Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 31

“It’s almost spring,” Kanesha said, brightly.

“Feels that way.” And for once and now I was determined to concentrate on ordinary, mundane things. On being, as it were, like other girls. Not that I ever would be. “Spring, then summer. Of course, we’ll probably be regretting summer.”

“Speak for yourself, O Nordic One.”

I laughed. I wasn’t exactly made for warm climates. Which reminded me a little of the story I’d read about Skadi and Njord, their shotgun wedding and very rapid divorce. Couldn’t stand to live in each others’ homes.

Well, that wasn’t going to be an obstacle for us. They had probably been looking for an excuse, after Skadi had thought she was getting Baldur, and ended up with the much more homely Njord.

Maybe, though, she should have given him more of a chance. I would have, I thought.

I would, if I ended up in that situation. “Okay, okay. Just because…”

I tailed off, not wanting to tease her more about skin color in a public venue. I could get away with it in private. In public, some busybody might hear us and call me a racist.

And there were quite a few people around. As the cold faded, people were emerging from the sort of false hibernation a bad winter tended to induce. I was glad of it. It felt like a return to normality, or at least the semblance of it.

It felt like a good thing to me, and I grinned at Kanesha again as I headed up the street. “Let’s stop at Julio’s and get pizza.”

“Get enough for Mike. He told me he wasn’t expecting to have a great day.”

“Would I ever not?” Even if he couldn’t eat it straight away, it was always good to have leftover pizza around. As long as you didn’t warm it up in a microwave. “Meat lovers?”

Julio’s was a bit of a hole in the wall, like all the best pizza places. I stopped at the entrance, and then saw the fyrhund walking towards me. Limping.

“Uh oh.”

Kanesha blinked. “I hope he just has something in his paw.”

“I don’t think that happens to elementals,” I muttered, but stepped towards the dog and dropped to one knee to examine him.

He was definitely hurt, and I was reminded that the last time I saw him he’d disappeared because Tyz’vel was there.

Had it been voluntary or had the demon snatched him on his way out? He whimpered and I scratched him behind the ears. “You get the pizza, Kanesha. I’ll stay with him.”

The dog growled.

I looked up as Kanesha ducked inside Julio’s. I waited for her to come out.

And waited.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 30

A new ally, though, that was a good thing. Now I just had to talk to Seb about getting him to talk to Clara.

I found him at Father William’s church. I had apparently become more sensitive to certain things, because the church now felt…not like hostile territory, no, but more like somebody else’s home. A place built to be comfortable for them and not necessarily for anyone else who might enter.

I could understand that. Of course, there weren’t any Norse temples around for me to compare it to. I wasn’t sure the Norse had ever really gone for temples. Just shrines and stuff.

“Hey, Seb.”

“Is this a social call?”

“I wanted to talk to your trainer.”

He hesitated. “About?”

“There’s a young woman, a quite talented witch, who’s interested in being a hunter. Maybe you could help hook her up.”

“Oh, not with my trainer, not if she’s a witch, but we can find something.” Seb grinned at me.

“Besides, I don’t want her falling in with any more…well…”

“Oh, was she involved in that mess? I heard about that.”

“That mess, yes. I had to beat some people up about it.”

“You were involved in that?”

“Yeah. I helped Clara get out and they retaliated by trying to curse Kanesha.”

Seb whistled. “Idiots.”

“Then they summoned a demon prince and he dragged their high priestess down to hell. Unfortunately, it was Tyz’vel.”

“Not. Him. Again.” Seb made a face. “Are you ever going to get rid of him?”

“My best hope is that he’ll get bored with chasing me eventually and move on to some other prospect for queen of Hell.”

“Princess, anyway. Unless he plans on challenging Lucifer.”

“…maybe that is what he’s up to. I hope he does. Lucifer would kick his butt, right?”


Then I decided I would hope he did something that stupid. Because that might get rid of him for a while. Like, a few millennia while.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 29

I rather hoped he could. I wanted to get Tyz’vel to leave me alone for good. Maybe he would when I was safely married to somebody else. In the meantime, there wasn’t that much I could do other than look for a way to send him back to Hell, again, and think of how I was going to get him back there next time he showed up.

He was clearly going to keep doing so. And I was worried what he would disrupt next. Plus, with his illusion abilities, I couldn’t be sure who was him. Or her, as I was sure he’d try that too. As if a change in apparent plumbing would make a difference.

Oh no, it would take far, far more than that to get me to pay any attention to him. Things he almost certainly wasn’t capable of.

Still. I was glad everything with the coven was resolved. Several other members had been arrested on conspiracy charges. Local wiccan leaders were screaming about how it totally wasn’t their religion.

I felt sorry for them. It had to be embarrassing to be associated with people who summoned lust imps. And it definitely wasn’t their religion, either. Free love, yes. Coercion, no.

At the same time, reading the internet postings, I thought sufficient revenge had indeed been had. And at least as an organization, they wouldn’t be hurting any more young girls or boys. More victims had come forward, and a couple of current members were now admitting they had also been forced or coerced.

Probably afraid of being cursed if they tried before. Then the high priestess showed up dead in her cell.

Tyz’vel, I thought, collecting his due. I couldn’t quite bring myself to feel sorry for her. I wanted to, but I couldn’t quite get to that point.

She deserved what she got, she’d brought it on herself. At the same time, I didn’t really want to see anyone in hell.

And I hadn’t wanted her dead anyway. Just with her teeth pulled, as it were. What could I do, though? I couldn’t take on the demon prince. And if I could, he’d probably think it was courtship.

So, all I could do was try and get on with my life. I wouldn’t have to put up with quite a few aspects of it for much longer. I wasn’t sure when my birthday was, but I could call myself seventeen now based off of the guess we had. The day they’d found me unconscious was what I called my birthday.

It wasn’t accurate, but neither was my age, I was sure. And when I turned eighteen, I’d be out of the system, free to take whatever jobs I wanted, the money would be mine instead of Mike having to take care of it for me.

I would have much more freedom. And then, if things went the way they were going…

No. There was one step I knew I couldn’t take. I couldn’t take it because I knew it would only get her hurt.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 28

Not that I got the option any time soon. It wasn’t Tyz’vel who knocked on the door of our home.

It was Abdul.

The first words out of his mouth were, “I’m sorry.”

I shook my head. “I’m not blaming you.” I knew immediately what for.

“Her father told me to stay away from her. I thought she’d be safe.”

“Fathers are protective. Come in?”

He didn’t step one foot inside until invited, whether from manners or some supernatural restriction. I rather thought the former.

“So, I will stay away from her until she is of age…but would you keep an eye on her?”

“I’m going one better. I’m introducing her to some people who can train her.”

“As a fighter?”

“As the witch she’s clearly very capable of being.” I studied the efreet.

“Women fighters are…” He tailed off.

“Clara’s capable. She would probably have rescued herself if they hadn’t summoned a full blown demon prince.” I made a face.

“You have a history with that one?”

I nodded. “I suppose I do.”

“He finds you attractive.”

“Tea? Coffee?” When he nodded to the former I rummaged for bags. “So do you.”

“The difference is that I don’t want to make you my concubine or consort.”

“He did at least offer consort.” Which was definitely a step up, but from what I’d seen, even if I was inclined towards demons, he’d want concubines as well.

“Besides, it would be a forbidden relationship between us.”

“And Clara?”

“When she is fully a woman, there are no rules against it. I may be setting myself up for grief, as we live longer, but I would rather live and lose.”

I smiled. “It’s up to her, then. But do stay away from her until she’s old enough. I don’t want to see the cops trying to work out a way to arrest you for statutory rape.”

He laughed. “They would have to catch me first.”

“Well. You don’t have to stay away from me, but you probably don’t want to get between me and the demon.”

He laughed again. “I might be able to help with that.”

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 27

The high priestess wasn’t going to be let out on bail again, and now they were adding kidnapping to the charges. Mike informed me with relish that she was facing years in jail and probably lifetime registration as a sex offender.

That, I thought, would cramp her style quite nicely. Which meant it was time to find the angry ghost and tell him. I knew how to do so – I had his name, which meant I could find where he was buried. I had to wait until the weekend, though. It just wasn’t light enough after school yet for this kind of gallivanting around.

The grave was a simple headstone. “She’s in jail,” I told it. “She kept going too far, and further than too far. Oh, and I think she sold her soul to a demon.”

The ghost appeared as a shape. “Which one?”


“That’s karmic, from what I know.”

“Is there anything else I can do?” From what the ghost said, I decided I was well rid of any interest in Tyz’vel. Besides, he’d almost raped Clara. Would have, if I hadn’t been there.

“No. Thank you, Lokisdottir.” And then he vanished.

There was something final about the vanishing, as if this had been the last thing he had to do before he could properly pass on to wherever he was going. I mentally commended him to Hel’s keeping and then turned to walk away.

Only to see Tyz’vel standing under a tree, smoking an e-cigarette.

“I would think a demon would prefer traditional.”

“Oh, these are a great invention. They come in all sorts of interesting flavors. Want a puff?”

“I don’t want anything from you.” His tone and demeanor were back to the Martin persona, but that didn’t mean I was going to budge on wanting anything to do with him. Far from it.

“Maybe one day you will.”

“You forced me to kiss you. I had to shower for an hour.” A pause. “Go away. Find somebody else to seduce. There might be some fairy out there who’s interested.”

“They wouldn’t give me what you can.”

“I can’t give you anything. In case you haven’t noticed, I have no more access to Asgard than you do.” I smiled at him. “Or Jotunheim. About the only thing I could give you would be an annoyed goddess of fidelity.”

My mother did not approve of this. Of that I was sure.

“A trickster owing me favors.”

I laughed. “My father thinks I should do what I want, and he wouldn’t be held by anything I do.”

Except I wasn’t sure that was true. Maybe he would be. Maybe he would feel obligated into an alliance.

“A trickster knowing his youngest child is safe from the fate of her brothers.”

And then he vanished, thus ensuring himself of the last word.

I was totally going to banish him. After stabbing him a few more times with my sword. In painful locations.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 26

Mike had the high priestess in cuffs in the back of the car. The fyrhund hadn’t reappeared, making me wonder if he’d just realized Tyz’vel was there and decided, more sensible than I, to be somewhere else.

Clara was sitting in the front. I had to go in the back with the prisoner. It was only fair – keeping Clara as far from her tormentor as possible. “You’re a better person than me,” I informed her as she hopped in.

“Nah. I want her in jail. She’ll be miserable in jail.”

Or she’d be seducing her fellow prisoners. That was one advantage of being interested in the same sex. You couldn’t be isolated as easily from prospective partners.

Being interested in both? I saw the advantages. Which was perhaps the first time I’d really done so. I wasn’t interested in prospective partners, but having the field so open? Yeah.

And so far it had only been guys who tried to hop in my pants. Well, and Clara to an extent, but I was pretty sure she wouldn’t try it again.

Hopefully she’d find somebody to hold hands with. Hopefully in the long term she’d find somebody for more than that, when she was ready.

I thought that might take a little bit longer now. As soon as Mike had stopped to escort the priestess into jail, I asked her, “Did he touch you?”

“No. He just ripped the dress. You arrived just in time.”

“Thank Mike. He provided transportation.” I let out a breath. “Don’t worry. He’ll be too busy chasing me to bother you. I have to find a new banishment spell.”

“You…know him, don’t you.”

“He wants to make me his queen in his part of hell, so yeah. And he’s not taking no for an answer.”

Clara shuddered. “You poor thing. Although he can make himself pretty handsome.”

“I have to get back to Kanesha. I have to warn her he’s back.” A pause. “By the way, his name’s Tyz’vel.”

Her eyes widened, then she nodded. “Thanks. I think I can use that.”

I grinned. “My pleasure. Now, go home, get some chocolate, and curl up with a sappy movie or something.” The best therapy I could prescribe.

“I’m going to…” A pause, as she finally got out of the car. “I’m going to make sure nothing like that happens to anyone else.”

“You can’t alone. But you can stop some of them.” My instincts were right. “I’ll introduce you to somebody who can help.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 25

Instead, I discovered that demons, when being male, are just as vulnerable to strikes to a certain area as human males.

“Touch me again and I’ll spit you.”

“You will make a fine queen of hell.” Unfortunately, they recovered far faster, but I’d managed to get some space.

Clara, pretty much naked as she shrugged off the ruined dress, was moving. The high priestess still seemed to be catatonic.

I wondered if she’d intended to summon this particular demon or if he was looking for a way to get back to me. “What happened to needing me to be willing?”

He made a dismissive gesture. “I’d prefer that, but I’ll take you any way I can get you.”

I hoped Mike wouldn’t come down here. I didn’t think he was up for this, although I was sure a couple of bullets in the skull would slow Martin down slightly. “To think I actually had some respect for you.”

At least he hadn’t brought succubi this time. I lifted the sword between us, but now I knew how fast he could move.

What did I do?

Clara was prepping a spell. I could feel it. Which meant so could he. He whirled and lifted a hand. “She told you to run. Brave, but foolish.”

I wondered if the high priestess was catatonic or paralyzed. The answer came a moment later – she was the target of Clara’s spell, not Martin. She snapped out of it, blinking as the girl reached for her hand.

“She can run as far as she wants. She’s already mine.”

I didn’t care about that. I cared about the fact that Martin’s back was turned to me for the crucial moment.

I ran him through with my sword. His body exploded into fire and ashes as the other two women fled for the stairs.

I wasn’t far behind them. Mike was upstairs to arrest the high priestess – I assumed he’d let the others go.

“Good work, Clara.”

“They were going to sacrifice me to him. Except it didn’t involve knives.”

“That’s probably why they want virgins,” I quipped.

“Probably. Got anything I can wear?”

I frowned. “Uh…” I took off my jacket, which at least allowed her to cover herself while I did a quick search of the house for things that might be her size.

I knew Martin would be back. Tyv’zel. But he’d have taken precautions against me banishing him again, surely.

What precautions could a demon take?

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 24

I drew my sword as I charged. I had my gun, but the sword just felt better. Besides, I knew Mike was covering me with his police issue.

The fyrhund did not charge in with me. He ran off at an angle. I decided to trust the beast knew what he was doing. Maybe he was hoping to sneak in and find Clara through a back door.

I was getting good at kicking in doors. As I did so, I heard a high scream.

I was going to kill them, Mike present or not. I felt a prickling sensation that told me something else magical was there.

I ignored it in favor of the immediate goal. I knew where to go by now.

The basement. I charged down the stairs, hearing Mike behind me. I didn’t yell anything. He knew these situations; whatever he did would likely be better than anything I suggested he do.

A second scream came from the basement. This one wasn’t Clara, so maybe she was somewhat self-rescuing after all.

I thrust through the door and came face to face with…


“I got rid of you once, I’ll do it again,” I snarled at him, swinging my blade around.

“Not if you want these people to live. Most especially your little friend.”

“Go back to hell.” Clara didn’t seem harmed, but they had her in a classic virgin sacrifice dress, which had been ripped from throat to crotch. That was no doubt why she had screamed.

The other scream had presumably come from the person now limp against the wall with a terrified expression on his face.

The high priestess was staring from a corner, all but catatonic.

“Oh, I don’t think so. Of course, now I have you, I don’t need her.”

His plans for her had been obvious even without that statement. “The rest of you. Run.”

Martin wasn’t trying to court me this time. He wasn’t trying to hide anything of what he was. A demon prince in full power.

Everyone but the high priestess and Clara fell over themselves to follow my suggestion. Dismissively, Martin let them go.

“Why don’t you take her?” I indicated the priestess. “She’d probably enjoy it.”

“Oh, she’s already mine. Idiot witch. Thinks she’s worshipping Herne. If she was at all competent, she’d know the difference.”

I almost thought that poetic justice, but Martin was reaching for me. I slashed at him with the sword, but he was too fast. He pulled me to him and forced a kiss onto my lips.

All I could think was that I could really use some backup right about now.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 23

I soon broke into a run, glad of my much higher endurance. A human would not have been able to do this.

The dog, of course, was equally untiring. We weren’t heading for the house we’d visited the other day, though. We were heading out of town, I realized, altogether. West towards Manassass.

It takes a long time to get out of town in DC even with, say, a car or a bike. I should have summoned a steed, I thought. At the same time, running cleared my head. Once the dog stopped, so did I. I called Mike. “I’m halfway to Manassas.”

“Stay there.” I could hear the eyerolling from here. “I’ll get a car and come get you.”

“I can’t follow the trail in a car.”

“You won’t be any good if you’re exhausted. I’m sure even you can’t run forever.”

He was right. I sat down on a bench, the dog next to me. Waiting for Mike to show up. When he did, he was in an unmarked cop car.

I didn’t ask how he’d got it or what strings he’d pulled. Having the sirens for an emergency might come in handy. I hopped in and pulled the dog in after me, then rolled the window down.

“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that thing.”

“He’s under control.”

The dog, just like any mundane canine, stuck his head out of the window and panted. “And he needs to do that to help us find her.”

Mike laughed. “Of course he does.”

The dog tapped me on the knee. “Turn right.”

We did. And it was a good job he’d come with the car. I would never have got there before nightfall otherwise. As it was, we were past Manassas and into rural Virgnia.

“There. That house.”

It looked abandoned. “Good place for a bail jumper to hide. I can’t believe she did that.”

“I scared her, like I said. But yeah, she should have had more sense than to do that. Way to make yourself look guilty.”

“And now kidnapping. She must think she’s got a payoff that’s worth it.”

Worth ending up in jail? Worth having to change her name and start her life over?

“Uh. We need to get in there.” I wasn’t sure of the reason for the sudden sense of urgency, but I wasn’t about to ignore it. Clara might or might not be self-rescuing, but I knew to trust my instincts.

Episode Twelve: Efreet: Scene 22

Clara did call back saying she could do lunch, especially if I bought. I got some money from the modeling funds and arranged to meet her at a taco place near Union Station. I knew it was good and she didn’t object.

She never showed up. I immediately suspected retaliation, although the first thing I did was call her.

The call went straight to voice mail. Taking a deep breath, I called her house.

“Longview Residence.”

“Is Clara there? This is Jane.”

“I thought she was with you.”

“…she isn’t. Maybe she’s on a broken down train.” Always a possibility – the aging Metro system wasn’t always as reliable as it could be. And that might explain the phone.

“I’ll call her.”

“Already tried that. She seems to have her phone turned off.”

My thoughts were already going to the fyrhund. I really did need to name him or work out what his name was. He could find Clara for me easily enough; I was sure of that.

“I’ll try again anyway. If I get through I’ll ask her to call you.” A pause. “Thanks for being on the ball.”

He sounded worried. I couldn’t blame him. I was worried myself. The fyrhund emerged from the restaurant’s grill.

I willed him not to manifest in here, or I’d get thrown out for bringing a dog in. Instead, I got up and got outside as quickly as I could, before the red-furred coonhound came into full existence. “You should just stay with me. Can you find Clara?”

He sniffed the air a few times, then started to pad down the street. I resigned myself to what could be quite a long walk – I couldn’t take the bus without him losing the scent. As I walked, I called Mike. “Clara didn’t show up and isn’t at home.”

Mike’s voice sounded grim. “I’ll call it in. They probably won’t do anything this quickly, but at least we can get the process moving.”

Which meant if I couldn’t find her this could turn into an Amber Alert. She was under 16, she was still eligible for that. “I’ll try and find her before you have to file the paperwork.”

I knew what had happened, of course. Retaliation. Having failed magically, I bet they’d resorted to physical. And a witch could be restrained from casting spells. They had to, from what I’d seen, do something. Some word, some gesture. Bound and gagged, she’d be helpless. And they’d turned off her phone.

Or she’d turned it off for some reason and they’d taken advantage. Either way, I intended to find her.

Pretty soon I wouldn’t be the only one looking.