The Eternity Prison
An unwelcome visitor had infiltrated the mansion. Mageus could sense it. He strode to his office door and peered out into the hallway. The sun’s early rays shone from the bay window by his desk, warming his back. Mageus could sense each one of his men sleeping—some snoring—in their beds one floor down. No, this was a stranger for sure, slinking down the hallway, invisible to the naked eye, but not undetectable to his keen senses.
Thanks to a variety of Viridian Conversions, Mageus could hear the stranger breathing. He felt the stranger’s soft footsteps making tiny vibrations through the floor. The subtle odor of old parchment and ink permeated the air, along with the intruder’s robes filled with hundreds of Components that mingled in a confused concoction that stank to High Heaven. Whoever it was had reached the third floor and now moved down the hallway toward him.
Mageus backed up quickly and pulled a vial of water from a pocket in his black suit. He activated his Spirit and silently performed a simple Vision Conversion. A green Sigil glowed on his hand, and water droplets created a mirage around his body, concealing him from view. He stood still, barely allowing himself to breathe, as the invisible Alchemist entered the room and took two halting steps toward the desk.
All night, Mageus had worked to uncover the hidden location of the Keeper’s most prized secret. He was close to cracking the code in the documents he had filched from Blackthorn and Burtree just last night. There were a few problems with his work, however, namely that he needed another source to confirm some conjectures he had made to fill in the gaps of information. He would need to do some digging, but he would do whatever it took to find them.
The fact that he had an uninvited early morning guest meant that Mageus was surely on to something with his work. He needed to apprehend this intruder and protect the information he had gained. Whatever the cost.
Mageus pulled a small black stone from his pants pocket and held it up. With a flash of orange light, he enlarged the stone to the size of a boulder and listened for the clumsy footsteps of the intruder. He aimed and concentrated his Energy. With a spark of yellow light, the stone shot out of his hand and collided with the intruder just in front of his desk.
There came a grunt and a thud. Mageus hurried forward, groping with his feet until he came into contact with the invisible person. He knelt and grabbed the person’s robes, yanked him up, and threw him against the wall in a magnificent flurry of ripples.
“Solidum!” Mageus called out as he activated a red Insignia on his arm, and the invisibility orbs surrounding him and the stranger both froze with a sharp snap. “Terra Kinesis!” he shouted as he pointed at the large stone, now on the floor. With a flash of dark blue light, it shot up toward the stranger and collided with the frozen orb. Ice crystals sprinkled all over his cashmere rug as the stranger tumbled to the floor in a heap.
Mageus gaped at the intruder. It was a man in a pinstriped charcoal suit and a gray vest with several hundred pockets. Short silver hair covered the man’s head, and dark eyes glared back at him. Mageus could recognize that clean-shaven handsome face anywhere. It was the Code Keeper! The very man who had taken away what he cherished the most.
Mageus’s mouth fell open and he raised his hand to his chest in a protective gesture. In his haste to return to his mansion, he had failed to cover his tracks, and thus led his enemy straight to his door. But he couldn’t hold back the grin as he realized that this was his chance to finally claim what was rightfully his. He’d been waiting for this moment for nearly a decade and a half. He pointed at the Keeper and readied a Conversion, but something caught the corner of his eye.
Mageus wheeled around in time to see a shower of silver coins flying at him. The coins hit his frozen invisibility orb, and the ice crystals shattered with a snap. He threw up his arms in a powerful gesture that wielded his Spiritual Essence to defend his body. For just a moment, he glimpsed a ripple in the air, and another shower of coins shot at him from the corner of the room. He defended his body with a wave of his hand, willing his Spirit to repel the attack. The coins hit the wall and floor with a barrage of tiny clinks.
The man at Mageus’s feet slowly began to shrink and morph, body clothes and all, into a dark strand of hair enlarged to a considerable size. A golem! A bloody glamoured strand of hair had tricked him into giving away his position.
In the blink of an eye, the real Code Keeper rippled into view as he grabbed the pile of scrolls on the desk. He threw something at the window behind the desk and shouted, “Translatio!” and the glass shattered with an earsplitting crash. Without a moment’s hesitation, he flew through the window on a flying cloud of frozen water vapor.
Mageus reached for the collar of his suit jacket, cupping his hand over Vox, his Alchemical beast. “Augendi!” he shouted, and an orange tattoo flashed on his hand as the hairy insect grew to a startling size. It was a howler monkey with three tails, six legs, and the transparent wings of an insect. Mageus leaped onto the winged creature’s back and shot out the window in close pursuit.
The Code Keeper flew quickly, but Mageus wouldn’t let him go without a real fight.
He pulled his Lightning Augmentation Roscoe from his jacket pocket and aimed it at the Keeper. “Fulgur!” he shouted, and a spark of electricity appeared at the tip of the metal weapon, where it came to a pointed end with a miniature lightning rod. “Augendi!” Mageus bellowed, and a lightning bolt grew and shot out at the Keeper with a snap.
Thunder boomed so loudly Mageus couldn’t hear anything else.
The Keeper spiraled to the ground amid a purple cloud of sparks. Mageus followed right behind on Vox, already aiming to fire another lightning bolt.
But something went terribly wrong, and Mageus felt himself and Vox falling too fast, as though gravity was warping around them and pulling them into a black hole.
At an alarming speed, the Gravitation Conversion pulled Mageus and Vox down; they crashed amid the shrubbery on the outer edge of the mansion’s large front garden. The lightning roscoe clattered across the grass toward the Keeper. Vox shrank back down to the tiny size of an insect, and with a groan, Mageus reached for the tiny unconscious Alchemical beast and carefully lifted him in the palm of his hand. He fought to remain conscious as the pain from the fall spread across his body.
The Keeper stood over Mageus and stared down with a disapproving frown.
“Nicholas, I demand you let me go and fight me like a man!” Mageus said with great effort as the gravity pressed down on him.
“I cannot do that,” Nicholas said. He stooped to pick up the lightning roscoe.
“Don’t you dare use my own weapon against me!” Mageus gasped, gritting his teeth against the crushing weight pinning him to the ground. “This is not how I will meet my end!”
“No,” Nicholas said with a sad shake of his head. “I have seen your death, and it is not today.”
He wasn’t about to lie here helplessly; he struggled to lift his arm. “Cicumversio!” He grated the Word out, and using the meteorite on the ring of his left-hand pointer finger and a yellow glowing tattoo on his thumb, he managed to get off his own Gravitation Conversion. The gravity field rebounded and sent the Keeper spiraling into a nearby bush.
Mageus scrambled to his feet and pointed at Nicholas, but he didn’t have his lightning roscoe. So he brought his hands together, stepped backward with his right foot and Conjured a giant spark of lighting with a flash of blue in his palm. “Fulgur! Translatio Tempus!” The lightning bolt shot forward at great speed thanks to the Transmission and Duration Conversion Circles that glowed yellow and dark blue on his hands, but Nicholas had already gotten to his feet. The bolt hit his chest with the fizzle of another lightning shield.
Nicholas snapped his fingers with a flash of purple light and reality seemed to warp. The ripple spread until it hit Mageus and sent him shooting backwards. He hit the ground on his back, knocking the wind out of him with a whoosh. Then Nicholas suddenly appeared right in front of him, holding his hand out to press the reality ripple down on top of him. This was a Secret Circle for sure, something he had no way of countering.
Unable to break free, he let out a guttural roar as his nostrils flared and the veins on his neck stood out. He was so close to finding them. Was he really going to fail to rescue them now? Nicholas stepped forward and towered over Mageus; he raged in vain against the power that held him motionless against the earth.
“I don’t suppose you would mind if I borrow this?” he asked, holding up the lightning roscoe. “I know someone who could really do some fantastic things with it.”
“Borrow means you return it!” Mageus spat through tight lips. His eyes teared up at the thought of all the Keeper had taken from him. The life he’d longed for with the perfect family to grow old with.
Behind him, several Alchemists in black came sprinting out of the mansion’s front door to come to the aid of their leader. It was about time the oafs realized he needed backup.
He wasn’t about to give up now; he struggled to lift his arm and Convert a Lightning Conversion with a flash of blue light, but the fulguration merely fizzled in the grass surrounding his body. The reality ripple pinned him down and left him completely immobilized.
Unable to break free, he let out a guttural roar as his nostrils flared and the veins on his neck stood out. He was so close to finding them. Was he really going to fail to rescue them now?
“Oh, I intend to bring it back, trust me. This is merely a temporary prison.” Nicholas held up his purple glowing hand and said, “Inanis!”
A black rip in space appeared directly above Mageus. Immediately, he felt the gravity shift from pushing him down to pulling him up, and at the same time, his body lost its form. His vision blurred as he pictured them in the last moment they’d been together. He had been so close, and yet he’d never felt so far from reaching them. Would he never see them again? His chest ached as he slowly became a vapor of black mist, and with sickening speed, the tear in space sucked him up into a black void of nothingness.
His scream died on his lips as oblivion engulfed him in a timeless prison.