Chapter Seventeen – Sentimental Sandwiches
“I suppose you’re wondering why I gathered you together here today,” Eldrian said.
“I’m wondering why you’re still using my house,” replied Deena.
The two of them sat within the girl’s living room, as they often seemed to do. They were further joined by Kevin and Daveon. It was quiet. The only sound made through any silence was the soft clicking of the clock hanging on her wall.
Eldrian crossed his arms. “It’s a safe meeting place.”
“Is it because you know who’s trying to kill us?” Kevin asked.
Daveon raised his hand. “You found out who stole the Elixir of Strength?”
“Not exactly. See, we’ve been getting attacked off and on for days. I feel partly responsible. This is why I propose an idea. The four of us are clearly going to be hanging around either other quite often, especially since most of us are wizards. Those are hard to discover. But I feel like we don’t know each other quite enough. So I thought we’d go somewhere far away and have a picnic!”
The other three looked between each other.
“I think that’s a good idea,” Daveon said with an agreeing nod. “We have no leads to go on anyway. Can I bring the food?”
Eldrian raised his eyebrows. “Of course you can. That was a surprise to hear. Also, do you have an anchor point set back in Peru? That would be a nice place. That field we met at.”
Daveon nodded yet again.
“My class tomorrow is early. We can go in the later afternoon, right?” Kevin asked.
“That sounds like a plan, Kev,” stated Eldrian triumphantly. “Are you in, Deena?”
The witch let out a quiet exhale with arms crossed over her chest. Her back leaned against the sofa she was sitting upon, and though her face was straight, it was obvious gears were turning behind her ruby gaze. She was thinking. Finally, she shrugged.
“Fine,” she mumbled.
“Then it’s settled. Tomorrow, we’ll meet up and portal to Peru for a picnic.”
A thick trunk sat hidden within a forest of trees. Not a single human soul existed at least an hour in any direction, so nobody could appreciate the majesty of such a huge landmark of earthen beauty. Upon the bark, however, drew an arch. The shape itself was made of wood, but it was wrapped in wreath of flowers and vines, and a line drew vertically down the center. It was soon apparent that the shape was a rounded double door. Both sides pushed upon, and four figures stepped outside.
The sun was on its way towards the horizon, but by a glance, it seemed as if it would remain for a few hours longer. Deena, Kevin, and Eldrian followed along with their guide for a couple moments before entering a clearing.
A small glade opened up. It was far from prying eyes, deep within an area of trees—emerald grass with a single stump resting in the middle. The view was quaint, but serene and calming.
“I came here often, just to relax,” spoke Daveon softly. “It helped me think. I could speak with the animals. They kept me company while I lost myself within my own thoughts. I feel the most at home when I’m surrounded by the sound of wind blowing branches and leaves.”
He placed down a wicker basket upon the stump. After sitting, the others saw to do the same, and soon, all four were resting around it like a natural table.
“It sounds weird, but,” Kevin began,”Do you have a house?”
Daveon shook his head. “I sleep with nature. I often shift into an animal shape, like a bear, and rest in the woods or in the plains. I prefer it this way, I suppose.”
“But did you ever have a house?”
“Yes. I know it’s far over-due, but allow me to introduce myself more properly. My name is Daveon Tula. I was born and raised in Mollepata. Both my parents were cooks. They ran a small restaurant there.”
As he talked, he opened the top of his basket and began to hand out a series of pulled pork sandwiches as well as paper plates—water bottles too. The others began to munch on their food while they listened.
Kevin spoke up. “Mmm. This is really delicious. So you learned to make food from them or something?”
“Correct. It’s kind of my passion, but I don’t get to do it often. I sometimes prepare dishes from natural ingredients I find out here. Mushrooms, herbs, vegetables, etcetera. I was a little excited that I could do something for you guys, even if it was something small. Before you feel it odd to ask, my parents are no longer around, no. I moved on, and when you found me, I was living a peaceful life in the woods. I think I enjoy this fresh excitement, however. My parents, I believe, would be proud of me to have moved on to new things.”
“I’m sorry,” Eldrian said. “About them. Were they wizards?”
“No. It was only me.”
“So spellbreakers didn’t take them.”
“Thankfully no, and not me either. Though, they were involved in the tale. See, they were… murdered, sadly. It was by a wizard. And not just a regular wizard, but a warlock. They were slain by a dark curse.”
Deena flinched sadness in her gaze, and although she thought about speaking, she instead continued to each the sandwich. Dark magic can be used for good, and she was aware of this, but the delicious taste dancing on her tongue made her feel even more guilty that something like that wronged the man who made said sandwich. Still, she didn’t talk.
“I admit it gave me a bias,” he continued,”against witches and warlocks. I have to remember not to judge. And in the end, the man was defeated by his own hubris. I didn’t have it in me to slay him and get my revenge, but he was too open with his talents. The man was dragged away. I never saw him again.”
“Why would he do something like that?” Eldrian asked curiously.
“His name was Bryant Markani. With his power, he basically ruled over the town and surrounding area. You could think of him as a mob boss, but much worse. My parents, they failed to meet the payments he forced them to make. I couldn’t do anything to stop him.”
A soft breeze covered the quiet, along with the chirping of birds and the rustling of the tall grass likely filled with squirrels and other critters. Soon they finished their sandwiches and began to drink from their bottles of water. It didn’t take more than what they had to fill up. However Daveon made the sandwiches, they were filling as well as tasty.
“I don’t know if I have anything interesting to add,” Kevin muttered. “I’m just a normal guy. You’ve all talked to demons and more. My life’s been pretty boring. I only have a few friends, Eldrian being one of them. I don’t know of I ever said it, Daveon, but my name is Kevin O’Brien.”
“An Irish name,” he responded.
“It goes way back. My parents were still born in Canada. I’ve pretty much always been in Grand Praire. I’m not the best at meeting new people and making new friends, so I’ve mostly kept to myself over the years. My family has a history of woodworking, but I only find it a little interesting, so I’m taking kendo classes too. It’s a hobby that’s becoming more useful than I thought it would.”
Daveon finally removed his toque, which he didn’t do often. His hair was a wild mess, but he somehow still appeared attractive as always. For many, it probably only made him look better.
With the others speaking of themselves, Eldrian let out a short chuckle and began speaking himself.
“If we’re sharing stories… I mean, I’m guessing we have more to tell than could ever be shared around a stump, but I’m Eldrian. Neither of my parents were wizards. With cleverness and luck, we all kept me a secret, and as Kevin, knows, I prefer others not to know my surname. If the government found out I was a wizard, and they knew who I was, they’d punish my parents too. I couldn’t stand that. ‘
“Smart,” Daveon replied. “You can’t hide your identity completely, but you’re putting in as much of an effort as you can to try keeping others safe. That explains what you said yesterday.”
“I eventually met Lucy, and I started helping her keep Earth safe from demons. It gave me something to do and opened my world even more to magical things.”
Kevin spoke up. “So where do wizards come from if neither of your families were magical?”
“Nobody knows for sure,” Eldrian responded. “Some think it simply skips generations. Others say it’s random. Another theory is that people are born it if they simply have a strong enough mind. Spellbreakers are the same. Though, I’ve heard of spellbreaker family ties a lot more. Lucy told me that a long time ago, they’d have family crests of some kind of animal, like a lion or a bear.”
“I still don’t really understand what it means to be a wizard…”
“The truth is nobody completely does. Some people are born with the potential to bend reality to their will. They say most are found out early and taken away. Nobody really knows exactly how magic works, but I heard that a more powerful imagination means a higher potential for spells—ones created themselves or ones learned from other sources, like ancient tomes.”
Yet again, there was silence. Their stomachs were happy and certain curious itches were scratched. It brought them a strange joy to know more about one another. They felt closer. Within this isolated glade, they ironically felt less alone than they have in some time.
Deena started to speak. At first, the words stuttered. She thought for some time before talking, and seemed reluctant to do so. Everyone was was doing it, so she felt the need to join.
“My name is Deena Darsius. I’m part of a rare circumstance where my family is entirely consistent of wizards—warlocks and witches, specifically. The blood that runs in my veins is considered to them to be potent with magic potential, and the family itself has been around for countless centuries. We date back to ancient times, even. I’m the youngest in my immediate family. That’s all I wish to share with you all right now.”
With that, she returned to silence. But Daveon looked to her with a warm smile. She opened to them more than he expected.
“I’m glad we’re starting to get along,” Eldrian said.
Daveon chuckled. “I’m glad that I haven’t had to deal with people fawning over me lately. Another reason to live in the woods.”
“I wish I had people fawning over me,” mumbled Kevin beneath his breath.
“So, what do we know about this whole ordeal involving the Elixir of Strength?” asked Daveon.
Eldrian pondered. “Well, we think a girl gave the bald brute a dose of the Elixir. If it’s the same person, a girl also gave a dose to Rend Devilclaw. Pachama, from within the hidden Inca city, had connections with this person most likely, since the Elixir had to be snuck out. And the girl couldn’t be Pachama, because she exploded.”
Kevin added,”And that tiny guy was given a dose too. What if the other thugs are going to be the same?”
“So there could be two more at least.”
“The Elixir couldn’t be endless, right?”
“We also know that we’ve all been targeted in some way. Either they don’t like wizards, or they don’t like us. Or both.”
“If we’re going to learn anything, it’s only going to be from Lucy, since she took away the one thug. The only other way would be to wait for the Elixir to run out. We can’t always rely on Lucy. She’s an incredibly busy woman. So did you say a warlock practically ran the area, Daveon?”
The druid nodded. “He even summoned a demon.”
All of them seemed incredibly shocked. Even Kevin, the boy who had no idea what was going on most of the time when it came to magical activities, gasped audibly.
“I can see you’re shocked. You should be. Warlocks are dangerous for that reason, but demons are still incredibly hard to summon. It’s why spellbreakers came all this way to stop him.”
“Where did the demon go?” asked Deena.
“I stopped it.”
“Just long enough for someone to help me.”
“Now this sounds like an interesting story,” Eldrian stated.
“Well, I hardly know much of it. I only saw what I was there for. My memories are fuzzy. The emotions I was feeling were intense… Chaotic. I’m surprised I didn’t kill him.”
“Sorry. You don’t have to speak more of it if you don’t want to.”
“It’s all right. I remember a small bit. And then we can head back before it starts to become too dark and cold for a picnic. This was a nice distraction, Eldrian.”
“Not a problem. Next time, we’ll go the beach! Hot sun. Cool water. Bathing suits.”
Deena glared. “No beaches.”
Come back next week for Chapter Eighteen – Shadow of a Doubt!