tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Succubae Seduction Ch. 24

The Succubae Seduction Ch. 24


With Commander Douglas dead, and the needed talisman in hand, Lyden must face his newly rediscovered father. He must bring the deadly curse of Muramasa to an end. Can his sanity withstand the consequences of doing so, or will he lose something he holds most dear?

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Chapter 24
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I stand silently outside Shemhazau's door. My father's door. For most of my life I'd thought him dead, but now I know better. Inside this small hut is the man that helped bring me into this world, who'd raised me until that fateful day on the lake. And who is obviously mad with the curse of Masamune and living here in the Pillar of Light's domain, using the paranoia of the place to stave off his sword's effects.

How do I face him, knowing what I do now? I'd already talked to him once, sure, but then I'd thought he was just a means to an end and a silent benefactor. His actions take on a whole new light as I think back over what Angela had told me. He'd sent her to my office that day. He'd helped repair the Orange Bubble into a magical vehicle that Areth had made even more magical afterwards. How many other times had he helped me from the background, never letting his hand be seen?

Why couldn't he just be there for me like any other father?

This is getting me nowhere, I think, while shaking my head to rid it of all the unanswered questions.

Brooke had reluctantly handed over the talisman before I'd left to follow the tiny dolphin back here, and I grip it almost painfully in my hand now. She had almost died to secure this for me. Is that why Shemhazau had made her go with me? For revenge in her part of my mother's murder?

I pound hard on the door, not willing to think on that thought too much. The wooden entrance swings open on silent hinges, and I squint in order to try and see into the gloom. A golden object flies out at me, and I don't even have time to duck before Areth has her body plastered to the side of my face in a fierce hug, or at least as fierce as her tiny arms can make it. Angela is only a couple steps behind her, but her hug is much stronger due to the size difference and the fact that she is still in her Amazon form.

"Ribs . . . cracking," I gasp, not entirely wanting them to quit.

"I was so worried," the succubus squeals. "Shemhazau was able to watch the whole thing through his dolphins, but he refused to say anything after Brooke. . . ." She steps back suddenly, hand over her mouth, and looks past me. "Oh, no! Lyden, I'm so sorry, I. . . ." She trails off as tears spring from her eyes and she hugs me again, this time softer, and I can feel her sobbing against my shoulder.

I never thought I'd see an Amazon cry, much less over the mermaid, but I don't let her stay misinformed. "She's alive," I whisper as softly as I can. I don't know if he'd meant for her death or not, but I don't want Shemhazau knowing everything. I still don't trust him.

"Of course she's alive," the man bellows from within the darkened hut. So much for keeping that a secret! "You asked for my help, son, and I gave it." I guess he can read internal thoughts much as Angela can.

"Wait," I state, shocked, "you're the reason I was able to heal her?"

"Don't sound so incredulous. I, well, you might say I had a hand in it." The way he says 'hand'. . . .

"You somehow healed her through what you did with her hand?" That doesn't seem to make sense, but weirder things have happened since I found out about this other world.

"Don't be so dense, boy. You healed her. I just demonstrated the way to do it with her hand. You are my son, after all." The two women gasp at this revelation, and I realize that the crazy old coot hadn't revealed that to them yet.

I think back to when Brooke lay motionless in my arms, and remember kissing her, full of emotion. Had that been the catalyst?

I notice the look on Angela's face, a cross between anger and incredulity.

"If he's your father. . . ." Her gaze switches between Shemhazau and me, "Then everything I've done since that day for him. . . ." Slowly she walks over to the old man and looks at him sharply. Without warning, the strong woman's arm flies out and slaps him across the face. The man stumbles under the blow, and I'm too shocked to react. "I trusted you!" she bellows at him. "You were like a father to me, and you used me for your own purposes. If you'd have just told me the truth, I would have done anything for you." She lifts her arm to strike him again, but this time I break from my paralysis and catch her arm in my left hand. She turns her glare on me, angry at being thwarted, but I step in quickly and plant a soft kiss on her lips.

"I still love you," I tell her softly. Confusion at the juxtaposition of my words and her actions registers in her large blue eyes.

"He used me, Lyden. He lied to me." There is genuine pain in her tone, and I glare at my father as I hug her to me. He steps further into the light, and I finally get to see his eyes. They are as gray as mine are and filled with sorrow.

"I have a feeling he's used a great many people in his lifetime," I tell her soothingly.

"Do you want me to blast him, Lyden?" Areth asks me. The thought of the little pixie trying to blast Shemhazau is almost laughable, and I remember Brooke's warning that he's nearly as powerful as the Pillars are. It does strike me as a bit odd that the pixie is willing to do battle for the succubus's pride.

"No. I think he's hurting enough already," I tell the pixie. I turn back to my old man, and fix him with a piercing glare. "I think there is a lot we need to discuss," I tell him, my voice firm.

He nods at me, and smoothly walks back inside. I catch sight of his right hand, the one that hadn't been against his cheek, and see a glow slowly fade away. He'd been ready for battle.

I lead the succubus inside, and mentally send her the image of her as a punk as I sit down, and pull her into my lap. She's quite a bit lighter in this form, and she seems grateful for the affection. Areth lands on her favorite spot, my right shoulder, and we wait for Shemhazau to speak.

The old man stares at us for a bit, before finally clearing his throat, "So, what would you have me talk about?"

"How about at the beginning," I say slipping my arm around Angela and patting her leg to indicate my meaning.

"The beginning goes back further than you may know, son. If you want my history, I'm sure you can find plenty of tales about me on the internet. Surprisingly many of them are true." I'm surprised he's familiar with the internet, but as knowledgeable as he constantly is, I guess I shouldn't be. "But I suspect you want to know about other things," he nods to Angela with a small smile, but she just sniffs and cuddles closer to me. The older man sighs heavily and lays his head back against his chair and closes his eyes.

"It was your mom, Lyden, who convinced me to help out Angela. As mermaids are forbidden to enter the old world, she couldn't do it openly. We used to visit there anyway, just for fun." Sadness enters his tone as he talks about my mother. "Your mom wanted to have a child, but since our union was anathema, we knew we never could. I used to rule over all succubae long ago, and since Angela was a newly formed one, we thought it would be perfect for me to help her." This explains how he was able to read my surface thoughts earlier, as the ruler of the sexual demons, it must be one of his powers. I realize how well informed this man seems to be about what I know, as well as the rest of the world, and can only think that his dolphins have something to do with this.

"But I don't remember ever meeting her," Angela says, refuting the man's story.

"No, but she watched over you, nonetheless," he replies, still keeping his eyes closed. A small smile spreads over his face as he continues to look into the past. "I was the face you saw, but there were many things she did for you in the background. No, I won't talk about them now, they were too many, and I don't want to think much on that. It still hurts, losing her.

"Anyway, in the throes of passion one night, your mother got with child. That same night, we were discovered in our union by Douglas's wife. She reported us, of course, and we fled. I'm older than human history, but even I can die by an assassin's blade. We hid on Earth, and that's where you were born, Lyden. We took the last name of Snow—a poor joke on your mother being from Water, and the cold treatment they gave us here in this realm—and tried to live as normal humans.

"For reasons I'll never know, Douglas never gave up looking for us, and somehow found where we were." His voice takes on an edge now as anger fills it. Why had Douglas been so adamant in finding my parents? Too much is going on, and I'll never be able to ask the other man. "We thought we were safe. We went for a trip on the lake. Your mother missed swimming most of all, and the closest we could come was boat rides. When the two assassins came for us, we were nearly defenseless. Your friend snatched you out of the boat while your mother pleaded for your life. She cared more for you than anything else." He pauses again, and I can see a tear leak out of his eye.

"Her pleas were cut short when Douglas ran her through." Righteous anger suffuses his tone now. "It all happened so quickly. All I had on me was a small dagger in my boot." He snorts derisively. "I pulled it out, ready to sacrifice myself to avenge you and your mother. Douglas laughed at me, and to my surprise at the time, threw me a sword. I was angry and desperate—not thinking straight after losing both of you—but I still should have known it was a trap. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I drew Masamune from its sheath. The assassin had worn gloves, but I was bare handed. The curse took me, and I couldn't fight him. When he attacked, all I could do was defend myself, using both blades."

He shakes his head, but I can see his knuckles are white as he grips the arms of his chair. "Thankfully the curse was still new enough, that I was able to get in a lucky strike with my dagger, and get away. I hid out until they left, and found you on the bottom of the lake, okay. I don't know what possessed the female assassin to spare your life, but I suspected she would be back, so I watched over you with my dolphins until she returned. I continued to watch over you from the shadows. I had to watch from a distance while you grew up into the person you are today. You'll never know how hard that was, but I did it for your own safety." Again, I marvel at how strong he must be, and how much his dolphins must aid him.

He opens his eyes, and looks to Angela for a few seconds before continuing, "It was shortly after Douglas killed my wife that I brought you to the new world for the first time. You accused me of using you. . . . I won't deny that I did, but I never wanted you to be in harm's way. I didn't know you would grow feelings for my true son. I never meant to hurt you, Angela, as I have always tried to treat you as my daughter." He chuckles a bit to himself. "If I hadn't spent so much time as the leader of a species that delights in sex in all its glory, I might have a problem with my two children being together."

"He's not my brother," Angela says at the same time I claim, "She's not really my sister!" We look at each other, and then laugh a little uncomfortably. She tries to get up from my lap, but I tighten my grip on her, and force her to stay where she is. She gives me a thankful look, and then a quick peck on the cheek.

My father misses none of this, of course, but he drops his head back, and continues speaking. "Yes, I sent Angela to you, Lyden, and yes I've manipulated events since then." He draws in a deep breath, and the way he does so, makes me think I'm not about to like what he has to say next. "I'm the reason you have that cursed blade at your hip."

I charge to my feet in outrage and shock, unfortunately dumping Angela, and sending Areth angrily fluttering away. "You WHAT?!?" I demand, rage infusing my entire being at his revelation.

Despite my actions, Shemhazau remains seated, his eyes closed and his voice steady, if not completely calm. "I stole the blade from Marchosias, placed a new hilt on the tang, and delivered it into his fantasy world, giving it to you."

"Why would you do that?" I demand, painfully holding the referenced grip. He had intentionally cursed me? I don't even want to know how he was able to slip into Marchosias's world, to give it to me.

His eyes open again, and if ever I'd thought he was crazy or not altogether there, those notions fly right out of my head. What I see in his light gray eyes is pure cunning. Before me is a man who doesn't just think things through, but plans for every contingency. There isn't an action that occurs around him, that he hasn't already prepared for or set in motion.

"You intended for Brooke to die." The words are out of my mouth, before the thought had completely formed in my head, but as soon as I speak, I know them for truth.

"I knew there was a chance she would die," he tells me without blinking. "I also knew there was a chance she would survive. I gave you the best chance of making sure she lived. If she died, though, then it would have been small penance for her part in your mother's murder."

"Bullshit," I exclaim indignantly. "That's why you sent her and me alone. And what about her helping me out thoughout my childhood? A childhood without a parent? Doesn't that account for something?"

"She's alive, isn't she? I know a hundred different ways that encounter could have played out, son," he states, only a slight edge touching his voice. "Douglas was a master swordsman in every respect. He threw me Masamune to test his technique out on the blade's defense. He had beaten it before. He could have killed your entire group, including you. Your best chance lay in surprising him with the mermaid alone. In the end, all that matters is how it did come to play."

"And how do you see things playing out with our swords father?" Not until the words are out of my mouth, do I realize how homoerotic that statement was, but my anger won't let me be sidetracked. "You said before I left that I would have to kill you. What happens if I choose not to kill my own father?"

The grin that splits his face then seems almost feral. "Many things can happen then. Neither of us will be free of the curse, unless I choose to kill you. Since you're the one prophesied to defeat the ancient evil, I'd rather not kill my own blood. Despite what you may think of me right now, I care for you."

"What do you know of the prophecy?" I ask, some of the steam has been taken from my anger at his words.

"I knew the oracle that spoke it. I was there when it was given." His eyes still hold the same edge, but there seems to be more there now. "When it became apparent to me that you were a generator, and I saw the signs of the prophecy coming to pass, I took action. I understood the part about the cursed swords. A blade to kill, and a blade to save, a talisman to forge the path between. To kill and save, or save and kill, one path to both, yet choices lean." He pauses to fill his lungs. "I'd have happily given you the sword to save, but it was too late. The only choice was to give you the sword that kills. You will never know how much sorrow I felt at that action. Especially because I know how it needs to end."

"I won't do it!" I shout. My emotions are boiling right now. "I've had to live my life without having you there, and now that I've found you again, I refuse to take you out of my life!"

"To kill and save, or save and kill, one path to both, yet choices lean." He shakes his head, his stringy gray hair spreading out. "If you kill me, then you can save so many lives. If you save me, then we are all doomed anyway."

My legs give way beneath me, and I collapse back into the chair.

"How can you ask this of him?" Angela asks, stepping between us. "Do you have any idea what that will do to him?"

"It will save his sanity," Shemhazau states quietly. "He can live here, and slowly Muramasa will erode his willpower, until he is nothing but a violent shell. He can return to Earth, where his blade will destroy him in a matter of days, if not less. Or—"

"Or he can kill you, change his curse, and have to live with the guilt that he killed his own father for the rest of his life, until it eats away at him, and he goes mad," Angela spits, cutting my father off.

"Yet choices lean," he quotes the last stanza of the verse again.

"How will this work?" I try to ask, but my voice breaks and I have to repeat myself before I'm heard. "How will this work?"

"Lyden, you can't seriously. . . . He's your father!" Angela says spinning to face me.

"Even I don't think you can handle such a crime," Areth says next.

I really do need Lisa here to cheerlead me on, though I doubt she'd support me in this either. I don't blame them.

"Shemhazau," Angela spins back around, her blue hair flying out from her pretty little head, "please! There has to be another way. I don't want to lose you either!"

Shemhazau pulls her into a tight hug, and I can see the succubus crying against his chest, even as she beats her fists against it.

She truly does love him like a father, I think, as I slowly get to my feet. I feel entirely numb inside. There is no emotion left in me right now. After almost losing Brooke yesterday, finding out that this man is my father, and with everything else, I just can't do it. I'm tired, I'm exhausted, and I don't have it in me to fight anymore. Maybe when Aldol is defeated, I'll have time to lie down and just sleep the sleep of death. Until then, I have too much work ahead of me.

"What must I do?" I ask while pulling out the round black and white talisman Brooke had removed from Douglas's corpse. His dried blood has permanently stained the leather thong, but it's the orb that attracts my attention with its constantly swirling striations of light and dark. Almost like the colors of our two opposing blades, I realize.

"Lyden, no!" Angela screams, breaking free of Shemhazau and diving for the talisman. My father is no slouch, however, and with a quick wave of his hand, she vanishes along with Areth.

"Don't worry," he says as I stare at the spot she'd just been in, "I sent them to your other companions." He regards me seriously for a moment, and then says, "For what it's worth, I truly am sorry, son. I've spent all the time I can spare, trying to come up with another solution, and failed."

I only nod at his words, still empty inside. It doesn't matter. None of it does. I'm simply a pawn, caught up in a battle between beings of much greater power.

"When I remade the hilt of your sword, I placed a hidden compartment in it. Twist off the bottom piece." I do as I'm told, and find that the end of the hilt comes off. "Good, now place the talisman in there. Yes. And put the cap back on." I continue to do as I'm told like a puppet on strings, removing the wire around the talisman, and sealing it into the hilt.

"For this next part, we'd better not do it in this realm. The guilt would destroy you." He places his hand on my shoulder, and once again I feel that tugging at my navel a split second before I find us outside again. Blinking at the sudden light, I look around and see we're back in the Pillar of Earth's realm. The border with Light is right behind me, and I can also make out the dry rocky ground of Fire's domain. "This is a crossroads for both of us," he says, and walks across the border into the dry air. He gives a flourish with his right hand, and suddenly Masamune is there, the dark black blade glinting in the light. The blade turns in his hands, and a moment later, he's presenting the hilt to me. "You must take my blade, draw yours, place them together, and strike me down with both." I can see tears begin to form in his eyes as he speaks. Some small spark of emotion tries to come to the surface, but somehow I can sense Muramasa tamping it down. He must sense the tension in the air, and know he's about to feed. "Don't hesitate," my father continues, his voice starting to become choked up. "If you take too long, the warring blades will destroy your mind. Strike hard, and strike—"

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