Story (c) 2000 by Hikaru Katayamma/Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved. The character Sheila Vixen (c) Eric W Schwartz. All other characters are (c) Hikaru Katayamma.  This story contains adult situations and language. By reading it the viewer agrees not to hold this or any other person responsible for any content they may find objectionable. If you don't like it, don't read it. Special thanks go out to Jim Lane and Coyotyee for their help in editing this project!

Identity Crisis
Act II
Chapter 27

What do you mean I have the power? I thought you had it!

  Together, Kerry and I walked from the kitchens up to the Countess' audience chamber. She had joined me for a light snack to help break my morning fast, or so she claimed. Personally, I think it was just an excuse to avoid her mother for a while.

  On our way to the chambers, we were practically mugged by some old geezer in fancy robes as he rushed over to Kerry. "Lady Kerrinda, where in the world have you been?" he demanded. "Your mother is absolutely furious at your absence."

  Kerry put on a mock look of horror as she clutched her chest. "Oh, dear me. She's not so furious as to suffer some sort of stroke is she?" she asked, feigning concern.

  "Fortunately, no," the old man replied as he all but dragged her over to the doors leading into the audience chamber.

  "Damn," Kerry said as she snapped her fingers. "Oh well. I guess you can't win them all." She gave me a sly smile and a wink before entering the room.

  The old man looked down his nose as he approached me. "Please wait over by your squire, Drijen," he instructed and waved over to a corner where Thomas waited.

  I ignored his attitude and gave a small nod of acknowledgement before I took my seat next to Thomas and waited.

  And waited.

  And waited.

  After an hour of waiting, I had decided that it was no longer convenient and rose to leave. "Come on, Thomas. We've got better things to do," I said as we headed for the door.

  The old man came scurrying over from his little cul-de-sac. "I beg your pardon, Drijen, but the Countess is expecting you. I'm sure she'll be ready soon," he said, trying to delay me.

  I paused by the door. "She instructed me to come at my earliest convenience. It is no longer convenient," I informed him.

  The old guy looked around franticly, trying to think of a way to stall me. "Um, please, Drijen. Let me check with the Countess. Perhaps she will move you to the front of her schedule," he suggested.

  I looked around the empty waiting area. "Ahead of whom?" I asked, giving him an annoyed look.

  The guy was starting to sweat. I had a feeling he was going to feel the bite if I wasn't here when her uppitiness had finally decided that I had stewed long enough. "Fine. You have two minutes before I walk out that door," I stated flatly. I was really enjoying watching this guy squirm. "Better hurry," I prompted. 'The clock's running."

  He displayed a rather pained look before he turned and hurried into the audience chamber. I could only imagine what must be going on in there. Perhaps she would get so angry she'd have a heart attack or something....

  That thought made me chuckle. I think Kerry was rubbing off on me.

  I had almost counted to one hundred when the old geezer opened the doors and gestured us to enter. As we entered the room I noticed the fact that he simply closed the door without announcing me. That was not a good sign.

  The Countess' chamber was about the size of a high school gym, with a small dais at the far end and exits on either side, which were closed. The room, though it could easily hold fifty or sixty , was absent of petitioners. The only people waiting for us were the Countess, Kerry, a warrior and at least thirty armed guards who were evenly spaced along the walls. The only person not situated along the edge of the room was the lone warrior who stood about ten feet in front of the Countess.

  I looked down at Thomas as we slowly approached the dais. "Whatever happens here, Thomas, you stay out of it," I quietly ordered.

  He looked around nervously for a second before he nodded. "Yes, Miss Arden."

  I stopped just shy of where the other warrior stood and examined him. He wore gold tinted chain armor over a standard leather shirt, similar to what I was wearing. Unlike my Roman skirt, he had chain leggings that were tucked into high top black leather boots that shone. His light brown hair was closely cropped against his head in a style that resembled a crew cut. The most notable things to me were the Elite emblem that he wore on his chest and his hand resting on the hilt to his sword.

  I smelled trouble.

  "You summoned me, Countess?" I asked after a small bow. I glanced over at Kerry and noticed that she had a worried look on her face. Oh yah, I was in it deep.

  The Countess stared at me for a few seconds before she looked at the Elite and spoke, "There it is, Drijen. That's the imposter."

  The elite drew his sword and squared off against me. "Defend yourself, imposter."

  "Aw, shit!" I drew my sword and stepped back. "Get back, Thomas," I ordered as I maneuvered to ensure he wouldn't be near our initial exchange. Thomas glanced back at me and then wearily backed away from us, heading towards the side of the room.

  "Look," I said to the Elite. "I don't want to fight you. This is all a big mistake."

  He gave me a predatory smile as he advanced. "Your kind never do," he replied sarcastically. "However, since you don't want to fight, we'll end this here and now."

  I was momentarily confused by his words until I realized what he meant. With his left hand he traced a glowing symbol in the air and spoke. The resulting ball of lightning shot towards me, struck me in the chest and forced me backwards.

  The electricity momentarily stunned me and made it hard for me to stand. As I got control of my body I shook off the last of the effects and brought my Katana back up in a combat stance. It felt like I had struck my funny bone all over, but wasn't enough to stop me from fighting. The most shocking thing to me was his expression. He clearly thought that the spell would do more to me than just stagger me.

  "So, it's true, you are a demon," he said as he made another gesture. This time, a ball of fire about the size of a cantaloupe shot forth from the glowing glyph that he drew in the air. I tried to dodge the flaming sphere but the damned thing followed me and struck me dead center of the chest, knocking me off my feet and throwing me backwards. I skidded across the floor and came to a stop about ten feet from where I had been standing.

  I reached up to where I had been struck with my free hand only to yank it away as it touched the ragged, glowing edges of the armor that remained. I fought for breath, gagging on the stench of burned fur. To my horror I looked down to see a section of my chain and leather vaporized in a perfect circle about five inches across. Clearly visible in the new hole was the amulet of Lakash, its eyes were alive with energy. I guess the Elites' spells were just what the doctor ordered.

  I glanced over at the Elite as he casually strolled over towards me, a look of utter superiority on his face. A growl escaped my lips as I rolled over and stood and faced him with narrowed eyes. "Is that the best you can do, little man?" I asked.

  He stopped and gave me a shocked look. Obviously he hadn't expected me to get up. "So, demon, you are finally revealed," he said, noting the now glowing amulet. "Now we end this charade."

  Demon? He thinks I'm a demon? I held my free hand out in a vain attempt to get him to stop. "Look, you don't understand the situation," I started to say. Unfortunately he wasn't listening and charged me. I drew my Wakazashi and held the swords Florentine style as I awaited his attack. I watched his sword while he approached and anticipated the attack. When he was about five feet from me, I swung the Katana around to intercept his long sword, only to find that he had vanished with a small popping sound.

  I followed through on my parry and a repost, but he was gone. This wasn't just some invisibility trick, the sucker had actually teleported. I searched the room and tried to spot him while keeping my body in motion. I tried to move in a random pattern, but there are only so many directions you can go.

  I heard the pop again, this time behind me. I ducked forward while bringing the blade of the Wakazashi up behind and across my back. Sure enough I felt the impact of a blade as it was deflected by my sword and skittered off my armor without harming me.

  I spun around and slashed out with my Katana as I brought the Wakazashi back over in a crossing pattern. He couldn't block both blades. But then again, he didn't have to. Once again, he had vanished.

  I stepped to the side and felt something under my feet. For a moment I glanced down and saw some small metallic semi-circles scattered across the floor. They were parts of the armor I wore. His sword had shaved them off with a glancing blow.

  I'm going to be screwed if he gets a solid shot in.

  To your left!

  I lashed out with my Wakazashi just as he materialized. The blow from our weapons connecting jarred my arm. He danced back and once again vanished.

  I had gotten lucky. No, not lucky, a guardian dragon. It was Illiam's voice that had warned me of the attack. He was still watching out for me.

  Once again I moved in a semi random pattern, hoping to avoid giving him an easy target. The popping sound of his reappearance off to the side got my attention again. I spun to parry an attack only to see him standing a couple of meters away as he drew another glyph in the air. I charged, hoping that I would be able to interrupt his spell, but was slammed backwards as another ball of fire struck.

  My chest felt and smelled like it was on fire, though it wasn't. The amulet had again absorbed the power of his attack though now it was almost too hot to handle. I couldn't rely on it to keep saving me from this idiot. I had to find a way out of this mess and quick.

  I rolled over and got unsteadily to my feet to face him. The bastard was right on top of me. With a lash of his boot he kicked my Wakazashi out of my hand as I brought it up to parry a feint. That was enough for me to drop into a low crouch and sweep him off of his feet before he could recover fully. I lashed out with my Katana and got a good hit on his arm, though I don't think it fully penetrated his armor before he rolled away and vanished again.

  I spun and moved away from where we had just fought and looked for my Wakazashi. I saw Thomas dodge the grasp of a couple of guards by the wall as he broke from then to retrieve it. If I needed it, I knew he could throw it to me in a clench.

  My eye was drawn to the Countess and noticed the smug look on her face. She was enjoying this. If I managed to defeat this guy, I was going to kill her. No two ways about it.

  Nobody ever said I was smart. By allowing myself to be distracted by the Countess, I almost missed his reentry into the fight. I spun and saw the Elite standing about ten feet away, again making glyph in the air. As with before, a blue ball of lightening shot towards me. I tried to parry it with my sword out of reflex and was partially successful. Though the ball was deflected off to the side, a large chunk of its energy traveled down the steel of my sword and into my arm, shocking me.

  I dropped to my knees as my right torso began to spasm from the electricity. I had lost all control over my right arm, which caused the Katana to fall from my limp paw.

  It was over and he knew it. I couldn't defeat him. He glared down at me as he walked confidently towards me again. "Well, Demon. You put up a good fight, but like all of your kind, you were no match for a true Elite," he gloated.

  "I am no demon," I replied panting, "and there is no justice if you kill me, for I have committed no crime."

  "I will be the judge of that," he sneered as he raised his blade for the final cut.

  I straightened up and faced him squarely. I would die as a warrior, not some cowering vermin. I fully expected the next thing to happen would be my head leaving my body, but it wasn't to be. The cu de gras was interrupted by the sound of a scream as Thomas charged the Elite with my Wakazashi.

  "Thomas! No!" I screamed out, knowing that his attack was futile.

  The Elite turned and spotted Thomas's charge when the boy was three or four meters out. He gestured with his hand sending a bolt of lightening out that struck the boy firmly in the chest and slammed him backwards into the floor where he lay unmoving

  "No!" I cried out, horrified at what had just happened. Not Thomas! I watched the Elite as he turned back to me, dismissing what had just happened. The bastard would pay for that. "Damn you to HELL!" I shouted as I leapt forward. My attack startled him. He barely deflected my left paw as I tried to knife hand his throat. Rather than attempt to fight him, I followed through with my lunge, slammed into him and drove him backwards.

  For the first time I saw terror in his eyes. I had him in my grasp, with my fangs poised to tear out his throat as the world exploded around us in flames. All hell had broken loose as we smashed  into the rough stone surface that formed a wall.

  I took advantage of his surprise and head butted him. His skull made a hollow thump as it bounced off of the rock. I brought my knee up into his groin, slamming it into the armor codpiece that he wore, knowing that it couldn't stop the attack. I wasn't disappointed as he cried out and fell to his knees. I grabbed the chain with my left paw and began using my right to pummel his face. It was still weak, but was more than enough to inflict grievous damage to his face.

  "WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?" The voice resonated within my head, driving me back. I saw the Elite holding his head too, so it must have affected him the same way. I looked around wildly for the voice and realized that we were no longer in the keep. Around us was the desolate environment I had seen when I had first met Lucifer. We were in Hell.

  Lucifer appeared before us in a burst of flame. "What do you think you're doing bringing him here?" he demanded of me.

  I brought us here? I did this?

  "You want to toy with the mortals, do it in your own realm! Now get out!" he commanded. With a wave of his hand, we were slammed against the rock momentarily before pushing through it.

  I stumbled and fell into the deep, cold snow as I found myself in yet another place. To the right I heard a cracking sound followed by a splash as the Elite fell. I rolled to my feet and stood, looking for my adversary only to find him trying to climb out of a frozen pond, ice and water pouring off of his armor.  He was clearly confused by the sudden changes in scenery.

  It suddenly dawned on me where we were. I glanced over to the right, beyond the pond and spotted Nanuk's hut. The once thriving forest was dead. The trees were frozen and broken, with many of them lying on the ground where they had fallen. There was no sound other than the noise of the Elite as he sloshed out of the water towards me.

  I let out a howl of rage and anguish at what had happened to Thomas, reveling in the look of horror that crossed his face. With fangs bared charged forwards to finish him off, but then felt something smash into my side and send me flying.

  I skidded to a halt in the snow, my ribs felt like a bus had hit me. I rolled over just in time to see a huge, clawed hand reach down and lift me towards the head of its owner.

  "Now you're mine, bitch!" the dragon said.

  Oh no.

[Now I know this is going to earn me a lot of hate mail, but this will be the last chapter until after the first of the year.  For more information, please check out my production notes from the main page.]

Chapter 28