Tales of a Moonlight Grimoire

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Chapter Three

Caelum could feel someone looking at him from where he was sitting in the diner. There were many possibilities as to who it could be but even turned away from the source of the gaze, he knew it was hostile. That fact alone cut down his list of suspects greatly and he was left with only one option if he wanted to identify the gazes’ origin. He glanced behind him, fleetingly and in a way that suggested that he was merely taking in the decorations of the diner. “I just had to step into the diner with a Witch in it, didn’t I?” Caelum muttered to himself. It really was just his luck too.

Sucking in a deep breath, Caelum began to stand from the table he was seated at. It was pure luck that he had yet to order anything; he had no plans to stay and eat in the same diner as a Witch. He could be stupid, reckless, and sometimes just plain idiotic but he definitely wasn’t suicidal and staying wouldn’t be anything other than suicide.

“Are you leaving already sir?” the waitress manning the door asked quietly as he made his way towards the door. It was obvious that she was wondering about his rather abrupt decision to leave. He couldn’t tell her the truth either.

“My brother just texted me,” he lied smoothly, smiling in a ‘what can you do’ way that would show his exasperation as this fact. “His car broke down and he needs a ride from work.” He rolled his eyes in a way that suggested that this had happened numerous times before.

The waitress grimaced in sympathy before going back to what she had been doing and Caelum took his chance to escape from the hostile environment that he’d found himself inadvertently in. Caelum fought the sigh that threatened to come out. It was pathetically easy to lie to people and have them believe every word that came from his mouth. It didn’t really matter that he’d never shown any sign of owning a phone and that he hadn’t even arrived in a car; all he had to do was smile and some story that would require his immediate attention and he’d be home free. Sometimes the fact that it was so easy made him cringe and other times, times when Caelum was desperate and needed a quick getaway, he couldn’t have been more grateful for their ignorance and slight stupidity. She didn’t even question why a teenager was the one his ‘brother’ called instead of an adult.

That didn’t really bother Caelum all that much as he set off down the back sidewalk that would take him behind the business and to a back road of the town. He was only passing through the place so he hadn’t bothered to learn its name; he wouldn’t be here long enough for it to matter, especially not with a Witch living in town. Hell, he wasn’t even sure what state he was in; hazard of moving from state to state all the time.

And home? Well that was a relative term to a homeless runaway like himself. It had been a relative his whole life really; being an orphan Caelum had been in the system since the age of six when his family had been murdered and he was left the only survivor. No family had adopted him and those that had thought to had changed their minds after learning of his origin; it seemed that no one adopting wanted to deal with the trauma that came with watching a psychopath murdering your family. So Caelum had spent most of his childhood moving from foster home to foster home, never staying long enough to settle in or make any friends. Finally, at the age of thirteen, he’d gotten tired of it and had booked it with everything that he owned. It was obvious that he was a runaway and the local police that of the city he’d been living in hadn’t looked all that hard for him so he’d been on the road every since.

If he was ordinary, he probably would have given up during his first few months alone, like the police had probably expected him to but he wasn’t and with a little extra help from skills that his parents had taught him, Caelum had managed to survive on his own for the last four and a half years. However, every once in a while, he’d stumble upon a town that wasn’t nearly as welcoming as it could be.

Like now for instance.

“You’re looking down, boy.” Caelum jerked in surprise at the female voice that came from behind him. Dread pooling in the pit of his stomach, he turned around to find that the same Witch from the diner was standing behind him, smirking rather wickedly. ‘Of course she followed me,’ he thought with a grimace. He should have predicted that, to tell the truth and he’d still made the stupid mistake in letting himself get caught up in the past.

“Now, now, little boy,” the Witch cooed at him. “You’re hurting my feelings, looking at me like that. Someone might think that you’re not happy to see me!” She took a menacing step forward, brown eyes glinting darkly against her pale skin. “And we wouldn’t want that, would we?”

Caelum’s own blue eyes darted around in search of an escape route but the alley only went two ways and the Witch wouldn’t hesitate to attack him if he tried to turn and run. As if reading his mind, she grinned widely and pushed his brown bangs from her eyes. “So you realize the predicament that you’re in? Run and die, stay and die, not much of a choice is it?” Her fingers went to play with the hem of her shirt and Caelum grimaced at the flash of decaying skin that showed itself as the shirt was adjusted. He was definitely in trouble if he was right about what that decay meant.

“You’re doing well for someone with a sun allergy,” he said with more bravado than he was feeling. “Shouldn’t you be inside? I’m sure that the sun must be agony on your frail skin.”

The Witch huffed at him, her smile falling just enough for him to know that he’d struck a chord. The glint in her eyes increased and Caelum was suddenly worried that she was less stable than he’d assumed.

“That’s what I hate about you goody-two-shoes,” the Witch began condescendingly. “You don’t know how to quit when you’re down. Can’t you just accept your fate and come quietly? I would so appreciate it.”

Caelum didn’t even pause to think about it. “Not on your life.” An idea flashed into his head and he fought back a relieved laugh. His timing would need to be perfect but it was better than standing here and dying.

The witch…no, vampire laughed, head thrown back in a rather cliché way. “Well, I guess I’ll have to do this the fun way.” She had barely finished her sentence when she lunged at him, knife materializing from her jacket sleeve.

Caelum stood his ground, counting the seconds of her approach in his head. Five…four…three…two…NOW! He threw himself to the side just before the knife could pierce his neck and the Vampire fumbled as she fought to regain her balance. Caelum didn’t wait for that to happen, already disappearing down the path of that he’d come from. The sun was shining brightly and while it wouldn’t kill her, she’d be slowed down and burned something fierce, giving him the time that he’d need to make his escape.

Bursting from the shadows, Caelum made sure to keep himself to the middle of the street to avoid any of the shadowed areas of the sidewalks. Being in a small town was convenient in that the traffic was virtually nonexistent in nature and he could run unobstructed. The angered scream of the Vampire behind him let him know that she knew what he was doing and didn’t appreciate his efforts. Frankly, Caelum didn’t give a damn and soon enough, he was beyond the boundaries of the town.

Closing his eyes as he ran, Caelum focused his mind on his inner power, searching for that spark of instinct that was always present in his thoughts and forced it into full bloom as he ran. The energy he was gather rippled off of him in waves and were there was once a boy running was a nearly full grown wolf.

With a graceful jump of glee Caelum allowed his instincts to take over, secure in the knowledge that he was safe once more.

Born to Alice and Hester Fervens, Caelum was raised in a family of Wiccans and even after the death of his parents Caelum had continued practicing the Magical Arts using the Grimoire that he had taken from their room before the state had put him in the foster system. The rest of their things were sitting in a warehouse that he would gain access to when he was eighteen so Caelum had been forced to make do with the Grimoire. He was just lucky that his parents had enough in their savings to cover the costs of storing it for so long. He didn’t want to think about what he would have done if there hadn’t been any place to keep their personal belongings after they had died.

It had taken him months to figure out how to unlock the book but once he had, Caelum found that the effort had been worth it. The book, while small in appearance, was a wealth of knowledge that his parents had gathered during their lives and using the knowledge contained inside, the black haired teen had managed to teach himself the basics of his heritage. His transformation into a wolf was a perk of being a Primary Spirit user and it had saved more than a few times. Although this was the first time that he’d used it to escape a newly made vampire. Really, it was surprising that she’d even been able to handle being out in daylight still. He doubted that if it had been any less cloudy (a hazard of being a rainy day) that she’d have been outside at all.

Caelum grinned as he took out a small lock pick and began working on the padlock of a trailer that was sitting in the back of what looked to be a deserted house. Usually he would have gone for the house yet he couldn’t be sure that it was empty or that the owners wouldn’t show up unexpectedly and he hadn’t had time to case the place beforehand to find out. The trailer would have to do for now and he was just grateful that it wasn’t cold out.

He was miles away from the town that hosted the female Vampire and it had been a stroke of luck that he’d found this place. He had fully expected to have to sleep outside in the woods tonight and pleased didn’t even begin to describe his feelings of not having to sleep outside on the hard ground. While it wasn’t cold, being in the middle of summer, sleeping outside wasn’t the best of plans if he wanted to make it to the Vermont border by tomorrow night (the state that is was currently in according to the plates on the back of the trailer).

The trailer was in good condition and it looked bigger on the inside than the outside had alluded to, which was common amongst most of the trailers that Caelum had come across during his time travelling. With what looked to be a working kitchen, a sitting area and a bedroom in back with a bathroom adjacent, Caelum was surprised that it could fit everything inside the seemingly small exterior. “Much better than sleeping outside,” he grinned, pleased by what he had found here. Turning and tugging the door of the trailer closed, he made his way to the bedroom and gracelessly flopped belly down on the rather soft bed. Shrugging off his backpack, he let it slide to the floor with a thump and curled himself onto the bed. “Best get some sleep before morning,” he mumbled into the mattress and allowed his eyes to slide close.

He was asleep in minutes.

It was to the sound of birds chirping that woke Caelum the next morning. Blinking with bleary eyes he frowned in confusion as to the trees and brush that he was surrounded with. A quick search let him know that everything he had was here, backpack lying not too far from where he was laying. There was an obvious, distinct lack of house and trailer, though, and that was something that he clearly remembered there being before. Caelum sat up, foreboding coursing through his alert mind. The birds chirped over head but there were no other sounds. No cars on the Highway that had been there the night before, no people, and no man-made objects as far as the eye could see.

“I don’t like this,” he hissed as he grabbed for his backpack. It would be best to get as far away from this area as possible in case whatever had displaced him showed itself. He had no way of knowing if whoever (whatever, his mind supplied) was friendly or if it was likely to attempt to eat him. On near death experience in two days was plenty enough for him.

Slipping the backpack onto his back, Caelum pushed himself up into a standing position. A cursory glance let him know that there wasn’t anyone in the immediate area and Caelum slowly walking in the direction he was facing. He had no way of knowing where he was or what way to go so he was going to have to do it the hard way.

Shoving his hands into his pockets, he pulled out a battered cell phone that he’d gotten a few years earlier. Flipping open the now rather outdated phone, he held it up. No signal. Figures. That would just be too much to hope for, wouldn’t it?

“Looks like I really will have to do this the hard way,” he grunted as he shoved the phone back into his pocket and began his trek into the inexplicable woods around him. It bothered him that he’d someone been moved during his sleep. Usually he was much more alert of his surroundings and to have a strange entity easily get passed him was dangerous and it could have been a lot worse than just ending up in a random bit of forest. Whoever it was could have just as easily killed him instead and that left a bad taste in his mouth.

There didn’t seem to be any life other than animals around him, as he couldn’t hear them tell tale since of cars or people in the distance. Actually, other than the sound of birds and the soft thudding of his shoes on the ground, Caelum couldn’t hear any sounds of life. It was odd, the unnatural quiet that was all around him. He could almost believe that he was in the middle of an uninhabited forest with no human life around for miles. As he’d been in the middle of the United States with no real large forest around for miles, Caelum found this thought more unsettling the longer he considered it.

The fact he couldn’t hear anything but birds also made him uncomfortable. His sense were on red alert and he had to fight the instinctual need to change into a more powerful and safer form, such as that of his spirit animal, the wolf. Usually he wouldn’t fight the urge and would already be running on all fours and yet, he couldn’t shake the feeling that it would be a mistake to change. He had no clue where he was, how he’d gotten there, or who had moved him in the first place. If he changed and this ended up being a trap, which granted, it probably was, then he could easily end up just as dead in that form as this one.

At least as a human he could use some magic. As a wolf, he’d be completely helpless if it came down to that. Fangs and claws weren’t all that useful against someone who could apparently transport you to another location without even stirring you from sleep. No, it was best to be on the safe side and keep things simple. Or at least as simple as waking up in a forest in the middle of nowhere could be.

Simple became a dream as Caelum stumbled as his foot caught in a hole, only to look back up and find himself back inside the camper he’d fallen asleep in the night before, his backpack still strapped on his back the only indication that he hadn’t dreamed the whole strange event. Looking around in astonishment, Caelum could only say one thing.

“What the hell?”

That had been close, Caelum thought to himself as he kept quiet, hidden in the bushes and trees of the surrounding wilderness. The police wouldn’t come looking for him until at least tomorrow and his foster parents were unlikely to look for him themselves after their failed attempt to use him in their ritual.

‘I just keep getting the good ones, don’t I?’ Caelum thought sourly. The last foster family he’d had was part of a freaking satanic cult and it was only luck that there weren’t any true witches amongst the members. Really, he would be better off in a group home than another foster family at this rate. If the satanic cult hadn’t been enough, this time they’d actually given him to real witches! Ones who just tried to use him in some sort of sacrificial ritual that would use his death to help them conceive their own child. It was a considerably dark ritual and Caelum was just glad that he hadn’t gone to bed yet when they’d begun setting up for it. Otherwise he probably wouldn’t have noticed what they were doing in time to take his stuff and make a run for it.

Dying via ritual wasn’t something that he wanted to do and if he had to sleep on the ground in the rain to prevent it, that so help him he would!

He’d be damned, most likely literally, if he was going to chance going to another foster home filled with psychopaths. He’d given the system multiple chances to get it right and they weren’t getting another one. Caelum was officially becoming a run away and strangely, he had never felt freer in his life.

Now, to see if he still had enough time to catch the bus out of town. Caelum wasn’t exactly sure where the buses destination was but seeing as he was currently in California, there was a good chance he’d end up in a town or city that he recognized just from watching the television. Oh the joys of living in a celebrity filled state. Nearly everyone ended up on television if they had any notoriety at all.

Sneaking onto the bus wasn’t all that hard. All he’d had to do was pull the hood of his jacket over his face and drop in the spare change he’d been saving and no one thought to question his presence. They would like forget about him by the time he got off and this bus went through so many routes that even if they did remember him they wouldn’t remember which stop was his.

He had been considering running away for nearly his entire stay in the foster system. He had planned it out so many different time, had some many different plans on what he would do, and it was daunting yet exhilarating to finally doing it. His bag was snug against his back with a stolen wad of cash in his pocket, taken from the purse and wallet of the psychopath’s he was running from, the bus he was on already driving away from the station.

Caelum grinned brightly, brining out a battered book from his bag to begin reading. Without someone watching over him constantly, it would be far easier for him to really begin his lessons in magic. He was determined to learn everything he possibly could from the small book that he’d taken from his dead parent’s bedroom, just hours after their murder.

‘Divining Your Talents,’ he read to himself silently, drowning out the world around him as he read. He didn’t worry about where he would go once the bus stopped and certainly didn’t worry about the dangers that could lay ahead for him. At thirteen years old, Caelum could be forgiven for not having all the answers.

All he cared about was that he was finally, free.

And there was no way that he was ever going back.

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