My name is Taylor Swift.
It’s been over two decades since I composed and sang beautiful music. My songs extolled the virtues of young love—its ineffable beauty, and the inevitable heartache that results from it. Perhaps the topic is a bit trite, but I was skillful enough to breathe new life into it again and again. I took many lovers; most were rich and famous, but there was only one that ever truly stole my heart. By society’s standards, he wasn’t what you’d refer to as “a catch” (he lived in various hovels—even a dumpster at one point—and was constantly accompanied by a smelly little rat-creature named Bitefighter who he professed to be a Terrier, although in retrospect, I suspect he was something else altogether). Despite that, I adored him over all my dalliances. Alas, he has been dead and gone for many years.
His name was Kent Wayne, and though he spent most of his life as a bit of a rogue—a modern-day corsair that traveled between dimensions and swashbuckled his way through countless shenanigans and hijinks—he showed his mettle when those God damned accountants began congealing together into a pale, lifeless army of nitpickers. My one true love took up arms. He thwarted them at every turn; ran a vast network of rebels that engaged in sabotage and direct action against those cursed pencil-pushers. But in the end it was too much: Kent Wayne fell to the accountants’ Drone Collective on the blasted wastelands of La’ira En’dosko—a ravaged desert that used to be a lush stretch of forest known as the Pacific Northwest.
Throughout my travels, I’ve learned an impressive array of black magicks. They’ve allowed me to hold onto my fabled beauty (I am not without vanity, and on this dark hellscape that was once called Earth, maintaining my looks is the one indulgence I allow myself), as I fight off the lethal constructs which the Accountant Overlords use to oppress their serfs. Ironically, the Overlords demonstrate great creativity when it comes to manufacturing engines of devilry. Some days, I find myself engaged in mortal combat with robotic swordsmen. On others, I may have to repel a fleet of pterodactyl war-riders, marauders that crest the skies with prehistoric mounts. It’s a rare day when I am left unharried.
Now, as I plod past a wind-scraped mesa in a region of land formerly known as Arizona, I clutch my cloak tighter around my neck with my left hand. My right hand reflexively stays near my waist, where the seven-souled katana named Ildathian Crue hangs by my side. I can’t help it; when you’re hunted by daemonic entities for years on end, you develop certain mannerisms that may seem out of place in a well-heeled society.
A score of cloaked figures appears up ahead. I stop walking when I’m twenty yards away. One of them steps forward, lifting a voluminous hood away from his face.
“Herbert Kornfeld,” I spit. “Accounts Receivable Supervisor. Does your blackened heart still swell as you tend to vast mountains of unholy ledgers? How small have your genitals gotten after crunching all those numbers? After pushing all those pencils?”
He gives me a smile that displays his blood-speckled teeth (five years after The Uprising, accountants began feeding off people in the literal sense, drinking their blood like real-life vampires).
“Taylor Swift. You look a bit weathered, my dear.” He inspects his fingernails—a calculatedly disdainful gesture. “I have to confess, I never enjoyed your music. I’m more of a Kenny G enthusiast.”
I refuse to take the bait. My right hand draws Ildathian Crue from her sheath. My seven-souled katana flashes through the air, leaving a glowing contrail in its wake.
“Let’s get this over with, shall we?”
His eyes burst with crimson fire, and his teeth become pointed and sharp. His grin is nothing short of demonic.
“Let’s,” he hisses.
They all come at me, pushing the limits of my combat capability. Not just my sword work, but also my duelist magicks. I fend off a storm of strikes and channel eldritch ordnance through the length of my blade, every so often freeing my left hand so I can cast something offensive like a Vorpal Scythe-storm, or a Rentarian Firewhip. The air is filled with curses and snarls. The accountants are busy forming their hands into mudras, nullifying my spells and throwing some of their own. My eyes flicker back and forth, straining to keep track of whirling blades, sparking magicks, and swishing cloaks.
But in a matter of seconds it’s clear I’m outgunned; I’m forced to fight a retreating battle, concentrating solely on deflection and refraction as they push me back toward the edge of a cliff. The cliff is over a hundred feet tall; there’s no way I’ll survive the fall.
“PUSH HER!” Herbert screams. “THIS IS THE MOMENT WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! KENT WAYNE’S LAST, PATHETIC LIEUTENANT! PUSH HER, GODS DAMMIT!”
I’m right up against the drop, trying not to stumble as one of my heels hangs over a yawning chasm. I muster a furious volley of strikes and chops, but to no avail—they keep me pinned against the edge of the cliff. My katana carves trails of light into the storm-torn air as I desperately try to keep these fiends from forcing me over. I’m running out of tricks. Time for the big guns.
I channel a bit of Vishanti energy into my right foot and kick the ground. A spurt of dust blows into my enemies’ faces, causing them to blink, curse, and stumble back. In that split-second of reprieve, I dart my hand down to my satchel and open my eReader to Kent Wayne’s magnificent story.
The one called Echo. Magic flash.
A giant pillar of turquoise light booms down behind my enemies. They shout and turn, shielding their faces with their forearms. I’d attack them now, but the winds coming off that column of radiance are so turbulent that I’m forced to crouch in place, lest I risk falling off the cliff.
Within that incandescent cylinder, two bodies begin to form. The outlines of Kent Wayne and his 10 lb. rat-thing Terrier Bitefighter are coalescing, clapping hands and belting out one of my classics songs: “Style.”
What the hell are they…
Are they playing PATTY CAKE???
“Kent!” I yell. “A LITTLE HELP HERE???”
My old lover looks toward the sound of my voice, his beautiful, oafish face brimming with surprise as he takes everything in. An instant later, he and Bitefighter race toward me, ripping into my enemies with a crackling salvo of energy-body strikes. The accountant psychomancers are reduced to smoking husks.
I rise off my knee and sheathe my sword. Before I can say a single word, Kent takes two bold steps towards me, grasps my face with his hands, and plants a juicy one on my lips. I’m surprised at first, but then I close my eyes and relax into his blazing embrace.
The fire of galaxies and quasars rushes through me, packing every one of my cells with unbelievable power. My sword drinks it in as well, and I’m quickly filled with enough magic to take on the Accountant Empire and rid the lands of evil.
Finally, I open my eyes.
Kent’s glimmer-comprised outline is fading before me. Before it winks out of existence, he gives me that tender, doofy smile that always manages to melt my heart. A wave of sadness tightens my chest, but before I can start crying, I look down and see Bitefighter’s tiny, lightning-built body humping furiously away at my right shin.
And I can’t help but laugh.
Are you a former pop star that is now hunted by evil psychomancers and need a sorcerous Hail Mary? Not a problem! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle #kindle #kindleunlimited #sciencefiction #scifi #books #novel #book