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The Gods' Own
by Alexis Cunningham

Street conjuror Yasha Alukov wants only one thing, to get even with the rival who put him in prison but when he's released he discovers Djisi City's magical underworld overrun by demigods--and all of them want a piece of him. "Sounds interesting!"

Chapter 1
Preach on, My Brother

‘Remember my brothers, we are the gods own chosen soldiers,’ Preacher hollered, arms raised toward the cafeteria roof. ‘For we have been granted great gifts that we might use them for their glory—‘

‘Get off the Pit damn table.’ Four-Fingered Djan was not a fan of Preacher’s rousing oratory. He threw a stale bread roll at Preacher’s head from the end of the long table.

Preacher snatched the baked projectile out of the air, a snarl twisting ...

Chapter 2

‘Sorry to keep you.’

A flustered young man with a head of cinnamon curls and a prominent cleft chin and a long aquiline nose hurried into the room. He wore a blue striped white shirt with a high Kitviker button collar and his wide blue tie loose at his neck. His skin was almost the same shade of brown as his hair, seeming to have almost russet undertones, ruddier than Yasha’s own more olive gold tones.

The long thin features and messy ringlets combined with his skin tone h...

Chapter 3
The Lay of the Land

Processing took the rest of the afternoon. The screws dragged things out deliberately in places and were simply incompetent in others. Yasha bore the wait with equanimity. He was getting out and in hours he’d be back in Djisi.

             He had a moment when they gave him back his clothes. His old dark green coat with the white sheep skin lining was a beloved friend, as were his sturdy infantryman boots. Dressing in the men&r...

Chapter 4

‘Where to?’ Ludo asked as they hit traffic on the way through the city’s south gate. Two miniature pylons stood on each side of the gate, each emitted a cheerful green-blue light, flaring like a camera flash as each vehicle passed through the barrier.

             Yasha sat up, rubbing his eyes. He hadn’t been dozing but he’d let the quiet of the journey lull him all the same.

‘I dunno,&rsqu...

Chapter 5
Enter the Vanguard

Krystof arrived back in the city around lunch time. He flashed his credentials at the Raderi checkpoint and made his way to the Cave, otherwise known as Vanguard headquarters in the northern Rodniya suburb of the city.

             The Cave, so named because the headquarters was inside a defunct mining facility built into the side of the mountain, was an imposing place to Krystof even now, almost a year into his recruitment.


Chapter 6
Holes in Empty Air

Ludo stopped the car at the curb in front of a derelict building site. A broken retaining wall, rubble and a skeletal framework of metal beams was all that remained of whatever building had once stood on this spot.

             Yasha looked around. A group of greys huddled in the shadow of the scorched wall, watching him. They were a sorry sight, like a group of shrouded mourners, their red eyes blinking from the depths of naked dome...

Chapter 7
The Butterfly Club

Reunited with Mati, Yasha felt rejuvenated. He dropped into the passenger seat and grinned at Ludo in the driver’s seat.

Ludo rolled his eyes and started the engine. ‘Go all right then, did it?’ he asked drily.

Yasha hummed in the affirmative. He was buzzing with newfound energy, tapping out an arrhythmic beat with his fingers on his thighs.

‘You still want to go to the club tonight?’ Ludo asked as he drove them eastward.

He thought about it. Ther...

Chapter 8

‘Sit,’ Mladin gestured expansively to the low couch set against the back wall. The couch was black, like every other damn thing in the room. Yasha was really beginning to get sick of the depressive aesthetics.

‘Do you need a torch to find things in here?’ he asked trying not to sink into the couch cushions. The only source of light came from a handful of coloured glass light fixtures stuck to the wall. Each light gave off a different coloured glow adding to his headache.

Chapter 9
The Mad Grenadier

‘What in the Pit…‘ Mladin leapt to his feet, an ugly scowl twisting his features. He snapped his fingers and a host of butterflies gathered around his head, forming a protective halo.

             Varnah phased through the door. ‘We’re under attack.’

‘Who is it?’ Mladin demanded moving toward the door. Smoke had started to ooze underneath the crack. The smell of phantasma fuel seared ...

Chapter 10
Night Strolling

‘She really said that? She told you she loved me?’

‘Yes,’ Yasha paused on the street corner, shooting Ludo a look. ‘She really said it. Do you have to keep repeating it?’

Ludo ignored his tone. His friend was a grey scale shadow as the two drudged down deserted residential streets following Mati’s beacon. ‘You don’t think she’s a thrall?’

Yasha sighed. ‘I don’t know. She didn’t act like a thrall, but ...

Chapter 11
A Meeting of Scions

Phantasma smoke hung heavy in the air and soot grimed the surfaces of the tables and booths filling the Butterfly’s barroom. Krystof hung back loitering by the beaded curtains, just inside the room.

A little over ninety minutes ago he’d been in the Vanguard training room, running through conditioning drills when he’d felt a flare of magic run through his soul as the protection seal he’d placed on Yasha Alukov activated. Suffice to say, he’d been alarmed.


Chapter 12
The Snacks

Yasha stared down at his green jacket. The jacket with the sheep wool trim, the jacket with the multitude of incredibly useful pockets. The jacket he’d purchased during his first week in Djisi three years ago and cherished ever since. In the harsh light of the morning the damage was inescapable. Tears from broken glass, singed holes where droplets of phantasma fuel had burned through the outer fabric and soaked into the lining. Splotches of blood.


Chapter 13
The worth of an Old Coat

Yasha watched the grey go, seeping back where they came from, before taking a deep cleansing breath and letting his figurative hackles drop. On his arm Mati folded her wings and rearranged her footing, raising one foot and then another in a disgruntled fidget.

             ‘I know,’ Yasha soothed her. ‘But it was the fastest way to avoid a fight, and I don’t have the time to wade through a bunch of greys who d...

Chapter 14
Homeward Bound

Yasha left the Snacks wondering if he’d learned anything valuable at all. All he seemed to be doing was cultivating an ever-multiplying number of questions.

What he did know was that by accident or design almost everyone he’d known on the streets before he went to prison was gone in one way or the other. Djuran had been his Voisera contact and while he wasn’t sorry that rat was dead it left him with no way to get information from the Bloom. Annika, Torbin were dead. Vee was chang...

Chapter 15
Home Truths

Yasha dropped onto the balcony in a three point landing, his left arm thrown out behind him for balance. Brushing off his borrowed trousers and tunic, careful to make sure the creases fell out of the soft cotton and the gold thread etched hem hung level, Yasha stood up and rolled his shoulders, settling his magic back down like a bird might ruffle furled feathers.

             ‘We’re not making a habit of this,’ he ...

Chapter 16
One Man's Foolishness

Yasha stared at her in horror. ‘You think this is my fault. You think Annika and Torbin died because of me.’

‘No,’ Vee shook her head hard enough to set spectral locks of hair swirling through the air. ‘No,’ she said again as if trying to convince herself. ‘I don’t blame you. You’re not responsible for what happened.’

‘Funny,’ Yasha sneered, lip curling in a snarl, ‘because from where I’m standing, it doesn&...

Chapter 17
A Truth Revealed is a Truth Ignored

Mati merged with him just as the implosion of anima absorbed them, which was an interesting experience. The anima deposited him on the street and Yasha rubbed his left arm to rid himself of the tingle of magic. Mati’s feathers spread under his skin from shoulder to the back of his hand, moving like a shimmering black and green tattoo as he flexed his fingers.

             Stepping out of the building’s alcove he was immed...

Chapter 18
Guided by Seraphim

 ‘I’m sorry Acolyte,’ Krystof said over the phone, hoping none of his impatience fed into his voice, ‘I can’t take any home visits right now. I’m waiting for my parolee. Yes,’ he sighed deeply, ‘I know but it’s only be twenty minutes. I have to wait.’

 Standing in the tiny adherent break room in the north precept of the Temple of Dalleon, Krystof glowered up at the wall clock. The minute hand kept marching on, eating away at the...

Chapter 19
Scion Junction

‘Krackzy Station; alight here for stations on the east line and Antollia International Rail Station. Stand back from the doors and mind the gap.’

             Yasha lifted his head from the pole he’d been leaning against as the automated voice filtered through the speakers and the train slowed to a halt. The nine stop ride had drained him, his prison born claustrophobia rising up with a vengeance to make the journey ...

Chapter 20
The Mad Grenadier's Daughter

Yasha kicked back with his legs, scooting across the floor until he was under the kiosk desk. The shutter was down, sealing the small room. His savior slammed the door shut and shot under the desk with him. Her fingers threaded with his, her grip tight; blunt nails biting into the meat of his hand.

‘You’ll be safe in here,’ she told him, voice low and tense. Her long unbound hair formed a curtain over her face, combined with the dimly lit interior Yasha had trouble making out her...

Chapter 21
A Meeting of Scions: Redux

Dima and Krystof struggled through the stream of escaping commuters and ran down the stairs to sealed station gate. Mladin’s gauntlets glowed as he summoned a fraction of his power and the sealed gate buckled like wet paper creating an opening. Dismay flooded Krystof, he could already hear screaming within.

Ignoring Dima’s warning he ran down the stairs. A blizzard of glowing butterflies rose to meet him, preventing him from entering the room. He couldn’t see beyond but he could ...

Chapter 22
The Family Progasch

‘Papa, it’s me, open up.’ Esfida hammered on her blue front door. Yasha stood on the path, looking up and down the street. There was a lot of activity. Residents returning home early from work in a flurry of panic, the distant wail of sirens and the drone of megaphone announcements carried on the breeze. A city wide lock down had been announced. Everyone had to lock themselves in their homes until six tomorrow morning.

Looking over the roofs of the houses and tower blocks, Yasha ...

Chapter 23
What Leo Knew

1st Kekel 6039

Another year dawns and I can’t keep on like this. Pretending. The entire world might be blind but I’m not and I’m sick of pretending otherwise. I see them everywhere. The dead, or whatever they are. I see their red eyes in my dreams. Sometimes they see me too. How is it possible, monsters can look so sad? School is a waste of time. I’m learning lies, nothing I read is real. What good is a degree in nonsense? What can it teach me about the world I see but ...

Chapter 24
The Truth About Matriev Pt. 1

Two hours after the attack on Krackzy Street station, Krystof stood in the small observation room connected to one of two warded interrogation rooms in the Horvach District constabulary headquarters. Beyond the large panel of one-way glass he could see Mladin Yaraslav, hands shackled to the table, two red uniformed Raderi agents guarding him. The man smiled faintly at the mirror glass, smirking as if he knew exactly what was going on behind the glass.

Chief Hrozic slapped his hand against the wall...

Chapter 25
The Truth About Matriev Pt. 2

‘How did Matriev plan to rescue Sabron?’

Krystof had always wondered about the specifics, although he’d lacked the courage to ask before. Commander Vhorki had told him Matriev had been expelled from the Order because he held extremist views and wanted to free Sabron from Pit lord captivity. Privately, Krystof had wondered what was so extreme about that. Six thousand years was a long time to be held captive even for a god. He’d realised quite swiftly that the demon was in the...

Chapter 26
The Final Piece of the Puzzle

Birds sang to each other in the trees as Yasha strode quickly along the street, the early morning chorus audible because the city was still ghostly quiet. The curfew had lifted half an hour earlier but people were slow to leave their houses while the pylons still hummed an ominous warning that all was not well in Djisi. The constabulary checkpoints on all major roads didn’t help matters, snarling up what little traffic there was.


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