Changed - A Lysander Corvax Tale

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Summary

His peace in the urban Northside of Brisbane now in tatters Lysander a powerful human caster with a long and ruined history must find out who is out to get him and why. A world where magic both exists and is an active entity in the universe is a world where anything can happen no matter how bizarre or dangerous. It is a world where humans can cast spells and crow spirits run wild making back alley deals and using unsuspecting fools. Lysander Corvax, known simply as 'Xander' to his friends has been living quietly with his best friend Darren the Troll, his best friends human girlfriend and a menagerie of spirits and native folk from the fabled land of Australia. Now this peace is broken and forces begin to move Lysander into a situations which suit their own purposes for the young caster. With Darren at hi side and dubious allies assisting him, Lysander will have to discover the truth of who is coming all the way down under for him and what do they want. Will it be in his best interests or will he simply be yet another disposable pawn in a far grander game being played beyond his reach. Either way his peace and quiet as a suburban apothecary is now over, his life has forever been 'Changed'. .

Genre:
Fantasy / Drama
Author:
Alexander Corvax
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
10
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Chapter 1

People seem to have this idea about Australia being sunny with most days being so hot you could die of heatstroke if you stayed out too long. Well, that is wrong, especially during the summer which can have dark depressing days where the clouds piss out rain as hard as they can. Today was one of those days which were common around the January February time of summer. And yes, here in Australia our summer is from December to February. Where many nations north of the equator have cold weather and snow storms, here we get pelting rain and sticky humid days that drains the life out of you unless you have air conditioning.

Where was I going with this you might be asking? Well it is February and it is pissing with rain outside and it is sticky and hot in my house. I say my house, I am renting it out with a mate of mine, but that is hardly the point. My name is Lysander Corvax, or Xander to those who I consider close, which sad to say are few and far between. I have been living in this hot humid region of Queensland Australia for a good few years now. You get used to it, the ants, the cockroaches, the spiders. Oh, and the Aberrants and other magical folk. Yes, all of those I might say are quite terrible to deal with but hey, such is my life. They are all dangerous and freaky or just plain icky in their own ways. With my least favourite being Aberrants. Though cockroaches come in a close second, you know because they are so gross. Euuuuugh.

Anyway, you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this, well no particular reason really. You see I am considered by most people to be pretty odd, not just odd as in a socially awkward introvert (which by the way I am). But also because I am really odd, I make people feel uneasy most the time. Which sucks really, I quite like talking but with most people I just never seem to say the right things at the right time. Or I come across as awkward and creepy, so that means I have a very short friends list. That (though making me feel somewhat less appreciated) is good for a few reasons. Mainly due to the fact that (unlike 99% of people), I have to deal with magic, and all the horrific and otherworldly things which entails that.

Magic in case I forgot to bring that up (If so sorry, I often let details slip when I am thinking), is a universal force or constant. Like gravity accept it is alive, sort of it has plans and powers and it cannot as far as I know be destroyed, and it has always existed in our universe along with plasma. Now you may rightfully say well then what is so special about it? Gravity and plasma do nothing special to our lives. I would argue against that but hey, to each their own stupid opinions. Magic is different from these other universal forces due to its own self awareness and sentience. Part of the kicker of having this, is that it can be active and do things such as interact with earth and its inhabitants.

Like for right now, one such way it does this is by imbuing elements into plant and animal life, thus creating things we in the know call ’Magical Creatures or ‘Aberrants’. They can be in all sorts of shapes and forms, like giant evil looking eagles with acid breath, fish larger then a boat who swallow men whole. Or they can be messed up dogs with spines coming out of their burning black skin, and super creepy red eyes. Pretty freaky in of itself, but absolute bloody nightmare material when this twisted hellhound, happens to be in the middle of your one storey urban house digging it claws into your sofa.

All of these thoughts and more were going through my head as I tried to take this all in and remain calm. “I am not having a good daayy” I said quite unintentionally out loud. Oh well another thing to regret. If I survived the next minute or so. And by the looks of the aberrant dog in front of me that was about as likely as hell freezing over and becoming Lapland. Shit. I tensed slightly building up power, tapping into my arcane reserves my fingers tingling with the raw power of it. As if sensing the magic, which in all fairness it probably could, the hell hound snarled, hunching forward before using its powerful back legs to propel itself of my sofa and directly at my beautiful face.

My paranoid instincts saved me once again, as I ducked and rolled to the left side as it powerful vice like jaws came snapping closed, right where my head was moments before. With only literal moment s to spare I focussed my will and through my outreached right hand unleashed a blast of bluish energy at the hell hound hoping to send it flying and buying myself more time. Well, I got the first one right. The hell hound found itself knocked back across the room to smack hard into the plastered wall. The hellhound however, seemed about as phased by this as I would be being smacked in the face, it hurts but does not stop you from moving. I kept my eyes fixed on the creature as I drew deeper into my arcane reserves arms now bathed almost in magical energies. Before I could release those energies however the hell hound took another try at my face, dashing from the floor to where I stood faster than I thought possible it attempted to bite into me.

Swearing profusely under my breath, I again moved aside, unfortunately for my right shoulder not quite fast enough. Searing, horrific pain exploded into my shoulder as the hell hounds burning fangs tore into flesh, muscle and bone, knocking me to the ground with its momentum. It was all I could do to not cry out in agony as I aimed my left hand at the hell hound projecting power and destruction into my thoughts and unleashing built up magic in a wave of blue energy. Fortunately for me the hell hound was still having the time of its abberant life tearing out my shoulder to be aware of the attack until it hit. Causing an oh so satisfying yelp from the hell hound, blueish energy engulfed the ghastly creature and swiftly began to disintegrate it into tiny little particles. Snarling and yelping it tried to do the duck drop and roll manoeuvre to no avail as bit by painful bit my magic turned it to ash. In its death throes the hell hound had the gall to knock over my nice oaken dining table spilling over the well kept fruit bowl and book pile in the process before it unleashed a final strangled howl and ceasing to exist.

Feeling its energy fade and its body turn to ash which in turn continued to burn into nothingness, I let out a sighed breath of relief. ‘Xander 4, evil aberrants 0’, I boasted though still bleeding out nastily all over my nice tiled floor. Another victory I was still alive, in horrible pain with a ruined shoulder but alive. Apparently hell can freeze over into Lapland, wouldn’t that be a sight. Still I was not liking how a hell hound had managed to find its way into my boring one storey house in the middle of suburban Queensland. I mean, the only reason I even came to this country was because there were only two other people like myself and they were both in Broome. Which fortunately is on the other side of the continent, which did not mean they could not be aware of me by any means. I just do not think that if they wanted me gone that they would suddenly act now, meaning it had to be someone else. Likely someone I’d pissed of back in the old world which in turn meant someone powerful with a lot of connections, ahh shit.

While I was bleeding out, pondering and trying to ignore the pain in my mangled shoulder when I heard somewhat in the background my front door being opened. Cursing my lack of focus to my wound I was preparing to unleash another torrent of magic until I saw a blissfully familiar figure walk into the ruined living room. He was roughly 6ft 4 inches in height or 193 cm, slightly tanned skin with a crop of lush dark brown hair a mess of chest hair barely hidden by his white shirt along with his ripped muscular chest and abdomen. A thick, heavy rain coat was worn over his broad shoulders with the hood now pulled down.

The small, dark, golden brown eyes normally alight with humour. Were now furrowed over in concern, anger and surprise as they surveyed the messed up room, coming to a stop on my bleeding form. I tried a weak smile at him as he stood there eyes wide at me, “Darren, good to see you home mate. Now don’t get mad but a hell hound kind of trashed the place. Don’t worry I will clean it up. Um, could, could you maybe grab some of the stronger healing tonics first please”. I tried to make it sound like I had simply held a messy party here treating it like a mild inconvenience. Darren was not amused but saved his questions to go and grab one of my stronger healing tonics.

I managed another smile at that fact as he marched of to my study room. Good old Darren that is why he is my mate, he puts up with my antics and deals with most given situations in a calm manner, saving the questions and freak outs for afterwards. I cannot help but remember how Darren has always been there ever since I came to this massive, and mostly empty nation. He asked only a few questions about my background, which I greatly appreciated and when I eventually earned his trust he agreed to share the rent with me for a nice house in suburbia. Ever since then we had been close friends doing each other favours, helping one another in a good variety of situations. I’d even been his wingman when he had met his current girlfriend Camilla upon reflection. Darren was good at talking to men but initially had been terrible at any interactions with the opposite gender.

I could relate to that, rarely had my interactions with women ended particularly well or even cordially. Footsteps made me lift my head up a few degrees as Darren walked back in with a mountain climbing water bottle. I noted that he had removed the heavy roan coat, either folding it up neatly or dumping it if he had too. He kneeled in front of me, unscrewing the cap. “Try not to choke on this please, I’d rather not have to perform CPR on you Xander” Darren bluntly requested as I opened my mouth to allow the potent liquid to pour down my throat. This water bottle was not filled with nay water, far from it. It was filled with a potent tonic partially of my own make, partially made from extensive research on healing potions and medicinal herbs. And while it tasted like moss and other such rancid fungi, I knew from experience that it would heal my ruined shoulder back to 100%. Of course the healing process always hurt, always and left me drained in the process. But hey it meant I could survive and heal from usually fatal or permanent injuries.

As a minute ticked by Darren got up and began to clean up after the hell hounds mess in our living room. Using his immense strength, he easily lifted up the overturned table setting it right, and proceeded to gingerly pick up the knocked over fruit and bowl. I was grateful for this, as I did not want him to see me writhe in pain as the tonic’s healing properties were starting to settle in. I winced, shutting my eyes firmly as the familiar burning, spine crawling sensation spread across my entire right shoulder. It was about as painful or at least close to the pain of the wound, except I could feel the skin and muscles re knitting and the bones calcifying over the puncture wounds. Tears stung my eyes as I endured this intense healing process with as much stoicism and dignity as I could muster, though I was fairly certain I released at least one painful murmur or cry.

If I did Darren did a stand up job ignoring it as he inspected the dent in the wall made by the hell hound when I’d blasted the bugger into it. He seemed rightfully irritated and worried by what this situation meant, for both of us. I wondered what gears were turning in his head, and exactly what questions were going in his head. To my surprise he asked a very different question to what I was expecting, “Do you want to repair the sofa or buy a new one. I think the creature that left claw marks in it did not damage it too badly considering”. A wicked grin crept over my face as I trailed and failed to stifle a chuckle, which hurt more then I would have liked as my shoulder was finishing up the healing process.

“Glad to see you still have those priorities straight my friend. I was starting to worry that you were taking this too seriously” I said in my least sarcastic voice possible to try and mess with him.

Darren snorted derisively, “You will heal within another minute or so. Besides I am serious in part. I like that leather sofa, as do you. I mean you are the one who spent $400 on the damn thing in the first place”.

“That is because I have style, and leather sofas are comfortable as shit Darren, or you would not have been so eager to let me buy the ‘damn thing’ when I told you about it”. I replied just as seriously that time, but still thought that this line of conversation was rather amusing considering what had only occurred a few minutes ago.

“I suppose you do have some sense of style, in sofas anyway. Still your taste in clothing is pretty miserable, and you’re still a cocky arse Lysander”.

Uh oh, he was calling my Lysander he only did that when he was particularly anxious, or angry at me or at a situation. I took a few seconds to collect my thoughts before responding in a more tactful fashion. “Darren, thank you for giving me the tonic. And in all fairness yes I do want to repair the sofa. And as for this whole mess, that is on me. It was a hell hound, before you ask. Seems someone in the old world finally found out I have been hiding out here somehow”.

Darren sat down on the said leather sofa and rested his elbow on the side so his chin rested atop his left hand. “How do you know that anyone sent it. It, well could it not have been a lucky attack by a wild aberrant on our house? Maybe it was simply drawn here by the magical auras and wards we placed.” Darren said this in a tone that said he truly wanted this to be the case and sincerely doubted it to be the truth.

I hated to be the one to destroy what little hope he had of that, but I knew him too well and owed him too much to lie to him about the situation we were in. This was serious, and there was not time to soften the blow, not now. “Sorry mate, aberrants don’t work like that. Not even the hunting types like hell hounds. And we both know that merely having wards and magic surrounding our house like this would not have made it break into our home. Which by the way, it seemed to manage without breaking any windows or doors and even through our wards meant to prevent anyone else’s magic from being used here”.

With that pain full revelation Darren lost all sense of calm in his features, and he visibly tensed up. His face now filled with worry and his brows furrowed to such an extent that one could plant a field of crops in them if they tried. I regretted telling him that almost immediately but I simply could not lie to him. Sighing I gingerly lay against the opposite end of the sofa, giving my right shoulder time to heal over more and to give my back support.

Closing my eyes, I informed Darren of what my thoughts on the matter were. “Look Darren, this seems bad, and it is, but I will start looking in on it as soon as my shoulder stops feeling so stiff. Then I can start sorting through this, and see if it can be resolved before more shit gets thrown at us, as it were”.

I could feel Darren’ s gaze on me as he spoke up, voice breaking slightly with worry and pent up emotion. “Yes but what does this mean Xander. An aberrant found its way into our house and tried to kill you. Shit it could have succeeded if you were not so damn quick on the draw as you are. What if whoever coughed it up and sent it our way sends a whole pack of them, or worse next time. Would we have to leave? Abandon what we have here, and Camilla is Camilla safe?”.

I opened my eyes to look into my friends pleading gaze, I could feel his anger, his worry for Camilla and feelings toward his overall lack of control over the situation. That I could understand, and he was right to worry about Camilla, if whoever was behind this knew how to get past my defences here, then maybe they knew about Camilla. I did not like that thought, hell it made me furious as well that the sanctity and security of my own home has been violated. But I could not focus on that too much now. I would rage and curse later, now I had to plan and gather information. It has saved me in the past and would be a boon in the days to come I was certain.

“We can keep her safe, or at least relatively safe mate. Look I am going to clean up, then head out to the Grove to get some leads or at least an idea of what is going on in the old world. It may get us nowhere, but have to do something. Call Camilla, see if she is okay and later you can head to her house if you really want to”. I said this as much to myself as to Darren, helps to say some things aloud to help plan your next few moves.

Darren nodded slowly in agreement, leaning back into the sofa to get his composure back and shake of some of the tension built up in his body. While he continued to de stress, I finally got up testing out my shoulder, finding it to be merely somewhat stiff and sore but knew soon enough that too would wear off. Breathing out heavily I cleared my head and headed straight to the bathroom to clean off the dry blood and sweat that I had collected.

Opening the door to my small but cosy bathroom reminded me why I liked living here, and how enraging it was that my semblance of tranquillity and sanctity here had been shattered. Someone somewhere from the old world had a lot to answer for in my books. Whatever they hoped to achieve by this, I hoped that by killing the hell hound I had thwarted their goals. However, I sincerely doubted this in reality. I am far to paranoid and cynical to believe that this was anything more than a test to see who or what I was. By killing the hell hound, I had probably alerted whoever sent it that I had some magical talent, and at the very least was quick on my feet.

Taking my mangled shirt of I tossed it into the nearby bin thinking to properly dispose of it later, destroying evidence of what had occurred only minutes ago. I rubbed my palms across my face roughly to try and get my bearings as I turned on the sink. Soon warm water was pouring into the drain and I was scooping it up, splashing the increasingly warm water across my shoulder. It felt soothing in its own way, clearing away the evidence of the attack and easing some of the tension I had built up to this point. When I was done I grabbed a nearby towel on the railing to dry my thin upper body.

I would not be considered much to look at physically, I was approximately 183 cm in height or 6.003 feet with a hair covered gut and flat bony chest. My legs are long and unshaven as even if I cared about what my legs looked like, I forgot to look at them frequently due to my penchant for wearing long trousers and jeans. I did this even in the summer which sometimes got me odd looks considering it can be sweltering hot and humid on Australian summers. My long thin arms and thin fingers would make some people assume I was starting to become anorexic, though I have simply always been this way. With no real muscle mass I would probably be knocked over easily by enough mass or a blast of power when I was not trying to centre my gravity.

Looking into my mirror I saw that steam from the hot water that was still pouring out had caused the it to fog over. Turning of the tap finally I wiped my right hand vigorously across the surface to clear the reflection. “Here is the handsome devil. Though maybe he could use a shave”. I spoke aloud, as I often do to my reflection. It’s not narcissism, I don’t care people say. It’s not, I swear. Merely a penchant I have picked up over the years due to lack of company, boredom, loneliness and my weird sense of humour. Looking at my reflection who stared with a fatigued half amused look back at me, was an enlightening experience as it made me seriously look at myself. Rare is the time when I look at my actual face in the mirror, but this was one of those times. One of the reminders as to why suddenly came forth a memory I worked hard to keep back. A dark room, screams, the rush of power, pairs of smiling approving faces.

I looked away from the mirror, gasping in exertion, exhilaration. Memories, biting nasty things in my experience tended to have that effect on me. I had not truly thought back to that life in almost half a year. Somehow it always comes back, it and the baggage it carries with it. Breathing out slowly then in, using the breathing techniques Darren’s girlfriend Camilla had shown me I got myself back in control. As I was trying to calm my nerve wracked body, I suddenly felt a distant presence, soothing calm and infinitely kind. My breathing became less ragged the gaping wounds in my soul felt reprieved and tended to as a warmth filled my being.

I turned to look behind me but despite the feeling I was having there was no one there. I did not sense any magic at work either so this was not some secret strange. ploy on me either. Great now I was going insane to. At least going insane allowed me to feel comfortable for the first time in years. The memory faded, and I could think properly again, and forget at least for a time what came before. Breathing in and out steadily as the comforting presence left I eventually pushed down the feelings that had climbed their way to the surface and lifted my head up to face the mirror again.

My lean face stared back with a seemingly perpetual shade of red on my nose, perhaps caused by sunburn. A short, bony chin poked out from my head covered in a dark mess of facial hair some might call a cross between a goatee and a neck beard, as it stretched across down under my jaw to my neck line. A wispy moustache was painted over my top lip in a mockery of true facial hair and my cheeks were warmed by a fuzzy pair of dark brown mutton chops which did not quite meet my neck beard to form one coherent whole. My head itself was clothed in a short receding hair line with the same dark brown of my facial hair. With my facial hair I am told I look like a 26 year old Caucasian student who cannot afford to pay his loans. Without my mutton chops and neck beard I am told I look to be more around 23 or so.

In both cases people at wrong, at 44 (I know don’t I age well) I am not much to behold but I am roughly proud of what I look like. Finally turning away from the mostly defogged mirror, I head to grab a fresh shirt and pair of trousers. While I did so I heard various noises from the kitchen and living room. Hmm, probably Darren though just to be safe better clarify. I said this to myself in the hopes of not trying to sound as paranoid as I know myself to be. Because as many a man with my skills and knowledge can attest to, being constantly worried about attack or people in general, is really tiring and not at all fun. It takes a great deal of personal strength of will and commitment to remain on alert for days at a time, even suspecting the mail man as a potential threat as he whizzes by on his motorcycle to drop of my packages and letters.

As I tip toed out buttoning up one of my more formal short sleeved formal shirts a maroon theme littered with tiny triangles, I was surprised to hear Darren’s voice contending with a second more feminine one. It sounded as if Darren was losing better go help him out the hero that I am. My approach did not go unnoticed meaning I was not as stealthy as I thought myself to be (put that bit of information in my memory box for later). The source of the feminine voice turned and cast her curious, penetrating gaze at me, making me immediately wish I was still cleaning myself up as I recognised those eyes.

These particular dark blue eyes with a small hint of aqua green belonged to one Ines Renault a particularly nosey member of the community here who had made my tenure in this suburb to be increasingly hard to bear in a number of ways. She was nice enough (when she wanted to be), but came with a somewhat attitude problem born from being one of two children of a rich magically gifted family. She seemed entitled to my knowledge and to ask me any question about any topic. She may even have tried to challenge me, if I had not at one point (which I will not go into here, as it is rather embarrassing for all involved), defeated her father in a magical duel. It had been a small local event not meant to be seen or heard by outsiders, and fortunately for me the people here can be very loose lipped to outsiders so no word spread.

Suffice to say however it had given both Ines and her family a great insight into what I was and how powerful I seem to be. Since then I have been on cordial terms with the family and no mention of a duel has been spoken of since. It did however have the unfortunate side effect of making Ines and her family even more interested in me and far more inclined to turn up uninvited at the most inconvenient times.

There was also the problem that I found her to be attractive, painfully attractive despite her attitude issues. Her shoulder length black hair seemed well kept and hydrated to my eyes. Her skin was somewhat tanned but from the natural exposure to the sun not a tanning salon. Her eye lashes were naturally long even without extensions. Her plump lips were coated lightly in a dark pinkish coloured lipstick I thought and she had only a small amount of make up on over her cheeks and eye liner. Some sort of herbal or otherwise plant like perfume pervaded her neck and shoulders where the straps of her long bright blue dress hung on loosely. It was quite well made I thought, well from what I knew of clothes and tailoring anyway.

I always seemed to have other people to worry about that for me. She had a small rounded nose, a sort of heart shaped face which suited her head (trust me that is a compliment coming from me). Her dress fit her rather snugly going down a few inches below her knees, giving any passers by a close up view of her curved shapely backside. Her chest was, well also impressive, not overly plump nor small but enough cleavage was showing at the neck of her dress to give me many rather uncomfortable ideas. Um, I am not a pervert by the way I just notice these things a lot. Shut up, you cannot judge me. I scratched idly at my ring finger on my right hand whilst I took in her bodily and garment details. A large dark green umbrella was also folded up and held in one of her hands though it seemed unused and dry. (the rain must have stopped before her arrival, lucky duck).

On top of all of that I felt the presence of magic surrounding her, a part of her in a symbiotic relationship. I knew she could call the magic around her well enough and even use some of the magic within her as well. She was actually quite skilled for a magi caster of her age. Her parents and private tutors had done right by her. Of course, that did not stop her from regularly asking me for advice, pointers on how to wield magic. I felt her magic the energy around her. Before it arose I clamped down on the feeling slowly rising up within me hard. Doing so just as I came over towards both her and Darren.

As I stopped just at the kitchen entrance, I folded my arms and took in the scene before me. Darren was on edge backed somewhat into a corner, and Ines had her hands out, one carrying a small metal rod. Both looked like they had been in some sort of argument and somewhat on edge in the case of Ines. Sighing I rubbed my hand over my chin, hairs and all before finally speaking up. “Soooo, Ines glad that you could appear uninvited again. That is really a wonderful habit, did your father teach you it or is it something you picked up at boarding school”.

Now that struck a nerve, Ines seemed to sit up straighter the second she heard me say ‘boarding’ and her body language became even more withdrawn and aloof. Crossing her arms over coolly she turned her head back away from me. “Aleksander, I assure you this is most necessary. And besides your front door was ajar and I thought it curious as to why that would be. If it please you my father has invited you to dinner tonight at 8 o’ clock tonight. Though you may have ... pressing matters to attend to for this afternoon. I can assure you that this dinner will be of great interest and importance.”

I smiled at her as she addressed me by my adopted name in my most cocky and upstart manner in response. “Important, truly? Well golly Ines don’t I feel like the bell of the ball. Should I set up into that dress I had made for such formal events or would you prefer a tux?”

Ines turned back to me, her facial expression turning to one of open disgust now. “Please enough with the jesting Aleksander, this dinner is formal yes but my father is hosting it for some of the most influential members of the Magi community. Surely even you can see the benefit of attending such an event. A man with your talent and power could garner quite some attentions and potential allies or sway in the community this way.”

Now that peeked my interest, after what had occurred today the thought of having some sway or even an alliance with influential parties of the magi community here could well help me find some answers. Or even some protection if the need arose, though if the ones behind this were like me then magic protection and alliances may not be enough to prevent my death. I also found it interesting that this offer came within hours of an attempt on my life by an aberrant, which was almost certainly controlled by a magic user. Mulling this over in my head I chose my response carefully.

“It would seem that you offer has peeked my interest somewhat. Hmm do inform your father that it is highly likely that I will attend such an event at the prescribed time. But that I give no absolute assurance to by acceptance or denial to such an offer.”

Ines pursed her lip glossed smooth lips together in such a way that I found to be frighteningly distracting but also knew to be her way of pondering received information. “Very well then. I shall convey your message to my father. DO know that he most certainly hopes for your participation in this dinner. He firmly believes it will be of great use to both yourself and our family”.

‘I bet, but that is partially why I am being cautious love’. I thought quite rudely to myself not letting the thoughts become words in my mouth which could betray my true feelings on the matter. With that she nodded curtly at me, completely ignored Darren and strode in her red heeled shoes to my door. From there I caught a glimpse of her rather expensive looking Lexus painted as red as her shoes, before she closed my door behind her blocking my view of the outside. As I turned to the kitchen again, Darren visibly relaxed with Ines gone. He had never liked her, nor she him for that matter. Ines never understood why I was friends with Darren, and Darren for his part could never understand why I put up with her and her family. Partially I did so because she was harmless, especially within my home, my wards saw to that. Partially because I wished to remain at least on cordial terms with her family who had in the past been useful for supplying me with various ingredients and books for my studies and poultices.

Also in part because magically they were no real threat to me that duel; with her father had proven that. He was a well trained and disciplined Magi with a well crafted focus, however as I demonstrated with the hell hound I need no focus for magic. This gave me an immediate advantage to many casters who need to use words and physical focuses or foci to control the magic around them and within themselves. This over time could become easier and some of the oldest and most skilled magi required only words to control and use magic.

It would irk many of them as I know it did for the Renault family that I was born not requiring any sort of focus to use magic. Hence when I duelled with Bartholomew Renault the father of the family, I had been ‘quick on the draw’ as Darren would say and knocked him down hard before he could get more than half a word out. It did not last long after this, as I simply continued to keep him pinned and unable to focus with small blasts of energy to keep in pain or otherwise discomfort. Magic can be used for all kinds of things, but for me knocking people onto their arses is what I prefer to use it for. In the case of the Renault patriarch, my style was too much for him after barely one and a half minutes. This in all fairness could be worse. Though it did not do much to undo the wounds I had done to his ego that was for sure.

It had unfortunately given him and his family great insight into my nature and since then had been more then generous in aiding me with supplies I requested of them. Looking at the digital clock on my microwave I saw it was twenty past twelve pm and realised I needed to get going if I wanted to make my stop, get some info and be back with time to spare before the dinner at the Renault estate. I grabbed on switched of mobile (I tend to keep it off or on silent) my wallet and a few items of more arcane nature before starting to head out. “I will be back by six Darren. Until then check in on Camilla, and try to find out some things your end. I am going to check out some potential sources at the grove”.

Darren nodded in affirmation and pulled his own mobile out to call Camilla I assumed. Locking my front door behind me I stepped out into the humid, bright street of suburban Queensland. It was pretty sunny this time of the year with barely a cloud in the sky, though I felt it in my bones that the weather would change by nightfall. “Best get to it Xander, sooner the better” I needlessly stated to myself. I really need to stop stating the bleeding obvious out loud; people will start to think that I am crazy. They may even be right, now that I think of it.

With those riveting thoughts in my head I grabbed a relatively small clockwork device from my left trouser pocket and placed it into my open hand. It was a shiny bronze sphere with clockwork wheels inside once the casing was removed. The series of cogs and wheels inside forming the spherical shape the case was designed to cover would seem redundant to most folk. To me however it was an incredibly useful tool of trade and travel. Without it I would be using far more money and magic to transport myself then I would otherwise not use.

Turning away from my house I began to walk at an evenly pace to the park a relatively short distance from my street. It was not an overly large park, but it was empty enough to be useful for when people such as myself needed swift transport. You may be thinking, why would I need to go so far to use such a device. Why can I not use it in my own house? And those are excellent questions, and they come with quite simple answers. Mainly I do not want some person peeping out there window to see me vanish in a sphere of golden light, as that breaks some old laws and taboos of showing the normal mundane folk what we can do. Secondly the wards Darren and I placed on our house make it harder for magical and otherwise arcane devices to work in our house. Even the devices that we own and use, for you see it takes time to adjust wards to one’s personal needs which applies to people with my skill set and Darren’s knowledge of wards and exotic magical devices.

Third and finally, despite the nature of the device I now carried in my left hand there are many ways to follow or track its magical presence even by the casters and magical creatures in this part of the world. It is far safer to walk even just several minutes away to sue such devices as that make it significantly less likely that you can be traced. It is still possible, as I currently assume that is how the hell hound was sent to my house in the first place.

Although exactly how it had entered my home at all was still baffling to me. It spoke of someone with a lot of knowhow onwards, who knew where I was and was likely a heavy hitter or someone who worked for a heavy hitter in the old world. The Old World being Europe, The Middle East and Asia where most Magi and other magical folk originated from. My kind as well, which is partially why I am in this country to begin with.

Most casters and other higher end magical folk do not like change very much, especially when it seems to be going against them. They stick to what they know and like. Hence why they tended to stay where they were born, though many of the lesser magical folk left, due to the growing human population, persecution from casters and eagerness to explore the rest of the world. Hence why despite or maybe because of its lower than usual human population, Australia happened to house a considerable magical population as well, sporting many dozens of communities of various groups, races and outcasts.

I would be among the outcast group, for the most part despite the more recent interest of certain groups in my person. My lack of care for the community’s politics and intrigue made me out of the loop a lot but it meant I was often left alone. Besides, I paid for my ingredients and other magical needs on time, no fuss. I did not stir up trouble and bothered few people. I would have thought that would have been enough to keep me safe. Apparently I was wrong.

The park now in sight I tried to quicken my pace without looking too obvious about it, heading towards the few trees the park provided. I carefully felt around before entering the park, feeling around as far as my reach allowed to feel for any traces of unfamiliar magic or energies. Feeling nothing out of the ordinary I as a precaution also activated my Arcasihtō (Latin and West Germanic for arcane sight). Suddenly my vision seemed to twist and I saw the strands of magic naturally connected to all things, the earth, the trees, the sky. I saw a magical impression left by an earlier warding stunt of Darren’s still leaving paint traces around the park. But again nothing out of the ordinary.

I should mention that my Arcasihtō was a gift I was born with; first time I accidentally activated and saw the magical strands everywhere it scared the living shite out of me. I thought I was going insane, having a break down. It led to my parents later having me checked for mental illness, much to their distress. Pain came with that memory, always pain. I bit my tongue deliberately and closed of those memories keeping my sight looking in all directions just to be safe. My sight was useful like that gave me an advantage when looking to see where magic is concentrated, how someone or something is using it. And sometimes in a fight how to manipulate it to my advantage. I was hoping I did not have another fight any time soon.

Speed walking over the dead bark and grass which was quite sodden and muddy due to the heavy rainfall. It carried with it that lingering earthy smell that always sits in the air and dirt after rain (Petrichor I think it is called). I took out my Dimetirimancy clockwork device. I use this device to transport myself to a location I can picture clearly in my mind and have the clear intent to go there. That is how most of these devices work. They are quite handy that way and expensive to boot. But I knew a guy, who knew a guy who killed a guy thus I got it for slightly cheaper.

Still it is a useful focus of Dimetirimancy or dimensional magic, which I myself have little experience or skill at using. Now in my hand I tweaked one of the cog wheels on the outside of the spherical golden orb and firmly and clearly pictured the location I needed to go. I focussed my will, gathered a healthy dollop of power and gave it a light push and then I felt the energy encircle me completely and a bright golden light burst into life.

I felt a slight twisting in my gut and legs, like I was falling in a dream, before the feeling stopped abruptly. The light and energy faded soon afterwards but it still took about a minute for my eyes and body to adjust to feeling without the energy. Taking a few careful glances around I knew that it had worked and was at the spot. I felt some of the tension which had been building up release somewhat as I took in the familiar entrance and sign to my favourite pub and information broking hub. Taking in the thick dark, oaken door, the old fashioned sign of a group of white trees with entwined branches and roots with the words “The Grove” carved in the centre. Smelling hot, food, alcohol and piss I smiled to myself, enjoying the familiar smells and sights before walking to the entrance.

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