Chapter 22:

The Best Laid Plans

The Wizard's Virginity

After all that build up, nothing seemed to happen. At least, not for a while. The way Ms Matthews had been talking about it, I was half-expecting Fusae to ambush us on the drive home. Instead, I found myself waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

Ms Matthews was the one who had recommended that Mum, Hayley and I return home to wait for Fusae’s attack. The house still had powerful magic barriers around it, erected by the Vindeca High Priestess herself. That meant that we wouldn’t be taken by surprise. It was also better that we not stay at Ms Matthews’ house, where Dan was still unconscious and a vengeful Reiko may decide to finish the job she started.

Despite all this, I still had some concerns about just going home to await near-certain death. Before leaving I had asked Ms Matthews, "How do we know Fusae won’t just sneak into my bedroom, breathe magical aphrodisiac into my nose and, erm, do it while I’m asleep".

“Agnies’ barrier will ensure that no unauthorised spells can be cast in or around your home.”

“Okay, but what if she used something non-magical? Like, a ladder. And one of the circular glass cutter things that thieves use to steal rare jewels from museums before Batman stops them. And then, you know, did it. I can’t exactly control the state of my body when I’m asleep.” I didn’t mention that controlling the state of my body was also a challenge while awake, aphrodisiac or not.

"There isn’t a huge amount of precedent for this situation,” Ms Matthews had said. “But the legends all speak of the man choosing to give up his chastity. There are different interpretations of what that actually means. Some think it requires a full-on Disney romance, some think it's a matter of spoken consent, whilst others believe that the man just has to be conscious and, ahem, engorged. It seems that your Reiko was in the latter camp."

While trying not to shudder at her use of the word ‘engorged’, I realised Ms Matthews had likely answered a question I’d had since last Friday. It now made sense why Reiko had chosen to wait for me to wake up rather than hopping on my boner while I was unconscious. Regardless, knowing that I was safe from having my magic potential taken while asleep didn’t do much to ease concerns about waking up to Fusae and/or Reiko holding a good old non-magical knife to my throat.

I spent the next few days on edge, killing time as I waited for the apparently inevitable fight with Fusae. I didn’t go to school, as it was important to stay within the perimeter of the magic barrier, and I also wanted to be close to Mum and Hayley. Besides, it would have been tough to find the motivation to revise when there was a good chance that I would be dead before I actually got to sit the exams. In fact, the possibility of not needing to do exams was one of the few positives of this situation.

Some of the time I spent acquainting myself with my new power. I was too nervous to use it for extended periods, fearing that if I exhausted myself too much, that would be the moment at which Fusae would make her appearance. Instead I focused on testing the limits of my new movement. What was the absolute fastest I could run? How far could I twist my body, and how quickly, with my new level of flexibility? I enlisted Hayley’s help. We found an old set of darts in the loft, and she enjoyed throwing them at me as I ran, jumped and spun out of the way. Hardly a good substitute for invisible magic darts, but at least it was something.

I also made sure to hang out with Hayley aside from my training. I had a newfound appreciation for my little sister after she had fought against Reiko, and we spent a lot of time chatting about our school experiences. As much as I disliked my own life in sixth form, it seemed that attending an all girls grammar school was pretty intense in its own way. At least when guys like that douchebag Cameron had a problem with me, they made it obvious. It turns out that when you’re a girl, your best friend might despise you for months but you wouldn’t hear about it until someone else eventually told you.

Besides the talking, I sometimes just sat quietly in Hayley’s room with her as she revised or drew pictures, messing about on my phone or reading. I knew in the back of my mind that it could be our last chance to spend time together. Often Mum would silently stand in the doorway, just watching us. I made a joke about her being creepy, to which she responded that I was the creepy one, as what kind of man would choose to sit alone with his 12 year old sister when there were two Japanese women wanting a ménage à trois with him? We all laughed, but there was a layer of sorrow beneath the laughter.

Although it was stressful, being on edge for days as I awaited Fusae’s attack, I was also grateful. Grateful for the extra time with my family, but more crucially, I figured that every passing day would increase the chance of the promised backup from Vindeca arriving, or of Dan coming to and being able to fight at my side. By Friday night I had stopped wishing that the Japanese witch would appear and get it over with, hoping instead that she would take her time. Hoping that I wouldn’t need to face her by myself.


On Saturday morning, the doorbell rang. I opened the front door and found a smartly dressed lady standing there. She had straight black hair, was wearing a long black coat and wide-brimmed black hat, and smiled brightly at me.

“Good morning. My name is Fusae Kitahara. Are you James Light?”

Fusae’s tone was incredibly polite. She just seemed like a friendly middle-aged lady, with the slightest trace of a Japanese accent.

“Erm, yes,” I answered.

“Wonderful. I believe you know my daughter, Reiko.”

Fusae turned to the side slightly, revealing Reiko standing behind her. She was wearing a fresh school uniform, but other than that, was not looking good. The parts of her skin that I could see, her face, arms and legs, were covered in cuts and bruises. In particular, there were lots of deep wounds around her lips and cheeks, presumably the result of Dan punching her own breath darts back into her mouth. I guessed that the Sekkaku coven didn’t have access to the same regenerative spells that Vindeca did, presumably specialising more in dealing injuries than healing them. Reiko was facing the ground, eyes wide, and swaying slightly. There was something very wrong with her, even more so than usual.

The Sekkaku High Priestess, meanwhile, was continuing to smile as though her presence on my front doorstep was the most natural thing in the world. Rather than looking like an evil being here to kidnap me, she looked like a kindly parent coming round to mediate a disagreement between her daughter and her daughter’s friend. As though she was about to say something like, ‘I heard that my little Reiko tried to rape you and steal your magic potential. I’m so sorry about that! Go on, darling, you apologise as well.’

Instead, she simply said, “I would like you to come with me, please.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

Fusae laughed gently, putting her hand to her mouth in what seemed to be the more mature version of the Japanese school girl ‘tee hee’. I was just thinking that she looked quite attractive for an older lady, when she responded.

“Well, if you refuse to accompany me, then I’m afraid I will have to kill your family. Are your mother and sister home?”

Her tone was the same as before, polite and warm. But I noticed a change in her eyes. A cold sharpness. I knew immediately that her threat was not an idle one.

Without answering, I stepped outside and closed the front door. It was sad not to say goodbye to Mum and Hayley, but they had been watching me from the stairs, and knew this was coming. And I didn’t want Fusae to even get a look at them.

“Excellent choice,” Fusae beamed. “There is a taxi waiting for us. Please come this way.”

Sure enough, a short distance down the road was a white car with the livery of a local taxi firm. We walked towards it, Fusae leading the way, followed by an apparently dazed Reiko, then followed by me. This marching order seemed to indicate that Fusae was not worried that I may try to make a run for it, or she would have positioned me in between her and Reiko. Either she knew that I was taking her threat against my family seriously, or she was confident that if I did try to run, she would be able to catch me. Perhaps both were true.

She also did not seem concerned at all about the possibility of anyone else coming to help me. I had set up a Find My Phone app on mine, Mum’s and Hayley’s phones, just so we were ready if anything happened. I had agreed with Mum that she would update Ms Matthews on my location, in case any of the Vindeca reinforcements did arrive in time to come and help me. I wondered if Fusae would predict that and search me, but she did not, and my phone remained safely in my pocket. For now, my plan was to comply with Fusae. Either until help came, or until I saw an opportunity to resist.

We reached the taxi and Fusae exchanged a few quiet words with the driver, and then she opened the door for Reiko and I to enter. The two of us sat in the backseat, while Fusae sat in the front passenger seat. The driver turned up the radio and we set off, our destination unknown to me. I don’t know what I had expected from Fusae’s arrival, but it definitely didn’t involve a leisurely car ride whilst listening to Billie Eilish.

As we drove I looked at Reiko sitting next to me. She was still staring down at her feet, her eyes glazed over. I thought back to Ms Matthews’ insistence that, ‘Reiko is an enemy. If you do not see her that way, she will take advantage of that, and you will die.’ The girl next to me might be an enemy, but she already looked broken. All I could feel was pity for her. I knew that I should be getting ready to attack her, to remove her from the fight. Ms Matthews and Mum told me not to hold back, but knowing of Reiko’s abusive childhood, and that Fusae was somehow controlling her... It made the idea of hurting her hard to stomach.

I recognised the route the taxi was taking, and before long, we were parked outside the school gates.

“It looks pretty closed, love. You sure you want to be dropped off here?” the driver asked.

“Thank you for your concern,” Fusae replied politely, “but I have a key, so please do not worry.”

As the taxi driver pulled away, I saw what Fusae meant by a key. Her lips moved into an O shape, and she brought her hand to her mouth in much the same way Reiko did when preparing to fire a breath dart. On closer examination, I realised her fingers were positioned slightly differently. While Reiko kept her thumb and forefinger close, as though holding something tiny, Fusae’s were held further apart. The reason for this became clear as I watched the padlock on the gate disappear, along with a circular portion of the gate itself. Fusae’s breath projectiles weren’t darts. They were missiles. Both larger and more destructive than what Reiko had used.

The gate swung open and Fusae led us through it. It was frightening to see such a casual demonstration of power, but another part of me was pleased. As Ms Matthews had predicted, Fusae’s powers were an extension of Reiko’s, meaning they also stemmed from her breath. That meant my plan could work.

Emboldened by that thought, I asked Fusae a question. “Why are you bringing me here?”

“My daughter informed me that there is an old building on your school grounds that is rarely used. We will keep you there until our return transport has been arranged.”

How very full circle. The Old Building, where Reiko and I had first formed our ‘friendship’ over shared bentos, and where she then revealed herself as a witch and tried to have sex with me. It was also the place where I had later found Dan and Aoife duking it out in the basement, which was when I first found out that my friend was not who they said they were. It seemed appropriate that it would all end in this location. In one way or another.

The double doors leading into the Old Building were unlocked, so they were spared one of Fusae’s breath missiles. By this point, Fusae had stepped back and allowed Reiko to lead the way. The girl wordlessly took us past Ms Matthews’ classroom, but stopped short of the basement. We were in a long, empty corridor, with doors leading to unused classrooms on either side. Apparently this was considered secluded enough.

“Good girl, Reiko. I am pleased that you have finally started to behave.” Fusae reached out a hand to stroke Reiko’s hair and the girl flinched. Fusae just smiled, and then turned to me. “Now then, James. It is time for you to sleep. When you wake up, you will be in Japan.”

With that simple declaration, Fusae advanced towards me. She breathed in, and I knew that she was preparing to use some of the same sleeping breath that Reiko had knocked me out with. I was scared, but it was clear that this would be my only chance. I had wanted to avoid fighting until it was absolutely necessary, still hoping for the arrival of backup to improve my odds. But if I was unconscious, then there was nothing I could do. It was now or never.

I leapt backwards as far as I could, instantly putting several metres between me and Fusae. She reacted immediately, appearing to swallow what I assumed was the knock-out breath, and instead replacing it with her missile breath as she brought her hand to her mouth. This is what I had prepared for. She let fly with her missiles, firing them at me at speed. Obviously I could not see them, but thankfully, as with Reiko’s darts, they seemed to only shoot straight. Meaning that so long as I watched the direction her cupped hand was pointing, I could tell where they would go.

I bent forward as a missile flew over me, smashing into the wall behind where I stood. I then ran to the left as a volley of further missiles came at me, one after the other. It wasn’t easy, but I was keeping up. Whereas I had been helpless against Reiko’s darts, now I was skillfully evading Fusae’s far more potent missiles. My body flew from side to side at amazing speed, exactly as I commanded it to. I continued to stare at Fusae’s face, to determine the direction of her shots, and behind her hand I saw her expression harden. The smile she had been wearing until that point slipped off, replaced by a scowl. This was good. It meant she had not been expecting this.

The missiles continued flying, and I began my plan in earnest. Calling it a plan was probably a bit generous, as it involved only a single step: Get close enough to Fusae to cover her mouth, and neutralise her breath magic. I knew she could shoot invisible missiles, as I was dodging them at that moment, and I suspected that she could also use her breath as sleeping gas and as an aphrodisiac, just like Reiko. What worried me was what else she might be able to do with her breath. I intended to stop her before she had a chance to demonstrate.

A missile came flying at my feet, and I jumped over it, using the opportunity to move closer to my opponent. It was important to look like I was only dodging, as if Fusae knew I was trying to get closer to her, she might deploy some new sort of countermeasure. So I took a two steps forward, one step back approach. It was all incredibly fast, as Fusae was firing several missiles a second, but I could keep up.

Finally, after what felt like an age but couldn’t have been more than a minute, I gauged that I was close enough to make my final move. I leapt forward, feigning to the right as though I would be rushing past Fusae, but then stopping just as I was next to her. I turned, stretched out my hand, and clamped it onto her mouth. With the momentum of my movement, I spun her around, so I was behind her. With my right hand still holding her mouth shut, I extended my left arm around her body and pinned her arms to her torso, holding her tightly close to me.

“Sorry about this, but you’re gonna have to hold your breath for a bit. Reiko, you stay where you are.”

My shouted warning was likely unnecessary, as Reiko still stood in the same position. She hadn’t moved at all during mine and Fusae’s brief battle, almost as though she was unaware of what was happening, all her focus being directed on the patch of floor in front of her. It was weird, but at least it meant that I wouldn’t need to fight her.

Fusae tried to wriggle against me, but I was holding her firm. Once she stopped struggling, I was going to use all my speed to rush forward into the wall, slamming her head into it and knocking her out. It wasn’t a very controlled approach, and I knew there was a risk that I would do more than knock her unconscious… But I also knew that Fusae was dangerous, and fighting alone, this seemed the only way to completely incapacitate her. I didn’t relish the idea of potentially taking someone’s life, even someone who was by all accounts a very bad person, but Fusae had made it clear that it was either me or her.

Bracing myself, I lent forward, forcing Fusae to bend with me so that her head would make contact with the wall. She stopped struggling for a moment, and right then, I pushed off from the ground with all my might, running headlong into the wall. We made contact, and I felt the violent vibration run through my chest from where Fusae’s head had smashed into the brick. I still held her body, but it had gone completely limp. I let go and she fell lifelessly to the floor.

I looked down at her for a few moments. Fusae was face down and still. She wasn’t breathing. It was over. Somehow, I had won.

I needed to get out of there. I could process the fact that I had killed a person later, and boy, it would take a lot of processing. First, I needed to decide what to do about Reiko. Should I leave her here, standing gormlessly next to the dead body of her mentor, or should I take her with me? She didn’t seem to pose any threat in her current state, and maybe now that I had dealt with Fusae, Ms Matthews would be willing to try to help her.

I turned to face Reiko. She was where I had left her, but standing next to her was someone else. Fusae. Mouth smiling, but eyes deathly cold.

I couldn’t help turning back to where Fusae’s apparent corpse lay, but there was nothing there. In less than a second, just as I looked away, it had disappeared.


“The techniques of the Sekkaku coven go far beyond the breath. Your strategy may have been effective on Reiko, but the spells I have at my disposal stretch back to ancient Japan. That was called kawarimi. I would tell you more about it, but as I said, it is time for you to sleep.”

Fusae launched a breath missile, and I didn’t even try to dodge it. It hit me square in the chest. I wondered if I was going to die, before realising that it wasn’t sharp, like Reiko’s darts, but blunt. Presumably another element of Fusae’s more advanced magic, allowing her to adjust each projectile at will. The wind was knocked out of me, and I lay on the floor, gasping for air.

Fusae made a swift movement with her hands, and I felt rope materialise around me, snaking up my body of its own accord. I was now tied up, still struggling to breath, and could do nothing to resist when Fusae stepped over to me.

She crouched down, held my chin, and brought my mouth to hers.