An old enemy remembered…
Back in Natalie’s bedroom Draco looked somewhat surprised while Natalie looked simply shocked.
“Wait! What? What demon Joe?” She demanded.
“Draco told me a story, the first day he arrived, after I did my first spell. He told me about the six schools of magic and whether I wanted to specialise in any single school. Then he told me about the Great Magus…”
“And who is the Great Magus?” Natalie drew her head back looking at Joe sternly.
“He was the most naturally gifted magic user the world had ever seen miss Natalie.” Draco said quietly, she turned to face him. “All of the heads of the six schools bowed to his superiority when it came to magic. The odd thing is he just sort of appeared one day, it wasn’t a natural development from a student. As a single wizard he could do spells and perform feats no other could or would dare to attempt.”
“I see sounds like a powerful man.”
“Nat let him finish. Go on Draco…”
“A very powerful man indeed miss Natalie. When you consider the others were all the very best at their chosen school. To be revered by them to such a degree was a high accolade indeed. The High Warlock of the Death magic school described the Great Magus as an inferno of magic, comparing the others like himself as a mere candle flame!” Draco paused, half hung his head, “The Great Magus discovered that a creature from the time before was loose in the universe but needed to know if he was a danger.”
“He was a demon doesn’t that make him dangerous?”
“Demon is just one name for him. He was an ancient God from the before.”
“Before? Before what?”
“Before your universe.”
“You mean there was something there before the big bang?”
“Whether you believe in a big bang or a God creator, yes there was something there before. A region of chaos and total darkness and the old ones ruled it.”
“The demons, as you would call them, some very powerful indeed. This one that the magus discovered was the only one of their kind in our universe, the others were…”
“Locked out. There is a magic barrier of pure mana that envelops the universe. It is unbreakable to these demons, they cannot break in.”
“But one inside could break out?”
“Nat please let him tell it…”
“I’m sorry Joe but I’ve got questions.”
“I don’t mind magus, miss Natalie should know the danger.”
“So there is danger?”
“Yes!” Draco spoke that word with such finality that Natalie paled and cuddled up closer to Joe, he wrapped his left arm around her waist protectively and pulled her even closer.
“You’d better tell us the whole story then Draco...” She said quietly resting her head gently on Joe’s shoulder. Joe was a little startled to feel her shaking in his arms.
Draco adjusted himself in the chair before sitting looking at the pair of them. “I told you on that first day magus.”
“Then tell me again…for Nat’s benefit.” Joe half turned to Nat, “no secrets” he said quietly and kissed her.
“Very well magus...” Draco’s tone dropped to a sonorous one, full of solemnity. “Your universe as you know it exists in a vast bubble of pure magic energy. When it was created the magic surrounded, enveloped and encompassed it, protected it and grew as your universe expanded. The old ones domain that had existed before was thus supplanted, pushed aside. The old ones themselves were pushed, crushed if you prefer, into an ever more confined space outside of this bubble. The bubble is impenetrable to them because they are outside. But one old one, it is unclear how, escaped that fate, I won’t name him the magus knows why. This old one was caught inside rather than outside. Alone and relatively weak he couldn’t do much harm, but then he found this world…Your world! Our world! On this world there was an abundance of mana, the energy source for all magic. Mana collected in a single place can be extremely dangerous and volatile, particularly in sizeable amounts. This old one knew this and having already decided his course he started collecting mana and storing it. Please don’t ask me how, I am not familiar with the process. Over the millennia, as collecting mana is a slow process, he accumulated a significant amount. Then you humans developed, you started using mana yourselves. Magic as you know it was thus created and channelled into what you call spells, this vexed the old one for obvious reasons.”
“He couldn’t collect the mana that the wizards like Joe were using. See I get it, go on…” Nat smiled.
“Quite so. Anyway as is probably the natural course of development the wizards grew in power, their spells becoming mightier…and then the Great Magus appeared out of the blue. He could use a whole new level of mana in larger amounts, creating greater more powerful spells that any other. He was a level of magnitude greater than the greatest spell crafter of the time. The masters of the schools recognised him as the natural adept he was and offered him their allegiance. He would not take one school over any other so treated them all equally. But his power, shining like a beacon in the night, made him noticed by the old one. The Great Magus, as he became, similarly knew the old one was there. As I said magus he could feel him as he moved. But the Great Magus chose instead to just keep a watch on his activities as he studied and crafted spells of truly awesome magnitude, trying to gauge the creature’s powers. That was until the day the magus, by accident, created an explosion with raw mana, it was only an infinitesimal amount compared to the amount this old one had, but the explosion removed a mountain, levelling it completely!”
Natalie paled, “Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me it could be this dangerous Joe?” Joe shrugged and kissed her whispering, “I didn’t know!”
“At that point.” Draco continued, “the Great Magus gained an understanding of mana possessed in quantity and the danger. He was horrified when he realised that with enough mana in one place, at a weak spot if you like, the barrier could be breached by a mana explosion.”
“A mana bomb? And with the barrier breached the other old ones could come back in…why?”
“They hate light, they detest it, and the life that grows around it. If they ever came back into this universe then one by one the stars would be put out and the universe would fall into darkness.”
“You mean they would destroy the entire universe?”
“To the last atom!” Natalie paled again. “They want their domain back and will destroy this universe that has usurped it. They have waited an eternity already. The Great Magus thus studied many years before finally he had his spells and his staff, a staff of insurmountable power. So the magus went to the mountain, I believe it is in a range you refer to as the Andes. He took the masters of the six schools with him to bear witness and aid him, he inscribed a great summoning circle onto the flat plateau of a tabletop mountain he found there. He then summoned the old one.”
“He summoned him?” Joe’s eyes widened in awe.
“It was a summons unlike anything before magus, unlike anything ever attempted. One does not compel a demon, or a God of this one’s stature easily. The old one resisted the summons, so the magus summoned him again, this time invoking a mana whip.”
“Mana whip?” Joe looked at Draco as he now paled.
“Yes magus, a whip created entirely out of pure mana energy. A burning brutally efficient weapon that he used to compel the demon with, lashing him repeatedly as one would lash a slave.”
“Son of a bitch!” Joe could almost see the encounter in his imagination.
“Quite, one does not compel a God lightly or easily. They do not use spells as we do, they simply use mana.”
“What did he do Draco?” Natalie asked as she felt Joe’s heartbeat quicken.
“He questioned the demon, all he wanted to know was how much mana the demon had stored already. How close he might be to completing his…bomb. As I told you though magus, demons will ever try to break your control or manipulate you through falsehood and lies. In this one’s case he wanted to break free so he could crush the Great Magus himself. Their battle was titanic, it lasted for days, spells meetings counter spells, summons meeting dispersals, creatures of power were created and dismissed by both of them. But still the demon refused to answer he was blind to all but his rage. The Earth buckled and split during the course of their encounter. Your continents were created due to that battle. At one point they even risked splitting the world apart completely! So the Great Magus realising he was getting nowhere questioning the beast summoned a last and final spell.”
“Final spell?” Natalie’s eyes were as wide as saucers.
“He summoned and then committed ALL of his reserves of mana, everything he had, he poured the entire reserves of his staff and his own life force into this spell.”
“Sorry his life force?” Natalie looked at Joe then back at Draco.
“Mana is created by life miss Natalie, so each life form possesses an energy or life force that is required to continue living. Over time as you humans age your life force is used up. The Great Magus summoned ALL of his remaining life force for this final spell, it was an all-or-nothing thing he was contemplating.”
“So without your life force what happens?”
“You die, without the life energy to maintain you, you wither and die.”
“So this Great Magus was going to kill himself in the process of this spell right?”
“Yes, he committed everything he had and channelled it into a single spell of such unutterable power. The very skies above the mountain split and resounded with the blast of it. He hit the demon with a beam and the demon went to sleep.”
“Like Joe put the bank robbers to sleep?”
“Yes but this sleep would last…the Great Magus hoped for eternity.”
“He tried to put him to sleep…forever? Why not just kill him?”
“One does not kill a God miss Natalie. Gods and demons exist in two places, one must destroy them on their home plane to vanquish them totally. On their home plane however they are all but unbeatable. And given this demon was an old God from the before, his plane would involve unravelling the universe first.”
Natalie gulped loudly and looked at Joe, “Oh my God!”
“So the Great Magus hoped to put the creature to sleep, at least until the world had developed enough power to be able to defeat the demon properly.”
“So this demon he’s still asleep?”
Joe coughed and squeezed Natalie a little tighter, “That’s just it Nat…I think he might be waking up!”
“Joe why didn’t you tell me all this earlier?” Nat screamed at him.
“I wasn’t sure, hell I wasn’t even sure that I wasn’t sure Nat. I’m still not...but that voice, it was cold and evil! I told you I felt as if something I’ve never EVER experienced before grabbed me.”
“Tell me what happened magus.” Draco suddenly looked concerned, Natalie hadn’t mentioned any voice the previous night.
“We’d moved Nat in here and I was making myself a nuisance.” Joe smiled lamely as he scratched his head, “she wanted some time alone so I thought I’d go practise my spells, like I’ve done before. I’ve been trying to improve that chained lightning bolt spell, but that fifth target just takes so damn much out of me. Anyway I took a few more jolts from Sidney than I normally did. I cast the bolt and success, I hit the fifth target. Just at that point I felt dizzy and let the spell die. I then stumbled forwards like my legs had suddenly gone. My vision got blurry and then I heard this voice, in my head. It just said the one word, magus! But I felt sick as a dog as it said it. I tasted something absolutely God awful in my mouth and tried to spit it out. My spit came out black and thick.”
“I saw it Draco the second time, his spit was like crude oil.”
“The taste was sickening, the smell was awful, I thought I’d just had a funny turn, overdone it somehow. So I rested for a little while until I felt more like myself and tried my fireball spell. You should have seen it Draco...by the time it reached my targets it was six feet in diameter and glowing like white hot iron. It hit the target and detonated blasting a chunk out of the rear wall. That’s when that feeling hit me again, worse, much worse, much more insistent and there was that voice again, same word. The feeling I got from that voice in my head was contempt, total and utter contempt. My mouth filled with that black crap again and I knew something was wrong, I tried to leave the room. I got halfway out when I must have blacked out. Nat says she found me collapsed on the floor, she brought me in here and put me to bed. I woke this morning feeling better but I’m scared. What if that all happens again?”
“I will need to do some research magus, it is not necessarily the demon awakening. He may just be stirring in his continuing sleep. Or it may be some other cause entirely. Leave it with me.”
“But is it safe for me to use my magic? I mean I don’t want to disappoint all those children, but I equally don’t want to collapse spewing up crude oil just because I did one of the spells.”
“Have you tried any other spells since?”
“No. Nat won’t let me get up…”
“With good reason Joe, you need rest!”
“I know Nat...I know and thanks.”
“I would suggest you try some of the lesser spells, start with your cantrips and build up slowly. The moment you feel this sickness stop! It may be that the high level use of your fireball, or chained lightning caused this so your smaller spells will be unaffected.”
Natalie pressed her palm to Joe’s chest and looked into his eyes, his heartbeat had steadied “But not before tomorrow morning Joe, rest for the rest of the day.”
“But Nat this is your bed.”
“I know,” Natalie smiled and gently kissed him on the cheek, “I don’t mind sharing this time, but don’t make a habit of it.”
“OK. I’ll promise to be a gentleman too, you’ll be safe with me I swear.”
Natalie winked at him, “That’s right be a spoil sport why don’t you?”