Chance - It's Easier To Be Evil
It was all but a seductive ruse. And it was working perfectly for me.
“Just what on earth are you?” I asked.
“I am neither from Earth nor Altimeraea.” The voice replied. Its slithering voice caused some shivers down my spine. Like a wet and damp towel massaging my eyeballs. Utterly painful. “Where I came from is somewhere further in The Great Divide. No mage has ever returned from those depths.”
“What do you want then?” I demanded. “You sound powerful enough to wreak havoc on your own. It doesn’t make sense.”
“Wrong again, little boy.” The voice insisted. “There are still a lot of things in play that you do not understand. Even the people who are after do not know what they are really tampering with.”
I fell silent.
“I will not be giving my demands yet.” It quipped. “Because I want you to think carefully about what you are entering in. What I want is no easy task. That’s why I will be sharing with you my power.”
“There’s always a price to pay.” I replied.
“Indeed.” The voice agreed. “Yet, there is a purpose for this short meeting.”
Morsus’ stepped forward with his hand stretched towards me.
“I will let you have a small taste of what my powers can do.” It said. The voice was firmer and more aggressive. Even my throat felt dry despite the atmosphere getting colder. “It would only be a small percentage. Once you have made up your mind, Morsus will always be there as a gateway. Then we can seal the contract.”
Then some strange symbol appeared at the center of the boy’s palm. And I didn’t need to be extra sensitive to feel the intense amount of avroi emanating in his hands.
It was a now or never moment.
“A free trial of some unknown powers, huh?” I commented. “Until when will this free upgrade stay with me?”
“You can give it back to Morsus anytime.” The voice replied. “And I will not hold it against you.”
But for some reason, I felt that it was so confident that I will ask for more. I was not going to let that happen. Whatever thing inside Morsus, I was sure it was far more sinister than I have ever seen. Truly evil.
I hate to admit it, but it was undoubtedly more awful than Rei.
It was a now or never moment.
“No demands?” I asked to be sure.
“None.” It quipped. “A free flow of limitless power in your palms. But I suggest that you exert tremendous effort to keep it in. Or they’ll be on to you.”
I just nodded back.
Then I took the boy’s hand. But I didn’t expect the pain that shot through my whole body. It was like I was a balloon that was being inflated by a high-pressure hose with water. Thousands of volts surged through every fiber of my being, and the next thing I knew, I was kneeling on the ground with barely a breathe. An ocean of water forced itself into a fragile glass container.
My muscles shivered at the sudden surge of energy. Then all of a sudden, it collapsed, and all that power shrank back within me. No trace of it could be felt. I looked at my palm, and had the same symbol embedded on it. After a few seconds, it disappeared.
I stayed like that for a few moments, looking at my palm before Morsus pulled me back up on my feet. The sinister aura was gone, and the boy was back into his usual brat-like self.
“You’re a bigger weakling than I thought.” He quipped. “Unimpressive.”
“Thanks.” I gasped, ignoring him. “Where’s all that amount of avroi gone to?”
“It’s sealed within you, so no one will sense it.” Morsus explained.
I just heaved in more air and struggled to breathe. “What happens next then?”
“Nothing.” He coldly replied. And I couldn’t help but wince at the sudden wall between us. “Stay out of trouble until we find a way to awaken Israfil and find him a vessel. And don’t do anything stupid.”
“But what about Estelle and the others?” I asked. “They wanted to use some kind of magic on me to force Israfil out.”
“The plan won’t work. It goes against certain rules of magic, and Estelle is not knowledgeable enough to find a way around it.” Morsus stated dismissively. “Rei’s theory was wrong. He’s just going to put you in danger.”
“How do you know?”
“I just know.”
“That’s not really a satisfying answer.” I scoffed. “Your magic is different. Ven was just straight up conjuring lightning and wind spells, but you used words to command magic. And your avroi feels so otherworldly compared to them. I just can’t describe it perfectly.”
The boy fell silent and sat on one of the unfinished pillars that rose up to the waist level. He studied me carefully, but I was not going to give up the chance to learn more about mages. Ven and Rei were teaching me to use magic, but they have never mentioned anything about their world.
“I know I’m not your favorite person, but at least give me some details on how your world works.” I pleaded. Morsus’ angry stare softened for some reason, then looked away. “And I’m sorry if I offended you or something the first time we met. I was out of bounds.”
But the boy didn’t reply.
“I’m sure you miss Israfil. Ven said he was like an older brother to you.” I said then hesitated if I should also share that I got to talk to Israfil momentarily the day Ven appeared. “I couldn’t imagine if Jaden was taken away from me. So, I guess I understand why you were a mean little brat.”
“It’s because I’m a Rune Mage. And our education and training is way, way different than what Ven and the others went through.” The boy admitted. And my head just tilted in confusion because it didn’t make sense at all. “Altimeraea is comprised of six huge countries. Each is almost the size of a continent in this world. I was born in the same country as the others did, but certain mages are gifted and are more capable of using one kind of magic.”
“Okay.” I commented. “So, you’re one of those gifted ones.”
“Yes.” The boy quipped. “Those mages are taken care of in secret because they are targeted by terrorist groups so they can be used as weapons. We were sent all over our world to learn all kinds of magic. Our schools are well protected and hidden throughout the lands.”
“Even in your world, there are also people who would take advantage of others.” I groaned. “That just sucks. I was hoping that I get to explore it when all of this is over.”
“Our world isn’t any better than yours.” Morsus admitted. But his eyes looked sad. “Funny, Israfil said the exact same thing. He also wanted to explore Altimeraea.”
“You all have those amazing magic, but you can’t move around as much?” I asked.
“Both Earth and Altimeraea had the same phases in history. Decades ago, we also had major wars simultaneously as your first and second World War. But it had calmed down ever since. Yet the tension is still there.” The boy explained. Morsus started to look more animated, and his more prominent features went a lot softer. “It has directly influenced the history of each other though Earth was oblivious to that fact. In fact, it’s easier to travel from country to country here on Earth than in Altimeraea.”
“That’s just weird.” I whined. “When Ven brought me there, the place looked peaceful. I never thought of the idea that the international boundaries in your world would be a lot more strict.”
“You have a lot of stuff to learn about our world, then.” The boy replied. “Just wait until all of this is over. Then maybe you can tag along with Israfil and explore it.”
“That would be really nice.” I smiled at him. But he went back to frowning and looked away. “What about what you mentioned a while ago? You said that Rei’s plan was not going to work. If that’s the case, what is your suggestion?”
“Nothing. The Soul Magic used by Israfil’s father was infused with Rune Magic and a bit of Summoning Magic. During the battle with the Black Sorceress, their father was accompanied by one of the legendary Rune Mages and a powerful Summoner.” Morsus confessed. He looked very deep in thought. Brooding and calculating. “I’ll try to go back to the Citadel of M’ vokagola. It was my school that taught me the fundamentals of Necromancy magic. Then I’ll be heading to the Citadel of Hayamatsukami that taught me Summoning and Conjuration Magic.”
“That’s a lot of burden for a young person like you.” I said, then slowly put a hand on his shoulder. The boy’s shoulder flinched at the sudden invasion of personal space. “You shouldn’t be doing this alone.”
“I have always told them what we are dealing with. It’s like they are trying to solve the puzzle without enough clues to solve it.” He muttered. The boy sounded harsh and rejected. “But I was silenced to a corner because they said I was too young to be involved. Rei was furious when I left the Citadel of Harfjord because I heard they found you. He’s still bugging me to go back as soon as possible.”
“Aren’t you going to be in trouble for that?” I asked.
“Yes.” He replied. And I was just in awe of his determined answer. It was firm for an answer from a small kid. “But if it’s for Israfil, it’s worth it.”
“I wonder why Rei isn’t listening.” I pointed out. “He seems like he’s the type of person who knows what he’s doing.”
““Rei is probably being pressured by the Supreme Qirian Council.” Morsus said. “Ever since the new Praetor was assigned to replace their father, Rei became more driven to finish what their father started. But he’s slowly getting careless.”
I just gawked at him. Clueless about what to say next.
“It’s the government that rules over Zidania, if that’s what you’re wondering about.” Morsus added. “Six leaders, called Praetors, are chosen by a certain group of people to govern the country. One person is selected for each of the four major regions. Then one of them is assigned to govern internal affairs and lead the whole council. And another one for external affairs.”
“The Supreme Qirian Council is a proud bunch.” Morsus continued. “The level of threat that the Black Sorceress posed was greater than most oppositions they have seen for the past five hundred years. And the fact she came from Zidania and was trained by the best High Magi of Solus Magus made it even worse. The Council just won’t yield into asking help from the other countries.”
“But you said a legendary Rune Mage was also involved. That means they asked help from outside.” I objected. “Right?”
“Yes.” The boy agreed. “And they were ashamed that they would have to ask help from someone like Leo Knightley. Their father didn’t care. One thing only mattered, and that was stopping the leader of Teios Kyr. But the Council still reprimanded him of involving outside help.”
“Don’t make me start to feel bad about Rei.” I admonished. Anger was back in my voice. “He’s still a jerk. That guy strangled my best friend. Then he forced Ven to do some weird crap on me. And now he’s stopping you from being a tangible help to the bigger cause.”
“Rei is just a very determined individual.” Morsus pointed out calmly. “He’ll sacrifice everything for the sake of the mission. And he will not be afraid to do the harsher things to finish it.”
“But he doesn’t have the right to sacrifice people just because it’s necessary.” I pointed out. “He cannot play god.”
“Their mother died due to sickness when Israfil was a baby. Their father was killed more than a year ago. And it is still unknown if they could do something about Israfil.” Morsus added further. “He’s a man who lost his whole family. I couldn’t blame him for his desperation.”
I fell silent after that.
“He is driven by revenge.” I deduced. “Rei is a dangerous man.”
“Hey, guys!” A voice called out. I looked around to see Jaden walking towards us. His cheery self was invading Morsus’ gloomy atmosphere. “What’s up, weird people?”
Jaden just looked perplexed at the sight of the younger boy beside me.
“Hey.” I replied.
“Chance, I’ve got to go.” Morsus hastily said. He nodded at me. The brat-like attitude was gone just like that. “There are things I need to check.”
He quickly left and walked away. The kid walked past Jaden without a slight glance. My best friend had question marks all over his face, and I couldn’t really do anything about it. That was going to be hard to explain if Dylan was around.
“Who’s that?” Jaden asked.
“Ven’s cousin.” I lied. It was the first thing that popped into my head. “Long story. Where are we heading to?”
“I dunno.” Jaden sat on the spot Morsus previously occupied. “Let’s stay on this spot for a while before we head back home. This place is probably upset about not visiting it for a long time.”
A tingling sensation danced on my fingertips. It was as if a dagger will be summoned from my shadow at any moment. The blade was aching to show itself to Jaden. Or perhaps, it was me aching to be honest in what I was really going through.
But I couldn’t.
Rei was right. I couldn’t involve any of my friends. Especially Jaden. He was almost Samael was very dangerous, and the way he toyed with Ven the first time I met him said a lot. His power is immense. But I had been upgraded, too.
“Can I trust you?” Jaden suddenly asked. He looked at me seriously. His eyes were so blue and intense. “Please don’t laugh.”
“Sure.” I replied.
“I think I’m going crazy.”
“Aren’t you crazy enough already?” I chuckled.
“I’m serious, damn it.” Jaden scoffed. “I’ve had weird dreams lately. About you and Craig. You always end up doing some crazy shit in my dream like you have powers.”
“You’re just watching too much Netflix. I can’t even do shit.” I dismissed. Then I jabbed him lightly on his arm. “See? That didn’t even hurt.”
“I’m still convinced that you have powers. You and Craig. And you just don’t want to show it to anyone.” Jaden pouted. “Even Dylan thinks I’m crazy when I told him about this. Ever since that day JJ made a ruckus at school. You started to feel off. It’s like I don’t know you all of a sudden.”
I gulped at his sudden disclosure of his thoughts about me. Whatever Estelle did was not enough. Jaden was confident. And he was determined to prove it.
Then he faced me. “What are you hiding, Valentine?”
Out of nowhere, he took out a pointed piece of short metal and lunged at me on the ground. Jaden raised his hand and tried to stab me with it. I was able to catch his wrist just in time before he got to strike my neck.
“What on earth are you doing?!” I shrieked. We both struggled a few moments on the ground before he gave up. My best friend was more fit than I am, and I grappled both against him and against myself because I might accidentally hurt him. “Jaden! Stop!”
Then he came to his senses. He backed away and stepped back by a couple of feet. Tears were rolling down his face, and was shaken just as I was. The last thing I expected was Jaden trying to kill me with a metal pike that he probably picked up along the way.
He almost caught me off guard. One more second quicker, and I might have had summoned a blade from my shadows. But my heart broke when I looked at Jaden.
He was a complete mess. I think he wanted to hug me but hesitated.
“I’m sorry, Chance!” Jaden sobbed. He was crying and wiping away tears from his eyes. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to!”
“What on earth were you thinking?” I stammered. “You could’ve killed me!”
“I-I thought that if I su-surprised you with an attack, you w-will use your powers to de-defend yourself.” Jaden stuttered in between his sobs. “I-I’m sorry, Ch-Chance. I think D-Dylan was r-right. I-I’m getting a-all crazy!”
“Trust me.” I replied and walked towards him. He stepped back. Guilt and shame were written all over his face. But I reached out to him and pulled him into a hug. “You’re not crazy, Jaden.”
We stayed like that for a few more minutes. Jaden just cried and kept saying sorry for what he almost did. And it broke me that he was getting involved in this despite not knowing.
I saw the damage of our carelessness. The voice inside Morsus was right. I needed the power to protect my friends.
“Let’s go home.” I suggested after Jaden calmed down.
“Thanks.” He sighed. “I hope this doesn’t change anything.”
“It won’t.” I smiled warmly. “You’re still my knuckle-head best friend.”
Our walk home was awkward. Jaden seemed out of tune with his usual noisy self of senseless and random antics. Instead, he brought up so many sentimental memories of when we were kids. It was still a pleasant stroll through memory lane. I thought that it be best to talk about those to ground him back to reality.
Sadly, everything lately was just crossing the borders of what is real and what is not. I couldn’t blame Jaden at all why he had a hard time coping up.
By the time we got home, he’s almost back to his cheery self. But quite. I was able to see the deep-seated shame and guilt through his blue eyes. It looked awful and horrid. And it was screaming from his insides.
We bumped our fists and agreed to see each other at school by Monday as we went our separate ways.
“I’m home!” I announced as I got inside the house.
Mom was just setting up the dinner table. Celine was doing something on her laptop, and dad was sitting on the couch, watching TV. It felt good that I came home to something familiar.
“Look at this, guys!” Dad suddenly exclaimed on his laptop. His eyes were twinkling at the sight of something interesting. “A few towns away from us, police found some dead people. They were found in some abandoned building.”
“Sounds like a serial killer on the loose.” I commented dryly.
“Except they’re drained of blood.” Dad added. And I just found it weird that he sounded so entertained with something so macabre. “That’s quite weird. They would practically look like mummies. Too bad, they censored them.”
“That’s just plain creepy.” Mom interjected, suddenly entering the living room while mixing some stuff on a bowl. “There is so much weird stuff out there. And I’m just surprised we’re digging up more mysteries than answers.”
Including the fact that you hid a twin brother from me. I thought to myself. In fact, I almost blurted it out. That would have stirred a bizarre Saturday night dinner. But I managed to push it to the back of my throat.
I couldn’t let them know that I already knew. It was a different mystery for some other time.
“Do you think it has something to do with Ellie?” Dad asked. His tone went dead serious. “I mean, there was a similar murder of an elementary school teacher weeks before she fell into comatose.”
“I can’t say.” My mom replied sadly. Her eyes wanted to say more but kept it shut. She held it back. “I couldn’t imagine how Nikki is doing after all that. First, his teacher was murdered then his mom got sick. It’s one bad thing after another.”
“Right.” Dad agreed. He absent-mindedly scratched the stubbles on his chin and looked deep in thought. “Then there’s another murder scene a few days after. It really is getting crazy out there. I wonder if that affected Chase’s marketing for his event. Those murders are within the same State as his event for crying out loud.”
I fell silent and felt terrible at the same time. There were people out there who went through worse than I did. And the news about my mom’s friend has been out for quite some time.
Mom went back into the kitchen to finish preparing.
Our conversation went around with dad asking how we were holding up. It was a typical parent-children kind of topic, and dad announced that he will be getting more and more business trips away from us. Celine asked permission if she and her boyfriend could get out of town for a weekend after the New Year. Dad quickly gave approval. And if he was cool with it, so would mom.
The small and weekly family catch-up ended when mom announced that dinner was ready.
“Just in time!” Celine yawned with a stretch. Her slim and fit athletic build still stayed despite quitting from track and field a couple of years ago. “You guys are starting to talk about weird stuff again. I can’t stand it!”
“I’m hitting the sack!” I exclaimed and stood up.
“By the way, son,” Dad said. “Your uncle stopped by a while to leave the VIP packages. I left them on your bed this afternoon since you weren’t around.”
“Got it!” I replied. “Thanks, dad!”
“Remember the deal!” He smiled with mischief and playfulness. “Where we got it is an absolute secret. Okay?”
“Yup!” I chirped and left the dining room. “Completely classified.”
Dad told us that since we were related to some big-shot in the entertainment industry, we should keep a low-profile. My uncle didn’t really have a family of his own. So, he would spoil Celine and me with some good stuff every once in a while.
I went to my room and tried to send a mental message to Ven, but there was no reply. Rei was surely going to grill him, and if they dare barge into my house, I won’t give in without a fight. Knowing their desire to put things in secret, I was sure that they wouldn’t break the anonymity any time soon.
True enough, I found the packages on my bed and opened it quickly. Each VIP package was inside a separate stylish box for each individual. They’re all stored up inside a larger box with my name on it. I caressed the black box that felt so premium and expensive.
Uncle Chase was definitely trying to impress everyone with this.
I opened the black box, and it contained our VIP badges for the big event in our town. But I was not entirely comfortable with the idea that thousands of people will be gathering for that big modern-style town fair. With the threat of Samael looming nearby, I couldn’t help but get a dreadful premonition that it wouldn’t end up well.
I took one out to inspect it further. There were a lot of other stuff inside, and decided to look at it later on. The main thing was what I was interested in.
The ID badge was made out of some special carbon fiberglass that’s a regular phone size. It looked thin and fragile. But for an ID, the ‘screen size’ was spacious and was probably 6 inches diagonally. But it’s because everything we needed for the fair was inside the thing. It wasn’t just an ID badge but a device that worked like a smartphone.
All the purchases needed will be done through the badge. We just needed to load our money on it through specific stations, and everything can be bought by online means. It had its own maps, including a GPS-like option to find your friends specifically. All the schedules for the events were there. We could also plug in our social media to exchange contacts if we made new friends just in case.
There were many other better features in store, and I’d be taking a look at them later on, too. As much as I hated to admit, I’d have to present this to Ven and the others as soon as Rei realized that it was stupid to force me through his plan.
Our VIP badges had darker color themes compared to regular people and had access to particular areas. We also had a ton of discounts and had a lot of perks. I couldn’t help but be thankful that our uncle gave some to my family, and a particular set of friends for free.
The badge was styled so elegantly with the new technology being offered by FordTech, Inc. The tech company’s logo was a small capitalized “FT” at the ID badge’s lower right. I played with it for a while and even information about FordTech, Inc. and saw the name of the CEO that says, Giulia Rutherford-Bishop. I also found it interesting that there was another name on it that had no exact title.
Ainan J. Rutherford.
Something familiar was present in the name. But I just couldn’t remember, so I went back to check out the rest of the badge. My uncle’s company was engraved at the back of the badge in a glimmering, dark green color.
Black Daze Entertainment.