Monthly Archives: November 2015

Whiskey and Maeve Chapter 5

Guide, Whiskey had decided to call him that, needed a little time to pull himself together after the outburst before. She made herself some Tea while he lay closed on her desk.

 

Taking long sips, Whiskey thought about the mess she had gotten herself into. She also half browsed an image-board for entertaining pictures using the tablet. ‘Guide’s from Alexandria, Egypt, BC. How long was he stuck in an empty book until Isaac rescued him? If it was only a short time then how old is Isaac? He must use magic to stay young some how. That would be a nice trick to learn. Guide called David ‘the apprentice’ so David trained under Isaac. Now they see each other as equals though. How long have they been working together?’

 

She laughed at a picture of cat sitting on someone’s sandwich, forgetting about her tea.

 

“Girl, are you ready now?”

“My name is Whiskey. And I was waiting for you.”

“Thank you for that. It has been a very long time before I have thought about that time.”

“It’s okay, you can take breaks or anything whenever you need.”

“Do you have any further burning questions before we start going into everything then?”

“How does Magic work?”

“So right into it then?” The book dropped and raised a few inches as he laughed at that.

 

“There are several stories about the birth of magic and it’s inner workings. I was studying many of them during my time in the Great Library.”

“You studied in the Great Library of Alexandria?”

“Yes! Don’t interrupt me. Right, the only thing we can be sure of is that during the early days of the human race, right on the cusp of being the most intelligent life, there was a fight among the gods. One of the most powerful deities fought against the others for reasons unknown. They were eventually defeated and cast out.”

“Lucifer?”

“That wasn’t her name at the time…”

“Hold on, you mean the Lucifer story is true?”

“In part, yes. I imagine several of the fictions you have been told are somewhat truth.”

 

“Okay, I think I better save my questions till the end then.”

“Quite a good idea. So Lucifer, known in my time as the Morning Star due to her being surrounded in that mythology of celestial bodies. Has many other names; Venus, Light-Bringer, Bright Queen. Also, she is actually genderless, as far as we know all gods and demons are. Normally we refer to them by the body they currently or most recently inhabit. Makes things easy really.”

 

“What does this have to do with Magic? Sounds like you’re just giving me a creation myth.”

“Weren’t you going to let me speak? This is the reason magic exists! When Lucifer was kicked out from Mount Olympus something in the realm of the living broke. The reflection of Lucifer, Satan was also pulled from the Inferno. The most powerful God and the darkest Demon roam this earth. Their magnetic tug on the inner and outer parts of our souls generate most of our magic.”

 

“I’m finding this a little hard to believe. It’s like some bastardised version of science and christianity.”

“A higher form of science to a lower aptitude of mind can be indistinguishable from magic.”

“Is that right? So I’m a lower mind then huh?”

“No, you misunderstand.” Guide softened his voice “We humans are all lower than those gods. The control they have over this world may one day be explained through our own science. I am not telling you how it really is, I am only telling you how most of us have come to understand it.”

“If my soul is the place where magic is generated, how come I haven’t accidentally used it.”

“You have, you are right now, energy is flowing out of you like an open faucet.” Whiskey wrapped her hands around herself.

“Okay, so I’m wasteful, tell me something I don’t know.”

 

*

 

David lent on the counter, he stirred a bubbling beaker sitting above a bunsen burner. The goop in the glass even popped with the same feeling of boredom.

“Why couldn’t we have started teaching her to manage the store today?”

“Because she has to come to terms with the world how it truly is. Before she starts selling potions to half human creatures or other magicians looking for female apprentices.”

“Was that a stab at me?”

“Of course not.”

“Well, I wasn’t the one who got defensive when she questioned my sexuality.”

 

Isaac threw one of the frail leaves he was counting on to the ground.

“Don’t even go there. You know that I have been in five different cultural scenarios where just mentioning that would have got me burned.”

“Were many mages gay before christ came to change the calendar?” Isaac swiped what was left of the leaf off the ground and went back to counting.

 

“Do you want to wake the Afreet soon?”

“The knockout potion I gave him should keep him under until tomorrow. I’m sure Whiskey would appreciate an apology don’t you?”

“Then what am I supposed to do around here? You’re counting the stock, I’ve already swept and dusted every surface four times this week. Why did we buy this shop? We get maybe three customers on a busy day.”

“But they’re all different.”

“Sorry? I didn’t hear you?”

“They’re all different, every day, different people come in and buy different things. We hold orders for several different accounts. And you, you know why you wanted to help me run this.”

“Yeah, yeah. Doesn’t mean this isn’t boring.”

“You probably have another eternity to live through. You might want to find something to occupy your time.”

 

*

 

“The trail goes cold here.” Maeve was extremely uncomfortable around this Angel. They physically cannot keep their volatile souls in check. She could barely keep the emotions out in an ocean of people but this was tidal wave after tidal wave.

“Thank you for you help.” Reese stood between them, blocking it just enough for Maeve to stay sane.

“It was my pleasure.” There was the sound of thunder and the Angel was gone. Maeve took deep breaths.

“This is a ley-line, the soulless that killed Saida ran over it on purpose.”

“Of course.” Maeve coughed out “Then he would have jumped up onto this building and followed it as far as he could. We’re in the middle of the main ley-line of the city, probably chose the dumping ground of her body for exactly this reason. If we knew what kind of soulless he was then maybe we could find out how long he could have stayed on the line. At least until he lit up like a christmas tree.”

“Good point, how do you know it was a he?”

“Saw a footprint in the blood it’s either a guy or lady sasquatch.”
“Sasquatch aren’t soulless… oh, okay, too literal.” Maeve just shook her head.

 

“We’ll have to see if your medical examiner turns up any DNA or defensive wounds. Might at least give us closest known breed, us soulless mate more like rabbits though.”
“My nose is telling me that it was definitely purebred for a couple of generations.”

“Can’t tell us what it is though?”

“I’ve smelt too many of your kind before, the only way that I can stop myself from being instantly repulsed is to not take much notice. I may have smelt him or his kind before, but there’s no way I would remember.”

“Nice to know that you care about our friendship so much that you don’t tell me when I smell bad.”

“You smell like a fifty year old corpse that has been frozen, thawed and burnt twice too many times.”

“You wanna buy me a drink before or after your done flirting with me?”

 

Reese pointed out a small cafe across the road, they didn’t talk much while he ate a large turkey sandwich and she drank her flat white. They don’t normally hold much conversation outside of sassing each other.

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Whiskey and Maeve Chapter 4

“Isn’t this something for the authorities?”

“In the west we deal with our own problems. Our friends in that thin blue line just keep it from causing mass panic. If they can.”

“Then how is this our problem?” Maeve motioned her arm at the shredded torso of a young woman. The other parts of her were scattered around the room, each with a small ID card laying next to them.

“One of the first responders for this was a Angel in a human body.”

“They sensed a soulless did this then? What choir of Angel?”

“Pride, what does it matter?”

“Talking about perks I get from my better half, look at you, you get a whole city of loyal jelly beans.”

 

Reese tilted his head, he was looking at one of the arms in the far corner.

 

“No retort?”

“Come over here and tell me again if this is our problem.”

 

Maeve stepped over the woman’s legs and took a close look at the arm Reese was next to.

 

“Shit.”

 

Slightly poking out of the woman’s arm was a needle like cartilage formation. This woman had a barb in her arm that could be pushed out at will as a weapon. She was a half Froschkönig and half Serkett, one of kind, and she was an enforcer for the Refuge.

 

*

 

Buying a tablet shouldn’t be this hard. Whiskey went into five different ‘Tech’ stores, each of them could barely understand what she asked for. They offered phones, cheap knock offs and expensive mainstream garbage. Finally when she found what she was looking for, in a bookstore, the guy at the counter couldn’t stop falling over himself. His sentences were jumbled and he almost dropped the box several times while trying to put it through the computer.

 

“H-hey c-can I-I-I-I get your number?”

 

Whiskey froze. That’s what this was about. She slammed her hands onto the counter, her mind had been racing since she had left the Magic shop. This moment of clarity was actually unwanted.

 

“Can you put the sale through so I can get out of here? Congratulations for your courage but even guys who can get that whole sentence out don’t stand a chance.”

“O-Okay.” He stuck his head down and put through the sale.

“Thank you, try just talking to the next girl yeah?”

 

With the Tablet in her hand and tailwind aiding her stride she half jogged back to her apartment.

 

Throwing her things at the bed, she started to peal off the plastic covering the box. Moving into the kitchen area, throwing open a cupboard with her foot. Plastic went onto the floor and the box went onto the bench.

 

She chugged back a big glass of water then attacked the box. Pulling at its ends, only leaving it malformed, not opened.

 

Putting it back on the bench she took a breather. Had her heart been racing this whole time? Was she this sweaty when she was buying this? How did that cashier think she was even partially attractive?

 

A draw opened, she grabbed a knife and pointed it at the box. This time she cut the tape before opening it. Much to no-one’s surprise, it was much easier this time. The cardboard surrounding the tablet slid out with that familiar euphoric sound. Instruction manuals went back into the box, the box went into the trash. She plugged the USB into the tablet and plugged the other end into the wall socket adapter her phone used.

 

The plastic attacked her foot, she shot down and grabbed it. Crumpled it into a tight ball and added it to the trash.

 

Tablets normally come with a small amount of charge. To ensure full life of her smart devices Whiskey always charges them to full when she first opens them. Once she confirmed that the charger would be sufficient she left the kitchen.

 

Pulling her stuff off the floor where it had missed the bed, her hands slipped and she dropped her bag again. The book David had given her slipped out onto the floor. “Dammit.” Leaving her bag on the floor, that’s where it would end up anyway. Whiskey leaned over the book, the embroidery caught her eye, it was different. Shinier.

 

It was in english now. ‘Starters guide to the Arcane’ This made her ponder for a moment. Her Italian wasn’t the best but she was pretty sure that this wasn’t the translation to what she saw before.

 

She picked up the book, sat down in her chair and put her feet up on her desk.

 

There wasn’t any legal text at the front, it was clearly self published but it was very professional. The inside cover had an odd set of lettering around the border. She had never seen writing like it. Running her finger over it she thought it may be a form of Arabic, but the characters didn’t intersect like she would expect, perhaps a hybrid with Kanji.

 

The first page had a single sentence on it. It was in English characters but they didn’t make real words, they were sort of nonsensical even.

 

“Lammstar delinbar posigar ag vestijut gudbar lammstar posigar farjimar.” Whiskey said the words unsure if her pronunciation was even close. Nothing happened. “Well that was anticlimactic.”

 

“Who are you calling anticlimactic?” Whiskey shot back in her chair falling clumsily onto the floor.

“Did this book just talk to me?”

“This book, she says.” Whiskey threw the book in shock it slid across the floor. “Ow, that hurt.”

“I-I-I’m sorry?” She half asked herself.

“Well thank you for the apology, but still why did you throw me?” The book moved, the pages flapping over until it reached the middle. It slowly started to rise up from the ground. It stopped at about head height.

 

“I was a bit shocked, I still am.”

“Were you not expecting me? You read the words?”

“I was handed this book, I mean you, like two hours ago and only found out magic was real in the minutes before that.” Whiskey had shuffled herself back until she was pushing hard up against her bed.

 

“What language are we speaking now?”

“Uh, English?” The book even had a slightly British accent.

“This is a little too eloquent for English surely? Must be an evolved form of français?”

“We have stolen… several French words. Why don’t you know what you are speaking?”

“I’ve taken on the language of the reader, well, technically I have been translated into a form that you can best understand. I’m really loving English though, so expressive!”

“You’re translated for my personal understanding?”

“Magic! So did Isaac give me to you?”

“David did.”

“David? Oh the apprentice, yes of course. He didn’t need me for too long. Quite an aptitude that one and Italian, that’s a fantastic language!”

 

“So the guide to starting out with magic, talks?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sentient?”

“Am I what?”

“Do you think for yourself or are your actions only responses to mine?”

“I am imbued with the soul and mind of a scholar from Alexandria.” The voice from the book was suddenly very serious. “I had started to develop a memory condition, dementia I believe you call it. Someone offered me a way to save my mind, a Warlock, I didn’t know that the price would be my body.”

“I d-didn’t even think…”

“I understand your question though, you wanted to know if you were talking to a construct or an exploitation of a living mind. I am the latter, but this is what I want to do, I am not being forced. After Isaac removed me from the Warlocks library he offered me release and to return the name I had forgotten. To retain my mind and continue to learn, I must stay in this book, it is a fair exchange.”

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Maeve and Whiskey Chapter 3

After paying her fare she found a seat. The bus was getting close to full so she had to sit near the front. Music was blaring through her headphones, her attention seemed to be focused on the seat in front of her.

He turned around and stared intently at her. She looked up at him, that sense of someone watching. He instantly turned around, she continued to look at him. Her gaze seem trapped on him, his age intrigued her.

Skin so leathery and patchy it must have been stripped from various human coloured snakes. He started to turn around again, she shot her head down but was too slow catching his eyes. He definitely saw her staring at him, but it didn’t bother her. It was the look of his face that bothered her.

His eyes were bright and alert but around them had sunken in making it look as though he was constantly shocked. The flesh around his cheeks had gotten so stretched that it pulled the rest of his face down into a permanent disapproving look.

She pushed the stop button. Staring a hole in the back of the seat she held onto the inside of her pockets.

The bus came to an abrupt stop outside of an alleyway. After jumping off the bus she ducked into the alley. Turning back she saw the bus leave, there wasn’t anyone behind her. Leaning up against the closest building she breathed a sigh of relief. The old man slammed his hand onto the concrete next to her.

She screamed.

“Did you think you could escape me, meat?” Dark blue light started to shine out of his mouth. She froze, her mouth opening slowly.

“What?” The blue light in his mouth suddenly went out.

“Having a hard time keeping it up?” Maeve closed her mouth. He saw her eyes flicker purple.

“Shaphist!” She whipped her head back then forward, there was a loud crack and he fell backwards.

“There are always those people who make comments about how terrible us blood suckers are.” She strapped a single handcuff on to the old man. “But you guys who suck the youth out of people, now that’s just just disgusting.”

“I know every Refuge enforcer in this town, you have no jurisdiction over me.”

“The name’s Maeve, Enforcer.” She clipped the other hand cuff onto a small railing beside some stairs. “I haven’t been around in awhile.”

*

A black sedan pulled up outside the alley, the same kind you see government agents driving. A man in a suit with long golden hair stepped out. His beard was darker and only just long enough to hide his pale skin. His shoes crunched some loose stones and he walked up.

“You’ve only just got into town and you’re already cuffing people to poles.”

“You know me Red, it’s not a Maeve visit unless someone gets tied up.”

“What did he do?”

“I’ve been unjustly restrained and you’re going to stand around making jokes?”

“He tried to drain me.”

“This was entrapment.”

“Why would he…” Maeve held up her hand and rubbed a ring with her thumb “A fake soul? that does sound like a trap.”

“I’ve been tracking this guy across the country. He’s left five bodies in three different cities. Each time he gets to another refuge he changes his name and his face.”

“How’d you figure him out?”

“Sign in book to the refuge won’t let you in unless you put your name in it. At least for us partial souled.”

“Well, why did you tie him up then? You’re a bit of a ‘wake of bodies’ person yourself.”

“I’m not going to be judge and jury in your town.”

“Fine then.” Red knelt down “You understand your crime?”

“You can’t prove…” Faster than even Maeve could see Red stuck a knife into the old man. He let out a sigh, like his soul was leaving his body.

The gem at the end of Red’s knife lit up faintly, you could see the blue shine off the old man’s glazed eyes. Red pulled out the knife and returned it to his coat as quickly as it had come out.

“Is that it then?” Maeve stepped towards him.

“Yep, you need a ride back?” He stood up.

“Would be nice, who’s at home?” They started to walk away.

“No one new.” The old man’s body twitched, they didn’t notice.

A gust of wind blew down the alley, the body turned into flakes, like charred pieces of wood. The wind spread him through the alley.

Maeve sat in the passenger seat, she pulled off her ring and held it in the sunlight coming through the windscreen.

“What’s the deal with the fake soul then, it’s not an easy artifact to make.”

“It was just to catch the wraith.”

“I hear there’s a Dragon detective in Manhattan that would appreciate you having something like that.”  Maeve stared at Red. She put her finger on the window control and it slowly slid down. The ring flew out into the wind. The window closed faster than it had opened. “Was that really necessary?”

“Did you need it for something?”

*

“Since when did this Refuge get a car park?” Maeve slammed her car door. Red winced.

“We were creating the subspace for it when you were last here.”

Maeve started to walk away.

“This way.” Red said walking in the other direction.

“I-I know, I was just looking around.”

The corridors of the refuge were just as white as ever. The contrast of the dark and shadowy bar that sits front of house always put Maeve off slightly.

“Hey Alix. Sam, how’s the arm?” Maeve sat down at their table “Can I get some pancakes Red?”

“Arm’s good, still feels a little foreign.”

“Did one of the rookies make it up for you? The complexions too dark.” Alix laughed.

“Uh, no. I fell asleep on the beach the other day.” Sam tried to hide her face in her hair.

“When did you get into town?” Alix wondered

“Just now actually, picked up a rogue wraith.”

“The really old one?”

“Yeah, you know him?”

“Ew. He really bugged me, knew there was something up with him.”

“He’d been draining people all over the country, it’s okay, he’s gone now.” Alix put on a solemn look but Maeve’s heightened empathy already informed her. “Oh. I know that feeling. I’m sorry, he really wasn’t a person anymore, one of us who was more monster.”

“It’s okay, I don’t spend too much time around soulless. I should keep my emotions in check.”

“Don’t worry about it, you shouldn’t have to change what you feel on my account.”

“Are you staying long?” Sam thought it best to change the topic.

“I don’t know, depends on the work.”

“Well, I hope you picked up a few tricks from your boyfriend.” Maeve shot around in her chair, it takes a lot to sneak up on a Shaphist. “Cause I have some work for you.”

“Reese! You flea ridden…”

“Nice to see you too, but seriously though you couldn’t have come at a better time. Someone just found a body.”

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Maeve and Whiskey Chapter 2

It was either the lack of sleep or the relief from the pain that caused her to nod off. The couch she woke up on was much more comfortable than any she’d sat in before. She stretched out her arms with a big grin on her face.

“Having a good dream are we?” Isaac asked. Whiskeys eye’s snapped open. Isaac and David were sitting across from her on bar stools. For a moment her mind tried to figure out where the stools came from as she couldn’t see a bar.

“Where am I?” She blurted out.

“Out the back of my store.” Isaac answered.

“Your store now?” David twisted his head

“Our store.”

“Who are you people?”

“I’ve told you our n…”

“Not your names! What was that fire thing? Just… Just… Just what?”

“Heh.” Isaac chuckled.

“Look.” David held out his hands defensively. “We are Magicians, not like the sideshow kind, for real. The fire thing was an Afreet, do you want to see it?”

“Magicians?” Whiskey paused. Her mind raced. “Afreet. yes, yes I want to see it.”

David and Isaac smirked at each other. They stood up and left the room.

“Come on then.” Whiskey pulled herself up from the couch. She followed them slowly. Her side still hurt where the fireball had hit, she could see the bruise where her shirt had rolled up in her sleep. It stung even looking at it.

She froze, halfway through correcting her outfit.

“Uh, why do you guys have a man tied to a chair?” His mouth was covered by duct tape and he seemed to be unconscious.

“This is the Afreet.”

“Huh? That’s a middle eastern man, are you guys like…” American extremists, she thought to herself.

“Come in here and look at him, trust us.” Coming from Isaac, that really didn’t help.

“Whiskey, we haven’t tied him up because we like doing that sort of thing. You see those symbols on the ground, that’s what’s keeping him from immolating.” For some reason David’s voice calmed her down. She still wasn’t fully convinced but she stepped into their little holding cell.

The dim light in the room made it a bit hard to see but something caught her eye. Around each of the man’s wrists was a metal band, engraved in symbols similar to the ones underneath him.

“Those bands…”

“You saw them on the Afreet, yes?”

“I did…”

“Those were supposed to stop him from shifting into his other form.”

“Supposed to?”

“Well if someone had paid more attention to the details…” Isaac started.

“Don’t you even start, for an author of fifteen different well published spell books you have terrible handwriting!”

“So you guys are married too then huh?”

“We, are, huh, what, married?” Isaac’s face dropped in shock.

“Ha!” David patted Isaac on the back as he started to laugh.

“I was joking but like, did I step on some hidden relationship or something?”

“Oh, no, not at all. Sorry, Isaac doesn’t get out much. Also we’re a bit older than we look.”

*

“So Magic is real. Afreets, also real. Should I be writing this down?”

“It may be easier if you wrote down everything that isn’t real.”  A quiet buzzer made a short chirp and Isaac suddenly came out of his daze and ran out of the room.

“Um…”

“This is a store. A magic shop to be exact.”

“Isn’t that a little on the nose?”

“We mostly sell to others of the mystical variety.”

“I see. So the Afreet, did he steal something?”

“How did you know? Oh wait, um no, not from us anyway.”

“Okay?”

“Well, we’re also kind of like the magic police.”

“For some reason I find that less plausible than everything else that’s happened to me today.”

“We also work for a collection of magical folk, their main goal is the peace and safety of all magical kind. Our main job for them is keep this town unaware of it’s residents that also happen to be magical in nature.”

“That makes sense I guess.”

“And the Afreet stole something from that collection and they asked us to get it or him back.”

“Does this ‘collection’ have a name?”

“Not really, but they name all of their establishments the same thing I guess. The Refuge.”

“That’s pretty lame.”

“A bit. So anyway you want to work here?”

“Huh?”

“I didn’t mean to be snooping or anything but I saw a resume in your bag.”

“And we’re looking for more staff.” Isaac came through a curtain that seemed to lead to the front of the store.

“So selling magic is pretty lucrative then?”

“It would be, if we were here often enough to keep the store open.” David answered.

“So are you going to like pay me in magic lessons then?”

“Sure thing.” Isaac seemed a little too eager.

“I’ll teach you magic, for free, we will pay you in regular old money for your time at the store. You do have experience in store management right?”

“Uh, I have been a sales clerk before. I sold makeup in a department store.”

“Makeup, magic what’s the difference?”

“What exactly do you sell here? Pretty sure people don’t walk in and ask ‘can I buy some magic?’”

“Supplies, chalk, dusts, crystals, bones.”

“Bones?”

“I’ll give you our stock list.”

“Oh no, you have everything on paper don’t you?”

“What’s wrong with paper?”

“Uh it’s the twenty first century. If I’m going to work here I’m going to need to upgrade this.”

“We’re not going to pay for a fancy computer system.” David silently grinned at Isaac and Whiskey.

“You don’t have to, I’ll go buy a tablet and download a simple stock management app.”

“Well you’re hired then. Isaac bring her the stock book. Do you want to start tomorrow say around 9?”

“I… I still have more questions.”

“They can wait, go home and rest. You’ve got a nasty bruise and a lot to process. Take this.” He handed her a small book, about the size of a pocket bible. The cover was a faded red, the title was embroidered into its fabric ‘Iniziato Guida alla stregoneria’
“Uh, this is in italian.”

“Don’t worry about that, I’m sure you won’t have too much trouble.”

“Here’s the stock list. Be careful with this, we only have two copies.”

“Oh, after I’m done that will not be a problem.”

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