The throne was made from the base of a massive piece of pottery and the skull of a dragon. The jaw served as a platform for a chair while the top of the skull loomed over it. On either side of the throne were the skeleton wings of the dragon that was so big they nearly wrapped around the throne room. Iris knew that the pottery was the remains of the vessel used to collect magic while the dragon was the last one to go against the emperor. In a row up against the wall and around the room were the skulls of those that tried to betray the emperor. She also knew that there was a place there for hers. Halfway into the room, the emperor’s guards stripped Iris then tossed her to the stone floor. She took a familiar bow and waited for her end to come. Emperor Zed looked down at her and said, “no she isn’t worthy of a spot as one of my trophies. Take her to the pit of forgotten dragons and feed her to them.”
Iris came into the room to find Margret on the pile with Peter. She was on top of him riding hard. As she swayed her markings pulsed. The markings or what she called tattoos where now across her back and around to her chest. JT was gone. She needed to speak with them both. Today everything was going to change. She was going to protect her people and set a future that would be free of the emperor. She had made a bargain with this monster to orient a woman to their ways. But after getting to know Margret she found herself hesitating in her duty. One of the men was taken out on a trip that he wouldn’t come back from. She was ordered to get rid of the other one. He was a distraction. As she watched Gena came up to the two. She sat on his face and kissed Margret then she turned around, so Peter could have a better angle on her. She leaned back, and they kissed as they made love to this man.
Linda searched the archives as well as the new footage for images of the form. She was certain she saw her late husband’s face. Jack died in a magical explosion over the water. He died to save lives. The order had connections to every part of the world. They had links to traffic cameras, satellites, and people’s cellphones. She found some images of the form but nothing that showed a face. Providence appeared in her office. She was in the form of the young woman she might have grown to be rather than the little girl she was when she died. She said, “I know what you are thinking and that was not Jack.” An image appeared on her screen. It was inside a plane. Jack was there with the rock in his arms. The plane was rocking and swaying in the rough turbulence. A bump and the rock slipped. A ball of energy shot out from the rock. The image slowed down and Linda watched as the wave slowly incinerated his body. The image followed the wave as the plane vanished.
Akio’s traveling party made it to the cockpit of the plane. One of the men asked, “how does that fly?” Akio tried to explain how the plane works and why but after a while he just stopped. He climbed inside and went through the supplies. While inside he found a picture of Dennis. It was taken in Greece. They had printed a cropped picture to cut out the nudity. He thought about that day on the beach. They were among friends and like-minded individuals that wouldn’t judge them for who they were. The week they spent felt more like a few days. Back in Seattle, they came home to find their car vandalized. Akio had suggested that he could base out of almost any city. They could move to a place where they could be who they were and not hide it. A year later and same-sex marriage became legal. They married and decided to make Seattle their home no matter what.
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A bolt of lightning struck across the sky then hit the ground near the town of Hope Arizona. The strike turned the sands to the glass as it set the low grass on fire. A form walked out of the rising smoke. He looked to the sky then to the east. As he did electric bolts emanated from his hands. The form took to the air as the electricity ran from his hands to the ground. It traveled east until he came to a house that was many years past being abandoned. He came to the ground then waved his hands. As he did the walls of the building peeled away. The long dead bar sat in disrepair. The figure walked up to the bar. He turned to see the bar back in its heyday when men traveled on horses and drove cattle to market. None of the people where real but he didn’t care. He drank his imaginary drink among imaginary people and wondered if existence was just someone’s imagination.
Iris stood on the balcony just off the shared room. She stared back at the pile. A man just to her left said, “the emperor won’t wait for long.” He looked to the pile then back to Iris. He said, “even now he watches her through the mirror. He said to me that as soon as her markings are across her back he would come for her and kill anyone who tries to stop him.” Iris said, “no one can stop him.” Iris closed the door to the room. She turned to the emperor’s servant and said, “we are going to start to send our power base to her. Her tolerance for magic will grow with every coupling. Soon she will be able to withstand him and just maybe save us all.” The servant said, “see that you do and understand that the emperor sees all and knows all. He will be watching.” The man seemed to fade into the wall. Iris looked back to her new friends and wondered if she could really betray them like this. She also wondered if she had a choice.
Siya bowed with her knees together and her arms pointed out in front of her to the door. She kept her head down as she waited for her god. She was in a burgundy and gold Sari that went back more than a thousand years. It was a design that her family wore from the beginning of the empire. As with the rest of her family she was the third girl in her line, so she was now the property of their god, the emperor. She would serve him in whatever capacity he would need. Her great-aunt was still in service to the emperor while her mother’s sister was chosen to serve in his bed. This was the biggest honor anyone could be chosen for. If she was chosen to serve in his bed, she would earn her immortality. To meet his expectations, she was trained in the traditional ways to please the emperor.
Akio sat in the water that served as a bath for his new family. He thought about how funny life was. How there was a time when he would have found such a place as this to be just want he wanted. A society that wouldn’t have held his sexuality as a deviance. His first boyfriend was as closeted as he was. He was ushered into his sexuality in a literal closet. During this time, he also tried to date girls, but he just didn’t see them that way. When he came out to his family they told him that he could either say he was gay or be a part of the family. Not both. He kept his sexuality a secret during the “don’t ask don’t tell” years as he served in the air force. He knew that it was a badly held secret. When the policy was lifted he decided he would stepped away from the military rather than come out as a gay airman. It was in his training where he met his future husband Dennis.
The door opened, and a woman walked in. Sally Dolan the casting director stared at her trying to pin down her ethnicity. In some ways she looked Indian but in others she could be Greek or Italian. Maybe even Egyptian. The one thing she did know was this was the most beautiful woman they had ever had at a casting call. Tall with long black slightly curly hair and an olive skin complexion that just made it hard to tell her ethnicity. It was clear she was ready for the interview. She had on what had to be the best cosplay costume of a mythical Atlantis female warrior Sally had ever seen. She had on a purplish cape with a dark grayish skirt covered by a thin chain-mail and a metal breast plate made up of several overlapping plates. Her skin seemed to have an elaborate tattoo of what looked like a spiderweb. Jay Hay the art director said, “I don’t think we have the budget to make copies of that for the rest of the cast.” Jay’s brother George said, “I don’t care what kind of budget we have. I am directing this, and I want her.” Sally said, “we really should talk to her first.” George asked, “does that tattoo cover your entire body?”
After a thousand years of exile magic has returned with a vengeance. Will the world survive? What will happen when people learn the truth?
PDF for the combined stories will be in the Story PDFs Page