Chapter 23:


The Wizard's Virginity

Just as Fusae’s lips touched mine, I felt a massive force slam into me from the side. It was accompanied by one of the loudest noises my ears had ever endured. The impact made me roll over several times and, still restrained by Fusae’s living ropes, I was unable to stop myself. Eventually, I came to rest without being too badly hurt. Mainly just dizzy.

At first I thought that it was something Fusae was doing, some different type of breath magic, before I realised that the attack had been aimed at her. While I had gotten away with a bit of rolling, Fusae had been violently blasted back and crashed into the unmoving Reiko. The Japanese witches had toppled over in a tangle of slender limbs and long black hair.

“How you doing, kiddo?” Aoife stood over me, hands on her hips triumphantly. I looked up at her, and although her huge chest obscured her face from where I lay on the floor, I assumed she was smiling.

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “I thought you didn’t like fighting?”

“I’ve seen that Reiko girl skulking about here the last few days, so I figured you might turn up soon. And you’re right, I don’t like fighting. But I couldn’t have my little magic man giving his first time away to someone else, could I?”

“Well,” I said. “I’m glad you’re here. Now let’s get out-”

I stopped speaking as Aoife quite suddenly left the conversation. One second she was there, still doing her power pose, and the next she was flying at speed over me. I had been surprised enough by her ability to shoot out some kind of forcefield with her voice, which I assumed was what had just taken out Fusae, but flying was on a whole different level.

Then I saw the Sekkaku High Priestess, disentangled from her protege and upright again, her hand to her mouth. It seemed that Aoife’s sudden flight hadn’t been of her own volition. Straining against my restraints, I twisted to look at her, now crumpled against the wall. Not dead, from what I could tell, but definitely unconscious. Well, so much for that rescue attempt.

I turned back to Fusae, who appeared distinctly unimpressed at the interruption. She tried to take a step towards me, but couldn’t. Reiko, still on the floor, had her arms wrapped around her legs, holding on like a petulant child who starts screaming in the supermarket because their parents won’t buy them sweets. And as I had that thought, the girl did indeed start screaming. Wailing at the top of her lungs, exactly like a small child.

“Mamaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Ikanaideeeeeeeeeeeee!” Reiko cried.

It was disturbing to see her like this. She had been completely silent since turning up at my door with Fusae earlier that morning. And prior to that, I had only seen her cute school girl side or her emotionless psychobitch side. This was something else. The force of Aoife’s shout had thrown Fusae into Reiko, and as the two fell the young girl’s head must have taken a whack. This had triggered a full-on mental breakdown, just as Ms Matthews had predicted.

Fusae looked down, disgusted. She tried to shake her leg but Reiko held firm.

“Mamaaaaaaaaaaa!” she continued to scream.

Apparently at the end of her patience, Fusae raised her hand to her mouth, forming the now familiar shape with her hand. Reiko’s body spasmed as the breath missile slammed into her at close range, and then she was still.

“It will take more than that to kill her,” Fusae said matter-of-factly as she stepped out of Reiko’s grasp. “Anyway, her mind was still damaged from the confrontation with your friend. I will have to fix her when we reach Japan.”

I was filled with rage at the casual violence I had just seen. It was one thing for Fusae to attack Aoife. Still horrible, but they were enemies: it made sense. It was another thing to treat her own daughter like that, adopted or not.

Fix her?” I spat. “You’re the one who broke her! How could you play with someone’s mind like that? Can’t you see how messed up she is?” I paused for a second, and then asked, with dawning horror, “Is that what you’re going to do to me? Manipulate my mind with magic, so you can use me?”

When Fusae spoke, it was in the same soft tone that she had previously used. But looking at her eyes, I could tell that her own rage was simmering beneath the apparent calmness of her voice.

“Perhaps,” she said. “But it will not be the same. I helped Reiko. She was just a weak girl who did not realise how strong she could be. I rescued her from a pathetic life. I killed her worthless parents, and changed her memories so that she believed she had the satisfaction of doing it herself. I gave her the means to fight back. You, I will give nothing to. I will only take.”

“If you just want to take my power, then why not do it now? Why drag me halfway across the world?”

“I do not need your power,” she said simply. “I am already powerful enough.”

I was completely taken aback. “Then… Why? What do you want with me?”

“I want to hurt you, James. I want to make you suffer.” She smiled, clearly enjoying the look of fear forming on my face. “Not for a short time, but for a long, long time. Then, when I am bored, I will sell you. A weaker coven will pay a great price for someone like you.”

“Why?” I said again. “Why do you want to hurt me? I’ve not done anything to you. Wait, was it my dad? Is this a revenge thing?”

Fusae laughed coldly. “No, I never met your father. But I would have liked to. It is a shame he died before I had the chance.” She twisted her hands, and the ropes around me moved again, lifting my body into the air so that my face was level with hers. “I hate you, James. I hated your father, too. I hate any man who is blessed with magic.

"Why should you get to have all this power, just for being born male? This is magic that women spent thousands of years experimenting with, learning, and passing down to their followers. Things they did at great risk to themselves. Many were burned alive for it. Then men come along and just take that knowledge. Without the hard work. Without the suffering. You steal in hours what women have to earn over lifetimes. Even that speed you used, the way you avoided my attacks. That isn’t power you earned. It's revolting."

“But… I didn’t ask for this,” I said. “I didn’t choose to be born with this magic potential.”

“Maybe not. But then why didn’t you give your power to Reiko? I sent her to retrieve you, but she rebelled against me and tried to take you for herself. You could have just given it up, and let her have it. But you fought back. You got that Vindeca witch to defend you. You clung on to what was never yours. So do not try to claim innocence now.”

It was true. I did want to keep my powers. Of course I did. Ever since Dad died, my only dream had been to grow up into a powerful wizard. What’s more, I realised that I had felt entitled to magic powers, just because of who my dad was.

I never even considered the inequality of it. I had known that tomes were required to learn magic. I also knew that the overwhelming majority of magic users were women. It therefore made sense that the knowledge of those tomes was created and passed down by women. After absorbing the contents of the Vindeca tome, my first thought was about what other powers I could get. I didn’t think about the witches who had devoted their lives to developing those powers, or whether I deserved to have them. I just wanted them.

“You’re right,” I whispered.

“What did you say?” Fusae leaned in closer to hear me. Restrained as I was by her living ropes, she knew there was no threat I could pose to her.

I looked straight into her eyes and spoke again. “You’re right. I don’t deserve any powers. I’m just some lazy kid. I wanted magic powers because it seemed easy. A way to live a great life without putting in any effort. I’m not like Dan, or Reiko, or even Aoife. I’ve made zero effort. All I’ve done my whole life is wait for stuff to happen.”

Fusae was close enough to me that she could feel my breath on her face. Close enough, I hoped, that she could smell its orange scent.

“Even now,” I continued. “I’m waiting for something to happen. It might surprise you, but talking this much doesn’t come naturally to me. I never turn on voice chat when playing online games. I’m one of those guys. Text chat only, if that.”

I noticed Fusae’s nose twitch. She was sniffing. I had to keep talking.

“But anyway, while I know I don’t deserve magic, I have it. So I guess I have two choices. I can either resent myself for that. Look at myself every day in the mirror and say, ‘you lazy piece of shit, you didn’t earn this.’ Or, I can go a different way. I can try to do justice to those witches that cultivated the knowledge I’m now benefitting from. I can take my powers and I can use them for good things. Not just to give myself an easier life, but to help people. To help my family, and my friends. To help complete strangers, just like my dad did. Even to help my enemies. Maybe not you, I think you’re too far gone. But Reiko. I can try to help her.”

Fusae reached out her hand and grabbed my throat, cutting off my words. “Stop talking, fool.”

Shit. I could barely breathe. And I had been so close. I watched helplessly as Fusae put her lips against mine, and I waited for the inevitable descent into darkness as she put me to sleep.

The darkness didn’t come. In fact, the thing that did appear was Fusae’s tongue, pushing roughly into my mouth and rubbing against my own. She moaned deeply as she kissed me, and then pulled her lips away.

“I have changed my mind,” she said. “I think I will claim you for myself after all. Right now.”

She removed her hand from my throat, and used it instead to rip off my t-shirt. She began by stroking my chest, before her fingers crept down to my abdomen. The ropes holding me loosened slightly. Not enough to allow me to break free, but enough that I could tell that Fusae was losing her concentration.

Her hand reached my crotch, and she slid down the zip on my jeans. With a yank she pulled them off completely, leaving only my boxer shorts to protect my modesty.

“Hurry up!” I shouted.

“Don’t worry,” Fusae said. “It will be done soon.”

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

A thin red line appeared across Fusae’s throat. She raised her hand to it, surprised. The line grew wider and her head fell back, as blood began to spurt out from the incision like a fountain. Fusae collapsed to the floor, trying in vain to stop the bleeding with her hands. She died still wearing an expression of utter shock.

Reiko smiled, slowly lowering her hand from her mouth. “Take what you deserve, bitchi.”