Chapter Five – Naturally Handsome
For one day, they rested. Kevin came back home to his parents, Deena slept in her cavernous home, and Eldrian created a magical cushion beneath him as he slept on the roof of a building. It was surprisingly comfortable. When you’re a creative wizard, anything can be a bed. Lucy had bandaged them up and fed them beforehand, and now she and Eldrian were back to bring Kevin and Deena to Lucy’s home dimension.
The Demon World was as Eldrian remembered it, though he had been there only a few days prior. Deena, Kevin, Lucy, and him, all started long a path crossing a gaping chasm which dropped into what looked to be a pit without a bottom. The colours of the stone that made up the strange, foreign world ranged from black, to grey, to purple, and to red—some was aflame. The oddest creatures Kevin had seen populated the land and the skies. There were skulls with the wings of a bat, lanky creatures with skin like blackened scales, and more humanoid forms with horns and terrifyingly sharp teeth.
Lucy brought them into a building with walls the colour of fresh peaches. There was a desk with a horned secretary, chairs about, and in all, it looked as if they were entering an evil office building, or just a regular office building—basically the same thing. They went straight through a back door and eventually into an expansive room.
The room had a magic set up Eldrian recognized. It looked to be a method of portal creation, but with one this large, it likely held power to transport people to many different locations.
“I wish I had one of these,” he muttered.
Lucy gestured to a large ring decorated in magic glyphs in the center of the room. “We’re here! I can open a portal and warp you all to the town Aguas Calientes. It isn’t too far from the mountain peak you’re meant to investigate. Maybe you can find someone to help you out there.”
“They speak mostly Spanish, right? I don’t really know any second languages,” Eldrian admitted.
“It’s a tourist place. People come from all over to visit the ancient Inca citadel. I doubt you’ll have trouble finding people who speak English. Sorry, but I don’t really have any leads to go on… I don’t know that much about your world. I’ve never heard of a source of magic power there, but I do know the Inca Empire was ancient, so it isn’t impossible. Obviously don’t go around blabbing about wizardry, though.”
“Why are you looking at me, Deena?” Eldrian asked, furling his brow.
Symbols lit up a pale blue as Lucy led them towards the center. She moved a gesturing hand towards it, and with little delay, the three adventurers stood within the middle of the magic ritual.
“And be careful,” Lucy added. “I’m rooting for you, Eldrian. Lead your team.”
Before they knew it, everything was dark. Light came from a hole ahead of them. They were, unfortunately, crammed together in a tight space like sardines in a can. It took quite a bit of awkward wiggling, but they each got free and crawled through the space leading towards the sunlight. They were standing outside of an incredibly wide tree with a hole leading into the trunk.
“She could have warned us of that one,” Eldrian said as he wiped bark and dirt from his clothing.
His eyes turned to Deena who transformed her outfit once more. No longer did she look like a black and white striped witch. She now wore a dark red sweater with black pants, and her hair was done up with something new once more—clips of strangely cute black widow spiders.
Eldrian was a bit ahead, peeking between the trees. Seeing what his companion did reminded him that his outfit likely would appear odd when strolling through a quaint Peruvian town. He shifted as well, the same as before. Rings came from his midsection and moved apart, revealing a new outfit behind them. He had a green zip-up hoodie and dark blue trousers.
Meanwhile, Deena crossed her arms and whispered to Kevin. “What did Lucy mean by lead your team? I barely know you guys.”
Kevin shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’d follow him.”
“He acts like a buffoon most of the time.”
“But he cares about people all of the time.”
Deena tilted her head to the side, unsure of what to say. They saw Eldrian beckoning forward and moved ahead, and now all three saw their destination. Not far was a town nestled between the green hills. The infrastructure looked to be crude by comparison to what they were used to, but there was a natural charm to the crowded streets and colourful rooftops. It wasn’t long before the entered the busy main street.
“Where do we even start?” Kevin said as he took in the sight.
“You need to be assertive. Watch this,” replied Eldrian.
The wizard waved and smiled, approaching a random group of folk that appeared to be around his age, and they seemed to be native to the area by the tone of their skin. Their eyes turned to the oncoming Eldrian and greeted him in response.
“Hey! Do you speak English?” Eldrian added.
They began to nod. “Yes,” one of them spoke.
“My friends and I are new here, and we wanted to see if we could learn a bit about the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu itself, specifically. You guys know anything about that, or know someone who does?”
“Do you think we’re too shy?” whispered Kevin as he stood beside the emotionless witch.
“Would you like me to teach you to be more assertive?” Deena asked as she slowly turned a vacant stare, piercing into Kevin’s eyes.
“N-No. I’m good,” he muttered.
Meanwhile, one of the young women spoke up. She looked suddenly as if she was star struck, blushing slightly as her mind wandered off to what definitely seemed like a better place by the shimmer in her gaze.
“I do~!” she hummed
One of the boys groaned.
“Daveon knows everything about the area,” she added. “And he’s so handsome.”
The other girls nodded in agreement. It seemed like it was a commonly shared sentiment. Eldrian swore he saw one of the boys fall prey to those feelings as well.
“Daveon? Where’s he?” Eldrian inquired.
She continued. “Ooh. He’s almost always out in the fields north of town, just absorbing the beauty of nature. He’s so dreamy. I wonder what he thinks about when he’s out there…”
“Uh. Thanks.” Eldrian offered a short nod. “I’ll look into that. Thanks for your time.”
As the group made their way back down the road, Eldrian moved back to his friends.
“So we’re seeking out a heart throb now,” Deena stated bluntly.
Eldrian crossed his arms. “Well, it’s one lead. We might as well ask. Right?”
“I hope I don’t get wooed.”
“Somehow I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen.”
A sigh escaped his lips. “Let’s just get moving while the sun’s still up. And I really want to see what this power was that Rend received. Maybe it’s some kind of awesome ancient Inca font of magic. That would be amazing! I’d love to learn magic from wizards thousands of years ago.”
Down the street they went. They passed by markets of foods and trinkets, native townsfolk, and several other tourists. Eventually they departed out the northern exit and into rolling emerald hills. The air was fresh and the mountains were gigantic. Around them was nothing but the soothing sound of birds chirping and the wind blowing. It was serene.
Soon the three of them saw a figure in the distance. From here the town was no longer in sight. It was like they found a hidden piece of nature. There was likely not another town for miles, leaving this area untouched.
The figure was wearing a fine grey coat over a black shirt, and a black scarf was wrapped nearly around his neck—pants coloured the same. On top of his head was a grey beanie to match. He turned to meet the party with his calming green gaze. The hair coming down from his hat led nearly to his neck, and was a shade of red and brown. From each ear hung a silver ring. His face itself was smooth and, like the woman said earlier, handsome. Light stubble grew down his chin and over his lips, but it was neatly tidy.
He sat on a stump. Beside his lap was a fox, and around him were several birds pecking at the soil beneath them. None of the animals seemed to worry about his presence. With a slight smile coming to his lips, he lowered his left hand to begin scratching behind the ear of the sleepy fox.
His skin was of a slightly darker tone. He looked to be native to the land here, and though he seemed to speak perfect English, there was a slight hint of his accent hidden in his words.
“Are you Daveon?” asked Eldrian as they approached.
All of the birds took off in a cloud of feathers, disappearing into the sky and over the tall Peruvian hills.
“Sorry,” Eldrian said in response after a moment of pause.
The stranger chuckled. “It’s fine. Yes, I’m Daveon. What’s up?”
“He is handsome,” mumbled Kevin.
“We were looking for somebody who knows a lot about Machu Picchu, and the area around here in general, and a bunch of girls said you were the best option in the world. Though, I think they just wanted to marry you.”
“Yeah… The people are are eccentric at times. I do know a lot about this place, I guess. I spend time out here. It’s nature I really like, though. Animals, plants, and peaceful quiet. I have a desire for natural beauty.”
A bit of pink came to Deena’s nose. Nobody saw, which is likely for the best.
“What are you looking for?” he asked.
“It probably sounds silly, but we heard stories about some kind of ancient magic power hidden away by the Incas or something like that.” He shrugged, and blew a raspberry. “We’re just silly tourists.”
Deena glared over at him.
Suddenly, however, Daveon looked oddly strict. He stood up from his wooden seat.
“Are you spellbreakers?”
Eldrian was caught off guard. “You know about those?”
“You’re not, right?”
“Well, none of us are, as far as I know.”
After an awkward pause, Kevin said, “Wizards need some kind of secret handshake.”
Daveon lowered his head and begin to chuckle quietly under his breath. He slid his hands into the pockets of his coat, and when his gaze returned, he took a deep breath and sighed.
“You’re a wizard too!” Eldrian announced with excitement.
“I am,” spoke Daveon. “I always had an affinity for the magic of the natural world. Some people call that being a druid.”
Eldrian turned to Kevin. “That means he can likely turn into animals, take control of plants, and things like that.”
“What about you three? What are you?” questioned the druid. However, he quickly cleared his throat. “I apologize. That sounded rude. My name is Daveon, and it’s a pleasure to meet all of you.”
“I want to be an archmage, a master of all kinds of magic. All spells are my focus. To me, creativity and imagination is the pure blood of spellcrafting, and there are no limits. And I’m Eldrian. Good to meet you too.””
“A difficult task,” Daveon replied. “But I agree. Good luck. What about you, miss?”
“Witch. I’m Deena.” She nodded.
The druid’s face turned moreso into a frown. “A witch, huh? I guess I won’t judge a wizard by their title.” His eyes turned then to Kevin.
“I’m Kevin O’Brien, and… I’m just a guy.”
“Really? I don’t ever hear about wizards working with normal folk. That’s great. To be fair, I rarely see wizards marching around in groups. You know that’s dangerous. Just because you’re in Peru, doesn’t mean they won’t catch you if they find out.”
“We’ll be fine,” Eldrian said dismissively. “The other day, we took down a huge demon.”
“Yeah. Rend Devilclaw, I think his name was. He was a goofy little fellow, but he stole some kind of power from here apparently. It turned him huge.”
Daveon lowered his gaze and pondered. “I know,” he said quietly.
“You know?” Kevin asked.
“I do. I only heard, anyway, about a demon who got in and then out of… Well, a certain place. He stole something and escaped.”
Kevin fidgeted with the magic ring around his finger. “What certain place?”
“Yeah. Where’s this ancient Inca power, Daveon?” asked Eldrian with an eager expression drawn quickly across his face.
“It’s supposed to be secretive, even to wizards, but there’s a lot more than just an ancient power there. I’m still not sure if I should start poking around, especially not with a bunch of strangers.”
“Oh. Lucy sent us. Does that help?” Eldrian stated as it came to mind.
“Lucy… Wait. Lucy, the daughter of the ruler of the Demon World?” He laughed. “Just kidding. Seriously. Who sent you?”
Deena nodded and sighed. “We did this already. Yes, that Lucy.”
The druid widened his eyes. “You’re joking. If she’s investigating this, I guess it could be serious enough, and with three of you… Well, maybe it’s important. Fine. I’ll show you. Follow me, and I’ll take you to the certain place, but I can’t promise you they’ll let you in. They don’t care that much for outsiders. And, just in case you didn’t think about it, representing a demon isn’t always a good thing.”
It happened so quickly that it shocked all three of them. His body turned to light and shrunk rapidly in size, and shifted shape. Daveon was no longer a handsome man with a beanie, but instead a bird with feathers as black as shadows—a crow. He took flight with a flapping of his wings and started into the sky.
Stay tuned for Chapter Six- Push!