April 28, 2018, Mount Royal, Montreal
Darius appeared on the scene and spotted his fellow brothers standing near the mountain’s edge, chatting amongst themselves and admiring the sleeping city. Deep in the pocket of his bronze leather jacket, Darius’s hand felt for the red quartz he’d decided to bring along, just in case. It was a gift from his girlfriend; she insisted he could not rely solely on his dominance over lightning. Hiding his hand, Darius held the stone. He was careful not to give himself away as he absorbed the natural energy around him. From there, his spiritual body did the rest, converting the energy into magic and siphoning it into the red quartz as fire magic. This was as easy and natural for a mage as breathing. Before making his presence known, Darius scanned the area for terrians and mages alike, assuring they were alone. “Good evening Darius, thank you for meeting me.” The man removed the hood that concealed him, not that Darius needed to see the perturbed face of the man who summoned him to know precisely who he was.
“Evening,” Darius said as politely as possible. He glanced at the second mage, who peered at Darius from under his gray cloak. A chill ran down Darius’s spine that had nothing to do with the frosty April night. He pointed up at the full moon that lit up the clear night sky. “Julio, it’s the middle of the night.” Julio’s fingers slid through his dark brown hair, pushing the curls out of his eyes. “Yes, well, this matter is of the highest importance.” “Are you going to be cryptic, or do you plan on telling me what is so important you felt the need to pluck me out of bed instead of waiting until morning?” Darius grumbled, not at all amused by Julio’s distress summon. A slow, eerily insightful smile slithered across Julio’s face. “I heard a rumor; allegedly, you and your girl got into a nasty scuffle tonight.” Darius’s expression darkened. “I don’t see how that’s any of your concern.” His manner gave the slightest hint of suggestion for Julio to stay on topic — for his own wellbeing. “You’re right, it’s not.” Julio apologetically raised his hands in passive surrender. “On to business.” Julio settled his hands in his pockets to shield them from the night chill. “As you know, some in our order are demanding change. They want to bring back the old ways.” Darius nodded. As a hunter, he was responsible for delivering justice unto those who broke the laws, and he knew better than most the severity of the plight confronting their society. “I will admit there has been a spike in magic-related crimes in the last few days.” A shadow passed over Julio, leaving Darius with a sense of disquiet: he hated not knowing the thoughts and plans running through the minds of his potential enemies. As an
exceedingly intelligent and skilled mage and researcher, Julio had the ears of the Brethren of Sorcerers. His opinions were highly respected. Silence lingered between them. “Did you ask me here to offer me a proposition?” Darius wanted to conclude this little encounter and get back to his comfortable bed. “That will depend on which position you support.” Julio’s cocky grin was enough to drive Darius into a frenzy of agitation. Luckily, Darius was a disciplined individual, capable of keeping himself in check, at least for the time being. He did, however, regret the decision to give Julio the benefit of the doubt; the man was nothing more than a venomous snake hiding in the grass, watching for its chance to strike. At least now Darius understood what this secretive rendezvous was really about. Both the Revolution and the Resistance asked him to join their side. It was clear as day that the internal fighting between mages would become a bloody war, and Darius had no interest in taking part in unnecessary bloodshed. He chose to remain faithful to his duty to protect innocent people, regardless of their status as mages or terrians. “If you have to ask, then you weren’t paying attention this whole week.” Calm as still sand, Darius remained alert and ready to pounce in anticipation of an attack from Julio. He slowly moved the red quartz still hidden in his pocket upwards so Julio would not notice. “That was what I had hoped you would say.” Julio pulled out a pendulum of white stone and the interior contents of the rock shifted about wildly. Milky smoke violently swirled on the inside of the stone, battering against the walls of its spherical prison. Understanding hit Darius like a flare in the face, as Julio’s true intentions unfolded before him.
“That’s a portal sphere, but how did you…? You found a way to control that spell? “Archaic magic,” comprehension hit him over the head, hard. Now more than before Darius was glad he had the common sense to recharge his red quartz. “Let’s just say I made a friend of a particularly powerful mage.” A sly smile spread across his lips as Julio shifted his head casually towards the unknown mage. “Traitor!” Darius spat, moving sideways as swiftly as a cat as he launched a fireball from his quartz, aimed at Julio’s hand. On impact, Julio dropped the stone, groaning in an equal mixture of pain and outrage. Darius succeeded in preventing Julio from completing the nasty spell he’d intended. Julio dodged out of the way of the next fireball, buying Darius the time he needed to disappear into the foliage beside the road. “Make it quick.” Darius heard the unknown mage say in an expressionless tone. Darius needed some uninterrupted time to summon the spell he had in mind. He crouched close to the ground, moving undetected by controlling his breath. The layer of wet leaves covering the ground helped to mask his movements. Julio jumped into the woods in pursuit, branches crunching under the weight of his untrained steps. Laying low in a bush, Darius focused natural energy down to the pit of his belly, imagining the energy tapping into the electrical pulse of his body. With every breath he connected more deeply with the current, feeding it, allowing it to expand until brilliant blue lightning blanketed his entire body. Julio scanned a nearby clearing searching for Darius, but Darius spotted Julio first and took the offensive. Bolts flew through the air toward the center of Julio’s back.
Julio moved out of harm’s way, but the assaults were relentless. Darius threw blue flash after blue flash until one landed on his target, striking Julio in the shoulder and sending him stumbling to the ground. Darius had the advantage; he was stronger and more experienced. Sure of his victory, Darius approached Julio like a predator ready for the kill. But where Julio’s limp body should have been, there were only scattered clothes and drops of blood trailing off into the tall grass. The snake slithered away. Darius followed the path of blood leading to the edge of the cliff. He scanned the horizon for any sign of the other mage. He heard an evil laugh as if Julio were right beside him. Darius scanned the area. As far as he knew, invisibility was not a form of magic, not even with the added power of archaic magic. “Where are you, you coward?” Darius barked. “Did you like the young woman? I for one thought she was ravishing. Tell me, was she any good?” Startled, Julio’s remarks brought to life the memories of the events earlier that evening. Darius lost his concentration for a split second, and the electrical barrier he’d created dissipated. From the corner of his eye, Darius could see a cat transforming into a tall, naked man. “You.” Darius growled low in his throat. Pure hatred burned a hole in the pit of his stomach. “Yes, me.” Julio answered. Darius realized too late that he greatly underestimated his foe; he had allowed himself to be distracted, and it made him vulnerable. With the pendulum in hand, Julio summoned a transportation spell. “I’ll say hi to her for you.” Julio said. As he unclenched his fist, he released the force accumulated inside the stone. The
white milky orb shined brighter than the full moon hanging low in the sky, chasing away the blackness of the night. The light ripped Darius away from everything and everyone he knew. Julio’s sinister, arrogant smile was the last thing Darius saw; a split second was all it took to erase Darius’s existence form this world. The darkness of night returned immediately afterward Darius disappeared. The cloaked figure materialized out of thin air. “Is it done?” he asked Julio, his voice flatly devoid of emotion. Standing victorious by the cliff overlooking the sleeping city, Julio stood tall and prideful. Satisfied with his accomplishment, he did not flinch as the cold air nipped at his naked body. “It is done.” Julio responded, never glancing at his associate. The gray-cloaked mage nodded in approval. Julio looked over the cliff like a cat examining its hard-won territory. But for his victory over Darius to be truly complete, Julio still had one thing left to do.