Chapter 1



Sometimes you find treasure when you are not looking for anything.

But treasures can be a mixed blessing.

David Porter was not looking for a treasure, or for that matter, he wasn't looking for anything at all as he drove through the New Mexico night on I-40 towards Albuquerque.

It had been a long trip and he was tired. Near the town of Tucumcari, David spotted a rest area and decided to stop for a quick nap.

It was a decision that would take Mr. Porter on a very different trip than the one he had planned.

David found the rest area empty except for a lone semi parked at the far end of the parking lot.

Finding a secluded place away from the lights, He pulled into the parking slot and shut down the car.

The nice thing about driving a Cadillac, mused David, is the enormous back seat. He got out of the car and pushed the back of his seat forward, then crawled into the back seat. Then he curled up and pulled a blanket over himself.

There was already a pillow back there, David believed in traveling prepared.

David was asleep in moments, and he did not wake even though other vehicles came and went before morning.

There was just a faint blush of dawn on the horizon when David raised his head blearily to look around.

Still half asleep, David slumped back down to the pillow; time enough for a few more hours of sleep.

He might not have been so complacent had he been awake enough to look into the front seat of his car.

The sun was well above the horizon, and the temperature was rising. This more than anything was what woke David up.

David was a normal healthy man of 34. So when he sat up and looked into the front seat of his car, he did what any hetero young man would do upon finding a nude woman sleeping there.

He stared.

Long reddish blonde hair, Creamy complexion, full breasts, and slim waist, all looking great.

It took David a few moments to realize that she was about 2 feet tall at most.

"What the... ?" David blurted. He rubbed his eyes and stared again. She was still there. He reached out a tentative finger to lightly touch the sleeping figure.

Yup, real as could be.

David sat back and thought hard. He was better read than most, He had read maybe a bit more than his share of fantasy and science fiction. But David was also highly intelligent and was wont to read almost anything with words in a row. Including scientific journals and medical texts.

So far as he knew, a woman her size and so perfectly in proportion could not exist. However she undeniably existed, ergo, something screwy was going on.

David opened the door of the Caddy as quietly as possible. He crawled out of the back seat, and eased the seat back into its normal position. Then he slid into the drivers seat and closed the door just enough to turn off the dome light.

The girl on the seat beside him curled up a bit tighter and murmured in her sleep

Nope, no hallucination. She was as real as he was. A thought that triggered another few moments of intense concentration and introspection.

When David looked up again, the girl was no longer asleep. She looked up at him calmly with brilliant green eyes.

The two stared at each other for a long moment.

This is ridiculous, thought David. "Er... Hello there," said David.

The girl broke into a brilliant smile. "Hello there to you too." she replied.

He noticed with a twinge of discomfort that the mystery girl had very sharp looking fangs as she smiled and spoke.

"Umm... If you don't mind my asking," said David, "Just who ARE you anyway? And what are you doing sleeping in my car?"

He realized belatedly that he was being a poor host. Reaching into the back seat, David grabbed a souvenir T-shirt that he had purchased at a truck stop in Texas, and offered it to the diminutive passenger.

"Thanks." Said the girl, "you can call me 'Lyssa." She paused as she pulled the T-shirt over her head and squirmed her arms through the proper holes.

The shirt fit her like a tent.

"As to how I got here," continued 'Lyssa once she got situated. "I have no more idea than you do. One moment I am going to sleep in my own bed, the next moment I am waking up in your car."

'Lyssa stretched her arms up over her head and arched her back as she yawned, highlighting both her rather impressive breasts against the fabric of her shirt, and her somewhat intimidating set of dainty fangs. David appreciated the former, but kept a wary eye on the latter.

"Just where is 'home' for you?" asked David. "You are comfortable with technology, or you would not have been so blasé about being in my car. And you have a grasp of my language that I suspect passes my own. Yet no one like you exists anywhere that I know of outside of fiction and legend."

'Lyssa grinned at David. "All in good time. For now, I suggest that we get moving, and I will explain as we go."

David shrugged and shut the driver's door properly, then started the car. "Any place in particular?" Asked David as he put the car in gear and started out for the onramp.

"Wherever you are going for now." Said 'Lyssa. "But I want to put some distance behind us."

David merged smoothly with traffic.

He was still bemused. If this was all a dream, at least it beat his usual nighttime musings all hollow.

It had occurred to David that he was taking all this entirely too calmly.

Oh well, time enough to panic later. That had always been David's motto anyway.

"My home IS here, just like yours. Just at a bit of an angle to your everyday life." said 'Lyssa. "We are around all the time, you're people simply seldom notice us."

David nodded. "Just a matter of a dimensional shift or a phase shift," remarked David. "The concept is not unknown, many writers have used the theory in books etc."

'Lyssa dimpled as she smiled at him. "I am glad I ended up with you instead of someone who would panic at my appearance."

"I am saving up all the panic for later," quipped David, "That way I can have my nervous breakdown all at one time."

This brought a tinkling laugh from 'Lyssa. "A sense of humor. I love it!"

David looked at his gas guage. Almost empty.

"'Lyssa, I have to stop for gas up here. Will you be OK? Or do you need to stay hidden?"

"I will be OK," said 'Lyssa. "But if you find a smaller shirt and some pants in the store there, I would appreciate something more my size."

"Not a problem," replied David.

Leaving the interstate, David pulled up to the fuel pumps of the truck stop. Filling the tank of the Caddy took only a few minutes.

Giving 'Lyssa a smile, David went inside to pay for the gas.

There were clothes available, But the only thing in 'Lyssa's size were kids clothes.

Sighing, David made the best choices he could including a pair of sneakers that might fit her tiny feet. There was a pair of pink socks that would easily fit 'Lyssa. So David carried all his selections up to the counter.

He also had a variety of foods and drinks for himself and 'Lyssa. It occurred to him that maybe she had much different dietary requirements than he would be able to provide for. Oh well, David shrugged; he would cross that bridge when he burned it. Grinning at his own humor, David carried his packages out to the El Dorado.

David pulled out on the interstate again as 'Lyssa delved into the plastic sacks with all the glee of a child at Christmas. The shorts and the t-shirt fit 'Lyssa, and the socks fit just fine.

The sneakers brought gales of laughter from 'Lyssa. David looked over to see what was so funny. Then he saw the little unicorns and rainbows on the sides of the shoes.

"Well," said David with a grin, "They are appropriate mythological creatures for a girl who is from a legendary realm."

"Quick wits should be rewarded." Said 'Lyssa as she bounced to her feet and wrapped her arms around David's neck.

She gave David a quick kiss on the cheek, then sat down again and slipped on her new shoes.

Kids clothes they might be, but 'Lyssa's adult figure filled them out in a way that leaves no question that it was a grown woman wearing them.

'Lyssa sat cross-legged on the seat next to David chattering away about sights along the highway and making droll comments about people in passing cars etc. All in all an engaging companion.

But David did not miss the way 'Lyssa kept looking behind them and watching the mirror.

Nor did he miss the worried look in her eyes the few times when she was being quiet.

David did not know what had 'Lyssa so worried, but he figured that if she was scared, then he should be extra wary himself.

David pulled over at another rest area just outside of Albuquerque. He was getting worried enough to take a few precautions.

Opening his trunk, David took out a couple of small boxes and carried them to the front seat of the Caddy.

"I hope you have no trouble with Cold Iron." Said David.

"No, I am not of Sidhe blood." Said 'Lyssa.

David opened one of the boxes and took out a small cloth wrapped bundle.

Opening the cloth David took out a pair of Cold Steel Magnum Tanto knives and their sheaths.

Handing one to 'Lyssa. In her tiny hands the knife looked like a short sword. 'Lyssa unsheathed her blade and tested the edge with a hair plucked from her head. 'Lyssa raised an eyebrow in approval as the scalpel sharp edge severed the fine hair cleanly under it's own weight.

Resheathing the Tanto blade, 'Lyssa laid it on the seat close at hand. David tucked his knife under his belt on his left side.

From the other box, David took a Para Ordnance P14.45 auto pistol and a trio of loaded clips.

Slipping one clip into the magazine well of the pistol and tapped it home.

David racked the slide to chamber a round, and then put the safety on and laid the pistol on the seat. He shrugged out of his jacket and pulled a shoulder holster out of the box and put it on. Attaching it to his belt to hold it in place, He then slipped the spare clips into the holders provided on the shoulder rig, and slid the .45 into the holster. Then he put on his jacket again and started the car.

'Lyssa had proved able and willing to eat about anything that David had brought from the truck stop. Although she did turn her nose up at the Doritos chips. It seemed that she could eat them; she just didn't like the flaming hot taste.

David cussed himself for not paying closer attention to what kind of chips he had grabbed. Oh well, he would know better next time.

'Lyssa nodded as she watched David prepare for battle.

Good, he was a warrior, or at least ready to defend himself and her if the need arose.

And 'Lyssa was sure that it would.

'Lyssa was not sure how she had wound up in David's car, but she was sure that it did not bode well for her.

This form was not one she was used to using. In fact, it had been several hundred years since she had last wore this body shape.

'Lyssa could read David's thought's easily enough, but refrained out of courtesy other than the skimming of surface thoughts when they first met for her own safety.

David did not stop again except for a restroom break until he was low on gas again several hours later.

Inside the Stuckey's as he paid for the fuel,

David saw a beautiful solid silver necklace that had an obsidian arrowhead attached.

On impulse, David purchased the necklace and a smaller silver chain bracelet.

Carrying some food and his silver items, David came back to the car. For some reason David was uneasy as he got back in the car.

Nothing he could put his finger on, but something was not right.

"Buckle up." David ordered 'Lyssa as he started the car.

Startled by the tone of command in his voice, 'Lyssa did as she was told.

'Lyssa did not question David as to what was going on.

She also sensed something was wrong, and a quick scan of David's surface thoughts revealed to her that he felt it too.

David accelerated down onramp and set his cruise control at the speed limit of 75mph.

David relaxed as the feeling of wrongness faded behind them.

But he knew that he had not been imagining things. There had been definite peril back there and he was glad to be out of the area.

'Lyssa undid her seatbelt once David had relaxed.

She scooted over on the seat to cuddle close to his side as David put his arm around her.

David kept a watch in the mirror and on the area to both sides of the car as he drove.

His home outside of Tucson was a long way to go yet.

And he was certain that things were only starting to get strange.

It is just as well that neither David or 'Lyssa had any idea just how strange things were going to get.

David reached into his pocket and handed 'Lyssa a small paper bag.

"Here you go," he said. "I never new a lady who didn't need at least one piece of jewelry to feel fully dressed."

'Lyssa was delighted with the necklace and bracelet. She put them on, though she had to loop the necklace around her neck a few times and the bracelet also needed to be looped a couple of times.

"Thank you!" Said 'Lyssa once she had donned the jewelry.

She wondered if David knew how useful silver and obsidian wore in the practice of magic.

She thought probably not, but then, David had surprised her before.

The unlikely pair settled down comfortably as the miles flowed by.

'Lyssa was concerned, but did her best not to let David know about her worries.

She had tried to shift her form while David had been inside paying for the fuel.

No luck.

Shape shifting had always been nearly effortless for her. To not be able to change was like sudden paralysis in a human.

"Maybe a shape other than the one's you have already used." Said David.

'Lyssa jerked upright. What the hell?

"You were broadcasting your thoughts rather clearly there for a moment," grinned David. "I have never experienced telepathy before. An interesting sensation."

'Lyssa was chagrined. She had not been so sloppy with her thoughts since she was a cub.

Then the sense of what David had said sank in.

A new form.

Very well, something else to try when David next was inside paying for gas.

David was proving more useful than she had thought possible.

"You might try simply adjusting your present form instead of shifting entirely, that may prove simpler to do than changing the whole thing," he said

More food for thought for 'Lyssa to chew over.

David relaxed back against his seat and concentrated on his driving, leaving his companion to her thoughts.

David knew of a route that would take a good 150 miles off the trip. A cut off that was a 2-lane shortcut to Deming, New Mexico.

He pulled over to top his tank off before driving the shortcut. It never hurt to be prepared.

When he came back to the Caddy, 'Lyssa was sitting there in the shirt he had originally given her.

And that was all she was wearing.

She was also now about 4'11" tall.

David grinned at her. "Very nice."

She poked her tongue out at him.

They stopped at a store on the outskirts of town, and David went in and bought 'Lyssa a pair of sweat pants, a shirt and some sandals.

Once she had those clothes on, David took 'Lyssa inside so that she could get some other clothes that were better fitting.

'Lyssa picked out some snug jeans and a couple of shirts, some socks and another pair of sneakers.

Once suitably attired, 'Lyssa took David's arm and sashayed with him out to the Caddy.

David mused that things were looking up.

'Lyssa was happy with the way things were going as well.

When David pulled out on the 2-lane highway, he had no idea that he would not see his home again for a very long time.

"OK 'Lyssa. I think it is time to tell me what you are so afraid of." Said David as they headed west out of the small New Mexico town. "After all, I can't really do a lot to help you if I don't have any idea what the hell to expect."

'Lyssa pondered how much to say. "As you wish," replied 'Lyssa. "First, you have to understand that I am NOT human, even though I may appear so for now."

"The 2 foot height and the fangs told me that much right away," retorted David. "And your shape shifting and telepathy clinched the deal."

'Lyssa said, "All right, I have worn human form before. But not for longer than you would believe. I am a minor entity where I come from. I do have enemies however. And I fear that they have sent me here into your realm where I am vulnerable and lack most of my powers."

"Magic huh?" Said David. "It figures. If your enemies follow you here, can they be killed?"

"If any follow from my realm, they are as vulnerable as I, but not by any means weak or to be taken lightly," she warned him

"What are they vulnerable to? How can they be stopped or killed?" he persisted.

"We are all vulnerable to your realms weapons to a greater or lesser degree. Knives can cut us, bullets can pierce us, and clubs can crush us. But some of my folk are armored, some are very large, and most have strong magic even in your realm. We all heal very fast. What does not kill us outright is healed in minutes or hours," she admitted

"So are there any special vulnerabilities? Garlic? Fire? Farts?" He asked.

"Fire can harm most of us. Silver can disrupt our bodies and nerves if properly bespelled. And certain woods and herbs are anathema to us," she said

"Oak, ash and thorn? Rowan berries etc.?" he asked, half joking.

"Well, not oak. But thorn wood, ash wood and Rowan leaves and berries will cause some of our defensive spells to go awry," she replied.

David was watching 'Lyssa as much as the road as they talked. Thus he did not see the figure standing in their path until it was nearly too late.

"Look out!" Cried 'Lyssa.

David jerked his attention back to the road in time to see a man dressed as an Apache of centuries past raise a staff and point it at the car.

There was a bright flash.

David blinked his eyes furiously to clear the spots dancing in his vision. Then he almost wished he hadn't.

The Caddy was zooming along hard packed gray dirt. There were mountains in the distance, but the immediate area was flat as a table.

There were no trees, no houses, just a few geysers of fire off in the distance.

Not trusting the surface he was traveling on, David reduced speed slightly, but kept going.

'Lyssa looked a bit sheepish. "Oh yes," said 'Lyssa, "there are powers and spirits native to your realm that do not appreciate interlopers from other realms encroaching on their territories, some we get along with. Some we fight. And some just send us home."

"I take it that this is your realm," remarked David.

"Yes, but we are far from the place I call home, she said.

"Are your powers back as well?" he asked

"I believe so. But I dare not try them yet lest we attract unwanted attention," She said

"Don't you think a Caddy screaming over the land at 60 miles an hour is not going to draw SOME attention?" David asked.

David hit the switch to open the sunroof.

"Here, hold the wheel steady." directed David.

'Lyssa scooted over and took hold of the steering wheel while David squirmed out of his jacket.

"Thanks." Said David as he resumed control of the steering wheel.

'Lyssa settled back in the seat as the car sped on. One direction was as good as another until she could figure out a way to get them back to David's realm.

Until she could learn who her enemies were and what their motives were, she preferred to meet them where they were more vulnerable.

David found out just how suddenly trouble could show up in 'Lyssa's realm.

One instant, nothing in sight for miles.

The next second, a huge 4 legged, bat winged dragon right out of the story books was standing right in front of the car. There was easily enough room for the car to pass under the dragon and between both front and back legs of the beast.

So, operating on the principle that if putting on the brakes won't help, step on the gas, David floored the accelerator pedal.

Steering between the dragon's front legs, David drew his pistol and aimed up through the sunroof.

'Lyssa was a blur seen vaguely out of the corner of his eye as David opened fire with the .45.

Not that David had any real hope of doing any significant damage to the huge dragon with his popgun. But he was not about to give up without a fight.

David fired at the throat, the underside of the dragon's jaw, and then held his ammunition to aim at the underbelly of the beast.

David noticed something hanging down between the hind legs of the dragon as it reared up on its back legs. David never knew whether he consciously thought "Balls!" before he acted.

He pumped out several rounds rapid fire into the dangling protrusion.

Since he had happened to put the clip of G.I. surplus tracer ammunition in his .45, David could follow the path of his bullets as they hit the belly of the dragon, then struck whatever that was that was hanging down. Whatever it was that he hit, the results were gratifying. There was a shattering roar from overhead as the beast gave voice to its rage and pain.

Then there was nothing at all, no dragon overhead, and no dragon in the rear view mirror.

Nonetheless, David sped on as fast as he could and still retain control of the car.

Ejecting the spent clip, David steered with the wrist of the hand holding the .45 as he snatched up one of his spare magazines from the holder on his harness and rammed it into the magazine well of the gun.

David hit the slide release to chamber the next round and flicked on the safety.

Starting to put the gun away, he looked over at 'Lyssa.

David froze, not letting go of his gun. The 'Lyssa sitting in the seat next to him was NOT the 'Lyssa he was used to.

This 'Lyssa was only vaguely humanoid. She was covered in coarse greenish-gray scales. He ears were pointed and lay close to her skull. The arms seemed to have too many joints and terminated in hands that bore long sharp talons at the fingertips. The legs were likewise multi-jointed and ended in feet that would seem more at home on that dragon that he had just passed. And the mouth was full of fangs and sharp pointy teeth.

'Lyssa grinned at David. (A truly chilling sight.) She was enjoying his reaction to her new appearance.

Oh shit! Thought David. He measured the distance between them, estimating on whether he could get his gun around in time to stop those fangs and talons.

'Lyssa read his thoughts and laughed inwardly. There was a chance David might be able to get his gun turned, but it would end in a tie, and besides, 'Lyssa had no intention of harming David.

At least, not just now. She needed him.

'Lyssa blurred in David's sight, and solidified into the 'Lyssa shape that David was used to.

"Sorry about that" Said 'Lyssa. "When he appeared, I reacted instinctively, shifting to my battle form."

"OK, Who the hell WAS that?" Demanded David. "You recognized him. I can sense that much of your thoughts already. And you DO need me, at least for the moment. So spill it."

'Lyssa frowned a bit. She was not used to being spoken to like that in her realm. But the fact that David could apparently read her thoughts to some degree disturbed her. Best to go slow until she knew more.

"That was one of the mid-level bosses here. I am not sure exactly which one." said 'Lyssa after a moment.

"Will he be back?" asked David.

"Not likely." replied 'Lyssa with a grin. "I think you spoiled his whole day with those last few shots."

David looked at 'Lyssa for a long moment. 'Lyssa knew that David figured that she was not telling him everything.

"What now?" Asked David.

"I don't know." was the reply.

'Lyssa was thinking hard and fast. Her powers were back as far as she could tell.

She had been able to cast a fast spell on the bullets in David's gun so that they would be able to penetrate the scales of the dragon form. The shots to the gonads however had been a stroke of genius that was all David's doing.

'Lyssa took a small mirror out of the glove box and used it to do a minor spell to let her scry into David's realm.

This enabled her to see what was in the corresponding space in David's realm that the car occupied in her realm.

As the car moved, so did the images in the mirror.

'Lyssa gave David directions until the Caddy was on what would me the highway in David's realm.

Then she simply opened a gate into David's realm, sealing it behind them as soon as the car had passed through.

David blinked to find himself back on the highway, a few miles from where he had left it.

David slowed the car down to a saner 65 mph.

'Lyssa was back in fully human form. But David remembered all too vividly the "battle form" that 'Lyssa had been during the dragon encounter.

David shielded his thoughts as best he could. He had friends in Deming.

If he was going up against Dragons and Demons, he wanted more firepower and better protection than a measly .45 and a fighting knife.

David was silent the rest of the way to Deming. He carefully kept his mind on other things rather than on what he wanted to do.

David had always been good at multi-tasking. He had once been told that he could follow up to 4 threads of thought at the same time. This was handy in business and in combat. It was even more useful here where he needed to keep a telepath from knowing his plans too early.

David grinned to himself, sometimes reading that "nonsense", as his parents had called it, came in very handy indeed.

'Lyssa saw the pleased grin on David's face and wondered uneasily what he was so pleased with himself about.

Surprisingly, 'Lyssa found that she could not read his thoughts clearly, even when she tried to go deeper than the usual scan of the surface thoughts that usually sufficed.

Neither of them knew it. But the sojourn into 'Lyssa's realm had changed them both far more than they could imagine.

Pulling into Deming, David headed towards his friends place on the North side of town.

Pulling into his friend's driveway, David sat still in the car, making no move to exit the Caddy until the door to the house opened and his friend came out and recognized him.

David's buddy Mike was a good friend, just a bit paranoid.

Of course that same paranoia was what drove Mike to collect a wide variety of weapons and armor and other useful gadgets.

Warning 'Lyssa to behave and not ask any questions, David opened the door of the caddy and stepped out.

"Hi Mike!"

"Hi Dave. What brings ya to this neck of the woods?"

"Need a favor Mike. Things are getting tight just like the old days."

"Come on in. Umm, is the lady cool?"

David knew that Mike was asking if 'Lyssa was an immediate danger. If he gave an answer that indicated that 'Lyssa posed any kind of threat, there would very likely be a very noisy and lethal reaction from Mike.

"She's fine." David said. Which told Mike that she was not trouble, but not to be too open in front of her.

David beckoned 'Lyssa to join them.

'Lyssa stepped out of the car looking cute and sassy.

Mike's eyes narrowed a touch. He sensed a bit of tension between his friend and this skirt. But as long as David did not give a high sign, he would just wait and watch.

"Mike, this is 'Lyssa. 'Lyssa, this is my best friend Mike. "The man who taught me to survive in a war zone."

"Pleased to meet you Miss." Said Mike.

"Same here." Replied 'Lyssa.

"You sit here in the shade on the porch, and I'll get you something to drink."

David and Mike went inside as 'Lyssa sat on the porch swing. A few moments later, Mike brought out a pitcher of ice tea and sat it on the table next to the swing along with a tall glass full of ice cubes. "Help yourself 'Lyssa." said Mike.

'Lyssa poured herself a drink. Mike nodded and went back inside.

After about 20 minutes, Mike and David came back outside carrying several cloth wrapped bundles and placed them in the Caddy's back seat. The men went back inside for another load, then went up and sat down on the porch with 'Lyssa.

The three chatted about minor things until it was time to go.

Mike shook David's hand, but avoided contact with 'Lyssa without being obvious about it.

"One more stop to make before we go too far, then we are off for home." said David.

Back on the interstate once again, the trip to Lordsburg was uneventful.

Exiting the interstate, David drove to a shack on the outskirts of town.

"Here is $50.00. Go across the street to the cafe and get us some food to go. You pick."

David handed the cash to 'Lyssa and watched her walk off. David turned and went into the shack without knocking.

Once inside, David faced another old friend.

Randy was an Apache about 90 years old. He was the finest silversmith that David had ever seen.

"You have the bullets prepared the way we discussed on the phone?" Asked David.

"Right here." Replied Randy. "You be careful. I don't know what you have gotten yourself into, but no one wants silver bullets blessed in the sunlight and the moonlight without being in some serious shit."

"No worries." Smiled David. "I thank you for your work and your blessings." He paid the old Apache and went back to the car to find 'Lyssa waiting for him with the food.

"We'll eat as we go." Said David. He started the car and headed back out on the interstate again.

David felt much more secure now that he had a few surprises for any more un-friendlies.

He shouldn't have been so cocky.

David started out on I-10 again heading toward Tucson. There was a rest area up ahead and he planned to stop there to prepare his arsenal.

'Lyssa could sense an aura of power coming from David when he got back in the car. But she couldn't tell exactly what the power was. This disturbed her greatly. 'Lyssa decided that maybe showing her battle form to David was a very serious mistake. Now David was on his guard against HER, and she needed him on guard against the threats that she could sense all around.

David for his part was mildly regretting taking 'Lyssa under his protection. But he had been raised to value honor above all else, as outmoded as most people seemed to think of that attitude these days. So he would stick with 'Lyssa and protect her to be best of his ability, at least, unless or until 'Lyssa turned against him and attacked him or tired to act against him.

Nothing happened as David cruised up to the rest stop just shy of the Arizona border.

The rest area was pretty much deserted this early in the evening. Most of the travelers on the interstate preferred to travel during the cool of the evening. David parked not too far from the restrooms.

"Last chance to hit the can if you need to go." Said David. "I don't want to risk stopping again until I get us to my place."

'Lyssa said, "I would really like an escort to the restroom. I really don't want to be separated from you any more than I need to be."

David gave her a look, then got out of the car and walked with her to the restroom.

David waited outside the door as 'Lyssa went in. Once alone, David took the silver bullets that his old Apache friend had given him and loaded a clip from his .45 with them after taking out the regular bullets. Chambering a round, David felt a little safer. Provided old Randy knew what he was doing, these rounds aught to raise merry hell with anyone from 'Lyssa's realm.

'Lyssa was feeling a bit queasy. This was, to say the least, highly unusual for her. 'Lyssa had not felt like this since early in her first century.

'Lyssa tried to adjust her form to compensate for the discomfort. To her horror, 'Lyssa was unable to change a thing. None of her powers were working. She sat on the toilet to think. Without realizing what she was doing, she stood up and shoved her pants down to her knees and sat back down on the John

She had already pissed and shit before she realized what was happening to her.

'Lyssa felt like an observer in her own body, stunned as she wiped herself and pulled up her pants and fastened them.

Then she was back in control of herself. Shaking, 'Lyssa stood at the sink staring at her reflection in the mirror. Blue eyes stared out of a cute face framed by strawberry blonde hair. 'Lyssa drew the blade that David had given her and made a small cut in her arm. Red blood welled in the cut and 'Lyssa almost fainted. She managed to sheath the blade before she staggered to the door.

David saw the look on 'Lyssa's face and caught her as she collapsed.

Seeing the blood, and her reaction, David assumed that an attack was underway. He took 'Lyssa over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and drew his .45.

Back at the car, 'Lyssa woke up from her faint. Fainting! Her, fainting like a human girl! 'Lyssa was disgusted with herself.

In response to his urgent questioning, 'Lyssa spilled out the explanation of why she had blood on her arm, and why she was so upset. However the reaction from David was not the one she had expected. He leaned against the car, roaring with laughter.

'Lyssa did a slow burn, how dare he take her so lightly! Then she started to see his point of view.

'Lyssa got out of the car again and went to sit on a boulder a few feet from the car.

David started setting up his toys.

A Barret Model 82 Rifle, .50 BMG caliber, 11 shots, Semi-auto. Loaded and ready.

Ingram M11 Cobray .45 Submachine gun, Loaded.

6 White Phosphorus grenades. David figured that the heat from the Willie Pete Incendiary grenades would put the hurtin' on any uglies that dropped by.

And a variety of other lethal and nasty hardware.

David shrugged out of his shoulder holster and took off his shirt. Picking up a Second Chance Ballistic vest, David strapped it on. Then he put his shirt and holster back on. Now that felt better.

'Lyssa watched the preparations with mixed feelings. Yes, it was nice to see all the hardware. But she had to wonder how much of that would be directed her way if David perceived her as a threat.

And right now, she was far more vulnerable than he was. She had never felt so defenseless and powerless.

David called 'Lyssa back to the car. He was getting that hinky feeling again.

'Lyssa was also getting that feeling of imminent doom.

David did not relax until they were back speeding down the road. Just a few more hours is what David thought.

Thanks to Mike's paranoia, there were 2 pack in the back seat complete with water, MRE's, folding shovels, tarps rope etc.

David was about to be profoundly grateful for his friend's foresight.

This time, there was no flash of light. There was just a minor bump as the car transitioned from paved road to rutted dirt path.

65 miles per hour was much too fast for this place, so David hit the brakes gently, not wanting to lose control. Flicking on his headlights, David saw figures scrambling out of the way of the car. Glancing at 'Lyssa, David saw her still in her human form.

'Lyssa was trying frantically to shift her form again. No joy. She was stuck like this for now.

But some of her other powers were working again. 'Lyssa cast a quick spell on the car to shield it from outside magic. Of course, it would not stop anything truly powerful, but it would at least deflect enough so that the occupants should survive. And it would warn her of anything lesser.

"This is not an area I am familiar with." Said 'Lyssa. "But I know generally where we are at."

"How much trouble are we in?"

"More than I want to think about. I can't open a gate to get us back home. I tried."

"Shit! Any ideas on what we are going to run in to?"

"Well, remember that dragon form we ran under earlier?"

"Yeah?"

"Some of what lives around here are much worse."

Reaching into the back seat, David picked out a Ruger .357 Magnum in a gun belt that also held several speed loaders. The pistol was already loaded. "You know how to use this thing?"

"I think so."

"Point it at the bad guys and keep pulling the trigger until it quits going boom. "

David showed 'Lyssa where the cylinder catch was and showed her how to swing out the cylinder for loading. 'Lyssa caught on right away, and strapped the gun belt on.

David propped the Barret on the seat between them, and put the satchel of white phosphorus grenades on the seat close at hand.

There were black scraggly looking trees showing bare branches against a charcoal gray sky. There was no moon, nor were any stars visible. There was a reddish glow off on the horizon. David was just as glad that they were not heading that way.

"If we can get back to the plains, we stand a better chance of getting back to your realm."

"Any other routes? Just in case we can't get back to the plains?"

"There is a route through the mountains, but it is very dangerous. And even if we can make it through, the gate there can only take us through to your world somewhere I can't control."

About that time, David hit the brakes hard. The Caddy skidded to a stop just shy of a cliff that stretched across where the road should have been.

Twin stone pillars stood at the lip of the chasm, showing where the bridge had once stood.

"This is as far as we go in this direction. Can we go back the other way?" "NO!! Not even if I was at my full power would I go that way. Neither of us would live a moment if THEY noticed us and decided to sport with us."

'Lyssa was openly terrified of going back, and David could clearly see that.

"OK, we abandon the Caddy here. You are the guide from here on."

David and 'Lyssa exited the comforting confines of the car. Both shrugged into the backpacks. David slung the rifle over his shoulder and strapped the satchel of grenades to his waist.

'Lyssa had her revolver and a slightly smaller pack. The sneakers that David had bought her what seemed like eons ago were well suited for hiking. And the jeans and t-shirt provided good freedom of movement. But 'Lyssa still felt naked without her battle form or any of her other forms. Anything but this human shape.

David settled a set of night vision goggles on his forehead where he could drop them over his eyes with a toss of his head.

After a bit of thought. David took an H&K MP5K and a pouch of loaded magazines and handed them to 'Lyssa.

"This will help. Here is the safety. Push it off with your thumb and press the trigger. A red dot will show you the point of aim up to 40 yards. Here is the magazine release. Push it when you need to change magazines."

David cocked the subgun and 'Lyssa put the strap of the sling over her head like David showed her. She cast a spell of enhanced vision on herself so that she could see around her as if it was brightest day.

Already the lesser creatures of the area were returning. It was time to go.

David reached into the car and started the engine. He leaned further in and pushed the shifter into drive, then jerked back as the car started rolling toward the cliff edge.

"Why?" Asked 'Lyssa.

"I figure that I don't want to leave it behind intact for someone to use against us somehow."

David watched impassively as his beloved El Dorado reached the brink and disappeared over the edge.

There was a series of crunching noises as the Caddy tumbled down into the depths of the gorge. Then a final crash as it hit bottom, a long long way down.

David turned to 'Lyssa and motioned for her to take the lead. He reasoned that she at least had some idea of where to go. And after what he had seen the last time that they had visited this realm, he wanted her in front of him where he could see her at all times.

David was soon feeling back in his element. He had been a Marine, and then he had done some mercenary work in Central America and in Africa. David tossed his head to flip the night vision goggles down for a moment, he wanted to conserve the battery, he had only one charged spare, and no way to recharge them.

There was a brief stutter from up front as one of the creatures edged a little too close and 'Lyssa gave it a brief burst.

David grudgingly admired the way she had cut the burst of fire short. Most newbies sprayed off a whole magazine before learning how to control the length of the burst.

In any case, the creature thrashed on the ground for a second, then was still. David glanced at it as he passed, and was glad that he could not see it any clearer than that. It was enough to turn his stomach as it was. It looked something like a cross between a hairless rat and a small tyrannosaur. Too many teeth and a coating of slime completed the glimpse that David had of the critter.

If he had seen what stopped to devour the creature after he had passed, he probably would have filled his drawers.

'Lyssa kept them off the main trail. Taking them ever closer to the mountains. After a couple more hours, the pair came to a rope bridge across a narrow place in the gorge.

'Lyssa was reluctant to try it. But there was no other way across for dozens of miles.

Hand over hand, David and 'Lyssa crept across the rope bridge.

Once on the far side, David took his Tanto knife and cut his end of the bridge away. From the side they had just left came a terrible scream of rage, but the screamer could not be seen. Something that both travelers were grateful for.

"Come on." Said 'Lyssa. "This way."

There was a steep and winding path leading from the bridge up the side of a cliff. The pair started wearily up the trail. Their packs were getting heavier by the hour as they tired.

David knew from long experience that it was better to rest before they were too tired to defend themselves. So when they found a cave a few miles further into the mountains. David called a halt.

"The people who dwell in these caves do not welcome trespassers, except as an occasional meal." Warned 'Lyssa.

"We need the rest, even if for only a few hours, we have to chance it," David said

Once inside the cave, David shrugged out of his pack. Taking a MRE box from the backpack, he advanced into the cave for a dozen yards or so. Laying the box on the ground, David said, "We are mere travelers passing by. We wish only to rest here at the entrance to the cave. We will not seek to trespass deeper than I am now. And we offer this food as payment for a night's lodging."

David flipped his night vision goggles down when he heard something approaching. David backed away from the food a few paces and stood waiting as a short manlike figure came up. The voice that came from the creature would have sounded more natural coming from a giant than a dwarf. But David knew better than to smile or laugh.

"Courtesy is not often found in this realm. And I can smell that you are from another world. Very well, we of the cave accept your payment and grant you until high noon to rest here, nothing will attack you from our cave unless you trespass within. However you must guard yourself from outside threats."

So speaking, the cave dweller picked up the box and went back into the depths of the cave.

'Lyssa could not believe her eyes and ears.

Even much stronger entities than her had been destroyed almost casually by a single cave dweller. And her enhanced vision showed her the several dozen that waited further back in the shadows.

Perhaps there was more to this man than she had dreamed possible.

For the first time, 'Lyssa allowed herself a faint hope that she might survive this mess after all.

David lit a Coleman lamp and set it on the floor as he unrolled his sleeping bag. Placing his weapons close at hand. David reclined on the bag and opened another box of MRE's.

'Lyssa also unrolled her bag and laid it beside David's. She was careful to keep his bag between her and the rest of the cavern.

A decision she would regret.

David had laid the Barret facing the cave opening with the bipod extended. This precaution saved their lives.

The creature that came out of the night at them resembled a nightmare blend of a spider and a shark, with a bit of wolverine thrown in for good measure.

'Lyssa woke as the beast reached for her with a pincered foreleg, and she rolled away from the danger, leaving David with an open shot with the Barret. David had no time to take a careful aim, but then, the beast was big enough that he didn't really need to aim.

David ripped off several shots into the beast's head and chest at point blank range. The awesome muzzle blasts of the heavy rifle filled the cave mouth with light and fire and sound. The beast was deafened and confused by the assault but not seriously hurt.

It opened its mouth to roar its defiance. That was all David needed. Ripping the pin from a grenade, David pitched it right down the monsters gullet. The beast obligingly swallowed. When the grenade went off, the results were spectacular. Fire vomited from the mouth and eyes of the monster. It convulsed and thrashed about, fortunately falling down outside the cave and continuing it's death throes while falling down the mountainside.

David's ears were ringing and all he could think of was to reload the rifle.

'Lyssa was stunned by the blast and the attack. It was all over when she finally realized that she had not even tried to shift into battle form.

Then she noticed. David. His features were blurring and reshaping themselves into their familiar shape.

David had shifted to a battle form of his own without even knowing it.

At dawn, 'Lyssa and David left the shelter of the cave, emerging into a steady drizzling rain. The only signs of the creature from the night before were scratches on the stone of the pathway from the claws of the creature during its death throes. The rain had washed the blood and ichor away long since.

There was no sign of the cave dwellers. And the morning was quiet and relatively peaceful.

'Lyssa set a steady pace through the saddle of the pass and down the far slope. Though the trail was slippery and treacherous in places, the travelers had no real trouble making the passage.

They saw no living creatures except for the occasional bush or tree. Yet neither doubted that they were being watched. But by whom and why, they couldn't tell, and had no real desire to look around to find out.

In this realm, curiosity could kill more than a cat.

David was tiring by the time that they emerged from the pass proper. 'Lyssa was even worse off, but she was not about to let David know it. Without her normal abilities, she did not dare show any sign of weakness.

The trail led from the pass into a skeletal forest. The trees all looked dead. Bare branches clawing at the overcast sky. There were rustlings among the trees, always just beyond sight. But no motion could be seen.

"Scared 'Lyssa?" David asked.

"Damn straight I am." 'Lyssa shot back. "And you would be too if you had any goddamn idea what is waiting out there for us."

"I don't like to show fear." David told her. "But that don't mean I don't feel it. I just refuse to let it show to the world. That invites others to see you as prey."

'Lyssa blinked. David was showing much more savvy than she had been giving him credit for, She couldn't afford mistakes like that.

There were side paths and trails branching off from the main trail. But neither traveler felt the slightest inclination to explore them or to turn at all from the main trail. Thus they saved themselves from demises too gruesome to describe.

It was the opposition that made the first error.

David raised a hand to signal a halt at the edge of a clearing.

The clearing was small. A dozen paces across. No more.

A man and a woman stood in the center of the clearing dressed in tight fitting chain mail and ribbons of silk.

They had swords in their hands. The blades of the swords were strangely indistinct. Fading in and out of view. Never seeming quite there, although neither David or 'Lyssa doubted for an instant that the blades would be very solid indeed if they hit flesh and bone.

"Who and what are they?" Asked David in a low voice. 'Lyssa didn't answer him. She was too busy trying to hide behind him.

"OK, so they're hostile and dangerous." David whispered over his shoulder to 'Lyssa. "Let's get the party started."

Shrugging off his pack to clear himself for action, David snatched a pair of WP grenades from the pack, and then reconsidered. The clearing was far too confined for area effect weapons. The Barret was far too bulky. The .45 and his Bowie would have to be enough.

Leaving 'Lyssa with the rest of the gear, David stepped out into the clearing. His senses were hyper-alert. He noticed the subtle smells of the area. He could hear the pair in front of him breathing; he could hear their silken clothing sliding against their mail with their subtle movements. And he could see the faint line in the dirt in front of him.

David heard the sounds of the bipod on the Barret clicking into place, but he didn't dare take his eyes off the pair in front of him to look back. David took two steps to the side to give 'Lyssa a clear field of fire. He heard the clacking as 'Lyssa worked the bolt on the rifle to chamber the first round, and he gave a small tight smile.

The woman took a few steps toward him, lifting her sword to point at his heart.

David never knew what made him decide to stand there motionless as she moved forward with a gliding step so smooth that she seemed to be floating. He blade tip reached the line in the dirt and vanished. The woman brought up against the line like she had hit a wall. David smiled at her and drew his .45. Careful not to let the muzzle of the pistol cross the line as he pointed it at the woman's head. Her eyebrows drew together in a puzzled frown just before David squeezed the trigger.

The 240-grain solid silver hollow point struck the woman just above the bridge of her nose. The back of her head exploded, showering her companion with pieces of bone and a greenish slimy matter the consistency of oatmeal. The corpse dropped and began to dissolve. David heard the boom of the big .50 behind him and felt the pressure wave of the muzzle blast. He was too busy firing at the man in the clearing to look at what 'Lyssa was shooting at.

David's silver hollowpoints struck the man in his chest and head, spinning him down and around in a spray of greenish blood.

"HI-YO fucking Silver." Muttered David as he slid a new clip into the .45. It had just struck him that he was shooting silver bullets given to him by an Indian. Lone Ranger indeed.

David turned to see what 'Lyssa had been shooting at.

Knowing her present size and weight would not let her fire the big gun while standing, 'Lyssa had wisely chosen to shoot from a prone position. The muzzle brake attenuated the recoil of the Barret, but it still shoved her back a foot or so. But the cat like creature that had been coming down the trail behind them had been blown nearly in two.

"Good job 'Lyssa." Said David as he helped 'Lyssa to her feet.

"Thanks." Replied 'Lyssa as she brushed the dirt and debris from the front of her shirt and pants.

Shouldering the pack and the Barret, David led the way around the clearing, keeping between the trees and the circle marked by the faint line on the ground.

Back in the clearing, the figures of the man and the woman began to reform. Awaiting the next travelers to come down the path.

They came to the edge of the forest a few hours later. The light level had not changed; it could have been midnight or noon. No way to tell through the clouds covering the sky.

There was a marble fountain sitting just off the trail. The water looked clean and inviting. Too much like a trap for David's taste.

'Lyssa however, made a beeline for the fountain, scooping up handfuls of water and drinking deeply.

David went over at a much slower pace.

"The water is fine!" Cried 'Lyssa. "These fountains are neutral spots, we are safe here, no one can harm us, and we must not harm them."

That suited David fine. 'Lyssa knew far more about this place than he did. And as scared as she had been since they had arrived here, if she felt safe and secure, then they probably were.

Davis shrugged the pack off and began setting up camp.

'Lyssa stripped off her clothing and was standing just off to the side of the fountain, pouring buckets of water over her head and reveling in getting clean for the first time in days. David took time off from setting up camp to watch appreciatively. In this form, 'Lyssa had a great little body, well worth watching. Evidently someone else thought so too.

A low appreciative whistle came from behind David.

He whirled, his .45 in his hand coming out to full extension. He held his fire, remembering what 'Lyssa said about this being neutral ground.

The being before him raised its hands and took a step back. "Whoa there big fella." It said in a high piping voice.

'Lyssa came up to stand beside David. She had wrapped a towel around herself and carried a dipper of water from the fountain. She offered the dipper to the small creature before her. It took the dipper and bowed to her.

The creature drank half of the water and offered the rest to David. David holstered the .45 and took the dipper, Bowing to the other and drinking some of the water. It tasted sweet and slightly effervescent. David felt immensely better after that sip. He eyed the remaining water dubiously. Acting on instinct, David handed the dipper back to 'Lyssa. She bowed to him and drank the remaining water.

David knew that he had just taken part in a ritual. But he didn't know just what. He looked at 'Lyssa for an explanation. 'Lyssa saw the look David was giving her. "It's a greeting here." She explained. "The sharing of the fountains water shows that we are all willing to abide by the conventions."

"OK." David said. He looked at the newcomer more closely.

Physically, the creature was humanoid. About 4 feet tall, with greenish skin and a hairless

skull that was as big and round as a basketball. A hatchet nose and a thin lipped, mobile mouth

balanced the startling pink and silver eyes. The creature was wearing leather shorts and a shirt

that laced up the front and looked to be made of cotton or some similar material. It had a wide

leather belt that held a pouch and a sheathed dagger a good 12 inches long.

"Getting a good look sweetie?" asked the creature. David blushed as he realized he had been staring more than was probably polite.

The creature snickered.

David stuck out his hand. "My name is David."

The creature shook his hand solemnly. "My name is Prissy."

David raised a brow at the creature's name. 'Lyssa smothered a giggle. David looked quizzically at 'Lyssa.

"Prissy is an imp. You would call her kind 'goblins'."

David decided 'what the hell'. "Pleased to meet you milady." And he swept off his cap and bowed to Prissy.

"I like him." Prissy said with a grin. "He's my kind o' crazy."

Prissy looked closer at 'Lyssa.

"And I know what you are Missy. What I don't know is what he is doing traveling with the likes of you. And why you are in that form. Piss poor planning for a trip through these parts if ya asked me. Which ya ain't."

'Lyssa turned bright red. "Long story."

Prissy looked askance at 'Lyssa. "He knows what you really are? Has he seen the real you yet?"

'Lyssa said, "He has seen my battle form. As for the rest, there really hasn't been time..."

Prissy roared with laughter. "I never thought I'd see the day when I got to see an embarrassed succubus!"

"You know what a succubus is David?" Asked Prissy.

"I have heard legends. But in the myths of my world, a succubus is a demoness who drains the life force and soul of her victims through sex."

"Close enough." Said Prissy. "Only they usually eat the body too when they are done with it."

'Lyssa looked down and scuffed her toe in the dirt.

"'Lyssa here seems to be locked into her shape at the moment. And her powers, whatever the hell they are, seem to be blocked as well. She thinks someone is playing games with us and with her in particular."

Prissy looked thoughtful. "Anyone playing these kind o' games with a succubus is way outta my league."

"Can you lead us to a gate, or portal or whatever the hell you call them, that can take me and 'Lyssa back to my world?" He asked Prissy.

"I'll try." Said Prissy. "Come share our fire and food," invited David.

David finished building the fire and pitching the tents. He got the fire lit and the three of them sat down to a meal of MRE's and fountain water. 'Lyssa and David related their adventures so far to Prissy. Prissy was by turns, amused, astounded, respectful, awed, and amused again.

"Have you tried using any powers besides the battle form that 'Lyssa saw you take in the cave?"

David looked startled at the idea. "It never occurred to me." He said.

'Lyssa looked chagrined.

"It occurred to HER you bet." Said Prissy. "But you can't blame her for not saying anything. In this form of hers, good lookin' as it is, she is a right tasty morsel for any of a thousand types of critter in these realms. And you need to remember that you are now becoming one of the critters that would find her fine dining indeed."

As amused as Prissy was, David needed to think about all this.

David woke the next morning with 'Lyssa snuggled up to his right side with her head pillowed on his shoulder. His other shoulder was pinned also. David turned his head that way and saw Prissy snuggled up to his other side.

Prissy had changed.

Long red hair, a human seeming head, and a fully mature female body on a 4-foot frame.

David sighed. He should have known that Prissy would be a shape changer too.

"Good morning Prissy." David murmured when he saw Prissy's eyes open. "I like the new look."

"I thought ya might find this a little less unsettlin' to look at." Prissy gave a sheepish grin. "Besides, I figured that missy 'Lyssa there could use some competition." David turned his head toward 'Lyssa. She was just coming wide-awake.

"Good morning 'Lyssa." David said.

'Lyssa stretched and yawned. "G'Morning." she slurred through her yawn.

'Lyssa sat up suddenly when she realized that Prissy was laying on the other side of David. Prissy sat up and stretched too. "Heya missy!" Said Prissy. "It do feel good to have someone to snuggle with and hold all night without eat or be eaten ain't it?"

'Lyssa gave Prissy a look that should have scorched her where she sat. Then she turned to glare at David.

Laughing, David reached out and pulled 'Lyssa down for a hug. He also reached out and pulled

Prissy in for a hug as well.

'Lyssa put up a struggle, but it was only a token, and she surrendered all too easily, settling

down with a sigh.

Prissy on the other hand, was in a playful mood. She reached out and tickled 'Lyssa's ribs.

David tickled Prissy. And the breakfast was further delayed by a free for all tickle fight.

It was a wonderful tension relaxer.

Finally David crawled from the tent to stir up the fire and prepare breakfast. 'Lyssa and Prissy

took their time in the tent, talking softly with occasional giggles from 'Lyssa and full throated

laughs from Prissy.

Finally the women made their appearance. 'Lyssa almost got herself shot. She was back in her natural form.

David turned around and saw a medium sized woman with a centerfold body covered in fine scales and sporting a huge pair of bat like wings standing entirely too close for comfort, especially considering the mouthful of fangs that she was grinning at him with.

David made a diving roll toward his pack, coming up with the H&K and his finger closing on the trigger. Before he could fire, Prissy knocked the gun up. "That's 'Lyssa!" She yelled at him.

'Lyssa was shimmering back to her familiar blonde form.

David looked down at his hands.

Scales. Claws. Reddish brown tinge on the mottled green scales.

Not good.

David let the H&K hang from the sling.

He closed his eyes and took a couple of deep calming breaths. When he opened his eyes, his hands were back to normal. And 'Lyssa had her arms around him and was clinging tightly. She was shaking like a leaf. David patted her back and put his arms around her. Prissy was still in her human form standing next to them looking at him. "Damn, you're fast boy. And you change smoother than anyone I ever did see. How are you feeling?"

"OK I guess. She just startled me there for a moment." David replied.

"I'm sorry." 'Lyssa said, her voice muffled from where her face was pressed against his shirt.

"Not a problem." Said David.

But he wondered how things would be from now on. One thing for sure, Things would never quite be the same again.

"How about breakfast?" asked the ever-practical Prissy.

David put down the subgun and added wood to the fire. "Coming up in a few." He said.

As the others ate, David sat cross-legged on the ground with his eyes closed and his hands palm up on his knees. David cleared his mind and went through his calming and relaxing regimen that he had learned so long ago in the service.

When he opened his eyes again, the tents and the gear had been packed. Prissy and 'Lyssa were waiting for him.

"You know how to use this Prissy?" David asked as he held up a 9mm Glock. "Sort of," said Prissy. "You point the open end at the enemy and pull the trigger until it or them quits making loud noises, right?" and she gave him an impudent grin.

"15 in the magazine and 1 in the chamber. No safety, just point and shoot." David said as he handed her the gun. He handed 'Lyssa the H&K.

"You take point and lead the way," he told Prissy.

She gave him a mocking salute and a grin, and then she turned and headed back for the trail.

'Lyssa started past him. David reached out and pulled her close. Much to her surprise, David kissed her firmly on the mouth. "No worries." he told her, and patted her bottom as he brought up the rear.

They traveled in relative peace for a while. The trail turning into a regular road, winding between and over hills, through countryside right out of the illustrations in the books he had read about medieval rural life. Farmers and others turned to watch the travelers as they passed. Some were human looking. Most were not.

No one seemed to be afraid of them. They seemed merely curious.

Neither friendly nor openly hostile expressions on their faces. Although David was not sure that some of them could have expressions on their faces.

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Story tagged with:
Magic / Fiction / Humor / Slow /