Icarus’ fingers were shaking. Whether it was because of the intense cold, or the weight of the lightning pistol in his left hand, he couldn’t tell. Vomit was rising in his throat and he fought to keep it down, taking deep shaky breathes and closing his eyes. Twelve stories down, Drastonbul was buzzing with the usual creatures, drunk on outlawed coral mixes and stumbling through the birds and bees. The century was coming to an end and the biggest parties of the last hundred years were in full swing. He hoped any bolts fired tonight would be mistaken for light shows. His arm glowed with the soft illumination of a tiny ticking clock, displaying 11:56. There were four minutes until Drastonbul’s capitol city, Gladisor, bid 3900 goodbye in the usual fashion, with centaurs lying passed out in the streets and a badly programmed bot messing up the countdown. That meant he had just four minutes to keep his promise to his sister. Just four minutes to murder the monster that killed her. He put his face against the glass and peered into the sitting room of his sister’s murderer. A single ancient desk lamp lit the room like a tiny full moon, casting long shadows on the walls. The effect was reminiscent of a horror movie, and it did nothing to help the bile that was rising in his throat again. He spat the bitter liquid over the side of the balcony and grinded his teeth together. He had to find a way into that room without being seen.
He juggled the lightning capsules around his pocket. The pistol gave him so much power; it gave him power over life and death. It was a killing machine. No creature could survive a lightning bolt to the head or the heart. Was the human holding this weapon really him? He was a father to three beautiful girls, and he loved his wife. Just like their mother, each of his daughters had hair that glowed as a firefly does in twilight. He called them his princesses and he’d always thought of himself as a model father. Indeed, he wanted to be seen as a human who represented the good in his species. Not once in his life had he ever considered killing any creature, be they human, minotaur, nymph or even the controversial half-breeds. That was until this psychopath had put a golden blade into his sister’s heart. He put his right hand on the railing to steady himself and took a deep breath. He was doing this for his children. He was doing this for his wife. He could not guarantee their safety while this maniac was alive.
“When I return home,” Icarus began, staring up at the stars and the moons and speaking to the night sky as if it could somehow hear him, “I will bury this lightning pistol in the ground. No one shall ever find it. I will never wield it again.” His voice faltered on the last phrase, but he tightened his grip on the pistol and fought back the tears that threatened his eyes. The plan he was going over in his head and the screams coming from the parties a dozen stories below seemed oddly complementary, yet the constellations above continued to blink as if nothing unusual was happening. He was running out of time. It would be midnight within just sixty seconds. Without another thought he threw his body against the glass and fell into the room, the glass shattering around him. Ignoring a searing pain in his right shoulder, he pointed the shotgun at the werewolf still sitting at the desk.
“I have a letter for you, sir. A letter of lightning,” Icarus snarled. He was panting and his shoulder felt like it was on fire, but his voice didn’t waver even slightly as he spoke. He’d rehearsed those two sentences over and over in his head, and he couldn’t help but smirk in satisfaction at how smooth they sounded aloud.
“Very poetic. I’m impressed,” the werewolf laughed. “How long did it take you to come up with that one?” His composure frustrated Icarus, and he took a step forward, the pistol now just inches away from the werewolf’s head. The werewolf’s eyes were red and his lips parted to reveal a set of sharp white teeth as he snarled.
“Shut up and listen to me,” Icarus said, matching the werewolf’s tone of voice. “You killed my sister, and she wasn’t your first victim. You’re a stone-cold murderer and you deserve to burn.” The werewolf’s crimson eyes shifted for a split-second and Icarus saw the fear within them. “This feeling, this panic beginning to set in, the sickness in your stomach, that’s what your victims felt,” he hissed, leaning closer to the werewolf and drawing out each word slowly.
“No, you should listen to me,” the werewolf interrupted softly, “there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of taking a creature’s life.” He spun around on his chair until he was facing Icarus directly. “Of all the sufferings of mortality, none is more beautiful than death. A doctor can make you live longer but no creature can perform necromancy. This is what makes murder addictive. It’s like nicotine. I can promise you, my murder won’t be your last.”
The way his tone had changed startled Icarus. The werewolf’s soft voice made him shiver, and a metallic taste filled his mouth as he bit down on his tongue.
“You’re wrong,” Icarus said, staring directly into the eyes of his sister’s murderer. He took a deep breath, tightened his grip on the pistol, closed his eyes, and fired. Bright light filled the room as lightning left the barrel and blasted forwards.
It was strangely liberating. The werewolf fell off his chair and lay limp on the ground in front of him. A pool of silver blood began to form around his body. Suddenly, the pistol didn’t feel as heavy. It fit comfortably in Icarus’ left hand like it belonged there. Icarus watched as the blood trickled down towards his feet. Its silver colour caused it to shine brilliantly despite the half-dark. Seconds ticked by as he stared at the figure lying motionless on the ground in front of him. He felt his lips twitch into a wry smile but he quickly replaced it with a neutral expression. Silently, he turned away from the body and strode towards the balcony. He climbed back through the window and stood in the cold as he had been before, his face turned upwards, gazing at the sky above Drastonbul. He’d avenged his sister, and secured the safety of his wife and his children.
“But why do I feel so alive?” he asked the moons.