Chapter Ten – Survival of the Fittest
Kevin’s blade, Drodias, performed a bisection to the floating green orb, like a magic blade through magic butter. The spell fizzled into a series of gradually descending sparkles, but before he could catch a breath, another appeared. This time, he jabbed forward the sword to pierce straight through the spell, and once again, it burst apart. Sweat came down from Kevin’s forehead as he continued, but above his goatee wasn’t a face of despair. He was enjoying himself.
“You’re pretty quick,” said Daveon as he materialized another floating ball from his palm.
“Thanks. Make the next one faster!” Kevin replied with a laugh.
“You’ve got it.”
The two practised and played in a field away from view of the town’s citizens. Daveon came here often, and knew the place well. He assured them it was a safe location to openly use magic, as it was more than far enough away from others, and because his animal companions would warn him of incoming humans.
Lucy and Deena sat on a large boulder in the meantime, watching the two boys play as they relaxed beneath the warm sunshine. Well, the devil seemed to enjoy it, but Deena wasn’t one for bright lights.
“You guys have just been exploring the area then, hm?” asked Lucy.
Deena shrugged. “Mostly. Eldrian seems to be able to handle himself, surprisingly. I’m sure he’ll be fine. I hope he returns soon, though.
Lucy nodded. “Me too. Hey, so I heard you study demons and dark magic. Is that right? You’re a cute little witch, and my dad rules the Demon World, so feel free to ask me whatever you want. I can’t promise I’ll be able to answer everything, though. I’m still loyal to Father.”
“I’m not that little.”
“Oh. Don’t brood so much.”
Deena said nothing in response, and instead crossed her arms and watched Kevin slash through yet another conjured ball of magic.
“Sorry,” added Lucy after a moment. “We all have our reasons to act the way we do. Let me ask you a question then, Deena. Feel free to answer or not. Why do you study dark magic specifically?”
“It’s what I’m interested in. I don’t think that should be strange… and it runs in my family.”
“Nevermind that. I don’t like talking about them.”
“Strange family ties, hm? I can understand that.”
“I have a question then. How do you know Eldrian, and what do you two actually do?”
“Well, I met him a long time ago. That’s a story for another time. But basically, I run a kind of organization in the Demon World that specializes in finding and returning demons that make their way to Earth. Though since we’re demons too, and we don’t want to be complete hypocrites, we try to get wizards to help. I admit, I didn’t care about Eldrian that much at first, but he grew on me. Not only is he passionate about everything he tries to do, but he’s very kind. The latter can be hard to find back home.”
“How many other wizards do you work with?”
“Hardly any, actually, but that’s classified information. I’m afraid I can’t tell you the details of our investigations.”
A few minutes passed quickly by. Kevin was no longer on the offensive, but was meant to stop attacks by Daveon, who wielded a blunt stick. Drodias was back inside the ring as well, and Kevin had a stick of similar size. They were sparring. However, it was obvious immediately that Daveon had little skill in the art of swordsmanship.
Lucy’s gaze moved back to the shorter, pale, red-eyed girl. She had put her hair into braided pigtails that day, decorated further with a large black ribbon covered in cartoony white skulls.
“I like your hair,” the devil said.
Deena didn’t turn, and her response came with a delay. “Thank you. I like yours.” she spoke quietly, while a tint of pink appeared over her nose.
“Gosh. Don’t say that. I didn’t even do anything with it this morning. This is just me rushing through the shower, since I slept in with so much to do. I may have had a few too many glasses of wine last night, stressing about the whole Rend thing.”
“Does the Demon World have good wine?”
“Oh hell yes.”
“There you guys are!” a voice shouted from afar.
It was Eldrian. The boy in blue came over the hills and hustled towards the group. There was a small orange fox in front, guiding his way to Daveon and Kevin, and it immediately cuddled the ankle of the handsome young druid that he served. The fox was rewarded with an ear scratch.
“You made it back!” announced Kevin with a wide smile across his face.
“I did,” Eldrian replied. “Everything is… Well, it’s better than before. We did solve the mystery.”
The girls arose from the rock and made their way over, creating an audience for the returning wizard. Both the others dropped their sticks, and all eyes awaited Eldrian’s tale.
“So what happened?” asked Lucy.
Eldrian caught his breath and began speaking. “It turns out Pachama was working with somebody, acting as a bridge to sneak secrets in and out of that place to someone we don’t know yet. She used something called the Life Infuser to sap most of the strength from Urco and Huanca, and became a horrible monster I had to beat in a bit of a wizard battle. Thank goodness she was unstable. I think with her experience and new-found power, I would have been a goner, but she’s gone now. Unfortunately. It’s just the Two now leading the place. The rebuilding is still going on, but they sent me on my way. We have nothing to go on now, but it’s most likely impossible for any more secrets to be snuck in and out without Pachama. I think we have some time to breathe.”
“You deserve it,” Lucy replied. “All of you head head home. We’ve done enough here. There’s nothing else we can do until another clue appears anyway, so there’s no reason to think anymore about it.”
Kevin scratched his head. “My mom is going to be worried if I don’t go home soon anyway.”
“Hey,” Daveon finally spoke up. “All of this chaos, even if I wasn’t fully apart of it, has been more interesting than anything else that’s happened here. I love this place, but it is starting to drive me a little crazy. Can I go with you guys somehow? I don’t need a house. I’d prefer not to have one. But if most of you live in the same area, I’d rather spend my time there.” He let out a nervous, quiet laugh.
“Yeah! Come to Alberta with Kevin and I,” Eldrian said with excitement. “And Deena, even. We’re all kinda around there now. Why not, right? If things are getting more dangerous, we should probably unite. Wizards oughta stick together.”
“And Deena even has a really neat dungeon base for us to meet at,” Kevin chimed in.
The witch glared at him, causing a shiver to violently shake down his back. Surprisingly, however, she didn’t decline. A long sigh came after a sharp inhale.
“Occasionally,” she muttered.
“I’m going back then,” Lucy said as a fiery crack opened itself behind them.
She jumped back, and disappeared into a burst of magic flames. It wasn’t long before the portal closed itself, leaving behind no evidence it was ever there, besides a wafting cloud of smoke that also disappeared a moment after.
“Excuse me,” Deena said as she walked towards Kevin.
He was confused, but backed up. His movement was met with a white door behind him, surprisingly to him, causing him to jump and shift out of the way.
With no reaction, Deena approached the door and turned the knob, opening up an entrance to her house for the others to follow, presumably. She said nothing. But she did leave the door open behind her.
Daveon was the last to enter, so he closed the door and looked around himself. Being the only of them to not have stepped into Deena’s house in the past, he took a moment to take it in.
“Pretty much what I expected a witch’s house to look like,” he uttered quietly.
The witch made her way off, but the three boys conversed in the living room. It was the first time in awhile that they weren’t either chasing a lead, or in the midst of chaos. Besides Daveon of course, who seemed to be doing nothing when they found him.
“How trustworthy truly is Deena?” the druid asked beneath his breath.
“Just because she’s a witch, doesn’t mean she’s evil. She just has an interesting taste,” Eldrian said in response.
“How long have you known her?”
“A couple days before we met you, I think.”
“Only a couple days?”
“I don’t think it’s that ba—Hurk!” Eldrian clenched his stomach, but the pain faded just as fast as it initially came.
“Sorry,” called Deena’s voice from the other room. “I dropped something on your voodoo doll.”
“She has voodoo dolls?” shouted Daveon is protest.
“Maybe Daveon has a point,” Kevin muttered.
Eldrian let out a sigh. “All right. We’ll have a talk with her.”
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but can you open a portal to the place in Alberta you’re from? This place is a little too… Well, I like trees.”
“Sure,” Eldrian said as he opened a mahogany door now present on the wall behind him. “Kevin’s from there, actually. Not me. But I’ll be there much more often now. It isn’t like I have a proper house anyway. I do a lot of travelling.”
Daveon nodded. “Thank you. Don’t let this convince you I don’t like you. I’d like to spend more time with both of you.”
With that, he departed through the door. It was once again only Eldrian and Kevin. They sat on the sofa and let out lengthy noises of satisfaction to finally be some place comfortable and quiet. Eventually Deena returned.
“You two make yourself at home very quickly,” she said.
“Deena,” Eldrian began. “We’ve been through quite a bit in the short time since we’ve met. This sounds weird, but please tell me you don’t mean us any actual harm. I don’t know why you have voodoo dolls, or why you study dark magic, but you seem like a good person behind your scariness.”
The witch rolled her eyes. “Trust is hard to come by. Everything I do is for my own safety. But, I mean you no actual harm. Is that satisfactory?”
“Can you get rid of the dolls too?”
“I’ll think about it.”
Eldrian hung his head. “Good enough, I guess.”
“You might be too reckless, Eldrian. If you’re not more careful, your decisions are going to bite you on the butt. Spellbreakers are going to find you. And what are you going to do then? Wizards stand no chance against those.”
“I know. I’m sorry,” he spoke quietly. “But something similar could be said for the magic you study. It could easily bite your butt too.”
“Better than a wind spell cast at it.”
Kevin couldn’t help but raise his fist to his lips, and begin to furiously snicker. He tried his hardest to hide his laughter. However, he was simply not strong enough. The laughter came.
“Okay. One time!” Eldrian said as he threw up his hands. “I made a mistake!”
Eventually Kevin settled down enough to speak. “You’re both playing with fire it seems,” he said, clearing his throat of the giggles. “Please be safe. You and her, Eldrian. I like both of you. It’d suck if you blew up or whatever can go wrong with magic.”
Deena’s cellphone rang. It played a song only briefly, but Eldrian swore he recognized it from a Japanese animated series he saw once. She held it to her ear and listened. Not a word came from her lips through the entire conversation. Deena only listened, and for the first time, emotions became obvious on her expression—fear and anger, it seemed.
“I didn’t know she could be more pale,” whispered Eldrian.
Kevin snickered again.
Finally she hung up and slid the phone back into her pocket. Her face drooped. Whatever the call was about, it took all the joy from whatever mood she was in before.
“What’s up?” Eldrian asked. “Who was it?”
“My family,” she said sharply. Her eyes were raised but they looked far past the two boys. She was lost deeply in thought.
“I have two brothers. We don’t exactly get along, but they are family. Older brothers… and they’re coming to visit. For dinner. I hate dealing with family, especially family dinners.”
“I’m sorry,” Kevin spoke up. “Is there anything we can do?”
Never before did they see Deena so deeply emotive. Her eyes flickered around the room, and her mind was racing. They could nearly see the cog wheels turning. After an incredibly long minute of her pacing back and forth and nervously scratching the back of her neck, she turned to both Eldrian and Kevin with an embarrassed face. Whatever she wanted to say made her uncomfortable to the point of now being unable to look either of them in the eyes.
“Can you come to dinner with me and my brothers? I don’t… I don’t want to be alone.”
Eldrian stood up from the couch. He made his way towards the worried witch, and placed a gentle grip on her shoulder as he gave a look of determination.
“We’d love to,” he said. “You can count on us! What could go wrong?”
“Don’t touch me.”
He retreated back his hand. “Oops. Sorry. I got caught up in the moment.”
From the back, Kevin quietly raised his hand and leaned forward to speak. The tangerine samurai looked mildly distraught.
“Eldrian. Are you deciding things for other people again?” Kevin mumbled.
“No, no,” the wizard said back. “Well, a little bit. Want to come, Kev?”
“I don’t see why not. It depends when it happens. I don’t want to miss any more school.”
“So who are your brothers, Deena?” Eldrian asked.
“There’s two. Barston and Alumir. They’re both a few years older than me, and both are talented warlocks. Their bark is definitely worse than their bite, but you still shouldn’t underestimate them. Our family knows a lot about dark magic.” She paused. “And thank you.”
“Not a problem. We should get going in the meantime. Text me the details, all right?”
“Of course. Goodbye for now then.”
“Bye, Deena. Thanks for everything.
Kevin waved. “Yeah. Thanks for your help with Rend.”
Deena nodded. Both Eldrian and Kevin left through a mahogany door, back to Grand Prairie, Alberta. It soon became deathly quiet. She was used to it, however. She rarely had guests. Strangely though, it wasn’t until now that she actually felt alone in her empty house. The witch made her way back to her bedroom. It was like something straight from a gothic fantasy. The colours were minimal—mostly red, black, or white—but it was small. She made her way over to a locked drawer and pulled the small magic doll threaded with a hair from Eldrian.
Her ruby gaze inspected it closely as she thought. Eventually she placed it back inside the drawer and closed it slowly. She lowered her hand, held herself up with her hands against the ledge, and let out a quiet exhale. Tears began to trickle down her cheeks.
Quickly she wiped dry her eyes and made her way over to a body-sized mirror in the corner. She straightened her hair, cleaned her self up, and stared at herself. With a deep breath, she put on her normal expression, but even more confident than usual.
She had to.
Tune in next time for Chapter Eleven – Ordinary Family Dinner!