I awoke expecting the worse, like Ghost’s personal toilet or a punching bag for billions of hungry demons but found myself in a comfortable chair. Karma was sitting in my lap, evil smile on her face, enjoying her games.
“You didn’t turn me in?” I said. She shook her head, then stood, turning her back to me, unthreatened in the least. “Can I at least believe that you and Amelia share some kind of—”
“Yes and no,” Karma interrupted. “Do not put me in the naïve category with my baby sister. I’m only entertaining the amusement value of your situation before you fall to the depths, lost to us forever.” She turned back to me. “Have you ever heard of oracles called the King God’s tears?”
“No,” I replied, curious about the sudden subject change. There was a look in her eyes but I couldn’t decide if it meant worry or fear. But why?
“These runes, the oracles, tears, whatever you want to call them, could give even the stupidest demon or human the power of a god.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I said.
“Because you’re the only one who has no choice but to listen. You don’t fear me—so I’m giving you a history lesson. Take what I give you, or just let it fall out the other ear. I care not. What worries me is that the knight’s previous deployment happened on a suspicion of Ghost sending his most trusted demons to search for all the tears.” She sighed. “Never mind, what’s the point of telling the dead man?”
“You don’t have to do this,” I said. “But I will not beg for my life.”
Karma’s amusement seemed to increase because she grinned. I observed the surroundings, taking notice of what appeared to be a gold-covered lobby, a sofa, but no windows. Floating orbs of power provided lighting.
“You’re in my palace,” Karma said.
“Show-off,” I said. She laughed.
“This isn’t even that impressive, compared to the rest of the place. If only we were in different circumstances.” She said. “I’d probably make you a man, right in that chair and brag to Amelia about it.”
“You do know how much trouble you’d get in,” I said. “Or did you forget that we’re in Paradise Realm.”
“Are you sure?” She winked.
“Where are we?”
“That’s a secret.” Karma walked over and playfully poked my forehead. “You’re not in a position to know anything about my palace or its realm.”
I sighed. “So, what are you going to do with me? You wouldn’t have brought me into your place of power only to spill my guts all over it.” It was a bluff behind a brave face, a long shot, but I had to try. The perfectly white-teethed poster girl smile emerged again.
“Ding, ding, ding,” Karma said playfully. “I’ve got a fun proposition for you and believe me, you’d want to use it to buy as much time as possible.”
“Go on,” I told her.
“I’m going to hunt you in your city.”
“That sounds dirty.”
She laughed. “You will have a one-day head start, maybe. Prepare as much as possible or spend the last moments with your friends. Or both, I don’t care. This is a mercy. Do not try something silly like leaving the city or I’ll spill the beans to Conus and trust me, you don’t want that. Do we have deal?”
“I don’t think I really have a choice,” I said as I stood.
“Glad you see it my way. They’re waiting for you and already know of the hunt. You can choose to run like prey or fight. At least you’ll have something to brag about in the depths.”
“And if I win?” I said. Karma walked over, pulled me to her, and kissed me. I stepped back both annoyed and surprised by her sudden advances. If Amelia found out about any of this, she’d kill us both before I had the chance to proclaim my innocence.
“Your position in your family’s hierarchy continues to get more attractive by the second,” she said. “If you somehow pull off the miracle of besting me, the punisher, then I will serve you. Of course, if that happened, the universe will probably move galaxies aside just to let you past—maybe revealing that your fate is ten times greater than what we believe. But do not be foolish enough—”
“I know I can’t incapacitate you, goddamn unfair divine state, but I will try to best you. Don’t think for a moment that I’m going down without a fight.”
Karma chuckled. “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe if you surprise me, I’ll break the ancient rules for the first time and turn a blind eye. Now get going. You have maybe one day, possibly twenty-four earth hours, starting the second you arrive in that city.”
She clapped her hands once, releasing power, forcing me to ascend. A second later, I stood in a park of Middleburg, surrounded by Amelia, her friends, Sin, Devante, Elly, and even Amony. Amelia nodded, confirming that she really did receive the heads-up from her sister. Well, this was going to suck but it was either do or die. Literally
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Alvin Atwater is a man of humor, a starving author. With a unique writing style that can outshine even Jim Butcher, Patria Briggs, or Kevin Hearne, he is a character-driven lovable lump of mass. Born in Florida, he's on a mission to defeat his arch nemesis, Florida Man, once and for all.
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Author of the Blood for Soul series and a secret coming-of-the-age epic fantasy. Lover of anime and manga: so yeah, weeb shit? Fun. Sue me haha.
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