Jade had had her fair share of adventures. She’d defeated giants, made deals with dragons, stolen hidden treasure, captured goblins and dwarves, and fought almost every type of creature in the realm of dark magic. As a trusted spy for the fairies, she’d done tasks that many would consider impossible. With her aura hidden from most eyes, none of the dark creatures suspected her, mostly because she had cut off her own wings for a quest.
But despite all she’d done and been through, nothing could prepare her for the chaos of a high school dance.
Bright lights flashed and music boomed loudly, shaking Jade to the core. Teenagers wove around in the crushing crowds, stiffly moving from side to side. Jade stayed near the wall, trying not to look as terrified as she felt. How could anyone consider this fun? If it wasn’t for her task, she’d have left already.
A boy at the edge of the crowd stumbled away from the mass of people; his eyes landed on Jade. It took only seconds for recognition to dawn in his eyes. With a backward glance at the rest of the crowd, he made his way toward her.
“I knew you’d come,” the boy said. “I thought you were supposed to be on time.”
“I was on time,” Jade muttered. “You just weren’t paying attention.”
The boy leaned closer to her. “Sorry,” he shouted. “I can’t hear you.”
“Let’s go outside,” Jade shouted in his ear. “We need to talk.” She noticed his gaze flit toward a pretty girl at the edge of the crowd, but he nodded reluctantly. Jade followed him out the doors and into the cool night. It was a quiet night, but the stillness unsettled her.
“I believe we should start with introductions,” she said. “My name is Jade.”
“I’m Len,” he replied. “You messaged me about my magic, correct?”
“You have it with you?”
“Sure do. It’ll cost at least two large diamonds, five rubies, and ten sapphire chips.”
Jade winced. “Outrageous price.”
“Sorry. Magic ain’t cheap.”
“I can give you the rubies and one of the diamonds now,” she said. Can I see the magic?”
“My payment first.” She proffered a small pouch. He peered inside before handing Jade a vial filled with a glowing substance. “You’ll get the other half the spell when you pay up,” Len said, holding up a second vial.
“Give me two days,” she said. “Where should I meet you?”
Len scratched his chin. “I’ll be at another dance in two days. At a different high school.”
Jade shook her head. “I’m not going to another dance. If you want to be paid, you better find somewhere more convenient.”
“Fine. There’s a coffee shop in town. On the corner of Fiftieth and Pine.”
“Hazelnut Café,” Jade said coolly. “Known to magic folk as Pixie’s Coffee. The one that’s run by fairies in disguise.”
“You’ve heard of it.”
“I get around a lot,” she said.
“Be there at seven thirty. I don’t want to miss the dance.”
“Fine.” She held out her hand. As he was reaching to shake it, a roar split the air.
Reflexively, Jade grabbed the boy and dragged him to the ground with her. A second later, the spot where Len had stood was in flames. She reached for her bow as an enormous creature swooped overhead. It landed on the roof of the school and glared at Jade. She recognized him immediately. “Medmun,” she spat.
“What?” Len cried as he scrambled to his feet.
“One of the worst demons in the dark realm,” she replied. “This is one demon you don’t want to mess with.” Medmun had the head of a dragon, the body of a cat with dragon wings, and a scaly tail that ended in a large spike. He was enormous, even for a demon. Jade guessed he could swallow a school bus without any trouble.
The demon took flight again and swooped down, his claws outstretched. Her bow twanged, but the arrow glanced off his tough hide. He reached out to snatch her up. Something knocked Jade to the ground, and Medmun soared over her, claws grasping only air. He screeched and circled back.
Jade tried to get up, but Len pushed her down. “Stay put,” he snapped.
“What are you doing?”
“Saving your life.” He pulled out a vial, removed the cork, and downed the contents. Immediately, his shape started to warp. His body expanded, clothes blending into his skin, which morphed into red scales. Wings sprouted from his back, his neck elongated, and a barbed tail formed behind him.
Len, in dragon form, took flight. Compared to Medmun, he was tiny, but that would give him an advantage in maneuverability. Jade pulled another arrow out of her satchel and ran toward where the dragon was roaring a challenge at the demon.
The demon spotted Jade and tried to lunge for her, but the dragon intercepted him. Jade knew that Len was no more than an irritation to Medmun, so as he distracted him, she desperately searched for Medmun’s weakness. Every demon has a soft spot somewhere on their body, like an Achilles heel. It’s the only way to kill them.
Jade reached into her satchel and pulled out a small container full of an oily substance. She dabbed it around her eyes, and immediately her vision became more precise. She could see Len’s bright aura, strengthened by his dragon form. There was a dark shimmer around the demon. He had a powerful aura.
She put the container away and studied Medmun’s body as Len flew around him, shooting fire. Medmun roared and tried to swat at the dragon, but he darted out of reach. Jade could see no weakness; she had to get closer.
She rushed forward, shouting, “Hey, Medmun! Come and get me.”
“Quiet,” Len roared. He sent out a burst of flame to distract the demon, but Medmun swatted him out of the air and took flight. He swooped low over Jade; this time she didn’t duck to avoid his claws.
He snatched her up and perched atop the school. “Traitor,” he roared. “You are consorting with fair creatures. That is forbidden in the dark realm.”
“I know,” she called. “I’m searching for a weakness in the ranks of magicians. This boy is among their best. I’m on a mission from the demon king.”
The demon snorted smoke over Jade, and she coughed. “Liar!” he roared.
Jade could get a closer look at the demon now, but there was still no sign of a weakness. The demon spread his wings to take flight, but a burst of flame hit his wing and he roared, turning to look at Len, who had once again joined the battle. As soon as Medmun’s head turned, Jade saw it: a glint of darkness behind his right horn.
Medmun opened his mouth to spray fire at Len, but Len shot a ball of fire into the demon’s maw. Medmun was just as invincible on the inside as the outside, but even for demons it hurt to swallow fire. He dropped Jade and clawed at his mouth.
Len swooped and barely caught Jade before she hit the ground. He set her down gently and landed beside her. “You okay?” he panted.
“I’m fine. Why’d you do that? The demon could have killed you.”
“I found his weakness,” Jade said excitedly. “Just beneath his right horn. I’m a pretty good shot. If you could just fly me up to the roof and distract him for a moment, I can kill him.”
Len snorted. “Fine. You better hurry, though. My dragon spell won’t last much longer.”
“How long?” Jade asked.
“Fifteen minutes at most.”
Len took to the air, snatching Jade with his fore claws as he passed over her. He set her down on top of the school and soared toward Medmun, who was just starting to recover. He swatted at Len, snarling when the dragon flew just out of reach. Medmun stepped off the school and turned to face the dragon. Jade put an arrow to her bow and aimed carefully at the disturbance in the demon’s aura. If the demon took a step closer, he would be in range.
Len continued to fly around, occasionally spewing fire. The demon stopped swatting at him and placed his forefeet together. When he separated them, his aura shimmered and a ball of black magic rested there. He hurled it at Len, who nimbly dodged it. The ball stopped short of hitting the school and flew back toward Len. He turned back to see where it had gone just as it struck him in the chest. He let out a deafening roar and crashed the ground. Already his dragon form was shrinking and he was transforming back into a boy. The magic was destroying the spell. The demon was not yet close enough for her to shoot. She reached for her satchel and realized it was still on the ground.
She searched her pockets. The vial from Len was there, but she needed that magic for another mission. Feeling around, she found a reserve vial and unstopped it, breathing in the sweet fumes.
Immediately, dizziness made her fall to her knees. The feeling passed through her like a wave. Her back tingled as two fairy wings tore out of her shirt. She suddenly felt more alive as her old magic coursed through her. With her bow in one hand and an arrow in the other, Jade charged toward the edge of the building and jumped. Her wings beat the air, lifting her higher than the demon.
Medmun looked up at her and growled. She dove toward him, aiming for the back of his head. Medmun seemed to know what she was after. He turned to intercept her. She feigned a move, and he fell for it, lunging to the right while she flew around his left side, aimed, and fired.
Time seemed to freeze as the arrow met its mark. The dark aura around Medmun drew close to his body. Jade flew away, trying to find shelter, but when the aura exploded outward, she was caught in the shockwave and landed on a parked car. She looked up just in time to see the demon explode.
Jade stood up and ran to Len, who was lying face down. She rolled him over. He had a pulse and didn’t look seriously injured, but she knew there was dark magic inside him. She summoned revival magic to her fingers and spread it over him, dispelling Medmun’s spell.
Len groaned and stirred. When he opened his eyes, he gasped and flinched away from Jade. “You’re a fairy!” he cried. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Jade clapped a hand over his mouth. “Not so loud,” she hissed. “I’m a spy, remember?”
“Not for much longer. Word of Medmun’s death will get out. You’ll be blamed. He might have sent a message to the demon king before he died.”
“Demons are not the only kingdom I’m infiltrating,” Jade hissed. “Are you okay?”
Len moved his arms a little and patted his chest. “I think so,” he said. “That’s the worst magic that’s ever hit me. That demon must really be something.”
“He was powerful all right,” Jade muttered. She pulled out her empty vial and breathed magic into it. Her butterfly wings vanished along with her magic.
Len watched her closely. “You’re leaving, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” she said. “Don’t expect to see me again for a while.”
“You still owe me.”
“Actually, you owe me,” Jade said, jabbing a finger at him. “That revival spell was worth at least two diamonds and nine rubies.”
Len paled. “I didn’t ask you to revive me.”
She snorted. “You wouldn’t have been able to ask. Had I left you, dark magic would have poisoned and killed you within a week. It was difficult to stop even with a revival spell.” She smiled at his dejected face. “Don’t worry. I’ll let you keep what I already paid you as long as you give me the rest of the spell.”
Len sighed and pulled out the second vial. “Be careful,” he warned.
She stood and helped him up. “We’ll meet again,” she promised.
“You better not cheat me next time,” Len said.
Jade laughed. She snapped her fingers and was gone in an instant.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.