She quickly pushed herself up. At once, the pain was back. She winced and again inhaled sharply, hissing hard through clenched teeth. Clearly, the spell was designed to punish resistance. With each passing second, Dahlia was more convinced that attacking the hooded figures had been the right choice. She didn’t let up now, despite the pain. Countless years of being forced into a kind of servitude to her Tuathan bloodline and the sexual demands it made on the physical form had taught her well that she was simply not born to be obligated or beholden to anyone. Ever. There was little more precious to Dahlia Kellen than her freedom. She had learned that lesson the hard way.
“Watch it, back off!” It was the same man who’d spoken earlier, warning those who had drawn near to her.
Dahlia’s vision once more shifted, contrasts sharpened, and her hands flooded with power. She cried out as the spell that had been cast on her threatened to crack her bones in half and the malicious cold continued to spread. She glanced down at her body, viewing it through battle-tones and fully expecting it to be blue and covered with rime. But it looked no different than usual.
No damage, then, she thought. Only pain.
The spell was designed to hurt, not harm. For some reason, that made her even more furious. The fire building in her palms leapt with height and took on a reddish-purple cast. It had never done that before. She could feel it draining an inordinate amount of strength from her form, but at the same time, the darkening of her magic’s flames eased the strain up on her eyes a bit, allowing her to better see her targets. It also felt better. At first it was hard to put her finger on it, but Dahlia realized, as the magic continued to build, that it was lessening the pain of the spell that had been cast on her. It was negating it, warming her from the inside out like a hot drink of coffee in a snow storm.
She smiled, allowing her fangs to show. She didn’t even care that she was being drained by this new dark force. It was worth it.
Across the warehouse from her, a single hooded figure slowly pushed back his hood. Piercing blue eyes glowed with a different menacing fire, locking onto her with their own kind of darkness. No, Dahlia thought. Not darkness. This is wrongness.
She would know it anywhere.
- The Demon King, by Heather Killough-Walden
Coming Summer, 2016