Chapter 1 - A Lesson
By: Andrew J. Kolesar
Jack awoke with a sudden start. It was three AM and his head throbbed. His body ached like he’d been in a fight. And judging by the way he felt, he had had the shit kicked out of him. As Jack looked around the small room, confusion slowly came over him. Where in the hell was he? The room he was in was no bigger than a broom closet; it had a dirty mattress on the floor, a digital clock with green glowing numbers, and some thing in the corner. There wasn’t a single window in the room, and the only source of light came from the glow of the clock. Jack stood up, stretching the weariness out of his bones, and let out a deep sigh from the bottom of his soul. “Well Jack, what the hell have you gone and got yourself into this time?” He said aloud, mostly to just hear his own voice.
Thomas Jack Karde, or Jack as his friends call him, was a fairly regular guy. He was 21 years old, 5’10”, 180 lbs., with short brown hair, light blue eyes, with no real distinguishing marks. He worked for a company, sitting in a little cubical sorting through data day after day. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment, owned a six-year-old Japanese vehicle, had a few close friends, a girlfriend, and liked to go out on the weekends drinking with his buddies. He wasn’t artistic, didn’t have any real talents you could speak of, unless crushing beer cans on your forehead was a talent. He wasn’t highly intellectual, not very athletic, and didn’t have the prettiest face in town. People that saw Jack on the street never gave him a second glance. But what Jack did have going for him was charm. Jack was a very charismatic guy, and between his charm, and a bit of luck, he was very good with people.
Jack stepped to the door, he couldn’t hear anything beyond it and no light was coming from the crack where the door and floor met. He grabbed the doorknob and gave a twist, but it was locked. Closing his eyes and running a hand through his hair, he gave off another sigh, smaller this time, a sigh of defeat. The last thing Jack remembered was being at his favorite club with his friends. It was Friday night, and as usual they went to the clubs, blowing off the stressful workweek. He was there for only a short time when he noticed this dark haired, alluring beauty looking at him. At first he thought she must have been looking past him, at someone else. But he smiled at her anyway, and to his surprise she smiled back, and made a come hither gesture towards him. Surprised again, he pointed to himself and mouthed the word ‘Me’? She laughed and nodded her head.
Practically strutting, Jack made his way over to the beautiful stranger. He sat down on a stool, and looked into her dark green eyes. She had the type of eyes that a man could lose himself in, just staring into those shimmering pools you could forget everything around you. And Jack did just that, once they locked eyes he couldn’t look away. He didn’t even realize he was staring until she waved her hand in front of his face. “Are you ok?” she asked
“Ah, yes, I’m alright. I don’t want this to sound corny but, do you know that you’ve quite possibly have the most beautiful eyes on the planet?” Jack said
The woman with the beautiful green eyes smiled, and blushed just a bit, “Thank-you, that’s a very nice thing for you to say. What’s your name? Mine’s Alisa.” She replied.
“Oh, Jack, Jack Karde. Would you like a drink? I know I do.” At that, Jack squeezed his eyes shut. Thinking to himself that was such a lame thing to say. But truth be told, Jack was nervous. Sure he was good with the ladies, never had much trouble in striking up a conversation. But rarely did he ever meet anyone as beautiful as Alisa, and never before had someone of her beauty actually picked him out of the crowd before. For the first time since he was a teenager in middle school, Jack was actually nervous and a bit intimidated as well.
Alisa giggled, and accepted the drink. They talked for what felt like hours. Thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. Alisa excused herself and headed for the restroom. It was then that Jack had noticed that the club was really filling up. He looked at his watch and noticed that it wasn’t even midnight yet. He could see his one friend Dan dancing with this girl who looked like she’d already had about a case to many. His other two friends, Lou and Mike were no where to be seen. Shrugging Jack grabbed his beer and finished it in one gulp. He looked over towards the bathrooms and noticed some guy talking to Alisa. The guy grabbed her arm, and she slapped him, trying to pull away. Jack’s eyebrows arched, and he jumped off his stool, quickly moving towards Alisa and the guy.
If someone had had a stopwatch, they would have noticed that it took Jack exactly 4.3 seconds to cross the club floor. But before he could get there, the guy slapped Alisa back. When he got there, Jack shoved the guy, with all his might. The guy tripped and fell on his ass, sitting on the floor. Fists clenched, Jack stood over the prone man, looking down at him. Jack could feel the rush of adrenaline, could feel his heart beating wildly in his chest. He’d been in a few fights before, but this one felt like no other. This one felt more heroic. Saving a damsel in distress, just like the storybooks.
The man on the floor looked up at Jack and smiled. “You don’t know’n what yer gettin yerself into lad. Sure she looks all pretty and sweet. Might’ve even tasted like candy at one time. But now it’s all rotten and dead. Walk away lad, yous don’t wantin to be messin with this here creature.” At that the man stood up. It wasn’t until then that Jack realized just how damn big he was. At least six and a half feet tall, the man was built. He looked like he could lift a small car on his own. With flaming red hair and beard, and a thick accent, Jack knew the man was Irish, and like most Irish was probably drunk.
Putting himself between the Irishman and Alisa, Jack retorted, “Look man, I don’t give a damn about what you’re saying. You’re probably drunk, go home and sleep it off. If I see you bothering her again I won’t hesitate to kick your ass, got it? Get the fuck out of here, now.”
The Irishman looked first to Alisa, then at Jack. He smirked and shook his head, looked at Jack again and said, “I’m goin lad, but don’t say I didn’t warn ye. This woman is like none ye ever met before. Just watch yer arse.” And with that the Irishman walked away, leaving the building.
Jack spun around and looked at Alisa. She already had a red welt on her face, and her wrist looked like it might be badly bruised. Alisa stepped forward and threw her arms around Jack, hugging him tightly. For a few seconds Jack just stood there frozen, feeling a bit stupefied over what had just transpired. He then hugged her back. After a few moments he pushed away, holding her at arms length. Looking her over he noticed that the welt was gone, and her wrist didn’t look as bad as he thought. ‘Must be the lights in here’ he thought. Out loud he said, “Are you alright? Do you have any clue what that was all about?”
Alisa shook her head. She looked about as confused as Jack felt over the whole thing. Jack put his arm around her shoulders, and led her to a booth. She sat down, and before Jack could move to sit across from her, she pulled him down to sit next to her. For a few minutes they sat in silence, looking at each other. A waitress came by and asked if they’d like to put in a drink order. They both jumped at the woman’s voice, but very quickly and eagerly responded yes and gave their order. The waitress came back with their drinks, which they both drank rather quickly. Then Jack broke their silence and said, “Well it could have been worse, I mean no one really got hurt. Insane fucking Irish. Look that guy was obviously drunk. Don’t worry about it, he’s probably passed out in an alley by now. Are you alright though?”
Alisa looked at Jack and smiled. “Actually I’d like to go home. I think I’ve had enough excitement for one night.”
Jack looked a bit disappointed, but said, “Ok, it was nice talking to you, and I…”
“I was hoping you’d walk me home, I only live a few blocks from here, and normally I don’t have a problem with walking alone. I’d feel safer if you went along with me.” Replied Alisa, cutting Jack off.
Now it was Jack’s turn to blush, no one ever told him that they’d feel safer with him around. It made him feel good, and was a good ego boost as well. “I’d be honored.” Is all he said.
Now it was normal for Jack and his friends to arrive together at the club, and it was also normal for them to leave separately as well. So Jack wasn’t worried about not informing his friends he was leaving. Hell yeah they’d understand that he didn’t say any thing to them. If they’d even believe he was leaving with a woman as attractive as Alisa anyway. Jack and Alisa stood up and headed for the door. As they stepped outside a cold wind assaulted them. It was March in The Big Apple, New York City. And even though the winter had passed, it was still pretty chilly out. Alisa stood next to Jack, holding onto his arm for warmth and comfort as they looked out onto the New York streets. New York was never dark or quiet, even at night. The lights from the clubs, stores, homes, streetlights, and any other light source you can imagine kept the darkness at bay.
Alisa nodded to their left, and arm in arm they headed down the street. As they were walking Alisa started to nuzzle Jacks neck. To anyone noticing the couple as they walked down the street it would have appeared that they were a nice young couple in love. But to the few beings lurking in the shadows, it looked like dinner was about to be served.
They stopped at the street corner, waiting for the sign to flash “walk”. As they stood and waited Alisa started to kiss and lightly bite the side of Jack’s neck. Jack closed his eyes, he hadn’t really expected this and in all his life he couldn’t remember it feeling that good. He felt a sharp sting, and let out a gasp. She bit him a little to hard, but damn it felt too good to complain. The world fell away, and the only thing he knew was the pleasure he felt, and the woman that was the cause of it. He was about to turn to her, to kiss her, but before he could she pulled away quickly. He saw blood on her lips, and noticed a cold, dark look in her eyes. She was staring straight ahead. Jack was about to say something, ask her what was going on, when her eyes narrowed and turned red.
Jack jumped back, and looked from Alisa to what stood across the street. The thing was looking back at them. Jack looked around, and it was then that he noticed that they were alone. Somehow while he was being distracted Alisa had led him to a deserted area. It was much darker here, and very quiet. But that didn’t bother Jack as much as what stood facing them. It was at least eight to ten feet tall, covered in dark red hair, claws as big as daggers and a jaw that looked as if it could crush bowling balls. Then Alisa crouched, opened her mouth and hissed. Long pearly white fangs protruded from that beautiful mouth, and her nails grew into claws themselves. Her skin grew pale, and her features became almost statuesque. It would have beautiful if it weren’t all so confusing.
“For the love of God! What in the fucking hell is going on!” Jack yelled, but even though it was strange, and all very, very weird, he wasn’t scared. And that confused him just as well. Because if he were to believe his eyes, and assume he wasn’t dreaming, he was looking at a werewolf, and a vampire. Beautiful sweet Alisa a vampire! Ha, hell yeah he was dreaming. His body is probably passed out in the bar somewhere, people walking past him thinking that the drunken slob should probably be booted out.
Jack rubbed his neck, and then noticed that it really hurt. He felt the side of his neck where Alisa had bitten him. He felt two small holes, and when he pulled his hand away he noticed blood. Just then the werewolf, in one giant leap crossed the street. He stood in between Jack and Alisa in almost a protective stance.
“I told ye to watch yer arse around this one, didn’t I lad? Now do ye be know’in why I told ye? She’d a sucked the blood from ye and left yer corpse to rot. Damn leeches are everywhere, an it’s me an me kin’s job to rid the world o’em. Now stand back lad, this could get real ugly.” Growled out the werewolf
“Liam, I wasn’t going to kill him. Well I was, but I tasted his blood, and it’s contaminated. Well, since no one’s hurt, and it is such a nice night. How about we all just go our separate ways? No harm no foul, that sort a thing.” Alisa said
“You know I can’t be lettin ye go. We’ve been playing out this dance fer to long now. Ye and yer kind are unnatural, bastard children who don’t belong in the Great Mother’s world. It ends tonight.” And with that the werewolf spun and leapt at Alisa.
But before he reached her, she disappeared. All of a sudden a hand was on Jack’s throat, and he was thrown into the side of the building. Alisa was holding Jack, her grip slowly crushing his throat. “Sorry Jack, you’re a nice guy and all, but you are just food to me after all. Or were, damn magic blood.” Then to Liam she said, “Back off puppy, all I want to do is walk away from this. I’ll kill him if I have to. Magic blood or not, he’ll be dead, and you can clean up the mess.”
Just then the shadows came alive. More creatures came out fangs, claws, red eyes, and pale white skin. Apparently Alisa’s back up had arrived. Seven new vampires surrounded Liam. The static of battle was in the air. Liam let out a roar, and a huge war axe appeared in his hand. He swung it around, and in one blow, decapitated the nearest vampire. Alisa to let out a roar. She picked Jack up and threw him into the pavement. Knocking him out cold.
‘Alright, think Jack, think. There’s got to be a way out of here. There’s got to be an explanation of what happened. Werewolves and vampires just do not exist, and I know that my blood isn’t magical. You’re just a regular guy, nothing special.’ Thought Jack as he walked over and sat back down on the mattress. He closed and started rubbing his eyes, trying like hell to think. But it was hard; his thoughts kept drifting to Alisa. Now he understood why she had picked him out. Who would really miss a lone guy, with nothing really outstanding about him? In a twisted way, Jack felt hurt. He stood up and started pacing back and forth, bouncing off the walls. He was exhausted, but this form of captivity made him antsy and annoyed, frustrated even. There was no way he could sleep. It was then that he noticed the object in the corner.
It was a small soft leather pouch. On the front it had what looked like a crest of some sorts. A sword and axe crossed with an open book behind them, and a circle surrounding it all. Carefully Jack opened the pouch and looked inside. Inside was dust. A pinkish sort of color, it seemed to sparkle even. “Great, what am I supposed to do with this? Snort it and get high? Throw it on myself so I can fly around the room? What the fuck is this!” Jack was beginning to get angry. He stood up, dipped his hand inside the pouch and grabbed a pinch of the dust. He twirled around the room laughing almost hysterically, and was sprinkling the dust over his head. After a few moments he stopped and grabbed onto the wall for support. He didn’t feel so good. Something was wrong. His body felt light, and his head felt heavy. Jack collapsed against the wall, and slowly slid down it. Eyes closed, clutching the pouch to his chest.
He opened his eyes and looked down at himself. Slowly he was dematerializing! He was becoming transparent! It was then that he noticed that he was actually sitting in the floor, and lying in the wall! He quickly stood up and looked down at himself. He looked like a ghost. He reached out and grabbed for the clock, but his hand went right through it! Jack closed his eyelids, and it was then that he realized how strange it was being transparent. For even though his eyelids were shut he could still see. ‘Ok Jack, next time we find some strange faery dust lying around, lets not pick it up and dump it on ourselves.’ He thought. Then an idea struck him. He opened his eyes (more out of habit than anything) and spun to face the door. He prepared himself for what he was about to do next. He closed his eyes, and quickly out of frustration opened them again, tried to rub his hands together, as they passed through each other, jumped up and down, steeled himself, and jumped for the door.
SMACK! Jack slid down the door with a soft groan. He rolled onto his back and realized that the dust must have worn off. He looked normal again. With a grunt he stood up, took a pinch of the dust and sprinkled some on. In a few seconds he was ghost like again. “Ok, no dramatic entrance lets just walk through the door and see what’s beyond it.” Jack said aloud, but if anyone had been listening it would have sounded hollow and ethereal. With that, Jack stepped through the door.
He stood in a long hallway. The floor, walls, and ceiling were made out of stone, on the walls were torch sconces, most of them lit. Every ten feet was another door identical to his. Thick old solid oak doors, with cast-iron hinges and latches. Jack was about to peek inside the door directly across the hall from his when the dust wore off again. Jack’s solid head smacked into the solid oak door with a resounding thud. The sound echoed down the hall. He was about to use some more of the dust when it dawned on him that he’d better save some for later. Besides, with the noise he just made, if anyone were in there they would have heard. And Jack just wanted to get home.
Jack looked around for a weapon, but the only things in the hall were the torches. He grabbed a lit one off its sconce and proceeded to head down the hallway. It wasn’t until he felt the warmth of the torch that he realized it was pretty cold here. He wasn’t dressed to shabby, but it wasn’t exactly winter gear either. Wearing a sweater, jeans and sneakers he was rather cold. As he made his way down the hall he counted the doors off. Counting his there were twelve doors to a side, who knew what was behind them? He reached the end of the hall and found a stairway leading up. The stairs were made from the same stone, and they spiraled up into the darkness.
Not really wanting to, but also not having much of a choice, Jack carefully and quietly crept up the stairs. He must have at least gone twenty feet by now, and there was still no landing, platform, or floor insight. But even though Jack felt like panicking, he realized he still wasn’t afraid. Before now, Jack never knew just how courageous and brave he could be. But then again he was never in a situation to really prove it before either. Up he went, step by step, cautiously creeping upwards. After what felt like an eternity Jack saw a light coming from somewhere up ahead. Lying the torch on a step, Jack tried to stomp out the flame as quietly as he could. But after a few unsuccessful attempts he gave up, the torch lying next to his foot. Then he realized that even though the torch gave off warmth, it wasn’t hot. He picked it up, and slowly put his hand straight into the flame. It didn’t burn! In fact it felt quite pleasant.
Shrugging his shoulders Jack put the torch under his sweater, behind his back. It warmed his whole body nicely and concealed it’s light. Jack reached the next level, and crouched down on the stairs. He listened for awhile trying to detect if anyone was up there. Just as he decided it was safe, he heard someone cough. And then that someone started to talk.
“Look, I’m sure the boy will be alright. He’s had a nasty scare but as these youngsters bounce back so easily, I’m sure he’ll be ok. I know, I know, Alisa did bite him, but that doesn’t mean much for a boy like him. You should know as well as I that the blood in his veins will protect him from any, eh viruses she could give him. Now stop worrying my furry friend, sit and have a drink. It’s been awhile since you’ve been around. I’m sure you have a tale or two you could spin.” Said a man, judging by the sound of his voice, an old man.
“Sir, I know better than to go against yer wisdom. But if in yer not worried about the lad bein infected, then why keep ‘im in the dungeon sir? I know there are better rooms up in the towers. Stayed a few nights there meself, kinda cozy really.” Said a familiar voice.
“Liam, I can’t be a hundred percent sure what might have happened to him, if anything. It’s just a precautionary thing, that’s all. I’d say we’d see to him in the morning, but seeing how he’s been listen I think we should invite him in. A nice cup of tea by the fire should do him good. Come on in Jack, no one here’s gonna hurt you.” Said the man
However Jack didn’t move, he laid frozen on the steps. Even though the warm torch was right up against his skin, a chill ran down his spine. For the first time tonight fear started to race into his mind. This was all getting to be too much and Jack didn’t know exactly how much more of it he could take. But he also knew that he couldn’t very well lie on these steps forever either. He’d wait until these men were gone, and then find his way out. Yes, that seemed logical enough. The old man was probably only guessing he was there, he might have been calling out his name ever so often hoping to lure him into a trap.
“Well Liam, I think our guest is a bit shy. Even though he has one of my ‘Warming Glow Torches’ tucked behind his back, I can’t imagine that lying on those stairs could be too comfortable. Plus I do believe the spell should be wearing off soon. Probably not a good idea to have real live fire tucked in your shorts. Unless you like that sort of thing.” The old man replied.
“Want me ter fetch’em sir? The poor lad’s probably scared out o his mind by now.” Liam said.
“I really wish you’d quit calling me “sir”. You do know I have a name don’t you? Please Liam, just call me by my name, Arden, like everyone else.” Said the old man.
“Yes sir, er I mean Arden. But what of the lad? Shall I get’em?”
“No, just leave him be. When he’s ready he’ll come up. Until then how about a nice spot of tea, hmm? That’s sounds rather tasty indeed. Add a few crumpets and it’ll be perfect.” Arden retorted.
As Jack lay on the stairs he noticed that the torch was getting warmer. He quickly went to remove it, but in his haste dropped it down the long flight of stairs. The cold started to settle in, and unless he wanted to freeze his balls off lying on the cold stone he’d have to either go down and get the torch or continue forward. He could already smell the tea and crumpets (whatever the hell they were) and from the rumbling in his gut he knew he should go forward. Might as well meet this Arden and for once talk to Liam on civil ground.
Jack stood up and walked on to the floor. There was a room off to his left where he could see Liam awkwardly holding a cup of tea. For a big man like Liam it was sort of comical to see the man’s little pinky finger sticking out while he was sipping his drink. As Jack entered the room he noticed on his left a huge fireplace with a nice roaring fire going. Liam sat to his right in a big puffy lounge chair; his feet propped up on a stool. And at the far end of the room sat a small man. He couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, and his beard probably tripped him when he walked. He was wearing thin; wire rimmed spectacles, and wore a bright yellow robe. The man had bright blue eyes, and was bald except for a thin line of hair that ran along the back of his head.
“See Liam, I told you young Jack would come up here on his own. He must be a bit more powerful than we thought, braking my enchantment on the door in all. Yes, must be pretty powerful indeed.” Arden thought aloud.
Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out the pouch, “Actually I used this. I found it in the corner of the room. Would you mind explaining just what the hell is going on? I feel I’ve been a fairly good sport about the whole thing. It started off a normal night going clubbing with my friends, meet a hot looking chic. But then large man shows up, chic turns out to be a vampire, large man turns into a werewolf, more vamps come, and I go night night. I wake up in a dungeon of all places, throw dust on myself, become a ghost, walk through walls, and meet a guy who seems to have the answers to all my problems. Sorry if I’m going a bit skitzo right now, but I think I fuckin well deserve it!”
Arden held up a hand, and at once Jack fell silent. It wasn’t out of respect; it was because his voice had disappeared. In a soothing tone Arden spoke, “Mr. Karde, as you’ve well seen tonight, things are not quite what they seem to be. You’re normal life has changed, and you will benefit greatly from this. Not only with knowledge, but you’ll be able to see and do a lot more than you were able to do before. An ancient and powerful magic runs through your veins Mr. Karde, there are few in this world who posses it, and even fewer who ever know about it. With it you can do great things, wonderful or horrible is up to you. But whatever you do with it, it can be great. You might have noticed some of the effects it’s had on you already. You never got sick, injuries healed at a very rapid rate, you could eat anything you liked and not gain a pound, needed very little sleep, things like that. I could go on, but I see you’ve already done so. Now of course you’ll need proper instructions, someone to school you. If not, you’re likely to blow yourself up. I know you have a great many questions to ask, but now is not the time. Now is the time for you to rest, you’ve been through a great ordeal tonight. You’ve got a lot to think about. I’ll have one of my servants show you to your chambers.”
Arden clapped his hands together twice, and out of thin air a small winged creature appeared. It was about two feet long, a sort of deep purple, and really resembled a flying lizard more than anything.
“Wawki here will show you to your chambers. It’s rather late, so relax and get some rest. When you’re ready just call for Wawki and he’ll bring you down. For now it’s best for you to have an escort while in my home. After you’ve learned your way around we can drop it. If there is anything you need, just ask and we’ll get it as promptly as possible. Good-night Mr. Karde.” Arden said.
Before Jack could respond to any of this, Wawki grabbed Jack’s wrist and started leading him away. Wawki went to a torch sconce and pulled it. The stone slide aside revealing a secret passage and set of stairs. They reached their floor in a matter of minutes and they were standing in front of a set of large solid oak double-doors. Wawki flickered his tongue and the great doors opened. Inside was the largest room Jack had ever seen. If he weren’t so worn out he’d have run around checking everything out. But instead he nodded to Wawki, and closed the doors behind him. He looked around giving everything a curious look. This chamber was at least three times bigger than his apartment. And at least ten times nicer. But Jack only had eyes for the large bed on the one wall. He quickly dashed over to it and fell onto it. As Jack was falling asleep, his only wish was that Sarah was there with him.
They had been going out for little more than a month now, but he really liked her. They had a lot in common, and generally got along great. She was just about everything he’d always wanted in a woman and told her that repeatedly. Sarah Arnett was 5’2”, 110 lbs., long blonde hair, and blue eyes that almost matched his own. She had the sweetest voice he’d ever heard. He wouldn’t admit it to anyone not even himself yet, but if things stayed this wonderful he could easily see himself marring her. Without a doubt. But it was the sudden terrified scream that awoke him from his reverie.
Jack bolted up, and looked around. Then as his vision cleared he noticed Sarah, sitting on the bed, a few feet from him. Not only did she look terrified, but also he noticed a very familiar look of confusion on her face. She calmed down quickly upon seeing Jack, but she didn’t say anything. Sarah just looked around wide-eyed in wonder. Calmly taking in her new surroundings. Jack was trying to rack his brain for an explanation of what happened, more for himself than for her. ‘Shit just keeps getting weirder and weirder by the minute. I really could use a drink.’ He thought. Poof! Sitting on the bed was a silver tray with a glass tumbler with vodka on the rocks, with a slice of lemon on the side. Both he and Sarah looked at it. Neither of them looking at each other.
“Arden told me that if I wanted anything all I had to do was ask. But this is ridiculous! Girlfriends and drinks popping out of thin air! What should I wish for next? A new car? A million bucks? What?! All right Jack, pull it together man. No need to get all hysterical. Strange shits been happening tonight, but nothing says that any of this is real. Just some magical images.” At that he poked Sarah hard in the chest with his fingers.
Sarah slapped him hard across the face. Jack fell off the bed in shock. He got to his knees and grabbed the glass of vodka and chugged it. Sarah was looking at him, bewilderment in her eyes. Jack knew she wanted an explanation for all this. She wanted to know what was going on. She had apparently been asleep; judging from the way her hair was lying, and the grimes of sleep dust in her eyes. But Jack looked past all that. He just realized how grateful he was to have her here. He jumped on the bed, and grabbed her holding her tight. She hugged him back, and then violently pushed him back.
“What the hell is that on your neck! It looks like puncture marks Jack.” Sarah yelled as she noticed the bite marks from Alisa.
“Sarah, I’ve got a lot to tell you. Half if not more of what I’ve got to say you’re not going to believe. The reason I know that is because I don’t believe it myself. Just know that I wouldn’t lie to you”, and for the first time ever Jack said, “I love you. Try not to freak out on me.”
Jack went into his story. He told Sarah how he left work, went home and showered, ate dinner, and called his friends to make sure everything was still on. How he met Alisa and about how a big Irish guy assaulted her. It was when he got up to the point of Alisa kissing his neck he hesitated. He and Sarah weren’t really exclusive yet, but there was an unspoken rule about being with other people. Jack knew that sleeping with another woman would cause Sarah to flip out, and result in her dumping him. But he wasn’t really sure if another girl kissing his neck would cause the same effect. So taking a deep breath, he told her, quickly. He rushed into the werewolf part and how Alisa turned into a vampire, about the other vampires that showed up and how he got slammed into the ground, head first. He finished the story at the point where she showed up. Or like Jack put it, when she popped in.
Surprisingly Sarah took it rather well. Either that or she was in a very high level of shock. Jack wasn’t sure which. He stood up, and rubbed his hands on his pockets, wiping the sweat away. When he felt the pouch. He took it out and held it up showing it to her. He took out a pinch and dusted himself with it. A second later he was transparent and she was unconscious.
Shrugging, Jack waited for the dust to wear off. When it did he pulled the comforter over Sarah, took off his shoes and sweater and climbed in bed next to her. They might not have had sex yet, but Jack already knew how nice it was to sleep next to her. He curled up, held her tightly, and drifted off to sleep himself. The last thing he was aware of was the smell of burgers and fries.
“JACK! JACK! Where the hell are we?! What’s going on?” Sarah screamed.
Jack sat up and looked around, Sarah was still yelling and screaming. He looked at her and just put his hand over her mouth. “Will you stop screaming? I told you everything last night. You couldn’t have forgotten it already.”
“No I haven’t, but I thought it was a dream. I mean come on, vampires, werewolves, magic dust, and what ever else. Well, they just don’t exist Jack.” Replied Sarah, more calmly now.
“I would’ve agreed with you before last night. But face the facts, you’re here, and you don’t have a clue as to how you got here. So let’s just make the best of it. We’ll have some breakfast, get dressed, and let Wawki know we’re ready.” Jack said.
At that Jack wished for pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee. In a few seconds time they appeared on a table. There were two chairs at the table, and a single candle sat in the middle of it all. Sarah looked at Jack, then closed her eyes and wished for french toast, hash browns, and orange juice. And like Jack’s order, hers appeared on the table as well. As they sat and ate, Jack told her about Arden. He went into further detail about this mysterious magic blood of his. When breakfast was done Sarah was up to date on all current events. Confused sure, but up to date.
They wished for clothes and a few moments later, they received what they asked for via poof mail. (Jack’s word for it) After they got dressed (in separate rooms of course) they spent a few tender moments together. Sarah made sure she heard Jack correctly last night when he said he loved her. Jack, a bit sheepishly admitted he did. Sarah gave him a gigantic hug and kiss, and told him that she loved him too. And that no matter what happened, at least they’d be together. Jack kept his breakfast down, sure he loved her, but he didn’t want to hear all the mushy stuff. The kisses and hugs led to touching, and the touching led to them lying on the bed, making love for the first time.
After they got dressed again, they sat there for awhile talking. Then Jack decided that they had better get a move on. There was a lot of things Arden still needed to explain and Jack was eager to hear it. After having a night to sleep on it he decided that he might has well hear what the old man had to say. He’d keep an open mind about it. He might not believe it all, but if anything it promised to be interesting. He’d believe that he had “magic blood” when he started to believe in flying pigs.
But Jack had always believed that there was more to the world then just the normal, run of the mill stuff. He was no stranger to role-playing games, and he wasn’t sure if they warped his mind, or opened it to other possibilities, but he believed that magic did exist. Legends such as vampires, werewolves, and other stories told to children had a basis in fact somewhere along the line. Faery Tales told to kids just didn’t survive centuries if there wasn’t something to keep them alive. And who knows, maybe it was mans imagination that brought them to life. An unwritten rule in the galaxy. A rule that states that if a certain percentage of the Earth’s population believes in something, no matter how good or bad, it shall become real. Hell, anything was possible. Except for him having “magical blood”. Now that was going too far.
He wasn’t really sure how to call Wawki, so he just did what he did when he wanted anything here. He wished for him. The great doors opened and Wawki was there hovering in the doorway. Sarah let out a shriek, but quickly regained herself. Jack took her hand, and together they followed Wawki down the stairs and out of the tower. They walked out of the secret passage and headed for the room where Jack left Arden and Liam last night.
Arden sat in his usual seat, with Liam in the same puffy chair as before. But seated on Arden’s right side was an older woman. Even though she was probably in her mid to late forties the woman was still as pretty as when she was young. She still had a small figure, and wrinkle lines that would normally have touched her face were no where to be seen. Holding a teacup, her hands were as steady as ever. If it wasn’t for the age and wisdom behind her large brown eyes, Jack would have thought she was no more than thirty. As they entered two chairs popped out of no where, and a small table sat between them.
Arden stood up and beckoned Jack and Sarah to have a seat. When they sat down two teacups appeared on the table. “Just tell the cup what it is you would like, and in a second or two it will be there.” Said the woman, who had quite a lovely voice. When she spoke, she spoke with a perfect British accent. Lifting her own cup she said, “Green tea, hot, with honey.” And sure enough Jack and Sarah could see steam rolling out of the cup, carrying with it the scent of green tea with honey.
“Jack my boy, did you have a pleasant rest? From the looks of this young lady here I’d say that you must have had a rather good time. Wishing for harlots Jack?” Arden said with a wink.
With those few words the room erupted. Liam was laughing so hard tea was pouring out his nose, Arden was looking around wondering what all the commotion was about, the woman yelled Arden’s name in disbelief and clamped a hand to her mouth, Sarah was stuttering and stammering so bad she couldn’t form a single word. And Jack just hung his head and sighed. After everyone had quieted down the woman looked at Arden and said, “She’s not a harlot Arden. Her names Sarah Arnett, she’s Jack’s girlfriend.”
“Oh, my apologizes Ms. Arnett.” Arden replied with a low sweeping bow. He continued, “This is Lady Regina Chapel. She’s here to help me explain to you what it is that you are exactly. She’s ah, also here to do some tests. Nothing big I assure you, just want to be sure of a few things.”
“Be sure of what? Am I going to die or something? Turn into a vampire? Or are you gonna go, oops! Wrong guy, sorry about the mess Jack, but we’re afraid you and Sarah know too much. Sorry but we’re gonna have to blast you into oblivion now. Have a nice day. Boom!” cried Jack hysterically. He was never really good at tests.
“Mr. Karde, pull yourself together.” Said Lady Chapel; “Unfortunately you are right about a few things. I need to test you for vampiric infection for starters. Then I will need a fresh blood sample to make sure you are a Magblo. Magblo is our word for a magic blood born person. And if you are a true Magblo we need to see exactly how potent the magic that runs through your veins is. If its presence is strong, the more you can do with it. But under no circumstances are we going to send you or Ms. Arnett into oblivion. If it turns out you are just a regular, non-magical man, then we will send you home if you like. Even for non-magic people though there are things you can do and learn. Take Mr. Lee for example. Not a drop of magic in his veins, but he is a world renowned vampire hunter. I believe you have even fought with him once or twice Liam, is that correct?”
“Yes Lady I’ve had the honor o fightin with’em. A great man that Lee is. I ain’t never seen a man who could slay them leeches like he can. I think if you could describe poetry in motion, it would be Mr. Lee. The man’s a real artist.” Answered Liam
“Very good, alright, Mr. Karde, Ms. Arnett, get comfortable. If there is anything you need, well you know what to do. We will begin when you are ready.” Said Lady Chapel
Jack and Sarah looked at each other; they both already had questions but decided not to voice them. Jack picked up his cup and asked for black coffee and in a second he had a steaming cup of black coffee. Sarah asked for a cup of Earl Grey tea with sugar and milk, and like Jack, she got her order as well. Jack, not a heavy smoker, but a smoker none the less, needed a fix of nicotine. He didn’t realize that all he had to do was think his request, but a pack of cigarettes, a lighter, and ashtray all appeared nicely stacked in his lap. He picked them up and placed the entire lot on the table. Even though it was quite tempting, he didn’t light one up. For one Sarah didn’t know he smoked, and two he wasn’t sure if it was allowed here. Sarah looked at the cigarettes then to Jack, giving him a disapproving look. “Well Smokey, light up.” Sarah said in a slightly annoyed voice.
“What’s wrong with you?” Jack asked.
“I hate smoking. My grandfather died of lung cancer when I was a little girl. I clearly remember all the pain he went through. And I remember the pain and sorrow it afflicted on my family. But what I’m most upset about is that you smoke, and you never mentioned it.” Sarah said.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t smoke that much. And I honestly think that now is not the time to get into it. We can discuss me quitting at a later date. I don’t smoke that much, and I’d like to quit. Since you hate smoking so much if you help me I’ll quit. But not right now.” And with that Jack opened the pack, drew out a cigarette, and lit it, inhaling deeply.
Arden looked at Jack with his cigarette, and in a few moments was puffing on a pipe with a long stem and small bowl. Liam pulled out a thick cigar, taking a long hard pull off it. Lady Chapel looked at Sarah, and noticed a look of disgust on her face. She stood up, walked over to Sarah, and sprinkled a bit of bluish-gray dust over her saying a few quick incoherent words. Soon Sarah noticed that the air around her was fresh and clean. She couldn’t smell the smoke at all. She smiled and thanked Lady Chapel.
“Well, if everyone is settled in I think we should begin. And I think the best place to begin, is well, at the beginning. Wouldn’t you agree Lady Chapel?” Arden said.
“Yes Arden, I quite agree. So if you are ready, please begin, from the beginning.” Agreed Lady Chapel
“Yes, from the beginning. I’ll skip the theoretical parts and jump into what we know is actual fact. The first Magblos started out in Ancient Egypt; they were the Pharaoh’s priests, the men that controlled all the mystical aspects of Egyptian life. And here we find the first mage in our recorded history. His tale is very wondrous and quite sad. Five thousand years ago their lived a slave to the Pharaohs named Kheti Athribes. Kheti was a Magblo, and like you Mr. Karde he wasn’t aware of it. He helped build pyramids, and performed all the duties that a house slave carried out. For years he admired Princess Akasha, but he could never profess his love for her. After all, he was just a slave. Seeing her made his heart soar, and being away from her made him die, only to be reborn by the sight of her once again. Kheti’s power was strong; the magic flowed in his veins so richly that he is thought to have been the most powerful Magblo throughout our history. But yet he was unaware of its presence. When his moods were extreme strange things would happen, things that couldn’t be explained. The Egyptians claimed that their Gods had done these things, things like animals found mysteriously dead and great stones moving on their own.
“The priests or Magblos of the time knew better, but supported the people’s claims. They didn’t know who was behind these strange occurrences but they knew they had to find the person and quickly. Whether the occurrences were deliberate or accidental people might start dying next. For months on end they searched. Of course they had to be discreet, they had to look for signs. While they searched, people started falling ill by a strange plague, they started to die. The priests knew that no man could cause such an evil to strike the world. But yet they were still worried. They still didn’t have a clue as to who was behind the mysterious events. Besides the plague, things were still not back to normal. Meanwhile Kheti kept up his duties; he was a treasured slave. He was never ill, required little sleep, and was quite strong and agile. During the times of the plague, which afflicted everyone from the Pharaoh to the lowest slave, Kheti remained strong. It was the Pharaoh’s wife who noticed Kheti’s strengths. For weeks she admired him, watching him work under the sun. The way the light reflected off his strong bronze body, watching his muscles rippling under strain. She decided then that she must have him for her lover.
“One night she called on him. He was to come up to her private chambers after sunset. Being a slave he could not refuse. And so after sunset he went to her, in the night. When he got there, she was waiting. Kheti knew exactly what she wanted by the way the chamber had been arranged and by the scents and lighting. As he preformed his duties he thought of Princess Akasha, and how he wished it was truly her.
“After he finished with his duties he was released. Kheti went back to his quarters, knelt down on the floor and prayed to the dark gods. He would give anything to be with Akasha, blood, life, soul; none of it meant anything to him if he couldn’t be with her. He began to pray louder, and in his frenzy he drew out a dagger and plunged it into his side, just below his heart. As his blood flowed onto the earthen floor of his home he prayed all the harder. Then something happened. No one knows exactly what, but people said that strange lights and sounds came from Kheti’s dwelling.
“The next morning, when the Pharaoh’s guards went to check on him, they found him dead. They saw the bloody dagger on the floor, and noticed the wound on his side. The Pharaoh proclaimed that he must have been murdered. That the other slaves were jealous of his health and strength. The priests took Kheti’s body to be mummified. It was then that they noticed and recorded the power of his blood. But they also noticed that it was changing. When a Magblo dies, the magic just disappears out of our blood and returns to the fabric of life. Kheti’s was turning dark; it’s power not diminishing in the slightest. Confused they removed his organs, but left his brain and heart in tact. Then they wrapped him for mummification.
“Princess Akasha was deeply saddened by the news of his death, as long as she could remember Kheti was always there. He was but a few years her elder, but he had always been there. Too Akasha, it was like loosing a family member, maybe a bit more even. Though she would barely admit it to herself, she felt deeply for Kheti, young, strong, handsome, but sadly a slave. She loved watching him when she could, and was always willing to steal a few quick words alone with him when possible. He had to show manners and respect as a slave, but she could tell that it came natural to him. So when news got out a few nights later that his body was missing she was over wrought with grief.
“Over the course of the next few years people reported seeing Kheti, always at night. Much like our non-magic friends spot Elvis. But the sightings of Kheti carried much more grisly aspects with it. When Kheti was sighted there were deaths. At first it was animals, but shortly grew to human deaths. All the victims’ had two small puncture wounds on their neck, and all were drained of blood.
“The people were coming to believe that Kheti was a servant of the Underworld gods. They believed that he was doing they’re dark work for them. Fore most of them remembered the strange lights and sounds that came from his dwelling on the night of his death. Most if not all spoke his name in whispers. They were coming to fear Kheti, they believed that to speak his name too loud would invoke his wrath. And fear him they should, fore Kheti killed without mercy. Man, woman, child it didn’t matter to him, in his eyes they were all sheep for the slaughter.
“One night, late into the night, a blood-curdling scream awoke the entire palace. As people stuck their heads out of doorways, guards ran down the corridors searching for the scream. When finally, just a few minutes after the scream, shouts of alarm ran through the house. Princess Akasha had been attack! There on her neck were two small puncture wounds, but she lived. The priests were called in to examine her. She had lost a bit of blood, but otherwise seemed all right. She was shocked and weak, but she’d live. Four female guards were left in her room and six guards stood watch over the three doorways into her sleep chamber. During the day she remained bedridden, maidens taking care of her every need. Those who saw her were worried. She wouldn’t eat or drink anything, and she looked increasingly pale. The servants whispered that Kheti would come to finish off what he had left behind. They were right. The next morning when the priests went into Akasha’s bed chamber, all they found were her four guards, dead. Drained of blood, with puncture marks.
“Over time they were forgotten, The Slave and His Princess. The Magblo however never did. We noticed the increase of these types of murder appear all over the world through time. Kheti and Akasha became vampires, as we know them today. And although Liam and his kindred see them as blights on the soul of The Great Mother, we as Magblo have learned to live with them. There are a few of them who have learned and created a magic of their own. Powerful they are, but they are not tapped into the Fabric of Life, and there for can not use the magic we do. But don’t underestimate them, though they differ from us, they are extremely powerful. Just ask Kheti or Akasha, they’re still around. After five thousand years they are probably the most powerful beings on this Earth. But for evil beings, as the werewolf tribes believe them to be, they are probably the most docile creatures I have ever met. Truthfully I consider them good friends. Though they aren’t around much.”
Arden let out a sigh, and stretched his arms. He looked down at his cup and said, “water”; he drank it and looked around. Everyone’s eyes were on him, waiting for him to continue. He looked around and asked if anyone was hungry. After everyone nodded that they were, Arden cast his hand about, and a table full of food appeared. As they ate they struck up a conversation, making small comments on the history lesson. When they were done with their meal Arden continued.
“Over the course of the next few millennia the Magblo studied and learned different paths of magic. There are several different paths a Magblo can walk. But just because you walk one path, doesn’t mean you can’t use powers related to the other paths. Your powers will be strongest in your chosen path. However, if your strength in another path, should ever supercede your strength in your chosen path, well several different things can happen. But for now, we’ll just say that it’s not a good idea to let that happen, and leave it at that.
“The path that the Egyptian priests walked was the Path of the Soul. This path deals with death, the body, the soul, and rebirth. With this path, a powerful enough Magblo could even raise the dead. Or he could even kill with just a thought. A lot, if not most have a dark soul, using theirs powers selfishly for their own purposes. Many are considered evil. The followers of this path are called Necromancers.
“Then we have the Path of the Sun. The men and women who walk this path are very in tune with nature. Throughout history they have been the Celtic Druids, Native American Shamans, African Tribesmen, and most other nature based religions. Their powers harness and use nature, they can create rain, cause insects to swarm, grow plants at a rapid rate, and many more things. With this path a strong Magblo can even change his appearance, or turn into an animal. The only limitation they have is their imagination. Those on this path are known as Protectors of the Great Mother. These are the Magblo most likely to be trusted by the werewolf tribes.
“The Path of Life comes next, with this path you can cure diseases, mend injuries, release poisons from a person’s body, and other such things. Mostly walked by caregivers, mothers, doctors, nurses, and people like that. A Magblo that’s powerful in the Life Path can cure any disease, whether it’s common, magical, or supernatural. But the second a soul transcends, there is nothing a person of the Life Path can do. But don’t think that this path is weak by any means. Because of their knowledge with the body, someone in this path also knows how to cause harm to the body. You can ask Lady Chapel about it later. She walks the Path of Life. These Magblo are known as The Healers
“The Path of Conjuring is the path I follow. This is the path that makes everyday life easier, in my mind at least. With it you are able to create objects from nothingness. Like making chairs, cups and food appear before you. With this path you can bring already existing things to you, like Ms. Arnett. You will also be able to affect items already around you, like turning off light switches and shutting doors, things like that. Grow enough in power and you’ll be able to summon things from different dimensions and worlds. This path is favored by scholars, hermits, and old men like myself. We who follow this path are called Summoners
“The Path of Enchantment is another favorite of mine. With this path you create magical items. The torch you used last night was created with the enchantment path, the teacups as well. Any item we use that has been magically created uses this path. The room you stayed in last night was enchanted with a spell that would grant almost any wish you had. There are certain limitations to the spell I used, but we won’t go into that now. With this path you can create potions, make magical weapons, and turn normal household items into animate objects. The sky’s the limit. There is almost nothing you can’t do. Men and women who walk this path are known as Enchanters, or Enchantresses
“The Astral Path deals with walking the worlds. You can astrally project yourself to different places in different worlds. You can also project your astral self into someone else’s body, in effect taking them over. It’s what non-magic people call possession. But it’s not a demon by any means. A strong Magblo who walks this path is able to travel back into time. Which of course could be very bad, depending on the Magblo’s intention. There are a few who guard time, the Tuatha. They are always watchful of someone trying to change past events. And if need be, they will destroy any Magblo trying. But I’m wandering off. Those that follow the astral path are limited with their powers, but can be very powerful indeed. They’re known as World Walkers.
“The Path of Man is a newer path. It started a few centuries before, but has been growing in popularity. It controls body and mind. With this path you can cause a man to step into traffic, by controlling his will. You can twist his body into horrible shapes, creating grotesque creatures that nightmares are spawned from. You can control someone’s age, his or her height, weight, and appearance. You can turn a pacifist man into a cold-blooded killer. This path can be used for good, but rarely in it’s dark existence has it been used so. The followers of this path would like to be called Lords, but they are commonly called the Destroyers of Man.
“Now we have a path that puts all the other paths together. Those that follow this path are masters in no one path, but dabblers in all. This is the Wild Card Path. The followers of this path can do more at one time than someone that follows a single path, has more spells and a greater range of knowledge. But he will never be as powerful as someone who walks the line of a single path. Those who walk this path are known as Wildrunners.
“Last and certainly least, is the Path of the Dark. This isn’t so much a path as it is a power we’re not sure how to categorize. You see, all the paths above work off the Fabric of Life. To use magic you tap into the Fabric and your spell is allowed to work. The Dark Path however does not tap into the Fabric of Life. It works off of the Fabric of the Dark, or more commonly called, the Death Shroud. Those that use the Dark Path use the very darkest magic. They summon evil beings from other realms, their rituals often use blood sacrifices, and they are the creators of the undead, well except for vampires of course. Their bodies are as twisted as their hearts are black. Many of them resemble the living dead. They are all that is evil in this world and more. Most Magblo don’t even consider them to be Magblos at all. For those who are on the Dark Path do not even share the same type of blood we have. It more resembles the blood, which flows through that of the vampires. These twisted evil beings are known as the Children of Death, or Death Child.”
Arden stopped and rubbed his eyes; he hated talking about the Children of Death. A shiver ran up his spine as he thought about one Death Child in particular. Deciding he needed a drink he picked up his cup, and said, “brandy”. Slowly holding the cup in both hands he sipped it.
“Are you alright Arden? You look a bit upset. Something wrong?” Asked Lady Chapel
Lost in thought, Arden barely heard her words, taking him a few moments to respond. “Ah, yes, yes, I’m ok. I was just thinking about Lord Byron.” He looked at Jack and Sarah and then said, “He’s a Death Child I have had the misfortune of meeting, and knowing. But that’s quite a long story, and right now we have more important things to discuss.
“The Magblo created a council. The council consisted of seven people. A master from each of the seven original paths sat on the council. Now days there are eight council members. When the Path of Man was discovered the council asked for it’s first master to join. But anyway, these seven original men and women created the laws by which we live. They knew that even though we were superior because of our powers we were not better. So they set forth laws, to protect the non-magic people from us. And laws to protect us from ourselves. Now of course there were those of us that resisted, but in the end majority ruled, and the council was born. You see the council is the highest court of our world. What the council says goes. Now they know they’re not perfect, and so what they say and do can be challenged.”
Arden went into great detail about the laws and ways of the Magblos. Jack’s attention was undivided. But like any man his age, there was only so much he could take. His attention started to drift to other things. But quickly stopped when he realized that he had a few things in his lap he hadn’t really expected to be there. Realizing that he must have been wishing, he cleared his mind. Arden noticed he had lost their attention, turned to Lady Chapel and said, “I think it’s time for you to take Jack down to the laboratory and run your tests. Tomorrow we’ll continue where your attention was lost today.” At that he stood up and motioned for Jack to do the same.
Jack and Sarah got up out of their chairs. Lady Chapel stood up and very regally started walking out of the room, her long gown brushing the floor. Jack and Sarah followed. She led them down the flight of stairs that Jack was hiding on only the night before. Half way down she stopped, looked at the wall, and said a word before touching a certain spot. The stone slid in and then over, revealing a long dark hallway. Jack looked over at Sarah and was a bit relieved to see he wasn’t the only one who was a bit surprised. At that point Jack decided to expect any and everything, that way he wouldn’t keep feeling confused and surprised. But he knew it would never work.
Down the hall they went, torches igniting as they passed. When finally they came to a lone door on their left. It was a huge steel door, and Jack guessed that it would take all of them pulling just to open it. Lady Chapel touched the door handle and it opened quietly by itself.
The room was enormous; in fact it looked much too big for the castle. But then again Jack wasn’t exactly sure how big the castle actually was. The lab reminded Jack of the type of lab they show in Mad Scientist movies. There were all sorts of strange looking concoctions bubbling about, strange looking creatures in cages, and a few rather wicked looking tools on the far wall.
She led them over to a table that was currently unused. Lady Chapel tapped the table’s surface, and said aloud, “Blood testing equipment.” All sorts of different things appeared on the table, vials, beakers, microscopes, and many other objects Jack couldn’t identify. Some looked very painful. He gave Lady Chapel a sideways glance. She looked like she was taking inventory, locating every object and committing to memory it’s location. He looked at Sarah next, she looked worried.
“Alright Jack, all I need from you is a bit of blood. Do not worry, most of this stuff will not be used. The table produces the equipment needed for a broad range of things. Some creatures put up quite a fight, and some creatures are extremely difficult to just extract blood from. For a willing man such as yourself it will be easy and painless.” At that she grabbed Jack’s arm and put the open end of a vial against the skin. Before their eyes the vial was filling up. Lady Chapel let go of his arm, and walked over to the microscope.
Jack looked at his arm, and not surprised in the least, he saw that there wasn’t even a mark on his arm. Not only painless, but also blemish free as well. He looked at Sarah and noted that she too wasn’t surprised, she just had a look of interest. They both walked over to where Lady Chapel was standing, and began to take interest in what she was doing.
She was looking through a microscope mumbling to herself. Every once in awhile they could hear her say “interesting”. She looked at Jack with a quizzical look on her face, and went back to the microscope, mumbling again. A look of great interest was displayed across her features, she began rubbing her hands together quickly. She looked very excited. She looked at Jack again, and asked, “Are you sure that this is your blood?”
Jack stepped back, eyebrows arched. His mouth dropped as he disbelieving answered with a “What?”
Lady Chapel shook her head slightly, regained her posture and held her excitement in check. In her normal tone she said, “Your test results are fine Mr. Karde. There is no hint of infection in your blood. Everything looks very healthy. You and Ms. Arnett may return to Arden’s study. I am sure that after such a long day the two of you would like to relax by the fire. Wawki will be here shortly to fetch you, and take you upstairs." With that she returned to the tests. Placing a few drops of Jack’s blood into a beaker full of some dark brown liquid, Lady Chapel squealed in delight as it began bubbling over rapidly. Jack was interested, but he was to damn tired for long in-depth answers, and he knew better than to hope for a simple explanation. They walked to the doorway, and waited for Wawki to arrive.
A few minutes later they were sitting by the fire in the study once again. Liam was gone, and Arden was reading a thick, dusty, old tomb. When he finally noticed them he shut the book, and looked at Jack. He didn’t just look at him though; Jack had an uneasy feeling he was being studied. The look in Arden’s eyes was intense. He started to say something but shut his mouth. He had obviously thought better of it. Jack’s curiosity was about to reach its limit. He knew something was up, but he didn’t know what. He also had the feeling that these Magblo didn’t quite know what it was either.
After a few minutes of sitting there, Jack stood up and went over to the bookshelf behind the puffy chair Liam had once occupied. He looked at the titles on the book spines, over half of them he couldn’t read. It didn’t take him long to understand that these books would never be found in a regular bookstore. Well maybe with the exception of Magic for Dummies, but he kind of doubted that too.
“See anything that piques your interest?” said Arden as he got up and made his way over towards Jack. He looked over the books on the shelves, and then finally selected one. He handed it to Jack and said, “Here try this one.”
Jack took the book and looked at its cover. He quickly noticed that it was written in a strange language. The lettering was very artistic and very foreign. He handed the book back to Arden and said, “Sorry, but I haven’t a clue as to what language this is, let alone read it.”
Arden took the book back, look at it, and said, “Sorry, I guess I just take for granted that not everyone can read Qualinalti.”
“Qualin who? What the hell is a Qualin, what? How the hell do you say that again?” Jack retorted
“Qualinalti. The Qualinalti are a celestial race. They stand well over ten feet tall, and are very powerful beings. They are the guardians of the Seven Heavens, protectors of all that is good. They are very intelligent beings, with powers that would be considered god-like. No one man could stand against a Qualinalti and survive more than a few seconds. In fact there isn’t anything that could challenge them one on one and survive. The only thing that could come close are the Bazuluka, the warlords of the Nine Hells. Horrible creatures they are, their evil is as strong as the Qualinalti are good.
“Once in our history, a Dark Path follower unleashed a Bazuluka onto the Earth. Not only did it destroy the one who summoned it, but it also rampaged across the Earth, destroying all in its path. Many a brave Magblo tried to defeat the beast, all dying a gruesome death. It was then we realized that our magic had no effect on them. The council got together, and with the help of several Magblo, they summoned a Qualinalti. For days the two battled across the landscape, villages and towns were being crushed under foot. Then finally, one morning just before dawn, the Qualinalti slew the Bazuluka, sending the fiend back to the Nine Hells.”
Arden stroked the cover of the Qualinalti book in his hands and handed the book back over to Jack. Jack looked at the cover, it was still in Qualinalti, but he could read it. The book's title was ‘The Fabric of Life, The Qualinalti’s Book to Magic’
Jack started to open the book, but Arden closed it and said, “Before you read through it you should know that although this book was written by a Qualinalti, it expresses everything we Magblo know to be true. There is nothing in that volume we disagree with. It shall explain everything about magic better than I can. The only other book you should read right away is this one.” And Arden handed Jack a new book, much thinner than the first.
Jack looked at the cover and read it. He let out a startled scream as he read the cover and dropped the book. Arden gave him an odd look and picked up the book reading the title. It read, “So, You’re Gonna Fuckin Die!” Arden now understanding Jack’s reaction put the book on the shelf, grabbed a different one, read the title before handing it over and said, “Sorry about that Mr. Karde, that was really the wrong book. Don’t know how that got there. This one’s a book about the history of the Magblo. Read these two books and you’ll be set. Everything will make a lot more sense. After you’ve read them there are matters we’ll need to discuss. Quite important matters actually.”
Jack took the books and laid them on the table next to his chair, he looked over at Sarah, who was sleeping peacefully, curled up in her own chair. Jack looked over at Arden, and once again a confused expression crossed Jacks features. “What do we do with her?” he asked
“What do you mean Mr. Karde?” Arden asked back
“Well I’m getting the feeling that she really doesn’t belong here. That what I’m about to learn and do will be beyond her understanding. She’s gonna be confused and left behind. I don’t want her to feel left out, but I know it’s going to be unavoidable. Plus I get the feeling that I’m gonna be here for quite awhile. There’s so much to learn and do. So what can we do about her? I don’t want her hurt.” Jack said
“Very good Mr. Karde, I’m glad to hear you coming around. The initial shock must be wearing off. As for Ms. Arnett, I can call upon a friend of mine. She can alter Ms. Arnett’s memory, making her think it was a dream or something. I’m not sure exactly how but it won’t be painful or harmful. We’ll keep her asleep, take her home and place her in bed. She’ll wake up tomorrow and return to her normal life. Is that all right with you Mr. Karde?” replied Arden
“Sure, just as long as you can insure her safety. Also, can you ask your friend to, I guess, delete me completely from her memory? That way she can easily move on, and not wonder where I’m at.” asked Jack.
“Of course Mr. Karde, we’ll do what we can. Would you like to stay around and watch the process, or would you prefer not to be present?” asked Arden
“I’d rather not be around actually. If you don’t care I’m going to leave it all in your hands. I’m just gonna grab these books and go up to my rooms. If you don’t mind we can leave Wawki out of it. I’m confident I can find my way.” Said Jack
With that he headed up towards his quarters to settle in for a night of study. Meanwhile Arden called upon a friend of his. She was a tall woman; with blue almond shaped eyes, long pointed ears, and a very lithe looking frame, with shiny raven black hair cut short. Malindria was an elf, using the Astral Path she crossed the Astral Plane. Originally coming from the Elven Nation in a world far away, she had stepped through a portal and appeared on Earth.
Malindria looked down at Sarah sleeping. Arden had moved her from the study to a vacant bedroom. Although elves are a far more attractive race than humans are, Malindria thought that from time to time exceptions were made. She concentrated and cast a spell that would keep Sarah asleep no matter what was going on around her. The only way she was going to wake up was when the spell was dropped.
“You know Arden, for a human, she’s quite attractive. Are you sure you want to send her back to those humans? You know I can personally expand her mind to understand all around her, she doesn’t necessarily have to go back to their world.” Malindria said while stroking Sarah’s cheek.
“Her beauty is quite exceptional, but it wasn’t my choice to make. In fact I was somewhat surprised that Jack came up with the idea on his own, and so quickly. Besides, you know as well as I that it’s for the best.” Arden said
At that Malindria cast her spell, concentrating on Sarah’s memories, she removed all the memories that involved Jack. Everything from the first time she saw him in a market, to her last image of him by the bookshelves. Malindria hated doing this, not only was it erasing memories but it was erasing a part of the person. When she was done she looked at Arden, “You know I hate doing this. I want you to know that you are possibly the only person in the worlds that I would do this for. This Jack Karde fellow must be pretty special for you to even ask me. So Arden tell me, what’s his story?”
“You know how the council on Earth works, they have their people looking for humans with a certain level of magic in their blood. Even though Jack was tested once before he was overlooked. The magic in his blood didn’t show up. Lady Chapel, I believe you know her, is down in the laboratory now checking a sample of his blood. The reason it wasn’t detected before was because the blood in his veins is magic. Magic doesn’t flow in his blood, like us it isn’t mixed in. Pure unadulterated magic flows through his veins, it is his blood. The reason it wasn’t detected before is because the tests weren’t able to handle it. The results just came back negative. So of course it wasn’t given a second thought.
Well last night he picked up a girl in a bar, and the poor guy was unlucky enough to have picked up a vampire named Alisa. Well she led him down an alleyway; she had already bitten him when a werewolf friend of mine showed up. He had been tracking Alisa. Well there was a fight, Alisa escaped, and Liam brought the boy here. We’ve been checking on him and educating him since then.” Said Arden
“But magic for blood? What in the worlds can that mean? His he supposed to be like a new up and coming god or something? I mean with blood that damn potent it’s as if the Fabric of Life decided it needed a living, breathing form of itself.” Malindria claimed giving Arden a hard look as if she just stumbled onto something incredible.
Arden smiled, he closed his eyes and nodded and then looked at Malindria. Then said, “The council has been informed about him and for now they believe it’s safer for him to just believe he’s a normal Magblo, not The Magblo. He will stay here with me until he has learned absolutely everything he can. I believe in ten years time he will be very powerful, much more so than I’ll ever be. We must keep him safe and try to keep him good, just, and fair. If he ever becomes evil, or turns towards the Dark Path, then the gods only know what might happen. But for now he’s a new and unsuspecting student. Besides the other Council members, you and I are the only others who know. I trust you can keep this quiet, or else I wouldn’t have informed you. So, let us take Ms. Arnett home. After that we can come back and have a nice chat over a cup or two of that delicious elven tea.” Arden said.
Malindria picked up Sarah, and the three of them disappeared. A moment later they reappeared in Sarah’s apartment. Malindria laid her in bed and brushed Sarah’s hair back. She then dropped her sleep spell so Sarah could sleep peacefully and naturally on her own. Quietly Arden watched, keeping his promise to Jack that he’d make sure Sarah was all right. Malindria bent down and whispered in Sarah’s ear, ‘Pleasant dreams.’ She stood up and nodded to Arden that she was ready. They left just as quickly and quietly as they had arrived.
Over the course of the next five years Jack studied, memorized, read, and learned everything he could. If there was something Arden couldn’t teach him, then someone was invited over to school Jack in that specific area. Jack was now as knowledgeable as any Magblo his age and beyond. His magical skills were beyond anything anyone had hoped them to be. It was actually frightening how quickly he learned. He absorbed data like a machine. It wasn’t long before word got out about this extraordinary Magblo. The more they learned about Jack, the more they were coming to fear him. Few Magblos even suggested he be destroyed before he could do any harm.
Arden was amazed with Jack constantly. Even he was in awe of the learning capacity and rate in which he learned. Arden could have never hoped in his wildest dreams to have a better student. But Jack wasn’t only learning magic. He was learning to fight in combat as well. Trainers were brought in to teach him many different combat styles. He learned martial art forms, melee weapons, small arms, demolitions, and up to and including heavy weapons. He learned these skills as quickly as he had learned his magic skills. In a few cases he had even surpassed his instructors.
Jack sat in Arden’s study. He was reading a newspaper, casually flipping through the pages. He wasn’t all that interested in the articles, it was just something to do. The last few days he had just been bored to death. Sure there were a lot of things to do. He even had all his possessions from his apartment. But nothing was all that appealing to him. He had a case of the same shit, different day blues. He was right, although he had learned and done a lot, it was basically all the same. But what Jack didn’t know was that his life was about to change. What he didn’t know was that as he lazily flipped through the paper, a visitor had just arrived at the castle.
The bottom of her nightdress whipped around her feet as Princess Samandra stood on her terrace over looking the city of Tymerianesti. Her father Lord Tymerian, ruled the Elven Nation. The city of Tymerianesti was the Capitol City in that nation. And as long as Princess Samandra could remember, the city, or the nation, had never changed. The sun had just set; darkness was covering the city in a thick blanket. She was thankful to Daganion, chief god of the elves, for such a beautiful night.
She was almost two hundred years old, and by elven standards she was still little more than a child. She played with the numbers, and came to the conclusion that she’d be a mere twenty-one in human years. She was very exquisite; people were always gawking at her. Men would stare at her beauty, and women were venomously jealous. She had waist length honey blonde hair, which was usually braided in long strands, and bright, piercing, almond shaped, green eyes. She stood around five foot eight inches tall, and weighed a nice hundred and ten pounds. Princess Samandra always wore dark clothing, usually very revealing as well. She enjoyed the slight torture it gave to men who always gave a quick glance her way. Her chambermaid, try as she might, could not get the Princess to change her style or color of her clothing. Princess Samandra was quite aware that the dark clothing made her slightly pale skin beneath, exotic looking.
After a long blazing summer she was quite grateful for the cool night, as her body faintly showed signs of her pleasure. As she stood and watched the moons crest the skyline, someone rapped on her chamber door. She moved to her desk, looked at a small shard of glass, and saw her father standing, waiting by her door. She threw a shawl over her shoulders, covering her breasts as well. She glided over to the door and opened it, looking slightly annoyed at her father.
“Ah, my lovely daughter Samandra. Do you realize that you look more like your mother everyday? If only she could be here with us. She’ll always be in our hearts and minds, so in a sense she will never truly be gone. But I didn’t come her to remind you of your beauty, now did I? Actually, I’ve come to let you know that I have found a suitor for you.” Said Lord Tymerian. He was about to continue, but was interrupted by Princess Samandra’s quick reply.
“NO! I will not marry any man that I do not choose myself! Be damned with the laws. I maybe you’re only daughter, but I am not you’re only child. It doesn’t matter if I ever marry. And I will not marry a man I do not know!” Yelled Princess Samandra.
Lord Tymerian let a smile play across his lips. He looked at his daughter, who usually kept her head, except when he mentioned suitors for her. She was breathing faster now, her cheeks were flushed and the light behind her eyes reminded Tymerian of Samandra’s mother. Oh how he loved Samandra’s mother, and when she died in childbirth it was all he could do to keep his sanity. Lord Tymerian knew why he spoiled Samandra, but there was nothing on this planet that could stop him from it.
“Samandra, you know your suitor this time. In fact I believe you were rather fond of him when you were children. I’m sure you remember Gabriel Moonfrost. The young man who begged me to let him join the military even though his father forbade it. He’s back you know, poor lad was injured on his griffin during a border skirmish. He got shot with an arrow, went straight through his armor and into his chest. Then if that’s not bad enough, his griffin bucks him off, and he’s thrown fifty feet to the ground. His comrades say that at least he got off several good volleys before he went down.” Lord Tymerian remarked
Princess Samandra wasn’t sure of what to say really. Of course she remembered Gabe; he was her first crush after all. She was concerned about him as well. But still, she was too proud to let even Gabe think she was just some precious treasure to be won. She was no man’s whore; the man she married would know her mind. He would know that she could not be controlled. He would love and respect her above all things. She knew that these so called “suitors” only wanted one thing. They wanted a chance for power.
“That’s nice father, and I’m sure Gabriel ran over here as fast as he could when he had found out I was still unwed. A chance to be closer to power. They’re all the same you know.” Samandra replied.
“You see dear, that’s where you’re wrong. As our conversation went on, I was the one who brought you up. I told him that you were still unwed. His reply was short and simple, all he said was ‘Shame, well good luck in your search’ and that’s when it struck me. He’d be the perfect husband for you. Strong, handsome, smart, and a true man of chivalry. Plus I think it would be easy for the fire to be rekindled between you two. All I’m asking from you is to give him a chance. I invited him and his family over for dinner tonight. I need to speak to his father about matters concerning the council anyway. They’ll be here in an hour. Please be ready. And for the love of Daganion! Put something decent and lively on. This obsession you have with black clothing lately is really starting to concern me.” With that Lord Tymerian left her chambers.
Princess Samandra stood there, staring at the back of the door in thought. ‘Gabriel, back from his military service. This could be fun Samandra, after all the boys you knew when you were just a girl, no one could make you feel like Gabe. He could always make you laugh, and was always there when you needed him. We always had so much fun together. But that was almost thirty years ago. He’s probably changed, you know you have. But maybe father’s right. Maybe I should give him a chance. Who knows, perhaps he’s still the same man you loved before. The same man that broke your heart when he left. The same man that stole your breath when he kissed you good bye. Its not like he didn’t keep in touch and it is considered an honor to be in the Griffin Riders unit. Although why anyone would want to sit on the back of a smelly griffin is beyond me. Alright Samandra, let’s get dressed up and show everyone just what you’re made of.’
Princess Samandra stood in front of her dressing screen, thinking how exactly she wanted to appear to night. A low cut, dark burgundy dress that swept the floor, sleeveless with thick straps that rested on her smooth creamy white shoulders, with a simple silver choker necklace, and her hair braided in thick long braids would do nicely. Once she had the image in her mind, she stepped behind the screen, and reappeared a second later, just as she had imagined it. She didn’t need to look at herself in the mirror, but she did anyway. As she expected, she was flawless. It might have been a bit conceded of her to think that, but in all honesty it was true. Princess Samandra was the exact definition of beauty.
She looked over at her screen and smiled, it was her newest creation, and she just loved it. It had taken her years to create and perfect it. But now that it was perfect she thoroughly loved it. As an Enchantresses she could create so many things. She loved new projects, and enjoyed making little things to make life more comfortable. She was currently working on an actual doorway that when opened would literally astral project her to the other side, somewhere in a different world. She needed to do some research first though. Find a world that was safe for one, and learn as much as possible about it. The great library in Tymerianesti would be essential in her research. Though she knew how to astral project her mind to other worlds, she wasn’t strong enough to project her whole body. She also studied the Path of Man, and she was almost as good with this path as she was with the Path of Enchantment. But she knew to well the repercussions of trying to master two paths, or becoming more knowledgeable in the path that wasn’t her true path. The thought of going mad or brain implosions were not good things. Although she still thought the latter of the two was mostly just a fairy tale. But she wasn’t willing to chance it.
She sat at her desk and looked at the book on it, which lay open. She touched a blank page, and sat back, shutting her eyes. She then thought, ‘Journal entry number four thousand, five hundred, and twenty-six. Tonight I’ll see Gabe for the first time in thirty years. Sure I missed him, but should I really try and give him a chance? Will he be the same man he once was? Or will he be just like the others? What will he look like? Will he be tall and skinny like he’s always been? Or maybe scared and disfigured from his battles. Though I know I am not evil like the definition of the word states, I also know I am not a good person either. I am not kind, sweet, and gentle. For appearances sake I must act so, but I know that is against my nature. But is that my nature? Or is it a side of me that shall disappear once I find happiness. Once love kisses me upon my lips, and caresses my body. If I do fall in love with him again, my passion aglow once more, can he love me? Could he love me if he knew the true nature of the beast? Sadly no one can tell the future, so I guess I’ll just have to find out. First we must go down stairs and met him, then we’ll go from there. Entry finished’ she opened her eyes just as the last of her words were being transcribed onto the page. Smiling she got up, and went to her jewelry box. There she picked out a simple ring, with a lily etched into the silver. It was the ring Gabe had given to her just before he left. She rarely wore it, fearful something might happen to it. Once it was on her finger, she glided out of the chamber, down the stairs, and into the greeting hall.
Her father and three brothers were already there waiting on her. They eyed her up and down; all with disapproving looks, all except her brother Tarian. Tarian was the youngest of the three brothers. He was the rogue, the rebel, and the one that Samandra loved above all. They were only ten years apart, and they were the most alike. Though Tarian was always scruffy looking, and always wore the most basic clothing. He didn’t care for the extravagant dress and nonsense of court. He was without a doubt a follower of the Sun Path.
“Really dear sister, could you have found something a little more conservative? The way you’re dressed you look like a common wench, not the princess of a kingdom.” Said her eldest brother Latharous.
“Leave her be. I’m just grateful it isn’t a black dress. You look very good sweetheart.” Said her father.
“It’s been several years since I’ve seen Gabe myself, I’m looking forward to rehashing stories of old battles we fought together. I’ll tell you Samandra, if you ever get married, you should marry Gabe. I can’t tell you how often he used to talk about you. Me and the boys in our company used to wrestle him to the ground and stuff rags in his mouth to shut him up. But then again that’s been almost what now, fifteen, twenty years ago? At any rate, it’ll be fun to see Ol Gabe again.” Tarian cut in
“Wait you never told me that...” but before she could finish, a horn sounded, announcing the arrival of their guests. It was then that Samandra felt nervous. She always knew that she’d see Gabe again, but she didn’t expect to be so nervous. She didn’t understand it, and in a way it pissed her off. She was a strong Elven woman, and strong women didn’t get butterflies in their stomachs just because some guy was coming over for dinner.
The first to enter was Gabriel’s father, Councilor Marius Moonfrost. First string councilor, appointed diplomat, treasurer of the state, etc. Councilor Moonfrost’s list of duties, awards, and honors could go on and on. People doubted he could even remember them all. On his arm came his wife, Loreena Moonfrost. Then entered a young man Samandra didn’t recognize. He was six foot and two inches tall, very muscular, with long amber hair, and stunning gray eyes. His skin bore a slight tan, which looked as if it had seen its share of time under the sun. The armor he was wearing was well polished and immaculate, not a flaw on it. Except a small mended hole just left and below the heart. On his arm was a small girl of around fifty, blonde curls stuck out from beneath her bonnet and she too had those same gray eyes.
It was just then that Samandra realized it was Gabe who was standing there. No longer was he that tall lanky goofy looking boy that she once new. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, he was absolutely gorgeous! She blushed a bit when she felt Tarian’s hand come up under her chin to close her mouth. But she had noticed the look in Gabriel’s eyes as well.
Lord Tymerian led them into the dinning hall, where they sat down and started in on small, polite conversations. Everyone, except Samandra’s second eldest brother, Soren joined in. Soren was always quiet and kept to himself. He was the loner, and he hated being dragged to these sort of affairs. He had no interest in them, and most importantly, had no use for them. In Samandra’s whole life she could only remember actually talking to him a few times. If she thought of herself as evil, then she knew Soren was. He was a dark elf without a doubt. No one knew exactly what path he followed but none doubted it was at the very least the Soul Path. Most thought it was probably the Dark Path. Fore as the years went by Soren became paler and more skeletal. But it was hard to tell really, Soren always wore the same black robes with the deep cowl, hiding his features effectively. All feared that if something happened to Lord Tymerian, Soren would slay Latharous, taking the crown for himself.
During the course of dinner, Gabriel and Samandra avoided each other’s eye. Though it was difficult considering they sat directly across from one another. Lord Tymerian and Councilor Moonfrost talked about affairs of the state, and Latharous, Tarian, and Gabriel talked about battles, drinking, griffins, and other topics that interested men. Samandra was having small polite conversations with Mrs. Moonfrost and Anaya, Gabriel’s sister. When dinner was over, Soren hurriedly excused himself and left. The Lord and Councilor went into a different room to discuss something else in private over a glass or two of elven fruit wine. Tarian was about to snatch Gabe away to show him a new griffin he just picked up when Latharous grabbed his arm, hauling him off. Samandra walked out in the garden, sat on a bench, and looked out at the twin moons in their full state.
“Hello princess, you’ve been very quiet tonight. You aren’t by chance still upset with me are you? I wrote you as often as I could and…” Gabriel was saying before Samandra put a finger to his lips.
“Quiet, I don’t want you to say another word.” Said Samandra, staring into those storm gray eyes. “I’m told that you wish to be my suitor, and well it’s been…” but it was time for Gabe to cut her off.
“What! I didn’t say that! All I said was good luck in finding you a suitor. I know how damn stubborn you can be, and finding a man for you to marry will be about as easy as asking a dragon for one of her eggs for breakfast. I didn’t mean me though. I’m sorry, but I really should go and tell your father that I wasn’t suggesting myself.” His last few words trailed off as he noticed the look on Samandra’s face, a look of disappointment.
“Are you upset? Look Samandra, I’m honored to be considered, but it’s been thirty years. We’ve both changed a lot I’m sure. To be honest I feel I barely know this ravishingly beautiful woman sitting next to me. But I’d really like to have the opportunity to get to know her again. Does a suitor mean that I have to marry you? Or does it mean that we’re dating or what? I’m afraid I don’t know.” Gabe said.
“To be a suitor means that we are betrothed. I didn’t know what to expect, and I feel kind of stupid really. I had this romantic evening built in my head. We wrote all the time, and I thought you knew who I was. In fact I thought you might have known me better than I knew myself, but I guess I was wrong.” Replied Samandra.
She noticed a strange look in Gabe’s face, it was squinty and he was turning red. Just then he burst into laughter. He was laughing so hard he fell off the bench, bumping his head on the ground. Princess Samandra turned red as well, out of anger and embarrassment. She stood up, kicked Gabe hard in the ribs and started to walk away. Before she took two steps, Gabe grabbed her ankles and pulled her down. She started punching him, and he rolled her on her back, sitting on top of her. His laughter subsided and he looked her in the eyes and said, “I’m only playing Samandra, you’re father asked me if I’d consider being your suitor. I told him I’d be honored, but would only accept if you princess, accepted me. I love you Princess Samandra Tymerian, I love you, always have, you and no other. I’d be honored to be your husband.”
Tears swelled in Samandra’s eyes, and before Gabe knew it, they were locked in a long, passionate kiss. They laid in the garden afterwards for hours, talking and holding one another. They were only aware of the time when the moons dipped out of the sky, and the all too familiar colors of dawn approached.
The next few months were the happiest in all of Samandra’s life. She was very much so in love, her “evil” nature all but forgotten. She was light hearted, and had not a care in the world. She hadn’t worn a stitch of black clothing since, and was always dressed properly. Until one morning when she received a message from her father.
She heard the knock early that morning, but answered the door anyway. Lord Tymerian stood there, and his face was grim. As he entered Samandra’s bedchamber he put his hand on her back, guiding her to a chair. She sat down and he handed her a piece of parchment. She opened up the letter, noting that the wax seal had already been broken. Her hands shaking, she read the letter.
It is with the deepest regret and sadness that I have to inform you that my son, Gabriel will no longer be able to marry Princess Samandra. You see, Captain Gabriel Moonfrost, of the 5th Griffin Riders Company was assassinated in his chambers last night. We caught the assassin, but before we were able to question him, he died as well. We are uncertain as to how the assassin died. We can find no trace of a poison or any foreign substance. We are assuming that it was by magic. Inform the Princess that I am truly sorry, I know how deeply she loved my son. If there is anything I can do, please do not hesitate to ask.
Your Faithful Servant
Councilor Marius Moonfrost’
Samandra calmly folded the letter and handed it to her father. She stood up and walked to the door opened it and ushered her father out. She didn’t scream, yell, throw a tantrum, or even burst into tears. She walked back to her bed and laid down. Tears trickled down her face, tickling her long pointed ears, but she didn’t feel it. In fact she felt nothing. She knew then that part of her was dead forever. For thirty years she had waited for the man she loved, and after a few months time he was gone again, forever. She felt a chill sweep through her, and she smiled. If anyone was watching, they would have noticed it was a cold, evil sort of smile. The kind that makes most people nervous.
For weeks after people kept coming to her, expressing they’re sorrow. She didn’t want nor need their pity, she was beyond it all. She had things to do, and didn’t need to waste time with these weak, over caring people. It was time to build the doorway, and the time to start was now. She gathered the books she needed and spent months reading and researching, only leaving her chambers when her father summoned her. He took her solitude as a sign of mourning. She knew Gabriel wouldn’t want her to mourn, and so she wasn’t going to. She shed her tears and was now beyond that. It was time to move on.
Months rolled by turning into years, five years to be exact. She studied, read, researched, and practiced any and every time she could. When finally late one evening, it was complete. The doorway took the form of a full sized mirror mounted on a swivel base. To close the gate all she had to do was say a few words, or throw a black cloth over it. But she wasn’t interested in having it closed. It was time to test her new toy.
She stood in front of the mirror, looking at her reflection. She noticed that she was paler and thinner than she had once been just a few short years ago, she looked tired and haggard. She shook her head, driving all thoughts away, only concentrating on the mirror, the doorway. She held her hands out in front of her, waved a hand over the glass, and said a few words of magic. The glass started to swirl about, spinning faster and faster. It was all Samandra could do not to scream out in delight! And then it stopped, before her was a vast landscape of mountains, trees, and lakes. She quickly gathered a few belongings and stepped through. She was standing before the gates of a monstrous stone castle. The name on the gates was a name she had heard from somewhere before. The name was Arden.