep to this main tunnel. 

At first Cal had thought the tunnels were some part of the sewer system, but so far he hadn’t seen any sewer water, and the air smelled surprisingly clean. 

The soft whisper of a human voice echoing from the darkness ahead caused him to freeze, reaching for the small knife on his belt. 

The sound came again, more a muttering than a whisper, as if someone was talking to themselves. 

Cal began creeping forward, feeling with his toe before planting each foot. He’d taken about ten steps when he saw the outline of the person. It was a man facing the wall of the tunnel, head slightly bowed. He looked gaunt, ribs visible, poking against the skin of his shirtless torso. 

“Mistress…mistress…the mistress doesn’t want me…”

What in the name of the king’s hairy balls? Cal stepped up behind the man, holding his breath now, dagger ready. 

The man’s body was nodding back and forth, like he was reciting a prayer to the wall. “Mistress please…I must serve the mistress…I must…I must….must.”

Cal watched him for a moment, wondering just how a madman had ended up all the way down here. Against his better judgement, he reached a hand out to touch the man’s shoulder, keeping his knife ready in the other. Cal tensed, but the man didn’t react.

Hmm. He squeezed the man’s shoulder harder, shaking him a little. 

The man just kept mumbling to the wall. It was like he was in a trance or under some powerful spell. 

Not much I can do for him either way. Cal continued down the tunnel, casting a few suspicious looks back to make sure the man wasn’t just an incredible actor. 

Less than a minute had passed before he heard more mumbling. The tunnel curved slightly then opened up even wider, almost to the width of a street. Along the walls were torches, illuminating the space with their flickering light. 

Cal sucked in a sharp breath when he saw the figures. Six or seven men, facing the tunnel walls just like the first, each mumbling the same nonsense about “Mistress”.

Cal never spent much time worrying about anything. Worrying took too much energy when you were a thief. Still, he considered himself to have the sense to stay away from any serious trouble. This situation, these muttering madmen, was serious trouble.

And I’m right in the middle of it. Cal took several calming breaths, trying to slow the thumping rhythm of his heart. There was no need to be dramatic. He was fine, just needed to find a way out of the tunnel back to the comfort of the cold dirty alleyways. The quicker the better.

“Oh my. What a handsome man, and young too. I do love them fresh.”

Cal almost jumped out of his clothes at the new voice, his heart redoubling its pace. 

Almost as soon as the shock wore off, Cal felt himself relaxing. The voice was so smooth and beautiful, sweet, like the king’s best barrel of honey mead. Cal watched idly as his knife hand lowered to his side. Why wasn’t he feeling worried?

 A form sauntered out from the shadows. It was a woman, tall with straight raven hair and a perfect curve to her waist and hips, accentuated by the way she swayed towards him. She had on a type of dress that Cal had never seen before. It was extremely tight, hugging her body almost like a second skin. There was a slit on one side that went up enticingly high, showing plenty of pale skin with each step.

“No king or dashing guard captain, but you are quite striking, even covered in all that dirt.” The mysterious woman leaned in close and ran a hand down Cal’s cheek, holding his chin between two fingers for a moment. 

His skin tingled where her skin had brushed his, making him feel like it was the first time a girl had touched him.

The woman was a little taller than him, something that normally might have bothered Cal, but in the moment felt unimportant. He could smell her now, a rich, flowery scent that woke something down in his trousers. He opened his mouth to say something but then felt her hand again, this time on his stomach, and slowly sliding downward. His whole body became charged with excitement as her fingertips reached his belt. Cal had to shut his mouth to keep from drooling on the woman’s arm. 

“What’s this? Some hidden treasure?”

Cal felt himself grinning stupidly, then frowned in disappointment as the woman’s hand gripped his coin purse instead. 

“An enterprising young sewer rat. Excellent.” Her voice was like a warm bath on a winter day.

His disappointment vanished, washed away by the compliment. For an instant some small part of him shouted a warning, but that part was so far away and fading fast, like some half-forgotten childhood memory. 

“Come with me. You deserve some time in my personal chambers for bringing me such a full sack of coin.” The woman took his hand and started leading him down the tunnel. 

Cal followed happily, his mouth open like a puppy waiting for a treat, this time not caring if he drooled.


The woman opened the heavy door and led Cal inside, closing it behind him with a solid thud. 

Cal looked around the room, confused by the wooden floors and walls. It looked like a normal, surface-level structure, but he didn’t remember her leading him up any stairs. As far as he knew they were still under several layers of stone. 

“Now then. Why don’t you make yourself comfortable?” The woman said, gesturing to a very big, very comfortable-looking bed covered in blood-red sheets. 

Cal grinned stupidly at her and took a step towards the bed, feeling something tugging on his waist. 

“Just let me take this off first.” The woman purred, unbuckling his belt and sliding it off, grabbing the coin purse in one hand. He watched her move to a shelf next to the bed and set the purse down, beside a collection of strange-looking objects. He thought there was something wrong about letting her take his coin, but that thought quickly swirled away, lost as he took in another breath of her scent. 

Cal moved towards the bed, eyes wandering the room. It was full of interesting objects, the kind that a thief would love to get ahold of. On the shelf were small statues carved from stone and wood, glass vials of greenish liquid with something floating inside them--skulls of various unidentifiable creatures, some small, others disturbingly large. At the end of the shelf was what appeared to be a lamp, glowing with a strange pink light. To the right of the shelf was a circular table, stacked high with leather tomes and rolled-up scrolls. A single piece of thick paper sat unrolled, showing a glowing blue symbol. 

Magic. He realized. 

Above the table, mounted on a wall, was a sword, a long straight weapon that glinted in the room’s torchlight. As Cal’s eyes studied the blade, it seemed to shimmer, one second vibrating incredibly fast, the next looking normal. He blinked, trying to figure out if it was just his imagination. Hands grabbed his arm and pulled him to the bed before he could decide, causing all other thoughts to vanish. 

The woman shoved him hard onto the bed, causing him to fall and land on his back. Before he knew what was happening, she was on top, dress pulled up, legs straddling him.

 She let out a moan and started to rub her hips back and forth on his crotch. 

Cal could feel his breath coming fast now and he reached up to grip her by the waist.

The woman caught his wrist, holding on with surprising strength. “Now now, that’s not the knife I want you to stick me with.”

Cal glanced down and then blushed, realizing he was still gripping his knife. He furrowed his brow, feeling confused. It wasn’t like him to forget those kind of things. 

The woman took the knife and dropped it point first, sticking it in the wood of a small side table. “Now then, where were we?” The woman licked her lips and leaned forward so her hair was falling in Cal’s face, tickling his skin.

He reached up both hands and grabbed onto her waist, slowly letting them slide up the curve of her body towards the delicious opening in the top of her dress. 

The woman let out a passionate gasp and lunged forward, crushing him under her weight as their lips met. 

Cal felt hands gripping his hair tight as she pulled him into the kiss, moving her lips like she was intent on sucking the soul right out of his body. Her intensity excited him in a way he’d never felt before with a woman. His hands reached her breasts and he squeezed, causing her to moan again before pressing her lips back against his. She pushed him down harder into the bed, long fingers sliding down his face and wrapping around his throat. 

For the briefest of moments, Cal saw something dark in her eyes. Something inhuman. Something demonic. He tried to pull away, to catch his breath for a moment, but the woman held him down. The beginnings of panic formed as he struggled to get his mouth free. The woman was heavy and strong. Far too strong. 

Cal pushed and bucked, starting to see spots in his vision, his lungs burning. He twisted with the last of his strength, one of his boots hitting the shelf, knocking some objects off. 

There was the sound of breaking glass and suddenly the woman released him and sat up, still keeping her weight on his hips. 

Cal sucked in a breath.

The woman hissed out a curse and Cal turned his head to see what had upset her. Thick pink smoke was rising from the floor, slowly expanding outward. 

In a jolt of sudden clarity, Cal reached out, pulled his knife from the table, flipped it to a reverse grip and slammed the blade into the woman’s shoulder. He avoided hurting women whenever he could, but if they tried to suffocate him, that rule went right out the window. 

The woman fell back, screaming and gripping her shoulder, giving Cal a chance to roll off the bed. He fell, enveloped by the pink smoke, breathing it in. After just a few breaths the last of his mind fog was gone. Cal was himself again, and now realized he was in very big trouble. Whatever that woman was, it wasn’t human. 

Another scream—sounding more like an animal’s shriek—came from the bed, causing Cal to scramble away on hands and knees. 

“You. Stupid. Little. Human!” The woman’s voice sounded like hot air coming out of a steam vent.

Need a weapon. His mind instantly went to the strange sword hanging above the table. Cal shoved himself to his feet, one hand finding the tabletop, knocking some scrolls off in his hurry. 

The woman’s outline appeared through the smoke, standing tall, then dropping down from the bed. 

Suddenly, something small flew past his face, stirring up the pink smoke. As it passed, he thought he heard a faint giggling sound. 

What the—But he didn’t have time to figure out what it was. The woman was advancing through the smoke. 

Cal spun, reaching up towards the wall and grabbing the sword. He turned back but couldn’t get the long weapon leveled before the woman crashed into him, pushing him back and pinning him against the wall. 

She snarled, grasping him by the throat and shoving her face close to his. 

Cal’s eyes widened. 

She was no longer the beautiful woman he’d met in the tunnel. Her eyes were a deep red with slitted pupils that looked like they belonged to some kind of predator. Bones of midnight black were pushing up through the forehead of her skull, tearing open skin. She seemed taller as well, a foot above him instead of just an inch. 

Cal swung the sword at her side but the woman’s free arm shot out and caught his wrist, slamming it back into the wall with the strength of ten men. 

Cal’s jaw clenched as pain shot up his arm. The sword fell to the floor with a thunk.

The woman then gripped his neck with both arms, grinning and showing two fang-like teeth that extended far past the others. She lifted him by the neck, dragging his entire body up the wall until his boots left the ground.

Cal struggled against her, fingers clawing at the hands gripping his throat, feeling the pressure of his entire body hanging from his neck. 

This is it… In a last desperate attempt, Cal kicked out with one foot, trying to shove the woman away. It was like trying to move an ox. 

      Something small, no taller than his finger, flew into view, trailing pink smoke. It swirled once around the head of the woman, then dove right into one of her terrible red eyes. The woman made an ear-splitting noise and dropped Cal, stumbling back with both hands over her eye. 

Cal slumped against the wall, sucking in sweet, sweet air. 

“The sword.” A small, girlish voice said from somewhere close, “Use the sword.” 

Cal didn’t know who the voice belonged to but he liked the way they thought. He stooped and grabbed the sword, bringing it up, tip pointed at the monstrous woman. 

She snarled and stepped forward again, dropping her hand from her eye to reveal black oozing liquid pouring down her cheek like disgusting tears. She looked even more horrible now, her pale skin having turned to an ashen grey, the black protrusions becoming long horns that stuck out five or six inches from her head. 

“Get ready.” The girlish voice said. 

Cal swallowed, trying to control the rising fear inside. 

The woman let out another shriek and lunged. Just as she did, the little flying thing appeared again, jabbing itself into her other eye. The woman lost her balance and the lunge turned into a stumble.

Cal saw his chance and took a step to the side, holding the sword like he was about to cut down a tree. With a powerful grunt, Cal swung, sharp metal and the stumbling monster colliding with each other. Cal felt a vibration pass through the weapon and into his body. A moment later he heard a thump and glanced down.

A fanged, horned head glared up at him from the floor with angry lifeless eyes. 

A mixture of disgust and anger passed through him, causing Cal to kick the head across the room. Feeling a little better, he brought the sword close, examining the blade. Sure enough, every few seconds it would hum impossibly fast with some kind of magical energy. 

“Wow. The demonblade worked. She’s actually dead. Actually dead dead.” The little voice said. 

Cal turned his head to see the tiny pink form of a girl—a young woman actually—floating right in front of his eye. He squinted, looking at the tiny features of her face. She had a cute, innocent look to her and wore a simple dress made of the same pink substance. “What are you?” Cal asked.

“Me?” the pink girl said, “that’s easy. I’m a…” she stopped and her tiny face scrunched up, “I…I can’t remember exactly. I’ve been trapped in that thing for too long.”

Cal glanced down at the now-shattered lantern next to the body of the monster woman. “By her?”

“Yes, by her.” The pink girl flitted down to the severed head and gave it a tiny kick.

Cal almost laughed at how completely unthreatening the gesture seemed. “So, what is she?” 

“A succubus, silly. Do you know any other demons who use their magic to seduce men and make them their mindless slaves?” 

“I—No. I don’t actually know any demons.” Cal said. He wondered if the pink girl was telling the truth. People told stories about demons all the time, but Cal had thought they were just to scare disobedient children into doing their chores. They weren’t real, were they?

“Well now you know one, err, did know one,” the girl said. 

Cal ran a hand through his hair and studied the body on the floor. “I guess so.” Another thought occurred to him and he looked back at the girl, “What’s your name? Do you have one?”

The girl frowned again as she concentrated, “Its, its, its…Nypheria! But you can call me Nyph. All my friends call me that.” She grinned like a child who’d just answered a very hard problem. 

“Nyph.” Cal repeated, “We’ll Nyph, I’m Cal.”

She giggled and then started flying loops around his head, her legs stretching to become streaks of pink as she did, “Cal…Cal Cal Cal.” 

He thought he should be annoyed by the little pink thing, but found himself smiling instead. There was something innocent about Nyph, a brightness that made her endearing. 

Nyph stopped her flying suddenly and looked up at the ceiling, “Oh no.”

“Oh no what?” 

“The succubus. She’s dead. That means her lair is going to…”

Just then Cal heard a rumbling sound and felt the floor shake.

“…collapse.” Nyph finished.

“Collapse? You could have said something sooner.”

Nyph stuck out her little lip, pouting at him “I didn’t remember before.”

There was another tremor and Cal stumbled back, trying to keep his balance. “Let’s go!” He started for the door but Nyph slipped in front of him. 

“You should leave the sword.” She said.

“What? Why?” he glanced down at the long weapon. It seemed like that kind of thing he could sell for a lot of money.  

“It’s a demonblade. It drains mortals’ souls until they go mad.” She said it like it was a trivial fact.

His eyes narrowed and he looked from Nyph to the sword. After a moment of hesitation, he let it drop to the floor. Immediately he felt energy he hadn’t known was missing come rushing back into his body. The urgency of the situation suddenly hit him full force and he moved for the door, throwing it open. 

The tremors were coming more frequently now and Cal darted out into the tunnel, dodging a falling bit of rock. He sped up to a sprint down the tunnel, hearing the grinding of tons of rocks, shifting all around him. 

Not good. Cal dodged again as a chunk of rock twice the size of his head dropped in front of him and shattered into several smaller pieces. He leapt over the rubble and ran on, seeing cracks spreading out along the tunnel walls. 

He was moving as fast as possible but felt dread pooling in his gut. The collapse was happening too fast. 

“Hurry, make your human legs go quicker.”

“I’m…going as fast…as I can.” Cal huffed between breaths. His foot hit a piece of debris and he almost fell, but managed to stumble forward back into a run. Then, right in front of him a huge crack opened in the floor, like the jagged gullet of some giant unspeakable horror. He tried to jump but his forward momentum was too much and all he managed was a pitiful hop of one leg. 

Instead of dropping into the dark opening, Cal rose into the air, feeling light, almost floaty. He came back down on the far side of the crack and landed with graceful ease, continuing his run.

“What the…?” He glanced back, surprised to see that he was now the one leaving a trail of pink smoke. 

A moment later Nyph materialized, sitting cross-legged on his shoulder. 

“What did you do?” He said, realizing his breath was coming easier now as well. 

“I mated with you.” Nyph said with an innocent smile.

“You WHAT?” 

“Hmm, maybe that’s not the right word. I joined with you, connected, attached. Something like that.”

“Why didn’t you do that earlier?” Cal said.

“I didn’t—”

“Right, you didn’t remember. Well, whatever you are doing, don’t stop.” 

“Oook.” Nyph said.

Cal felt more energy and lightness flow into his body and found that he could move even faster, his strides becoming more like bounds as he shot down the tunnel. 

A huge section of the ceiling cracked and fell, blocking one half of the passageway ahead. Without hesitation, Cal threw himself to the open side, planting a boot on the wall and shoving off. In an instant he was around the big obstacle without having lost any speed. This is amazing! 

There was a massive tremor that threw Cal forward off his feet. He managed to land in a roll, thankful to whatever Nyph was doing. He risked a glance back and sucked in a breath, feeling fear returning. The tunnel behind was collapsing, a wave of rock and stone rushing up to consume him. Even with Nyph’s help, he wouldn’t outrun that. 

“Look there. A way out!” Nyph shouted over the deafening noise.

Cal turned to look ahead, seeing a small beam of sunlight coming from a crack in the tunnel ceiling. More rubble fell and the beam widened. 

Cal started running again, pink streaking off him as he moved toward the crack. The whole world was a shaking now as the collapse gained on them. Small bits of dirt and rock peppered his face as he got close to the crack, causing him hold up an arm as a shield, blinking bits of grime out of his eyes. 

“Give me everything you have!” he yelled. 

“Everything!” Nyph echoed in a high-pitched squeal. She sounded like she was enjoying herself a little too much for the situation. 

Cal made one final bound, landing on the slab of rock that had fallen. Straining with every bit of muscle he had, Cal jumped, willing and wishing and praying his body higher. He raised his arms over his head and pressed his legs together in a perfect diving form as he shot up through the crack like a pink bolt from a crossbow. The rock scraped his clothing and skin and then he was out. 

Stunningly bright sunlight blinded him as he came back down, landing on the slum street, continuing to run, wanting to get as far away from the collapse as possible. 

“That was iiincredible!” Nyph said, standing on his shoulder and holding a lock of his hair like some horse-riding circus performer. 

Cal smiled, then found himself laughing. He was alive and he was free. 


Cal let his legs dangle over the side of a rooftop a safe distance away from the collapse. Nyph, apparently still full of energy, was alternating between sitting on his shoulder and spiraling around him as they looked at the damage. 

It was like a sinkhole had opened up under an entire block of the slums, causing it to drop down thirty or so feet. The tops of a few buildings reached a few feet up over the ground level, barely visible through the massive dust cloud that had been thrown up. 

Cal had never seen anything quite like it. Luckily the collapse had happened at the edge of the slums where basically no one lived. 

“There were some men down there. I think they had all gone mad, but still, I wouldn’t wish that kind of death on anyone.”

“The succubus’s slaves. Their minds and souls were destroyed from being enslaved to her for so long. For them, dying is freedom.” Nyph said.

Cal cocked his head at the tiny floating woman, “That’s a pretty morbid thing to say, coming from someone as cute as you.”

“Cute?” Nyph and the smoke around her changed from pink to a deep red and she dove in, hiding herself in a thick cloud. 

Cal laughed at the unexpected reaction. 

Nyph poke her head out, saw he was still looking at her and hid again. 

Cal just shook his head then stood, turning away from the mess towards another building top. A street separated his building from it—a gap that was about fifteen feet. He narrowed his eyes, getting an idea. 

“Hold on, Nyph.” Cal took three steps back, then ran towards the edge, leaping out over the empty air above the street. He felt a spike of fear mixed with exhilaration as his body went up and then back down, leaving a pink curve over the street where his body had been. He heard a squeak of joy from Nyph as the air rushed past his ears.

 Cal landed on the far roof, rolling and popping easily back up to his feet as though he’d done nothing more than a simple hop. 

The feeling was intoxicating. The lightness, the speed, the control. Then he frowned and turned to look at Nyph. “Are you going to leave?” 

“Leave?” Nyph said. He thought he heard a tremble of fear or maybe disappointment in her voice, “Do you want me to?”

“No. That’s not what I meant. Its just, you can go wherever you want, and I can’t stop you. I don’t even know how I would if I wanted to.”

Nyph flitted in front if him, rubbing her little forehead with both hands. “I…I can’t remember. So much I can’t remember.” She looked up after a brief pause, jaw set in a determined expression, “I want to stay, with you. I like your soul. It’s warm and gentle. Well, mostly gentle.”

Cal raised an eyebrow, “My soul?”

Nyph nodded like that made perfect sense.

“This is going to be interesting.” He said after a moment.

“Interesting.” Nyph repeated, excitement flowing back into her voice. 

Cal took off again, leaping from roof to roof, feeling the freedom of his newfound ability to move and listening to Nyph’s shouts of excitement. 

It was strange to think about what his world had been just a few hours before. Stealing from guards, avoiding prison, finding enough food for the day, wooing pretty girls. 

Now. Now so much was different. Everything was different. The city that he’d lived his entire life in suddenly felt new and fresh.

The world was brimming with endless possibilities.


art by Yuri . , TRUC ZEKO, JB Casacop and Nacho Yague on artstation