I had a dream that made me question everything. It just felt so real. The person in front of me was definitely someone I knew when I was younger or in a past life or something. It was a blurry sight with a white background and a vaguely recognizable person telling me something I felt was important. It sounded cliche even to me, but I was waiting to get Cassidy's opinion on it.
Since I was running late to school; I had to leave as soon as I could but, as I left out the front door, I just decided to walk at my normal pace instead of running there. Halfway to their house; I remembered, again, that I was about ten minutes late to school and that they were likely already waiting for me in our homeroom.
I rerouted my course directly to the school. My slow stride allowed me to think more clearly about the dream I had just had last night. I strangely wasn't alarmed at the fact that the longer I took to get there, the less of the dream I would remember to share with my best friend. If anything, my mind was wandering as I wandered to my destination. I snapped out of it and stopped walking.
I was at a crossroads three blocks from the school. The light had just turned green for pedestrian crossing. My increasingly slower pace coupled with my absent-mindedness came to a standstill as I felt a tug on my arm. It was firm yet gentle. I thought it was a lost kid or something, so I turned to see, but no one was there. I looked around and there was no sign of anyone. Before I could take my next step forward, I heard a distinct horn on my right and turned to see the grill of a large truck less than five feet away. It was too close and too fast to avoid. I had no choice but to accept what was likely to happen next and brace for impact. Shortly afterward, everything went silent.
I opened my gently closed eyes to see my own body sprawled on the street. There was no blood, and I was intact, but I had been thrown at least thirty feet away from where I was standing. I noticed that I was floating upwards, but someone was holding me from the back of my shirt. I looked up to see a girl. She wore a white and red cap and a matching jacket with blue jeans. It was obvious that she was trying to look masculine but was too feminine to pull it off. Her light brown hair was crudely cut to chin length and her nails were a faded blue. She had recently gotten the polish off.
"Are you an angel?" I asked. She had no wings yet, I was clearly dead so, what else was she supposed to be?
"No, I'm sorry. You almost died." she sounded sad.
"Almost?" I said, looking around. We were high in the air. I could see police cars with sirens blaring, arriving on the scene of my corpse. "My body's down there."
"I separated your soul from your body as the truck hit you so that your apparent 'death' and your unplanned and very real early death coincided and your actual death became null. Do you understand?" It seemed like she didn't exactly know how to explain what happened herself.
"So, I'm not dead?" I asked.
"You can't die. Not by normal means at this moment, anyway."
"Seriously?" I continued looking down at my body.
"You're really calm for someone who just got hit by a truck, though."
"I guess I just thought it was my time you know? I couldn't see any way to get out of that situation alive."
"Look, I'm sorry ok," She said, after a while of floating away.
"About what?" I asked.
"When I find us somewhere to land, I'll tell you." Eventually, we landed on top of a hospital building. She let me go and I got to see her face. She wore the frown of someone who was pretending to be angry and her shiny blue eyes had a glint of tears past in them.
"I'm truly sorry," She said, wiping her eyes. "I was the one who tugged on your arm. I made you stop and I'm the reason you got hit. If you just kept walking then, you would have been fine." She started sniffling unconsciously.
"That was you?"
"If you hate me, then go ahead but, I already apologized."
"You're obviously not here because you want to be so, why the clothes?" I walked up to her and took a closer look at her nails and hair. "This was drastic. What are you running from?"
"You're not mad?" She seemed surprised.
"I don't think I could be mad. I mean, when a girl who's obviously in need drops what she's doing to save my life, how could I be mad?"
"In need. Me? No." She dismissed the idea.
"Yes, you. You're obviously running from something. What can I do to help?" I made my offer and stuck to it.
"Help? Are you sure you want to do that?"
"As far as I'm concerned, I should be dead and I want to help make sure you don't end up out here sharing that fate. Deal?" I held out my hand.
She seemed to give it some thought before coming to a consensus. "Deal." she shook it.
"Good. Now can you explain what's going on here?"
She gave a deep sigh and started. "I'm being hunted by my family's enemies. Up 'till now, I had been watched over by my guardian but recently, he disappeared."
"And you went looking for him undercover?" I began trying to piece things together.
"Yes, that's when I saw you. You look just like him. That's why I tugged on your sleeve. I thought you were him... You look much younger than him though."
"So you do need help," I said.
"Until I find him, yes," she confirmed.
"What's his name?"
"His name is Angel. My name is Mia by the way. What's yours?"
"I'm Evan." I smiled.
"You're not really phased by any of this are you?" she asked.
"As I said, I should be dead. So, what can I do to help."
"I would need you to become my temporary guardian."
"I'm pretty sure I can do that," I said, confidently.
"I know It's your choice and all but, can you walk me through how your logic dictates helping someone running from so much after finding yourself in this situation? What about returning to your body? Doesn't any of this alarm you?" She began taking weary steps back.
"When I see a girl such as yourself who saved my life, running for her own, I help. That and I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There's no way I can pass this up." I responded.
"What about your safety? Aren't you concerned about your own life right now? You could still die." She seemed more worried about her own safety at this point.
"You said you are being hunted. That's all I needed to hear besides, all of this sounds like fun." I answered honestly.
"Fun?" Her mood shifted drastically and immediately. " Do you know how hard it is just to get some sleep anywhere when the possibility of an assassin coming to slit your throat in the middle of the night is almost certain!?" Her face turned red and tears began streaming down her cheeks. "I haven't slept half a night for the past month!"
"You've been through a lot, I'm sorry." I took a knee.
"What are you doing?" She still sounded angry and was feverishly wiping the tears off of her face.
"You said 'guardian' and It makes me think you might be royalty. I'll gladly stop bowing if that's not the case."
"How serious are you about becoming my guardian?" She calmed down a bit.
"As serious as I can be. I feel like I'm stepping into a world that I've been missing out on my entire life. I want to step into your world." She was right. This development came too fast even for my comfort but I stuck with it.
"Very well." She slipped a small, green book out of her pocket. On it was a shimmering feathered pattern across the entire cover.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Stay still. I'll now evoke the 'Silent Warlock Contract" Opening the book, she began reading words that I couldn't understand. She reached out her palm and a feeling of heat tore through my entire body. It was intense and concentrated in my arms. I stayed quiet until she stopped reading and took her hand away.
"Was that supposed to hurt?" I was shaking uncontrollably.
"The contract is complete. Show me your hands." She put the book away.
"So, is that it?" I asked, looking at my hands as I showed them to her. One palm had a four-pointed star on it and the other had an eight-pointed star on it.
"That's interesting," She responded, looking very closely at my hands.
"Is something wrong?"
"Do you happen to be ambidextrous by chance?" She poked at the eight-pointed one.
"Yes I am, why?" I responded, unable to stop shaking.
"That's good. It means you'll have a better chance of succeeding at this." She pressed her hand on my chest and I became paralyzed. By this time, I decided to trust her completely. Whether or not it was the right choice, I never could say. She grabbed me by my arm and shirt then, she threw and flipped me over the edge of the roof. As I began falling, I instinctively tried to grab the closest thing. It being Mia. My other hand flailed close to her and as I realized that I could grab her if I tried, I decided instead, to relax and fall. "If you hit the ground, you'll die this time."
I panicked for a brief second and then, calmed back down. I concluded after what she said that it was a test of will and resolve. Everything I had done up till then on that day was without a second thought. Now, I was falling to what could be my actual death. I found myself smiling halfway down. I had remembered that I would tell Casady about that dream I had. Now I had a lot more to tell them about. Again, I closed my eyes and waited for impact. After what seemed like a few seconds, I felt a huge pressure on my back and the air escaped my lungs. I had given up on breathing when I decided to let myself fall.
There was no immediate pain. I stood to the sound of sirens in the distance and realizing that it might be an ambulance with my body in it, I walked toward the source. I took three steps and fell forward, catching myself in the push-up position. The pain had caught up with me. I couldn't breathe and my heart felt like it was going to explode. Every pulse spread more pain throughout my chest. It was a mix of sharp and hot pain. More than one rib had definitely been broken, my shoulders were stiff and heavy and the back of my head was numb.
I couldn't let myself hit the ground again because if I did, I wouldn't get back up. Forcing myself to my feet, the pain began spreading around my entire body. Looking at my hands, I could see all of my veins were red and visible. It was the same up my arm as I rolled up my sleeve. It was just then that I noticed that my clothes were different. Instead of a black and grey uniform, I was in all white loosely fitted clothing.
"This won't kill me," I said, putting my hand over my heart and feeling the pulse. "When I go, I won't have regrets." I stood straight up and gave a war cry. The few people there stopped walking and looked around. No one saw me so, everyone just continued what they were doing. After a while, the sharp pain began fading away slightly but the heat escalated until I felt like I would pass out. Before I could take another step, everything slowed down and stopped. It was like time itself came to a standstill.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" I heard a deep, rumbling voice. It came from everywhere and shook the ground.
"I don't know what it is but, you can bet my life that I do," I responded, having no idea as to where this new resolve was coming from. "After all, it's already mine, right?" I continued, not knowing why I said what I said.
"Very well." Came the voice again. "Master the gift given to you and in time, you will uncover what Is already yours." The voice faded away and time continued.
"What was that about?" I thought out loud. Most of the pain I was in had faded completely and I became more comfortable in the intense heat.
"So, how do you feel?" Mia was standing in front of me.
"Like getting hit by that truck would've been a better alternative."
"Good so, here's the last test. What's my name?"
I took a step forward and put both of my hands on her shoulders. "You're Miariella Judith Alexandros Vermillion." Her full name came into my mind word by word until the whole thing was out.
"Wrong!" She stamped her foot. "From now on, my name is just Mia, for I have denounced all other names until further notice. Am I clear?" She tried for a commanding presence and failed miserably
"Sure," I said, taking her hat off, ruffling her hair, and replacing it. "What now?"
"Just like him." She whispered to herself.
"What was that?'
"I said, first we look for clues. Since I have you, I don't have to worry about any danger right?"
"Right, so where do you think we should look first?"
"For now, let's just get out of here. My invisibility spell should be wearing off in a couple of minutes."
"Yep, there's also an auditory spell that only lets people I talk to hear me. Of course, the invisibility spell works the same way. Just so you know, you're just a spirit right now so, that's why no one can see you. That is, except for people like us."
"You said 'spell', does that mean magic is real?"
"Let's walk and talk." She began walking down the sidewalk ahead of me. I followed. "I'll answer any questions you have to the best of my abilities, so ask away."
"First things first. magic?"
"I knew there was a reason for bringing this." She pulled out a different book from the one before. It was bound in false leather and sealed with a zipper. She opened it up and handed it to me. "As of today, This is what you are," She said, pointing down at the page. "Don't lose this. It's a basic encyclopedia on magic, its uses, and those who use it." I looked at the page and read what was there.
WARLOCKS: Warlocks are an outlier in terms that one can't be born as such. They are universal magic users and can be mistaken as any other type of magic-user. Normally, they gain magic by making a contract with a stronger being or "patron" whom they use the magic of.
"I can use magic... Does this mean that I can use your magic?"
"Not exactly. Read this part." She pointed at a paragraph at the bottom of the page.
Silent Warlocks: Unlike others of their kind, this type of Warlock can obtain magical abilities by 'world understanding' or coming to deeply appreciate the people and environments around them. This allows them to use or take attributes from other magic users, albeit less refined in nature.
"So what you did earlier made me into this? You said it was the 'Silent Warlock contract' right?"
"That's right." We turned toward an ally. "It shouldn't take much longer to set in. When those red veins disappear, you should be fine. All of the spells passed down to the servants of my family that apply should become available to you when that happens."
"What do you mean by 'available'?"
"Well, first you'll get a slight headache for a while but, before that, you'll hear the inner voice of your spirit animal, and depending on your elemental affinity, something else will happen."
"Would the voice happen to be deep enough to literally shake the ground and stop time?"
"Those veins are just starting to fade away. Have you heard a voice already?"
"Yeah, it was just like I just described."
"What did it say to you?"
"It asked me if I really wanted this. When I told him that I did, he said something like 'Master the gift given to you and in time, you will uncover what's already yours'."
"I'm not sure. That could mean anything."
"Cool." as soon as I said that, everything went stark red and then black.
"I see that I am to be called upon." I looked around to see where the new voice was coming from and spotted a giant, red, flaming serpent. It was staring down at me from a coiled position. There was nothing else there but blackness.
"Are you my spirit animal?" A question forced by my surprise.
"That question was rhetorical. If I am to allow what is asked of us, I must first ascertain as to your current standing. Are you ready?" The snake seemed to stare through me.
"That question was rhetorical." I smiled.
"Very well." It lowered its head. There was a strange symbol on top of its temple "Touch the mark of fire, accept us as one and that, we shall become. Mind the side effects."
"Side effects?... Never mind. Surprise me." I touched the mark and immediately got a headache. It was dull and lingering. There were a lot of thoughts entering my mind at once, none of them were mine and they all built up until my mind went blank. I blinked and the darkness was gone. I came back to reality.
"Did it happen? The veins disappeared." Everything had a slight red tint to it and Mia had an unnaturally wavering smile while hiding her hands behind her back.
"Yeah, I saw it. It was a fire serpent. What's wrong with you?" I began scrutinizing the situation to see what had happened.
"Nothing. How's your head." She took a step back.
"Dull headache, what's wrong with your hands?" I put a hand on my head
She was moving away facing me with her hands still behind her back. "Nothing. Listen, the spell wore off while you were in a trance. I think we should get a move on. I have an idea of where to start looking-"
"I can't help you if you hide your problems."
"Ok, here." She showed me her hands. They were both horribly burned.
I began to come closer to see her hands better. "What happen-?"
"Stay over there." She seemed frantic.
"Why?" I took a step forward.
"I- I can't tell you." She looked down on herself.
"Am I on fire?" I took a step back and looked at my hands. They looked normal aside from the red tint. "It would explain more than just that," I said, as she began blowing on her hands. She must have been touching me whenever I combusted. "What were you doing to me anyway?"
"Nothing." She shook her head.
"Is that burnt hands thing part of that 'something else' that would happen?" I began questioning her.
"Uh... Yes." She sounded as if she just took the opportunity to play off whatever she was just doing.
"Is there a reason you can't tell me whether or not I'm on fire?"
"Yes," She nodded.
"Is this also part of the ritual?"
"Yes." She continued to nod.
"Will your hands be ok?"
"Yes." This time, she sounded more cheery.
"Is the only reason you agreed to make me your guardian because I look like that Angel guy?" This was a question I wanted to ask since he was brought up.
"Yes- no, ye-no. Why do you- why do you ask?" She became flustered trying to answer.
"No reason," I said, eyeing her hands. "Let me fix those." I reached my hands out to hers. "Heal " second-degree burns turned to first-degree burns in seconds and after a minute, was completely gone. The swelling was still there but it would go away in time. "Does that feel any better"
"No, I'll be afflicted with the burn effect for probably an hour at this rate." She continued down the alley and I followed.
"You mean like a status effect? Like in video games?"
"The games got it from somewhere." She had a point.
"You know, I hadn't thought of that." I began reconsidering what I knew as fact.
"You have a lot to learn." She was still blowing on her hands.
"By the way, if it wasn't obvious, I know magic spells now."
"Good, that'll make you more useful," she said, matter-of-factly
"Yeah... Useful." I looked back down at my hands.
"Are you rethinking your decisions?" She asked as if trying to give me a way out.
"I was going to give a response that would make me sound like an idiot but, no, I'm not." Suddenly, A feeling of dread washed over me. The feeling came from above. I ran and jumped in front of Mia with my arms spread out "Who's there?"
"I was waiting for either of you two to notice me." I looked up and saw a girl on the roof of a garage. She was way too close for my comfort. Her long, dark red hair barely hid a look of discontent as she stared me down. She wore a black vested combat uniform with a white undershirt poking out and oversized boots.
"Again, who are you?" I darted my eyes to any hiding spaces and saw no one.
"Even, It's ok, I know her. She's friendly." Mia moved to my side and waved her hands frantically. This was a second before a black dagger flew within a hair of her face and stuck into the concrete behind us.
"Damn it, Mia, stay back." I jumped back in front of her and waved my arm aggressively at the girl. At that moment, the red tint faded and a wave of fire extended off of my arm, hitting the garage and scorching its surface.
"I am known as the Black Gale, and I used to be a guard for that brat and her family." She pointed at Mia while landing in front of us. "I assume the ritual is complete? If that's so, I need you to die first before I can kill her." She pulled out another dagger and tossed it in her hand a couple of times. "Prepare yourself."
I swallowed hard. If she knew that the ritual was happening then, why didn't she stop it and kill Mia when she had the chance? I dared not ask the only question on my mind as I prepared to fight a foe that I wasn't sure I was ready for.
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