Chapter 17:

Fighting Back

The Wizard's Virginity

With those words, Reiko’s whole attitude switched. She went from an extreme version of her cute school girl mode, to what I thought of as her robot mode. No unnecessary movements or expressions. All of her was primed for combat. I knew then that a fight was unavoidable.

I had tried lying. I had tried talking to her, hoping to find some thread of humanity. Both had failed. Now I was left with the choice to either just give up and die, or to fight back and die anyway. With my little sister in the room behind me, I realised there wasn’t even a choice to be made.

There was also one more thing. One last trump card that I hoped I could pull out if I needed to. I remembered the Incident, back when I had single-handedly fought off four guys who were older and stronger than I was. I had taken a few hits, when suddenly something had snapped, and I was able to shrug off their attacks and throw them across the room. To the extent that the teachers thought I must have been a martial arts expert. At the time, I chalked it up to a combination of adrenaline and luck, but as I had learnt more about magic in recent days, I had begun to believe that it was something else. Aoife had told me that I didn't have any powers, only potential. But how else could I explain what happened back then?

I thought… Or, rather, I hoped that I must have some kind of latent magical power, that would only come up in a dire situation. I wasn’t sure about it at all, but this was certainly a dire situation. So it seemed like the perfect time to test my theory.

I adopted my own version of a fighting stance. By that, I mean I tried my best to imitate a Tekken character’s idle pose: fists up, legs apart, chin down. Since I’d spent all that time playing video games rather than learning any useful self-defence skills, I was at least trying to make use of what I had learnt.

Reiko’s expression remained unchanged when she saw me change my stance. I had hoped for her to maybe look a little scared, but more realistically, I had expected her to laugh. It was unnerving when she did neither, and just continued to coldly observe me.

After a second, she brought her hand up to her mouth, a movement I recognised from Friday. It was the same one she did just before shooting one of her breath darts. I took that as my cue, and dived forwards, intending to headbutt her with all my strength. I didn’t make contact. She calmly stepped out of the way, leaving me to hurtle through the air and skid across the floor face first. I grimaced as I felt pieces of smashed glass and other debris from the rubbish-strewn floor grind into my skin.

I quickly rolled over to face her, sitting up and raising my arms ready for a counterattack, but Reiko made no effort to approach me. She just watched me, although this time I noticed that her expression had changed, almost imperceptibly. One corner of her mouth was slightly curved upwards. She was starting to enjoy herself.

That thought made me angry. I was fighting for my life, for my sister’s life, and Reiko was just toying with me. With a shout of rage, I pushed myself up from the floor, trying to make it look as though I was reaching up for her face. Instead, I went lower, ducking back to floor level and trying to make a grab for her feet, to throw her off balance.

Reiko neatly stepped over me, again using the smallest amount of movement necessary to avoid my attack, which she anticipated perfectly. I was still on the floor, and rolled over once again to look up at Reiko.

“Have you finished playing on the floor, Jamesu-san?”

“Not yet…”

I made a show of struggling to my feet, keeping an eye on Reiko to check she didn’t move. Then I threw a wide punch with my left fist. As expected, Reiko exerted the minimum effort to neatly step out of the way. That, combined with her underestimating me based on my pathetic performance so far, meant that she wasn’t ready when I brought round my right hand. She noticed in time to lean back away from me, but not enough to avoid it when I opened my palm and flung chunks of broken glass into her face.

She shrieked and jumped backwards, putting some substantial distance between us for the first time. I knew this was likely to be my only chance.

I ran forwards again, praying that the situation had grown intense enough for my hidden powers to trigger. With all my force I launched myself at Reiko, who had her hands to her face, trying to recover from my attack. This time I did make contact, my shoulder smashing into Reiko’s torso and my momentum pushing both of us to the floor.

As soon as we landed I moved to jump up, ready to kick her while she was still dazed. At least, I tried to. I found that I was still on the floor. I couldn’t move.

Reiko muttered something in Japanese as she slowly got to her feet. She stood above me, and while my arms and legs wouldn’t respond, I found that I could twist my neck enough to make eye contact with her.

“I am impressed that you managed to hurt me,” she said. “But that will be the final time.”

“What… What have you done to me?”

“I learnt a lot from my coven. For example, I know which nerves to target to stop you from moving for a while. And when you were so close to me, it was easy to hit the correct areas.”

I now realised, too late, that Reiko hadn’t just been holding her face in pain after I had thrown the glass shards at her. The reason her hands were at her face was to throw projectiles of her own: her breath darts, which were far more fatal than the glass pieces I happened to find on the floor. I should have noticed that and gotten as far away from her as I could. Instead, I got cocky, and ran straight into her.

I couldn’t feel my arms, but turned my head to see that they were each bleeding from small spots in my biceps. Presumably those were the location of the nerves which Reiko had hit.

There was nothing I could do to resist as Reiko put her foot under me and flipped me over to face upwards. Despite all my efforts, I had ended up in the same situation as Friday. Unable to move, powerless to do anything as Reiko prepared to have sex with me.

With a quick movement of her hand to her mouth, she shot several more invisible darts at my trousers, and the fabric fell about my legs. She knelt down on the floor, placing her knees on either side of my hips, and began to rub herself on my crotch. As she did so, she brought her mouth to mine, and I felt warm air that smelled of oranges fill my lungs.

There was nothing intimate about this. Nothing appealing. I couldn’t even consider it a kiss; she breathed into me as though giving CPR. The movements on my crotch were not passionate. They were rhythmic and deliberate, their purpose solely to motivate my penis into getting hard enough that she could use it. She looked down at me with dead eyes, preparing to extract what she needed from my body, and then end my life. Needless to say, this was not how I imagined my first time would be.

There was nothing more I could do. I closed my eyes…


I heard a sound and opened my eyes. Standing there above us, a massive book in her small hands, was Hayley.


I didn’t have time to process this surprise before Hayley raised the book above her, and brought it down on the back of Reiko’s head again. Reiko had still been reeling from the first hit, and did nothing to deflect the second blow.

“Grab her, James!” Hayley shouted.

I tried to. Tried to put my arms around Reiko in a bear hug, to hold her still while she was still out of it, so Hayley could continue whacking her. But, of course, my arms were still frozen.

“No, Hayley, run!”

My warning came too late. Hayley had raised the book high for a third strike, but Reiko had now recovered. She flipped backwards off me and grabbed Hayley by both wrists. The book dropped to the floor next to my head with a loud thud. Hayley had lost her only weapon.

“Keep struggling!” I shouted to my sister.

It was probably unnecessary for me to shout that, given Hayley’s already aggressive writhing about, but I had realised something. Every time Reiko used her breath darts, she brought her hand to her mouth to throw them. If she was using both her hands to restrain Hayley, then maybe she wouldn’t be able to deal the finishing blow. It would give us more time. More time for what, I didn’t know, but in a situation where we were on the verge of being killed, every second seemed to count.

Hayley was putting up a valiant effort, her abundance of energy and loud voice helping to make things as difficult as possible for Reiko. As I expected, it seemed that the Japanese girl was trying to free up one of her hands, but every time she tried loosening her grip Hayley redoubled her escape efforts.

Eventually, Reiko changed tact. Rather than relying on her magic, she simply raised a leg, and kicked out at Hayley with all her force. With Hayley’s arms restrained, she was unable to defend herself, and took the full blow of Reiko’s attack. I grimaced as I watched the pain in my sister’s face, and heard her gasp as the wind was knocked out of her lungs. Her arms went limp, and Reiko dropped her to the floor in a crumple.

Now both of us Light siblings were incapacitated on the floor. The brother and the sister, waiting for death. Tears began to fall from my eyes at the injustice of it all. Hayley was only 12 years old. Unlike me, she had a bright future ahead of her. She worked hard, she was kind, had lots of friends, and she had nothing to do with any of this. What’s more, she had regained consciousness and somehow freed herself, and could easily have run away whilst Reiko was busy with me. Instead, she chose to stay, and to try and help me. Her useless older brother, who just stayed in his room all day, and wouldn’t even look at her painting. I could almost accept my own death. But Hayley… It just wasn’t fair.

I watched helplessly as Reiko lifted her hand to her mouth once again, preparing to deal the finishing blow.

Then, suddenly, Reiko was gone. I heard a cracking sound, and I could have sworn it came after Reiko disappeared, like hearing thunder after the lightning has already been and gone.

My brain slowly constructed what had just happened. Reiko hadn’t disappeared, but had been knocked aside with such speed and force that it looked like she had. I blinked my tears away so I could see more clearly, to make out what had thrown Reiko aside so easily. Or rather, who.

There was a figure standing there, small, wearing black clothes. But this time, her hood was down.

Dan was still only for a moment, before leaping forward at Reiko at incredible speed. She was applying the same tactic I had tried earlier, of leaping forward to deal a second blow whilst Reiko was still stunned. With Dan’s speed and power, it was successful this time.

Reiko tried to evade and failed, taking another powerful kick from Dan, which pushed her out into what seemed to be the flat’s kitchen. I realised that Dan wasn’t just laying into Reiko without purpose. She was specifically trying to force her further away from me and Hayley, giving us a chance to escape.

I tried again to move my limbs, and while feeling was starting to return, I still found that I could barely do more than twitch them. Similarly, Hayley was on the floor wheezing, curled up into a ball, in no state to run away. For now, we just had to rely on Dan.

I could no longer see the fight, but I could still hear the crashing of violent movement, as well as grunts and yells from the two girls. Dan hopped back into view, and cast a quick look at me and Hayley.

“Why are you still here?! Go!” she shouted.

“We can’t!” I shouted back, followed by, “look out!”

Reiko had taken advantage of Dan’s temporary lack of attention to launch a counterattack. I saw her hand moving from her mouth again and again, and at the same time, multiple rips appeared in Dan’s clothing. Dan screamed as she was cut all over, immediately falling back and taking cover in a doorway. I watched as blood gushed out from all the holes that Reiko had just torn into her body.

Reiko was also in a pretty bad state, staggering towards the doorway where Dan hid. It seemed that the last barrage of breath darts had used up a lot of her energy, and now the two of them were in similar states of injury. In other words, the girl who dealt the next blow would likely be the winner.

Then Reiko stopped. She had been approaching Dan, and Dan had been preparing to lash out at her just when she got close enough. I could see all of this from where I lay on the floor. But now, Reiko turned away from Dan’s hiding place, and looked at me and Hayley. She smiled widely, a sudden flare of cruelty in her face that was visible even from a distance. I realised with horror what she was about to do.

“Reiko, no!” I screamed.

Her hand was already to her face, forefinger and thumb at her mouth, her lips pursed. I braced myself for the barrage of darts that would end mine and my sister’s life.


With an incredible shout, Dan leapt from the doorway where she had been hiding, and placed her body directly in front of Reiko. Reiko’s darts had been aimed downwards, towards me and Hayley on the floor, and so they began to tear into Dan’s torso. At the same time, Dan drove her right fist directly into Reiko’s mouth. I saw blood erupt from the area, though I couldn’t tell if it came from Dan’s fist as it was ripped to shreds by the darts still coming out of Reiko’s mouth, or from Reiko’s mouth as it was smashed at full force by Dan’s punch. Likely, it was a mixture of both.

Reiko made a disgusting, guttural sound. A scream without words, mixed with a gurgle as blood filled her mouth. I waited for her to turn her rage into another attack, but instead, she ran past me and Hayley, and burst out through the window of the flat’s living room. It seemed that she made a habit of exiting fights by smashing through windows.

I looked at Dan, and said excitedly, “You did it! You won!”

At that moment, I had forgotten all about my friend’s betrayal, how she had hidden her true identity from me for years. All I cared about was that Hayley and I were safe. And that was thanks to Dan.

Dan slowly turned to face me, and smiled. No matter who Dan really was, I knew that smile. It was the smile of the friend I had grown up with.

Her knees buckled, and she fell to the ground. It was then that I noticed just how messed up she was. Blood was pouring out from every part of her body, and in some places it seemed like entire chunks of flesh had been cut away from her.

I found that I could actually move my limbs slightly now, and dragged myself over to her, pulling my body across the floor through the blood. When I reached Dan I lifted myself up to sit with my legs outstretched, and Dan let her head fall into my lap. I felt a bit weird about having Dan’s head in my lap when I wasn’t wearing any trousers, but it seemed like a pretty small concern at a time like this.

Dan spoke first. “I’m so sorry I lied to you.”

“Mate, don’t worry about that, it’s all good!” I said. “Well, actually, it’s not all good, as I did suffer the ultimate betrayal at the hands of my only friend. But I think you’ve started to make up for it with the whole saving my life thing.”

Dan chuckled, but as she did so, some blood spilled from her mouth. I propped her head up more, as though doing so would stop the blood from leaving her mouth and keep it in her body, where it belonged.

“I think you better use some of those body recovery spells you mentioned,” I said. “Now seems like a good time for it.”

“I think it’s too late for that, buddy. I’m not powerful enough to come back from something like this.”

“Come on, don’t be like that! I only said you’d started to make up for the betrayal. There’s lots more you need to do!”

“James, I need you to know.” Dan spoke clearly, but her eyelids fluttered open and closed as she did so. “At first I was with you because the High Priestess ordered it. To protect you from any threats until your thirtieth birthday. But, the more time we spent together, the more I knew… Our friendship was real.”

"So, what,” I tried to speak in a jokey way. “Because you were ordered to, you were going to spend the next thirteen years protecting me? What the hell, man? Don't you have anything better to do with your life?"

Dan tried to shrug, but couldn't move her body. "It wouldn't have been so bad, right? We could have gone to uni together, or done an apprenticeship or something. Hung out each day, eventually getting jobs. We could have had a man cave to sit around in and play games. Watch films. Talk about girls you fancied, but would never be willing to touch." Dan’s eyes had now closed, and her voice grew softer. "It wouldn't have been so bad."

“No.” I held her head close to me. “It wouldn't have been bad at all.”