Chapter Thirteen – The Odd Couple
The night passed quickly. Eldrian, who was still resting up at the hospital, was left with a box of leftover food from the disastrous dinner that happened the previous day. His injuries were fortunately not severe and his recovery was moving properly. Outside, Deena was walking down the sidewalk. She was not only looking for a place to open up a portal door to her home, but also felt as if she needed some fresh air and quiet.
It was still the morning. She was returning from her visit, but now she wasn’t certain what to do. She was once content with sitting, studying, and silence. Eldrian and Kevin entering her life made it difficult to think of anything other than the chaos they brought.
Down the sides of the road were smiling folks, and while she wasn’t joining them in that regard, it was a comforting sight. Everybody and their dog—literally—was out enjoying the last bits of sun before winter took it over. While the little witch brought the curious gaze of pedestrians she passed, she was used to it. From head to toe her body was pale, even her hair, but it wouldn’t be long until the city felt the same. Her hand held out with the palm raised up, and it was greeted by the melting of a single bit of snow that floated down from the sky.
Her numb serenity was broken by a child. She nearly jumped at his intrusion, but the small boy was holding a letter in his hand, and he tugged on her skirt to get her attention. He appeared filthy, wore clothes a size too big for him, and they were patched up in more places than one.
“Hello, miss. I’m looking for either Eldrian, or a short girl with white hair and a flat chest. Are you one of those? He said they’d be at the hospital. I don’t see many other people with hair like that, so it’d be awfully great if I found you already.”
Aggravating description aside, she stared down at the child and muttered, “Who’s asking?”
“I was asked to deliver this,” he said as he pushed forward the letter. “Take it, please.”
“Who’s it from?”
“Wouldn’t say, miss. He gave me some cash and told me he’d hit me if I didn’t deliver it today.”
Her eyebrow raised inquisitively and she peeled open the top of the envelope. Inside was a slip of paper with a simple paragraph of writing. The chicken scratch proved difficult to read, and the paper itself was stained and torn around the edges. Her eyes scanned it over.
It read, “Eldrian. We have your little ginger friend. If you want him back, you’ll come and get him before the sun sets tonight. You’ll never see him again if you ignore this message. The address is written below.”
A cold bead of sweat rolled down her forehead and to the lid of her right eye. She rolled her palm across her face, and up through her hair as she squeezed the message into a crinkled mess beside her waist. She started to wonder.
Who wrote this, and why do they hate Eldrian? She realised she didn’t know all that much about him, and he did already make enemies with her brothers. But he stood up for her. The worst part is that yesterday’s encounter left him in no condition to battle again already. Perhaps she owed him still. She knew that if she told Eldrian, he’d run recklessly into danger and he’d end up in even worse shape. Though they hadn’t spoken much, Kevin was becoming a friend too. Everything wasn’t up to Eldrian.
She stood there in thought for such a lengthy time that the child had completely disappeared from view. It was soon after that she made up her mind. She would text Eldrian and ask for somebody’s number.
A white door appeared directly in the center of a nearly vacant field far away from the city, like a cartoon, but an anthropomorphic rabbit didn’t emerge when it opened—a witch did. She stepped out and the door vanished behind her. Today she wore a pair of jeans torn at the knees, and a black t-shirt sporting the logo of a band. Her hair was tied back into a ponytail. There was only one other nearby besides various animals lurking in the shrubs, and it was Daveon the druid.
Dressed in jet black pants, a blue shirt, and a thin, dark grey coat that was opened, the man stood silent as he slid away his phone to a pocket at his side. And as always, he was wearing a beanie, though that day it was blue.
“Where do you get new clothes if you’re always out in the middle of nowhere?” asked Deena.
“Probably the same place you got the band in your hair that looks like a tiny bat.”
She rolled her eyes. “I know you don’t trust me that much.”
“I don’t trust dark magic. Witches. Warlocks. Often they end up allying with demons, and bringing them to Earth. Then people get hurt. That doesn’t include the problems with voodoo and other shadowy practices.”
“Well, I don’t talk bad about your magic,” Deena barked as she crossed her arms, averting her gaze. An awkward pause followed.
Daveon let out a quiet sigh. “Sorry. You came here to talk to me about something, and I’m just pushing you away. At least let me hear you out. I’ve just had bad experiences with warlocks, is all, so please. Tell me what you came here to tell me. I’ll listen.”
The boy smiled, exposing his perfect, nearly reflective grin. She nearly had to cover her eyes at the blinding light coming from his handsome smile. But after a moment, she recovered enough to begin her explanation. She made things short, however, and simply handed him the letter she previously received from the young messenger.
“Kevin was taken? How? By who?” muttered Daveon.
“I don’t know.”
“Where’s Eldrian then?”
“He’s… a little indisposed at the moment. That’s why I came to you, Daveon. Maybe we can deal with this together so he doesn’t need to.”
“That’s awfully nice of you to suggest.”
“Don’t get used to it.”
The druid laughed. “Fair enough. So, the address is here. Clearly this is a trap. Somebody wants to bait Eldrian to this abandoned warehouse. Typical. Then they attack him, and overwhelm him. So that means they think they have something that can beat him. So what could that possibly be?”
“Another wizard. Maybe two.”
“Or a spellbreaker.”
Deena shuddered. “Or both. We’re both wizards. But if it is a spellbreaker, they’re still ordinary people. They might have the power to counter a wizard’s spells, but they have no spells of their own. We’ll outnumber them. Maybe.”
The druid smiled again. “The place they chose. It’s a distance away from other buildings, which means they don’t want to draw a ton of attention. That also means it’s on the border of the city. I have just the plan, Deena. It’s going to be quick and destructive, so we’ll flee as soon as we get Kevin.”
“I thought without Eldrian we’d be doing things carefully.”
“Subtlety has its place. I’ll scout ahead before we do anything, so that I can make sure there aren’t any hidden threats we don’t know about. I may have only met you guys, but Eldrian risked his life to protect an ancient civilization, and Kevin seems to have a big heart as well.” Daveon gave her a coy look. “And you’re kind for a witch.”
Deena scrunched her nose and rolled her eyes yet again. “So what exactly can you do? I know of druids, but I’ve yet to see you do something besides spar with Kevin. And don’t say it’s being pretty.”
“You think I’m pretty?”
“I didn’t say that!”
Daveon sighed and scratched under his hat. “I can talk with animals, transform myself into a variety of them, and there’s other things. I admit I don’t often fight. Eldrian seems to be more of an expert on that, but apparently if I’m to befriend you all, I better learn.”
He clapped a palm to the back of his other hand, and held them both out to face the front of his hands forwards. A faded green aura began dancing around the flesh of his arms, and suddenly, a dark green and lengthy spike phased out of his palm before firing like a cannon ball off into a nearby boulder. Thorn Shot!
The tip stuck in. After a moment, it fizzled into a green mist.
Next, he crossed over his arms and raised his fingers like a falcon’s talons. Vines sprung force around the large rock and enveloped it into a tight embrace of constricting green bands. The stone started to crack in places. Entangle!
“Is that all?” Deena asked with a smirk.
“I told you that subtlety has its place. I don’t blow things up.”
“Let me try.”
With a hand like a demon’s claw held outwards, a manifestation of dark energy began growing into a basketball-sized sphere hovering above her palm. It pulsed and crackled. Then, she hurled the attack, causing the ball of magic to crash against the vine-covered boulder. Shadow Ball!
The attack drifted to the side, but it still connected with the left edge of the rock. Half of it detonated into fragments, causing the vines to retreat and the top part of the boulder to eventually snap and crumble off to the ground with a thud.
Daveon deadpanned to her. “Was that a try to be subtle?”
“No. I just really wanted to break something today.”
“When this is all over, I have a special tea blend that should calm you down. But that attack was exactly what we need. If we bring them outside, my powers are more effective. You know, a shadow spell is hard to control, but it came pretty easily to you.”
“Practice, I guess.”
“Harnessing chaotic power is difficult. I guess for a lot of wizards, chaos is something to get used to.”
“So what were you doing exactly in Peru if you weren’t fighting anything?”
“Being lethargic. I was hiding there. Countries like Canada and the United States are much more difficult for a wizard to live in. I was safe, relaxed… It was peaceful there.”
“And you came to Alberta anyway?”
“I guess I was tired of being bored. I had no purpose.”
“Maybe you’ll find that purpose here.” She shrugged.
“Unclear. A wizard might be able to tap into reality and manipulate it, but we have the same power to find our place on Earth as a regular person. If anything, it’s more difficult for us. What about you, Deena? Have any dreams or goals?”
“I don’t know… I’m just trying to survive.”
“Staying alive is a perfectly reasonable goal.”
“We should leave as soon as possible.”
“I agree. Kevin shouldn’t be left to suffer any longer.”
“They might have already cut off his toes.”
“That’s not helpful.”
Her vacant stare moved slowly to stare into his eyes. “I was joking.”
Daveon returned the gaze, but stared with a blank confusion, as if he was struggling and failing to read her face.
“How am I supposed to tell if you’re joking?” he asked. “You say everything the same. I need to buy a guide on understanding witches.”
“They sell them at the same place I bought my hair band.”
He let out a quiet, short laugh as he lowered his head to gaze at the long blades of grass between his feet. Daveon nodded. With hands in his pockets, he looked back up, moving his eyes to the cloudy sky. There was a chill in the air, but he wasn’t bothered by the elements.
“By the sun, it looks to be approaching noon. Let’s start acting.”
She nodded. The druid started marching forwards towards the city limits, and although they didn’t walk close to one another, Deena felt more comfortable than she thought she would potentially going into battle with Daveon at her side. It was necessary, anyway. But this time, something she was forced to do led to something somewhat positive, and that was enough to fuel her courage towards what she might find waiting for them.
Stay tuned for Chapter Fourteen – Elixir Unleashed!