Chapter Twenty-One – Out of Mind
Both the ambitious wizard Eldrian and his brave companion Kevin sat together on a bench overlooking one of the local parks, bundled up in cozy jackets and scarves, but luckily they shared that Canadian durability to combat Alberta’s crisp biome. In Eldrian’s hands was a newspaper. He licked his finger, and brought the page over to the next before snapping it flat into place.
It was nearly empty. Not only was the park not one of the most expansive, but few went out without the bright warmth of the sun, at least not in the same degree.
“Interesting,” he muttered. “So it displays the news, but on paper.”
Kevin deadpanned his expression over to Eldrian.
“Do you actually not know what a newspaper is, or are you doing a bit?”
“Life is a bit, my friend. The sooner you learn that, the easier it’ll be.”
“You’re only a year older than me.”
“In wizard years.”
“Now I know you’re doing a bit.”
He lowered the paper to his lap and expelled a sigh. “You got me.”
“It could have been true. I still don’t know much about… Well, you know. Everything. It makes me wonder what’ll happen next. When we find out who’s behind everything that’s been happening. Can it get crazier than a magic potion that makes people superhuman?”
“I reckon it can.”
“I can’t imagine what’s next. We find a dragon?”
“I doubt it.”
“Fight an evil clone.”
“That sound really dumb.”
“Deena has a baby.”
“The shark in fact leapt from the water, caught you mid-jump, and devoured you whole.”
Kevin laughed. “All right. I’ll try to focus on the present. That’s probably the better way. You said an assassin came after you, right? Is sitting out in the open really the best idea?”
“Actually, yes. They wouldn’t dare do something in public. They know the same as what we know, as in they know to stay hidden or be caught. Like two mice having a war while the house cat watches.”
“That’s more of Daveon’s thing, I know.”
Once more, Kevin let out a sharp snort of amusement. “So now what?”
“Well,” Eldrian started as he flipped through the newspaper again. “Deena told me to look in here for something. Apparently she thought an article was odd enough to bring to my attention. Odder than the fact that she reads the newspaper still.”
“What is it?”
“Here. I think. It says that a small crowd of criminals stormed a local shop and robbed them of everything they had. What was strange was the fact that they were an assortment of seemingly normal people. Old woman, child, even what looks like a family. Five. There were five culprits and three were arrested.”
“The strangest mafia I’ve ever heard of,” muttered Kevin.
“Maybe. I say we look into it. What say you, my courageous friend?”
“I agree! But how?”
“The photograph is fuzzy, but I bet we can determine the identity of at least one of these people. The police didn’t catch them all, and I’m not crazy enough to go straight to them to ask them about it. This needs to be off the record. And involve more stalking. I have the ability to turn invisible. It flickers the more I move, but against regular people, it should hardly matter anyway. If this is a group of wizards, well, that’ll just suck for me.”
“I can wait somewhere nearby if you need me.”
“The signal will be me screaming.”
“Hey! I know that old man. Right there, in the back. I’ve seen him around before, I’m pretty sure. I find him at the nearby grocery store almost everything I pass it by. I think.”
“That’s something. I don’t know what else to do, so let’s follow that lead and see where it goes.”
“But wouldn’t he be in hiding if he was caught on camera stealing?”
“It’s a small city, so maybe he’ll think it won’t matter. I don’t know. We can always follow where he’d normally go and see if we can locate his house.”
Kevin tugged on the patch of hair on his chin and nodded. “Why not?”
“Lead the way, fearless warrior.”
They were standing in the parking lot just outside of the grocery store in question. Inside, there was nobody of the man’s description, but Kevin had lived in Grand Prairie his entire life. It took only the effort of socialization to flag down someone he recognized—by face not name—to ask for more information.
When he did, the answer was surprisingly helpful. The pedestrian knew the man only as Mr. Sapkowski, an older fellow with long grey hair who was more or less an introverted bachelor. He, however, maintained a fabulous garden of flowers and hedges outside of his baby blue home that was unmissable. Kevin and Eldrian were elated to hear of this. Both made their way down the street to soon find the building in question, though then came the dilemma of how to handle the scenario before them.
“You linger out here,” spoke Eldrian. “I’ll take a look inside, just to see if anything is amiss.”
“When am I ever not?”
Kevin gave him the look.
“Yeesh. You can’t do that. That’s Deena’s thing.”
“Okay, okay. I’ll be careful. You too, though, Kev.”
Eldrian made certain nobody was looking, and he snuck his way across the pristine yard to duck betwixt the home and its neighbour. Kevin saw that soon his friend faded away, as if he became a humanoid piece of transparent ice. Only when he moved did the ginger boy briefly see his figure barely appear. He assumed that if one wasn’t looking, it would be a perfectly capable technique, especially against an elderly gentleman.
The boy peered through the window. It was the middle of the day, so lights were off, but he immediately spotted the unsuspecting elder standing in his kitchen, brewing some coffee. Nothing really seemed off, other than the fact that he preferred it black. Yuck. Though, Eldrian tried not to judge.
A shaking, wrinkled hand brought the cup to his lips to pour down a sip of the beverage. Hardly any entered before he placed it back down on the kitchen counter as if something was wrong. Eldrian worried it was him, but the man left the room instead. It was strange, he thought, as this happened the absolute second the clock on his wall’s second hand hit the twelve to mark three o’clock. Perhaps he had medication he needed to take at a certain time, but was anybody this clockwork?
No. He went outside. Eldrian turned his head around the corner, still invisible, and saw the elderly man, in his red housecoat and slippers, start walking away from his home and down the street to pass right by Kevin the Loiterer.
For a moment, Eldrian thought he was caught when the man’s eyes turned in his direction, but they passed right by him. The wizard saw something horrifying at that moment, though, during the brief moments of seeing his face. Both of his eyes had no irises. Instead, there were only spirals, just like the girl that attacked him before.
He looked both ways before fizzling out his invisibly and shuffling up to Kevin on the sidewalk, and with a mere gesture of his hand he told Kevin to follow, and both of them did.
It felt like an eternity following a ways behind this strange, older gentleman, as not only did he walk a far distance but he did so at a snail’s pace. Eventually a figure came into close proximity. It was a young boy with a vibrant red baseball cap. The view was brief, but once more, Eldrian saw the same set of eyes, and to make matters stranger, the boy started following beside the man to silently join him on his trip.
“I think I recognize that kid,” whispered Kevin. “He looks a little like one of the other people in the photograph.”
“You think so?” replied Eldrian, keeping his voice down as well. “And they both have the same, weird twisted eyes.”
“I saw that too. What could it mean?”
“I have no idea but it freaks me out, and we’ve been following them for ages. They have to be going somewhere.”
“They’ve led us all the way downtown. Look. They’re both heading into that convenient store. I have a bad feeling about this. Should we go inside too?”
“Definitely,” Eldrian stated, determined.
It was nearly empty. The time was unproductive for a rush to such a store, but it was also smaller than the others downtown. The only other person the two boys saw was the young man behind the counter.
From inside his house coat, the elder caught everybody by surprise by revealing a small handgun, and with hardly a moment to arm, he fired it off to shatter a bottle of juice on a shelf behind the counter. The shopkeep screamed—higher pitched than expected—and ducked behind to hide himself from the assault.
Kevin, to Eldrian’s surprise, sprung into action before he even could. He grabbed the robber’s firing arm and disarmed the pistol from him with ease. He’d clearly been practicing since the last time something like this occurred.
This display was too impressive, however, as it distracted Eldrian long enough to miss the young boy removing a gun from beneath his hat. He fired it off at the wizard. It was then that the bullet pierced straight through Eldrian’s chest and out the other side to shatter one of the farthest ceiling lights.
“Eldrian!” screamed Kevin.
“What’s up?” Eldrian replied from behind.
The original wizard was no longer there when people’s gaze returned to it, as if it was never there to begin with. It confused them all long enough for Eldrian to have completely busted the inside of the firearm, preventing it from being fired ever gun. The boy tried, but it was definitely broken.
“Eldrian,” Kevin whispered. “What about the security cameras in here?”
“If something like this happens, somehow, the cameras mysteriously break~.”
“I think that’s vandalism. Wait. This has happened to you before?”
“But how will they convict these criminals?”
Eldrian gestured his thumb to the counter.
Rising up from behind it was the young man, shivering, and he emerged to see two disarmed and baffled robbers being confronted by two heroes. Tears sparkled in his eyes.
“Thank you so much!” he cried. “You saved me! I already called the police. Those two are going away for sure… This is the strangest crew of thieves I’ve ever seen, but they need to be punished for this.”
Eldrian leaned in close to Kevin and quietly said, “Truthfully, I wish they weren’t going to jail. I think there’s more to this than it seems. Don’t these two seem off?”
“Yeah,” replied Kevin. “But we have no choice.”
The wizard returned his gaze to the shopkeep. “It was actually Kevin here that did most of it. He ran right in, and disarmed that guy before he could keep shooting at you. The police will probably want to talk to someone, so this is your man. I was just a bystander. So I’ll catch you later, Kev. Enjoy this taste of heroism.”
“What?” Kevin said back, baffled.
Once more, Eldrian leaned to his ear. “It’s better if you’re in the spotlight over me. Plus, I need to start looking into this stuff. I’ll talk with Deena. We’ll meet back up after all of this is over. Okay?”
He nodded. “Sounds fine.”
Eldrian looked to his phone. Luckily, he kept it on silent, or sneaking would have been very awkward, as he had a text message he didn’t see before. He looked back up to Kevin to whisper one more thing.
“It’s Lucy. Thank goodness.” Eldrian returned to regular volume as he looked to the man behind the counter. “I need to get going. Important message. Stay safe in the future.”
“Y-Yes,” stuttered the shopkeep. “I have been watching these tapes, actually. I know tapes are a little out-dated, but they’ve been teaching me a lot about self-defense. I think I lack the confidence to really attack, but I bet I could have taken them, and then Janet will love me, and…”
“You have fun with this, buddy,” Eldrian said as he patted Kevin on the shoulder before departing.
Once he was a few blocks away, he dialled up Lucy on his phone. The text only said to call her, so he did as instructed, since it was the daughter of the ruler of the Demon World. It was probably a good idea to listen to her. She picked up after a few rings.
“Sorry. Been really busy, as usual,” Lucy sighed.
“It’s fine. What’s up?”
“Not much of help, sadly. This Dylan character doesn’t know much and the Elixir’s power is clouding his mind. We looked into his mind, and we found that his companions were named Rob and Xeno, but he actually doesn’t know a thing about any plans. Too dumb. I bet they all are. We did, however, find out about the moment he drank the Elixir. It was a woman with long brown hair. Kinda cute, actually, though in that tough sort of way.”
“Do you know where?”
“Where it was, but not where they were. The only other thing I know is that they kept moving so people wouldn’t find them. Either that, or they have multiple places they go between. Not sure. Be careful, Eldrian. The Elixir still has doses left. I don’t know what this woman wants with you and your friends, but she could make more.”
“Do you know anything about people with spirals for eyes?”
“Spirals? No. That sounds weird. But magic can do anything. So can the Elixir, it seems.”
“Thanks for everything, Lucy. What are you going to do with Dylan then?”
“Not sure. Killing him wouldn’t help with the outlook of my people. We’ll keep him until we decide what to do. One option is to wipe his memory and let him go, but that power of his is something else. Oops. Sorry. I gotta go. Good luck with things,” Lucy spoke while clearly multitasking, and by the end, she hung up the moment Eldrian replied with his own goodbye.
Eldrian, without hesitation, selected Deena on his contact list and pressed down on the button to call. He decided it was important to act quickly, and even though his idea presented a high risk, he felt it was necessary. The enemy only continued to press an advantage. He was getting tired of being stuck on the defense.
Come back next week for Chapter Twenty-Two – Prison Unbreak!