Chapter Thirty-One – Trials and Tribulations
Kevin and Eldrian sunk lethargically into the living room sofa with eyes on the television screen. In Eldrian’s hands was a controller, and on the screen, a sword-wielding man in tights. They had recently finished eating dinner—pizza, the most healthy meal—and were relaxing with a game for the time being.
“So, about this game,” Eldrian started. “Is he an elf? I always thought he looked like an elf.”
“They’re their own species. I guess they’re basically humans, but with pointy ears. Or maybe they’re elves, but not typical elves. You know what’s weird? That I look at the screen now, and realize I have my own magic sword and shield, just like him.”
Eldrian snorted. “I don’t have a magic sword yet. You don’t get one until that Temple.”
“Does that mean I’m even stronger than him?” Kevin asked, looking to the wizard with a face filled with much more excited than perhaps it should have been.
“Yes, Kev. You’re stronger than him. Happy?”
“I am! Except I don’t have fairies on my side like he does. Hey, do those exist?”
He shrugged. “Maybe. I’m afraid to say we’ve basically reached the peak of my knowledge already. I’m definitely not all-knowing. Not even close. That’s why I’m trying to get better.”
“I never really considered that. You’ve been my guide so far to everything magic. I still can’t believe all this is happening… Could I ever even go back to a regular life?”
“Do you want to?”
“I don’t know. The world isn’t as regular as I thought. Maybe there’s no such thing.”
Eldrian paused the game. He stood up from the couch and stretched his arms towards the ceiling with a drawn out groan. His eyes glanced to the window. The sun already set, which was typical for this time of the year, but for him, his evening was only beginning. It was finally time for his plan to take effect.
“I think I’m going out now,” said Eldrian softly.
“Yeah? Well, good luck. Be safe.”
“Maybe nothing will come from this, but if there’s one thing I can’t fight, it’s my own curiosity. Let’s see what the streets of Edmonton have in store for a wizard on the prowl. If I get murdered by a terrifying hell-beast, I’ll try to call you and let you know.”
“Don’t worry. To a normal man, a wizard is basically a dream. There’s not much they can do about what happens.”
“Scary. Like, walking demigods or something.”
“Well, there’s no wizard I know of that has some kind of absolute divinity over existence. It’s a lot harder and more complicated than that.”
“It just sounds so dangerous. I guess that’s why there’s governmental sanctioned forces meant to deal with them.”
“What do you mean?”
“I just mean that from what I’ve seen so far, none of that should be something normal people should need to deal with. Those demons, all that magic… That was no joke. I’m not saying mass genocide. I’m just saying that maybe it’s a good thing that a lot of them were stopped. You know? How much do we know about this police force?”
“I’ve never been attacked by them before, but…”
“Maybe they’re just trying to help. Law needs to be kept somehow.”
As the arcane rings travelled from his midsection towards his head and toes, they left a different outfit in their wake. It was the one made the night before by Marionette. He took hold of the hood and slid the fabric over his hair, and just like it did previously, his face shrouded into an absolute black besides two yellow pupils.
“Don’t get too much farther in the game without me,” came his echoed, pitch-changed words.
The cloak appeared black under the blanket of night, and it billowed in the winter breeze to resemble a wavering shadow barely visible against the sky of the same shade. He was perched up on a tall building’s roof, shoes half off the ledge, and his glowing dots scanned the streets for anything interesting to discover.
Truly he had no idea what he was searching for, but it was admittedly fun using his magical abilities to sneak around the city and observe more openly than he had in the past. With ease, he drifted through the air to land on the next rooftop, and then the next. If he thought he was seen, he’d simply duck away or fade from view entirely—assuming none of the pedestrians had magic eyes. He made that mistake with Deena, and he hoped he wouldn’t make it again.
A young man, definitely no older than eighteen, was trapped between a brutish man and a wall of stone. One hand was over his mouth and another pushed his chest so hard that he couldn’t budge. Two more men surrounded him as well. The man at his left came closer and began to force his way into the victim’s pocket.
“Quiet!” barked the attacker.
He slammed the boy up against the wall and snarled. All the poor boy could do was whimper, but his eyes flailed rapidly in a desperate attempt to pray a soul would see this happening and help him.
“Here we are,” cackled the second thief as he yanked a wallet from the boy’s jeans. “Wait. This isn’t a—“
In his palm was not a wallet at all, but a rat. He screamed at an even higher pitch than the young boy they were mugging and dropped it immediately. None of the criminals looked like they knew what to say, or do. He had a rat in his pocket?
“Was this what you were looking for?” came an echoed voice from behind them.
They turned to see a mysterious cloaked man. None of them could make out his face, but in his hand was a wallet. It wasn’t clear if it was the same one that was supposed to be in the boy’s pocket, but either way, it was something they wanted to take.
The third man pounced like a panther, but his body went straight through the Dark Mage’s like he was only a shadowed mirage in the night. When he turned around, there were four cloaked figures instead!
“What the hell?” came one of the men. “There’s more of them.”
The boy was thankfully released now that he was no longer a target. His legs trembled, and if it wasn’t for the wall, he surely would have collapsed. Truthfully, he wanted to run, but he couldn’t take his eyes off the scenario—and that actually was his wallet. He tried to comprehend the situation, but things were occurring that his eyes simply couldn’t see. Two of the men slammed against the wall after waves of energy, and was there only one man? Four? Seven? The stranger moved so quickly, unless there really were more than just a single individual.
“Let’s get outta here!” screamed the one. “This isn’t working. Whoever this is, he must be some kind of freaky monster!”
Soon it was only the boy and his saviour left in the dark alleyway. At least, that’s what the victim thought. He looked down to see the wallet back in his hand, but when he blinked, the figure simply vanished. He looked around for doors, and he gazed up to the rooftops, but there was nothing to be seen.
Eldrian was already a few blocks away. It was invisible beneath his cowl, but a grin stretched from one cheek to the other. He had actually saved that kid, and it was easy. They stood no chance without magic eyes, even if the magic he used were basically child’s play. All he had to do was find someone in trouble, illusion-it-up, and save somebody’s life. The Dark Mage moved on to seek new prey.
“You’re dead, Chuck!” howled a scrawny man with a gun gripped in his hand.
“Shut the hell up, Paul!” growled a chunkier man, but he also had a firearm at the ready.
The two men were aiming pistols at the other with trembling arms. It was a cold war between the two once-friends, and neither knew if and when the other was going to shoot. Something terrible had happened to sever their bond, and it was possible that soon, neither would be around to regret it.
Sweat poured down Chuck’s forehead. He licked his lips, which had never been as dry as they were that night. The finger squeezing the trigger twitched and nearly set off the pistol right then.
“Put down the gun,” he muttered.
“You’ll shoot me!” yelled Paul. “You put down the gun, you psychopath.”
“Put it down or I’ll kill you!”
Tensions grew higher. Neither were in the right state of mind to be handling a situation such as that. It was then that both men did it. They pulled their respective triggers.
Hearts stopped, even if for only a second. Thoughts flooded their minds at the final moment before each assumed the other’s life to end. That was it, only by a movement of the finger. However, when time passed and neither had died, they looked baffled.
The guns clicked, but neither went off. Instead, a daisy sprouted forward from each pistol’s barrel.
Eldrian sat back against a rooftop’s air conditioning unit as he gazed up at the stars. He had travelled a bit, but a city so large wasn’t something he was accustomed to living in. But he wasn’t thinking about that while he rested.
Maybe Kevin was right. Wizards are powerful, but only to regular folk. To another wizard, or especially a spellbreaker, they’re not. And is watching a select group of individuals, who are such a way from birth, something that should be? Most people would say not. There must at least be a better way to handle things. He heard horror stories of the spellbreakers and wizards that worked for Canada and the United States. Were they all untrue? He doubted it.
A scream. His ears perked up immediately. It wasn’t loud, but it was close, as in only a block or so to his left, he figured. He immediately sprung into action and floated over alleys to find the source of the trouble. Also, he started wondering how much crime he would find in such a single night.
“You’re into cosplay, huh?” said the stranger with hand stretching forward. “Let me help you…”
Across from him was a woman backed into a corner. She had blonde hair down past her shoulders, long and pointed ears, and a torn up outfit that looked completely like the man suggested—a costume. It was fantastical and green, covered in patterns of vines and leaves. It wasn’t a comforting sight to see. An absolutely gorgeous young lady, dressed like an elf, but wearing a ripped up costume, and all alone.
The man beside her had long black hair and thick glasses. All Eldrian could see was that he was coming closer towards her with a strange intention. He was shivering and pale, so it was easy to assume the worst—he was sick, in more ways than one.
Suddenly, the man lunged at her! Eldrian was going to act, but just as quickly, he slammed against a barrier that projected itself from her finger tips. It caused him to fall back and land on his rear. This caused Eldrian to immediately duck down. A wizard?
Whether this girl was a druid, a witch, or whatever, he figured he had to help if he could. This is what the disguise was made for, so he leapt down to land behind the attacker.
“Stop right there!” shouted the echoed voice.
“I keep telling you,” said the man. “I’m trying to help you! What did you just do to me? Some kind of new kind of mace? Why do girls always mace me…”
“Uh. Wait, what’s happening?” Eldrian asked.
The man continued. “I saw this poor girl, and I followed her to ask if she needed any help. She looked scared and was just wandering through the city aimlessly. I didn’t want to call the police without her permission, but whenever I try to talk to her, she panics and runs away again.”
Finally, the woman said something. She spoke with an alien elegance, like how one may expect a Goddess to speak. It was a warm, soothing voice, but a beautiful one as well, almost unnaturally so. Eldrian never thought he could figure a voice as something unnatural, and now that he stood face-to-face with her, he knew something was off.
“I’m so sorry,” she said, offering a polite bow of her head. “I didn’t know. I thought you were stalking me, and I didn’t want to cause any trouble.”
“All I said was that she see seemed closed off, and that she should open herself for me and let me inside!”
Eldrian slowly lowered his head. “Ah-huh.”
“Then she ran from me,” he added. “So I told her to stop running. She looked exhausted, so I told her to lay down with me and rest!”
“All right,” Eldrian muttered as he placed a hand upon his shoulder. “I think you’ve done enough. You helped her. I’ll take it from here. The sun’s down, and apparently every criminal ever is out tonight, so you might want to get home.”
He sighed and hung his head dejectedly. “All right. I just thought I found someone new to play with. I guess I’ll just go back to my house and play with myself.”
“Maybe stop most thoughts a sentence or so sooner.”
With a pat on his back, the boy departed from the scene. He was confused, but Eldrian had gone numb to people’s confusion long ago. As a wizard, you get used to that. After a few moments, only him and the strange woman were left.
“Please. Just allow me to continue on my way. I have much to figure out,” she whispered.
“Well, at least let me actually help you, like get you some clothes that are in one piece. You look like you fell from space,” Eldrian replied. “Did you come from a convention I don’t know about?”
“A… convention? The last time my father attended a political meeting was naught within the last few years. He only briefly had political power, but decided that the job wasn’t for him.”
The wizard stared his yellow dots blankly. “What?”
“Sorry.” She shook her head. “I should depart. Me staying here will only continue to complicate matters for everyone.”
“Hold on. You cast some kind of spell a moment ago, didn’t you? Aren’t you a wizard?”
“You know of wizards?”
Eldrian didn’t speak, but he did gesture to his entire wardrobe. And his enchanted voice. And his glowing eye spots.
“Ah,” she replied. “I see. You are one.”
He worried for a moment. He hadn’t considered that she could be a spellbreaker but with some kind of magical trinket that allowed her to do what she did previously. Much to his relief, a warm smile grew on her face for the first time since he saw her.
“Thank goodness,” she finally said. “Perhaps you can help me after all. I believe only a wizard could assist me on Earth.”
“I’m Eldr—Uh.” He took hold of his hood and pulled it back down to his neck. “I’m Eldrian. Good to meet you.”
“Oh. I see. You were in disguise. My name is Arlandria, and it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mister Eldrian.”
She curtsied. Meanwhile, Eldrian looked her over. He didn’t believe it at first—he couldn’t. Such an encounter was so rare that most wizards never even saw one. This wasn’t a wizard, nor a spellbreaker. She wasn’t a demon, and she wasn’t even a human in cosplay.
“You’re an elf?” he asked.
“Yes. I am. Now, did you say something about clothing? I believe it’s the middle of winter.”
Eldrian nodded and pondered about Marionette. “Right. So, uh, how do elves feel about demons?”
Her smile slowly lowered into a frown.
“Just kidding,” he added quickly. “Let’s go shopping in the morning. You can stay at our place until then. And do you mind keeping the disguise a secret? I’m kind of trying out this whole vigilante thing.”
Once again, he pulled the cowl over his head to darken his face.
“It’s noble to wish to help people, but also dangerous,” she muttered. “But it is not my business to interject into another’s business. Do you have a secret name as well?”
Eldrian coughed. “The Dark Mage…” he whispered.
“Aw. That’s cute,” she replied with a smile.
“Let’s just go home.”
Stay tuned next time for Chapter Thirty-Two – Heaven and Hell!