Runes Saga: Part 2
In the year 2003 the world was changed forever. People across the globe became more than human. These select few gained abilities beyond the normal scope of reality, becoming what’s known as Mages. Mages were hunted and prosecuted by every government, claiming the Geneva convention no longer counted for them as the world declared war on them, they were no longer considered human. Mages were locked away and experimented on to better understand their powers. In 2009 Mages were given new found freedom with the Pergamis Clause that was added to the Geneva convention. With this freedom Mages tried to make new lives. Some of them joined the military, others started a revolution or joined the church, and some tried to just live a normal life. I was one of those Mages that tried to live a normal life. Everything was going fine for me and my adopted brother until a few months ago I was framed for a string of gruesome murders. Now my sister is dead, my brother held hostage and I am being hunted by the Military, the Ortus Corporation, a group of rebel tyrants, and a faction of the Church. And just when I thought life couldn’t get more complicated, it did.
Chapter 1: Dawn of a New Day
In the News: The debate of Gage Runes innocence is still raging after months of protest and false claims. Is this man truly innocent or just playing on the hearts of the people?
I slammed the wood door shut behind me and leaned against it trying to catch my breath. Today was not my day. I should have seen the signs, when I woke up late, burned my bacon while cooking breakfast and stubbing my toe on the way out the door. These all might seem like small things but it felt like the universe was trying to warn me against going out. Maybe if I had just gone out to pick up food or dry cleaning things wouldn’t have been so bad. But no, I had to go out on a suicide mission to topple an evil empire of power mad Mages that wanted to rule the world. The door I lay against shuddered once as someone on the other side tried to kick it open. I braced myself for another blow but it didn’t come. Instead a hole the size of my fist exploded beside my head sending splinters of wood in every direction with a loud crack. That was my cue to leave. I know I had declared war on the Ashen Army after they killed my sister but I didn’t know the first thing about guerrilla warfare and I was paying the price for it. I looked to my left and right trying to think of a way out of this situation. I was in the center of a hallway with doors on either end and one facing me on the opposite side of the hall. Who’s idea was it to break into an abandoned house filled with Kinetomancers? Right, I was the genius that came up with this plan that had a disturbing lack of detail. The whole plan was comprised of sneak in, steal the map of Denver with all the safe houses they used, and sneak out. The whole house was run down with peeling flower wallpaper and plenty of mildew stains. The house must have been a vacant for years before the Ashen Army set up shop in it and no one had done any repairs.
I stepped away from the door and opened the one facing me. The unassuming door opened to a small broom closet. Without thinking I stepped in and closed the door behind me. It was dark in the closet and I couldn’t see a damned thing especially with my sunglasses, but with any luck they wouldn’t think to look in here for me. I stuck my hand in the pocket of my trench coat, making sure the map was still there. It was and I let out a quiet sigh of relief. If I lost this same sheet of paper, the whole operation would have been for not. I heard the other door swing open with a kick and slam against the wall. I closed my eyes, holding very still, taking very small breaths and focused on my hearing. At first the voices were muffled by the door but as I focused I began to make out what they were saying.
“--did he go?” One man asked in a thick russian accent.
“You go that way. I’ll head this way. When you find the bastard, kill him.” came a nasally voice.
I smiled at the sound of his voice. It must have been the man who walked in on me while I was snatching up the map. The same guy that I had broken his nose with a punch. I didn’t weigh much, a good 125 at most but I had learned from my brawling experience how to throw a nasty punch.
I heard footsteps run down the hall in both directions and away from me. I let out another sigh or relief and leaned back against the shelves behind me. As my Wight pressed against the shelves one of them slipped and came clattering down on the one below it. I took off my sunglasses and let my silver eyes adjust to the almost pitch black of the closet. The upside to having Silver eyes is that I have spectacular night vision. I heard a shuffle of footsteps just on the other side of the door and a shadow creeped into my view under the door. The door can flying open and I was stuck with a wall of light that made my eyes feel like they were being dug out with a melon baller. The downside to having silver eyes is that normal light for others is more than a little painful for me. I threw up my hands and screamed like a girl. This was a clever ploy to throw off the assailant, I swear. After the less than manly sound left my lips I calmly put my sunglasses back on and looked at my new companion. He was a browed man with no hair and heavy brown eyes. His face was square with a strong jaw and thin, pencil line lips. His cheeks were a rosy red that gave away that he had been drinking. He looked at me in utter confusion, unsure of how to deal with me. I took advantage his jumbled state of mind and kicked him right between the legs. He let out a gasp of pain and crumbled over himself. I grabbed his head as he knelt, keeled over and drove my knee into his nose at full force. I felt his nose give under my brutal strike and the knee of my black cargo pants came back bloody. The force of the blow sent him toppling backwards. I stepped out of my hiding spot and withdrew a short throwing knife with a cord wrapped hilt.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Came a worried female voice from behind me. I didn’t have to look back to know it was the ghost of my dead sister, Amanda. A Necromancer named Donald bound my sister’s soul to me shortly after she died.
“Oh don’t get all upady with me. I’m not going to kill him.” I said over my shoulder to the empty closet.
“Is it time?” Came a smooth female voice in my mind.
“Not now Sathanus. I just need a little power to help me get out of here.” I said to the demon in the blade via my thoughts.
“Come now my master. Killing him would grant you more power and rid him from the situation. It’s a simple mercy that you and he both deserve.” Said the Norse demon.
“Don’t listen to that THING. It is only trying to use you.” Amanda sneered. For some reason she could hear the demon as well as I could. I wasn’t sure how or why but Amanda didn’t know either when I asked her.
“Why do you listen to the phantom? She doesn’t know you like I do. I know everything about you. I know a part of you hungers for battle, thirsts for the blood of your enemies. I know how badly you want it.” Sathanus cooed in my mind.
“Would both of you please shut up. Neither of you are helping me and out of the three of us I’m the only one that can die. I’d rather not have that happen.” I said out loud in a frustrated tone.
I knelt over the unconscious man and dipped the tip of my blade in the fresh blood running from his nose. As I stood back up I focused on the blade willing it to change. One moment I was holding a three inch throwing knife and the next moment the blade elongated to three feet still looking mostly the same and weighing no more than it did before. I double checked my pockets to make sure I had everything. Map, check, sticky notes, check, glass rod, check, wooden dice, check, steel marbles, check. Everything was in its appropriate pocket right where I had left it all. I pulled out a sharpie from my pants pocket, trading my blade into my left hand. I quickly drew the Trigger Rune on the back of my left hand. Once that was complete I pocketed my sharpie, traded my blade back into my right hand and pulled out my pre-Runed sticky notes with my left hand. I placed a single sticky note on the wall beside me, a safe distance from the unconscious Kinetomancer. I continued down the hall to the right of the closet I was hiding in. I slowly pushed open the door and peeked around the corner or the door. The next room was empty save for a single, three legged coach rapped into faded blue upholstery that was riddled with rat chewed holes. I stepped into the room and slowly closed the door behind me, trying to make it as noiseless as possible. There was only one other door in the room to my left and it sat wide open. I swiftly moved to the new door and peered around the corner. Beyond the door was a stairway leading down. I heard something rustle on the floor below. I placed another sticky note on the wall beside the door and made my way down the stairs. Halfway down the stairs I placed another sticky note on the wall. I continued down the stairs as quietly as I could until I hit the third from last step. As I put my Wight on this step it gave off a groaning shriek before it completely gave way and I fell. I threw myself forward and landed free of the hole on the ground floor of the decrepit house. I rolled over onto my back and looked up at the water stained ceiling above me. I heard footsteps somewhere nearby and moved my head to get a better look around.
At the base of the stair there was a large room that must have once been a living room. It now was barren, save for a few old chairs and a man with a broken nose glaring down at me. He lifted a chair above his head with both hands and charged me. I cursed out loud and rolled to one side just as the chair. The piece of furniture shattered into splinters where my head was only moments ago. I pulled myself to my feet and was struck across the side of the head with one of the remaining legs from the now shattered chair. My head snapped to one side with the blow and pain came with it, blunt and hard. I rolled with the strike, pulling myself to my feet, blade at the ready. The broken nosed man continued his attack, aiming again for my head. I blocked his next strike with my demonic blade. As the wood met my sword it was cut neatly in two, half of it falling to the ground with a clatter. My assailant leapt back as soon as he saw what my block had done to his makeshift weapon. He eyed me with a newfound caution, making sure to stay well out of my reach. Without taking my eyes off the man I used my free hand to peel free another sticky note and paste it to the wall at me back. Broken nosed man threw his remaining chair leg aside and reached the now free hand towards me, fingers splayed. I realized what he was going a half second too late. I threw myself to the right as a blast of kinetic rushed out from his hand and struck where my chest was. The blast clipped my side and punched a hole in the wall behind me about six inches in diameter. I rushed forward trying to close the distance between us before he could get off another shot. I was to slow, he brought his hand to bare on me again as I charged. I brought up my blade to block the strike, knowing it would be useless. But it wasn’t. I felt the blast of energy strike my blade and then it was gone, just gone. I closed the rest of the distance and threw an uppercut to his neck. He staggered back clutching at his throat while he gave a ragged coughing sound. I turned to run for the front door but saw a blur of motion as I turned. The man with the broken nose was aiming his hand again but this time not at me but at the broken chair leg he had discarded. I didn’t stop, I ran full tilt at the front door. I heard something zipping through the air towards me and I felt something strike my back. I knew my attacker had just used his magic to throw the chair leg at me it an attack that would have broken bone on anyone else but I wasn’t just anyone and I wasn’t just wearing any normal trench coat. I felt the strike across the whole of my back and knew the implement shattered on impact as I staggered. But I kept going stopping only for a single breath to lay my left hand on the frame of the door and activate the Trigger Rune. The Sigils I drew on those sticky notes gave me five second delay before they took effect. I threw the door open and ran out into the afternoon light of day. I counted to four, stopped and turned to make sure my trap worked as it was meant to. I looked back on the old house and saw my attacker following me out of the house before everything went wild. There was an earth shattering crack of thunder and portions of the house blew outwards in a rain splinters and debris. Most of the force of the blast was absorbed by the coat, making me only take a step back but the man with the broken nose was far less lucky. The explosion threw him into the air and hurtling towards me. I felt most of his momentum dispersed for a bare moment before his dead Wight struck me in the chest, forcing me to the ground. When I hit the asphalt of the street I knocked my head hard enough to send a jolt of pain through it and make me see stars. Yet the pain didn’t bother me. Suddenly I felt amazing, like I could take on the world and win. I felt a rush of power, strength and for some reason ecstasy. I shook my head trying to shake off the feeling but both it the stars persisted. It took me a moment to see past the stars and back into the real world but when I did what I saw made my stomach turn. Laying atop me was the broken nosed man, with my blade sticking out of his back. I felt panic rush up to mix with the ecstasy giving me a muddle of emotions and thoughts. I rolled him off me and onto his side to see if he was alright. He wasn’t, the blade stuck out of his chest where the heart lay. Part of me knew it was hopeless but I still checked his pulse. As I did so blood welled up out of the wound, staining his grey shirt dark red. He had no pulse, from the look of it he had died before he even knew what happened. I tried to tell myself it was a clean death but it was a death nonetheless and one at my hand. I withdrew my blade from his chest and willed it back into its original form before I sheathed it. I turned the man onto his back and closed his eyes with a single hand, trying to give him more peace in death.
I stood and made my way to the end of the block where my ride was waiting for me. I had just killed a man. It was an accident but the circumstances were all my doing, from the blast to the blade it was all me. I never wanted to take a human life. I never wanted to take away one’s future, decide with my power when their life came to an end. That kind of action was just wrong. This ecstasy felt just, wrong. Was this why killers did what they did? For the Rush? For feeling more powerful than another by taking their life? I never meant to kill him, god, I never wanted that.
“Now do you see what kind of power you have?” Said Sathanus in the back of my head.
“I never wanted this.” I whispered out loud, keeping my eyes on the ground below my feet.
“Part of you wanted it. You can’t deny that part of you hungers for blood and power. If you give into it I can give you so much more power.”
“No. I won’t let that hunger control me. I’m better than that.”
“Yes you are Gage. But don’t be too hard on yourself. You never meant for him to die.” Came Amanda’s voices as she appeared beside me, walking in stride with me.
“I couldn’t save him. Just like I couldn’t save you. If this keeps up everyone around me is going to die. I started this one man war to save lives, not end them.” I said firmly. I knew I was beating myself up unjustly but just like Amanda’s death, I was powerless to stop it and it was because of my actions.
“Gage what’s done is done. There’s no need to punish yourself for an accident. Just like when you broke my china dishes that grandma gave me.” Amanda offered.
“But no lives were lost because I broke your dishes.” I muttered half to myself.
“The lives of my dishes were lost, and you know how much grandma loved them.”
I rolled my eyes at that.
“I didn’t like her anyway. She looked at me like most other people do. Like I was a creature from planet X.” I retorted
At that Amanda gave a light giggle. Before either of us could say anything else I rounded the corner and made my way toward an old, beat up, brown van. The vehicle was idling while the driver waited for me. I opened the passenger door and pulled myself in. The driver was a tall thin man standing at about 6’ 2” with strong shoulders, short brown hair, and a well trimmed if scruffy beard.
“I take it by the syrians things didn’t go as planned.” Drust stated as he shifted the van into first gear and drove onto the street.
“No. I had to blow out half the house with sticky notes.” I answered only have paying attention to the conversation.
“You know if I didn’t know you what you just said would make me think you’re a loon.” Drust said with a half smile.
“I know.” was all I said in reply.
“Gage, something’s bothering you. What’s up?” I could hear the worry in his voice.
“I, I killed a man.” As I spoke my voice sounded hollow.
There was a long silence while Drust thought of what to say.
“Did you mean to?” He asked in a cautious tone.
“Of course I didn’t mean to.” I said defensively. “It was an accident. I just…” I trailed off, not sure what to say in my frustration.
Drust took a deep breath and let the silence build for a few minutes as we made our way home.
“Then learn from what you have done mate. This is war. You said it yourself and lives are lost in wars. The only thing you can do is fight for the right reason.” Drust said finally. Drust was a stable as a stone and as wise as a shaman. He was the personality embodiment of his elemental power, Earth manipulation.
I lay my head against the window and watched the world roll by as I thought about what he said.This was war, people die in war. There’s no helping it. I started this war to save lives and show the world who the real monsters were. If I didn’t watch my step I could become one of the monsters I was fighting so hard to stop. I came very close to becoming the monster most humans thought I was. Amanda saved me from myself when she adopted me. Mages have always been hated by humans, exiled from the rest of the race for being different. Mages have been used as living weapons, manual labor, target practice and even inhumane experiments. I was only of the latter after my biological parents sold me out for money when I was only seven years old. I spent years being treated as a toy to the curl men and women of the Burnheart Asylum. Day after day of being tortured, tested on, cut open and stitched back up. It was enough to drive anyone mad but I was only a child exposed to those horrors and I paid for it. Sathanus was right, I did crave blood. It was a deep dark hunger that always lurked in the very depths of my being. The Asylum turned me into something less than human but Amanda brought me back from the darkness. She took me in as a big sister knowing full well I didn’t want a mother like my last one.
As we pulled into the parking lot of our apartment complex I marveled at my train of thought and how it moved from murder to my history of torture and adoption.