Just a Little Black Magic
Chapter 18: Skeletons
by: Jess


"That way!" Thunderstorm called, feeling the power surge of the
sorceress. "She just unleashed a few good sized spells."
The group surged into action, eager to get the battle over and done
with and return to the saftey of their homes.


L'das slithered down the path, eager to inform his Empress that the
Ronins were on the move again. Cutting through the forest for a ways,
he became aware of the heavy scent of magick in the air.
Pausing, his amber eyes cast about for the source as his forked tongue
tasted the the air with a subtle flick. The sensation of being watched
caused the dark spines rise along his backbone, and the rattled stinger
on the end of his tail to twich nervously.
A movement behind to his left brought an unleashing of fury and the
venomous stinger striking against bone.
L'das turned his head to the source of the disruption. A mocking grin
laughed at him; empty eye sockets stared through him. A soft, raspy
voice sounded from Beyond.
"None shall pass."
The dark naga knew no magic to stop them.

"Anubis," Artemis said gently. "We should awaken Mia to tell her that
we must leave."
The ghost shifted his green eyes from Artemis to the barely-there image
of the seer. With a small sigh, he nodded wearily.
"Allow me," he murmured, climbing the stairs.
Artemis glanced at Sibyl's translucent body. Shrugging, the woman
moved away to search for a few neccessities.
Sibyl floated inches off the ground, moving softly and easily on a
cushion of air. She was a Spirit Guide, unable to touch, manipulate or
move concrete objects, magickal energy however.. was another story. She
directed Artemis to gather the correct materials for her planned spell.
Upstairs, Anubis dispensed with the formality of knocking on the door
by simply phazing through. Emerging into the room, he looked around to
see Mia curled on her side like a tiny child. To solidify his form,
Anubis concentrated briefly, and carefully sat upon the side of her bed.
Extending a tenative hand, he stroked her hair and whispered her name.
She stirred sleepily in bed, and upon flickering open her blue eyes and
seeing Anubis sitting protectively over her, she smiled, and slowly sat
up. Anubis remained grave, and Mia's happiness lessened considerably.
"What's wrong?" she asked, instintively feeling something amiss.
Anubis placed his hands on her shoulders. "The Ronins have gone to
battle.. and I must leave to aid them.."
"But why?" she plaintively cried.
"The Jewel of Transcendance, Mia.. the Jewel of Transcendance.." he
leaned over, kissing her forehead. "Trust me.. Please?"
Mia watched him leave her room and counted to ten. She rose from her
bed and cracked her door open, listening for other voices.

Artemis looked up from tying the small satchel closed as Anubis drifted
down the stairs.
"How did she take it?" she asked gently.
Anubis shrugged. "Let's get out of her and get this over and done
He preceded the others from the room. Sibyl touched Artemis' shoulder.
"Call my name when you need me. I shall be there." the seer faded
from sight.



Thunderstorm forced the others to slow down. Moonshadow drew herself
from the main press of thier fighting gang to stand beside her. Both
glanced at each other, then shifted thier enchanted gazes to the path.
"This doesn't feel right.." Thunderstorm breathed.
"What??" Kento demanded, unable to see in the darkness of night.
"I agree," Moonshadow said in a low voice. "Something's wrong here."
Storm rocked back on her heels, tugging on a festooned lock of hair.
Cale came up behind them. "No.. straight through.." He pushed past
each of them, drawing his blade with a sibilant sound.
Kayura ventured forward a few steps. "Thunderstorm, can you provide
enough light to see by?"
Storm shook her head, talismans rattling against each other. "Halo,"
was her responce.
Shadow understood, and slipped back into the group, easily locating
Sage. Her glowing eyes caused her to stand out against the darkness and
she could see the smile that crossed the handsome warrior's features as
if it were full daylight.
"Sage," she said as soon as she was close enough. "Can you get your
armor to glow.. just enough to see by?"
"Possib-" he began, but fell into silence as he noticed her hands on
his arm. "What are you-?"
"Try it.. your armor's magick and I can lock it into a single state of
glow.." Shadow tried to explain.
Sage shrugged and concentrated for a moment, causing a tender glow to
eminate from his armor. Moonshadow waited for a few moments as the
light grew in intensity and fed an incurrent of energy into the armor.
Removing her hands, she said, "You can stop now."
The Ronin stopped, and stared in amazement as the area around him and
his friends was lit like day. Shadow gave a thumbs-up to Storm and
Storm slowly continued forward.
Cale peered into shadows and through bush, poking around with his sword
for stray things. Once he could see, Sekhmet ventured up to join him.
Suddenly, Kento rushed up, shoving through them.
"I don't get what all the caution's about!" he shouted.
"none shall pass."
"Who said that?" Kento looked around sharply.
A bone hand grasped his arm and dug into the armor, denting it. Kento
cried out, and the Ronins surged into action.


"Mia??" Liza pushed the door to the house open and bounded through.
"Mia?? Where are you??"
Mia slowly poked her head around the corner of the kitchen door. She
motioned briefly to Liza and turned back to the window, staring
forlornly out at the forest.
"What's up?" Liza asked, coming to stand beside her. "Why didn't
Sekhmet pick me up from work?"
Mia shook her head. "They're out there.."
Liza's shadow-blue eyes widened, following her gaze to the forest.
"What? Why?"
Turning her gaze to Liza, Mia sighed. "Long story.." she drew the
young woman over to the table, and began to tell her Anubis' story.


Before they knew it, everyone was swamped by the bone creations. Tiny
mice with razor-sharp teeth gnawed away at Moonshadow's leather, only to
be knocked away by a swift swipe of Sage's no-datchi. The larger beasts
and those skeletons that looked human shrugged off the blows given by
the sharp edged weapons.
A huge bear skeleton lifted Kento like a ragdoll and slung him around.
<Crack> A tree broke in half as the burly warrior slammed into it.
Kento fell limply to the ground, only to stir and growl at the beast
seconds later.
He lumbered to his feet, bringing his heavy staff around for a crushing
blow to the monster's skull. With a resounding slam, and a rush of fine
bone dust, the staff and skull connected, the skull losing out.
"Ah-ha!" he laughed, noting this. Spinning, he slammed his staff into
another one, getting the same crumbling groaning responce. "Hmm.."
Kento began to grin, and plow on through.


Liza rubbed the back of her right shoulder, thoughtfully, as she mulled
over the story. Suddenly, she smiled at Mia, and laughed, rising
swiftly to her feet. Mia watched her rapidly ascend the stairs in
"What are you doing?" she called up.
"No way are those guys having all the fun!" she responded.
She came bounding down the stairs, a glint in her eyes, and a gun in
her hands. Mia's eyes widened.
The brunette lifted her head sharply. "What?" She looked wrong. The
gun held easily in her slender fingers, the glittering flame in her
gaze, the stance she had with her shoulders squared and head held high.
Liza's shadow-violet eyes shifted down to the gun in her hand. "Oh,"
she murmured. "I'll stay here.. if you're gonna."


Artemis found a fallen branch with her trembling hands. Her brilliant
eyes were watching the mismatched battle before her. Readjusting her
grip on the branch, she glanced over her shoulder, only to see Anubis'
melancholy smile urging her on. With strength that she hadn't felt
since Sibyl's sacrifice in the Underrealm tunnels, Artemis leapt out
into the fray, crashing her branch into the skeletal bodies, knocking
them apart.