Chapter Eleven – Ordinary Family Dinner
“Really? You can’t come? That’s a bummer.” Eldrian slid his hands inside the pockets of his trousers and looked to the sidewalk between his feet.
He and Eldrian were standing outside the door of a fast food restaurant. Upon the large sign above the building were two letters separated by an ampersand, and the wafting stench of delicious greasy burgers filled the air around them. Was it appetizing? Nobody really knew for certain. The smell made them feel both hungry and full of shame at the same time.
Winter was coming, but the streets were still bustling with people going about their business. Loud noises came from the speeding of cars down the street, and the muttering of pedestrians that made their way down the sidewalk and past the two of them. It was a somber time. Leaves were nearly gone from the trees to await the oncoming snow and frigid temperatures. Soon it would be time to bring out the hefty jackets. It would be a long while before the joys of bathing suits returned.
“You said it was tomorrow, right? You know I’d come if I could,” Kevin said back.
“Yeah. Deena texted me the deets this morning.”
“Nobody calls them that.”
“Anyway, Eldrian. I’m sorry. Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday and my parents and I are going out to dinner to celebrate. I can’t skip out on my dad, you know? As much as I’d like to go to dinner with a family of sorcerers, I’m afraid I can’t make it.”
The wizard nodded. “That’s fair. We only just met her anyway. The strange part is how cold she acts, but how desperately she requested us to join her. She must really feel uncomfortable around her brothers. She helped us before. I owe her my presence at least. And plus… I get free food. Speaking of food, I hope you enjoy your dinner too, Kev. Have fun tomorrow. I don’t really know what to expect from mine. I hope I don’t get turned into a newt.”
“Thanks, and good luck. Wait. Can witches actually do that?” Kevin laughed nervously.
Eldrian pushed open the shop doors. “Hey. Let’s go inside already. I’m starving.”
“Answer my question!”
It was December 5th. Though it was technically not yet the time of winter, it might as well have been, especially in Alberta. Snow was finally making its first imprint on the land, covering the ground with a soft blanket layer—air chilled like the inside of a deep freeze. It was impossible to ignore, and not just because of the temperature. Christmas decorations were already appearing on people’s homes. It was the season of families. Cousins, aunts, brothers, sisters, and more, all come together to celebrate the holidays, for better or for worse.
Kevin wasn’t there for Christmas. It was his father’s birthday. Though only him, his mother, and his father were present for dinner, it was peaceful that way. The three of them sat around the designated table within the warmth of the restaurant.
“Happy birthday!” Kevin and his mom shouted as his dad opened a gift.
The present was addressed from his wife. Inside was a sweater, some socks, and everything else children hate receiving but become wonderful gifts once one’s an adult. He smiled as he thanked them both. Next, however, was Kevin, and he offered out his own gift.
“I hope you like it, dad,” Kevin said, worried. “I know you made something like this for grandpa, and I thought I’d try to make you proud by carrying on a tradition, or something like that. You know what I mean? I’m not that great at woodworking yet. Oh, uh. Sorry. I’ll let you open it.”
And he did. His father pulled out the carved head of a moose. Thankfully, it hadn’t been destroyed or stolen thanks to Eldrian. It wasn’t the most proportionate design nor was it made by the most experienced craftsmen, but his father lifted it up and looked it over with an intense stare.
He began to speak. At least, that’s what Kevin thought, but instead he was silent.
Kevin grew worried. He must not like it. It was a strange gift, he knew, but he worked hard to make it. His heart raced and had no idea what to say. He wondered if his father truly disliked the gift he gave him.
That wasn’t it. His silence was the result of water pooling beneath his eyes. He hid, but not well enough, that he was desperately trying not to tear up in the middle of the restaurant. With one hand, he wiped away the emotions away from his face, and with his other, he placed the craft carefully down onto the table.
“I am proud of you,” his dad finally said. “I couldn’t be prouder. It’s fantastic. Thank you so very much, Kevin.”
Kevin’s eyes lit up. A gigantic smile came to his face as he himself had to fight against his own rampant sentiment towards the situation. He watched as his dad carefully placed it away back into its box, and at last, they could eat.
He was overjoyed, but Kevin couldn’t help but become distracted via his own thoughts. He toyed with his magic ring between his finger and thumb, staring deeply at its majesty. Only a few days ago, his life was ordinary—boring. He no longer knew how to feel, or what to think. His whole world was flipped completely upside down. Such a regular dinner with his family already felt abnormal.
Perhaps normal was something he’d never be allowed. He hoped it wouldn’t become a wish he’d regret making, because what happened next was definitely not something that usually happens at a family dinner.
Three men burst through the front doors with a deafening crash, nearly breaking them off their hinges. Various customers started glancing in that direction.
A figure came forth, it was Ron, the bald, burly thug from a few days prior. The faint layer of stubble usually covering the lower section of his face had grown out slightly, and a thick cigar protruded from his teeth, covering much of his head in a cloud of smoke. He seemed taller than before with wider shoulders, and a more chiseled jaw. Strangely enough, his skin was tinted grey, and his eyes were completely white.
The two others were rugged young men that looked to be criminals working under the first. Neither of them held a torch to the mass of a man Ron had become. He was nearly as large as Rend Devilclaw’s powered form.
When Kevin recognized him, his heart sunk, and his skin went pale. He panicked even further when Ron’s words shook his nerves.
“Everybody freeze where ya are! I’m lookin’ for Eldrian’s friend, Kevin O’Brien. I know he’s in here somewhere, and if he doesn’t show himself, I’ll have to do somethin’ drastic.”
From his pocket, the bald man pulled a pistol and cocked it, firing off a bullet into the ceiling. This caused a panic. Screams filled the room as one of the light bulbs shattered, causing sparks to rain down to the floor.
“I said freeze!” he repeated. “Nobody move, unless ya wanna get shot.”
“Why is he looking for you?” asked Kevin’s mother.
Kevin sunk down with widened eyes. “I d-don’t know,” he lied.
“Quick. Hide under the table.”
He nodded, and squirmed down to hug the table leg without a clue of what to do.
“You’ve got one minute, Kevin,” Ron shouted once more. “And then I’ll start executing people until ya show your face. I promise ya one thing, boy. I won’t shoot ya. We got business to deal with.”
Kevin wondered why he looked so different this time around, but he had little time to think about it. Sweat poured down his forehead. He peaked out from beneath the table, and saw the three looking for him, but for the moment, they were all looking away.
If he was to do something, it was either then or never.
Quickly he sprinted out from his hiding place and straight into the men’s bathroom. He panted heavily as the door closed behind him. He made it! But what was he going to do now? Soon, someone would be shot.
They’d be shot because of him—because he fled like a coward. What if one was his mom or dad? But if he announced his position, he’d probably be killed, or worse. Kevin couldn’t make up his mind.
“Ten more seconds,” shouted Ron.
The poor boy wanted to cry, but he’d only be found faster.
“Five seconds!” he yelled once again.
This was it. He needed to make a decision and stick with it no matter what. The hand that kept his ring extended out, and he screamed the command phrase as loud as he could.
“Summon sword, Drodias!” Kevin said at the top of his lungs.
Alike before, the ring flashed bright before extending into the shape and size of a sword. The blade was blue, the hilt was a shimmering gold, and it was ready to help him as it did the last time he needed it in a serious fight. He had been practicing with Daveon that one time, but it saved his life against Rend.
Ron’s men quickly burst through the bathroom door.
One came at him with a knife, but these men didn’t fight. They flailed. Kevin has training, and he easily parried away the blade before slicing across his chest with little resistance. The bleeding man dropped to the bathroom floor. He still lived, but his face did land in an unpleasant puddle.
The next threw his dagger too quickly for Kevin to notice. It ended up stuck in his left shoulder, causing him to cry out in pain. The thug gave him little time to recover. He sprinted towards him.
Kevin leapt back, performing a quick jab forward to the criminal’s stomach. It was only enough to pierce the skin, but it was enough to distract him. He sliced Drodias across his chest similar to the first, and he joined his companion on the ground a moment after.
They were only stunned, so Kevin had to come up with a plan once more. They’d soon get up, and then there was Ron.
But it was too late. Just like he thought, there was Ron.
The two of them stared at one another. The thug cared so little that he didn’t even bring down his blank white gaze to his own men bleeding beneath him. A slow exhale brought a large cloud of disgusting smoke from his lips to the ceiling.
“Give up,” Ron simply said as he aimed his gun at Kevin’s chest.
There was little he could do against a firearm.
“Return sword, Drodias,” he muttered dejectedly, causing his blade to once again become a ring around his finger.
“Good. Now, you’re coming with me. We have a little score to settle with you and your strange friend. I have a feeling he’ll come out of hiding once he knows who we have.”
Slowly, the man came stepping towards Kevin to retrieve his hostage. Kevin was waiting. He needed the exact right moment to strike, or he’d be shot and possibly die. Closer. A little closer.
Kevin tore the dagger out from his own shoulder, and thrust it directly into Ron’s stomach as quickly as he could. It looked to surprise him. Thankfully, it bypassed a shot from his pistol, and it made direct contact with his torso. However, it stopped dead in its tracks.
It felt as if Kevin has struck solid rock with the weapon. Was he wearing armour under his shirt? It didn’t look like it in the slightest. He looked up to Ron with fear in his eyes, but all he saw was a toothy grin shrouded by smoke.
“Stop!” came a voice. It was familiar. It was his dad.
Kevin wanted to scream for him to leave, but it was too late. His father stood through the door, bringing Ron’s attention towards him. He stomped forward, and grabbed the towering man by his shoulder.
“Let go of my son right now,” he added. “Whatever problem you have with him, you have it with me.”
He was stupid, just like Kevin. The boy cringed and shut his eyes at the noise of a firing pistol. Things became dizzy for him after that, especially after the fist crashed against the side of his skull, dropping him into a dark abyss.
Stay tuned for Chapter Twelve – Pass the Newt Eyes!