____The world you live in is a lie.
I know this, my family has known this, for as long as there has been a history with people in it, as long as there has been darkness, we have been there. Protecting you, stopping the things that would come out of the dark shadows and eat your very soul if they had a chance. This story is about a war that most humans know nothing about, a war even we, my family and I, did not know was raging until almost far too late. Here is a recounting of what happened, as truthfully as I, and others, could remember it. My Legacy to future generations of Magisters.
The First Night
The Ghoul's trail led her to the ally way a few minutes short of midnight.
Her pray was nearby. She could feel it at the edge of her senses, like a barely felt itch that tingled along the edge of her mind. Newspapers swirled around her as a slight breeze swept through the narrow space between old buildings, helping ease the stench for a few moments.
"I know you're here."
Her voice was swallowed by the deep shadows surrounding her. It seemed as if her statement would go unanswered, when another gust of wind clawed at her long black trench coat, whipping about the few fine strands of hair that always seemed to escape her braid.
This time though the air bore the reek of death on it.
Something shifted in the shadows to her right, more felt than seen. The hunter's fingers closed about the hilt of the sword hidden beneath the trench coat, easing the blade from its sheath.
The thing that emerged from the pool of darkness had been dead for quite a while. Its jaw hung from muscles already decaying, visible through holes in flesh that was well on its way to being decomposed. The stench was fetid and choking, the Hunter didn't seem to notice as she watched it calmly.
Blue fire ran along the length of the sword she held, providing just enough illumination that she could see the blood that covered the front of the ghoul's shirt. It had fed recently, which might make her job harder.
As these things went a Ghoul was not a particularly smart enemy. When it's jaw opened impossibly wide and it lunged for her she was waiting. The sword carved a blue arc through the air, slashing across in a move so smooth it looked like she was dancing.
time the head and body hit the ground, separately, they were both rapidly
decomposing. The Magister watched closely as flesh and bone turned to dust
in a matter of seconds, making certain that the Ghoul was dead. A whispered
word of power and the wind whistled through the buildings, sweeping away
The tall woman stood still for a while longer, her breath white in the air in front of her, trying to sense if there were any other undead nearby, the ally was empty though. She sighed, stalking back towards the entrance to the ally. The late model SUV had been double-parked; it's hazard lights casting yellow flashes across the wet pavement. Her sword was carefully placed in the passenger seat; the cell phone from her breast pocket was placed into the hands free hookup. A press of a button later, it autodialed for her, even as she started up the SUV and pulled away from the ally. The gruff voice on the other end coughed a few times before talking.
"Eric, I'm on my way back downtown. The Ghoul's been taken care of."
"You have any problems Sarah?"
She winced at the hacking coughs that followed, and waited patiently for the red light in front of her to change. The wipers an odd counterpart to the wheezing on the phone, as the light turned green the coughing subsided.
"You ok Eric?"
"Yeah, yeah, just another cold."
As always, Sarah didn't call him on the lie.
"Yeah, another cold. You have anything else for me tonight?"
The rapid tap of keys could just be heard through the connection.
"Nope, nothing, another quiet night."
The raven-haired woman tossed her head, using one hand to free her shoulder length hair from the intricate silver band she'd used to hold most of it back.
"It's been quiet for almost a month now."
"Ha! You say that like it's a bad thing."
"Yeah, well, the first two weeks I welcomed. It was nice to have down time, get some rest and check all the gear. Now though"
"Now you're feeling itchy."
Making a right she nodded, not caring that he couldn't see her through the phone.
"Yeah, it's making me nervous. How many times have you known things to be this quiet for so long? I mean, Eric, this was my first time out all week. I'm starting to get worried."
The man sighed, and the squeaking of a chair gave her the sudden image of her old friend leaning back, lacing his hands behind his head and staring at the cement ceiling above him in thought.
"No, I've never known it to be this quiet, even during the summer solstice we've had some minor problems. No use worrying about it until we find out if anything really is going on though. Where are you?"
"Just passing River Drive."
Cursing as a taxi dodged out from a non-existent yellow light and cut her off.
"I still say we should take a look at these Taxi drivers."
Laughter greeted her disgruntled remark.
"You know they're harmless, no sense going after them. Look, if you're down that way, Dr. Banergee gave me a call a little while ago. He's got a strange patient that he thought we might be able to help him with. You wanna go take a look?"
The driver snorted, changing lanes and taking a left in preparation to double back the way she'd just come and head towards the hospital.
"He still working night shift at Mercy?"
"Yup, he said he'd be on call until six AM if you could stop in."
"Sure, nothing much else to do tonight might as well go see what he's got. Probably another possession case, I'll be in and out in under an hour."
"I need to learn to keep my mouth shut."
Letting out a breath Sarah shook her head, not answering the tall black man who strode by her side. The sound of their footsteps echoed down the institutional hallway, she suppressed the urge to glance over her shoulder. Hospitals were some of the worst calls she got.
"I really do hope you can help shed some light on this Ms. Mordicai."
. She looked up at the British man, giving him a chiding look. As long as he kept calling her so formally she'd keep right on using her own pet name for the man.
"I keep telling you Doc, call me Sarah. I'll do what I can, did she have anything on her?"
The doctor nodded to the nurse on duty at the station, and she buzzed them both into the psych ward of the hospital. She'd seen enough odd things around in her past five years that the gray haired woman didn't say a word about the visitor with him.
Holding the heavy door for her, Dr. Banergee followed her into the next stretch of tiled hallway.
"The paramedics found her downtown in front of the Simon's department store. You know that big mirror set up they have?"
She nodded, knowing exactly where he meant, she'd been impressed by the huge mirror set up they'd put up behind a row of mannequins dressed in the upcoming spring fashions.
"Well, it seems she was screaming at her reflection and tossing stones at the windows. The cops had to help them strap her down to the stretcher, we've had to sedate her periodically."
The slightly shorter woman arched an eyebrow at that, not quite certain what this had to do with her yet. Seeing the look on her face, the elder doctor hurried to continue, knowing her sometimes-touchy patience.
"She was screaming about monsters that came out of mirrors."
That was original enough for a small spike of intrigue. It wasn't like she had a lot else to do that night after all.
"None that we could find on her, except some cuts and scratches. Other than screaming she hasn't talked at all since we brought her in. I really don't know what to make of this one. Here she is."
The woman had been put into one of the observation rooms, the circular window in the door giving Sarah her first look at the woman huddled in the farthest corner. That she was terrified was obvious.
"Can we go in?"
The doctor shifted a bit on his feet at that, uncharacteristically nervous.
"She attacked the last doctor who tried to get a look at her."
Hazel eyes, which stood out even against her lightly tanned skin, met his and, as always, he looked away in discomfort. Usually she was wearing sunglasses, but tonight he could see the shifting colors in her irises. It was disconcerting to say the least, one moment you could swear her eyes were brown, then the next they seemed to be a pale ice blue.
"Can we go in?"
Even by her standards she was tense tonight, although he was starting to get used to the cold edge her words carried.
"Yes, but not for long."
His key pass unlocked the reinforced door, and without waiting, she slipped through, closing it right behind her before he even had a chance to follow. The woman cringed at the sound, and her head slowly rose from the folded arms on her drawn up knees that her forehead had been resting on.
The exclamation was mental only because her body was frozen in place. The woman's eyes, a blue deeper than anything that Sarah had ever thought she'd seen, pinned her to her spot. Measuring her, as if the nameless woman was judging, if Sarah were friend or foe.
The words slipped passed her lips before she knew she was going to speak. They worked though, the wary regard fading from the woman's face into something that resembled hope.
"I won't hurt you."
Once more the words came without conscious thought. Ignoring the voice that was screaming inside her head asking what she was doing. The black haired woman lowered herself down to her knees a few feet away from the other woman.
Her skin is so pale; she must burn easily in the sun.
Indeed the woman's skin was pale, an almost alabaster white, her hair was a white golden color. Startling large clear blue eyes watched her with intelligence, waiting for her to do something.
She reminded Sarah of a photo that had been bleached of all color, with only those blue eyes to give testament to the vibrant colors the photograph had once held.
"Can you talk?"
When that got no answer, Sarah sighed and concentrated on the woman in front of her, invoking what some called the sixth sense. Whatever name it was called, it was recognized in every culture on earth. It was the ability to see beyond what others perceived in the world about them, seeing that which lurked under the surface of their neat and tidy existence.
Whatever she was, the pale skinned woman was not an undead. An aura of life so powerful it made the Magister wince, burned around her, giving testament to a ferocious will to live. Slitting her eyes, Sarah focused on that aura, testing and prodding it. There was nothing hidden here, the woman's terror was real, not the product of some masking spell. Other than the fact she'd never seen such a powerful aura before, even among her own family, and that was saying quite a bit, the woman seemed normal enough.
Gray eyes opened and she let out an unsteady breath, her specialty was the more offensive spells. Any of the other disciplines always took more concentration and effort on her part.
"I don't know if I can help you."
Blue eyes gazed at her trustingly.
With another sigh Sarah rose and started to shake her head, blinking and turning as she caught sight of something odd out of the corner of her eye. The wall surrounding the door she'd come in through had been torn to tatters. The padding hanging in shreds, an odd compliment to the sterile white of the other walls.
That wasn't what held her attention though.
Between the shreds of fabric, covering the entire wall, were glyphs. Carved into the cement wall, now that she could see them, she could feel the latent power in those symbols, like the slight hum of electricity in a high-tension wire.
Perhaps the most disturbing thing though, was that she recognized none of those symbols. The hesitant opening of the cell's door broke her startled gaze as the Doctor poked his head inside.
"What do you think Ms. Mordicai?"
"Call me Sarah."
The answer was automatic though and lacked her usual commanding tone, her hazel eyes wandering across the symbols.
"Are these new?"
"Are what dear god, how did she do that!?"
While Dr. Banergee continued to wonder out loud how the silent slip of a woman had ripped through the padding and carved into the cement, Sarah dropped back to her knees in front of the patient. Blue eyes, which had not once strayed from her, stared back hopefully.
"I want to take her with me Doc."
"I don't know if I can"
"Doc, look, you wanted me to see if I could help you right?"
His nod was slow and a touch uncertain.
"Alright, I can't do that here. Something in my field happened to her, I'm almost certain, so let me take her with me and see what I can do."
The man's gaze returned to the carvings in the cement, and he swallowed a bit uneasily. Each of those carvings was a half an inch deep at least.
"I'll put you down as her relative, we'd better come up with a name for her."
Sarah shrugged, not caring what he thought of the name, it fit the blonde and if there was one thing she'd learned since starting as the Magister, it was to follow her intuition.
"Yeah, put her down as Gwyn."
"I hope you know what you're doing. I'll go get her possessions and get the paper work started."
When Sarah rose to follow him the woman surged forwards, grabbing hold of Sarah's hand and stopping her. The whisper was barely more than an exhalation of breath, but they both heard it.
There was desperation in that voice, and fear. Sarah glanced at the Doc, then back down to the slender pale hand that held hers so tightly. There were no calluses from physical training on those smooth fingers, a small part of her mind noted randomly.
"Doc, come get me when you're ready. Do me a favor and see if you can get a Polaroid camera from somewhere? I want to take a few pictures of those symbols."
At his startled nod, she sat down, her usual impatience to be off and about doing her job, for now, pushed into the background by the puzzle this woman presented.
Gwyn? Why in the name of the books did I choose that name?
She never did get an answer to that question.
It was well past sunrise when they left the Hospital. The forms that the Doc had brought back for her to fill out had been surprisingly lengthy. Some of them had required her to make up quite a few details of Gwyn's new fictitious life.
Gwyn was now Gwyn Mercy; Sarah had taken the name of the Hospital to be Gwyn's last name after racking her brains for a good fifteen minutes and not coming up with a name that seemed to suit the pale blonde. They'd no sooner gotten Gwyn into the SUV than the she'd passed out in the passenger side seat.
From there it had been a tense twenty-minute drive through heavy traffic to her home. The old estate had been there for as long as the city had existed. They were above most of the city now, with only the downtown skyscrapers challenging them and the tall hill that the city people called The Mountain, for height. From the road it didn't look like much, a tall stonewall, and iron gates, which opened to a touch of a button from inside the SUV.
Past those gates though was something few even knew existed, something that Sarah's family had paid handsomely in the past to insure would exist through the generations.
The Mordicai mansion had near sixty rooms spread throughout the length of the four-story gothic architecture building. Spread about it was carefully maintained gardens, and even a small tended wood in back of the house, filling the two acres that the house occupied.
When it came time to pay land taxes, Sarah did her best not to wince at the numbers her accountants informed her were due and thanked the stars that her family had several funds set up.
There was no way she was going to be able to carry the other woman from the barn turned garage, into the main house, and Sarah sighed. She hated waking the obviously exhausted woman but the sooner they got her inside, the sooner she could maybe get some real rest. That and the long night of hunting and rising tension were beginning to tell on the Magister.
Hopping out of the tall vehicle she moved around to the passenger side and opened the door, frowning when the woman inside didn't so much as stir.
A touch hesitantly she reached out and shook a green scrub covered shoulder. Gwyn's clothes had been in tattered ruins when she'd been brought into the hospital, but Doc had managed to scrounge them up a pair of scrubs that sort of fit.
The second her fingers closed over the green material though, the peacefully sleeping woman jerked upright and screamed. The utter terror in that scream seized Sarah's heart, and she almost convulsively pulled the screaming woman into her arms.
"Shhhh it's alright, it's just me."
Uncertainly Sarah held her, feeling the tears soak through her shirt. Sarah didn't know how long she stood there, the woman in her arms half out of the car, arms wrapped tightly about her neck, shuddering and sobbing. Finally though, the tears slowed, then stopped, and red-rimmed blue eyes peered up at her.
Gently Sarah brushed the tracks of tears on the woman's cheeks using her thumbs.
"Come on, let's get you inside and you can sleep some more ok?"
answer, but she did follow when Sarah led her from the garage to the main
To Be Continued